Is The Pretribulation Rapture a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card?

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During the past year, the Lord called me away from my career as a financial analyst to pursue writing on a fulltime basis. His call began with a stirring of my heart as I saw the ridicule of the pretribulation rapture on Facebook and I felt a strong desire to defend my beliefs.

I am not a scholar. However, a careful and prayerful study of many passages in the New Testament over a period of many years has led to my deep conviction that the rapture happens before the start of the tribulation. I have studied opposing viewpoints as well.

I recently read a blog post arguing against the pretribulation rapture. In doing so, the writer made three common arguments, ones based more on human reasoning than on the Word of God. At first, I dismissed the post.

As I later reread the article, however, I felt compelled to answer his attacks on the pretribulation rapture. I have heard similar arguments over the past several decades; they are not new.  However, in the past I have not written out a response to them.

This is the time to do so.

I will respond to this article in a series of three shorter posts rather than one lengthy post.

A Get-Out-of Jail-Free Card?

The first argument of this blog post is that the pretribulation rapture offers believers a “get-out-of-jail-free card.” Here is his exact quote:

First, believing I won’t have to endure the awful end-times tribulation period, fosters in me an “early-out” mentality, in which I don’t need faith to live my life. Waving my get-out-of-jail-free card, all I need do is simply hang on, and hang out until my sudden extraction. How does this jive with Jesus telling us that all who believe, will ‘suffer persecution’ ? It doesn’t. Perhaps what He meant to say was, “All (but the last generation) would suffer persecution.” But that’s simply not what He said, and I always credit the Son of God to have said what He meant to say. Doesn’t wisdom begin with that? [i]

In other words, this writer believes that the pretribulation rapture offers believers an “easy out” of the persecution of the tribulation. Since the church is not experiencing opposition at the moment, in his opinion, our belief in the pretribulation rapture thus represents a desire to miss out on such oppression.

Persecution Versus Wrath

First of all, there is a significant difference between persecution and the wrath of God that will be poured out on sinful humanity during the tribulation. Approximately half of the world’s population will die in the judgments of the tribulation. This is not the “persecution” of the church; it is God’s judgment on the world to bring them, as well as Israel, to repentance.

No one who advocates a pretribulation rapture does so to escape persecution. It is God’s wrath we seek to avoid and understandably so. Who wouldn’t want to miss out on that!

We believe we will escape this wrath because the Lord promises us such a deliverance.

This is not an “early-out mentality” whatsoever. The Lord, through the apostle Paul, says the church will miss the pouring out of God’s wrath on the earth during the tribulation (1 Thess. 5:9). We believe we will escape this wrath because the Lord promises us such a deliverance.

The rapture is the promise of a ceasing of persecution for the church after which the Lord’s judgment falls on a Christ-rejecting humanity. This, I believe, is the message of 2 Thessalonians 1.

The Church Is Being Persecuted Today

Second, the writer’s point only makes sense for believers in America. For most believers in our world today, the rapture is most certainly not a “get-out-of-jail-free card.” Many believers across the world are experiencing fierce persecution; they have seen loved ones brutally killed by ISIS and have left all their belongings behind while fleeing for their lives.

What this blogger describes applies only to the church in America. It’s a totally invalid argument in almost every other nation of the world where believers are currently undergoing intense oppression.

Yes, Jesus says His followers should expect persecution and this is what we see in many places in our world and even to some extent in America. The tribulation, however, is God’s wrath poured out on a sinful world that refuses to repent. It’s far worse than “jail.”

As a defender of the pretribulation rapture, I am not looking for an easy out in regard to persecution. I may yet experience fierce opposition for my faith. Who really knows what we will face tomorrow?

I am, however, looking and waiting for Jesus to take me home before the coming period of wrath overtakes the world. That is a much, much different matter than an escape from persecution!

