“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28
This post is not going to be an easy one, nor is it going to cause me to gain all sorts of popularity among Christians or anyone else for that matter. I do not belong to the Pre-trib, Mid-trib or Post-trib camps. There is valid, scriptural support for each of the three views. Some might accuse me of being wishy-washy for not coming down in one of the three camps and taking a stand. That’s their opinion.
In my personal experience and from what I have read in the Bible, I believe that the greatest error that Christians can make is to force God into a box and attempt to adamantly state that God will act in a specific way in a particular situation. The Jewish leaders were experts in the scriptures, yet because they had formed a box for God and placed the Messiah inside that box, they didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah. I believe that our modern, expert theologians run the same risk when attempting to define what, when, where, why and how in relation to the End of the Age and the rapture or calling away of the Bride of Christ.
Here’s the part that’s going to kill my popularity. It really doesn’t matter when we are called away. Just in case you’re wondering if I really wrote that, I’ll write it again. It really doesn’t matter when we are called away. Here it is in bold print…
IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER WHEN WE ARE CALLED AWAY.
There is WAY TOO MUCH focus on the signs. There is way too much speculation on the dates. There is way too much focus on guessing who the anti-Christ is and when he will appear. There is way too much focus on whether or not there will be a third temple built in Jerusalem. There is way too much attention given to Jesus returning on particular feast days and sticking to God’s divine calendar. The list goes on and on and on and on, those confessing Christ are far too focused on these things and ignoring what really matters. Should we be watching? Yes, we should be watching. Should we be recognizing the signs as they appear? Yes, we should recognize the signs and even share them with others. Should we be anticipating the return of Jesus? Overwhelmingly yes, we should be anticipating the return of Jesus. What we should not be expecting or anticipating is that we will escape tribulation. Oops, I did it again, I made another unpopular statement. I’ll repeat it as well. What we should not be expecting or anticipating is that we will escape tribulation.
WHAT WE SHOULD NOT BE EXPECTING OR ANTICIPATING IS THAT WE WILL ESCAPE TRIBULATION.
In fact, the overwhelming evidence from cover to cover of the Bible suggests that those who profess Jesus will not only face tribulation, but will face The Tribulation. I’m not saying this out of any sort of arrogance or pride or prophetic authority. I am as eager to be caught up before The Tribulation hits as you are, but the fact of the matter is that the whole of scriptures shows that God is glorified when the people who are called by His name are put to the test. Do I need to make a list for you? How about if I just toss out a few names like Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Noah, Job, Moses, Joshua, Samson, Gideon, Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah, Isaiah, Daniel, Peter and Paul. Oops, I forgot one, Jesus.
We are extremely arrogant to think that we can skate right into heaven at a leisurely pace with our hands behind our backs because we believed in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and were “born again.” This next question is directed right at you. What makes you such a great hero of the faith that you will be allowed to escape tribulation when none of these others, including Jesus, escaped it? Stop reading right here if that angered you. The words that follow will mean nothing to you unless that question humbled you.
Other than the Christians in some parts of the world that are being tortured, beheaded and killed for confessing Jesus, modern Christians are wimps. I AM A CHRISTIAN WIMP. I’ve never been truly tested in my faith to the point of death. I have a nice place to live with all of the modern conveniences. I don’t starve. I have plenty of clean water. I use the facilities and flush the waste away. I drop my garbage down a chute and someone else hauls it away every night. I’m free to sing and praise the Lord without anyone threatening to kill me. I can speak my mind without being arrested and thrown into prison. The worst persecution I can expect is someone being “offended” on Facebook.
If we are to be prepared to face tribulation, then we need to be asking ourselves some very hard questions and looking for the answers to those questions in Jesus. Here are those questions:
· If all of the modern conveniences that you take for granted were suddenly gone, where would you turn? If clean water quit coming through the tap, if you had to start living in a shed without your wi-fi, your television and your recliner, if you couldn’t drive to the grocery store and stock up, if your storage of food and equipment and all of the prepping that you’ve done had exploded or been wiped out, and if you had to dig your own hole to bury your waste, then where would you turn?
