THE PURPOSE OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
God does nothing without a purpose. If He has determined His elect will be on the earth throughout the great tribulation, then He has a glorious result in mind. The Church will be purged of its spots and blemishes and brought to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
There indeed shall be great tribulation—fiery trials in the last days that will bring forth a glorious church on the earth. The branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious for those of Israel who have escaped the seductions, lies, and terrors of Antichrist. The perfect Head will be placed on a perfect body.
THE PURPOSE OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29,30)
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days.”
The event described above is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The “tribulation of those days” is the great tribulation. The coming of the Lord will take place “after the tribulation of those days.”
In verse three of the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, the Lord’s disciples asked him, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
The Greek word used for “coming” is parousia, the same Greek term used for “coming” by the Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 4:15. Every time Paul speaks in First and Second Thessalonians of the Lord’s “coming” he employs the Greek term parousia. This is important to understand because of the current “any-moment pre-tribulation rapture” heresy that views I Thessalonians 4:13-17 as a special secret withdrawal of Gentile believer in order to avoid suffering.
“What shall be the sign of your parousia and of the end of the age?” the disciples inquired.
Jesus answered that His coming (parousia) would not be a secret but would be as the lightning that shines across the sky (Matthew 24:27).
Then the Lord went on to explain that immediately following the tribulation of those days there would be awesome signs in the heavens. After that, the nations of the earth would see the Son of Man coming and the elect would be gathered together from one end of the heavens to the other.
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31)
“They shall gather together his elect.”
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:17)
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, (II Thessalonians 2:1)
The “tribulation of those days” is described in Matthew 24:21 as “great tribulation, such as was not since the creation of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
The common teaching of today is that the Lord Jesus will descend from Heaven and catch up a so-called Gentile Church to Himself before the great tribulation. This doctrine is not found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew, which may be the main passage of the entire Scriptures concerning the return of Christ. The “rapture” doctrine as it is taught today is not found in any passage of the New Testament or the Old Testament.
In fact, the “any-moment pre-tribulation rapture” is one of the false “secret appearings” against which Jesus warned us. It is to be rejected by the saints. It is error and leads to further error.
The Christian Church will be on the earth throughout the great tribulation according to the Scriptures. The spirit of humanism has entered Christian thinking, giving rise to the doctrine that God loves the Gentile believers of the wealthy nations of the twentieth century so much more than He does the saints of all other centuries and countries that He is not willing that these favorites of His should suffer to any extent.
The “any-moment pre-tribulation rapture” error apparently was brought forth as a “revelation” in the middle of the nineteenth century.
How unscriptural! How lacking in the realities of history! How self-centered!
God never does anything without a purpose. His purpose often is set forth in the Scriptures.
If God will send great tribulation upon the world there is a purpose for it. Perhaps we can find in the Scriptures God’s purpose in sending great tribulation on the inhabitants of the earth, and also the provisions God has made for His elect during the period of the tribulation.
Let us turn to the Book of Isaiah:
In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. (Isaiah 4:2-6)
The key to understanding the purpose of tribulation, whether great or small, is the expression, “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious.”
A parallel statement is as follows:
Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. (Isaiah 62:3)
The Scriptures state that the Christian Church, the Wife of the Lamb, God’s Israel, the good olive tree, will be perfect.
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27)
Paul declared that the ministries of the Church would function until:
… we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of [maturity as measured by] the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:13).
Here is a doctrine that needs to be emphasized today. The Christian Church, the Body of Christ, finally will be perfect in every detail. Indeed, there shall be a holy city, a new Jerusalem.
We have lost sight of this important scriptural doctrine because of our overemphasis on imputed (ascribed) righteousness. The minds of the believers are confused in the area of righteousness. They cannot distinguish between ascribed righteousness and actual righteousness, often stating that we are perfect now because of Christ’s perfection.
The extraordinary grip the idea of imputed righteousness has on the minds of Christians can be noted in a popular edition of the Scriptures that has Isaiah declaring that the “imputed righteousness” of Jerusalem will go forth as brightness and be seen by the nations (Isaiah 62:1,2).
We cannot find a basis in the Hebrew text for the adjective imputed in Isaiah, Chapter 62. It is doubtful there is a basis in the original language because an imputed (ascribed) righteousness cannot go forth as brightness and be seen by the nations. Imputed righteousness is a legal posture, not godly behavior that can be seen by the nations (compare I Peter 2:12).
A current Jewish translation of Isaiah reveals no shade of meaning whatever suggesting that the righteousness of Jerusalem will be that which is ascribed apart from actual righteousness of behavior.
