by David Virts

Scripture Text: Revelation 13:13-18 Title: Grasping God’s Plan

Question of the Day: Why would God allow His precious children to go through the tribulation?

Persecution is the lot of true believers ever since the Garden of Eden when Cain got mad at God and killed his brother, Abel. When the world around us finds out that we stand firmly on God’s Eternal Word and that we will not alter our thinking to fit the ways of the world, we are immediately a target for persecution. Think of all the Christians, Old Testament and New Testament believers, who stood for what is right and were persecuted and/or executed for their faith. Jewish people, God’s chosen people through whom the Redeemer would come, have been hunted and hounded for centuries and scarcely have seen a time of peace.

Let’s look at one of the last predictions of martyrdom and persecution of believers mentioned in the Bible in today’s text which tells us about the anti-christ and his false prophet: “He demonstrated all the power of the first beast, and made all on earth worship the first creature—the one whose deadly head wound had been healed. He too did amazing things, making fire come down from heaven to earth so that all men could see this spectacular sight; he also deceived people by other miraculous happenings, and all of these things were done so that the first beast and all people on earth could watch. He told everyone on earth to make an image that looked like the first beast, showing the wound on his head that had been miraculously healed and came back to life. The second creature also had power to give what looked like life to the image of the first beast, and even made the image speak. He also directed that, as many as did not worship the beast would be killed. He also caused all people, from those who live in the ghetto to the palaces, the rich and the poor, those who are free and those in prison, to have a mark in their right hand and on their forehead so that nobody could buy or sell anything unless that person had the mark, or the name of that beast, or the numbers that represent his name.”

The prevailing teaching today tells us that as believers we are ready for the rapture because Christ will take His bride out of the world before He rains down judgment on the nations of the world and prepares the world of Jesus’ reign. I believe that that thought is Biblical, but what I can’t get my arms around is the fact that many that are saved during the tribulation will endure such hardship and martyrdom and intense persecution. Why? Are these believers to set a pristine example to all believers of all time that one can endure intense hardship and persecution and have their faith in tact and demonstrate great endurance? Have many, if not all, of these believer had an opportunity to get saved now during what is called “the age of grace”, yet they had rejected God up to the time when the tribulation started and then bowed their hearts and accepted the gift of eternal life?

Many such questions and our attempts to answer them are finite man trying to get their arms around God’s plan that will never be fully understood until all is over and God’s Holy Spirit can fully teach us the beauty of the tribulation period. This is like just looking back now and finally understanding redemption after Christ came, but those who lived through it struggled putting it all together. In the same way we will all struggle to understand fully God’s plan as we are going through this life and as we come up to the rapture and tribulation and millennium, but once we are through all of it and the judgment of God is complete, much more will be understood. Then God’s Spirit will reveal to us all the details and we will be able to accurately teach about the impact of that time-period on man’s history and God’s great eternal plan. For now we ponder; for now we wait; and for now we anticipate what is about to happen!

Prayer: O God, right now we wait for Your Son’s return to clean up the mess this world is in, and we wait for the time when we will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord. There is so much we don’t understand about what is about to happen because You had it written in such a way that it will never be fully understood until it happens. Right now there needs to be different leaders in key countries and the temple needs to be rebuilt; all the Jews need to be gathered back to their homeland; “the land” needs to be fully divided; and most of all, our task of evangelizing the whole world is not yet complete, and so we wait…on Your next move! Amen!