AFTER THE TRIBULATION OF THOSE DAYS

(Trumpet Ministries,Inc. / Words of Righteousness)

AFTER THE TRIBULATION OF THOSE DAYS Copyright Š 201 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

We know we have a great work to do when we appear with the Lord Jesus. We understand also that during the time from now until Jesus returns the Christian churches must prepare the believers for the tasks associated with the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

How long do we have to prepare ourselves for the resurrection from the dead, the ascension to meet the Commander-in-Chief in the air, and the return to earth on the white war stallions to destroy the armies of Antichrist? We do not know for certain, but probably more time than is commonly believed among Christians.

Table of Contents

IntroductionThe Difference Between the Great Tribulation and the Wrath of GodConclusion

AFTER THE TRIBULATION OF THOSE DAYS

Introduction

The purpose of the present essay is to suggest that the coming of the Lord is not imminent. The Bible tells of several events that must take place before the Lord returns. If we are correct, the doctrine of the pre-tribulation, any-moment "rapture" has no basis in the Scriptures.

I want to talk to you about the notion of an any-moment "rapture."

If the so-called "rapture" is to take place at any moment, then most of the passages dealing with the coming of the Lord are different from the "rapture." The other passages tell us of the things that must come to pass before the Lord returns, particularly the rise of Antichrist and his invasion of Jerusalem.

Thinking about the situation of the world today we can see that it will be years before the Antichrist gathers together the armies of the world to invade Jerusalem. Also the Temple must be rebuilt, because it seems from the Scriptures that Antichrist is going to sit in the Temple of God in Jerusalem and declare himself to be God.

He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (II Thessalonians 2:4—NIV)

I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. (Zechariah 14:2—NIV)

Since the Temple has not been rebuilt, and there is no Antichrist who is leading the armies of the earth against Jerusalem, the historic return of the Lord is at least several years away.

Also the great latter-rain revival, portrayed by the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, will take a period of time to accomplish. The Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached to every nation for a witness, and then the end of the age will be here, Jesus taught.

Paul told us clearly that Antichrist will arise and there will be a great falling away from the faith.

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness  is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (II Thessalonians 2:1-3—NIV)

Unless we want to have two comings of the Lord, we must discard to the concept of a special secret "rapture" several years in advance of the coming of the Lord. There absolutely is no basis whatever in the Scriptures, either Old Testament or New Testament, for a special secret "rapture" of the believers to avoid Antichrist and the great tribulation. The teaching of the Bible leads us to conclude that there will be only one return of the Lord, and it is not going to happen for several years.

Now, why did this idea of a special secret "rapture," an any-moment "rapture," come into being?

The idea of a special secret "rapture," a coming of the Lord separate from the historic, scriptural coming of the Lord, was developed in an effort to take the believers out of the earth before they can be harmed by Antichrist and the great tribulation.

The only reason for emphasizing a pre-tribulation, any-moment flight of the believers to Heaven, is to attempt to escape the great tribulation. The Lord Jesus told us plainly that His coming will be after the great tribulation, and so we developed another coming, prior to the second coming described in Matthew, in an effort to keep from being here during the great tribulation.

You know, you just can't make up things like this and then inject them into God's Word!

Maybe we better begin by looking at the "rapture" passage, in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians. This passage is the basis for the idea that the Lord is coming at any moment.

According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:15,16—NIV)

Now, if you will examine the context of the above two verses you will find that Paul was writing to comfort the believers in Thessalonica concerning their dead relatives, telling them that Jesus would bring their loved ones with Him.

There is not one single verse in the context that presents the catching up of the saints as a means of escaping Antichrist and the great tribulation. Not one verse! Not one single verse!

Bible teachers ought to know better than to make a teaching with no basis in the Scriptures the main emphasis of their doctrine. You wouldn't believe Christian scholars, pastors, and teachers, who say they believe the Bible is God's Word, would do such a thing. But they have, and most Christian believers in the United States believe them. It is a shame. Its effect has not been good. The believers are not preparing themselves for the calamitous days that are ahead.

The only reason for pressing the idea of a pre-tribulation, any-moment "rapture" is to escape the great tribulation. If the Bible doesn't regard the catching up as an escape from the great tribulation, and it assuredly does not, then the catching up might as well come after the great tribulation. There is no pressure for an any-moment "rapture" unless its purpose is to enable us to escape Antichrist and the great tribulation. The whole idea is based on the desire for an escape from trouble.

