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Rules and the Rapture

I don't go searching for these things, I swear.

I'm really not someone who is constantly going off snooping around, digging through God's Word looking for even more creative ways to prove the Rapture absolutely must occur prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. I mean, it's not as if we needed more of them—we've already got way more than we could ever need or ask for.

But God just keeps dropping these things in my lap. What am I supposed to do? Ignore them? Keep them to myself?

I'm being facetious, of course—it's certainly not as if I minded. It's just that I was slam in the middle of working on a different topic when He did so...and the Holy Spirit promptly informed me of a change of plans. It happens. To be perfectly honest, I start licking my chops every time He does that because it's always something g-o-o-d. And I pray that by the time you finish reading this article, you will agree that this one is no exception.

In an article I wrote a little over eight years ago entitled "The Great Divide," I discuss in some detail the dispensational nature of God's plan and the seven dispensations recognized by most people who hold to a premillennial, dispensational, pretribulational view of Scripture.

You know, I'm sure it's just me, but I've often thought that it shouldn't surprise anyone that so many in the Church today think pre-tribbers have a couple of screws loose. I mean, imagine two people striking up a conversation like the following after church one fine Sunday morning:

"Hey, how ya doin'? Name's Larry. Is this your first time at Main Street Lutheran? I don't believe I've seen you here before."

"Hi, I'm Greg. Yeah...it's nice. We're new in town, and we're looking for a good church. I'm a premillennial dispensational pretribulationist."

"Ooo-kay...well, Gary, gotta go find the wife. Nice meetin' ya."

But I digress. The first thing I want to do is briefly summarize some of the basic information from that previous article about the dispensations, because there is a key point nestled cozily in there that I want to bring out that puts yet another padlock on the pre-tribulation Rapture—and I never saw it coming until the Father...you know, dropped it in my lap.

Now, the idea of dispensationalism is actually pretty straightforward, and could be briefly summarized thusly:

During each of a sequence of periods throughout history, God has introduced a new rule or ruling principle that He expects mankind to obey. In each period, however, mankind (or at least part of mankind) fails in doing so, and God releases judgment and extends an offer of grace. Then it's rinse and repeat with a new rule and a new dispensation.

In "The Great Divide," I discuss each of the seven dispensations in the order in which they occur, and at the end of each of those seven sections I include a brief summary of that dispensation's basic characteristics. What follows is a list of those seven brief summaries taken from that article, possibly with some slight editing.

1. The Age of Innocence

Period: From Creation to the Fall.

Ruling principle: Adam and Eve were to act according to their favorable disposition toward God (plus obey a standing order to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil).

Man's failure: They consciously exercised their God-given free will and chose to violate that favorable disposition toward God by disobeying His only rule and eating the forbidden fruit.

God's judgment: Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, they were placed under the curse of sin and death, and they lost dominion over the earth (which was also placed under a curse). From then on, people would inherit a natural disposition to rebel against God—a sin nature.

God's grace: God clothed them in animal skins in place of the leaves they had fashioned. This was to make them understand the principle that their own works would not suffice to cover their nakedness (sin). Only the shedding of innocent blood could do that, and it foreshadowed what God would send His Son to do in the future. His Son, the seed of the woman (the promised Messiah), would crush the head of the serpent (Satan), and win back what Adam and Eve had lost (Gen. 3:15).

2. The Age of Conscience

Period: From the Fall to the Flood.

Ruling principle: Refrain from evil according to one's conscience.

Man's failure: Disobedience in offering animal sacrifices (as with Abel's brother Cain), plus human women mating with fallen angels, thus corrupting the human gene pool and resulting in wanton, widespread evil.

God's judgment: The Flood of Noah.

God's grace: God spared one genetically pure family along with a number of animals in the ark to reboot the human race. Note that if Satan had succeeded in his effort to completely corrupt the human gene pool, he would have ruined God's plan to have His Son born into the world to redeem mankind—there wouldn't have been any genetically pure human women left. They all would have been human-demonic hybrids.

3. The Age of Human Government

Period: From the Flood to the confusion of languages at Babel.

Ruling principle: Refrain from evil in obedience to the authority vested in human government (and according to one's conscience).

Man's failure: A large group of people under the sway of Nimrod attempted to consolidate their power at one location (i.e. at Babel, aka Babylon) and form the first global government (sound familiar?). They built the Tower of Babel to pursue the study of astrology, and possibly as a portal for demonic beings.

God's judgment: The confusion of languages and subsequent dispersion of this disobedient group of people all over the world.

God's grace: God called out Abram and promised to make him the father of the race of people who would give birth to the Messiah—a Savior who would bring blessings to mankind and ultimately a kingdom ruled in righteousness.

