Some, by their own admission, call themselves "pan-tribulationists," a clever way of declaring their uncertainty in the pre/post debate. Herein are yet more victims of pre-tribulationism, for had the pre-trib' rapture not been propagated with such systematic fervor, the traditional post-trib' rapture position would be obvious.
Upon my conversion to Christianity, before having the opportunity to read the prophecies for myself with an investigative spirit, I became pre-trib' in my beliefs, but only because the books I had read assured me that the Bible taught a pre-tribulation rapture. I had no idea that the writers were deceiving me, which is exactly what I discovered upon looking into the matter for myself. I found no evidence for either a pre-trib' resurrection or a pre-trib' gathering, while post-trib' was clearly labeled or implied on every rapture passage.
I then realized how shallow and downright spurious were the pre-trib' arguments, and so I abandoned the teaching. Though at that early stage of my faith I very much feared going through what the Bible described in the end times, I accepted the post-trib' fact, and got used to it. But others, for whatever reasons, did not undergo this same process.
I often come across a lack of interest in prophecy. Some pre-tribbers will start to tell me this and that about why the pre-trib view is correct, only to reveal that they don't know the most basic prophetic scriptures. Overwhelmingly, they have not looked into the rapture matter on their own. Others who have looked into the scriptures, and who are quite expert concerning them, show such dire need to believe in a pre-trib scenario that they cling to pre-trib arguments even though they are groundless. Itís very perplexing. I stop short of concluding that these are cowardly believers; I tend to think that the problem lies more in their worldliness, their not wanting to bother with something so side-tracked as a tribulation retreat.
As small consolation, some believers who don't study prophecy, when challenged by a post-tribulationist, tend to become pan-tribulationists as they look into the matter for themselves. At some point, they end up seeing the clear post-trib' message of the Bible, but do not become outright post-tribulationists for fear of abandoning the pre-trib' view and the passion by which the theory is now preached. Believers are now coming into the post-trib' camp with some hefty decisiveness, only to raise the passions by which pre-tribulationism is preached. You should see the battleground that is apparent in the letters that I receive from both sides.
Take note of how many post-trib' sites there are on the internet. As a result, pre-trib' preachers are like chickens having lost their heads, and are making tremendous mistakes in their rebuttals that only devastate their position all the more. You should perhaps read Dave MacPherson's articles...who definitely does not feel sorry for their losses--to see a glimpse of how unscholarly and downright worldly are the pre-trib' biggies among us today, at http://www.notdeceived.net (just scroll down to his articles).
Pan-tribulationists have become confused and/or frustrated with the controversy, wherefore they succumb to approaching the tribulation question with a high degree of indifference. Even their motto is apathetic: "It will all pan out in the end." Yet this is what is perplexing, for while they are unsure of whether or not they must live through the tribulation, they neither seem to be appropriately concerned. Sirens should be going off in their minds in these days, and yet, they appear to remain confident that things will work out for them no matter which view is true. I'm not convinced that this is an acceptable application of their faith.
Perhaps priding themselves a little in trying to defuse the pre- versus post- dispute that has in the past divided believers, pan-tribulationists are selling themselves short by their coolness. Although the motive in trying to squelch the heated debate may appear fine, it is of concern when they handle the matter with triviality while they admit the possibility of having to pass through the tribulation. And squelching the debate may not be the will of God, because if post-tribulationism is correct, pre- and pan-tribulationists alike will place their family members in serious jeopardy in the face of the skincode. I realize that we are to promote peace and a spirit of unity amongst ourselves, but surely not at the expense of falling dumb to the skincode.
Hopefully, they recognize that the power of faith rests in God's hands and is not something we can muster up at will. What if God doesn't give this power? What if he doesn't give it because he's not happy with our presumptuous attitude?
