Tribulation and Israel’s Expectation – Part 1

This article is the first in a discussion of the fourteen expectations outlined in the introduction. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you start there to properly grasp the context for this series of related articles. These fourteen points represent expectations of Jewish scribes and commentators during the Late Second Temple period. The important things to remember are that these expectations;

  • Predate Jesus Christ delivering his gospel of the kingdom of God, and
  • They can apply to Israel(1) and/or Judah(2).

We’ll begin by delving into the first two points noted from Pitre’s findings as enumerated by Dr. Michael Heiser(3).

  1. The tribulation is tied to the restoration of Israel and the End of the Exile.
  2. A righteous remnant arises during the tribulation.

These two points comprise three related expectations:

A) During the tribulation, a righteous remnant arises
B) The tribulation is tied to the end of the exile (for Israel and Judah)
C) The tribulation is tied to the restoration of Israel

Leading Presupposition

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll understand the importance of presuppositions and the role they play in fully understanding the author’s intent. In this series of articles I will be applying a key presupposition through which these expectations are being viewed. This presupposition – the already, but not yet aspect of Christ’s kingdom – comes from New Testament insight, but is applied in hindsight to the expectations of Late Second Temple commentators. The reason for this, as stated in the introduction, is the general blindness that existed in Israel and Judah at that time regarding the mystery of God in Christ.

Had those in Judea and Samaria known that Yeshua was coming first to inaugurate that kingdom, then later at his return, establish the promised kingdom of God on earth, they would not have expected the Messiah to remain and overthrow their Roman oppressors.

For an introduction to the Mystery of God and what it means for the faithful, the descendants of Israel, and even for the nations,
Discover more.

Already, But Not Yet

With the benefit of hindsight and the instruction of the Holy Spirit, we can see the distinction and progression of Christ’s kingdom-building work. In his Letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul outlines this progression and what needs to happen before Yeshua completes the kingdom.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26

  • To establish the firstfruits of the new creation, a kingdom of priests to rule with Christ(4).
  • To establish dominion over all the nations of the earth along with powers and dominions in heaven. Bringing into subjection all of God’s enemies. Christ’s work will ultimately bring all intelligent beings to his feet and all will recognize his Lordship. However, not all will voluntarily surrender to that Lordship(5).
  • Once completed, this earthly phase of the kingdom is transformed and handed over to God the Father(6).

That believers in Christ our Lord, whether Jew or Gentile, constitute the initial phase of that kingdom should be evident. We also recognize that God’s promise for our inheritance of that kingdom is certain and established by the gift of his Holy Spirit, even though we don’t take full possession of that kingdom until Christ returns. That is the basis for the already, but not yet theology we see in Christ’s gospel message for both Jew and Gentile alike.

To learn more about the distinctions in the three kingdoms of God, Read more.

 A Larger Scope to the Tribulation

If we now look at the three expectations noted earlier and overlay them with the already, but not yet perspective, we can begin to see a larger scope to the tribulation Israel and Judah were subject to, and clearly see the progressive work of kingdom-building God is engaged in through Yeshua, the Christ.

Keep in mind that already relates to the work God has or is achieving in Christ now as the basis for something greater. The not yet indicates the fullness of that greater work in Christ is not manifested until some point in the future.

AlreadyNot Yet
Righteous endure tribulationTo receive a crown of glory
A righteous remnant from Judah arises as recipients of a New Covenant in Yeshua, the Christ.
(Fourth Gospel(7) 14:6-7,23-24,26-27; Joel 2:28-29; Romans 11:2-7)
These are later redeemed from the earth when our Lord appears, the firstfruits of salvation.
(Joel 2:30-31; Revelation 6:12-14; 7:9-17; Luke 21:25-28; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; James 1:12,17-19)
In the latter days, a subset of all the descendants of Israel (Jacob) will be called into Christ and set apart by God.
(Revelation 7:1-8)
These too are redeemed from the earth as our Lord descends from the sky to intervene on behalf of Jerusalem.
(Revelation 14:1-5; Isaiah 31:4-6; Zechariah 9:9-17; 14:1-9)
 
This remnant has attained through faith what Israel as a whole did not. (Romans 11:2-7; 10:1-4)
Unrighteous endure correction/exileExile ends for those who repent
Those in unbelief continue in exile, their temple destroyed. These are days of vengeance until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)
As enemies of the gospel, they continue in disobedience (Isaiah 59:1-13), awaiting the mercy of God (Romans 11:28-32).
 
Though some in Israel were cut off for a time (Romans 11:17-21), there is purpose in their rejection (Romans 11:11-15).
Though they were unfaithful to God, he will remain faithful to them for his name’s sake. Yet he will not leave them unpunished.
(Romans 11:25; Ezekiel 20:40-44; Jeremiah 30:8-11)
These remain in unbelief until called to repentance (Romans 11:11-12,15,23-24; Ezekiel 36:22-32), and all the descendants of Israel will be called to repentance (Joel 2:12-17).
 