4. The Age of Promise

Period: From the confusion of languages and the dispersion of people groups at Babel to the giving of the Law of Moses.

Ruling principle: Believe God's promises given to Abraham (and refrain from evil in obedience to the authority vested in human government and according to one's conscience).

Man's failure: Jacob's extended family left Canaan and went to Egypt for food out of an utter lack of faith in God's promises of blessing and provision.

God's judgment: The fledgling Hebrew nation became slaves in Egypt.

God's grace: God first arranged for Joseph to ensure their survival, and later sent Moses to lead them out of slavery.

5. The Age of Law

Period: From the Law of Moses to Calvary.

Ruling principle: Demonstrate one's faith in God by obeying the Law of Moses and anticipating the coming of the Prophet, i.e. the Messiah (and believe God's promises to Abraham and refrain from evil in obedience to the authority vested in human government and according to one's conscience).

Man's failure: Man couldn't begin to keep all of God's laws. Israel turned the Mosaic law into a hopeless snare of legalism, and ultimately failed to recognize the Messiah and had Him crucified.

God's judgment: Destruction of the temple, devastation of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews throughout the world.

God's grace: He sent the Messiah, His Son Jesus Christ into the world to redeem mankind, as promised in His Word.

6. The Age of Grace

Period: From the day of Pentecost (50 days after the Resurrection) to the Rapture—nearly two thousand years and counting.

Ruling principle: Believe the gospel (although people are still responsible to believe God's promises to Abraham, especially in regard to the coming kingdom, and refrain from evil in obedience to the authority vested in human government and according to one's conscience).

Man's failure: The great majority of the world's people (especially the Jews), have foolishly and stubbornly rejected God's grace and mercy and His offer of salvation through faith in His Son's work of atonement that has been made freely available and proclaimed by the Church throughout the Age of Grace.

God's judgment: Since mankind has largely spurned the grace and mercy that He expressed to the world through His Son, after He translates His Church safely out of harm's way via the Rapture as He has clearly promised in His Word, God will plunge the world into the worst period of evil, chaos, deception, and judgment it has ever experienced.

At the Rapture, which concludes the Age of Grace, the Holy Spirit will stand down from His ministry of indwelling believers and restraining evil, and Satan will have at it—he will be free to launch his program to install his man the Antichrist as head of a global government with a global economic system and a global religion. God will send a strong delusion into the world to cause men (especially Jews who have persisted in rejecting Christ) to accept the Antichrist in place of the real Messiah they have rejected, and they will worship him on pain of death.

Not long after the Rapture kicks things off and plunges the world into chaos, God will begin to unleash the horrifying judgments of the Tribulation on a Christ-rejecting world during the Tribulation, which is followed by the Second Coming, which is followed by the final dispensation, the Millennial Kingdom.

God's grace: Although the Holy Spirit will no longer seal them as He did the Church, huge numbers of people will be saved following the Rapture, thanks largely to God sending out 144,000 Jewish apostle Pauls into the post-Rapture world. The believing Jewish remnant will be divinely protected from the forces of the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation, and will be ushered alive into the kingdom following Christ's return at the Second Coming along with surviving Gentiles saved since the Rapture.

7. The Kingdom Age

Period: Starting shortly after Christ's Second Coming and lasting for one thousand years.

Ruling principle: The direct theocratic rule of Jesus Christ Himself, in addition to conscience and human government—God's promises to Abraham will have been fulfilled. Christ will rule with a rod of iron: Those who practice evil will be executed (Isa. 11:34; 29:2021), and nations who refuse to worship God as directed will be punished with drought and plagues (Zech. 14:1619).

The first time Jesus came, He brought redemption. The second time He will bring retribution, and then He will rule in Israel's promised kingdom.

Man's failure: A large number of rebellious unbelievers born during the Millennial Kingdom will join in one final revolt against God.

God's judgment: God will crush this rebellion and destroy the rebels with fire.

God's grace: The heavens and the earth will be recreated into a new and perfected form that we will enjoy for eternity. Christ will rule this new world with perfect justice and righteousness from Jerusalem.

Now, there is one key question in regard to each of these dispensations that is worthy of serious consideration—and as we shall see, the answer to that question gives us some insight into the Rapture.

As we have seen, each dispensation (a) operates under a different rule or ruling principle, (b) is characterized by man's failure to respond to it appropriately, and ends with God (c) unleashing judgment and (d) extending grace in some manner. But let's think this through:

Q. In the Age of Innocence, who failed?

A. Adam and Eve.

Q. Who did God's judgment fall on?

A. Adam and Eve.

This judgment also affected all of their descendants (including us), who inherited their now fallen, sinful nature. It also affected the earth itself. But God dropped this judgment directly on Adam and Eve for their sin.

