The Mystery of Glad Tidings in the Darkest Days
What is the mystery of God, which was promised as glad tidings to the
prophets and which will be fulfilled at the sounding of the 7th trumpet?
In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound the trumpet, the mystery of God also shall be completed, as he has made known the glad tidings to his own bondmen the prophets (Rev.10:7, JND).
Future Events in the Gospel of Matthew
Our Lord gave an overview of the future events in Mat. 24. In verses 4-14 He described the events before the time of Jacob's trouble, which He defined in v.21 as the most severe tribulation on earth in past and future. In Rev. this time of tribulation follows after the sound of the 7th trumpet (Rev. 11:15).
The beginning of the future events were summarised by Our Lord and described as the beginning of birth pangs (Mat.24:8). In Rev. these events have their parallel in the sequence of the first four seals (Rev. 6:1-8). After these events Our Lord described the persecution of the faithful and the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom (Mat. 24:9-14), which will be terminated by the appearing of the abomination of desolation (v.15 and Rev. 13). However, just before the most terrible time will start, the mystery of God shall be completed.
The Completion of the Mystery: Something Missing?
J. Allen (1) stresses the shortness of time, indicated in this announcement:
The waiting time is to continue only until the blowing of the seventh trumpet. As soon as the seventh trumpet begins to sound the long delay of the ages will be over.
However, there is nothing in his explanation of the mystery of God, which would have to be completed in the moment of the sounding of the 7th trumpet. He explains this mystery with the following words:
The word "mystery" in the NT never means "mysterious" but defines that which cannot be known apart from God Himself making it known; it is that which must come by divine revelation. Throughout the long ages of waiting, the prophets, the servants of God, brought good tidings to men. … These notes of gladness have been necessarily incomplete and partial but they will find their completion and finally reach the goal when the 7th trumpet is sounded. This means that the "mystery of God" must be defined as being the full knowledge of Christ, which is the clear statement of Col.2:2, "The mystery of God even Christ " (RV).
In general I agree with this explanation of the mystery of God; however, I have the impression that a special event might be missing, which was promised as glad tidings to the prophets. If this is correct this event must take place in the very moment when the angel is about to sound the 7th trumpet.
The Timing of the Seventh Trumpet
The sounding of the 7th trumpet is described in Rev. 11,15. When will this be? The duration of the three woes in Revelation in comparison to the last seven years of Israel before the coming of Messiah are shown in Table 1. The three woes in Revelation are identical with the trumpets 5-7, which do not overlap, since overlapping is excluded by the following verses:
One woe is past; [and], behold, there come two woes more hereafter. And the sixth angel sounded… (Rev.9:12-13a).
The second woe is past; [and], behold, the third woe cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded… (Rev.11:14-15a).
The period of time given within each of the three woes determine the lower limit of the duration of each woe. During the third woe two periods of 3 ½ years each are given. These are assumed to be parallel in time. In this way a time pattern is developed on clear scriptural basis (Table 1). The shortest possible duration of the three woes is 7 years plus 5 months. Other suggestions for time patterns, which spring back and forward and overlap events as one pleases, are questionable.
From Table 1 it is obvious, that the 7th trumpet will be sounded right in the middle of the last 7 years of Israel before the revelation of the Messiah in power and glory. To show this in detail we will compare the relevant verses in Daniel and Revelation. Dan.9:27 and Dan.12:11 tell us that the daily sacrifice in Jerusalem will be performed during the first half of Israel's 70th week.
Duration of the three woes in Revelation in comparison to the last seven years of Israel before the coming of Messiah
5thTrumpet = 1stWoe
6th Trumpet = 2nd Woe
7th Trumpet = 3rd Woe
Last seven years of Israel before coming of Messiah (Dan.9:27)
First 3 ½ years
Last 3 ½ years
In the middle of these 7 years the coming prince will break his covenant with Israel by stopping the daily sacrifice and setting up the abomination of desolation.
During the second half of Israel's last 7 years before the coming of Messiah there will be no sacrifice for 1290 days:
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 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.
We will now compare this prophesy with Rev.11:1-3:
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty [and] two months.
And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
The time when God is being worshiped in the Temple in Jerusalem is according to the quotations from Daniel the first half of the 70th week. During the same time the court without the Temple is given unto the Gentiles and – also during the same time – Jerusalem is called "The Holy City".
For 42 months the Gentiles will tread under foot The Holy City. After these 3 ½ years The Holy City ceases to exist in the view of God, since after the death of the two witnesses Jerusalem is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. This dramatic change occurs after the 1260 days of the testimony of the two witnesses:
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
These considerations show that both the daily sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem and the testimony of the two witnesses will take place in the first half of Israel's 70th week.
