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.
Counterintuitively, 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 spiritually autonomous rebellion.
At first glance, what therefore 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.
What makes the end-times tribulation period unique is not the large volume of end-times prophetic information given to us in the Bible, or that our understanding of end-times prophesy becomes clearer by employing a literal interpretation of scripture as often as possible, or that a dispensational framework of interpretation allows for a confident placement of the rapture at the beginning of the tribulation.
What makes the end-times tribulation period unique in history is the drastic change in the context of the world environment, introducing judgment plagues, the worldly appealing initial introduction of the Antichrist, unprecedented worldwide persecution of Christians, and a monumental last-ditch outreach of the gospel message of salvation to the people who are still undecided.
What drastically changes during the tribulation is an extreme environment of narrowly focused, life-and-death issues and goals, in which every Christian alive on the earth will become instantly transported into the reality of an adventure of faith.
When Joel 2:28-29 commences, every Spirit-born, twenty-first century Christian on earth overnight becomes a “called-out” person, no matter who or what they previously were. When the latter rain of Joel 2:28-29 and Acts 2:16-21 begins, every Christian on earth will become a called, chosen, and Spirit-anointed vessel for service, similar to what Jeremiah experienced and describes in Jeremiah 20:9.
An argument can be made that Christianity itself is based upon a violent and irreconcilable difference of opinion in first-century Jerusalem regarding the nature of the messiah. Christianity is born out of a lethally violent disagreement. Our salvation is based upon God’s working within a massively destabilizing first-century social upheaval and religious crisis of identity, truth, and right-living.
This crisis produced redemption and salvation for countless millions of new-covenant believers down through the twenty centuries leading-up to our present time. All of the first-century early church participated fully in these events, according to their individual callings, abilities, and Holy Spirit empowerment.
God has shown us in the Bible that He is able to stand alongside us in the fiery furnace, in the lion’s den, and on the challenging road to evangelizing the Mediterranean world in the first-century. As Spirit-led Christians, when faced with adversity, we do not fold up our tents and go home.
Godly men and women in the Bible, and Spirit-led Christians today, do not back down in the face of a challenge.
In Mark 4:35-41, when the disciples finally wake-up the sleeping Jesus, and rather pointedly ask Him whether or not He cares if they perish in the storm at sea, Jesus counters by saying “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”
Jesus is the Almighty Son of God and Creator of the universe. Jesus cannot perish in a small boat in peril of a strong storm on a lake. The Christian church can follow Jesus anywhere, even into the dreaded great tribulation for a few years, if need be.
Spirit-born Christians have the Holy Spirit residing inside them. Nothing on earth can overturn the Christian who is rooted and grounded in faith in Jesus Christ (Rev. 21:7).
Luke 21:36 can be applied to any appropriate time during the seven-year tribulation. The fulfillment of Luke 21:36 does not have to occur before or at the beginning of Daniel’s seven-year tribulation period, in order to be a blessing, a relief, and a hope-filled motivation for continued watchfulness.
The Holy Spirit, living within the Christian, is not afraid of the great tribulation. Jesus Christ securely enthroned in our hearts is not intimidated by Satan or the Antichrist. The Bible tells us from beginning to end that God has complete mastery over spiritual opposition. This is an extremely important concept to grasp as we approach the upcoming end-times events.
As Spirit-born Christians, if we find ourselves someday soon in the midst of Daniel’s end-times tribulation period, this means God pre-destined us for these times, and this also means we have the capacity through the power of the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ to step-up to the challenge at hand.
If we find ourselves in the Great Tribulation, Jesus Christ will be there with us.
The tribulation can therefore be alternately viewed as the opportunity for the “ordinary” Christian to become a great hero of the faith. Instead of something fearful to avoid, the Holy Spirit empowered participation for a period of time in the last great harvest of souls, amidst the tribulation, should be viewed as a privilege of inestimable value.
To be chosen and called, to “be purified, and made white, and tested” according to Daniel 12:10, is no small thing in the grand expanse of the history of the saints of God.
To experience the total abandonment of self-interest and self-preservation, lost through the loving outreach component of the power of the Holy Spirit like Stephen experienced before the Sanhedrin (Acts 6:15), is to become Christ-like in the penultimate demonstration of character, being the sacrifice of the cross.
To overcome the “accuser of our brethren” by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony, and that we loved not our lives unto the death (Rev. 12:10-11), is something that will bring victorious closure to human redemptive history that would endure for an eternity.
For Holy Spirit filled and empowered Christians during the tribulation, “ye shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5) does actually come true for human beings, but in the narrowly right way in divine loving self-sacrifice as patterned for us by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary and on Resurrection morning.
This unexpected outcome is to the eternal chagrin, consternation, and judgment of Satan the archangel who wanted to become god for all of the wrong reasons (Isa. 14:12-17; Rev 12:12).
God is so imaginatively creative He can bring the destructive words of the temptation in the Garden of Eden back full-circle upon Lucifer’s own head. God pouring-out His divine power and grace in demonstration of self-sacrificing Christ-like love through end-times Christians would place an emphatic period at the end of the final chapter in the long story of human redemptive history.
Human efforts to create a better world are rife with failure and shortcomings. The narrative stories of faith in the Bible are the only sure examples of success having eternal benefits. When God joint-ventures with us in an adventure of faith we have the potential for large results on an unimaginable scale.
God has to initiate drastically enhanced worldwide circumstances one last time to attempt to break through the stubborn rejection of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.