The Third that Survives the Tribulation

How did Mr. Katz view the return of the 1/3 Jews to Jerusalem in regards to the Lord’s return? In other words, when the 1/3 surviving remnant Jews return mourning and sighing, will Christ be physically present on earth for a thousand years? Or, does Christ physically return after the 1000 years? Since the 1/3 Jews are now regenerate, and they have their King ruling over the nation, it would seem as if Christ would be physically sitting on the throne on earth. However, if Christ is physically on earth, then why the unbelief of still others in the 1000 year reign? Did you and Mr. Katz have a view on this? If so, did you guys agree or disagree with each other? And some Scripture reference would be nice.

I‘ll try to be brief on this, trusting for another time to lay out a fuller defense from scripture. These questions are admittedly a little involved, but I hope I can suggest some things in a helpful direction.

Most of what I now believe on the issue of Israel, I already held passionately before I met Art, though never was my own heart so well expressed, as when they would be set forth with such clarity and authority through that blessed mouthpiece, such as I’ve not heard before or since. In the specific area of the questions you raise here, there was no difference between us.

Concerning the post-tribulational return of saved Israel back to the Land, our view is that the “third part” of Israel mentioned in Zech 13:8-9 has reference to the number that will be present “in the Land” when the tribulation begins. A third of that number will physically survive Jacob’s trouble. Only those who physically survive will be saved at the end when they will look upon Him whom “they” (in conscious solidarity with the deed of their fathers; Mt 23:30-39) have pierced” (Zech 12:10). This is, of course, much more than mere physical seeing; it is revelatory seeing, as with Paul on his way to Damascus.

Of course, the physical survival of so many, under such conditions, will require a miraculous protection. This puts the onus on the church. This is precisely how we expect the faith and obedience of a prophetically prepared and expectant godly remnant to be instrumental in Israel’s escape. Jesus intends this encounter in the wilderness to be a supreme and divinely ordained witness to His estranged brethren.

The true church will be required to suffer a common persecution with the Jew, particularly due to its willingness to extend itself in their behalf, since we have always believed that the first object of Antichrist persecution will be directed at the Jew. This will divide the true church from the false. Time does not permit presenting the full case from the OT prophecies, but I believe it is significant that it is only after the “earth has helped the woman” (I believe because of the assistance of the saints), that the Antichrist, at just that point, turns the focus of his rage on the believing remnant (Rev 12:16-17; Contrary to dispensationalism, we believe this remnant is largely composed of Christian gentiles, i.e., the body of Christ).

At this time, the true church will be most clearly distinguished from the false by its costly identification with this hated and hunted race. As you know, it is our strong conviction that the church will be God’s principal instrument in Israel’s timely rescue from the long reach of the Antichrist.

Here’s the logic: If God has appointed a mighty act of revelation unto salvation, analogous to Paul’s sudden arrest on the Damascus road, and if this great moment comes with the Deliverer’s return at the end of Jacob’s trouble (Isa 59:16-21; 63:3-7; Ro 11:26) , at which time the nation (the surviving third) is born in “one day” (Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:10; 14:7;Mt 23:39; Acts 3:21; Ro 11:25; Rev 1:7), then it follows that only by a special grace of divine protection could such a sizable number ever hope to “endure to the end’, since it is only by that survival that many will live to experience the day of deliverance (Dan 12:1).

That is not to say that many Jews will not be saved all along the way; we believe they will. But we are speaking here of something even more miraculous. We are speaking of salvation of a surviving third of a nation in one day in particular, and there is no ambiguity in scripture as to when that day is, as also the means by which Israel’s salvation is prepared through the witness and obedience of the church.

This is precisely where the role of the church will be so critical (to save many alive). This grand drama is strategically ordained to accomplish the twin goal of both Jewish survival but also a common experience of persecution and mature witness through a “martyr witness church” (as exampled in exampled in Stephen’s witness).

Unless the remnant survives physically, they will not be present to experience the appointed day of salvation (Ps 110:3; 102:13 etc.), so this is one time where physical deliverance and spiritually regeneration are bound up together. It is God’s design that through these things, not only will Israel be prepared for regeneration and return, but the church is called to something far beyond itself.

It is critical for the church to know this, as we believe it is the church’s prophetic anticipation and timely preparation, both physically and spiritually, that will be a key to Israel’s survival. Through this divinely ordained ‘rendezvous in the wilderness’, God will intensely plead with Israel, not only through forewarned judgments, but through the witness and demonstration of a martyr church. Though by no means the only application, it will be an opportunity on a grand scale for the church to extend a costly mercy by which the natural branches may at length “obtain mercy” (Ro 11:31).