J. N. Darby's Time Pattern
This view is in agreement with J. Allen (1), and A. Fruchtenbaum (4), however, it is in contrast to many of the commentators who, like me, believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. As far as I know, J. N. Darby (2) was the first to state this view with the argument, that with Rev.11:19 a second part of the book of Revelation begins, which is repeating more or less the first part. Part one is seen to end with the coming of Christ:
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
According to this view the 1260 days of the two witnesses overlap with the 42 months of total power of the beast. However, this is in conflict with Rev.11:14-15a. Therefore, this explanatory pattern should be revised.
This, however, is quite difficult, since this pattern has been taken for granted without being called into question for more than 100 years.
An Alternative Suggestion: The Middle of the 7 Years
One of the early exceptions of pre-tribulation commentators is E. W. Bullinger (3), who does not see the actual coming of Christ in Rev.11:15. He explains this verse as follows:
The whole subject is one of sovereignty… And this question is now about to be settled by these final judgements of the seven Vials. The result is celebrated in this vision "in heaven" by anticipation. It looks forward to the close of the whole book of Revelation. It is not till the events of chap. xx. have taken place that this change of sovereignty is consummated.
A. Fruchtenbaum (4) explains that the two witnesses are killed in the middle of the 70th week of Daniel and that after their death the 42 months of total power of the beast begin.
The forced end of the sacrifice and the desecration of the Temple by the abomination in the middle of the last 7 years of Israel are some of the reasons that lead to a dramatic change of name of Jerusalem. During the time of the daily sacrifice in the first 3 ½ years, Jerusalem is called "The Holy City", but after the death of the two witnesses she is called, "Spiritually Sodom and Egypt".
Which of the events in the middle of Israel's last seven years could have been made known to the prophets as "glad tidings"?
At first glance none of them seem to be prophesied as glad tidings. Therefore we have to study this question more thoroughly.
The Man-Child in Revelation 12: Saints Who Overcame or Believers from Israel
F. Eichler (5) and others, who are holding the partial rapture theory, suggest, that the man-child is a picture of saints, who "overcame" during the church age. To support this suggestion they stress, that the same word is used for the rapture in 1Thes.4:17 and in Rev.12:5:
Then we, which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up (harpazo) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord…
…and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne.
However, the whole church will be caught up to meet the Lord Jesus, our deliverer from the coming wrath (1Thes.1:10)before the Day of Wrath, which probably starts with the trumpet judgements (Rev.8):
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we can rule out this idea.
After the teaching about resurrection and rapture of the church Paul continues with the words:
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
The apostle uses two different pictures to indicate the beginning of the judgement day of Lord:
A thief in the night – his coming is completely unexpected and results only in loss.
The time of birth is roughly known and its result is a child.
Therefore, we conclude that the first picture refers to unbelievers while the second one refers to believers from Israel who know the announcement that the future most intensive time of trouble will not destroy the elect people of Israel (Dan.12,1). This terrible time is referred to as travail, which will start when they say: "Peace and safety". In Ez.38 an attack from a northern power is predicted when Israel dwells safely:
Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know [it]? And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee…
In the next chapter the defeat of this power is described and it is added that Israel will burn the weapons during the following 7 years. From this I conclude that this war will take place in the beginning of the last 7 years of Israel before the coming of Messiah.
The prophetic events in comparison to the last 7 years of Israel before the coming of Messiah – the 70th week of Daniel (Dan.9:24-27) – are presented in Table 2.
- In the middle of this period we find the following events:
- Abomination, sacrifice in Jerusalem ceased
- Death of the two witnesses
- Resurrection and ascension of the two witnesses
- Earthquake in Jerusalem
- Survivors in Jerusalem give glory to God
- 7th trumpet sounds
- Woman's (Israel's) man-child is being caught up to God
- War in Heaven and Satan besieged
- Satan is being cast out of heaven, down to earth.
J. Allen (1) mentions another idea; but unfortunately then discards it failing to find scriptural support for it: Some see in this raptured man-child a select number from Israel raptured at the midpoint of the tribulation. All that can be said of this suggestion is that there is no scriptural support for it.
However, in Rev. 11:12 the bodily ascension of the two witnesses is described! Additionally we will give arguments from scripture for the rapture of a select number from Israel.
