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FACING The Tribulation

2. The World’s Nemesis

Of the Great Tribulation, Jesus said:

For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled (Luke 21:22). ...For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people... (Luke 21:23).

We must understand what He meant by the underlined words. God is NOT, in a fit of rage, like some demented monster, doling out His fury upon hapless, defenceless human victims. But He IS just!

When Jesus died on the cross, that was an expression of God’s wrath or vengeance against sin. It didn’t mean the Father hated Jesus. Far from it!! Jesus was an integral part of Him. God in heaven felt every agonising moment just as Jesus did. But the violation that sin brings is so great that God hates it with unmitigated disgust. Hence His wrath against it.

Jesus was the object of His vengeance at that time, because Jesus was paying the penalty for all mankind so that humanity’s sins could be rescinded.

There was no other way for you and me to be redeemed. God knows best.

Likewise, there is no other way for humankind to realise how despicable sin is, unless He lets the penalties of sin reap their end result. Sin is the violation of divine law. And God’s law governs not just the spiritual sphere – outlawing wrong thoughts such as hatred, lust, greed, envy, jealousy, pride, resentment, etc. – but it also regulates the whole physical management of earth, the solar system, and the universe.

We are not merely the last generation in this age, we are part of the last degeneration. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, society has descended to a grave low.

It is time for You to act, O Lord, for they have regarded Your Law as void (Ps 119:126).

And God DOES act! When people disregard God’s laws wholesale, so that gratuitous violence, sexual depravity, abortion, and hedonistic selfishness and sensual pursuit blot out the light of God’s love, that darkness which covers the earth is met with God’s rebuke. Sodom and Gomorrah, Zeboiim and Admah were all obliterated by sulphurous fireball.

However, God’s vengeance is not like man’s. God loves His creation and wants people to turn.

He wants them to turn back to Him, to turn back to obedience to His ways, and to turn away from the sins that bring devastation and woe.

Some will; most won’t.

You can read the preview of human reaction to disasters in Revelation 16. When the sun’s strength increases so that people suffer, they won’t acknowledge their own guilt and need for moral change; instead they curse God (Rev 16:8,9). Already Satan has brainwashed the world with a ‘convenient’ scapegoat. But global warming is NOT caused by ‘excess’ carbon dioxide emissions. It’s the other way around. Increased carbon emission is a product of increased temperature. And solar activity is the greatest factor that controls temperature. God has power over the sun. Carnal man does not want to acknowledge God, however, so he finds another ‘explanation’.

When wicked people suffer for their own sins, they don’t turn and repent. Their lives are motivated by self, not by moral goodness. They only care about themselves, not about what God wants, moral purity. So, this occurs:

They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds (Rev 16:11).

0If you hit someone maliciously in the face, with undiluted hatred and venom, wanting to kill that person, are you not worthy of punishment? And when you receive the just recompense of your viciousness, should you be surprised?

Why should we be surprised that there is such a thing as God’s punishment for evils perpetrated upon the earth? Would you find fault with God’s wrath when people hit Him in the face with vitriolic hatred, and treat His laws with impunity?

Would you argue with God? Only the fool would do that.

Those who submit to God’s good ways, who love Him and obey His laws, can understand why the escalation in evil is met with such a response.

For this is the time of punishment in fulfilment of all that has been written (Luke 21:22, NIV).

The angel Gabriel told Daniel of:

...what will happen later in the time of wrath... the appointed time of the end (Dan 8:19, NIV).

That is where we are at now. God has spoken, but humanity takes little notice.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness (Rom 1:18, NIV).

Thus, the Great Tribulation is, if you like, the world’s nemesis. The dictionary defines “nemesis” as “retributive justice.”

The exhibition of God’s wrath intensifies as the end-time progresses, which you can see from the book of Revelation.

Some like to neatly categorise Bible events, calling the Great Tribulation the time of Satan’s wrath against the Church, and the Trumpet plagues of Revelation as God’s wrath. But such an approach is wrong. It is oversimplification, because God uses Satan’s destructive and harmful influences to achieve God’s constructive character purpose also.