What would you do or think in a situation in which, having been rejected by fellow believers, even when they see your children standing there with you? What a disaster. The scene is worthy of many tears. But it even calls for anger. It breeds a spirit of vengeance. It drives one to treachery. But as these reactions are not justified, as it would be no one's fault but your own, especially if you are reading this book, it spurs the betrayal of Christ and ultimately the reception of the skincode. What a disaster. The scene will bring many tears to our eyes. We are shocked, and are lost for words.
If the cost does not turn out to be eternal, where some will bend to death and severe suffering rather than to the mark, it will prove no less foolish to have walked unprepared into a situation like that, based on the confidence we had put in our personal faith. Would it not be more prudent to deny ourselves some current luxuries (unnecessary clothes, restaurant meals, renovation projects, a second car, anything and everything you don't need) and to spend the savings on an inexpensive country place for future use? The bleaker the setback at the outset of the tribulation, the more difficult will be the test on one's faith and body. How does anyone know if their faith will endure a wicked situation the extent of which is yet unpredictable?
Faith is appealed to when a harmful situation takes us suddenly or forcefully beyond our control. But if we see the trap from a distance and walk right into it, why should God deliver us as opposed to teaching us a good lesson for our irresponsibility? No one who has read the prophecies can deny that the Bible has shown a tribulation period awaiting end-time Christians "in the distance." It requires us, therefore, to prepare for it in order to avoid its iron teeth, and not to foolishly step foot into its jaws with the huge assumption that God will deliver. Would it not have been testing God if Jesus had stepped off the Temple wall if he then depended on God on the way down to save him?
Certainly, we would be correct in claiming that God is powerful enough to carry out any form of rescue mission, and that he can save us from the tribulation if we enter it unprepared, but is he compelled to save us when we challenge him in this way? Suppose some cocky fellow is brave enough to sail the Pacific Ocean alone in an open sailboat. Is God compelled to save him on account of his courage? When the hurricane appears, that man's courage will shrink, and he will pray for dear life, whether or not he believes in God. And God may answer, or he may not answer, but it would have been better had he sailed in a sealed sailboat while also providing some other form of insurance against the storms. Heading into the tribulation totally unprepared, without life-saving provisions, is likewise foolish, and one may as well sail the Pacific in a casket.
God is not our genie at our command. We misplace our confidence in Him when we show an air of pride in the power of our own faith to move his hand. This is the sort of ludicrous thing that is becoming popular with "faith" preachers, who snag memberships by convincing believers that they can have whatever they want from God if only they develop their faith muscle the right way, as if God is moved or compelled to act on our behalf merely because we exert proper Biblical methods.
Foolish preachers, and foolish followers. God gives when it's good for us to have what we ask for, and when we are pleasing to him, even if our faith at the time is as small as a mustard seed. Let the mustard-seed parable teach us that the goal of the Faith is not big faith, but high-quality faith. When Jesus commended those with "great" faith, it was the quality of the heart that made it great. Without obedience and humility, faith is powerless.
But if you should attempt to be obedient and humble just to get what you want, as the faith preachers prompt you to do, beware that you could be learning the evil craft of legalism and false humility, where in reality your priorities are your selfish desires rather than genuine humility and obedience, and where God sees the fact clearly and therefore gives you nothing.
And so people keep going back to the faith preachers, trying over and over again to "get it right," but they never do because the preachers never preach properly, but instead corrupt the heart with an anti-sacrifice message, called the "prosperity gospel," where God becomes a means to our gain. The first step to getting it right is to recognize the error of the name-it-and-claim-it faith preachers, and to condemn their preaching. Then, do God's business as a servant, expecting only Him as your reward, and He will give you what He will, certainly much more than what you can get from the prosperity gospel.
To spare ourselves an evil heart, let's want not. Just decide and habitualize not to want, and we will also find all sorts of Gifts such as wisdom and peace...a great trade-off because God gives wisdom and peace liberally but does not give most of our wants. Note that when Solomon asked of the Lord for wisdom, the Lord gave him his request specifically because the man did not ask anything for himself. The Lord said:
"Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long days for yourself, nor asked riches for yourself, nor asked the life of your enemies, and have asked for discernment for yourself, to understand judgment, behold, I have done according to your words" (1 Kings 3:11-12).