Q. In the Age of Conscience, who failed?

A. All of mankind except Noah and his family.

Q. Who did God's judgment fall on?

A. All of mankind except Noah and his family.

I'm no biologist, but I believe it literally reached the point where Noah, his wife, and his three sons and their wives were the only eight people remaining who had no trace of the demonic contamination—whatever the precise nature of that contamination may have been—that had spread throughout the world in those days. And the entire human race, save for Noah and his family, perished in the Flood. God rebooted humanity from those eight people (a fact which has been supported by genetic studies).

Q. In the Age of Human Government, who failed?

A. Those who attempted to consolidate power in Babel.

Q. Who did God's judgment fall on?

A. Those who attempted to consolidate power in Babel.

This judgment didn't fall on the entire human race—it fell directly on Nimrod's kingdom centered in Babel (i.e. Babylon). Nimrod's kingdom included a number of cities listed in Genesis 10:10–12, and included Nineveh  (Jonah, whale, *gulp*). Nimrod, a grandson of Noah's son Ham, sought to defy God and attain some manner of god-like power as a world leader, and as such was a foreshadowing of the Antichrist. And God thwarted Nimrod's up-and-coming global kingdom just as He will that of the Antichrist at the climax of the Tribulation.

Q. In the Age of Promise, who failed?

A. Jacob's extended family—the Hebrew people.

Q. Who did God's judgment fall on?

A. Jacob's extended family—the Hebrew people.

Although the famine affected many people throughout the entire region, obviously it was only Jacob's descendants—the Hebrew people—who ended up becoming slaves in Egypt due to their utter lack of faith in God's promises and provision.

Q. In the Age of Law, who failed?

A. The nation of Israel.

Q. Who did God's judgment fall on?

A. The nation of Israel.

Although many common Jewish people did embrace their Messiah and His teaching, it was the Jewish religious leaders who were in a position to reject Him and surreptitiously arrange to have Him arrested and executed like a common criminal. And clearly the ensuing judgment fell squarely on the nation of Israel when in AD 70, their Roman masters attacked Jerusalem, demolished their precious temple, and initiated the first wave of driving them from their land, which would become a barren wasteland that would be occupied by a laundry list of foreign powers.

Q. In the Age of Grace, who fails?

A. Everyone who rejects the gospel during the Age of Grace.

Q. Who will God's judgment fall on?

A. ? ? ?

We're gonna circle back for this one.

Q. In the Kingdom Age, who fails?

A. Unbelievers born during the Kingdom Age who join Satan's final rebellion.

Q. Who will God's judgment fall on?

A. Unbelievers born during the Kingdom Age who join Satan's final rebellion.

Of course, that judgment will also fall on Satan. But as far as mankind is concerned, it only falls on those born during the Millennial Kingdom who reject the grace and mercy of the Messiah and foolishly allow themselves to get lured into yet another one of Satan's ill-fated plans to overthrow God and be like the Most High. And they will pay for their foolishness for eternity right alongside him.

As one of my old applied mathematics professors used to turn to the class and say with a grin after he had written out several iterations of some procedure that clearly repeated infinitely:

"I think I see a pattern developing."

Now, the reason I put ? ? ? in place of what is actually a fairly obvious answer concerning who God's judgment falls on following the Age of Grace is because this one simple question poses a surprisingly gnarly conundrum for all the misguided, biblically misinformed souls who so adamantly insist that the Church will absolutely go through all or part of the Tribulation, and so the doctrine of the pre-trib Rapture is nothing less than a stinking lie from the pit of hell intended to lead weaker members of the Church astray and into the waiting arms of the Antichrist.

In every dispensation, it's always the same fundamental pattern. God lays down a new rule for mankind to follow to live in a manner pleasing to Him, mankind (or at least part of mankind) fails to do so, God releases judgment on the group that fails to obey His rule, extends an offer of grace in some manner, institutes a new rule, and it's on to a new dispensation.

And buried in the middle of all that lies the key point:

In every dispensation, God's judgment

only falls on those who fail to obey the

ruling principle He requires of mankind.

OK, now let's circle back to the issue of the Age of Grace—and I have a feeling it's already beginning to dawn on you. During the Age of Grace, the new rule is to believe the gospel. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and presented Himself as Israel's Messiah; the Jewish religious leaders proceeded to reject Him and had Him crucified; Christ accomplished His work of atonement for our sin on the cross (effectively bringing to a close the Age of Law, since the foot of the cross is precisely where the Law of Moses was designed to deposit man); and the Holy Spirit came as promised on the day of Pentecost to begin to seal and indwell believers and build the Church. The Church comprises all the people over the next 2,000 years who, in spite of having seen no miraculous manifestations of God's power and presence whatsoever, believe in faith in what Christ did for them at Calvary and that alone for their salvation.

