The Last Three Days of the Tribulation
Biblical Research Monthly — by Dr. David L. Cooper
Hosea 5:15 through 6:3 is one of many examples of a prophet delivering his divinely Inspired message through impersonation. In this instance, Hosea speaks as if he were Christ Himself. When the curtain rises on the scene, Christ has already come to this earth, and the Hebrew people have rejected Him. Thereupon, at the Invitation of God, He leaves the earth and returns to glory, saying that He is returning to His place and that He will remain there till Judah and Ephraim, that is Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel, acknowledge their offense and seek His face. Then He tells when they will do so. “In their affliction they will seek me earnestly” (Hosea 5:15).
Remember that Hosea is speaking of Israel, not the church. In this marvelous revelation, the church does not come into view. Prior to the Tribulation, Christ will descend from heaven into the air and stop there, raise the dead In Christ, and catch up all the living saints, who will meet Him in the air. Then He will return to glory, accompanied by all the saints, all born-again believers, the church.
But that phase of His labors does not appear in this passage. It pertains to His relationship with Israel. So He declares that, when He goes away from this earth, He will never come back to it until the people of Israel confess their offense against Him and seek His face. This statement is clear, unmistakable. How can one read this passage and get anything else out of it is a mystery. Yet we frequently hear and read even in good fundamental papers that we are to let Israel alone, that the church's business now is to go to the Gentiles and to give the gospel to them and to let the Jews alone.
We are told, furthermore, that they are to be converted by Christ. It is God's job, not the church's. For, we are told, Zechariah prophesied that, when Christ returns, Israel will look upon Him whom they have pierced and will repent. Frankly I cannot accept such teaching because it Is contrary to everything that God has said on this point from Genesis to Revelation.
To say that the people of Israel will be converted by their looking upon Christ is to lean upon an incorrect translation of Zechariah and, consequently, to misinterpret the message of Hosea. The old version reads incorrectly, “They shall look upon me ...” But the original Hebrew reads, “They shall look unto me ...” They will repose their faith in Him, the Messiah. This same idiom appears in Isaiah 45:22 “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth ...” Zechariah 12:10, therefore, is a prediction that the nation of Israel will put their trust in the Messiah. It does not say that they will look visibly upon Him. Hosea states that Messiah is going back to heaven, never to leave until Israel confesses the sin that the nation committed against Him.
Exponents of the old version of Zechariah 12:10 say to let the Jews alone, for they are going to be converted by sight and not by faith, by actually looking upon Messiah. But Hosea says that they will have to confess their national sin against Messiah before He will leave glory and that they will honestly and conscientiously seek His face and will find Him. When? “In their affliction.” There is one event that is called Israel's affliction, and that is the Tribulation. In Israel's national anthem, Deuteronomy, chapter 32, we are told of Israel's calamity. The context and related passages reveal that that which is called Israel's calamity is none other than the Tribulation. In Jeremiah 30:7 it is called the time of Jacob's trouble. Thus the time of Israel's affliction is the time of Jacob's trouble, the time of the Tribulation.
The Messiah said that He would return to heaven and remain until the Tribulation comes and the people of Israel, in the Tribulation, see their mistake, confess their sin, repudiate the crime, and plead for Him to return and save them.
Note the following first three verses of the sixth chapter. Some copies of the Septuagint Version, that is, the Greek version, place the word saying at the beginning of the chapter. This word, of course, is interpolated. It was put there by man; but it aids, rather than destroys, the thought. Here is a prediction that the people of Israel are going to confess their sin and seek the Savior, saying, “Come, and let us return unto Jehovah; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.” Certain ones of Israel will Issue a call, an Invitation to the nation, to come. A good leader is one who says, “Come on; let's do this job.” He does not say, “You go and do that,” but “Come on; let us do this.” Those who issue this call put themselves with those to whom they address it, saying, “Come; let us return to Jehovah, whom we have forsaken. We are all lost. It is time for us to return to Him.”
Who are the ones issuing the call? The leaders of the nation of Israel. They will learn the truth about the offense that the nation committed against Messiah when He came to earth almost two thousand years ago. God will not give them a hypodermic of biblical knowledge and facts. God never does anything of the kind. He has always used man. No one can believe on Him of whom they have never heard, and they cannot hear without a preacher. God saves people by the preaching of the gospel. It is by the foolishness of the preaching of the gospel that God saves those who believe. So someone will give this message to Israel and will convince the leaders of the truth of the gospel message which will be given to them.
They will repent and will issue a national call to the Jews all over the world, declaring, “Let's appoint a day on which we shall show our disapproval of what our ancestors did and show our repentance in a public way. Let us outwardly, publicly, acknowledge nationally our sins. Let us return unto Jehovah, for He has torn. All our distresses are due to His having torn us as a young lioness, but He will heal us. He has smitten, but He will bind us up.”
