FACING The Tribulation
1. This Present
Almost 2000 years ago, the greatest Prophet of all time predicted
this end time we live in:
will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.
And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away
captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by
Gentiles... (Luke 21:23,24).
will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be
hated by all nations for My nameís sake (Matt 24:9).
there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the
beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be
[after it again] (Matt 24:21).
The people who are
the subject of this trouble are not just the Jews. It is the time of
Jacobís trouble (Jer 30:7). Jacobís name was changed to
Israel, and his progeny have become a vast population, now occupying
a number of lands besides Jewish Israel, so Israel today comprises
several major nations Ė Britain, Ireland, the USA, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Norway,
Sweden, Finland and some other parts of the world. While Jewry is a
part of Israel Ė descended from Judah Ė it was only one of Israelís
twelve tribes. The greater number of Israelites are not Jews, but
are closely related to them.
So, the time
depicted so graphically by Jesus is to afflict primarily the
English-speaking peoples. This is the Great Tribulation, a
time of unprecedented anguish and distress! It will affect the whole
world, but the main targets are Israelites and Christians. Those
comprise the ďyouĒ of Matthew 24:9 above. Hence the further comment
that these awful days will only be ended when the time of Gentile
oppression is over.
will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles
are fulfilled (Luke 21:24b).
Prophecy buffs have
speculated wildly about what those words mean, but they are
straightforward and simple. They mean that Gentile (non-Israelite)
nations will rule the world, and occupy Jerusalem, until Jesus puts
an end to it at His second coming. At the moment (written mid-2007),
Israelite nations (America, Britain, etc) still hold considerable
power in world politics, as they have done for 200 years. But all
that is shortly going to come to an abrupt end.
Gentiles are going
to take over, favouring their own Gentile religion. Countries which
do not allow Christians full freedom are going to call the tune,
which means oppression for true believers as well as Jews and
Exactly how this
will work out, we donít know. We donít need to know specifics. What
we need to know, those details have been revealed, and they
are: 1) you will be hated by all nations for My nameís sake,
and 2) they will try to kill you.
What you need to do
now is to prepare for this time, which is inevitable and which is
coming shortly. You, as a true believer in Jesus, must
psychologically prepare yourself.
preparation is far more important than physical preparation.
In this series of
articles I am going to take a stab at some of the things we all must
consider in our bid to stay loyal to Christ in the hard times
coming. Briefly, I might summarise what they are, under these
1. Be Prepared To Die
The first thing to
consider is death. You are mortal, and youíre going to die anyway
one day, so you might as well rightly use the time you have
in life, before your time is up and you return to your Maker.
As a believer in
Jesus, you are called to lay down your own life, and to take up His.
Whoever tries to save his own life will not be saved, but if you lay
it down to serve Jesus above all else and lose your own life, He
will grant you eternal life (Luke 17:33).
So the place to
begin is by mentally preparing yourself to die. Donít try and hold
onto your physical life, or anything else in this physical realm. It
is here for the using, now, for Godís purposes Ė so that you can
build godly character, which prepares you for the next life in the
Be willing to die
for Jesus, physically. Prepare your mind for that eventuality,
because each person must face that test. Those who only want Jesus
for this temporal physical life wonít make it into Godís eternal
kingdom. Be willing to say ĎNoí to anyone who demands that you
surrender your beliefs, or who requires that you deny Jesus in order
to live. Itís just not worth it. Your physical life isnít worth two
matchsticks, compared with what lies beyond death for the faithful!
So, stay faithful to God.
The glorified Jesus
said to His dear ones at Smyrna:
Do not fear any
of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is
about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and
you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death and I
will give you the crown of life (Rev 2:10).
We know from church
history of the awful privations, sufferings and martyrdom of
hundreds of thousands of Christians (perhaps even millions) in the
first two centuries after Jesusí death. We should not assume that
while such was the case for our brothers and sisters back then, it
is not for us now. Jesus also spoke to Philadelphia of:
of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who
dwell on the earth (Rev 3:10).
He also said to
I am coming
quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your
How can anyone
steal your spiritual crown? By getting you to renounce your faith in
Jesus. By forcing you under duress to deny Him.
Do not fear
those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul
[your spirit, your will, resolve, power of moral choice,
life, etc]. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both
soul and body in hell [Gehenna, the lake of fire] (Matt
Jesusí command is
Do not fear
therefore... (Matt 10:31).
A lot of Christians
do fear. They fear man. They fear the system of human authority that
takes Godís place in the world. While you are commanded to submit to
the system (Rom 13:1), you are not to love it or fear it. You should
be wise, circumspect, and realise that your submission to men
without Godís Spirit is only within the boundaries set out by Godís
law. If men expect you to deny God, or Jesus, or deny obedience to
His precepts, your duty is to God not to men (Acts 5:29).
So, donít fear
them. They can have no power over you except as God allows them to
have (Jn 19:11). If you have submitted your life fully to Jesus, and
have made the mental commitment to do as you should until death, He
has you in the palm of His hand:
hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me. And I give
them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall
anyone snatch them out of My hand (Jn 10:27,28).
The promises of
Jesus are SURE! You may lose your physical life in martyrdom,
because you refuse to relinquish your faith in Jesus, but you wonít
lose your eternal reward, no matter what horrors you have to endure
in this physical life.
avowed aim is to destroy you. And heís not so much after your body
(thatís no use to him), but after your spirit, to destroy that.
Thatís why he resorts to techniques and intimidation that are
intended to make you fear death, or pain, or distress,
or any suffering. You have to condition your mind beforehand, NOT to
fear, NOT to let evil men destroy the confidence you have in Jesus.
Fear is the wedge
that opens the door to Satan to come in and sift you like wheat.
happened to Peter. He feared people knowing that he was a follower
of Jesus. He feared that he might be arrested, too, if he admitted
it. Because he feared, he denied Jesus (Jn 18:25-27).
Donít make the same
mistake. Make your decision NOW. If you donít make it now, you wonít
make it when the time comes. NOW is the time to be willing to die.
Mentally make that decision right now, and if you mean it, you can
go on to make the other necessary preparations for what is coming.
Better Not To Marry
When Paul wrote to
the Corinthians he talked about ďthe present distressĒ (1 Cor 7:26).
That was only about AD 56 or 57. Yet there were troubles which were
so serious engulfing the Church, that he gave advice to those who
were contemplating marriage to put aside such plans.
persecution arises against you, that takes your life, itís better
not to be married than to leave a young wife emotionally distraught
by her loss. Better also not to have children, when you have to flee
for your life (Matt 24:19,20).
Paul advised at
that time against getting married and having children, not because
he thought celibacy better (Heb 13:4), but for practical reasons.
We are now entering
a time that is going to surpass ďthe present distressĒ which Paul
alluded to. If anyone were to ask my advice, like some may have
asked Paul back then, I would say the same things he said in 1
Corinthians 7. If you canít live without each other, then get
married, but otherwise donít. And, certainly donít have children,
because itís far worse torment to see your children suffer at the
hands of torturers than yourself (1 Cor 7:25-30).
This time is just
Ask now and
see, whether a man is ever in labour with child? So why do I see
every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labour and
all faces turned pale?
Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it... (Jer
So get ready for
it. Begin now.
continued in part 2