Think about it: After the Age of Grace ends at the Rapture, every living person remaining on earth will be someone who failed to obey Rule #1 of this dispensation—believe the gospel. They will be all those who failed to trust Christ for their salvation—every single one of them will be someone who failed to obey the new rule God established 2,000 years ago through the atoning sacrifice of His Son at the outset of the Age of Grace.

And just as in every other dispensation, the judgment God releases at its close only falls on those who fail to follow the corresponding ruling principle—in this case, an admonition to believe the gospel in faith.

And it obviously doesn't fall on those who did obey God's ruling principle by trusting Christ for their salvation, because every single such person alive at the time will be removed from the earth at the conclusion of the dispensation of the Age of Grace in the Rapture.

Every. Single. One. I don't see how anybody can miss this—the logic is inescapable. If the Church—those who have believed the gospel—is still on earth in the Tribulation, then for the first time in human history God is suddenly releasing judgment on those who obeyed His rule during a particular dispensation for some inexplicable reason. Make no mistake:

That means if any part of the

Church enters the Tribulation,

the scriptural wheels come off.

How is this unclear? Also, what about the idea of God extending an offer of grace following each dispensation? Where do we see that after the Rapture? Where's the grace during the Tribulation? Many people look askance at the book of Revelation because all they see is death and destruction.

Relax...that's an easy one. First of all, we see God's grace at work in the form of the 144,000 Jewish apostle Pauls God is going to seal and unleash on the post-Rapture world during the first part of the Tribulation.

Replace this: The sealing and sending out of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists to preach the gospel to the post-Rapture world and bring in a huge harvest of souls during the Tribulation is the literal, thundering fulfillment of Matthew 21:43, where Jesus tells the Pharisees that the kingdom will be taken from them and given to a people who will produce its fruit. This stands in complete contradistinction to the sloppy, errant exegesis of this verse that is frequently pushed to support replacement theology.

In Revelation 7:1–8, we see these 144,000 Jewish evangelists being sealed and the very next thing we see in verse 9 is a vast multitude of people who have come to a saving faith in the gospel showing up in heaven—people who rejected that same gospel during the Age of Grace and thus were subject to being plunged into the judgments of the Tribulation that followed it.

Also, He promised in Revelation 12:13–17 to protect the Jewish remnant in the wilderness from the fury of the Antichrist, who will throw everything but the kitchen sink at them during the Great Tribulation in order to prevent them from calling on their Messiah to save them. Which they will.

And so will He.

Notice that it's patently obvious that this extension of grace during the Tribulation has nothing whatsoever to do with the Church, which by definition has already availed themselves of His grace by obeying the rule of that dispensation: believe the gospel in faith and become part of the Church prior its removal from earth at the Rapture.

Unlike all those who failed to obey the rule of this dispensation and so will be subject to the judgments that will follow it in the Tribulation...

We got it while the gettin' was good.

And if you're reading this and you haven't got it, go to God and get it. But please be advised:

This offer is set to expire soon and very soon.

A couple of issues

Of course, there are those who take issue with some of this—there always are. One common line of argument used by people to attempt to undermine this dispensational view of God's plan, especially as it applies to the Age of Grace, the Rapture that ends it, and the subsequent judgments of the Tribulation goes something like this:

Since Jesus clearly states that the Church will be raptured "after the tribulation of those days" in Matthew 24:29–31, the Church will indeed endure the judgments of the Tribulation. But that's OK, because He will certainly preserve and protect the Church through all these judgments so when they're over He can snatch us all up into the air and then do a U-turn and bring us all right back down with Him to establish His kingdom.

Been there, done that: First off, don't even get me started dismantling the error of trying to read the Church into the Olivet Discourse again. As I keep saying: Matthew 24:29–31 is the direct fulfillment of about a half dozen Old Testament prophecies concerning the gathering of the Jewish remnant into the land of Israel to be ushered into their promised kingdom after the Second Coming, and cannot be referring to the Church. Not to be hyper-dogmatic or anything, but it's pretty much that simple.

But that surprisingly common interpretive error aside, they then proceed to try to back up their argument by pointing to other situations where God preserved or protected someone or some group of people through some harsh experience that smacks of God's judgment, and liken that to God preserving the Church through the judgments of Daniel's 70th Week.

For example, they point to Noah and his family being preserved through the Flood; the children of Israel being preserved by God parting the Red Sea; Daniel's pals Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being preserved through their hot date with a fiery furnace; and so on. They use such incidents to support their argument that the Church will endure the judgments of the Tribulation, but will be miraculously preserved and protected through it all by God.