After Christ returns, God will bring all of Israel’s and Judah’s descendants back to their own land for his name’s sake. (Psalm 14:7; 53:6; Jeremiah 3:14-18; 23:1-8)
 
All Israel will be saved (Romans 11:25-27) and offered a new covenant.
(Isaiah 59:20-12; 61:5-11; 62; Ezekiel 37:11-14,22-28)
Conclusions

From this overview, hopefully you can begin to see that these first few expectations from the Late Second Temple period are in alignment with the work God and his Christ are engaged in for his chosen people – the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).

A) Through the work of the Lamb of God, the Root of Jesse, and the Lion of Judah, God has raised a faithful remnant loyal to the Son of God from the descendants of Israel and Judah. They, together with chosen Gentiles, are the recipients of a new covenant that forms the basis and inauguration of an everlasting kingdom(8).

B) To see the end of the exile for all Israel and Judah, we must await the return of their king in power and glory. Though they currently dwell in unbelief, God is able and will turn their unbelief into belief(9). God will bring an end to their exile and the correction they brought upon themselves, and he will pour out mercy and grace upon them as they repent from the heart.

C) After the return of Yeshua, the Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 33:15-16), all the tribes of Israel will experience a greater exodus out of the world than that which occurred out of Egypt (Jeremiah 3:14-18; 23:1-8; Ezekiel 34:11-24; 37:20-28). The Lord will bring them back to their land, the land he swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There he will enter into a new covenant with them. He will remove their heart of stone, and give them a heart of flesh. He will place his laws in them and give them his Holy Spirit to guide their lives into righteousness. They will enjoy the fruits of their land as never before, and he will be their God and they will be his people; an example to the nations.

The apostle Paul, who was led by the Holy Spirit to understand the connection between these expectations and the work of Yeshua, grasped the awesome depth and scope of the wisdom of God which will ultimately unite all the people of the world in his kingdom. When realized, we too can join Paul in his praise.

Romans 11:33-36
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.

To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers, for Israel, and for the world, read my recent book –

The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View

Footnotes:

  1. When I refer to Israel, like the authors of Scripture, I’m referring to the descendants of Jacob (renamed Israel). This does not fit the description of the modern nation of Israel which consists of people from many assorted nationalities. In the near future, God will call to himself, for a specific purpose, descendants from all twelve tribes as part of his kingdom-building process (Romans 9:4-5; 11; Revelation 7:4-8).
  2. The modern reference to Jews is often understood to represent the entirety of the people of God, but in fact represents only one of the twelve original tribes of Israel, Judah. Even here, the reference is to a single tribe, but in the time of Christ consisted of individuals from other tribes, like Benjamin (Acts 13:21).
  3. Dr. Michael S Heiser’s – The Naked Bible Podcast, Number 101: Jesus, the Exile, and the Tribulation   and blog post: https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/podcast/naked-bible-101-jesus-the-exile-and-the-tribulation/
  4. Peter 2:9-10; Romans 8:18-23, 29-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Hebrews 5:7-10; James 1:17-18
  5. Psalm 8; 72; Daniel 4; 7:13-14,19-27; Micah 4:1-5; Matthew 13:41-43; 24:27,30; Ephesians 6:12-13; Philippians 2:9-10; Colossians 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 1:7; 19:11 – 20:6; 22:12
  6. Fourth Gospel 18:36; Luke 4:42-44; 19:11-27; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Revelation 21:1-4
  7. Due to the dispute over the authorship of the Fourth Gospel, traditionally attributed to John, I will refer to this book as the Fourth Gospel. I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved.
  8. Technically, the inauguration of the kingdom of God could be said to have begun with God’s covenant with Abraham, the father of the faithful. That covenant of faith has been the basis for the covenant at Sinai and the new covenant in Christ. Faith in God through Christ our Lord is the essential pillar by which the sons of God inherit the kingdom and its glory.
  9. The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View, Gerard Majella (2021), chapter 6 (pg-114), What Christ’s Arrival Means for Israel – For Israel and those in Jerusalem the arrival of the Savior of the world is the signal of their pending restoration; the Root of Jesse, the Lion of Judah (Isaiah 11:10-12; 49:22-23; Revelation 5:5). The Lord has waited to be gracious to Israel, a rebellious people. Yet he will repay their disobedience with mercy. This is the justice and righteous judgment of God (Isaiah 30:18-19; Romans 11:32-34).

    Isaiah 30:18-22
    • The Lord gave you adversity and affliction so as to not leave you unpunished (Jeremiah 30:8-11)
    • But now your Teacher stands before you
    • You will repent and cast your foolish idols away

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Published by GMajella

Husband, father, and author on theological topics, with a focus on the underlying presuppositions which either cloud or enhance our view of reality. My focus is to challenge and guide fellow Christians into a deeper knowledge of God; his work, his will, and his overall purpose. My primary methods will be through books, blogs, and virtual or personal events.

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