Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:21-22
“ For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”
It is clear from Scripture that there will be a Great Tribulation and then Jesus Christ will come. There is also no question that the tribulation will come at the end of time.
Most of the time when the Great Tribulations is spoken of in the Scriptures it is a three and a half years period long; not the 7 years, commonly referred to as the Daniel’s 70th week. The three and a half years long is referred to as the second half of the 70th week of Daniel. It seems scriptural in the context of the bible. The persecution towards Christ during His ministry took place for three and a half years until His death on the cross. The famine in the days of Elijah lasted for three and a half years. The Apostle John described a future time of persecution in which the woman flees to the wilderness for 1260 days (3 and a half years). The woman is definitely Israel. The duration of this tribulation is three and a half years. What can we learn about this Great Tribulation?
1. How Does the Bible Describe the Tribulation?
In Daniel 12:1, Daniel told of the Archangel Michael’s message to him the prophet. It says,
‘At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.’
This is repeated in Matthew 24:21 to emphasize the severity of this tribulation. It says,
‘ For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.’
The severity of the tribulation is such that it will be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation. Since Israel became a nation there has never been a tribulation such as this Great Tribulation. The adjectives used in the bible to describe this Tribulation definitely cause your heart to miss a beat and creates fear in your soul. Matthew 24:22 says, ‘And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. The elect definitely refers to Israel. For the sake of Israel, the duration of the tribulation has purposefully been shortened because if not, the whole global world will be gone. What Jesus is trying to say is that it will be so terrible that if it were not stopped at the end of the 3 and a half years, it would result in the destruction of all life. Zephaniah 1:17 says, ‘Men will stumble around like they are blind and ‘their blood will be poured out like dust.’ You will be like as helpless as a blind man searching for a path and yet your blood will be poured out into the dust and your bodies will lie there rotting on the ground. The carcasses of the slain will fertilize the earth like dung.
2. Who are the Main Recipients of this Great Tribulation?
It seems that This Great Tribulation is meant for the people of Israel. To confirm this truth Jeremiah 30:7 says
‘Alas, for that day is great so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble”. Jacob represents the Nation of Israel. It is YHWH that says, ‘your name shall no more be Jacob but Israel.’
Also the Tribulation is meant for the Gentile World. The Tribulation is to punish the Gentiles for their arrogance, rebellion and godlessness. Jeremiah describes the Great Tribulation coming upon the Gentiles. Jeremiah 25:30-33 says, ‘Therefore prophesy against them. Tell them the LORD will shout against his own from his holy temple in heaven and against all those living on the earth. He will shout as the harvesters do who tread the juice from the grapes. That cry of judgment will reach the farthest ends of the earth, for the LORD has a case against all the nations – all mankind. He will slaughter all the wicked. See, declares the LORD Almighty, the punishment shall go from nation to nation – a great whirlwind of wrath shall rise against the farthest corners of the earth. On that day those the LORD has slain shall fill the earth from one end to the end. No one shall mourn for them nor gather up the bodies to bury them; they shall fertilize the earth.’ It is so clear here; the tribulation is for his own (the people of Israel) and the Gentile world (all those living on the earth). It is to punish the Gentiles for their pride, rebellion and godlessness. Isaiah 24 and Jeremiah 25:30 describe the Great Tribulation coming upon the Gentiles
3. Now will the Church go Through the Great Tribulation?
This Great Tribulation is not meant for the Church. The key to understanding that the tribulation is not meant for the church is in Revelation 4:1 which says, ‘And after this, behold a door was opened in heaven and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me which said come up hither and I will show thee the things which must be hereafter.’ The first 3 chapters of Revelation is about the church (God’s address to the seven churches). But notice something remarkable, beginning in Revelation 4:1 which says, ‘the things which must be hereafter.’ From Revelation 4:1 through to the end of the book, we have entered into ‘the things which must be hereafter.’ John our brother in the Church Age, is lifted out of this earth, the church is symbolically lifted out of this earth, taken up to heaven, and the word says clearly, ‘behold a door was opened in heaven.’ This is the Rapture that I have been looking forward to. The word rapture is not found in the bible. But the reality of this rapture is found in the bible and described by the Apostle Paul. He says in 1 Corinthians 15:52-54, ‘In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality , then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.’ I want to say that if you are caught up in the Rapture, you will never ever die. There are some people that will never ever die and that is the people that are raptured. How are they raptured? ‘In the twinkling of an eye is used of the blinking of a star or the rapid movement of gnats’ wings. We love the song, ‘twinkle twinkle little star’. The speed of the twinkle of a star is amazing. The gnats are firefly or even mosquitoes. It is said that the firefly has two pairs of wings. Its wings beat over a short arc of about 90 degrees, but ridiculously fast, at around 230 beats per second. The implication of these two terms is that the rapture will be like lightning speed. I just want to tell you that you are truly blessed if you are in the rapture. To give us a foretaste of the Rapture, two people in the Bible had such encounter and until today they have not died yet. Enoch and Elijah. The bible says Enoch walked with God and he was not because God took him. Elijah was taken up by a chariot in the whirlwind witnessed by Elisha. I pray that many in this church will be in this rapture.