I dealt the requisite death blows to this line of reasoning in an article about 10 years ago entitled "Tilting at Windmills," and it boils down to this:

(a) Noah and his family represent the Jewish remnant being preserved through the Tribulation (which is exactly what Scripture tells us point blank God will do in Rev. 12:13–17). Noah's great grandfather Enoch, who walked with God and was simply "taken" just prior to the Flood in what was a foreshadowing of the Rapture (Gen. 5:24), represents the Church. Not to mention a "pre-Flood" Rapture, if you catch my drift. Not only that, but according to Jewish tradition, Enoch was taken on the sixth day of the month of Sivan, which happens to be Shavuot, aka the day of Pentecost: the Church's birthday.

(b) Steady now...this is deep: At the Red Sea, Israel represents Israel.

(c) While I was writing "Tilting at Windmills," the article I linked to above, I happened to notice something: The four names of Daniel and his three friends (either their Hebrew names or their new Babylonian names) are mentioned together as a group a total of seven times in Daniel 1–2. But in Daniel 3, suddenly Daniel is gone—he is never mentioned: It's just Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who are facing the king's fury for not bowing down to his statue of gold. Suddenly Daniel is conspicuously absent and his homeboys are on their own. And you may as well stand back because I'm gonna say it again:

The Holy Spirit is a very careful writer: Every word in Scripture is there for a reason and not there for a reason.

Daniel is a clear type of Christ, the king is a clear type of the Antichrist, and the fiery furnace is a clear type of the Tribulation. Thus, Daniel's physical absence during his three Jewish compadres' trial by fire makes perfect sense if we view them as a type of the Jewish remnant being protected by God during the Tribulation. It all fits.

Christ shows up as the fourth man in the fire (whom the king declares looks like "the Son of God") to preserve the three Jewish boys (i.e. the Jewish remnant), precisely as Scripture clearly tells us He will. Thus, the fact that Daniel is nowhere to be seen during his friends' fiery ordeal is a perfect picture of the fact that the "body" of Christ is not on earth during the Tribulation, which is precisely what is being foreshadowed here.

Their argument has another problem, however. Yes, in the book of Revelation we clearly see multitudes of believers slugging through the judgments of Daniel's 70th Week—that cannot be denied. But if these are the Church or even part of the Church (and if you subscribe to the above argument, then it's on you to explain who else they could possibly be), then something has gone horribly wrong with the idea that God will preserve and protect the Church through the entire Tribulation, because this is what we see:

9After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could count, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands [they're in heaven because they're dead]. 10They cried with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation be to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" 

(Revelation 7:9–10 / emphasis &
[comments] added)

Countless legions of these believers are showing up in heaven during the Tribulation. Why? Because they're being martyred—they're being executed for their faithful testimony. Uhh...not to put too fine a point on it, but if this is the Church being "preserved and protected" by God during the Tribulation, then with all due respect, He's not exactly doing a bang-up job of it.

Tussling over the Tribulation

It seems that a lot of people who are fully on board with the precepts of dispensationalism often struggle with how the Tribulation fits into the scheme of things—and in the past I have been among them.

A few are inclined to actually see the Tribulation as a distinct dispensation. Many, however, are inclined to view the Tribulation as a continuation of the Age of Law, which they see as not actually ending with Christ, but rather merely being interrupted. They see the Tribulation that follows the Age of Grace as a form or variation of the Age of Law that comes into play following the Rapture and continues until the Second Coming.

I admit that I struggled for years to interpret how the Tribulation fits into the dispensational framework, and in the past also had a tendency to interpret it as the Age of Law that continued after being interrupted by the Church Age.

But as I worked on this article, it was as if God just made all the pieces fall neatly into place. I suspect that what was throwing me off was the same thing that throws many others off, and that is the Prophecy of Daniel's 70 Weeks (Dan. 9:24-27) and its relationship to both the Ages of Law and Grace.

The truth is that this period of 70 weeks (490 years) given to Israel actually was interrupted one week (seven years) shy of its completion when Christ presented Himself to Israel as their Messiah at the conclusion of the 69th of those 70 weeks, and this leads many to view the Age of Grace as some kind of "interruption"—which is exactly what it is. But what Christ accomplished at Calvary interrupted Daniel's 70 Weeks—it ended the Age of Law. These two periods are two different things, and attempting to conflate them in some way leads to problems and confusion.