Our Great and Glorious Expectation

In Philippians 3:20 Paul wrote this, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word he used for “await” in this verse denotes “intense anticipation” and an “excited expectation” of a future event.  It implies a deep heart-felt longing for whatever is expected.

In this case, it’s the return of Jesus to take His church back to His Father’s house in heaven (John 14:1-3).

Paul characterizes believers as recipients of grace who as a result look for the “blessed hope” of Jesus’ appearing.

Titus 2:11-13 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Paul characterizes believers as recipients of grace who as a result look for the “blessed hope” of Jesus’ appearing.

I could cite several other verses from the New Testament that point to Jesus’ appearing as our immediate hope, our great and glorious expectation. Believers in the New Testament, regardless of their circumstances, eagerly awaited Jesus’ return.

We may yet face fierce persecution in the United States; we almost certainly will face dark times in our lives that will test our faith. We do not know where the path of following Christ will lead us

One thing is certain, Jesus is our hope. Our great expectation is that of seeing Jesus face to face. It’s a wonderful anticipation that brings hope and joy in the midst of the most painful of circumstances and calms our fears.

Our great expectation is that of seeing Jesus face to face. It’s a wonderful anticipation that brings hope and joy in the midst of the most painful of circumstances and calms our fears.

No where does the New Testament tell believers to await the pouring out of God’s wrath such as will characterize the entire seven years of the tribulation.

The pretribulation rapture is not a “get-out-of-jail-free card.” It’s the promised cessation of persecution for believers while the Lord judges a sinful world in order to bring them and Israel to repentance.

The pretribulation rapture is precisely what Jesus promises us through the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The same Jesus who tells us to expect persecution in this life also promises to deliver us from the wrath of the coming tribulation.

[i] John Miltenberger, Rapture

 

The Cubs, The Wait, Our Hope

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Something is bound to go wrong! Can the Cubs really hold on to this lead, defeat the Dodgers, and go to the World Series?

As I watched the Cubs defeat the Dodgers last Saturday night, I had nagging doubts until the very last out.  Would the Cubs win and actually gain a spot in the World Series for the first time since 1945?

Perhaps my qualms came from desiring to see this happen for so very long.

As a small boy back in the 1960’s, I frequently listened to Cub games on my transistor radio all the while hoping they would somehow make it to the World Series.

I remember 1969; it seemed like that would be the year for the Cubs. Before the season began Ernie Banks said, “The Cubs will shine in ’69” and they played like champions for much of the season. Then the New York Mets got hot and the Cubs faded like an ice cube on a scorching hot day. In my high school history class, the teacher brought in a box of Kleenex specifically for Cub fans as hopes of a pennant faded.

Although I have not followed baseball for many years, I always pay attention to the fate of the Chicago Cubs. Most seasons, hopes fade early as the Cubs lose game after game. This season, however, the Cubs immediately took the lead in their division and ended up with the best record in all of baseball.

So what was the source of my misgivings regarding the Cubs as they played the Dodgers for a trip to the World Series? It was not the amazing amount of talent on the team.

Rather, I doubted that something I had anticipated for so very long would actually happen.

Isn’t it the same way with our hope for Jesus’ return to take us home? After waiting for something for so long, we begin to think it won’t happen!

Isn’t it the same way with our hope for Jesus’ return to take us home?

Most of us have looked for His appearing for many years, if not decades. Just like waiting for the Cubs to win the pennant, it’s easy to think this will not happen, at least not anytime soon.

As result of waiting so long, we all too often dismiss our hope and live as though Jesus will never show up and radically change everything.

Scripture tells us, however, that Jesus will return just as promised; our waiting will not be in vain.

The Waiting

Unlike waiting for the Cubs to go to the World Series, our hope in Jesus’ return remains certain. The Lord said He would someday return for us (John 14:1-3); no such promise ever existed for the Cubs to ever win the National League pennant.

The same Lord who predicted both His death and resurrection promises to return and take us to be with Him. With Jesus’ track record, it would be foolish to doubt His promise to return for us. And yet . . . we wait!