Before I forget, I want to call attention to the fact that the passage in Zech 13:8-9 speaks specifically of those “in the Land”. This leaves much to inference, and what we believe about the nature of Jacob’s trouble will greatly affect what we infer. Will this number be representative of the percentage of Jews that will survive world wide? We think so, but cannot say with dogmatic certainty.

Will the third that speaks specifically of the population of the Land at the beginning of the tribulation survive in the Land itself? Again, it is impossible to preclude this, but we do not think so. In view of the severity of those days, particularly considering what Jesus warns concerning the urgency of flight, we believe the far larger number of Jews living in the Land at that time will survive only because they managed to escape into the neighboring wilderness regions, and down into the Petra area (Isa 16:1-5; 26:20; 42:11; Dan 11:41).

However, this is not the only place of Jewish flight refuge, since we know that the long arm of the Antichrist will reach into all nations. Ezekiel calls this wilderness, “the wilderness of the nations” (Eze 20:35), which suggests that Israel’s flight from the face of the “destroyer” will be worldwide, and not limited only to those particularly specified regions that lie just east and south of Israel.

Significantly, Isa 27:13, with many other parallel passages, shows that when the ‘great trumpet’ sounds at the time of world wide return, at the end of tribulation, the surviving Jewish remnant is depicted as “ready to perish.” Notably, the countries mentioned are today very hostile, so that there is scarcely any Jewish population left in the countries that Isaiah names.

This is most significant; it tells me that for Jews to be found in such places at the tribulation’s end, something has happened to make survival in such hostile countries a more hopeful prospect than survival in the Land. Why? It is very simple; the Antichrist has situated himself in Jerusalem (Dan 11:45; Rev 11:2, 7). Through him, the Islamic world will be free to unleash its malicious fury against the hated ‘Zionists’.

We therefore conclude that unless one is specially and specifically directed of the Lord to stay in the Land, especially “in Judea” (Mt 24:16), then it is a great presumption to stay there when Jesus so specifically warns the believer to flee. What will this mean for other parts of the world? How should believers even now prepare in anticipation for such a radical and sudden and unexpected shift in world conditions (1Thes 5:3)? What should be the practical side of faith’s response to these impending certainties? How close are we? These are some of the questions we intend to take up at this year’s conference.

Now I will come to the more difficult side of your question. It is our view that this drama leads to a twofold climax. We believe that the day of the Lord (i.e., Christ’s second coming at the end of the tribulation; Mt 24:29 with Acts 2:20), is intended to accomplish two great ends at once.

The transforming revelation that quickens the surviving remnant of Israel in one day happens simultaneously with Christ’s return in glory. Of course, this does not come apart from the appointed process that requires the witness and travail of the church. At that moment, the true believing remnant, deeply refined and perfected by the events of the tribulation, are translated in a moment, at the last trumpet.

At that same moment, the Antichrist is destroyed (2Thes 2:8), and the surviving remnant of world Jewry (not just those in the Land) are enabled, by the out-poured Spirit of grace, to “look upon Him whom they pierced (Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39; Rev 1:7). This happens when the Deliverer comes out of Zion (Ro 11:26). It is Christ’s return (Acts 3:21).

With this, the now perfected church of the last tribulation is instantly translated into glorified immortality, while at the same moment, the Jewish remnant is only receiving the first-fruits of the Spirit. These will enter the millennium in their natural bodies, as Spirit filled believers with special millennial responsibility at the head of the nations, we say, “a nation of Pauls”.

After a time of recovery from the great mourning that will result from this moment of transforming revelation (Zech 12:10-12), the great final and complete return of the Jews to the Land begins. This will be from every direction and all lands. it is not partial; it is to the last person (Eze 39:28). Surviving gentiles (we may infer that only those that took the mark of the beast were instantly destroyed), who are now made aware of the meaning of this great conflagration (Eze 39:23; Zech 8:23; Rev 10:7), will count it privilege to assist the beleaguered remnant back home to the much contested “Land” that God gave them by decree of an everlasting covenant (Isa 49:22; 60:9; 66:20).

So where is the bodily presence of Jesus in all of this? Well, He has returned visibly in clouds, as literally and visibly as He was seen to depart. His return has been in some sense ubiquitous and universal in its visibility (Mt 24:27, 40-41; Rev 1:7). Because His return will be revelatory in nature, it will not be restricted to one location.