Daniel's 70 Weeks is a period of 490 years God gave to Israel that is effectively their countdown to the kingdom. That countdown began in 445 BC with a decree issued by Artaxerxes (some say 444 BC, but I won't argue the point here), and was interrupted after 69 of those 70 weeks when Christ presented Himself to Israel as their Messiah. After the Jews rejected Christ and had Him crucified, the Age of Grace was launched, which fills a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks. Not long after the Age of Grace ends at the Rapture, the 70th week will commence, which comprises the seven years of the Tribulation. This is primarily the period when God unleashes judgment on the world for their failure to obey the rule of the Age of Grace (i.e. believing the gospel), and after this final period of seven years Christ will return to establish His kingdom. But again, the 70th week is part of the 70 weeks—and it makes little sense to equate this period to or regard it as synonymous with the Age of Law.

The Age of Law began in the fifteenth century BC when Israel received the Law of Moses at Mount Sinai, and ended at Calvary when the promised Messiah offered the perfect sacrifice for man's sin that permanently replaced the blood of sheep and goats. Not long afterwards the Church was conceived, the Age of Grace was launched, and judgment fell on the nation of Israel for failing to recognize and receive their promised Messiah, which was effectively part of the ruling principle of the Age of Law. The Age of Grace began, and later the Romans sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, and drove the Jews from their land.

Of course, I certainly respect students of the Bible who see things a bit differently—I have no problem with that at all. But I have come to look at it this way: During the Tribulation, are men once again going to be required to obey the Law of Moses to demonstrate their faith in God and His promises, as they were during the Age of Law? Or are they going to look forward to a promised Messiah, as they did during the Age of Law? No, not at all—that makes no sense. Well, what rule will be in effect?

What will be the ruling principle during the Tribulation that guides men in how to live in a manner pleasing to God? Enquiring minds want to know.

Isn't it obvious? It'll be the same ruling principle at work now—believing in faith in Christ's work of atonement and that alone for the forgiveness of sin:

God's requirement for faith in

His Son's work of atonement will

never change or be superseded!

At least not as long as humans with a sin nature still exist. The ruling principle of the Age of Grace to believe the gospel won't fade from the scene following the Rapture—I don't care how many temples Israel builds or how many sacrifices they offer during the Tribulation.

Understand that sacrifices offered by Israel during the Tribulation prior to the abomination of desolation will be just as offensively ineffectual in God's eyes as those offered between Calvary and AD 70—and will similarly be followed by God dropping the hammer of judgment on His people.

OK, I see that look on your face. Well, think of it this way:

Q. You're God, and you sacrificed the life of your beloved Son so His blood could redeem and cleanse from sin all who believe in faith. Then along come your people Israel, the people you originally promised that redemption to, and they are still so utterly blind to what your Son did for them that they consider the blood of cattle and sheep to be more valuable than that of your Son who died for them. How do you feel about them so dishonoring your Son?

A. Hold my heavenly beverage.

During the Tribulation, God will be focused on drawing His people Israel to the cross of Christ—not back to the Age of Law. One-third will receive their real Messiah, and two-thirds will receive an impostor—and will perish.

Incidentally, this will also be how people get saved during the Millennial Kingdom, even though the new overall ruling principle will be to obey the direct theocratic rule of Christ. As far as salvation goes, Christ did it all—after Calvary, it's all about the gospel. Period.

It's true that after most of the dispensations, the previous rules didn't necessarily vanish or get canceled—they were just overshadowed by a new rule. One difference, however, is that those saved after the Age of Grace will not enjoy the sealing and indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, which I am convinced is a blessing unique to the Church—those who have seen nothing and yet still believe (John 20:29). Those who come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation are going to see more than they bargained for—they will see God's hand moving in judgment (Rev. 6:16-17). That's not exactly "nothing."

Same for the Millennial Kingdom, with people living in a world no longer under the curse of sin and death and now under the righteous rule of Christ Himself, and with Satan locked away for the duration—you call that "nothing"? That's one reason I tend to believe that everyone saved after the Rapture will be required to maintain a faithful testimony. I know some disagree, and that's fine. But I believe the sealing and indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that Church Age believers are blessed with ends with the Church—and Tribulation saints and believers during the Millennial Kingdom are not the Church.

Of course, there are a few other things going on during the Tribulation, such as Satan's little 42-month kingdom, etc. But the fact remains that the Tribulation is primarily the sequence of judgments God unleashes on the world (Jews and Gentiles) for not obeying the rule of the Age of Grace, and thus spurning the most incredible offer of grace and mercy in the history of the universe.

This offer has been freely available since the Age of Grace began 2,000 years ago to any and all who respond to the wooing of the Holy Spirit, and receive the free gift of salvation and eternal reconciliation with a holy, just, loving God through belief in faith in the work of atonement accomplished by His perfect, sinless Son—the man Christ Jesus.

