Israel in the Tribulation
Question: Pretribulationists believe that the church will be removed to Heaven prior to the Tribulation. What evidence is there from Scripture that the Tribulation is primarily Jewish in nature?
Answer: Jeremiah 30:7 makes it clear that the Tribulation involves Israel. It is called "the time of Jacob's trouble." Daniel 12:1 is another important Scripture:
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered.
This is clearly a Tribulation passage. It is characterized by great trouble "such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time." Other passages also show that the Tribulation is Jewish in scope and focuses on Israel. Jesus refers to "the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet" (Matthew 24:15).
The seventy weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:20-27) is another important passage. It focuses on Israel in relationship to gentile powers. Verses 26-27 says:
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 he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and, in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease.
The entire prophecy focuses on Daniel's people and Daniel's city—that is, the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. At a later time, after the threescore and two weeks which follow the first seven weeks (that is, after 69 weeks) Messiah will be cut off and Jerusalem will again be destroyed by the people of another prince who is yet to come.
Question: Doesn't the Bible say that two-thirds of the Jewish people will be killed during the Tribulation?
Answer: Zechariah 13 reveals that the Tribulation is a time of refining for Israel. Verses 8-9 tell us:
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.
The events of the Tribulation affect the Jewish nation and the Jewish people, not the church. There is no indication in any of these Scriptures that the church is affected by the judgments of the Tribulation.
Ezekiel 20:37-38 state:
And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
This purging process will result in the removal of the rebel, leaving the believing Jewish remnant who will then be brought into the "bond of the covenant."