It would help our discussion if we would distinguish between the great tribulation and the Day of Wrath. As soon as the saints are caught up to meet the Commander-in-Chief in the air the wrath of God will be poured out on the wicked of the earth. This is not the great tribulation but the Day of Wrath—two entirely unrelated events. Tribulation is the means by which we enter the Kingdom of God. Wrath is not redemptive. It is the destruction of the wicked.

And here's another thing. The passage in First Thessalonians refers to the event it describes as "the coming of the Lord." This is very significant because it ties this passage to Matthew, Chapter Twenty-four and other parts of the Bible that refer to the coming of the Lord.

According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. (I Thessalonians 4:15—NIV)

"Till the coming of the Lord."

This event is not a special secret "rapture." It is the coming of the Lord, the Day of the Lord, the time of the resurrection of the dead and of the Day of Wrath. We ought never to refer to it as a "rapture." This gives it a peculiar flavor. It takes on a special life of its own. It always should be referred to as the coming of the Lord or the Day of the Lord. Then we are on solid scriptural ground.

The idea of a "rapture" places the emphasis on the going of the believers to Heaven. But the idea of the coming of the Lord places the emphasis on the return of the Lord to set up His Kingdom on the earth. One idea is man-centered. The other idea is God-centered.

We ought never to use the term "rapture." It is not a scriptural term. We should start talking about the coming of the Lord.

The idea of a special secret "rapture" may prove to be the major Christian heresy of the twentieth century. God's "answer men" are busy chastising some of the believers for their emotional excesses while ignoring the massive, most destructive heresy of them all. Oh well, we are always straining out gnats and swallowing camels.

In the fifth chapter of I Thessalonians, which is a continuation of the thought (Paul did not write in chapters), Paul refers to the catching up he mentioned in the fourth chapter as "the day of the Lord."

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (I Thessalonians 5:1,2—NIV)

To maintain that Paul has changed the subject from Chapter Four to Chapter Five, when Paul did not write in chapters, is not a defensible point of view for a student who wishes to be taken seriously. It is obvious from the text of Chapter Five that Paul is continuing with his discussion of the coming of the Lord.

Again, in Second Thessalonians, in the first chapter, Paul tells us that the saints who were being persecuted would be delivered, not by a catching up but by the coming of the Lord to destroy Antichrist.

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you And give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (II Thessalonians 1:6,7—NIV)

To say there had been a special catching up prior to this event is simply not a defensible position to take if one wishes to be regarded as a competent scholar.

Notice the expression, "This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven." What will happen? God will give relief to those who are troubled.

To dismiss such clarity by proclaiming "I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture" is the same as proclaiming "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." Neither expression can be supported by any examination of truth.

The Difference Between the Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God

One of the main points of confusion arising from the "rapture" teaching is the neglect of the distinction between the great tribulation period and the outpouring of the wrath of God.

The great tribulation period is set in motion by the declaration of Antichrist that he is God. The tribulation is a chastisement of the earth. Much good will come from this time of suffering. The primary good is that the true Christians will be separated from the babylonish confusion that represents itself as the Christian churches, and the true Christians will be perfected in spirit until they are coming up out of the wilderness leaning on their Beloved.

They will be ready for the change from flesh-and-blood life to Holy-Spirit life that will be required of all living believers who are to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. It seems many of the believers of today are not nearly prepared for such a radical step into Divine life.

Thus we see that tribulation is redemptive. We enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation.

Divine wrath, however, is not redemptive. God has not appointed His elect to wrath. The Day of Wrath is the hour of Divine punishment when God goes forth to destroy evil from the earth. The holy will remain holy in that hour and the filthy will remain filthy.

Tribulation can serve as a scourging that makes us holy. Wrath does nothing but destroy. These are not the same at all.

Now lets look at the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew where we shall see the great tribulation, then the coming of the Lord, then the beginning of the outpouring of the wrath of God.

So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation,   spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—(Matthew 24:15—NIV)

Our opinion is that the "holy place" refers to a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. We think Antichrist will invade Israel and position himself in the Temple as being the living God.

