“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure.” (1 Jn. 3:3)
As I venture out into my neighborhood and community, the prospects for massive Christian revival in the very near future have not improved much.
People are still going about their self-absorbed pursuits of obtaining material wealth and possessions, trying to display the prideful outward appearances of their merit and worthiness through the measuring scale of financial success, and showing little or no openness to their need for God in their lives.
People rebuff attempts by Christians to share the gospel message with them, as if this outreach of love was a direct personal insult to their ability to be self-sufficient and self-sustaining.
Accepting Jesus Christ into their lives means to many people a retreat into character weakness, having to lean upon God’s help “as a crutch.”
Without some cosmically drastic negative change in this outward worldly environment, the status quo of difficult evangelical outreach in developed countries would continue on its current slow pace right up to the very edge of the end of time.
I believe it will take major acts of God, as described in the biblical end-times prophecies, to create the quantum shift in the world environment that will be required to shake-up people’s current comfort zone to become receptive to God’s final outreach of redemptive love.
The current context of life issues must be turned upside-down for people to replace their self-centered pursuits with a serious consideration of the offer of a new eternal life through Jesus Christ.
To reach deep into the self-centered group of people currently going about their own way without any regard for God, it will take some drastic shake-up in the world’s social, political, economic, and/or natural environment to get their attention.
When this occurs, what are we actually describing? Are we then talking about the beginning of the actual seven-year tribulation, or are we looking at a series of preliminary warm-up events on a gradual upward incline of chaos and upheaval leading up to the start of the tribulation?
We cannot control the upcoming natural disasters and judgment plagues of “biblical proportion” that are described in the Bible to occur in the tribulation period.
These great tribulation events will topple proud and arrogant people off the pedestals of their false confidence of being gods on the thrones of their destinies. Some people will fall to their knees and cry out to God to save them amidst the unprecedented chaos. Others will continue to shake their fists at God in stubborn defiance.
The great end-times message is that we are not gods. We were never created to be our own gods. We have no business being a part of Lucifer’s rebellion against God.
The basis of Lucifer’s recruitment of mankind into his rebellion was a lie.
This end-times message is not new. What will be new in the end-times is that the world will be coming apart at the seams. What will be so powerfully new in the last days is the close correlation of this message to repent and step down off our thrones…with the realization of our utter helplessness to affect or control the outward manifestation of catastrophic natural events of a magnitude entirely new to the planet (Mt. 24:21).
The end-times message will closely correspond to unfolding world events. The upheaval of the tribulation period will compliment and accentuate the end-times message, that we are not gods and we are not self-sufficient kings.
The end-of-time tribulation will set-up upon the earth an environment that will clarify, with powerful finality, the separation between the limits of our capacity as human beings…and the role that Almighty God must responsibly assume in the physical, ethical, and moral management of the universe.
Counter-intuitively, the most loving and thoughtful thing that God can do for us is to allow this temporary and disposable world to fall apart at the end of redemptive history, to reveal to us for one last emphatic time the catastrophic result of our thinking that we are gods capable of living independently apart from Him…in spiritual rebellion.
At first glance, therefore, what may seem like only a surface difference in timing between a pretribulation rapture and the thesis of this book, that the rapture will more likely occur a few years part-way into the tribulation, now separates into two very distinct outcomes.
A pretribulation rapture removes the Christian church off the earth and out of any possible participation in the momentous events of the tribulation. A pretribulation rapture erases any possibility of Immanuel…God with us…in the midst of issues that will define God’s claim to rightful leadership as King and Ruler…for the remainder of eternity.
But an as-yet un-raptured Christian church on the earth during at least some of Daniel’s final seven-year tribulation, utilizes the unprecedented narrow gate environment imposed upon the entire planet, creating the biblically patterned context for “called, chosen, and faithful” commitment to service for each and every Christian alive on the earth.
The unprecedented combination of the total loss of any option for normalcy as a result of worldwide persecution and the start of the judgment plagues…with the selfless fervor of evangelism empowered by the pouring out of the Spirit upon all flesh according to Joel 2:28-29…enlists and transforms even initially reluctant Christians into life-and-death service to Jesus Christ that they will be grateful for, for all eternity.
The pattern of the cross of Christ contained integrally in the adventures of faith…recorded throughout the Bible…lies at the heart of this debate.