Islam’s Jesus By Jack Kinsella I received an email today from someone taking me to…
Who The Heck Was Margaret MacDonald?
By Jack Kinsella
I regularly am asked if it could be possible that we have already crossed over into the Tribulation Period. The Tribulation is divided into two periods of three and a half years each, with the second half being known as the “Great” Tribulation, so maybe we’re in the first half now? After all, things are pretty awful out there.
I was asked that question again last week, and I gave my usual reply (“Not yet”) together with the explanation that the Tribulation does not begin until sometime AFTER the Rapture of the Church.
The Church plays no role in the Tribulation, I explained, which is set aside to judge a Christ-rejecting world and to effect the national redemption of Israel. Since the Church neither rejected Christ nor is in need of further redemption, its presence in the Tribulation makes no sense.
Evidently, this was precisely what my interlocutor was hoping I would say, as my reply was immediately followed by a long, prepared explanation about Dispensationalism as a recently-invented doctrine. Here is how that story goes:
In 1830, a Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald had a vision about the end of the world and when she came out from under her trance, she wrote it down. This account attracted the attention of Edward Irving and his church later claimed Margaret as one of their own prophetesses.
Irving also had an interest in prophecy and held prophetic conferences. The historian of Irving’s church claimed that Margaret was the first person to teach a two stage second coming of Christ.
John Darby traveled to Scotland to visit the MacDonald home. Darby was a lawyer until a year after his conversion when he was ordained a deacon in the Church of England. Soon after entering the ministry he became disillusioned with the institutional church and started the Brethren movement in Plymouth, England.
Darby became known as the ‘father’ of Dispensationalism, the first eschatology to incorporate the ‘prophecy’ of Margaret MacDonald. Darby continued to develop this new view by becoming the first to make a radical distinction between Israel and the Church.
Darby taught that God has two special groups of people (or two Brides) and a separate plan for each of them. This meant Christ would have to return twice.
The fact that this doctrine wasn’t taught after about 400 AD until the early 1800’s didn’t make it a new doctrine. Instead, it was the rediscovery of a lost doctrine.
At this point, my correspondent asked me mockingly to show him anywhere in the Bible where it specifically says the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation. I say mockingly, because it is a ridiculous challenge.
If that were possible, then there would only be one view of the Rapture, instead of five; pre-tribulational, mid-tribulational, pre-wrath, post-tribulational and no Rapture at all.
The pre-tribulational, or Dispensationalist view, is the one that had my correspondent tied up in knots. Dispensationalism takes the position that the Bible teaches progressive revelation; meaning that God dealt with people in different times in different ways.
Adam walked with God in the cool of the evening. God spoke with Noah directly. God dealt with the Israelites through the Judges, giving Moses the Ten Commandments which began the Dispensation of the Law.
The Dispensation that followed the Law was the Dispensation of Grace. But the Prophet Daniel prophesied that the Dispensation of Grace would be a parenthetical period WITHIN the Dispensation of the Law.
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”
Note first that the prophecy is about Daniel’s people and Daniel’s city, so this is the future history of Israel and Jerusalem.
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” (Daniel 9:24-25)
Daniel lists six things to be accomplished within the seventy weeks, or 490 years.
1. To finish the transgression.
2. To make an end of sins.
3. To make reconciliation for iniquity.
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness.
5. To seal up the vision and the prophecy.
6. To anoint the Most Holy.
For the Church, points one through three were accomplished at the Cross. The Church needs no further redemption. Points four through six are accomplished at the Second Coming and the Millennial Kingdom that follows.
The interval between point three and point four started at Pentecost and continues to this day. This is the Dispensation of Grace, or the Church Age.
The Dispensation of the Law was to be interrupted for an indeterminate period by the Dispensation of Grace, after which the Dispensation of the Law has one more week to run.
“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:26)
The Messiah was “cut off” from the land of the living exactly 483 lunar years after King Ahasuerus issued the decree to restore the city and sanctuary in March, 445 BC. That stopped the clock on the Dispensation of the Law and began the Dispensation of Grace.
The “people of the prince that shall come” destroyed the rebuilt city and sanctuary in AD 70. The prince that shall come is the antichrist, whose appearance on the scene represents a resumption of the Dispensation of the Law.
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:27)
The last “week” is the Tribulation Period, during which time, Temple worship and sacrifices for sin will be resumed, and at the mid-point, abolished.
Instead of building the argument based on what the Bible doesn’t say about the Rapture, it is helpful to take a good close look at what it DOES tell us about the Rapture.
First, notice that the Rapture involves the movement of believers from the earth to Heaven:
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
The ‘dead in Christ’ rise first, those believers who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds. The operative phrase here is “rise to meet the Lord in the air”.
On the other hand, at the Second Coming, the movement is in the opposite direction — the Lord returns WITH His saints;
“To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” (1st Thessalonians 3:13)
So the Rapture cannot be the same event as the Second Coming. And things that are different are NOT the same.
The Church was absent for the first sixty-nine weeks of Daniel — the countdown to the seventieth week was suspended at the Cross so the Church could be born.
Daniel makes it clear that all 70 weeks are determined upon Israel.
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Revelation 19:7-8)
Here is another problem: the Bride is made ready to accompany Christ to the earth at the Second Coming, (while part of the bride is still on earth during the Tribulation) then how does the Bride (the Church) also come with Christ at His Return?
There is the example of Enoch:
“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)
Not only does Enoch prefigure the Rapture, note that Enoch’s Rapture was pre-Flood, and not mid-Flood or post-Flood.
The Scriptures are plain, clear and concise on the topic of a pre-Tribulation Rapture — provided one interprets the Bible literally, instead of figuratively or symbolically.
While no man knows the day or the hour of the Rapture, the Second Coming can be accurately predicted, since Daniel tells us He returns exactly 1,290 days after the antichrist enters the Temple (which Paul calls the Temple of God giving it a spiritual legitimacy it could not have if the Church remained on the earth). (2 Thessalonians 2:4)
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” (Daniel 12:11)
The pre-Tribulation Rapture is often called the “Blessed Hope” by those who look for His return before the Tribulation begins. Those who believe the Church will go through the Tribulation sneeringly call it the ‘Great Escape’. The Bible says differently.
“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1st Corinthians 15:16-19)
The Rapture happens before the Tribulation, which means that He is coming for us soon! Call it the Blessed Hope or the Great Escape, He IS coming.
Don’t let anybody steal away your Blessed Hope, only to replace it with sudden fear.
“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” (Proverbs 3:25-26)