His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. (Daniel 11:31—NIV)

He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (II Thessalonians 2:4—NIV)

This action on the part of Antichrist will set in motion the great tribulation, or great distress, as the New International Version refers to it.

Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:16-22—NIV)

We see in the above that even in times of tremendous calamity God will hear the prayer of the Jewish elect that the distress will not take place on the Sabbath (an enormous problem for devout Jews) or during the winter. God always hears and answers prayer during a time of tribulation. The ninety-first Psalm will still protect those who are abiding in the secret place of the Most High—even during the great tribulation.

We see also that this great distress, or great tribulation, is unprecedented as to its scope. It is not that the suffering will be greater than in the past, because every kind of torture and murder imaginable has already been perpetrated on people, including Christians. It is that it will be more widespread. There may be believers reading this essay who already are suffering as much as it is possible for a human to suffer.

We see also that God will cut it short for the sake of His elect.

We see also that God's elect will be on the earth during the great distress.

To those who would protest that God's elect are only Jewish people and not Gentile Christians, let us point out that several verses in the New Testament refer to the Christians as God's elect.

What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, (Hebrews 11:7—NIV)

We can see from the above verse that the Jews who did not receive Christ were not God's elect, His called. So when Jesus said God would cut short the great tribulation for the sake of His elect, Jesus means those whom God called to Himself, both Jews and Gentiles.

It appears there will be a considerable amount of deception during the great distress.

At that time if anyone says to you, Look, here is the Christ! or, There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, There he is, out in the desert, do not go out; or, Here he is, in the inner rooms, do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:23-28—NIV)

The point is, the coming of the Lord will not be a secret, such as in the teaching of a secret "rapture" in which people become invisible. Rather the coming of the Lord will be an open revelation of God. The rich and poor alike will cry for the mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from the face of the Lamb.

First Thessalonians, speaking of the same appearing, tells us there will be a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God—hardly a secret coming.

Deception will increase as we approach the end of the Church Age.

We see that where the carcass is, there the vultures will gather. This is a quotation from the thirty-ninth chapter of the Book of Job, verses 27-30.

The "vultures" refers to the Lord's eagles who wait on Him constantly.

The slain Lamb has appeared in the sky above. Those who live by His body and blood will be caught up to Him.

In the Day of Resurrection our doctrine will not raise us to Christ. It is His life in us that will raise us. The body and blood of the Lamb will return to Him who gave it.

We Christians place an unscriptural emphasis on correctness of doctrine. When speaking of His return the Lord never stresses doctrinal correctness. The one important factor is that we have turned away from our adamic nature and are living by His Life, by His body and blood. The Lamb's body is true food and His blood is true drink. They are our eternal life.

Every day of our Christian discipleship we should be turning away from our fleshly impulses. When we overcome our fleshly appetites and passions we are fed, in the spirit realm, with the body and blood of Christ. They are the only Tree of Life. They are the hidden manna that sustain the Lord's warriors.

Now comes the verse that informs us of the timing of the coming of the Lord (the "rapture," to use an unscriptural, misleading term).

Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29—NIV)

The coming of the Lord will take place "immediately after the distress of those days," immediately after the great tribulation.

There is no evidence whatever, in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, which assuredly is one of the definitive passages dealing with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth, that a special secret "rapture" has occurred prior to the great distress.

People have asked, "How could the coming of the Lord be as a thief, catching people in an unprepared state, if it will be heralded by the darkening of the sun and moon and the shaking of the heavenly bodies?"

The answer is, the signs in the heavens and His return will happen so swiftly there will be no opportunity for repentance.

A young man of our church found this difficult to accept this. He could not see why people would not be warned and receive Christ when the heavens are shaken.

Then he had a dream. He saw the Lord in the sky, and yet he could not bring himself to believe. After his dream he was convinced.

In any case, we know from the parable of the ten virgins that there is no opportunity for repentance when the midnight cry comes.

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:30,31—NIV)

Can you see the parallels between the above passage and the announcement of the Lord's coming found in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians?

We have the coming of the Son of Man, the clouds of the sky, the trumpet, and the gathering of His elect to Himself.

Don't forget, most of the elect are in Heaven at this time, only a very small fraction will be alive on the earth. All shall be gathered together before they ascend to meet the Lord in the air. Those of us who are alive on the earth will not enter the Kingdom before those who have returned with the Lord, or have any advantage over them. All will be brought to perfection together in Christ.