For many in all kinds of places, His return will be seen in the something of the same way that Paul saw the risen Jesus at the precise moment of God’s choosing (Gal 1:15-16). However, it will also be local, since we know that His feet will stand “in that day” on the Mount of Olives (Job 19:25; Zech 14:4), significantly the same spot from which He departed (Acts 1:11-12).

So this is definitely a bodily (albeit glorified), literal, and even localized return. It is to the very city where they crucified Him, very significant for our replacement friends to consider. However, once Jesus returns in such a way that brings immediate revelation of Himself to every prepared heart unto salvation (no matter where they are located), and sudden destruction to everyone that has boldly defied the strong evidence of prophecy, He does not remain in constant view to the un-resurrected inhabitants of the millennial earth.

Here’s why we believe this is what might be called a “necessary inference”: Where the scripture is accepted at face value in its literal sense, there are many passages that show evangelism in the millennium, and other kinds of service in the Land that does not comport with a constant visibility of Christ to the inhabitants of the millennial earth. Certainly, His glory has returned to Jerusalem. His throne is there, and He is seated forever upon it. But does this mean that He has left His place at the Father’s right hand? That’s an open question, but I don’t believe it is an either / or choice.

However, when Jesus is reigning over the earth out of the holy mount (topographically transformed; Zech 14:10), there are a number of scriptures that become very problematic if we assume that Jesus’ resurrection body is immediately visible to those that will be serving the Lord in the Land. Again, as controversial as the matter may be to some, if the scripture is read in its plain sense, the holy mount is host to a glorious new temple that is markedly different in vast detail from any that has ever before existed (see Eze 40-48). It is revealed as following upon the restoration described in Eze 39:22-29, so I see no choice but to accept such voluminous detail as literally as it seems intended by its inspired author.

It seems incredible to assume a physical commingling and co-habitation of the glorified redeemed with the saved mortals of Jewish Jerusalem, or with the gentile inhabitants of the millennial earth. That’s not the picture we get. Rather, the glorified saints have a millennial ministry of judgment and rule that is compared to that of the angels. As the angels are called “ministering spirits” (Heb 1:4), it is our belief that we too shall be quickening agents of great influence through the Spirit of Christ, in much the same way. This goes far to explain how it is that the saints in glory can rule over cities in different earthly localities (Lk 19:17). The saints, like their risen and glorified Lord, will not be spatially restricted.

Of course, the re-localization of Christ’s glory at Jerusalem (Mt 23:39) can have nothing to do with every believer’s universal access to worship in spirit and in truth, as charged by some, but we must understand that at the time of the last trump, a radical change and division has occurred between those who have been translated into glorified immortality, and those who remain to enter the millennium in their natural bodies, as a restored and now entirely regenerated nation among nations. Any literal reading will show this.

To make this answer a little shorter than I could wish, it is enough to say that Christ will be ever present in full visibility to those who have been resurrected. But for those that were not saved until the time of His return, and for the many that will come to faith all throughout the millennium, no, I do not believe that He will be immediately visible to them in a physical way.

During the millennium, there will be two distinct domains of human existence. One is the state and activity of the glorified redeemed in co-participation with Jesus in both judgment and rule. Both Jesus and Paul compares this state of existence to that of the angels (Mt 22:30; “do you not know that the saints will judge angels”; 1Cor 6:3). Art believed that glorified believers will take the place of the evicted principalities and powers, and in this way, exercise rule in a way that is not restricted to the spatial dimensions of the millennial earth. For example, it will not be necessary for a glorified saint to travel between cities in order to exert influence and judgment (Mt 19:28 with Lk 19:17). I personally witness to that, as best accounting for all that scripture implies on this question.

The millennium is the time given to the open and visible demonstration and vindication of God’s outstanding and unfulfilled covenant promises to the natural branches in fulfillment of “My covenant unto THEM” (Acts 1:6; 3:21 with Ro 11:27). This time, and the conditions that prevail at this time, is markedly different from the conditions that require a new heaven and earth.

There is a considerable volume of prophetic detail that describes conditions that prevail on the earth only AFTER the post-tribulational day of the Lord. In every place, the saved Jewish remnant, and the multitudes of the nations, are depicted in natural bodies, building houses, and bearing children. In marked contrast, the glorified redeemed do not marry (Mt 22:30). They will judge angels (1Cor 6:3). This is less mysterious when it is understood that the resurrected elect of this present age will “know, even as they are known” (1Cor 13:12). That’s a very dramatic distinction between those that are raised at the last trump, and those that enter the millennial age in their natural bodies.