That end is repentance and restoration – to spiritually purify His people that they can finally enjoy spiritual bliss in His eternal family. For no impure person will enter it:

Outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie (Rev 22:15).

Blessed are those who do His commandments [wash their robes, margin], that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city (Rev 22:14).

In a world that disparages obedience to God, you need endurance to make it:

He who endures to the end shall be saved (Matt 24:13).

Watch therefore and pray always that you may [have strength to, margin] escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:36).

You cannot escape all the physical things to come to pass – only those ones that God arranges for you to escape – but you can escape all the spiritual ravages of Satan the enemy, if you are faithful to Jesus, and endure to the end.

To endure, you must be prepared.

I summarise what you must prepare for:

  • Be prepared to die.

  • Be prepared to suffer.

  • Be prepared for hardship.

  • Be prepared to love.

  • Be prepared to hear the Spirit.

2. Be Prepared To Suffer

The Christian life is not ‘a bed of roses’.

We must [go] through many tribulations [to] enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

You read of what Paul suffered for the sake of Christ.

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body (2 Cor 4:8-10).

To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labour, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now (1 Cor 4:11-13).

On top of all these hardships, Paul suffered imprisonment and stripes (2 Cor 6:5) – being whipped across the bare back with a leather whip, 39 times, which lacerated the flesh and sometimes even killed a person.

He castigated the Corinthians for preferring to welcome false ministers – who today preach what is appealing to people – instead of heeding his heaven-sent words:

Are they ministers of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more: in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.

From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.

Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;

in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren... (2 Cor 11:23-26).

Paul called all this “light affliction”! (2 Cor 4:17.)

How could he say that?! Because his mind was not transfixed by the physical. He had spiritual vision.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom 8:18).

He looked beyond this present mortal life of difficulties, upset, hardship and trouble. He set his mind to endure whatever for the sake of the crown of life that awaits those who love righteousness more than physical comfort.

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin (1 Pet 4:1).

Do you see the point of why God allows suffering? It hinges upon sin and righteousness.

Righteous character is built in the crucible of suffering, where the child of God holds on tight to the promise of God despite all he endures physically.

Paul reminds us that we must walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Cor 5:1).

We Are Surrounded By Many Silent Witnesses

Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned by the Communists in Romania for being a Christian pastor, relates many examples of those who endured:

The Soviet secret printing press ‘True Witness’... has printed a book of verse entitled Oxana that describes the suffering of the Lithuanian Christian Poshkene Birute. She was deprived of her children and put into a psychiatric asylum because of her faith in Christ.

The Communist newspaper Niamunas slandered her by claiming she tried to poison her children, though she was not charged with this crime. It also alleged that believers appear naked in their meetings and engage in sexual orgies.

...In her poem, our sister evokes the martyrs of the past and concludes: ‘The murdered are silent; we continue. There is no more beautiful fate than to fight and suffer, to be men persecuted for the truth....’ (Where Christ Still Suffers, pp 10-11).

That is not a natural reaction or attitude. She was given it by the Holy Spirit, so she could endure her ordeal. Her poem continued:

‘...Prisons, camps, asylums, shootings – how powerless are these false ideas of hatred. The snow melts in the spring. It cannot destroy the sun’s rays. Neither can wickedness destroy love. It will be conquered.

...In Czechoslovakia, Communists killed a leading personality of the underground Church, the secretly ordained priest Premsyl Coufal. He had been taken many times to the police and told he had the choice of informing on the believers or accepting death. The last time he was called in, they gave him a calendar with February 23 circled. This was the deadline for a reply. Day after day Coufal looked at the calendar. Should he become a Judas or a martyr? He was a child of God. He remained faithful and paid the ultimate price.

The Communists entered his apartment, smashed his skull, broke his nose, and made cuts in his arms, then they turned on the gas. Later, they allowed Christians to see what they had done. They wanted to scare others who follow Jesus and testify that Communism is wicked.

Would you openly oppose the evil in your community if you knew that suffering awaited you?

The Dutch couple Barendsen, evangelical missionaries in Afghanistan, testified for Jesus in this country that has been subdued by Soviet hate. They were bound to chairs and cut to pieces...