The same Lord who predicted both His death and resurrection promises to return and take us to be with Him. With Jesus’ track record, it would be foolish to doubt His promise to return for us.

And yet, if there’s one word that stands out in the New Testament regarding the Rapture, it’s “wait.”

In Philippians 3:20 Paul clearly addresses this wait, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word Paul used for “await” in this verse denotes “intense anticipation” and an “excited expectation” of a future event. The word implies eagerness and even a longing in our hearts for a future event.

At times, our waiting for Jesus’ appearing may seem a bit surreal. Will it really happen? Will He show up just as He promised?

Yes! The Cubs’ victory reminds us that things we hope for do happen.

Will the Cubs go on to win the World the Series? We cannot know at this time.

Will Jesus come someday for us?

This we can know for sure. He will come just as He promised regardless of the wait.

Despite the length of our wait whether it be a day, a week, a month, a year, several years, Jesus will not disappoint. He will come at precisely the right time!

Habakkuk in the Morning

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I need the message of Habakkuk this morning!

As I look at the evil and injustice flourishing in our nation, discouragement looms at my doorstep.  Habakkuk helps me close the door to such feelings of despair.

The book of Habakkuk begins with the prophet’s complaint of violence and injustice in Judah:

2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,

    and you will not hear?

Or cry to you “Violence!”

    and you will not save?

3 Why do you make me see iniquity,

    and why do you idly look at wrong?

Destruction and violence are before me;

    strife and contention arise.

4 So the law is paralyzed,

    and justice never goes forth.

For the wicked surround the righteous;

    so justice goes forth perverted.

Does this not describe our nation today? Is this not our world!?

My heart grieves as I think of all the violence all about us, of the despicable practices of abortion clinics, of the growing violence toward police, and of the almost daily terrorist attacks that claim the lives of so many innocent lives throughout the world.

I’m horrified by the actions of Planned Parenthood as well as by both political parties that not only refuse to take action against the selling of baby parts, but continually vote to continue taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. Just this week, Hillary celebrated the anniversary of Planned Parenthood. We live in evil times!

BTW, Hillary believes Christianity must be changed to accept abortion and if elected she will have a Supreme Court that will fully back her in this matter.

We see “iniquity” prospering throughout our nation as never before. Twenty years ago I never could have imagined that our Supreme Court would someday rule in favor of same sex marriage or that a candidate of a major party would fervently support this along with a host of other sins so clearly forbidden in Scripture.

The prophet saw that the law was “paralyzed.” Could there be a more apt description of what is happening in our nation?

The prophet saw that the law was “paralyzed.” Could there be a more apt description of what is happening in our nation? The rich and powerful are not called to account for their evil and yet bakers who stand by their biblical convictions face obscene fines.

Truly, justice is “perverted” in our nation as the “wicked surround the righteous.”  The institutions that we as nation rely on to bring the wicked to justice are now stained with political corruptness.

I see a nation one election away from surrendering to an oppressive and socialistic world order that will, as President Obama clearly stated recently at the United Nations, “take away some of our rights and freedoms” for the “common good.” The recently uncovered e-mails reveal that Hillary is totally on board with this evil agenda to subject America to this satanic and demonic world government.

The message of the prophet, however, calls me to a higher perspective far away from the feelings of despair that lurk nearby.

The Lord Sees

The Lord saw all the evil in Judah during the time of Habakkuk; He sees everything today.

His response to the wickedness of Judah was already on the way, even before the prophet voiced his complaint (1:5-11). God was raising up the Babylonians who in about twenty years from the time of Habakkuk would begin their conquest of Jerusalem.

The Lord sees and just as in day of Habakkuk, we can be sure God will respond in a similar way to the wickedness around us unless we repent as a nation.

