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Eschatology, Dispensationalism, Revelation, Interludes, Rapture, Tribulation


An emphasis on the literal hermeneutic and a belief in the distinctiveness of Israel have allowed dispensationalists to distill the complex sequence of fantastical events in John’s Apocalypse into a comfortable flow chart of rapture, tribulation, return, millennium, and beyond. And yet, perhaps the divine plan is not this simple. For, hidden within the popular flow chart are exegetical decisions which appear to set aside the standard dispensational hermeneutic in order to impose a particular means of integrating the rapture and Daniel’s 70th week into the chronology of Revelation. Indeed, as I will illustrate, there are several instances in which the text of Revelation is denied the opportunity to speak for itself. Specifically, my concern is with three passages, commonly characterized as interludes, which are typically handled by dispensationalists as amplifications, recapitulations, etc., rather than being allowed to further advance the chronological narrative, based on their locations within the literary sequence.

In fact, if deference is given to the contextual markers within these interlude passages, then the passages themselves provide indications for how the rapture and Daniel’s 70th week should be integrated into the chronology of Revelation. Through the use of chronological markers in Revelation 11–13, I contend that the author of the Apocalypse has placed Daniel’s 70th week within his narrative as a seven-year period of distress for both Israel and the planet. Similarly, through the use of sequential markers and imagery associated with the Church in Revelation 7—namely, the sudden appearance of a great multitude of every tribe and nation before the throne and before the Lamb, whose robes have been made white by the blood of the Lamb—the rapture event has also been placed within the narrative, well before the 70th week. Thus, a pretribulational rapture sequence exists, in which the Church is removed from the earth before the Great Tribulation, that time when Israel is made to recognize that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, yet after most of the seals have been opened. Consequently, a chronologically-oriented approach to the Apocalypse interludes leads to a great multitude pretribulational rapture framework. Regretfully, this does serve to disrupt the cherished flow chart; nonetheless, a chronologically-oriented approach does allow us to adhere more faithfully to the dispensational hermeneutic, as developed and defended by our dispensational forbears.



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