Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
I’m sure most of us are familiar with the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the book of Daniel. If not, I would encourage you to read Daniel chapter 3. It’s an amazing story of faith, courage, and devotion to God on an epic scale. These men were committed to God, regardless of the consequences.
In complete contrast, I just finished reading the book of Ezekiel in the Bible. As I read, I had this uncanny feeling as if I were somehow privy to a letter written directly to the Church of today. Especially as it might pertain to the coming time of testing.
I will say up front, that I’m not one of those people who believes God chooses to overlook our sins and complacency, simply because we live in the Age of Grace. I think there are very vivid examples in the Bible of just the opposite, even in the New Testament; and I believe most people would agree that the corporate Church of today at least rivals the spiritual condition of Israel leading up to, and during the time of the Babylonian Exile. Why would we think God wouldn’t have any interest in dealing with us on that issue?
The idea that we will escape all testing, persecution, and suffering doesn’t agree with what the Bible teaches; much less the examples we see in the lives of the saints, and even Jesus himself. Suffering doesn’t of necessity equal punishment. God isn’t interested in punishing His children; He is interested in purifying us. Anyone who thinks otherwise, underestimates their own fleshly, sinful nature. If this weren’t true, we could just throw out that part in the New Testament that speaks of sanctification.
1 Peter 4:12-19 says,
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.1 Peter 4:12-19
Testing, persecution, and suffering. Peter tells us these things should not only be expected, but that we should rejoice in them; because through them we share in Christ’s sufferings. Suffering as a Christian is honorable. Why then do so many fight so hard to escape it? And why do so many accept without a reasonable doubt, that God is all about rescuing us from the coming time of tribulation? Anyone who teaches this is either unaware of what the Bible says, or is simply choosing to believe what they’ve been taught over that which is clearly communicated in so many scriptures.
We will be rescued, there is no question about that. But we are only promised immunity from God’s wrath (judgment upon the wicked); not tribulation. What’s more, there is no such thing as the so-called Seven Year Tribulation. Nowhere in the Bible is this concept taught. Research it for yourself and see. We are moving toward Daniels 70th Week (Daniel 9:24-27); a seven year period of time to be sure. But not seven years of tribulation. Will God choose to protect His children during this time? I believe He will protect, as He chooses. Will He protect by removing us from this earth? Yes, but only after the tribulation and just prior to the judgment of God upon the wicked. Otherwise known as, The Day of the Lord. (See my series “Should Christians Prepare for the Tribulation?” for a more comprehensive narrative on this subject.)
This is the part where someone says, “But what about Noah and Lot? They were rescued out of the tribulation of their time.”
Actually, no they weren’t. They were rescued out of the judgment of God upon the wicked. Which incidentally, began the very day their rescue was accomplished.
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. ~Luke 17:26-29 (emphasis mine)
They trusted God to keep them from the destruction coming upon the wicked, and He did. They are given to us as examples of what the end times will be like; for believers and non-believers alike.
Why do I keep writing about this subject?
Because I want to warn as many brothers and sisters as possible, to be prepared. And I will keep writing about it. This coming time of tribulation will be beyond anything you can envision in your wildest imagination. So terrible, that Jesus said it would be the worst time of trouble since the beginning of the world, Matthew 24:21. Think about the implications of that. It will be so brutal, that the days [of tribulation] will have to be shortened in order for any Christians to survive at all, Matthew 24:22. And so treacherous, that even the elect will be deceived if that were possible, Matthew 24:24.
How can we escape deception?
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12.
First, don’t overestimate yourself. None of us stands a chance without a close, committed, and sold out relationship with our Savior. Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We must stand firm in the face of anything that would compromise our commitment to God as the only One worthy of our allegiance. Regardless of the personal consequences and sacrifice.
Many Christians have been caught up in the debate about when the rapture will happen. Myself included. With everything that’s happening these days who doesn’t want to get out of here? But in the grand scheme of things I’m not convinced that the when really matters. What I want to be more focused on is preparing for what is to come. I want to be drawing nearer and nearer to God, especially as I see the day approaching; because I believe that as we draw nearer to God, and fill ourselves with His presence and the truth of His Word, we will stand firm in Him; and not find ourselves among those who are deceived and fall away.