It’s so easy to think the Lord does not see the vile things done today in our abortion clinics or the lewd display of evil around us. We think He would surely have done something by now if He truly saw the violence and injustice that daily surround us. How could He possibly let this continue so long?

The Lord sees and just as in day of Habakkuk, we can be sure God will respond in a similar way to the wickedness around us unless we repent as a nation.

In Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 we find this warning, “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.”

Far too often we mistake God’s patience for His lack of interest or unwillingness to deal with sin. As Solomon points out, such a perspective ends in tragedy for those who believe the Lord does not see or care about their wicked lifestyle.

It’s a Matter of Faith

Habakkuk convicts me of my unbelief. Yes, I know all the warnings of Scripture concerning His judgment of nations and of wickedness, but at times my thoughts do not reflect a belief He will actually judge evil or punish the wicked in this life.

Habakkuk begins his book questioning God’s absence and ends with an amazing statement of faith despite the lack of the Lord’s blessing.

The prophet Habakkuk provides us with two amazing statements regarding faith.

The Apostle Paul later quoted his words in 2:4, “. . . but the righteous shall live by faith.” In midst of the calamity about to descend upon Judah, the Lord says that those who know Him will “live by faith!”

As the book ends, we see the prophet proclaiming that regardless of any calamity he might see, he would still “rejoice in the Lord” (see 3:17-18). Habakkuk starts out questioning God’s absence and ends with an amazing statement of faith despite the lack of the Lord’s blessing.

The message of Habakkuk assures us God will not let evil continue unchecked. At just the right time, the Lord will show up and deal with any society that rejects Him and openly flaunts its rebellion toward Him.

We see this clearly in Psalm 37. The Lord not only sees the evil about us, but laughs at the wicked because He knows what’s ahead for them. I know this message is true, but do I live by faith believing God will someday soon intervene in our world?

The test of faith often comes as a result of God’s patience; He often waits a very long time so people have as much opportunity as possible to repent and avoid His wrath.

It’s a Matter of Waiting

As the Lord responded to Habakkuk regarding how he would deal with the Babylonians for their sins, He said this in 2:3, “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

We know Jesus is returning soon. We recognize all the signs for the beginning of the Great Tribulation on the earth. And yet . . . we wait.

There’s that pesky word “wait.” Is this not where our faith so often falters?

We know Jesus is returning soon. We recognize all the signs for the beginning of the Great Tribulation on the earth. And yet . . . we wait.

We see horrific violence in the world and daily hear “rumors of war” like no other time in the history of humanity. Every week I read a story about how World War III is about to start and I wonder how much longer the Lord can delay His appearing to take away His church. And yet . . . we wait!

I remember a particular thunderstorm from my grade school years in Rockford, Illinois. In the midst of the wind and rain, everything grew perfectly calm for several seconds. Then suddenly, a huge bolt of lightning and loud crashing thunder interrupted the tranquil moment. Although the lightning struck harmlessly on our property, it set our neighbor’s home on fire.

I sense we are in the calm before the storm. Despite all the threats of violence and rumors of war throughout the world, our nation seems eerily peaceful on the surface.

I Thessalonians 5:3 speaks of a time when “people are saying, ‘There is peace and security’” ahead of the “sudden destruction” that will mark the beginning of the day of the Lord or the Great Tribulation.

The leaders of the world today often proclaim “peace and security” not realizing they are fulfilling prophecy. I believe the “sudden destruction” of 1 Thessalonians looms over the world at this very moment.

How long will this last? We cannot know. God is patiently waiting for as many as possible to repent and find eternal life in Him. However, I believe the rapture and subsequent Great Tribulation are rapidly approaching.  How much longer will the Lord wait?

Yes, I need the reminders from Habakkuk this morning as I recover from my angst of the past couple days when everything seemed so murky.

Habakkuk reminds me of God’s sovereignty; nothing escapes His notice and or diverts Him from His purposes. His Word will not fail!