Can you begin to see that introducing a special secret coming several years before the coming portrayed here renders any sensible, coherent interpretation of the above passage totally impossible? The any-moment pre-tribulation "rapture" is so manifestly unscriptural that its acceptance by devout scholars must be regarded as a supernatural blindness.

The grand coming of the Lord described here is the Day of the Lord, the one coming of the Lord, the blessed hope of the Church. There has been no coming of the Lord prior to this one and shall not be one in the future. This is it!

And it takes place "immediately after the tribulation of those days."

Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know it   is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation  will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:32-35—NIV)

Some have taught that Israel is the fig tree, and that when Israel is restored, this will be the leaves proceeding from the fig tree.

This may or may not be the case. Israel is seen as an olive tree, not a fig tree, in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans.

If you will notice what is stated you will see that Jesus is saying when we see all these things, that is the events He had just spoken of, we know His return is imminent. So it seems the shooting out of the leaves of the fig tree is speaking of the signs in the heavens that immediately precede His return. Summer is near when the fig tree shows signs of life. In like manner we understand His coming is at hand when we see the signs in the sky.

Perhaps the reference to the fig tree has nothing to do with Israel, although this is what is commonly taught.

The idea that "this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened" may mean the generation that witnesses the great signs in the heavens will not pass away until the Lord comes. This makes sense to me.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,   but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36—NIV)

Some may object that since the Son is equal to the Father it is not possible for the Father to know something the Son does not. This problem arises from our Christian theology. If we stay with the New Testament there is no problem. The Lord Jesus is presented as the Son of God. The Father is greater than He according to Christ's own words. God the Father is the God of the Lord Jesus and the Lord Jesus is obedient to Him. Jesus only does what the Father shows Him.

In Gethsemane Christ poured out His soul in obedience to His Father.

Now the Father has made Jesus both Lord and Christ and it is proper that we worship Him as we worship God.

The whole Book of Revelation was known to God before God revealed it to the Lord Jesus!

It is amazing what light the Bible throws on the commentaries!

Let us, with our Lord Jesus, together sing praises to God our Father from whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named.

He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." (Hebrews 2:12—NIV)

Now, please pay close attention to what follows.

First we saw the great tribulation. Then followed the historic second coming of the Lord. After the historic second coming the wrath of God will be outpoured. The wrath of God is poured out after the coming of the Lord.

First the saints will be brought to a place of safety—into the Ark, so to speak. Then the wrath of God will fall.

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. (Matthew 24:37-41—NIV)

We find this same pattern in First Thessalonians. After telling us about the coming of the Lord, in Chapter Four, Paul goes on to remind the Thessalonians that at the onset of the Day of the Lord the wrath of God will fall on the world because of sin.

While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (I Thessalonians 5:3—NIV)

The victorious saints will not be caught by surprise. They are as the five wise virgins who have their lights burning and are ready to go to the wedding.

Not only will the victorious saints not be troubled by the wrath of God, they will be administering it. The saints will follow the Lord Jesus on the white war stallions and execute judgment on those who have been disobedient to God.

Those hardest hit by the wrath of God will be the hypocrites in the Christian churches.

Noah and his sons built the ark over a period of one hundred years. During this time you would think the people who saw the ship being built would ask questions. Perhaps they did, but they went right on eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Eating and marrying are not sinful in themselves. The idea is they were not preparing themselves for the flood.

So it is today. The believers are conducting business as usual. But those whom the Lord is warning are building an ark, so to speak, because they know stupendous events are at hand—great shakings that will remove from the Presence and blessing of God all except the most consecrated, the most diligent.

Sometimes the protection of Noah during the flood is presented as a type of the pre-tribulation "rapture" of the believers to Heaven.

This type does not fit! Noah and his family were not carried up to Heaven to escape the flood. Rather they were made waterproof so they could ride in safety on the waters of judgment. Those who are hearing from the Lord today are making themselves waterproof so they can ride in safety on the waters of judgment.

When the wrath of God falls, the true saints will be with Christ, helping with the administration of the Divine wrath. The lukewarm believers will be terrified in that day. They will be in anguish!

So the survival of Noah is not a type of a "rapture to Heaven" of those who believe in Christ, whether fervent or lukewarm.