· If a gun was placed to your forehead and you were told to deny Jesus or go to meet Him, how would you respond? That’s the easy one, right? What if that gun was held to the heads of your wife and your children and/or grandchildren and you were told to deny Jesus or they would be sent to meet Him? What if because you refused to deny Jesus you saw your wife and your children raped and/or tortured?
· What if you were watching your family starve to death and a relief agency pulled up with a truck loaded with food and fresh water and that you could have all the food that you and your family needed if you’d just allow a tiny little mark or chip to be installed in your hand or on your forehead?
Could you endure these things and more still singing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”? I don’t know that I could endure those things. I’ll admit it plainly. I hope with every ounce of hope in me that I won’t have to endure those things, but I have to expect them and anticipate them in order to drive me to my knees and remind me that it will not be my will that is done, but God’s. It will not be my strength that allows me to endure them, but that of Jesus living within me.
A merciful God would NEVER do that! Really? What did Job have and lose? What did God’s own Son endure? What did those great heroes of the faith between them, which we read about with a sense of literary glibness, endure? Consider Psalm 18, what do you think David was enduring or seeing in a vision when he wrote those words? Where did David turn?
We have to put aside our arrogance. We have to understand that our ONLY hope is to be found in Jesus. My daily devotional, Quail Songs, hammers away on that theme every day, because HE is our ONLY hope. HE is our Rock and our Fortress. JESUS is our salvation. JESUS is our strength, our joy, our song, our patience, our endurance, our deliverance, our intelligence, our future, our shield, our EVERYTHING.
JESUS IS OUR EVERYTHING.
I earnestly pray that I won’t have to endure The Tribulation. If I do, I earnestly pray that I won’t have to endure all of it. If I do have to endure all of it, I pray with all that is within me that Jesus will carry me through it and I won’t try to do it on my own, because I WILL FAIL.
Too many who confess Jesus are looking toward the coming tribulation with a glib attitude, believing that they’ll just sail right into heaven in the winking of an eye. It is that glibness which makes me believe that we will probably have to face, at least, some of The Tribulation. I believe that the Bride of Christ will be purified. I believe that Jesus will be doing some separating between those who have truly humbled themselves and confessed Him as Lord from those who believe they’ll just skate leisurely into heaven. The preponderance of scripture does not support the idea of a leisurely stroll into heaven.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.” - Matthew 10:24 & 25
IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER WHEN WE ARE CALLED AWAY.
Those who will enter the throne room of God confessing Jesus as Lord will do so humbly. They will not be counting on their own righteousness, that day they walked the isle, that day they were dunked in water, that day they started speaking in tongues, that seminary degree or the fact that they happened to guess right on God’s timeline of End Times Events. The elect of Jesus will come before the throne of God on their knees, knowing that they are deserving of the same treatment that was dished out upon Jesus before He was crucified. The elect will know that there is no hope for them apart from Jesus as they bow before God.
HUMBLE YOURSELVES! in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. – James 4:10
Our great God and His Son, Jesus, are HOLY! If it is in their will that you should suffer The Tribulation, then count it as great joy and a small price to pay for what your savior endured to deliver you. You might have to go through The Tribulation, but if you truly count upon Jesus as your Lord, if He truly reigns in your life, if He is truly your hope and salvation, and if He has placed the seal of His salvation within you, then through JESUS you WILL endure it.
FOCUS! FOCUS! FOCUS! FOCUS ON JESUS!
He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. – Revelation 21:7
Tribulation or no tribulation, your ONLY hope of being called away to meet Jesus in the air, at any point, is found in the Great and Worthy Lamb of God. Stop worrying over the what, when, where, why and how of what is coming and fix a steady gaze upon your ONLY savior. Look into His eyes and get ready for the ride He has in store for you. Let God and His Worthy Lamb be glorified! Amen.