It appears that God’s people have been deceived by an unsound scholarship.
The fact that the adjective imputed has been added to the text of a modern translation reveals the strength of the bias operating in the mind of the editor. It is clear we are in need of a restoration of understanding concerning the role of righteous, holy, obedient conduct in the Divine salvation.
It is true that the believer who is walking in God’s will, who is trusting in Christ, is without condemnation in God’s sight at that level of his development. But the Holy Spirit continually is guiding him into an increase in righteous, holy, and obedient behavior.
Imputed righteousness and imputed perfection cease to apply when the Christian is walking in the flesh and not following the Spirit of God. It is only as we are walking in the light of God’s Presence and will, having holy fellowship with God, that the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus is cleansing us from all sin (I John 1:7).
If the only, or primary, righteousness that comes to us through Christ were that which is imputed, the bulk of the New Testament writings would be meaningless. The New Testament writings have to do with godly behavior.
Will the new Jerusalem be holy primarily by imputation (assigned righteousness)? Will the pilgrim enter the new Jerusalem expecting to find godliness, only to meet fornicators, liars, thieves, the profane, the self-seeking—the members of a typical Christian church? Is the city holy only because of the assigned righteousness of Christ’s holiness and righteousness?
The truth is, the new Jerusalem actually is a holy city and its inhabitants are “all righteous” (Isaiah 60:21). They are not righteous on the basis that Christ’s righteousness is ascribed to them, they are righteous because Christ is in them and their former personalities have died on the cross. The Life of Jesus is being revealed in their thoughts, motives, attitudes, words, and deeds.
What an area of confusion this is today!
If we would become a part of Christ, of the good olive tree, the Church of Christ, we must be re-created. We must be changed. That change does not occur on the basis of our physical death and entrance into the spirit realm. The transformation takes place in us now as a result of chastening, of tribulation. The change will be confirmed and established forever when we are given a body of glory in place of our current body of sin and death.
As we consider the state of the Christian churches in the wealthy democracies we are appalled. Truly, the Church is a valley of dry bones. It is a house of death, as was true of Israel in the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Every evil work abounds. Self-seeking is accepted as normal behavior. Instead of a humble waiting on the Lord there is smugness and spiritual pride.
There is an increasing tendency on the part of the believers in Christ in America to become angry at the thought they might have to suffer some day. They soon will be shaking their fists at God, cursing Him because of the days of trouble that are ahead.
Will God fulfill His Word through the Prophets and Apostles and bring forth a Church perfect and complete in every detail, a wife for the Lamb whose character and personality are all Christ could desire?
God has promised to do that, but it will require much suffering along with an unprecedented entrance of God’s Person into His elect, in order to bring into being the beautiful and glorious branch of the Lord.
Can we begin to see that God has a wonderful purpose in the great tribulation? Do we understand it is only through many hardships and dangers that the bringing forth of a perfect Wife of the Lamb is possible?
Let us return for a moment to Isaiah and point out an important concept.
In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. (Isaiah 4:2)
Notice the next verse:
And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: (Isaiah 4:3)
“Them that are escaped of Israel.”
“He that is left in Zion.”
“Every one that is written among the living.”
What is the Lord telling us? He is announcing that in the last days those who are called by His name will be sifted until only the holy remnant remains.
Gideon’s army was sifted until only three hundred men remained (Judges, Chapter Seven).
Again, notice that a remnant is brought forth:
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. (Zechariah 13:8)
Do we find the same concept in the New Testament?
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many [of most people] shall wax cold. (Matthew 24:12)
So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Matthew 20:16)
Many are called, but then do not enter Christ as they should. They do not devote themselves to abiding in Him. Therefore they do not attain the rewards designated for the sons of God. Only a few are chosen. Only a few press through to the fullness of the inheritance in Christ. This is what the Scriptures teach plainly. The way to eternal life is difficult to find and difficult to walk. Few there are who find it and travel in it.
It is clear from the Scriptures that one of the techniques the Lord will use to make the branch of the Lord “beautiful and glorious” is to create a holy remnant.
From the present day forward until the Lord returns we can expect forces to enter our environment that will result in a division between the true elect and the greater part of those who name the name of Christ.
If we would ensure our participation in the Body of Christ we must watch and pray without ceasing. We must follow Jesus carefully in every aspect of life. Even today many Christians are walking in deception, believing they will be caught up to Heaven in a “rapture” whether or not they truly are serving the Lord. Already we see the beginning of the division between the godly remnant and the majority of the believers.