I think the satanic purpose behind the "rapture" heresy is to give the believers a sense of careless confidence so they will not prepare themselves for the days of calamity Jesus warned us about. If you speak of the approaching age of moral horrors and of judgment on America, the Christian response is, "Why concern yourself? We won't be here!

The Christians are not being careful to build their house on the rock of Christ's commandments because of the teaching of "grace" and unconditional love. As it was in the days of Noah . . . ! They will be of no help to themselves or to others when disaster strikes.

Notice the Lord's emphasis on two people being close together, one being taken and the other left. The Lord will not raise people in groups. The resurrection and catching-up that will occur will be individual by individual.

When you stop to think about it this is a shocking idea. The idea of being so close to somebody, and all of a sudden you are taken and he or she is left, or the reverse, is disconcerting. It could be a husband, or wife, or child, or son or daughter, or closest friend. This tells us we must put the Lord ahead of every other relationship.

The overcomers, in chapters Two and Three of the Book of Revelation, are always addressed as individuals.

Conclusion

The pattern is simple. First comes the great tribulation. Immediately after the great tribulation the Lord Jesus will return. As soon as the army of the Lord, the victorious saints of all ages, have been raised from the dead (or changed into immortal life while on their feet), they will be caught up together to the Commander-in Chief in the air.

Now the Day of Wrath will begin. The wrath of God that has been stored up since self-will entered the heart of Satan will fall on all sinners, angelic and human. Satan will be chained by one angel and cast into the bottomless pit.

The sons of God will go throughout the earth, destroying all the works of the flesh, driving the demons into the darkness, executing Divine judgment on all sinners. Then the long work of rebuilding civilization will begin.

May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD. (Psalms 149:6-9—NIV)

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 4:2,3—NIV)

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:4—NIV)

The Lord warns us to always be prepared for He will come at an hour when we do not expect Him.

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:42-44—NIV)

As we have said, the fact that major events must transpire before the historic return of Jesus, and His coming will be heralded by mighty signs in the heavens, does not mean we can eat, drink, and be merry and then prepare ourselves when the time draws near.

Our preparation must start now. Even though it appears several years will pass before He returns, our readiness to meet Him will depend on our diligence during the preceding years. Lot's wife could not obey the angel because her heart was wrapped up in the community life of Sodom. Let us not think we can drift along and then suddenly prepare ourselves. The habits formed over many years will conspire to insure we cannot make a change at the last minute.

Also, we do not know when we are going to die. When the Lord returns He will bring with Him the dead in Christ. The dead in Christ! We can die at any moment. If we are not abiding in Christ, living by His Life, and then die, we will not return with Him because it is the dead in Christ who will return with Him.

The wise believer will always, always be instantly ready to be welcomed by the Lord Jesus, to hear His "Well done!"

The foolish believer will wait until the last minute. Then, when the midnight call comes, "Go out to meet Him," he will discover there is no life within himself that is able to respond to the call.

And I tell you by the word of the Lord to me that the righteous will not be able to share in that day, having only enough "oil" for themselves!

We stated at the beginning that the purpose of this essay is to suggest that the coming of the Lord is not imminent. Several major events must occur before the Lord comes, such as the latter-rain revival, the rise of Antichrist, the consolidation of his military power, and his invasion of Israel. If we stop and think, these historical movements and arrangements of people and nations cannot take place in a few days.

Then too, Israel is yet to be attacked by several nations, particularly by "Gog" from the far north.

I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. (Ezekiel 39:2—NIV)

Others may disagree with me but I do not believe Ezekiel's account refers to the Battle of Armageddon nor to the time when Gog and Magog come up against the saints after the thousand-year Kingdom Age. I think the war against Israel described in the thirty-ninth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel will take place before the invasion of Israel by Antichrist. The Battle of Armageddon, as I see it, is more than nation against nation. It is Jesus Christ and His saints against the armies of the wicked, a battle that occurs when the Lord Jesus and His saints and mighty angels return from Heaven.

If what we have said above is true, the historic coming of the Lord will not take place for some time. Nevertheless, as we have pointed out, if we are to endure throughout the coming years and finally stand before the Son of Man in victory we absolutely must begin today—right this minute—to prepare ourselves to meet Him. Tomorrow is too late. We must begin to walk before God in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.

God will help us do this if we will call upon Him in Jesus' name.

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36—NIV)