The Lebanese evangelical Jameel Safoury taught the blind about the wickedness of men and about the Light of the world. For this, leftist Palestinian guerillas cut off his arms and his head. The corpse was found under a bridge (Where Christ Still Suffers, pp 11-12).

All these died in faith, preferring God above all else (Heb 11:39). They endured, and are now in heavenly bliss awaiting their full reward.

Castro [Communist Cuban dictator] attended the execution of a Christian by a firing squad. As his hands were tied behind his back, Castro told him, ‘Kneel and beg for your life.’ The Christian shouted back, ‘I kneel for no man.’ A sharp-shooter put a bullet through first one knee, then the other. Castro exulted, ‘You see, we made you kneel.’ The man was then slowly killed, shot by shot through the non-vital parts of the body, prolonging his agony. (Where Christ Still Suffers, p 26.)

Jesus won’t have to resort to bullets to make Castro kneel! Everyone will give homage to God (Rom 14:11; Phil 2:10) on the Day of Judgement (2 Cor 5:10).

Atheistic Communist regimes are based on an insane dogma – that God does not exist. Christians are regarded with contempt, derision and hatred.

I am also with the Christians committed to asylums. The fact that these sane men pray is considered a sign of madness, and they are tied up, gagged, kicked and given electric shocks which will drive them mad.

The beauty of the underground saints shines against this dark background.

Knowing the cost, Brother Borushko told the court defiantly, ‘Suffering is the living nerve of Christianity. The Church lives as long as it suffers, because Christ the Lord suffered martyrdom, and has asked us to follow Him.’ Another Christian, Brother Krasnov-Levitin, wrote after eight years of imprisonment, ‘Never and nowhere have I felt happier than in the prison camp... God was so near. In those times I asked, “My God, make this time, the brightest time in my life, last as long as possible.” ...So I found my felicity in unhappiness, and my inner liberty in the worst of captivities.’ (Where Christ Still Suffers, p 41.)

“Marx [the founder of Communist ideology] taught that all religions and all morals must be abolished” (ibid., p 84). “Marx was a devil-worshipper connected with a Satanist sect, as I amply demonstrated from his own writings in my book, Was Karl Marx A Satanist?(ibid., p 85).

The book Let History Judge by the Russian Communist Roy Medvedev (Alfred Knopf, New York, 1971), describes some of the tortures applied to prisoners in the Leninist jails of the Soviet Union. This source is unchallengable and details the methods used by Lenin’s followers to force confessions from innocent people, among whom were many Christians. Sons were often killed in front of their mothers to make the mothers confess non-existent crimes. A prisoner who refused to denounce others would be shown a stranger and told that the man would be shot if the prisoner refused to co-operate. If the prisoner, thinking it was a trick, still resisted, the hostage was shot. After a few days a second person was shot before his eyes. To prevent others from being executed the prisoner denounced his friends, who later on were also killed. (Where Christ Still Suffers, p 88.)

Crude human rulers resort to vile methods to try and coerce their subjects into submission. They use the devil’s classic methods of manipulation and intimidation to achieve their domination.

Central to their methods is fear.

Resisting Fear

Those who endured and overcame did so because they did not fear man. They feared God more.

The Hong Kong Star quoted a businessman returning from Shanghai, Communist China’s largest city, who said he witnessed the fatal torturing of a Chinese Roman Catholic. ‘He said, “They grabbed him and took him to a school on the outskirts where they formed a twenty-man court of high school students. He was charged and found guilty of neglecting his prime duty by not knowing Mao’s thoughts and choosing religion instead ... The victim wore a crucifix.” The businessman said the teenage crowd wanted to crucify the Chinese believer. The Red Guards pelted him with eggs and stones, then tortured him with hot pokers. His screams were heard by passers-by.’

Another Chinese Christian was found with a Bible hidden in a pillow. For this he was stripped naked, smeared with honey, and made to stand in the fierce sun for many hours.

Vart Land (Norway) reported that in Swatow a pastor was dragged through the streets wearing a dunce’s cap which had ugly inscriptions on it. In Red China, clergy could be executed for refusing to chant the Red book of Mao Tse-Tung before their flocks.