Notice the fiery trials that are to come upon God’s people:
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:4)
The same tribulation is prophesied in Zechariah:
And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. (Zechariah 13:9)
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)
And in the New Testament:
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12)
Peter warns the Body of Christ of the final judgments that will purify the Wife of the Lamb, making her perfect in the sight of her Lord:
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved [is saved with difficulty], where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (I Peter 4:17,18)
There will be fiery trials in the last days that will bring forth a glorious church on the earth. The branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious for those of Israel who have escaped the seductions, lies, and terrors of Antichrist. The perfect Head will be placed on a perfect body.
Today the Lord Jesus is warning His Bride of the perilous times ahead. A minority of the believers are willing to hear about the coming days of suffering. They are humbling themselves and praying that Christ will protect them from the forces of spiritual destruction that they may be able to stand in triumph before Him.
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)
Because thou hast kept [guarded] the word of my patience, I also will keep [guard] thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
The majority of the Christians are inflated with pride, taking the attitude that God loves them so much He will not allow them to suffer. Unless they repent they will go deeper into deception until they are fit only to be tormented in the Presence of the Lamb and the holy angels of God. The lukewarm believer responds to suffering with anger instead of with humility, patience, and trust in the Lord.
It is the writer’s point of view that the sufferings that lie ahead will cause the worldly Christians to become furious. They have not as yet reached the point where they are ready to shake their fists at God in Heaven—that will come later. Rather, they will turn their anger against the godly, joining with the secular government in a vicious persecution of the true saints.
We who are intense in our discipleship must prepare our hearts and minds for the coming persecution. All who practice godliness shall suffer persecution—not those who merely believe in Jesus but who practice godliness (II Timothy 3:12).
The spirit of humanism is in the churches. It is a God-murdering spirit. As soon as suffering begins, the majority of Christian believers will take the attitude that man is too important and too precious to God to be allowed to suffer. If the saints of old are witnessing what is taking place in the churches of today they must be shaking their heads in wonder at the ignorance of the ways of God that is current among us.
When persecution commences in the wealthy nations the Christian churches will be divided into two groups: the one group will endure as a persecuted minority until the Lord returns; the other will become large and wealthy, influencing the secular governments and world commerce.
The false prophets in the Charismatic churches already are speaking of the day when the world marvels because of the riches that God (supposedly) will give to His churches. Such false prophets preach what is called the “prosperity message.” They represent the union of the Christian churches and the ungodly mammon (the spirit of worldly wealth). They are “Balaam.”
The dividing has commenced. But it is the great tribulation that finally will separate the holy remnant from the mass of believers in Christ.
Before the great tribulation sets in, the Gospel of the Kingdom will go forth as a witness to every nation, as symbolized by the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. Multitudes will be saved. It is only after the latter-rain revival has attained its worldwide witness that the great tribulation will commence.
There will be many lesser tribulations during the worldwide witness, as we understand the Scriptures. But the severest of all tribulations, that which—except for the elect’s sake—would threaten all life on our planet, will not take place until every nation has heard the Gospel of the Kingdom and has seen the power of the Lord Jesus.
Because there will remain an elect on the earth, the days of tribulation will be shortened.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)
The above verse reveals clearly that God’s elect will remain on the earth throughout the great tribulation. For those who maintain that the elect are Jews and not Gentiles, let us answer by saying that this teaching is anti-Semitic, unworkable in practical terms, and totally unscriptural. It is time for every conscientious believer to flee from the anti-Semitic teachings of Dispensationalism.
As for who the elect are:
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (Colossians 3:12)
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; (Titus 1:1)
The “elect” are all those whom God has called in Christ and they will be on the earth throughout the great tribulation. The days of the great tribulation will be shortened for their sake.
For the people of the Lord, the great tribulation will result in the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, a fulfillment that will continue throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age. It is the Day of Reconciliation to God (Leviticus 23:27).
The Day of Atonement was a Levitical ceremony that portrayed the forgiveness of the sins of Israel, and also the removal of sin from the camp (Leviticus 16:21). So it is true that physical suffering removes sin from the believer in Christ:
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (I Peter 4:1)
After the saints have been reconciled to Christ through means of the trials and dangers of the great tribulation, there will come a most glorious spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34). God in Christ will enter the holy remnant in a manner similar to the indwelling of the Father’s Glory that the Lord Jesus experienced during His ministry on the earth (John 14:10,23), and always does experience.
The spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles is our hope. Our participation in the Tabernacles experience will attain its climax when the Lord appears from Heaven and gives us bodies fashioned from eternal resurrection life. Such supreme glory is not possible until every vestige of sin and rebellion has been purged from us.
The twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew teaches that the elect of God will be on the earth throughout the period of trouble known as the great tribulation. The Lord’s elect will be gathered together after the great tribulation (Matthew 24:31).
The elect are those who have been called of God to participate in His Kingdom. The elect are not distinguished as having been Jewish or Gentile by physical birth, for such a distinction is against the express teaching of the Scripture (Galatians 3:28). Rather, the elect are the branches of the cultivated olive tree (Romans 11:24).
God does nothing without a purpose. If He has determined that His elect will be on the earth throughout the great tribulation, He has a glorious result in mind. We know that all things (including the great tribulation) “work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
We understand further that the promises of the thirty-fourth, the thirty-seventh, and the ninety-first Psalms, and of all the other passages of the Scriptures, will stand more firmly than a mountain of rock throughout the great tribulation. In fact, the day will come when the heaven and the earth pass away and human life as we know it is no more. But the Word of our God shall still be standing.
Not only will the biblical promises of protection stand true, but a positive good will result from the troubles of the great tribulation. The Church will be purged of its blemishes and brought to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
When we consider the “dry bones” of today, the deplorable condition of her who is to be “the choice one of her that bare her” (Song of Solomon 6:9), we can appreciate the need for an extraordinary intervention by the Lord on behalf of His Bride. She is unkempt, being clothed in filthy garments. The great tribulation will bring believers to the point of being willing to wash their garments and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.
We can see that this indeed will take place:
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of [the] great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)
The various translations make it clear that the “great multitude, that no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9) standing before the throne, and before the Lamb, are those who have come out of, or have come through, the great tribulation. No translation that we have seen implies that this multitude did not experience the great tribulation. These worshipers of God and the Lamb have come through the great pressure and persecution and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
It will require very great pressure and persecution, accompanied by the issuing of the fullness of the Glory of God, to bring the Christian Church to the unity and maturity decreed by the Word of God (compare John 17:21-23).
And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed. (Daniel 11:35)
One may protest, “God has not appointed us to wrath” (I Thessalonians 5:9). This is true. But tribulation and wrath are two different aspects of God’s anger. Tribulation is corrective, leading to patience and holiness. Wrath is not corrective but destroys the sinner with his works.
We do not enter the Kingdom of God through much wrath but through much tribulation. There is a difference.
… we must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
God’s wrath does not fall on the faithful, but in the world the faithful experience much tribulation, much chastening. The saints experience much tribulation because it is pressure and trouble of various kinds that bring us from our bodily, self-centered, soulish existence into the liberty of the life-giving spirit (II Corinthians 4:8-17; I Corinthians 15:45-49).
The saint who is chastened soundly by the Lord begins to partake of God’s holy Nature. He comes up out of the wilderness leaning on his beloved. Tribulation works patience in him, and patience is one of the chief attributes of the Kingdom of God.
There are people who are expecting the Church to be “raptured” suddenly into Heaven, there to be married to Christ.
The slightest knowledge of the present-day condition of the Christian people ought to convince any sincere observer that the “rapture into Heaven” of the Church in its present state would be an unparalleled disaster. The Christian churches do not resemble the Wife of the Lamb who is described in the Scriptures. We are living in a dream world, a realm of fantasy based on nothing more than our traditions and fleshly hopes.
The Christian salvation does not lead us to a dream world, a utopia in which the spiritually indifferent and sluggish believers suddenly become ardent worshipers of God. The Christian salvation is leading to a kingdom in which the will of God is done; not a kingdom of fantasy but a real flesh-and-bone kingdom destined to rule over the works of God’s hands forever.
Christ is not coming for the spiritually naked, pitiful wretch of today who is eating her own bread, wearing her own clothing, and asking to be called by Christ’s name in order to acquire spiritual respectability. Rather, the Wife of the Lamb will be faultless in righteousness, utterly pure, breathtakingly beautiful in holiness, and sternly obedient to God.
The Bride is capable of eternal fruitfulness, of total dominion, and possesses nation-shattering authority and power. She is the Wife of the Lamb. She is as terrible as an army with banners. She is the Church and has been given the keys of the Kingdom of God.
God has decreed that the Wife of the Lamb will be perfect and complete, an entirely worthy complement of Christ. Christ covers her with the robe of imputed (ascribed) righteousness and then begins the work that will result in her perfection and beauty. Tribulation is one of the devices Christ employs as He prepares His Bride for the eternal romance.
The doctrine we have described in this brief paper is set forth in the fourth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, as indicated previously.
The Lord will wash away the filth of His elect.
