In all the years of my studies of the Bible, I feel this question is one of the most sought after of Christian’s today. I also feel that the church as a whole is in denial about this subject of the Great Tribulation, hereby referred to as GT in this writing. There are quite a few references to the GT by the OT prophets and of course, the Revelation of John. The Revelation of the Apostle John is an open book of the coming apocalypse that the LORD Jesus commented on frequently. The Gospel of Matthew chapter 24 and 25 is most interesting to me because it reveals and discloses mysteries that the Apostle John did not expound upon. All the prophetic writing welcomes each other in unison and appreciation of the other. In short, the GT was revealed to us as orchestrated by God’s own Holy Spirit. As for the answer to the proposed question, the answer is no, but, there is substantial scriptural evidence that Christian’s will go into the beginning or the first three years of the GT and will know the Beast of Revelation. The appearing of the Beast is the bench mark of the beginning of the GT lasting seven years.
I was taught from the outset that Christian’s would be ‘caught up’ in‘Rapture’ before the Beast of Revelation shows up and we would not witness the horror to come as God’s chosen. Over the years of my study of the Bible on my own, I have been amazed to discover this teaching is quite an error of most preachers and evangelists today. I want you to know up front that not all preachers hold this view because I have run across a few that teach the truth. It comes down to picking and choosing by the leadership of the Holy Spirit, after the fact of listening to them over time. I am not a date setter nor do I believe that we can know for sure when Christ Jesus is coming back, but, Christ did tell His Disciples to watch and pray. We will be able to discern the times and seasons.
“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 25:13
For me, I believe the most intriguing place to start in the Scripture is Revelation chapter 20 and verses 4-6. It seems to cut to the chase about just who is going to see and be affected by the Beast and the difficulties he imposes on the very Elect of God.
“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 worshipped 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. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6
Do you see with me what the Apostle John has stated? Verse 4 states, “…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 worshipped 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.” When I read this over and over for myself, I was amazed to discover and realized that the “Rapture of the Church” had not yet happened when the Beast arrived on the scene. If you will notice with me in the Scripture, the Bible clearly states that the first resurrection took place after the fact of the disclosure of the Beast, his mark, and his rage poured out upon those who would not take his mark, somewhere along the three or three and a half year mark. Let’s read it again. In verse 4 it states;
“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 worshipped 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 second sentence of verse 5 states; “…This is the first resurrection.”
Wow! What a discovery! This isn’t the only Scripture that gives us a clue to the timing of the Rapture and Second Coming of Christ for the Church. You only have to look at what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church of Thessalonica.
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he (Holy Spirit) who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” 2Thessalonians 2:1-7
This Scripture has a truck load of clues in itself. First, look with me at the statement of Paul in verse 3. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…” Just what does Paul mean when he says there will be a falling away first? This implies that many professing Christians today will be deceived by the false prophets and teachers of our day. I have never witnessed a time where so call Christians live such a loose and sinful life in front of others. The licentiousness of so called Christians today is appalling. One great example is to look at the Mardi-Gras in New Orleans each year and where one witnesses that Christianity is suffering blight by wickedness and lewdness in the name of the Church. Let’s face the truth; the Church is losing its influence and power every day that goes by. One good bench mark is by watching the laws of the land being changed or done away with each passing year. It most definitely shows we are in the last days of the Laodicean Church age mentioned in Revelation chapter 3.
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold(wisdom)tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Revelation 3:14-19
Secondly, Paul says in last part of verse 3; “…and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…” Who is Paul talking about? The Beast himself, yes a man that is coming at us embodying all the power of Satan. This ‘man of sin’ is going to stalk anyone who does not take his mark to buy, sell, or trade.
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” Revelation 13:7
We might be asking right now, but why would God let this happen to His people? There are many reasons I can think of and there is one verse that sticks out in my mind.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46
Little do we realize that right now, God is culturing His ‘Pearl of Great Price’, i.e., the Elect of God, the Church. Many people, especially of the church, have a real problem with pain and suffering. Let me ask you, do you really think that God would exempt any of us from pain and suffering when He sent His only Son to die for you and me at Calvary?
“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” 2Cointhians 1:5
“And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.” 2Corinthians 1:6
“And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” 2Corinthians 1:7
I have always understood that our God is just, righteous, and most holy. He is fair as fair can be when it comes to the treatment of His much chosen Elect. All we have to do is look around in the Scripture and see for ourselves that if one of God’s Elect suffers anything in this life, many others will suffer also. God is NO respecter of persons!
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons…” Acts 10:34
So, we can attest that we are just waiting and watching to see when the Beast of the Revelation will appear on the scene and start taking action with all those who resist his mark and his decrees of lawlessness across the world. As I see it, the true believers in Christ Jesus will go through a time of refinement by being tested of their faith no matter how little or much. I can look back in the annals of history and see for myself the anguish, pain, and suffering of the afflicted believers who brought us the written Word of God. Many died as martyrs to propagate the Gospel of Christ and His written Word. Why should we be any different? We must think very highly of ourselves to think that this cannot happen to us in our day. The naked truth about the whole matter is that Christians today have become so enamored with the world that they have the mindset that if they act and look like the world, they won’t be bothered by the world. Well, that way of thinking isn’t going to float with God.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2Corinthians 6:14-18
The Scripture states that those who endure to the end will have joy and everlasting life. We will be tried and tested as going through the refiner’s fire only to be proven by fire. God tests everything by fire.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, that thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” Romans 3:3-4
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 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 burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Revelation 21:7-8