I can give you a one-word proof that worldly wealth corrupts wisdom: Solomon!
If we practice the destruction of our desires, we will also find the purity that builds Heavenly rewards, and anyone who depends on Heavenly rewards instead of earthly is the one with Faith...whose faith is proven true. But the one dying of Faith begins also to look to earthly things. If we crave, then we are more likely to fall into the dens of "prosperity gospel" halls, where faith and earthly things are tied hand in hand in a corruption of the Gospel.
Why get into all this while on the topic of post-tribulationism? Because it's fully relevant to prophecy. It is predicted that many will stray from the path of Christian contentment, and dwindle in their faith thereby, but those who learn from going astray, and as a result turn back to the "want not" principle, are the sheep. Surely this is the purity of the Elect Church in the tribulation period. The goats will continue going astray until they are back in the nightclubs, mingling with lusty wolves, foxes, and other hypocrites, and these will not even think to prepare a trib' retreat. Then, when the skincode comes out, they will suddenly repent and seek a place among us...but even then they will feed only themselves so as to shipwreck their faith in yet another way.
Could pan-tribulationists be well on their way to becoming goats? Could their indifference to prophecy be indifference to the plan of God? Could their lack of concern for tribulation endurance indicate that they have lack of concern for God's people? Does a man buying new shoes cast off the laces? Then why do Christians who come to Christ cast off prophecy? Such believers are sure to stumble.
Don't assume that your worldly prosperity is from Above. The Pharisees did that! But if you have such prosperity, you had better use it for the Kingdom or else suffer the fate as told by James. It is wrong to give thanks to God for the worldly things that we own when he has not given them to us. Those sheep who are kept poor by God are to consider themselves, according to James, elite in the sight of God. But then there are also goats who are kept poor that they may become sheep before it's too late. And why weep before God concerning our material poverty when we should be weeping for our spiritual failures instead. It's time to grow up and to find Life in Him, said James.
The person who has sincere humility in obedience will move his mountain now by his faith, before the tribulation arrives, to make for level ground in the time of trouble. The person without financial means can attempt to hook up with someone that does have means, and if all fails after all sincere attempts, then God would be pleased to assist by answering his/her humble prayers the way that He sees best. But the one who sits around waiting for God to move the mountain may be sitting in its cold shadow all tribulation long. God did not provide "oil" for the virgins who neglected to provide it for themselves. And he calls them foolish. Therefore, let's not pan-handle God in this situation.
SIGNS ARE MADE TO WATCH OUT FOR
Some Christians excuse themselves from tribulation responsibility by hiding behind the statement, "NO ONE KNOWS that day or hour." And so because they figure that they're unable to know when the Return might occur, they also reckon that they are not responsible to physically prepare for it.
However, when Jesus said that we don't know the hour or the day, he merely meant that we haven't been told the precise date of the Return; he did not mean to say that saints living in the tribulation would not know that the Return is within a few years. For Jesus also said, "When you see all these things, YOU KNOW that it is near." Therefore, we don't... but we do... KNOW. Why is it that some pay more attention to the "No one knows" part than to the "you know" part?
There are signs in the first half of the Week which alert us to the final half. We are even told the specific durations of the final period, to the day, and for a reason...that we might eventually know. If God said that there would be 1290 days between the Abomination and the end of the tribulation period, then obviously, because it's a dead give-away, He wants his sheep living at that time to know it. Therefore, tell the pre-tribbers to re-assess the way in which they view the imminence of the Lord's return. Tell them that the imminence is for the goats and the wolves, the dry seeds and the tares, the false-miracle workers, and for shooting stars that go dark no sooner have they started to shine...but imminence is not for the sheep who intend to care for His people to the end:
"But if a wicked servant says in his heart, 'My Lord delays,' and begins to strike his fellow servants [symbolic for betrayals], and to eat and drink with the drunk, the Lord of that servant will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour which he does not know, and will cut him asunder..." (Matt. 24:48-50).
