Will believers suffer at the hands of the Antichrist?
In case you have not been clued in on this argument, it is held by many in the church that believers will be raptured before the antichirst is revealed and that they will be in heaven celebrating the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as the tribulation unfolds for that final seven year period of human history.
All agree that we live in a critical age. Cataclysmic days lie just in front of us. A future time of Great Tribulation, prophesied by both Daniel and Jesus, predicts that at the “end of this present age” a time of tribulation will take place such as the world has never witnessed; even greater than the flood of Noah. Death and destruction will be experienced by over half of the planet!
If you are thinking that this is just a side issue for the overly pessimistic think again, as the return of Christ to this earth is mentioned over 300 times in the New Testament alone. Sadly the church is divided over the timing of the rapture and is not able to produce a “distinct sound” to the world around them nor to adequately prepare believers as The Last Day nears.
For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? (1 Cor 14:8)
As a matter of fact, if these Great Tribulation days are in the near future then, to correspond with God’s heart of love and compassion for all mankind, we should be able to know whether they are near or not. This unequaled time in human history should not come upon us unexpectedly. Unfortunately, the church-at-large has only dug skin-deep into the abundant prophetic passages in Scriptures and has settled for a quick, knee-jerk, “ostrich head in sand” reaction.
However, Jesus said Himself, when speaking about the transition from this present age into the age to come, that when we notice the leaves are starting to turn green than we know that summer is near!
Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you’ll know He’s at the door. (Matt 24:32-33 — The Message)
Signs that “Summer Is Near”!
Even Hollywood can discern the times! Many of the top movies in the past few years have had “apocalyptic” themes – 2012, The Life of Eli, I Am Legend, Legion, to name but a few…
But Jeff, you are probably protesting, I thought that Jesus will come as a “thief in the night” and will take the world by surprise, with no warning? The answer to that question is that He will come as a thief in the night to those who are not watching!
The words a “thief in the night” are NOT directed at Christians, but at those who are not ready. By contrast, the Thessalonians are not living in the night, they are living in the day. If they keep watching, they will not be surprised. Indeed, it is clear from other parts of Paul’s teaching and other parts of the New Testament that the Second Coming will be preceded by certain signs. (David Pawson Unlocking the Bible p. 793)
What are of some of those “certain signs” indicating that the leaves are turning green and that summer is near?
#1. Israel. After a nearly 2000 year absence from the global stage, Israel is back as a sovereign nation. Since May 1948 Israel is occupied and ruled by Jews. In 1967 Jerusalem, divided in 1948 between Israel and Jordan, was reunited and is today the unofficial capital of Israel. Jesus must be welcomed back into Jerusalem by the Jewish religious leadership!
“For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'” (Mtt 23:39)
#2. World evangelism. Many missiologists and mission leaders are saying, quite strongly I might add, that we are entering the “final lap” (my words not theirs) of global evangelization. By 2020, many are predicting that the whole world will have had the gospel preached to them.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Mtt 24:14)
But let’s get back to the question at hand — Will believers suffer at the hands of the Antichrist? Will Christians of all persuasions – hot, cold or lukewarm – suffer at the hands of the coming Man of Sin, the antichrist? My firm belief, unpopular as it may be, is YES!
But that really is not that strange is it?
Haven’t believers in Jesus, a Man who died at the hands of evil men, experienced similar suffering throughout the ages? Did not Jesus warn that only those who “endure to the end shall be saved.” Mtt 24:13
Psalm 110 gives the answer.
In the prophetic Psalm 110 the LORD gives dominion of earth to His King. But before He gives the dominion to His King the LORD tells the King to:
“Sit at My right hand UNTIL I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” (110:1)
For enemies to be “made a footstool” is an expression taken from the custom of Eastern conquerors to signify a complete subjection. This means that the enemies of Jesus must be on earth before He comes back! Popular End Time theology says that Christians will be “snatched away” by Jesus in a secret coming BEFORE those foes ever appear on the world stage by a “secret rapture” before the final seven years of tribulation.
But in Psalm 110:1-2, there is NO indication of a secret coming of Jesus to rapture the saints previous to the tribulation and before Jesus’ enemies appear. This verse confirms that Jesus is sitting right now at the Father’s right hand right UNTIL His enemies – read antichrist and the 10 nation federation, those who have the mark of the beast – are made a footstool under His feet.
English Baptist pastor and Bible Commentator John Gill (died 1771) gives us a similar interpretation:
“But as yet all things are not put under His feet, which will be; as antichrist, and the kings of the earth that are with him, who will be overcome by Him; the beast and false prophet will be taken and cast into the lake of fire.”
Jesus is coming back soon!
On the authority of Scripture, I can say that not only is He coming back soon but He is coming back ONLY ONCE, in majesty and glory and with all the saints and angels. There is no secret coming found in the Bible.
“But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Mtt 26:64
Jesus’ Second Coming will end suffering and tribulation for believers once and for all! Jesus will rapture the church and come back “all at the same time”, at the 7th trumpet (whose context is found in Revelation 10-11). And at that time (and not before), at the destruction of all His enemies, “He will reign forever and ever”.
Then the seventh angel sounded [his trumpet]; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever… And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” (Rev 11:15,18)
I wish to close with a quote on this subject from a respected author of an age gone by, William J. Rowlands.
The secret rapture theory contradicts plain scriptures. Psalm 110:1 states that “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool,” and continues clearly to show that Christ’s session of waiting ends only when He comes to “put forth the rod of His strength” and to rule in the midst of His enemies (ver. 2).
To this agree the words of the Holy Spirit through Peter (Acts 3:21), “Even Jesus: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets….” Scripture says that Christ will sit at God’s right hand until it is time for Him to put His feet upon His foes; but the theory of the two-stage coming teaches that He will leave that throne (which would be in opposition to Jehovah’s will expressed in Ps. 110:1) at least seven years before the appointed time, and that Antichrist, His greatest earthly foe, will arise after He has so come forth. Acts 3:21 declares that the times of restoration follow His coming, but this theory says it is then the great tribulation will come… After many years of careful study I am convinced that there is no Scripture statement that the Lord is coming secretly for His church; or that there will be a period of years between His coming for, and with, His saints; or that He may come at any moment, or before the reign of Antichrist and the unequalled tribulation. All the prophets foretold a glorious hope for the redeemed; but all foretold the sorrow that should come first. (Wm. Rowlands, written 1939, read the whole book here: Our Lord Cometh)