The suffering of the Chinese Church surpasses all imagination. The Catholics announce that over a million of them have been killed (Dauriac, Requiem for the Church of China). We do not have the figures for the Protestants, but it must be proportional.

Dr D Rees, former missionary in China, returning from a fact-finding tour, wrote to us, ‘All my Chinese friends have been killed or imprisoned. One was blinded, one thrown into a well, two died of tuberculosis, and another, when brain-washed, went out of his mind and signed a recantation. When his reason returned, he tore up the recantation. But the Chinese Christian Church is growing by thousands. It is called Pi keo wuyen tib Chiao huei (The Church of Closed Lips). No one speaks to another, but neighbours are converted through the operation of the Holy Spirit. All my Chinese friends of the Jesus Family (Watchman Nee’s denomination) have been done to death by various means, thousands of them.’

An Indian doctor, Kuman Chandah, had his legs cut and his eyes gouged out in one of Red China’s prisons.

In one such incident, Vladimir Tatishtshev, a Russian, was arrested in Shanghai. The Chinese torturers tied iron tubes to his legs with screws and hammered on them till his bones were broken, to make him confess imaginary crimes. When he refused, the Communist police went to his home. An officer picked up Tatishtshev’s baby and told the mother, ‘If you don’t sign an accusation against your husband, we will smash your child’s head in.’ The mother, stunned and unbelieving, refused. Then the police officer, a woman herself, smashed the baby’s head against the wall. The mother stabbed the officer, and the other Communists shot the mother.

Radio Moscow said on 7 April 1970, ‘In the course of ten years, more than 25 million people in China were exterminated... The discontented were dumped by the million into enormous concentration camps.’

The Moscow newspaper Krasnaia Zvezda, on 7 May 1969, wrote, ‘The Chinese Communist Party ... have burned people’s eyes out with boiling water and sulphuric acid, hacked off limbs with penknives and split open skulls with stones and ancient broadswords.’ (Where Christ Still Suffers, pp 129-131.)

We naturally recoil in horror at this catalogue of atrocity, but you must look through it to the spiritual:

It is stupid to fear those who can kill only the body, instead of fearing the One who can throw both body and soul in Gehenna. A sword was put to the chest of a Christian and he was asked, ‘Are you a Christian?’ When he answered, ‘Yes,’ they would have killed him, but an officer said, ‘Free him, he is an idiot.’ Someone asked him later, ‘How could you confess Christ with such courage?’ and his reply was, ‘I read the story of Peter’s denial of Christ and I did not wish to weep bitterly.’

Among the many stories about our martyred Chinese brethren is this eye-witness report about the stoning to death of a Christian girl in a Communist labour camp. The girl was bound hand and foot and made to kneel in the centre of a circle of people who were commanded to stone her. Those who refused were shot. She died with her face shining like St Stephen. At least one of those present was led to faith in Christ through this girl who sealed her testimony with her blood. A young man prayed for his persecutors as he hung six days on a cross before dying. Five students who were sent out to dig deep holes into which they were to be thrown, sang Christian hymns as they were buried alive. (Where Christ Still Suffers, pp 131-132).

These are the heroes of the faith, of whom this world is not worthy (Heb 11:38). We must join them.

In another incident in Red China, a girl was cruelly tortured to get her to betray the secrets of the Underground Church. When asked how she could bear so much suffering, she replied, ‘It was not hard. My pastor taught me that the real torture lasts a very short time. For each minute of torture, there are ten minutes of looking into enraged faces and at the implements of pain. I kept my eyes closed and since I did not see the stick before it hit me, nor afterwards, the suffering was much reduced. I relied on Christ’s promise: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt 5:8). I purified my heart of fear of men, and I learned to see God. So many had seen him before. When the Communists became aware of my defence, they stuck my eyelids wide open with tape, but it was too late. I had already received a vision of other spheres.’ (Where Christ Still Suffers, p 146).

We can learn from this Christian not to be obsessed by the suffering which faces us, but rather to close our eyes to it. Dead men cannot be afraid. We are meant to be dead to the world, and with hearts purified by the blood of Christ, to look upwards to the heavenly Father. (Ibid.)

Do not fear little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Lk 12:32). ...do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do... (12:4).