In agreement with many commentators, J. Allen sees only Christ in the man-child. A broader view is described by W. Kelly (6):
"She brought forth a male son, to rule all nations with a rod of iron." There is not the slightest difficulty in applying this to the man-child, viewed not personally and alone but mystically; and the less, because this very promise is made to the church in Thyatira, or rather to the faithful there. It will be remembered that at the end of Rev. 2 it was expressly said that the Lord would give to him that overcame power over the nations, and he should rule them with a rod of iron, just as He Himself received of His Father.
This view, that the man-child is Christ together with the true church is consistent with the words of the Lord to Saul on the Damascus road: "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest"(Act.9,5),although he was persecuting the church.
However, we have to ask our self, whether this extended view is as broad as the scriptures teach - what about the saints from Israel, mentioned in
And the LORD my God shall come, [and] all the saints with thee.
Table 2: Daniel's 70th week in comparison to Revelation and other prophecies.
Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, ...and to anoint the most holy. ...from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem (Neh2:1) unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks (69 weeks):, ...and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary (Titus,70 A.C.) ...unto the end shall be war; .... And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week (the 70th week)...(Dan.9:24-27)
70th week of Daniel:
First 3 ½ years
Second 3 ½ years
7 year covenant enables
sacrifice in temple
Abomination causes sacrifice to cease
Little horn has power for 3 ½ years,
Jacob's trouble (Jer.30:7)
For 1290 days no daily sacrifice
Daily sacrifice in 3rd temple
Jerusalem: Holy City,
42 month trodden by nations
Two witnesses have power
for 1260 days
Two witnesses killed in
Jerusalem: Sodom & Egypt
Resurrection & ascension of witnesses
Earthquake in Jerusalem, survivors give glory to God
Two witnesses had tormented people,
2nd Woe is past, 3rd Woe comes quickly
7th trumpet sounds
Woman's (Israel's) man-child caught up to God
1260 days refuge for Israel in desert
War in Heaven, Satan cast out of heaven and down to earth
Persecution of Woman (Israel), 3 ½ years refuge, persecution of her seed
42 month power of beast,
image of beast being worshipped
7 vials of the wrath of God
Concerning Messiah's rule it is important to remember that in Daniel chapter 7 the same promise, which is given to the Son of Man is given also to the people of the saints of the most High, i.e. to Israel:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed.
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
These scriptures indicate that in the man-child not only Christ should be seen, but Christ together with the church and probably a select group of Israel. If we can find scriptural evidence for such a group, this could answer our question, which mystery of God, promised as glad tidings to the prophets, will be completed at the sounding of the 7th trumpet.
The Barren and Desolate Woman
One of these glad tidings may well be the promise to Israel in the time, when she was a barren and desolate woman, that she would have many children:
For it is written (Isa.54:1), Rejoice, [thou] barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
May this barren and desolate woman perhaps be a picture of Israel during the time of the church? I think that this is quite possible, since the Apostle Paul continues his explanations to the churches of Galatia:
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
Therefore, the fulfilment of the promise mentioned in Rev.10:7 may have begun with Christ, being continued with the church and finally completed with a select group from Israel in the moment, when the 7th angle is about to sound the trumpet.
The woman in Rev.12 is a picture of Israel, whose children, Christ and the NT believers, were brought forth before her birth pangs started:
Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man-child.
In contrast to that, the woman in Rev.12:1-5 is seen in birth pains:
And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
The OT parallel to this seems to be the travailing women in Micah:
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, [though] thou be little among the thousands of Judah, [yet] out of thee shall he come forth unto me [that is] to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth [have been] from of old, from everlasting.
Therefore will he give them up, until the time [that] she, which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
Verse 2 defines Bethlehem as birthplace of the Messiah. The birth in verse 3, however, does not refer to Christ's birth, for this would leave no time during which Israel is set beside. The birth, Micah is speaking, of will take place after the time of the church, when God deals again with His people Israel.
The 144,000 sealed of Israel
At that time we are told in Rev.7 about 144 000 servants of God from the 12 tribes of Israel, who are sealed and thus kept safe during the trumpet judgements (Rev.9:4). J. D. Pentecost (7) writes about this group and their witness to the world:
…God is again dealing with Israel on this national relationship, setting them apart to national identities, and sending them as special representatives to the nations in place of the witness of the church…
The same company is seen in Rev.14 together with the Lamb on mount Zion (according to E. W. Bullinger (3) in heaven) and it is said of them:
These were redeemed from among men, [being] the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb
It is obvious that this is a select number from Israel*).