Exhibit A

It's always the same—the fundamental pattern we see in every dispensation never changes because it reflects God's unchanging attributes:

(a) It reflects His love, because it demonstrates how He seeks to reconcile sinful man to Himself, and ultimately draw a portion of mankind who will respond to the voice of His Spirit into a glorious, intimate, and eternal relationship with Him as His adopted sons and daughters.

(b) It reflects His holiness, because He demonstrates that He will not passively abide man's disobedience of any of His ruling principles in any dispensation.

(c) It reflects His justice, which comes into play in judging man's sinful failures after each dispensation.

(d) It reflects His grace, which is extended in some form after each of man's failures to obey His ruling principle in each dispensation.

(e) It reflects His mercy, because...straight up: Were it not for His great mercy, God would have wiped us all out a long time ago.

And as we have seen, just as an added bonus:

It puts another padlock on the pre-trib

Rapture like few things I can think of.

It renders the presence of the Church or

any part of it on earth during the Tribulation

contrary to God's well-established principles.

But more importantly, viewing God's plan in terms of dispensations allows us to see the big picture of how God, step by step, is providing for the reconciliation of man to Himself, and an important part of this process involves bringing a portion of mankind into a loving family relationship with Him in the form of the Church. And all the pieces fit together perfectly into an exquisite design that only a Creator God could have envisioned in eternity past.

And the purpose of the Church?

10To the intent that now to the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God... 

(Ephesians 3:10 AKJV)

The eternal purpose of the Church is to put on full display to the principalities and powers of heaven the unsearchable riches of God's true character: His wisdom, His love, His justice, His holiness, His grace, His mercy...and what a display we are going to be!

Throughout eternity, if anyone ever again questions God's character or motives (as Satan has done in the past), all He will have to do in order to put those questions to silence is point to the Church. In other words:

We're going to be Exhibit A.

From Greg Lauer @ A Little Strength—JAN '23
Post A Comment


  1. Excellent. Thank you, Greg. You gave compelling, scripture-proved reasons why the Tribulation is for Israel and not the Church. And you gave me a great lesson in better understanding God's dispensations throughout HISstory. The weary, watching, groaning Bride of Jesus senses our departure is nigher than ever before. May it be so and may we be about our Father's business in the meanwhile. God bless you and you guys here at Unsealed.

  2. Excellent article. Great explanation of the dispensations.
    Loved how this demonstrates God’s wisdom, His love, His justice, His holiness, His grace, and His mercy.

    Love your writing style!!

  3. I'd argue that everything from the Rapture to the Second Coming is its own dispensation, but that's just me nitpicking. It's not quite the Age of Grace since there's no Church, and there's the additional requirement for salvation that you can't take the Mark of the Beast, which isn't an issue in other time dispensations.

    1. Yes Correct I am with you hiftobaf

    2. I suppose it could be considered one, but it just makes better sense to me personally to leave it as the judgments associated with the Age of Grace.

  4. This was a wonderful article and answered a question I had about whether the seven years Trib would be part of yhe Law Dispensation or not. It all makes so much more sense now! Thank you for this article!

  5. Mr. Greg, Thank you for this wonderfully developed lesson. Every paragraph calms our soul and points us to Jesus. Father has a plan , 'n' HIS plan is working . Understanding deepens our conviction . Again, Thank you for sharing your words, work and heart.

  6. WOW ! ,just wow. Thankyou Greg for writing this, and major thanks to The Holy Spirit for revealing it to you. I love how concise this is.

  7. This is an excellent rundown and explanation of the various dispensations in Scripture and how we fit in to God's overall plan. Nice work, Greg!

    Also, glad to see that your posts are getting re-posted over here!

    My favorite line: "Hold my heavenly beverage."


    1. Have to agree with Bro. Jeff here, lol. "HOLD MY HEAVENLY BEVERAGE!"

    2. I came t-h-i-s close to using the b-word, but luckily the Holy Spirit rapped my knuckles hard enough to dissuade me. His line is better.

  8. Excellent article! Enjoy(ing) it, immensely! Love the “Main Street Lutheran” scenario! Priceless! Thank you for this! Maranatha! 📖🌾🕯

  9. Greg, this was such a fascinating article to read. Really enjoyed it. I love the "???." The only way to get this fill-in-the-blank wrong is by purposely trying to get it wrong 😀😀😀

    I shared this on Twitter the other day with some additional thoughts:

    #Dispensationalism isn't #confusing. It's common sense. It's simple deductive reasoning. It isn't soteriological, it's administrative and eschatological. Eras / #dispensations of history are self-evident in the #Bible. Furthermore, it's not an extreme, it's actually the happy [and accurate] medium between the true extremes of #covenantalism and #hyperdispensationalism.

