Is the church a party in the New Covenant?
If we are to interpret rightly the prophecy of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31.31-34 it is plain it has to do with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. They will enter into it in the last days. Thus this New Covenant has their future national restoration in view. The New Covenant was not made with the church, but this is not to say that the church will not be in the good, for example, of the wonderful statement, "For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more". Again we emphasize that careful reading of Jeremiah 31.31-34 demands that we see that the New Covenant belongs to Israel, but surely, by application the spiritual aspects of the New Covenant can be shared and enjoyed by the church or believers today. One could not read 2 Corinthians 3 without understanding that, spiritually speaking, New Covenant blessings are ours.
In Hebrews 8.6-13 and 10.14-18 the Holy Spirit teaches that in the passage of Jeremiah 31 we have an anticipation of the New Covenant. In the light of the use made of it in Hebrews the passage foretold the end of the dispensation of the Law and the bringing in of a new one, that is the gospel age today. This truth is implicit in the words. Therefore this application of it to believers goes a long way to proving that the church shares in at least part of its blessings. No covenant could be made without the shedding of blood. Hence the Lord instituted the Supper to be kept throughout the Church period and spoke of the cup of the New Covenant in His blood. This being so then of course the Church benefits from the New Covenant.
John J Stubbs
Is there any indication in Scripture of a period of time between the Rapture and the commencement of the Tribulation?
The "Rapture" of the church opens the way for the commencement of the seventieth week (of years) of Daniels prophecy (Dan 9.24-27). The start of this seven-year tribulation period is announced by the signing of a covenant or treaty between "the prince that shall come" (Dan 9.26) and the Jewish leader of the "many" (Dan 9.27). It will be "in the midst of the week", i.e. after three and a half years, that he will break his covenant with the nation by defiling the sanctuary within the temple, expressed in the words, "he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease" (Dan 9.27).
This signing of the treaty on earth will take place simultaneously with the event in heaven when the Lamb opens the first seal of the book (Rev 6.1), marking the commencement of that period spoken of as "the day of the Lord".
The Word of God gives no indication of the length of the interval of time between the Rapture of the church and the signing of the covenant. This interval may be very short, perhaps days, or weeks, or even months. It should be acknowledged that some commentators take the view that this period could extend to years; some have even suggested as much as a generation, i.e. 30 - 40 years. However, where Scripture is silent it is futile to speculate.
Perhaps attention should be drawn to the opening verses of Revelation 7 where "another angel...cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth...till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads" (vv.2-3). The use of the conjunction "till" suggests a measurable time span between the Rapture and the commencement of the Tribulation for the salvation and sealing of these 144,000 "of all the tribes of the children of Israel" (Rev 7.4) to take place.
David E West