Sometimes I am amazed at the tremendous love of God for the church. I mean we are all Gentiles but God demonstrated his love for the Gentiles, represented by the church by taking this select group of people away from the Great Tribulation. From Revelation 4-10 we see the horrors of the Great Tribulation. And while the church is mentioned over and over again in the early chapters (1-3), from this point on; chapter four, you do not hear the Church -the Body of Christ – mentioned again. Now I want to say something that is very significant which is the purpose of this sermon. While the Tribulation is not meant for the church, I am afraid that millions and even majority of the church members will be in the Great Tribulation. They will miss the Rapture. And this Great Tribulation is global in nature and the members of the church that are left behind will be greatly affected by this tribulation.
In 2016 Ann Marie had a vision of the Great Tribulation. She was taken out of the body. Immediately after the vision, she suffered greatly; she lost her apartment, her job. It was only recently that she got her job back. Maybe it was God, demonstrating the danger of being in the Great Tribulation. She was shown specific details and she says the Great Tribulation is in her Generation. She said the only way she could really describe the Great Tribulation was like the movie; the hunger game and the others. I think recently we have seen a lot of movies like the silence where if you made a single sound, you will be spotted by creatures and eaten up. Also the movie on the birdbox by Sandra Bullock which shows she tries to protect herself and two children from malevolent supernatural entities that make people who look at them go insane and commit suicide. Ann Marie says that those left behind in the Great Tribulation were harassed by demons. They were everywhere. When those left behind had worldly thoughts, the demons will harass them, hurt them. The whole world will be in the state similar to Martial Law, and the military and police were demonized. There was one lady whose thoughts were worldly and the next moment, she was taken from her house and thrown into the pit. The Military and Police were pulling people out of their apartment. They had complete access to your home and there was murder everywhere. Many were forced to flee to the mountains to hide. These demonized people knows the thoughts of the people left behind. There was no children under the age of 12 left behind. But her emphasis was the youth were in fear and shock and they worship the beast and took the mark of the beast. They were blaspheming God and were in great delusion and were praising the beast. She said those left behind can only survive by setting their heart on Jesus and praying and praising God.
Many worldly Christian will be slaughtered. It will be very hard to be a Christian. You can only be one as an underground Christian similar to the underground Christian in China and the Great Catacomb Christian during the time after Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Jan visited the Catacombs in Paris. It is said that the Catacombs in Paris are underground ossuaries (a place or receptable for the bones of the dead) in Paris, France, which hold the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network. These Christians stayed in the Catacombs, live in the Catacombs and die in the Catacombs to avoid persecution from the Roman Empire.
Rev 6:9 says, ‘I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.’
They had been left behind in the rapture because they had been worldly and they were martyred to keep their testimony. God wants us to make it to the Rapture.
Luke 21:36 says, ‘Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
Revelation 3:10 says, ‘Because you have kept my command to persevere, I will also keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.’
You may wonder, “How could government control our lives like that?” To find the answer to that question, all you have to do is take out your smartphone. Embedded in that smartphone is a chip that connects to a GPS that allows you and other people to know where you are and where you are going. Soon that same kind of technology will be able to track every action we do. Last Thursday night I was just watching this crime documentary. A 17-year-old girl in a small town had to park her vehicle on the side of the road because her gas tank went empty. The next moment she was found murdered in another location strangled with a wire to death. Through the only CCTV in that small town it was found out that at 7.00 a.m. on that day, a pick up truck passed by that girl’s vehicle and at 7.03 a.m. that pick-up truck returned to that girl’s vehicle. The man in the truck denied killing her. But the FBI and the police investigator told the pick up truck man that Satellite Photos showed that the truck was at the location where the girl was murdered and the sim card on the man’s phone showed that exactly at 7.03 a.m., he was at the girl’s vehicle to pick up the girl.
