HOW TO ESCAPE FROM THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Copyright © 2017 Robert B Thompson. All Rights Reserved.

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

For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. (Matthew 24:21)

The Christian people speak often of escaping the Great Tribulation (Distress) by means of a "rapture." I do not believe this is a scriptural hope, at least I have not found it in the Scriptures.

I have been reading the Bible for seventy years. I cannot find in either the Old Testament of the New Testament any clear teaching that God is going to remove to Heaven those who profess Christ, so they may escape trouble.

It may be true that the teaching of the "pre-tribulation rapture," in which all who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are carried up to Paradise in order to escape the problems of the Great Distress. is a destructive error, fanciful, and not a product of sound scholarship. It prevents people from preparing themselves to stand in the evil days that are coming upon us.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

Why would the Apostle Paul write the verse above if Christians, because of a "rapture," were not to prepare themselves for the day of evil? The deliverance of Noah and his family is used sometimes as a symbol of the "rapture."

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:37)

God did not carry Noah and his family to Paradise so they would escape the flood that was coming. It is true rather that Noah and his son constructed an ark to protect themselves. They remained in the ark while the waters of judgment swirled all around them.

So it is today. We have been warned of the Divine judgment that is coming to America. We are to be constructing an "ark" of protection so we will be "water proof" when the waters of destruction arrive.

Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. (Matthew 24:40)

So it will be when the Lord Jesus appears. Only those who have prepared themselves will go to be with the Lord.

I cannot think of one instance in the Bible when God protected someone from harm by carrying them to Heaven in order to escape from trouble.

Think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. God made them fireproof. Think of Daniel in the Lions' den. Think about the 91st Psalm.

Note also:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. (John 17:15)

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

The verse above is used to prove that during the "hour of trial" God will remove the believers from the world. However, the term "keep" in "keep you from the hour of trial" is the same Greek word as "protect," in John 17:15, as nearly as I can tell.

And so on and on. The verses used to support the "rapture" fall apart when investigated carefully.

God indeed has provided for His elect during the period of distress that will take place on the earth just prior to the appearing of Christ from Heaven. But the provision is not in the form of a departure from the earth.

If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. (Mark 13:20)

Evidently the elect will be on the earth during the Great Distress (Tribulation).

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)

We can see from the verse above that the historic appearing of Jesus Christ will occur "immediately after" the Great Tribulation.

In addition to the prospect of miserable conditions on the earth, there is yet another problem that we do not hear much about. That is the coming to earth of Satan and his angels. This may be the "hour of trial." In actuality, the presence of these wicked spirits in the earth may be of greater concern to the godly than the material deprivations during the Great Distress.

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:9)

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

The hour of trial may refer to the coming to earth of Satan and his angels, since it is a "testing" of the inhabitants of the earth.

In the days in which we are living, the Church is giving birth to a holy remnant. These shall overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb; by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their life to the death.

These will be able to pray with sufficient power to enable God to strengthen Michael until he and his angels are able to drive Satan and the wicked angels from their position in the heavenlies down to the earth.

The result will be that the wicked angels, such as those who have been strengthened by occult worshipers, will continually surround, threaten, and otherwise harass those who keep God's commandments and have the testimony of Christ. This is a worst distress to the godly than famine, earthquakes, and the other characteristics of the Great Tribulation.

These wicked lords of darkness will keep endeavoring to enter the personalities of the righteous. What provision has God made for us to prevent their harming us?

There are two relevant passages: John 14:18-23; and John 17:21-23. Both of these speak of our becoming related to God in a special way that will prevent these wicked spirits from harming us.

We will investigate John 14:18-23 first.

John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Prior to this statement, Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit coming to dwell in the disciples. Being filled with the Spirit of God is the first step in escaping from the dangers of the last days. The Spirit within us prepares us for the coming to us of the rest of the Godhead.

John 14:19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

Now we see that Jesus is speaking of a coming to the disciples before His worldwide appearing. This advance coming is to prepare them for the distresses of the period before He appears to the world.

The preparation has to do with an exchanged life. We have to surrender our self-life to the death of the cross, as it is worked out in many small deferrals of our wishes. In place of our self-life is the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Himself. We join ourselves to His resurrection. You can see how our merging with the Life of Christ will enable us to overcome both the attacks of the dispossessed angels and the privations of the great distress.

John 14:20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

"That day" is the period in our life when the Lord alone is exalted by us. Then we know personally, apart from our head-knowledge, that Christ is in His Father, we are in Christ, and Christ is in us.

Our deep, experiential understanding and realization that we are in Christ and Christ is in us, and Christ and we are in the Father, will enable us to escape the fear of evil and permit Christ to come to the door when the wicked angels knock. We have absolutely no fear of their threats because of the greatness of the Power that resides in us. Such is our "Ark."

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

"Grace" is used today as a justifying of our disobeying God and Christ. When we claim we are "saved by grace" we often mean that we ourselves have not experienced a radical conversion to righteous behavior. We merely have believed that because Christ behaves righteously, and we believe in Him, we ourselves somehow are righteous in behavior and God does not see our sinful behavior.

This teaching of lawless grace, in which we do not keep the commands of Christ, has largely destroyed the moral testimony of the Christian churches.