The millennium exists for many reasons, but one principle reason is to give time on this present earth for the many outstanding promises to be fulfilled and openly vindicated in their “abiding application” to the Jewish people. Many of these plain texts stand in marked contrast to the perfect state that does not obtain until after the millennium has run its predestined course.

During the millennium, a completely regenerate Jewish nation (Isa 60:21; Jer 31:34) will most certainly have a unique role and stewardship over the Land. This does NOT mean that they will be any less a part of the one new man. Contrary to the modern views of pre-tribulational dispensationalism, it is ridiculous to say that someone one can be “in Christ” without also being part of His body. Nothing of that can change; but the truth of our essential unity in Christ is in no way opposed to God’s purpose to assign to reborn Israel a special millennial distinction, role, and stewardship over the Land, and out to all nations.

He has done this for sake of a crucial divine demonstration and purpose that can be obtained in no other way. It would be grossly incorrect to suppose that a special assignment for the reborn nation of Israel in God’s millennial order and purpose should be understood as elevating a Jewish believe to a higher status “in Christ”. This is impossible, according to the mystery revealed in Eph 3:5.

However, an assigned place and position in the millennial earth is no more against the one new man in Christ, than the distinction that is now maintained in gender roles. Our essential oneness in Christ is precisely where Paul says it is, “in Christ.” It has nothing to do with leveling all differences in the creation, which reflects an abhorrence of God’s established order. No, the Jewish people of that time will “all” be taught of God (Isa 54:13), and that broken people will never claim a higher place in Christ than any gentile brother or sister. Impossible! It is enough to say that is NOT the nature, nor the purpose of Jewish distinction, either now or in a future millennium.

One principal purpose for Israel’s exalted position in the millennium is God’s determination to openly vindicate His promise in the sight of all nations, not only to demonstrate, but literally “enforce” universal recognition of His sovereign right to choose as He will choose” (to use a favorite phrase of Art’s). It is the issue of divine rule. An Israel at the head of the nations will test the heart, even as Israel’s special election has always tested hearts, even as Joseph’s coat tested the hearts of his brethren.

God is up to something very deep here, and we need to see it, lest we stumble at what He’s doing through the “Israel centered” events of the end time. It is an offense that I believe has provoked the church to stumble many times over. Because of the church’s sometimes willful ignorance of “this mystery” (Ro 11:25), it has often stumbled over this beloved and elect enemy who was purposely set down in our midst “for our sakes” (Ro 11:28-29). Most often, it is a test that the nations, and even more tragically, the so-called church in those nations, has miserably failed. They are getting ready to do it again, in mass.

This is one more reason we need to see what the millennium is all about. What will be fulfilled there that cannot be fulfilled in the new heavens and earth? For one thing, God certainly intends that all nations recognize and honor His election of the Jewish people to a unique place and role in the Land. This covenant intention alone makes sense of the end times, which intends a demonstration of God’s jealousy over His covenant with THIS people, THIS city, and THIS Land, that intends much more than a last persecution and purification of the church.

That not all nations will voluntarily comply with God’s millennial requirements is shown clearly in the judgments that are threatened against disobedience (Zech 14:16-19) . That is why Christ’s millennial rule is described as a “rod of iron,” since many from among the nations will secretly seethe in their envy and resentment against God’s rule, particularly as it is represented through the actual Jewish branches of the long suffering and estrangement.

Some will be so pridefully ignorant or defiant of the true nature of free grace, as to actually resent that they should then have the double for their double (Isa 40:2; 61:7). They will resent an actual “Jewish” Israel at the head of the nations for a thousand years. These despisers will be ‘sitting ducks’ for the madness of the rebellion that Satan’s post-millennial release is intended to expose.

I go beyond your question, but I believe that it is this secret resentment towards God’s right to choose that God intends to flush out into the open through the last day’s events that so significantly surround the issue of Jerusalem and Jewish claim to the Land.

Already, this issue is ratcheting up in the church, and is already beginning to divide many over the question of Jewish “worthiness” to have any right to the Land. It is, by divine intention, both difficult and deep, as I believe it is just one more of the issues that will deeply test the church, as judgment must begin at the house of God.


Filed under
Israel and the Church, Jacob's Trouble, The Day of the Lord
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