    Let's break this down:

    Covenantalism: #solafide in all ages, no dispensations of time

    Dispensationalism: #solafide in all ages, dispensations of time

    Hyperdispensationalism: #solafide in this age only, dispensations of time

    In other words, covenantalism has a literal, prima facie understanding of soteriology, but not a literal interpretation of eschatology.

    Hyperdispensationalism has an inconsistent, selectively-literal interpretation of soteriology and a literal interpretation of eschatology.

    Classic/traditional dispensationalism utilizes a literal, exegetical, prima facie interpretation of both soteriology AND eschatology. It was developed to simply reflect what the biblical record states.

  10. Is it just me or is 2023 looking like THE candidate year of all years to watch for the anticipated event. In light of the fact that comet C/22 E3 ETF has now entered into constellation Aurega as of today, there is update information and, in my mind, very telling prophetic utterances taking place:

    Updated Article Information: See new section titled:


    1. The Aurega constellation appears to take on the shape of an irregular Pentagon.The necessary piece of the puzzle for the bear attack Rapture pattern to play out is that America will have to be attacked by the bear (Russia) just like ancient Israel (the original Vineyard) was attacked by the bears. The Pentagon is considered the war planning center of America – the modern Vineyard. The comet’s travel through Aurega would seem to be confirming what we already know about the timing of the Rapture as seen in the 2 Kings 2 story – that that the Rapture is going to occur before the bear of Russia does what the globalists want them to do – which is strike America. Is the comet’s passage through the "Pentagon constellation" a further confirmation of this “Bear Rapture Prophecy” pattern?
      Sure looks like it."

  11. Article update rethink: In looking at the Auriga constellation and the Capella Star as its main star, it would appear that it is more symbolic of the Antichrist and his counterfeit function in place of Christ. One could say that the harvest of the tares in his action of "charioteering" as depicted in Aurega is the harvest of souls for the kingdom of darkness being displayed here.

    With the comet's path of travel in mind, Aurega is depicted holding the reins of a chariot with his right hand and carrying a goat and its two young on his left arm. This image reminds us that the Antichrist is compared to a goat in the book of Daniel. The prophetic point becomes all the more telling when considering that the comet passed through the Corona Borealis constellation representing the crowning of Satan’s emissary the Antichrist and also passed through Draco the Dragon representing Satan as previously mentioned. As he is holding a goat and his two offspring in his left arm should remind us of the sobering sheep and goat judgment of Matthew 25 to take place at the end of the earthly judgments of the Tribulation period which occurs after the Rapture and before the beginning of the 1,000-year millennial reign of Christ on Earth.

    the “chariot” feature of the Elijah story as the comet entered the “charioteer” constellation. But wait, didn’t you say the charioteer is representative of the Antichrist and not a Godly charioteer as what scooped up Elijah? The same imagery applies as Satan has his opposite function and counterfeit. Just as the Holy Spirit could be considered a charioteer luring and drawing human beings to Jesus Christ for salvation, so too is Satan and his emissary the Antichrist a charioteer drawing the lost into the realm of damnation and the Mark of the Beast system.

    Capella is actually two stars, Capella A and Capella B, both yellow giant stars (resembling gold), but we can only see one point of light – making it appear as though it were one star. Just as it is the goat star representing the Antichrist, so too will this Antichrist figure seek to replace and mimic Jesus Christ – thus shining forth the counterfeit allure of the true symbolic “gold” of faith that Jesus admonished the lost to symbolically buy from him for eternal life.

    Nearby to Capella is a small acute triangle of stars playfully known as “The Kids.” We can also say "the Sons" as we are told in scripture that those who are born again in Christ are a part of God's family and are labeled "sons." However, so too are Lucifer's children (Christ rejectors) "sons" of the evil one by default.

    This most important star in the constellation is 42.2 light years distant from the sun and 42.8 light years distant to the Earth! Remember that the Tribulation is also divided up into two sections of "42" months each for a total of 7 years duration. Both distances (Earth and Sun) of this Aurelia Capella star would seem to represent both the two "42" month segments of the Tribulation in addition to the "42" Elijah Rapture typology. In creation, the sun represents Jesus. Here, we have a Rapture connotation in the number 42 and its distance from the sun and the sun itself seemingly presenting a picture that the "sun" (Jesus) is getting ready to Rapture home his kids while judgment will fall upon the left behind world - i.e. the judgment of the "42" in the 2 Kings 2 story via the bears.

    1. Beginning on February 10 and running through the 11th of the next day, the green Rapture comet will appear side by side with Mars (the war planet).


      Given that the image on Mars released by NASA is that of a bear, one can only look at this cosmic turn of events as something terribly ominous for the world - yet a blessing for the true, born again individuals in the Church body.



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