The Lord will not let evil go unchecked. At precisely the right time the Lord will show up, much, much to the dismay of those who now reject the Lord and so openly flaunt their rebellion toward Him.

The Rapture, What’s to Fear?

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What causes fear in us at times regarding the rapture? Does our apprehension arise from its abrupt nature or its unexpected timing? Does the unknown or the supernatural cause anxiety to rise within us? Perhaps we do not want our dreams for this life to end so soon.

I suspect many of us at times can identify with a least a few of the above reasons.

Does Scripture give us any help to relieve our apprehensions and hesitations? Is there a way to look at the rapture that sparks delight and hopefulness rather than dread or even disdain?

I believe there is.

One of the most comforting pictures of the rapture in Scripture is that of the bridegroom coming for his bride. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul purposely used language to invoke images of the Jewish wedding customs of their day when speaking of Jesus’ return for His church.

The Marriage Covenant

Jewish marriages in the first century AD began with the groom making a covenant with his bride. The groom “would drink a cup of wine with her which sealed the covenant and he would pay the bridal price for her to the father.”[i] The bridal price ensured that the groom would follow through on the covenant.

Do you see the similarities with what Jesus did for us in purchasing our salvation on the cross? He paid the price with His blood so that we, His church, might become His bride.

Jesus’ words regarding the cup of wine He drank with His disciples in the upper room resemble those spoken by a groom sealing the marriage covenant with his bride, “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood . . .’”[ii]

The drinking of wine from a cup and the announcement of a covenant both spark images of the Jewish marriage customs as well as point to fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies regarding the new covenant.

The Announcement

Once he confirmed the marriage covenant with His bride, the groom announced he was going to prepare a place for his bride in his father’s house.[iii] He would not see his bride until he completed his work on the honeymoon chamber and returned for her.

Once he confirmed the marriage covenant with His bride, the groom announced he was going to prepare a place for his bride in his father’s house.

Jesus’ words in John 14:2-3 mimic this announcement of the bridegroom, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

I believe Jesus purposely chose words to show how His actions resembled a groom leaving to prepare a place for his bride with a promise to someday return for her.

The Return of the Bridegroom

Similar to Jesus’ words regarding His return, the Jewish bridegroom returned later to take his bride back to the place he had prepared for her.

The Jewish groom enjoyed coming as a thief in the night to quickly snatch away his bride and take her back to his father’s house. He arrived at his bride’s home with much fanfare as his friends shouted and blew a shofar or trumpet to announce his surprise arrival. The groom then took his bride back to his father’s house for seven days.

In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul speaks of Jesus coming for His church with a shout or the “voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (v. 16). In John 14:2-3, Jesus stated that the purpose of His return for us will be to take us back to His Father’s house. There we will remain for seven years while the Great Tribulation takes place on the earth.

The Comforting Message for Us

The brides of Jesus’ day did not fear the arrival of the bridegroom. The bride looked forward to the surprise return of her bridegroom; this was an expected and exciting part of the wedding festivities.

This picture of the rapture provides much comfort for us because of the following reasons:

1. He’s preparing a place for us!

Jesus is now preparing a place especially for us. This is frequently overlooked in teachings regarding the rapture.

We can be sure this place will be amazing beyond anything we can imagine. Jesus is designing and preparing it with our specific needs and desires in mind. The best five star hotels on earth cannot compare to the place Jesus is getting ready for us.

The rapture represents Jesus return to take us to the place He has prepared for us. We can be sure this place will be amazing beyond anything we can imagine.

The rapture represents Jesus return to take us to the place He has prepared for us. Would not the brides of Jesus’ day eagerly anticipated seeing the place their grooms had prepared for them?

2. The Rapture is a groom returning for His bride!

While the element of surprise in the rapture may alarm us at times, it helps to remember this was part of the excitement for Jewish weddings of the first century AD. The groom was not coming to harm his bride, but to take her home to begin their exciting adventure together.

