A short time ago I was asked the following question on the End-Times…
I am writing because I am trying to find an answer to something. Do you think Christians will be here for any of the Tribulation? I have listened to what different people have to say, and I believe that these people have godly character and integrity… Why do they come up with different answers? I was reading in Revelations and it sounds like we could be here for part of it.. If we are then we would want to be prepared… If we are not, then maybe it is being read wrong… Could you shed some light please?
Those are great questions, and ones I’ve wondered about too. Unfortunately, the widely varying views on this subject have brought a lot of division to the church, and that’s something that should give us pause before we declare that we understand this area well. Consider the disciples who lived with Jesus. He instructed them on a daily basis and specifically told them about His coming death and resurrection, and yet they couldn’t understand what his words meant until the events actually happened. Some revelations of God remain largely opaque to us until we see the revelation unfold before us.
Think about it. The disciples couldn’t see what Jesus was telling them because their mindsets were so ingrained with a certain image of what the coming of the Messiah meant. This was so bad that Peter went so far as to rebuke Jesus! As you know, Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mat 16:23, NKJV)
The word in the Greek for “mindful” there is “phroneo” which means that Peter was not of the same mind as God, or not in harmony with Him. Instead, because Peter’s mindset did not allow for the Messiah dying, his mind came in harmony with the thoughts and wisdom of men.
Just because we have fellowship with Christ, just because we sit at His feet and learn from Him, just because we have committed our very lives to Him and His cause, does not mean that we will always be in harmony with Him — especially when it comes to how God will play out His drama on Earth.
The Greek word for “offense” in that verse is “skandalom” and means a trap, a snare, a stumbling block, or any person by which one is drawn into error. In other words, Satan attempted to use Peter’s misconceptions to trip Jesus up and pull Him into error. Peter had no idea how much damage his way of thinking would cause if it were followed. Peter had the best of intentions and yet he was not only wrong, his error had the potential to bring great harm.
If this teaches us anything it’s that we truly need to get in harmony with God’s thinking on this, and frankly I don’t see that the church understands end-time events near well enough to be able to do that. What we can do is to keep following Jesus and learning to be obedient to Him. The better we can follow His voice now, the more likely we will be able to follow Him when it becomes critical to do so (whether that’s the tribulation period or not).
While I can’t say exactly what will happen during the Great Tribulation, I do know that we live in a world of tribulation and as the end of times approaches there seems to be an acceleration of many things — both things of God and things of Satan. This will lead to some confusion, because on the one hand, some things will get better, and on the other hand, some things will get worse. To me, it’s like the battle for mankind is coming to a head and both sides will have victories and both sides will have defeats.
One of the most tragic things would be for Christians to sit this battle out assuming that everything is preordained and that we have no effect on what happens. Satan didn’t seem to think Jesus’ life was preordained and he tried to change events repeatedly. Likewise, Satan tries to mess up each of our lives and cause us to fail in the assignment God has given us. My point is that regardless of how end-time events actually play out, we need to individually carry out the the assignment God has given us, as those assignments may be crucial for our region (or area of influence) and what God is doing.
So what is our assignment? Well, first we should be faithful wherever God has put us, not just in the church, but also with our families and at work. He who is faithful in the little things will be given more. Second, we need to recognize when God is pouring favor on our lives and take advantage of what He has given us. The world is looking for solutions and answers to their problems and we are to be a light in their darkness (not just in matters of salvation). We need to step up to the challenge as Joseph and Daniel did when they were given the opportunity, and seek God for His wisdom and understanding to be able to do so.
One person can have a HUGE impact on their nation, changing the destiny of that nation and the role it will play in end-time events. I heard of a woman who purposely took a job as a secretary to the Minister of Interior of her nation (a Central-American country), so she could have an influence on this man. She was able to convince him that a Christian ministry might be able to help out with corruption in one of their prisons, and desperate for a solution, the Minister of Interior decided to try it. This Christian ministry rose to the challenge and in a year turned that prison completely around. Upon seeing this, the Minister of Interior asked the Christians if they could take on ALL the prisons in their nation, and seeing the favor God was giving them they not only said yes they would handle all the prisons, but they asked if there were any other areas where they could help. Why yes, said the Minister of Interior, as a matter of fact they were also having corruption issues in the military!
So, because of one simple Christian lady, a nation is currently being transformed.
Many great men of the Bible lived in terribly “anti-Christ” empires of their days, and yet God used them to do great things. Who will be the Josephs and Daniels of our day when we need them the most? Who will remain in harmony with God’s thoughts even when events don’t make sense from what we thought they would turn out like? Who will refuse to become a stumbling block to the purposes of God by not demanding that things work out the way we think they should?
Who will have the insight, understanding and wisdom that Daniel had to not only see the hidden mysteries of God, but to also understand what they mean and be able to make prudent judgments about what must be done?
Let’s not be too quick to get answers to perhaps the deepest mysteries of the ages, but instead let’s seek to live a life like Daniel and Joseph and learn how to be used by Him no matter where He puts us — whether in a prison or on the king’s palace. We don’t need answers to every question, but we do need to know how to answer the crucial questions put to us each day.
Here’s an exercise to try. Try reading through the Bible and consider what happens when God pours out His wrath. Does He warn His people and protect them or does He leave them to fend for themselves? Second, when an “anti-Christ” type empire is ruling, look at who God uses. Does He use the people hiding in caves or does He use those who stand up for Him no matter the cost? Moreover, how do those people handle the challenges they face?
While I appreciate efforts to make sense of scriptures and what they reveal about end-time events, consider how such teachings are helping you to live your life. If a teaching is helping you to live more like the great heroes of the Bible, then even if the teaching is not entirely accurate at least it has a valuable aspect to it. On the other hand, if a teaching is entirely accurate and yet fails to help you live the way Christ wants us to, then we need to reconsider its true value.
Do you have an thoughts on this topic?