Thus when we read this prophecy in Hosea, we conclude that the leaders of Israel, in their affliction, in the last year of the Tribulation, will issue this call for a day of confession. Of all the days in the Jewish religious year, the one set apart for confession of sins is Yom Kippur, the tenth day of the seventh Hebrew month, which usually falls in the latter part of September. On that day the Jews fast and take no water. They mourn because of their sins, confess them, and pray for forgiveness. Since Yom Kippur seems to be the most logical time of all the Jewish year for the leaders to set apart for national repentance, it will very likely be the day selected. If so, the coming of Christ in glory at the end of the Tribulation will be in the fall of the year. But the selection of Yom Kippur is only a supposition. It apparently would fit into the very thought and feeling of the people of Israel to appoint that day. Yet it is possible that the leaders may come under conviction so strongly in some other part of the year than the fall that they will appoint a special day for national confession.
But they will appoint one day — day one of the last three days of the Tribulation — to fast and pray and look to Jehovah. They will fast and pray the second day, also (Hosea 6:2). Someone will ask “What kind of days are these?” Some Bible scholars claim that these days are each as a thousand years. They certainly do not apply the Golden Rule of Interpretation:
When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, therefore take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise.”
Those who Interpret these two days as two thousand years do not follow this Rule. They teach that, after two thousand years of rejecting the Messiah, the people of Israel will confess their sins and accept Him. They quote Psalm 90:4 and II Peter 3:8: “But, forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is as a thousand years.”
But Peter does not say that one day is a thousand years. He says there will be people in the last days who will say, “Where is the promise of His Coming?” — that is, the Coming of Christ. And they will say that He is not coming at all, that from the time of creation, everything will be just as it has been. Peter, however declares, “Don't listen to those deceivers.” The Lord is coming and has everything in readiness. God is not slack concerning His promise, but is longsuffering toward you. He'll keep a promise after a thousand years have passed as faithfully, accurately, and fully as He would keep it on the first day that He made it. He does not feel that the passage of time cancels His obligation to fulfill His promise. In some regions a debt is outlawed after seven years. Men may take advantage of a man-made law; but, as Peter implies, the promises of God are not outlawed. Let a thousand years pass, or two thousand, or three thousand, or any number of years; God will be just as faithful after the lapse of time to fulfill every promise that He has made as on the day on which He made it.
So the expression that a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as a day has no bearing upon Hosea 6:2. Never force a secondary, a symbolic, meaning on any passage unless the facts of the context demand a departure from the literal meaning and require a symbolic interpretation.
Is there anything that requires a meaning to be attached to the word day in Hosea 6:2 different from the literal meaning of twenty-four hours? Christ went back to glory to stay until Israel confesses the national sin of rejecting Him and seeks His face. Then He will return. Israel will seek Him in affliction, in the Tribulation. The leaders will issue a call to the entire nation and appoint a day for all to come together publicly to repudiate the national sin and to seek the face of Him whom they rejected. At the end of two days — forty-eight hours — of their repenting, confessing, and pleading, God will effect something in Israel. “After two days will He revive us ..” (Hosea 6:2).
What is to revive? God will send showers of blessing from heaven to revive man. One may have a plant that has had no water, dying, withering, and practically dead. If it has not gone too far, one can put water on it, and it can revive. But what can revive men and women? Remember that this passage is talking about confessing sin and seeking the Savior. So the word revive here can mean but one thing — to revive in the sense of a revival. But what produces a revival? The preaching of the Word. When the Word is preached and received into honest, conscientious hearts and those who receive the Word accept Jesus Christ personally as Savior, the Holy Spirit comes into their hearts, regenerates, imparts light, and gives new life — divine life — and thus they are revived. Thus at the end of forty-eight hours of genuine repentance before God at the very end of the Tribulation, the whole nation of Israel will be regenerated.
How can we know that those forty-eight hours come at the very end of the Tribulation and not at the beginning? Read the rest of verse 2: “... on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live before him.” On that third day — that third period of twenty-four hours — after the Holy Spirit has revived, regenerated, the nation, Jesus will rend the heavens, come back visibly, bodily, to this earth; and His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. What epoch-making, what world-shaking events occur on the last three days of the Tribulation.
These events cannot occur at the first of the Tribulation; they cannot come to pass In the middle of it; but they do occur the last day. The leaders of Israel are going to be given the truth concerning Jesus of Nazareth. Who will give it to them? It is up to you and to me who know the truth to do what we can to get this message to all the Jews and to the leaders in particular. If we who see the place of Israel in the plan of God neglect this responsibility, His program will be retarded, humanly speaking, and events will be pushed off into-the future.
But, praise God there are those who see His plan and who are doing all that they can to get this message to Israel now, so that after the church has been raptured and the judgments of the Tribulation water the truth which is sown in their hearts and cause it to spring forth, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists will arise and bring about the world-wide revival (Revelation 7).
They will teach the Jewish people that they must confess their national sin, repudiate it publicly and nationally, and accept Jesus Christ. Thus the leaders will issue the proclamation for national repentance at an appointed time, and the nation will heed the call. Then the revival from heaven will come at the end of two days of repentance, and on the third day Jesus will return to this earth, put an end to all the ills and troubles of this world, and usher in the glorious millennial reign. Thus the three days discussed in Hosea 5:15-6:3 are the last three days of the Tribulation, the time of affliction that will end when the Lord returns.