Rather than be something to fear or even dread, the bride joyously anticipated the day when the groom would snatch her away and take her to his home. Her groom’s surprise appearance represented a key part of the love story they would share for the rest of their lives.

So it is with Jesus’ return. He’s taking us away from this life to something wonderful, to an eternity full of wonder and amazement, which we will enjoy in new immortal bodies that will never be subject to illness, pain, gaining, or death. Jesus is coming as a bridegroom coming for His bride; it’s an act of love to give us a much better life than we can imagine.

3. The Rapture will lead to much celebration!

Once the bride and groom had spent seven days together, the feasting began. They joined their attendants, friends, and invited guests for a huge celebration of their wedding.

This is in our future as well. Revelation 19:6-10 describes the “marriage supper of the lamb” that occurs in heaven before we return to earth with Jesus. Just as with the marriage celebrations of Jesus’ day, I do not believe this will be just a sit-down dinner lasting a few hours; it will last several days, at least!

4. It’s the alternative that should be frightening to us!

Here is where the comparison breaks down a bit. During the seven days the bride and groom spent together in the honeymoon suite, the bride’s attendants and friends of the groom began celebrating.

During the seven years we are with the Lord in heaven, however, the Great Tribulation will occur on earth. Evil will flourish. Humanity will experience God’s wrath as a final call to repentance. It will be a time of great suffering and much death upon the earth.

Whenever I am tempted to fear the Lord’s return, I think of the alternative. We will be sooooo much better off being with the Lord than remaining on the earth. I believe the “sudden destruction” mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 happens shortly after the rapture.

It’s the alternative of Jesus not coming for us that should frighten us. Jesus is coming to lovingly take us out of this world before the terrible judgments and destruction of the tribulation.

Truly, it’s the alternative of Jesus not coming for us that should frighten us. Jesus is coming to lovingly take us out of this world before the terrible judgments and destruction of the tribulation.

Just as with a groom coming for his bride, the rapture represents Jesus’ love for His church. Will Jesus’ return surprise us when it happens? Most likely! Will He in love tenderly welcome us to the place He has prepared us? We can count on that.

The wedding imagery of the rapture helps us see it as an act of love rather than something to fear or dread. It’s meant to change our perspective, to help us look forward to Jesus’ return for us with excitement rather than anxiety.

When anxious thoughts of the rapture creep into your thinking, remember it’s not about striving to replace fear with hope but of looking forward to Jesus’ appearing as a bride getting ready for her groom’s arrival.

Jesus does not want us to be afraid of His return for us but rather eagerly anticipate it as the beginning of eternity or our time in paradise. He’s coming to rescue us out of this world and take us to a place of amazing beauty and joy, beyond all we can imagine.

[i] Winston, Joy, Jewish Wedding Ceremony, Article on the Rapture Ready Website

[ii] 1 Corinthians 11:25

[iii] Winston, Joy, Jewish Wedding Ceremony, Article on the Rapture Ready Website

It’s Coming, Possibly Soon

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The small sign flashed through the darkness, “I80 Closed Ahead.”

Tired from almost 14 hours of traveling, I drove past both the sign and nearby exit before fully processing the message. I soon began telling myself the message couldn’t possibly be true. If the interstate was truly closed ahead, there would have been a much bigger sign warning of its closure. Besides, very few cars were getting off at the exit by sign. Like me, almost everyone else kept going. I also knew of another upcoming exit; I still had time to get off the highway before being stopped.

Within a few miles I saw the flashing lights of a police car and slowly rolled to a stop. Interstate 80 was closed!

As I reflect on my response to the warning sign that night, I realize many explain away God’s warnings in Scripture regarding the tribulation in much the same way. They drive past the way of escape offered through Jesus’ death on the cross thinking the world around them will never change. Almost everyone else is going their way, what could possibly go wrong?