Obviously, then, only those believers living in the tribulation while not watching the signs are going to be taken by surprise, both by the Return and their fate in Hell. How can that price be worth the sensuality offered by this world in these days? Spare yourself and want not. Be the wise servant that feeds the Household of God. Practice until the tribulation, feeding the Household with hospitality, choice words and teachings, genuine fellowship, concern for their needs and ailments, and self-sacrifice. Seek the poor sheep, don't avoid them, for they are upper-class in the eyes of God. Whatever you give to them, you give to Jesus. This is not a new message, sorry, but the same one of old. For a new message, go to the prosperity-gospel halls, or to the pre-trib' book shelves.
How informative it is that Jesus portrays all ten virgins as drowsy when the critical mid-point junction of the tribulation arrives. Jesus reveals the reasons in that Christians will become weary in waiting for the Return. "My Lord delays," they will lament, and so the 1260 days will come on suddenly. But that doesn't mean that the virgins will sleep until the Lord's return, for we see that they do get up and trim their lamps at the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the foolish will then go wayward, perhaps to the taverns, the casinos, the lust-filled parties, internet/phone sex with one another, etc.
UNDERGROUND, BUT NOT SIX FEET UNDER
There can be no light at the end of the tunnel if one doesn't enter the tunnel; no morning if one doesn't enter the night; no Promised Land if one doesn't enter the desert. So make up your mind to become the underground Church in future years. Pray and plan accordingly.
Those who are struck to the heart, deeply concerned about their lot in the end times, show signs of being just where God wants them to be. This concern moves them to beg/pray. Indeed, when Jesus called us to "beg" God for tribulation security, it was a "sermon" condemning pan-tribulationism. He was telling much, not to be indifferent or over-confident, supposing that God will automatically save us when the time comes.
Who would be so reckless as to suggest to other believers that death at the outset of the tribulation is preferred to living through it? The pan-tribulationist! Death at the outset would not be consequential, some say, because eternal life through the resurrection is assured anyway...so why bother to prepare? But if one is truly man enough to sneer at death by entering the tribulation unprepared, then why doesn't he consider being truly heroic by staying alive as long as possible to be of help to those believers who are not so undaunted? Many children will be there, needing much support:
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I thirsted and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you entertained me, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me" (Matthew 25:35-39).
All those with needs are children. The need for food, water and medicine in the tribulation period goes without saying. The entertainment of strangers would refer to much more than general hospitality for a night or a week. The implied tribulation message is that the "sheep" are going to entertain (lodge) unprepared believers ("strangers") for up to 3.5 years when they come knocking.
Thus, while the parable of the ten virgins stresses the possibility of condemnation for those who enter the tribulation unprepared, the parable of the sheep stresses the likelihood of condemnation for those who won't think to support the unprepared. Therefore, not all the unprepared will be the goats. Or, not all those being foolish in this regard will be the condemned foolish virgins. Or, some of the Book-of-Life wise will not prepare for lack of means/health/time. In fact, your indifference up to the present time doesn't necessarily mean automatic condemnation, nor that you are incurably a goat. You still have plenty of time to become an ardent watcher and to grow long your sheep's wool.
Hard words for the wealthy believers, I know, but then, if we know that God is a hard boss to work for, we had better not bury our resources, as did the wicked, lazy servant of the parable that is found in Matthew immediately after the ten virgins.
If you have ever wondered what in the parable of the sheep and goats it means to visit Christ's followers in prison, then by viewing it with the tribulation in mind, it is self-explanatory. At least 1/3 of the Elect are going to have to go deeply "underground," but not, God hopes, with their heads in the sand, and I think that I am speaking to the bulk of this 1/3 when I speak to pan- and pre-tribulationists.
We're all going to need our brains above dirt line. When in trials, ask God for wisdom; when in the Tribulation, beg God for wisdom. But don't wish to be "six feet under" before anything even begins. If we must die, let us die while having been a profitable and cooperative part of a Tribulation Plan.
