Don’t be left behind
In Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25, Jesus warns us to be ready for Him to come to take us so we won’t miss Him and be left behind. But what about those who aren’t ready, what is going to happen to them? Is it really going to be that bad? After all there still will be time for those left behind to accept Christ before He returns to set up His kingdom here on earth. It says in the introduction of the book of Revelation in verse three;
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Rev 1:3 (ESV)
The blessing is in knowing what is going to happen and being ready so we can avoid it. So what’s so bad about being left behind? Here is what the book of Revelation tells us about the period known as the tribulation.
And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer. Rev 6:2 (ESV)
The tribulation starts peacefully in chapter six, as the antichrist (the rider on the white horse) takes power peacefully since his crown is given to him. But things won’t be easy at this time, the world will be in turmoil. Millions of people will have just vanished, including not only our moral leadership, but pilots flying planes and many people driving on highways will be leaving their vehicles unattended to crash. This will cause worldwide disaster and panic. Struggling economies will collapse and the whole world will be looking for someone to lead them out of the mess. Antichrist will come on the scene and get the whole world to follow him with assurances that he can fix things and make sure that this doesn’t happen again.
The peace won’t last long though because some countries will have second thoughts about submitting to Antichrist’s world government and world war will break out. The war, as wars usually do, will be followed by inflation, famine and death. Chapter six verse eight says that one quarter of the earth’s population will be killed. This will be followed by a great earthquake that shakes the whole earth. Later, we see in chapter eight verses 7-12 that one third of the world’s vegetation, seas and fresh water will be destroyed along with the sun becoming one third dimmer. These are judgments that the whole world will have to go through, but God does something special for people who put their faith in Him during this time.
Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” Rev 7:2-3 (ESV)
All those who accept Christ and His forgiveness during this time will receive His mark and although they will still be here on earth, they will be immune from further judgments against man.
For those who don’t accept Christ, they will have to go through several judgments starting in chapter nine. Verses 2-11 describe a plague of demon locusts that sting like scorpions. This is followed in verses 15-19 by a demon army that kills one third of the remaining population.
Later, in chapter sixteen, non-believers will have to endure water being turned to blood (v.4-6), scorching heat from the sun where they won’t be able to go outside (v.8-9) and then total darkness (v.10-11). Then, just before Christ returns, there will be another world wide earthquake that makes the first one look miniscule;
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe. Rev 16:17-21 (ESV)
This will be followed by Christ’s return and the battle of Armageddon. Even though believers won’t have to suffer these judgments, they by no means will have it easy. Non-believers won’t appreciate believers being exempt from these things and probably will blame them for all the trouble. This will be the time of the greatest persecution that the world has ever seen. John gets a look at all of the believers that are killed in chapter 7, and later, in chapter 20, we learn how they are killed.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev 7:9-14 (ESV)
Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands Rev 20:4 (ESV)
All who don’t take Antichrist’s mark will not be allowed to buy or sell. Also all who are caught without the mark and refuse to get one will be beheaded. Christians will have to go into hiding and set up their own underground market to survive. This will not be an easy time! It would be best to avoid it, Jesus promises us we can in Revelation 3:10
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.
By keeping His word now, we can avoid what is coming later.