Scripture repeatedly warns of a coming time of terrible tribulation upon the earth. The prophet Jeremiah referred to this period as “time of Jacob’s trouble.”[i] Jesus Himself described a future time of great tribulation in Matthew 24:15-29 as He warned of terrible conditions on earth just before His return in glory. The book of Revelation provides alarming details of this time of God’s wrath yet to come upon the world.

The coming tribulation will affect everyone reading this post, possibly quite soon. Either you will be caught up to forever be with Jesus before it starts or witness the beginning of this terrible time of suffering on the earth.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Today, we see signs of the coming Great Tribulation upon the earth everywhere. In Matthew 24:4-14, Jesus gave us signs of what the world would look like as this time of tribulation approached.

It’s almost as if Jesus opened a laptop and read current news stories from the Internet to His disciples when He spoke of the signs of the coming tribulation.

Today, we see these signs everywhere we look. It’s almost as if Jesus opened a laptop and read current news stories from the Internet to His disciples when He spoke of the signs of the coming tribulation. Here are a few of the signs we see of the coming Great Tribulation:

Earthquakes: Earthquakes are following this exact pattern as the number and severity of earthquakes have rapidly increased during the past 20 years.  They are increasing like birth pangs, exactly as Jesus predicted.

Wars: “Wars and rumor of wars” abound in today’s news stories. Just today I read a news item where “experts” say we are closer to WW III than at any time in the previous 60 years.

Persecution: Persecution of Christians worldwide continues to dramatically increase, just as Jesus said would happen ahead of the coming tribulation.

The Temple: Jesus spoke of a Jewish Temple that the antichrist would defile halfway through the tribulation. Signs of this coming temple appear almost every day. The Temple Institute is now training Levites to be priests and the Sanhedrin recently named the high priest for this temple.

One World Government: The framework for the one world government of the tribulation is already in place. Those planning this coming world order are not hiding their plans and agenda; it’s no secret as to what they are planning. By 2030 the elite plan to have this worldwide socialist order in place with all nations of the world under one leader.

There is an Exit

There was an exit by the sign that night that would have allowed me to miss the traffic jam on Interstate 80. In the same way, Jesus is our only way of escape from the coming wrath that will befall the world.

Jesus made it clear that He alone is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through” Him.[ii] If you have never placed your faith in Jesus and His death on the cross for your sins, please do so before it is too late. Scripture promises that all who call upon “the name of the Lord will be saved.”[iii] Turn to Jesus; look to Him alone for the forgiveness of your sins and eternal life. He is the only place of refuge in a world heading for calamity.

John 3:16 assures us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” These familiar words hold the promise of life for all who believe. Jesus died so that we might have eternal life.

The “I80 Closed Ahead” sign is flashing brighter than ever before in history. Do not make the same mistake with your eternal destiny that I made that night in ignoring the flashing sign and driving past the exit. My failure to heed the warning led to a temporal delay in getting home. Rejecting Jesus and His gracious offer of salvation will have eternal consequences far beyond the coming Great Tribulation.

Please understand this does not mean we desire to see suffering on the earth or the deaths of so many people as will occur during the tribulation. That is most definitely not our hope. Our hope is in Jesus’ appearing and our desire is that as many people as possible find Him as their Savior before this time of tribulation begins.

I see God’s hand of restraint in so many areas around the world. How much longer will He hold back the evil and destruction that seem ready to explode to an even greater degree in our nation and throughout the world?

Without Jesus’ intervention, however, the world is on a path to total self-destruction in which all human life will be lost.[iv] Jesus made it clear that without His return after the tribulation all life on earth would perish. God’s judgments during the tribulation will be warnings for people to repent, which millions of people will do and find eternal life in Him.

We do not know when Jesus will come for His church. I believe everything is in place for the tribulation to begin; it’s just a matter of time before God’s patience comes to an end and Jesus appears to take us home!

While things may seem bad now, Paul tells that the restrainer now actively works to hold back the antichrist until the time is right for the day of the Lord, or the tribulation to begin (see 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7). When that happens, things will get much worse in our world in a big hurry.