When we state we are saved by "faith alone," we mean apart from a conversion to righteous behavior. This concept is illogical in that to be saved is actually to be delivered from the power of Satan. God has redeemed us from Satan's authority by the blood of the cross so that we might eventually be in God's image. Being in God's image means we behave in the same manner God behaves.

Can you imagine people strutting around Heaven, swearing, hurting other people, and claiming they are saved by faith alone? I can't either!

"By their fruit you shall know them." If we have Christ on the inside it will show on the outside. Our behavior more than our words is our testimony; and because of our testimony people glorify God, and the accuser is overcome.

If we do not keep the commands of Christ we do not love Him. It is as simple and straightforward as that.

John 14:22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"

Speaking from my own experience, Jesus does not appear in front of us so we can observe Him. Rather we become increasingly conscious of Christ as we keep bringing Him into all the decisions we make throughout the day and night.

We commit our thinking to Him so we are thinking as He is thinking.

We commit our speaking to Him so we are speaking as He is speaking.

We commit our behaving to Him so we are behaving as He is behaving.

Do you see what I mean? We make a practice, and more so each day, of bringing the Lord Jesus into our awareness. If we do this, we "see" Him although He is invisible to the world.

John 14:23 Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."

If there is a more significant verse in the entire Bible I do not know of it.

The Holy Spirit already is in us, preparing the way for the Father and the Son. When the Father and the Son come and make Their home with us, we are filled with the Fullness of God, or so it seems to me.

This is how we escape from (overcome) the troubles of the days before the appearing of Christ. We keep ourselves filled with God, by praying and obeying the Lord Jesus Christ.

Can you see what I mean by comparing our preparation today with Noah's preparation by building an ark? We will not escape from the Great Tribulation by being caught up to Heaven, but by building an ark, so to speak. Our Ark is the indwelling of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have gained Their Presence by continual prayer and strict obedience to what they command.

If every devil in Hell surrounded us, They who are within us are greater and will not permit the evil ones to invade our personality. We are "waterproof," we might say. They can rave and threaten, but they are not as great as God who is with us and has made His home with us.

As far as the privations of famine, the disturbances of nature, wars, every experienced Christian can tell of the time God delivered them "from the lions' den," so to speak.

It will be no different during the Great Tribulation. God can and will deliver us from every danger.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. (Psalms 91:7,6)

Notice we are not in Heaven but on earth, where multitudes can fall at our right hand.

Because we are abiding in Christ, and Christ is abiding in us, we have no fear of any of the horrors of the last days. Best of all, as we press into Christ, He reveals the Father to us. Many Christians are unaware that the Father is a Person separate from Christ. They have never knowingly experienced the Love of the Father—-He whom Jesus came to make known to us.

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)

The other passage that delivers us from the dangers of the closing days of the Church Age, is John 17:21-23:

John 17:21 That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

In what way is the Father in Christ and Christ is in the Father? The disciples of Jesus are to be made one in that same manner.

If I understand the theologians correctly, they maintain that the Father and Christ are the same Person in two manifestations.

This is so close to the truth that it is understandable how the scholars have come to this conclusion. Christ came out of God, so to speak, and is of God's Nature. He is the Son of God and altogether Divine.

However, an individual is defined by their will, and the will of Christ is not the same as the will of the Father, except as Christ chooses to adopt the Father's will as His own.

There are numerous passages in the New Testament that require contrived explanations by scholars if we are to regard the Father and the Son as the same Person.

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:17)

I am sure that scholars have a way of explaining that in spite of what is obvious in this verse, Jesus and the Father are the same Individual. However, I do not trust interpretations of the Scripture that explain why the passage does not mean what it says. How do you feel about this?

"The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them." (John 17:21)

"And I too." Sure sounds like two different people to me, however one They are in Their Divine Nature.

John 17:22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—

Christ gave to His disciples the glory that the Father gave to Him. Now here is a remarkable statement: "That they may be one as we are one." The Oneness of the Father and the Son is not readily explainable. But Jesus said the disciples are to be one in the same manner. Or maybe the Lord meant they would be one as He and the Father are one, but in some other manner.

But there is a further explanation:

John 17:23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Christ in His disciples, and the Father in Christ, in order that the disciples may be brought to complete unity.

I do not know about you, but it seems to me that if Christ is in us, and we are in Christ, and Christ is in the Father, and the Father is in Christ, then the Godhead is enlarging Itself through us.

And too, if the man and his wife are one, as God stated, then the wife of the Lamb and the Lamb are one. And if it is true that the wife and the Lamb are one, then the Godhead has been enlarged with the addition of the Body of Christ.

"He called their name, Adam." He called their name, Messiah. Do you think? Anyway, it is logical.

I do not see how it could be otherwise; and I am not going to deprive myself, in some false humility and reverence. of what the Spirit of God has declared.

"Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

The world will know that it is the Father who has sent Christ, when the disciples have become one with Christ and the Father.

If this is the case, perhaps our unscriptural emphasis on evangelism should be changed to the scriptural emphasis on our becoming one with Christ and the Father. Then the world will believe in Christ. Or so it seems to me!

Our escape from the Great Distress will not happen as Christ comes and carries us up to Paradise in advance of the worldwide problems of the future. Rather, we create our own escape by praying and obeying God until we are pardoned, cleansed, and filled with God.

If we conduct our lives in the fear of God and in absolute obedience to Christ, the angel of the Lord will see to it that no harm comes to us, no matter what takes place in the world.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalms 37:4)

Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)