The natural reaction is to fear suffering and death, and to fear those who wield threats over you.

How can you overcome such fears? Die to self:

Jesus died for the glory of the Father and commands all his disciples to die to sin (Rom 6:2), and to lose, if necessary, their natural life in obedience to the commandments. A religion is truly a religion if you are ready to die for it. A belief that is not worthy of the sacrifice of life is not religion. The desire to lead a consistent Christian life can lead to renunciation and painful loss. Do not consider yourself a Christian if this is too great a price for you. Jesus was ready to die on a cross... we are meant to imitate him in dedication to God and love towards our fellowmen (Where Christ Still Suffers, p 133).

The Great Tribulation Will Be The World’s Nemesis

Persecution of Christians is actually part of the world’s nemesis although it may not look like it. Soon, we will see the wholesale destruction or demolition of ‘churchianity’ except for that of the Great False Church. Truth is going to be crushed into the ground and true believers persecuted and put to death in the Great Tribulation.

Most believers have no idea what is coming, and how close this disaster is! But it has been foretold in Revelation for centuries and the time for its fulfilment is upon us:

I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. [This martyrdom of true Christians happened during the Dark Ages.] And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed (Rev 6:9-11).

Jesus’ followers were massacred during the first 300 years of the Christian era, when millions died rather than relinquish their faith, and throughout the Dark Ages and Middle Ages. The slaughter is to be repeated by a second wave in these last days:

I looked and, behold, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice... And one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb...” (Rev 7:9-10, 13-14).

And who will be responsible for this mass bloodshed?

I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus (Rev 17:6).

Her prelates are dressed in regal colours of red and purple (17:4), and her spiritual prostitution (17:5) has spawned deception throughout the world on a massive scale (17:2).  She is that great city (17:18) – Vatican City – exerting political clout over the nations (17:18), spreading her spiritual abominations (17:3) of hierarchic domination and heresies galore.

This great false church is used by the devil, and her end-time paramours with rulers and other religions of the world will buy her short-term favour at the expense of God’s people. But Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His true Church (Matt 16:18), though it will appear a very close run thing! (Matt 24:22.)

God decreed capital punishment for murder (Gen 9:6). Earlier, when Cain had killed Abel (4:8), the metaphoric ‘voice’ of Abel’s blood was crying out for justice and recompense (4:10). Even Cain knew that his life was now under threat (4:14), though for the sake of the human race, God protected it (4:15).

When Lamech killed a man, he also feared greatly for his life (4:23,24).

These ancients well knew the law of reciprocity – that a life taken requires the forfeit of one’s own life.

When the world became so corrupt that murder and violence filled the earth, God had to act by wiping out the whole of humanity (6:11-13) except for Noah’s family who alone were righteous.

Although God promised never again to allow such worldwide destruction of human life, He did not rescind the principle of judgement. The sentence is ‘stored up’ for full expression in these last days.

In fact, the word ekdikesis in the Greek, in Luke 21:22, means “full vengeance”. The Great Tribulation is the time when He avenges all the evils mankind has perpetrated on the earth.

It is prophesied:

He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked (Is 11:4).

Moreover, His love for His people is so intense that He will avenge His chosen (Luke 18:7,8). The same word ekdikesis is used there, meaning He will “fully avenge”. For taking the lives of His saints, God will obliterate the great false church of Rome. The secular government and military will finally turn on her (Rev 17:16).

You can read of the horror of her downfall in Revelation 18.

Her plagues will come in one day – death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her (Rev 18:8).

Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her! (Rev 18:20.)

For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also will disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain (Is 26:21).

For He brings down those who dwell on high. The lofty city He lays it low. He lays it low to the ground. He brings it down to the dust (Is 26:5).

Wickedness and bloodshed are punished. God punishes all evildoing. And he takes full vengeance upon all those who persecute His saints and kill His righteous ones.

For true and righteous are His judgements, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her (Rev 19:2).

So, the wickedness of the world, and the hatred of false Christians for those who are true – leading to the martyrdom of God’s chosen ones – will actually be their undoing, their nemesis. 

Continued in part 3

Copyright: Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL, UK