Is there a distinction between tribulation saints and the church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
A friend of Deeper Waters left a message on our Facebook page about my post on where is the church? In this, I argued that the word church not being in Revelation does not indicate the absence of the church. This commenter left a reason why he thinks the tribulation saints aren’t the church.
For me the strongest argument for the church being a different group than the saints in Trib, is that Rev states that when Satan is cast out of heaven and sent down to earth to possess that false prophet/antiChrist it says “And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Re 13:4–8.
This seems to contradict Jesus’ statement that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church, that all authority has been given to the church and Satan has NO authority over the church.
It seems to me that Satan cannot be on earth at the same time as the church if Satan is given authority on earth. So this likely is a different group of saints.
This argument depends a lot on timing. For one thing, the objection here seems to assume that all of Revelation is future. I come from an opposite approach. Look at Revelation 12 where the dragon does appear. What do you see going on? A dragon about to devout a child that will rule the nations with a rod of iron. Biblically, the only conclusion I can reach is that this is the birth of Jesus.
I don’t see any reason to think that this event will happen again, so I take this to be a description of the birth of Christ. When that takes place, the dragon tries to devour the child, namely through the slaughter of the infants. What about Satan being on Earth though?
In Luke, Jesus says He saw Satan cast down from Heaven. (Luke 10:18) This was during His ministry. Is Satan however active while the Kingdom of God is active?
The answer from Scripture has to be yes. In Matthew 12, Jesus casts out a demon and the Pharisees tell the crowd that it is by Beelzebul that Jesus does that. Jesus says that if He casts out demons by the finger of God then the Kingdom of God is among you.
Did you catch it?
Jesus is on Earth and yet He is fighting against the devil. Jesus declares the Kingdom is right there, but so is the Kingdom of the devil. In Matthew 13 next, we are told that the Kingdom grows like a mustard seed or like yeast through dough. This means that the Kingdom of God will keep growing and if it is doing that, it has to be breaking into another kingdom pushing it out.
Any guesses which that is?
By the way, there’s no indication that the Kingdom of God will be removed from Earth and then started over during a tribulation period somehow. God is building up His army and there’s no reason to think that He’s going to remove it en masse at any time. Also, for those who say the Holy Spirit can’t be on Earth during the tribulation, kind of difficult for an omnipresent being to not be, you know, present.
I contend then that if the Kingdom of God is removed, that would be God giving authority again to the devil which would really be a case of a violation of Matthew 16 and the gates of Hell passage.
From my viewpoint, it’s straight through historical. The dragon falls and then not too much later, here comes Nero, who I think is the Beast, on the scene. When we get to the harlot later on in Revelation, who is that? Some of you might be surprised when I say that that harlot is Israel.
Does that sound anti-semitic?
If so, then the Old Testament must be a very anti-semitic book since it regularly depicts Israel as a harlot. This again makes the historical sense of what happened. For a time, the Jews could work with Rome to persecute the Christians, but then the Romans turned on the Jews as well and sought to kill them. That culminated in the fall of Jerusalem which is compared to Babylon in the book.
I wanted to answer this objection because I do try to take objections to my view seriously. I did give a little bit of commentary on Revelation as well. I won’t do this for every objection I get, but I wanted to address this one as it seemed more well thought-out.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)