Remember, God is going to give the world a good dose of plagues alongside our tribulation endurance that will keep some heat off of us. Because of this Protection, and while the New World Order goes through one ailment after another, the prepared people of God...2/3 of the Elect...will be "TRIMMING THEIR LAMPS" in hopes/expectation of being raptured to a Mighty Messiah. No one trims a lamp to lie down in death. A lamp is trimmed when one is aroused! So take heart.
Anyone who mocks at the idea of Christians retreating into the wilderness should reflect upon the fact that God has ordained it. Those who flee will be greeted there by the Spirit. We will be consumed in prayer under the mid-night moon like Christ on the Mount of Olives. When our family awakes in the morning, there we will be, worshipping in the red sunrise of the dawn. The inner life of the Spirit that we now pant for but can't seem to mingle with enough in Lurid Babylon will be found in the Crisp Wilderness land of God's own choosing. And it is we who will feel sorry for those in the cities.
Is it foolish or unworthy to retreat into the Crisp Wilderness? There are post-tribbers who say that we ought to be brave soldiers for Christ and stay in the cities and suburbs during the tribulation, to be a salt and a light for God there. Let me assume that, when they say this, they are not merely shrugging off the burden of tribulation preparation for love of their current lives. Then let me say, great idea! One that aligns nicely with the parables concerning the feeding and caring of his people, except the way in which it is thought best to go about it isn't going to work.
Sturdy lamp posts they may initially be, but in the midst of a power failure before long! Everyone with the skincode will certainly be amazed at their steadfastness, their uprightness, and their comely stance as they continually brave the harsh elements along the street sides, but where's the power? For if Christians will be unable to acquire their own doses of physical daily needs in the city, how will they generate these things to others who may turn to Christ at that time? What good are humanitarians with nothing in their hands to offer? Or, what good are witnesses too sick to speak?
If you wish to end up in prison to evangelize the prisoners, who, by the way, will not likely take the mark if they are long-timers, you should stay in the cities and not find a country retreat. But if you feel God is not calling you to a tribulation prison ministry, then speak to Him about a country retreat.
Before you think to devote yourself to evangelizing lost souls in the tribulation cities, think twice. Unless you are given the green light from God, think thrice. Once the mark is out in force, the masses will be forced to take sides immediately. They will either give themselves to the Kingdom of God by refusing to buy/sell using the system, or they will continue operating in the marketplace by receiving the mark. Within a few days or weeks of the time limit given for the people to switch over to the skincode, most of those in the cities will already have it in their skins. Therefore, if virtually all city dwellers around you will have taken the mark, who will there be to evangelize? It will do no good to convert people with the mark, if I understand Revelation correctly.
First supply yourself with shelter in the country where food and water can be obtained, and don't forget to store some gasoline. Then, when the time comes, you can pray to go be a light to the Christians stranded in the cities, or to the undecided ones who have put off taking the mark while they consider conversion to Christ. If there is one starving soul who hasn't taken the mark, you will then be able to assist that one with both spiritual and physical food. But if you haven't provided physical needs for yourself, why should God send you to be of help when you have nothing to offer?
In any case, the presence of a believer will not be required when someone begs God for salvation at that time, for God can handle the conversion without anyone to help Him. But new converts will need food and a warm place to stay, meaning that God will steer them to a camp which can help them physically, which will not be you if you have no food or shelter even for yourself.
When Jesus said, "They will deliver you to affliction and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name" (Matthew 24:9), it doesn't sound like a very friendly environment to be shining an unwanted Light into. There is a time to retreat from the enemy, as Jesus often did into Galilee or the Jordan valley, from Jerusalem's priests, and there is a time to slip into the cities with the shrewdness of serpents when no one's expecting us. Therefore, interesting might also be an apt word to describe the tribulation. So get ready.
The Israel of God
The Christian Church is the renewed Israel of God.
There has only been one true Israel ever:
the "woman" of Revelation 12.