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:4)
The atoning blood of the Lord Jesus pays for our sins, appeases the wrath of God toward us, and covers us so God sees the righteousness of His Son in us.
Then the Holy Spirit takes us in charge and leads us through the numerous processes of sanctification, making us holy in spirit, in soul, and in body.
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
God’s judgment works on us until our personality is acceptable to Him. We have been predestined to be changed into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29), and such transformation requires processes that often are distressing to us. We are to endure with patience and joy, as God enables, the race that has been set before us.
Do the Scriptures promise us protection throughout the great tribulation? Indeed they do! This does not mean that no Christian will be persecuted or slain during the great persecution that is coming. It does mean, however, that the faithful saint will not be harmed spiritually, and in many cases may be delivered physically.
It is our spiritual well-being that is of supreme importance. Today the spiritual safety of the saints is in danger from deceiving spirits, and we notice that many are in deception and living in the soul and flesh.
God has promised the purified remnant of His people protection during the great tribulation.
And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence [covering]. (Isaiah 4:5)
On each dwelling place of the saints, and over the gathering of the saints, will be a covering. The Glory of God will be wonderful in that hour, as always is true when God’s elect are in danger or trouble. A Satan-inspired Antichrist will rage against God, but the true believers will be protected spiritually, and sometimes physically, against his attacks.
We of today do not understand the intensity of the spiritual oppression that is at hand. During the dark hour just ahead, the age of moral horrors, only the overcomers will be able to pray with effect. It will be difficult—nearly impossible—for the majority of believers to resist temptation. Those who today are careless in their attitude toward Christ will be tossed about helplessly in the spiritual currents that will be flowing. Only the Christians who know their God will be able to stand and help others.
Antichrist will be given the power to overcome the saints.
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; (Daniel 7:21)
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them:… (Revelation 13:7)
God will keep us, even in that terrible time, if we have kept the word of Christ’s patience. Woe to the lukewarm in the years of darkness on the horizon!
And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. (Isaiah 4:6)
The spiritual environment will be oppressive as man seeks to make himself God. Truly, man-centeredness is an abomination that always creates desolation on the earth. Both the Christians and the non-Christians will be afraid, seeking for some kind of security. Antichrist, being possessed by Satan, will go forth to torment the Jews and the Christians, for they are the people of God.
On the earth there will be a godly remnant. Christ will pour His strength and courage into the remnant, enabling the saints to serve as places of refuge for the meek of the earth. Many Jews will turn to Christ. Only in the remnant will there be true peace and safety.
And it shall come to pass, that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Joel 2:32)
The vision of the purified remnant is not for the far distant future. We can see today some of the factors we have noted, such as the cleavage between the people who are seeking God and their worldly fellows in the churches; man attempting to make himself God; and the spirit of judgment and burning coming upon those with whom the Lord is dealing. Many sincere believers are enduring much tribulation.
The world scene will grow steadily worse as lawlessness increases in the earth. Finally Satan and his angels will be cast down from the heavenlies. The wheat and the tares will come to maturity together. The harvest rains of the Holy Spirit will cause the seeds that have been planted to germinate and grow, and then the burning sun of tribulation will bring the crops to readiness for harvest.
The False Prophet will be standing face to face with the Holy Spirit. Antichrist will be standing face to face with Christ. Satan will be standing face to face with God. As happened when Dagon stood face to face with the Ark of God, the wicked will fall on their faces and their head and hands will be removed from them. Satan will be destroyed at the end (I Samuel 5:4).
No human flesh has enough power to withstand such colossal spiritual forces. The uncommitted will be tossed about, unable to control their thoughts and actions. Only those who are in restful union with the Head—Christ—will possess the strength to stand in God. Even they will be tested to the limit.
Ours is one of the most significant of all the eras of man’s history. Multitudes will be deceived. In the earth will be a godly remnant who will perform the greater works of which the Lord Jesus prophesied (John 14:12). The conquerors will sit with Christ at the right hand of the Father.
Each of us must make his decision now—today! Tomorrow will be too late. Tomorrow will reap what is being sown today. There is no time to lose. Each decision we make is leading us toward the ability to stand in the day of trouble, or toward deception and weakness.
The Laodicean churches will abound in material wealth and spiritual poverty. Only the most consecrated Christians will be able to discern between the Spirit of God and the demon spirits masquerading as God in the churches. Fallen angels will “channel” through inexperienced believers who think they are hearing from the Holy Spirit.
Watch and pray, for all things are coming to total fulfillment. Serve the Lord patiently. Keep your eyes on the Lord Jesus, on Him alone.
(“The Purpose of the Great Tribulation”, 4001-1)