This group of 144 000 first fruits from Israel, who are seen in Rev.7 on earth and in Rev 14 together with the Lamb on mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb.12:22), seem to be caught up to God and His throne and thus completing the mystery of God when the 7th trumpet sounds.
Many commentators see in the 144 000 from Israel the preachers of the gospel of the kingdom (Mt.24:14). If this is true, they must know their King and Messiah while they are preaching and, therefore, have to be distinguished from the remnant, which repents after the time of Jacob' s trouble, the time of the most severe tribulation of all times, past and future (Dan.12:1; Mt.24:21). This last group of Israel will repent only after seeing that their King-Messiah is the one, who was pierced 2000 years ago (Zech 12,10).
In conclusion there seems to be sufficient scriptural evidence for the following suggestion: The man-child in Revelation 12 is a picture of Christ together with the church and a select number from Israel. This picture will be completed by the rapture of that select group at the midpoint of Israel's last 7 years before the return of Messiah. This select group are the 144 000 sealed from the 12 tribes of Israel (Rev.7) who are secure during the trumpet judgements by the seal of God and who are caught up to heaven (Rev.12:5 & 14:1-5) before the beginning of the 3 ½ years of Jacob's trouble.
*) For the rapture of the church we have the scriptural support in 1Thes.4 and additionally an OT type, the rapture of Enoch: 1Mo 5,24 And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him
The future part of the fulfilment of God's mystery, which was promised as glad tidings to the prophets, is the promised rapture of the 144 000 first fruits of Israel. They will be taken to heaven together with the two witnesses when the 7th trumpet begins to sound.
The prophetic announcement of this glad tiding is found in Psalm 49:
But God will redeem my soul from the grip of the Lower World (Sheol), for He shall take me.
This verse was interpreted by Rabbi Ibn Esra with the following words: „I shall never die; rather, my soul will be drawn upwards, until it disappears in the heavenly abode, as we read of the ancient tzaddik (Genesis 5:24) And Chanoch walked with God, then he was no more, for God had taken him" (8).
Rapture in the Old Testament: Ennoch and Elijah
Beside this rapture we find another rapture in the OT, that of Elijah:
…if thou see me [when I am] taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be [so]. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
The same word „take" (laqach), which is used for Henoch's rapture is used 4 times in the story of Elijah being taken to heaven. Could Elijah be a type of a rapture of a selected group from Israel?
In the Psalms we find two more examples of this word in the sense of being received to glory:
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me.
Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me [to] glory.
During my search of Jewish literature I came across the Art Scroll Tanach (8) series on the Psalms, quoting Ibn Esra's commentary on Pslam 49.
The Art Scroll translation of verse 16 reads:
But God will redeem my soul from the grip of the Lower World (Sheol), for He shall take me.
The Hebrew word for "take" is identical to the word in Gen.5,24. In the following I quote from the Art Scroll commentary:
„I have been alert to incline my ear to the instructive parable; therefore
I have solved the riddle (v 5). Thus I am certain that God will bring me close to Him, far from the grip of the Sheol" (Rashi).
„When my love for God is so all-consuming that the very letters of His name become indelibly etched in my heart… I shall never die; rather, my soul will be drawn upwards, until it disappears in the heavenly abode, as we read of the ancient tzaddik (Genesis 5:24) And Chanoch walked with God, then he was no more, for God had taken him" (Ibn Esra).
These quotations show that God, indeed, had indicated to His prophets the mystery of a rapture of some people from Israel. This of course is a glad tiding, especially because it will take place before the terrible time of Jacob's trouble.
In conclusion there seems to be sufficient scriptural evidence for the following suggestion: The man-child in Revelation chapter 12 is a picture of Christ together with the church and a select number from Israel. The completion of this picture will be the rapture of this select group from Israel at the midpoint of Israel's last 7 years before the return of Messiah. This group will be taken to heaven together with the two witnesses when the 7th trumpet begins to sound.
J. Allen, What the Bible Teaches, Revelation, ISBN: 0-946351-72-4 John Ritchie, 1997
J. N. Darby, Revelation, http://www.stempublishing.com
E. W. Bullinger, The Apocalypse, Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1909
A. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, ISBN: 0-914863-09-6
Ariel Ministries, 1982
F. Eichler, Die Entrückung kurz vor der großen Trübsal, Ott, Gotha, Germany, 1924
W. Kelly, Revelation – Introductory, http://www.stempublishing.com
J. D. Pentecost, Things to Come, ISBN: 0-310-30890-9 Zondervan Publish.1964
ArtScroll Tanach Series, Psalms, ISBN 0-89906-060-9 Mesorah Pub. New York, 1995,