This is a heavily edited reblog from 2012.
If you read my blogs, then you know that I grapple with much of what I write. Another way to put this is, I sit with guys who wrestle with understanding and fail to get clear answers from the group leaders.
Here goes another one. Let's assume a scenario; I just happen to think this is how it will happen (based on what I see in scripture):
The Rapture comes – The great snatching away of the church (that is a whole other issue) takes place. The rapture, as I see it, is on the cutting edge of God's wrath, and God's wrath is an integral part of the Great Tribulation.
Sadly this is also an argument that I encountered, as the group leader of another group could not handle the idea that the “great tribulation” was exclusively God's wrath being poured out upon the earth and it's inhabitants. The inhabitant's aspect has very specific targets: Israel and the nations. Here is why.
2 Kings 22:13-17 NASB "Go, inquire of the LORD for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the LORD that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us." ….... "Behold, I bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read. "Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched."'
While it is almost mandatory to have two witnesses, I find the theme about God's wrath in many places throughout the Bible. 2Kings 22:13-17 states it so clearly that I am not going to expound any further, save to say. God is angry with Israel. Don't get all happy about that, because the astute will find in Scripture that God has never given up on Israel and will open their eyes so that they can see Jesus as the Messiah they are looking for. God then places them in positions of authority during the millennial reign.
First, you need to understand that this originally meant anyone outside of God's chosen people. Consider that Caleb was only considered a Jew because of conversion and yet we are endeared to him for his courage and bravery while spying for Israel. For a portion of Caleb's life, he was considered to be from among the nations.
Since the door was open to us to be ingrafted into the vine, which is Israel, those of us from among the nations, also known as the Gentiles, are now an aspect of the church. If you are astute, then you picked up on the idea that there are only three people groups in God's consideration – the Jews; the nations, and the church. With the church being raptured the only two people groups considered are the nations and Israel. At any moment, before the rapture, anyone can change their category by accepting Jesus as Lord.
Just because I made a statement about providing two witnesses, I will do just that.
Isaiah 13:3-16 NASB I have commanded My consecrated ones, I have even called My mighty warriors, My proudly exulting ones, To execute My anger. (4) A sound of tumult on the mountains, Like that of many people! A sound of the uproar of kingdoms, Of nations gathered together! The LORD of hosts is mustering the army for battle. (5) They are coming from a far country, From the farthest horizons, The LORD and His instruments of indignation, To destroy the whole land. (6) Wail, for the day of the LORD, is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. (7) Therefore all hands will fall limp, And every man's heart will melt. (8) They will be terrified, Pains and anguish will take hold of them; They will writhe like a woman in labor, They will look at one another in astonishment, Their faces aflame. (9) Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. (10) For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light. (11) Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. (12) I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold And mankind than the gold of Ophir. (13) Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger. (14) And it will be that like a hunted gazelle, Or like sheep with none to gather them, They will each turn to his own people, And each one flee to his own land. (15) Anyone who is found will be thrust through, And anyone who is captured will fall by the sword. (16) Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces Before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished.
The thing you might try to challenge is that it says He will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity, and you would be right, but what is the nations if it is not the world in general? The other aspect of this is that it says that mortal man will be scarcer than pure gold. A generalization I could make is that the survivors making it into the millennial reign will be relatively few.
The second scriptural witness (Exhibit B), is Jeremiah 10:10.
Jeremiah 10:10 KJV But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.
While Jeremiah 10:10 does not give specific examples of how that indignation will be delivered, an honest realization would tell you that the entire period of God's wrath is His indignation.
Jeremiah 10:25 is indicative that God is coming with a fury upon those that do not know Him. The implication is willful rejection and this can apply to the religious who are left behind.
Jeremiah 10:25 Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not,
The Great Tribulation
The Great Tribulation Has two components -
The first being God's wrath being poured out upon the earth in the form of:
- The seven seal judgments;
- the seven trumpet judgments;
- the seven bowl judgments.These judgments may not look like God's hand especially when you look at the players involved, but it is. If nothing else happened, such as beheadings in the name of Allah, I cannot imagine anyone surviving on the earth, and yet many do.
The second component is the work of the Beast, (The beast in this instance is a man driven by a Satanic spirit. That spirit has shown up many times, in many people, throughout man's tenure here on earth.) and the False Prophet.
(Islam fulfills both of these roles in their prophecies. The Mahdi, also known as the 12th Iman, and a “prophetic” person named Isa ben Maryiam - in English, Jesus, the son of Mary, not God. I am telling you that if you find out more about who these characters are that Islam is anxiously awaiting, it will not only alarm you, but scripture will make more sense than you ever thought possible. The former President of Iran, in three addresses to the United Nations, has opened his speech with a prayer and call for the Mahdi to come quickly. When the Mahdi comes it will be during a time of chaos and destruction.)
At the Rapture of the Church, those awaiting the return of Jesus Christ will be removed from the earth.
If the church is gone, who is left?
- Religious folk.
These include those who thought they should have gone and cults who live on the fringe of a relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord.
A quick commentary on the religious folk that get left behind:
One of the things that caught my attention was Matthew 25:1 where Jesus said the last day would be like ten virgins that were coming to the wedding. Half of them, though invited and on their way, were unprepared when the call finally came. They all seem to meet up at some appropriate place, but in the course of time, they ran out of lamp oil. Immediately they started scrambling for oil; demanding oil from the others. A key to understanding what is happening here, which Matthew 25:5 explains, “While the bridegroom tarried they slumbered and slept.” When you consider that no oil based lamp burns forever and must be refilled, then there must be the need to replenish that oil continuously. That would have to be on a daily basis, and multiple times a day.