I see God’s hand of restraint in so many areas around the world. How much longer will He hold back the evil and destruction that seem ready to explode to an even greater degree in our nation and throughout the world?

[i] Jeremiah 30:7 (KJV)       [ii] John 14:6       [iii] Romans 10:13     [iv] See Matthew 24:22

Awaiting the Master’s Arrival

Max and Chloes

I believe the characters of Max and Chloe in The Secret Life of Pets teach us something about our expectancy regarding Jesus’ return for His church. Lest you think I am crazy, let me explain.

The movie portrays Max, the dog, as eagerly longing for the return of Katie, his owner. He begins awaiting her return as soon as she left for work in the morning. Chloe the cat, on the other hand, enjoys her time alone. At the end of the day she seems annoyed by the intrusion of her master into her domain.

While not seeking to favor Max over Chloe (or spark a dogs versus cats debate), I believe the difference in their characters illustrates a greater reality.

In 1 Corinthians 1:7, Paul described his readers as “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The sense is that of “eagerly waiting” Jesus’ appearing, an excited expectation of His arrival. The Apostle used the same word in Philippians 3:20 to also speak of our joyous anticipation of Jesus’ return to take us home.

Do you see it? Doesn’t that sound more like Max than Chloe? The apostles focused the hope of New Testament believers solely upon Jesus’ return for them (1 Pet. 1:13; 1 John 3:1-3). New Testament believers awaited Jesus’ return for them with great expectancy. Such hope characterized their response to the Gospel (Titus 2:11-13; I Thess. 1:9-10).

Why is this so foreign to our thinking today? Why do so many Christians take a ho-hum attitude to Jesus’ return?

I believe several factors contribute to this.

Mockery: My heart aches as I see the ridicule of the rapture on social media. What are believers to think when they see others who claim to love the Lord openly mocking their hope in His appearing? This ridicule of our hope leads some believers into the paths of those who deny our hope in Jesus’ imminent return. For other Christians, such contempt tempers their anticipation of Jesus’ return; the rapture becomes far too controversial of an event upon which to place their hope.

Misconceptions: Depictions of glorified believers sitting all alone on clouds strumming harps also dampen our anticipation of eternity. While we will worship Jesus forever, Scripture paints a much more exciting and wonderful picture of eternity than that of a long dull worship service or of playing instruments by ourselves on a cloud. We will reign with Christ in His earthly kingdom and then forevermore throughout eternity. Doesn’t that sound much more exciting than some lowly angel seeking to gain his wings? I believe the joy and excitement ahead for us at Jesus’ return will far surpass all we can imagine.

“I’ve heard that before:” Back in the 1960s’ and 1970’s, eschatology became a hot topic. Many churches emphasized the imminent return of Jesus. I remember Jack Van Impe coming to my church to teach for an entire week about Bible prophecy.

As time has passed, however, believers have lost their expectancy of Jesus’ return. Having looked for Jesus’ return for so long, I understand the sentiment that finds it difficult to believe He will appear anytime soon. After all, we have heard it all before and nothing has happened. However, with so much prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes, if there was ever a time to be watchful for the Master, it is now!

Silence: Unfortunately, rather than increase their focus on Jesus’ return as the signs of His coming multiply, many churches have become mostly silent regarding future things. How can believers be excited about their future hope if its details are never taught? It’s not easy for Christians to focus their hope on something so rarely proclaimed in our churches.

The above factors, and perhaps many more, have made many believers rather blasé regarding Jesus’ appearing. Dare I say many Christians today resemble the character of Chloe rather than Max regarding Jesus’ return?

While we do not copy the behavior of Max who was willing to do nothing other than sit by the door waiting for his master to return, perhaps his eager anticipation of seeing his master is something we do need to imitate. Are we waiting for His coming?

Max from The Seccret Life of Pets