Revelation 13:16-17 says, ‘And he (the Antichrist) caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.’
We just read that Forever 21 had sent a shock wave when it declared bankruptcy. I mean it is such a big company with stores literally all over the world. The reason it became bankrupt was because the trend now is purchasing clothing online. Joy has started purchasing supermarket groceries online by Redmark. How are you going to buy anything without the Mark of the Beast who controls the online world? Buying and selling are essential to our human existence. They are part of what it means to live in society.
There will be betrayal.
Matthew 24:9-10 says, ‘Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
Luke 25:53 says, ‘They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.
Parents will turn against the children in fear, frustration and mistrust. Ungodly parents will be against children who turn to the LORD in the Great Tribulation. It will be a time of severe division of families. It is all a natural result of the forced change of ideology by ungodly governments turning from Godliness and trying to destroy the influence of holiness as their atheistic concepts are, more and more, generally accepted by a generation that does not know God. Hatred for one another will be fierce.
4. Why many Christians will miss the rapture?
The most relevant question to ask about the Tribulation is ‘Am I ready for the Coming of Christ?’ Why many Christians will miss the rapture!
Luke 13:24 says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
The rapture will not happen twice, but once. So a wise Christian will do more to focus and strive to be counted worthy to escape the Day of Wrath which is the Great Tribulation. Will many of us miss the Rapture even after we are born again and serving God? Here are 7 common reasons that can cause us to miss the Rapture.
a. Undone Restitution Acts.
Acts 24:16 says, ‘I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.’ Another translation says, ‘I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience.’ When we are genuinely saved, there may be some wrongs of the past that need to be corrected in your present new life in Jesus. Restitution includes restoring things wrongly acquired, revealing lies and deceptions and reconciling with people we offended, and also forgiving with all our hearts people who offended us, no matter how terrible. I want to forgive with all my heart people who offended me, no matter what terrible things they had done to me. I don’t want to miss the rapture just because I cannot forgive the terrible things they have done. Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do?’. Joseph forgave all his brothers who wanted to kill him but later sold him off. I want to be like Jesus and Joseph. I don’t want because I cannot forgive them, I miss the rapture. It is not worth it. Forgiveness from the heart is part of restitution and many Christians, ministers of God will miss rapture and heaven just because of un-forgiveness and bitterness. Matthew 6:14, 15 says, ‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’ I personally believe many Christians will miss the rapture and not even make it to heaven because they cannot forgive someone who has offended them or done terrible things to them. Restitution also includes unpaid and essential debt. When you have the power to pay but postponing or does not want to pay, this can hinder Christians from being raptured or entering heaven. A serious-minded Christian will be wary of unnecessary debts and purchasing non-essential stuff in credit. Afterwards during the altar I want you to focus in your mind people that has hurt you, offended you and done terrible things to you. And in the name of Jesus we are going to declare forgiveness towards them.
b. Just a little Sin
Galatian 5:9 says, ‘A little leaven leaventh the whole lump.’ The NIV says, ‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.’ Those of you who loves cooking understand this phrase clearly. In our EE program we have this example of a bad egg mixed with as many good eggs as possible and in the end the whole egg omelet is bad because of one single bad egg. Many will miss the rapture not because they are not born again and serving God, not because they are committing serious sins, but just because of a little besetting sin, just little BUT TOO HEAVY to hold people down from making the rapture. What is the besetting sin that always troubled your conscience? What is that thing that many a time your conscience is pricked by it. That will be the sin that will cause you to miss the rapture. Can you imagine that wearing tight clothes, very short short, tops that show a woman’s cleavage or transparent clothes would hinder so many godly sisters from making the rapture? It is so interesting that in our cell group last Friday we were talking about clothes for our Christmas Celebration. Cheng was talking plunging front; Farida mentioned short shorts and see through clothes. When the Holy Spirit calls your attention to the little sin, you excuse yourself that it doesn’t matter, everybody is doing it or it is your own weakness since everybody has a weakness. It may be little anger, envy, jealousy, even in the work of God. Little lies, using people’s or your office’s materials for your personal purpose without asking permission. You think it doesn’t matter? It does. Let’s repent NOW. Common sins will commonly hinder common Christians and ministers back.
c. Little worldliness
I John 2:16 says, ‘For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the yes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.’