I believe I understand what this tarrying and slumbering looks like, for as I talk about the imminent return of Jesus for His church with people, this is what I get, “why are you getting all worked up, we have been waiting for him for over two thousand years. Besides, the world is always in turmoil, and people are ever in tribulation.” With that being said, they spiritually go back to sleep. This lack of concern has a familiar ring to, as it should, and we find it in 2Peter 3:3-5.
2 Peter 3:3-5 KJV Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, (4) And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (5) For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
- The nations.
- And some JewsThe effect this has on the Jews is played out as the angel Gabriel spells out the last days for Daniel.
Daniel 12:9-12 NASB He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. (10) "Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand. (11) "From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. (12) "How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!
[Do the math. The days numbered here equal 7.2 years.]
So we established that many religious types will be left here; what about the others?
While Islam believes in a god, no less than the Eastern religions, I did not include them as I thought about the religious folk left behind. In general, one is left to assume that those left behind are the completely godless and arrogant.
- The saints – those beheaded for their testimony, among other things, during the time of wrath.Many of these are the religious that finally are awakening but not all; this can include the Jews for scripture tells us that God will lift the veil off their eyes and they will see that Jesus is the Messiah they longed for. There will be those we often deem the cults. I believe that the truth is in the books they carry but it is masked in deception. Can you imagine the anger they will feel when they realize how deceived they were?
Revelation 20:4 KJV And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
- The rich and the poor
The poor are already being slowly exterminated, while the rich will hide in luxury caves. Scripture tells us that the rich will be crying out for the rocks to fall on them to hide them from the wrath of God. Odd that they recognize it as such.
- And because there are always those who wantonly kill, we will have:
- Religious zealots who will kill you because you are not Islamic.
- And the bullies.
But there are other people.
Revelation 21:8 KJV But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
The fearful; unbelieving; abominable; murderers; whoremongers; sorcerers; idolaters, and all liars. This list makes up quite the rogues gallery. The question is, where did they come from?
Why is it a question at all?
Because as I sit in Bible Study – we are told only Christians survive the tribulation, and everyone else goes to a fiery hell. This teaching is not only wrong but an example of the false teachers we see in 2Peter 2:1.
2 Peter 2:1 KJV But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
Why make a point of this? Because the things these false teachers scream at us attempt to make, us believe that God's character and nature are anything but love and mercy.
Consider a piece of logic. Since Satan is bound during the Millennial reign, then Revelation 21:8 shows me that people still have the freedom of choice, and part of that choice is not to serve Him willfully. I say that because the nations, those who would not bow willfully before God before this time, will be forced to bow before Him, in Jerusalem, during the Feast of Tabernacles, which transpires over a seven day period.
At the end of the 1000 years, Satan is released and rallies the nations, those outside the camp of God, against the camp of God. Who is Satan deceiving this time? Not those who live in the city, but those that live outside the city. Were they outside because they refused to acknowledge Jesus Lordship? There are a lot of possibilities, but exclusion is not one of them. Would they have been safe if they had been inside? Certainly.
A quick reassessment.
We have people during the millennial reign that are walking in the name of their god and living outside the city.
Revelation 22:14-15 CEV (14) God will bless all who have washed their robes. They will each have the right to eat fruit from the tree that gives life, and they can enter the gates of the city. (15) But outside the city will be dogs, witches, immoral people, murderers, idol worshipers, and everyone who loves to tell lies and do wrong.
These two verses in Revelation 22:14-15 stun me.
- I would have thought that the time of washing of the robes had passed. Perhaps this is a continuing process which implies that Holy Spirit is still alive and active even during the millennial reign.
- People are continuing to come to Christ.Sure, Satan is no longer an issue, but people can still choose. The relevant aspect of this is that life continues to go on. Survivors of the Great Tribulation continue to have families, and we now have an exponential multiplication of people once again. Every one of those people will apparently have to choose Jesus over whatever else is being offered to them.
- Only those who have washed their robes can enter the gates.Apparently, this continues to imply the blood of Christ and salvation. Therefore an acceptance of the price he paid for us is necessary and continuing to happen.
- Verse 15 is the most unnerving part of all. For it implies that sin still attempts to run rampant throughout the earth. Jesus and the millennial saints would seem to be the peacekeepers, and I suspect that blatantly sinful indulgences will be dealt with swiftly. But I never in my wildest imagination thought that God, in his mercy, would allow such a thing to happen at this point.
Therefore it is safe to assume that there have been survivors of the tribulation and that God's mercy has pulled them through.
We tend to think of the tribulation as a time of purging, and it is but of all evil? Apparently not, and scripture proves that out; for man's ability to choose has not been taken away. Many have made some form of choice to follow God and not the anti-Christ; therefore what we see in Matthew 25 with the sheep and goats, is God extending his hand of mercy and pulling them into the eternal heavens right next to the saints of God. I do not thoroughly understand how those that survived without taking the mark or worshiping the beast, according to Revelation 20:4, get to enter into God's grace, for it seems that their previous refusal to comply should play a negative role in God's decision-making process. And yet, He appears to give them an all-access pass to, at the least, the millennial reign. Indeed, these are included among the people we see here during the millennial reign, and the only explanation is God's mercy.