Little worldliness will hinder so many Christians from making the rapture. This little worldliness does not matter to many Christians and churches today. The worldly music which you call normal, worldly pornographic movies, TV programs inspired by Satan (American Idol, Big Brother), worldly dress (wearing tops, blouses that show the trace of your breasts as a woman or that reveals your cleavage, transparent dress. I want to imagine you are entering heaven and Saint Peter is at the Gate of Heaven and you are wearing a low-cut cleavage dress. How are you going to enter heaven when Saint Peter see you in that plunging dress? To me it just show how influenced you are to worldliness and you should think carefully whether you will make it to the rapture.
I Corinthians 10:12 says, ‘Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.’
Over-confidence will hinder many believers from making it to the rapture. You see the shortcoming of others without seeing yours, without daily searching your life with the Word of God and prayer for forgiveness and daily sanctification. I call this self-righteousness. They are what I call the Pharisees. Jesus said in Matthew 23:27-28, ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.’
Whited sepulchers are whitewashed tombs. The citizen of Jerusalem and even the people of today; especially all souls’ day is coming, would paint the graves white before feast days lest a pilgrim accidentally touch them and become ceremonially unclean for seven days, and hence unable to participate in the feast even after travelling a long distance. These freshly painted tombs were analogous to the outward religiosity of the Jewish leaders. No matter how much you painted the tomb, inside is still the unclean, skeleton of a dead man. Jesus greatest problem is with the leaders of the church, the Pastors, the Elders, the Leaders of the church because they are so full of self-righteousness and they can only see the wrongs of others but their own sins they cannot see at all. This is self-righteousness. These categories of people believe they can never make mistake after they are saved, especially they become leader, and they believe they are once and entirely sanctified and no need for daily prayer for cleaning and sanctification. They are bound in bountiful hypocrisy which is one of the most terrible sins – hypocrisy. Believing that you can’t make mistake after you become a leader is a serious mistake. Tenderness and watchfulness serve better. As a minister I have seen many pastors who holds conferences in their own church but during the service, when all others are attending, they are not around; outside doing unimportant things. It shows the attitude; ‘I am a leader; I don’t need to listen in a conference. I can’t make a mistake after I have become a minister. I am too high in position to come and listen to another sermon.’
e. Unconfessed Sin
Unconfessed sin remains a secret sin. You did something wrong and you realize it and confessed to God but concealed it from people, you refuse to confess to necessary partners.
f. Little compromise
Little compromise at workplace, in your business, Little compromise in examination hall, in marital relationship or in your tithes and offerings; these little, little, overlooked stuffs will hold and hinder many Believers and Ministers from making the rapture.
g. Lack of Love
Do you think it’s possible to make the rapture without love? And does your life show the love of Christ? Love is kindness and expresses goodness to all men, especially brethren, it helps and shares. The syndrome of “sowing” into the lives of big pastors, the several church projects and personal projects have blinded many Christians from loving and helping people around them. Purity without love is hypocrisy, love without purity is lust, but real purity means PURE LOVE. Christian life without love is hypocrisy.
Please, we should all search our lives with the light of God’s Word, let’s repent now and confess and correct everything as the Holy Spirit calls our attention to. Irrespective of our spiritual attainments and positions, God is not a respecter of any man. As long you still see yourself as a little child in God’s hand, you must be humble and careful enough to look into your life. Let’s ask God to sanctify us, and let’s also be more watchful from now, be more vigilant and prayerful everyday as we ask for God’s grace and mercy to be counted worthy, we all need these, we are all striving and no man is a superman, until we get to heaven. May God help us and see us through to the end in Jesus name.
Rapture will happen once and any time from now. Maybe you say Pastor, there are so many things I think I have failed badly. It is very simple, ‘Walk with God like Enoch, keep your conscience clear and place your faith in Jesus to help you make it to the rapture. Love His appearing. Know that the Rapture can come and so keep yourself unspotted. Keep a daily prayer and sanctification. It is not solely about dos and donts’. Rather it is more of a relationship with God and trusting God to keep you from the Day of Wrath. If you want to rededicate your life to Jesus or need further counsel on any of these points, please feel free to make appointment with Pastor Lily and I for SOZO. We have always told the SOZEES that there will be not condemnation, no judgment or discipline but secrets will be kept in every SOZO session.
1 Peter 4:7,“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.”
If you will like to surrender your life to Jesus, rededicate your life to Jesus, today is the right time.