This could be one of the most important pieces of literature you will ever read. Why? Civilization is on a collision course with unprecedented world trouble. Global problems will soon grow much worse, and culminate in the prophesied Great Tribulation, followed by the Day of the Lord—and concluding with Christ’s Return. The masses are blissfully unaware of—and therefore unprepared for—any of what is coming. This includes most who think they are.
You can be an exception!
According to fundamentalist Christians, a rapture is coming. “Believers”—those who have “accepted Jesus”—are scheduled to be whisked away without notice—no matter where they are or what they are doing. All “unbelievers” will be “left behind” to suffer under the antichrist, and through the supposed seven-year Tribulation—when war, disease, famine and religious deception explode worldwide. These missed being “vacuumed” to the safety of heaven at Christ’s secret coming. The antichrist will permit the Jews to build another temple in Jerusalem, which he will attack and destroy three and a half years later.
Recognize there are two major competing positions among rapturists. It occurs before, or in the middle of, the seven years. But the sudden disappearance of millions, it is said, will “shock the world.” After the Tribulation, Christ returns—this being His visible, and, in effect, third, coming—and defeats the antichrist and his army.
Try to imagine these headlines after the widescale confusion caused by Christ’s initial “rapturing” away of His saints: “Driverless bus crashes—hundreds killed,” “Schools in chaos: Where are the teachers?” “Hundreds killed when pilot-less airplanes collide,” “200-car traffic jam: ‘Where did all the drivers go?’” “Factory employees gone, management wondering—‘Why?’” “Baseball game canceled: Some Boston players missing”—the possibilities are endless. Many have become so consumed by this doctrine that there has developed a series of movies and bestselling books, including board games, about the aftermath of such a worldwide vanishing act!
One group created a “Rapture Index” it terms a “Dow Jones Industrial Average of end time activity” and a “prophetic speedometer.” Supposedly, by calculating world conditions, this index can closely forecast when the Return of Christ will take place. “The higher the number,” the group’s website states, “the faster we’re moving towards the occurrence of pre-tribulation rapture.”
Another group has even gone so far as to program a “post-rapture” email chain letter, which would automatically be sent to family and friends after the rapture. The letter states, “Dear Friend, This message has been sent to you by a friend or a relative who has recently disappeared along with millions and millions of people around the world. The reason they chose to send you this letter is because they cared about you and would like you to know the truth about where they went. This may come as a shock to you, but the one who sent you this has been taken up to heaven…”
The email continues, “I am sure that there will be a lot of speculation as to what happened to all these people. The theories of some scientists and world leaders will have so much credibility that most of the world will believe them. It will sound like the truth!”
Have you accepted the rapture, because it also “sounds like the truth”? Great numbers of sincere people have been captured by this idea! Have you placed your hope in this belief without Bible proof?
God’s inspired Word—the Bible—reveals the truth about what is to occur at Christ’s Second Coming. Much is at stake. In fact, your life depends on it!
So then, will Christ come one or two more times?
While many believe a rapture has always been the Bible teaching, the idea was unknown before the 16th century.
Some important history: During the 15th and 16th centuries, reformers John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Martin Luther and John Huss campaigned against the dominance of the Catholic Church. These men shook Catholic theology to its core—even calling that church the antichrist! Previously, Rome would have forced its beliefs and traditions on those who disagreed. However, support for the reformers quickly mounted. This publicly undermined Catholic authority.
Rome called for reconciliation, and convened the Council of Trent in 1545. From this council sprang the “counter-reformation” teachings of three Jesuit priests—Francisco Ribera, Luis de Alcazar and Cardinal Bellarmine.
Ribera followed later with a commentary on the book of Revelation. To dispel the church’s label of antichrist, he created the belief of futurism. This declared that the prophecies of Revelation only applied to the last seven years preceding Christ’s Return!
Recognize that the Catholic Church openly admits it creates beliefs—as well as traditions—entirely apart from the Bible. This is why Ribera could invent a completely non-biblical theory. Notice: “A rule of Faith, or a competent guide to heaven, must be able to instruct in all the truths necessary for salvation. Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practise...” (Faith of Our Fathers, James Gibbons, pp. 111-112).
Catholic leadership makes no attempt to hide their belief that tradition outweighs Scripture. In fact, this has become its own tradition. Yet, most are unaware of this. The Council of Trent gave tradition—in this case, the humanly invented futurism—equal authority to the Bible.
It was Ribera’s idea that opened the door to the rapture theory.
Here comes the irony. Almost 300 years later, Protestants adopted Ribera’s “futurism” invention. Thanks to the Catholics, John Nelson Darby, the Anglican preacher who is called the “father of the rapture,” could pick up where Ribera left off with his own invention—dispensationalism. Unlike any need the Catholics felt, Protestants—in this case, Darby—needed a way to get the Bible to say what they wanted to believe about a rapture. His way of interpreting the Bible taught that Christ would first secretly collect His followers in heaven, and later return to defeat the antichrist. This teaching continued through Darby’s disciple, Cyrus Scofield, who assembled the Scofield Bible.
In Heralds of the Dawn, John A. Anderson records more history of what was originally “counter-Protestantism”: “The Catholic Apostolic Church had its beginning in 1830. It was founded in Britain by...men and women who claimed divine inspiration. They said the Holy Spirit revealed to them that the last days had come [this proved false], that the Lord was about to return [also false], that first He would rapture the believers...at a secret coming...after which Christ would come in manifested power.”
Since the 16th century, countless millions have blindly accepted the rapture theory—fearing what would happen if they did not. But grasp this. The doctrine began in the minds of Catholic priests, then continued development in the minds of the reformers—not God’s mind, as revealed in the Bible! The Protestants simply bought in and picked up later.
In I Corinthians 14:33, the apostle Paul states, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” Verse 40 states, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” What could possibly be orderly or peaceful about millions of people suddenly vanishing from beds, workstations, automobiles, airplanes, etc.? The obvious result would be utter confusion and chaos!
Let’s state this plainly! The rapture is a doctrine of chaos, and makes God and Christ the authors of confusion.
Now think. Disagreeing theologians—remember rapture theorists do not agree—found different ways of interpreting the Bible to present the rapture. Which should one listen to? The answer? None! This is because the belief is not in the Bible. Inventing theologies such as futurism or dispensationalism will not unlock God’s Word! By letting the Bible interpret itself—the greatest rule of Bible study—one can understand all the events surrounding the Tribulation and Christ’s Second Coming.
Matthew 24 is a prophecy describing the end-time events preceding Christ’s Return, and is often referred to as the “Olivet Prophecy.” Jesus describes a period when society becomes “as the days of Noah were” (Matt. 24:37). That time was “filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11), yet people were going about their daily business, pursuing pleasure and gain. This is when disaster fell on them.
People are again foretold to be so immersed in their lives that the Tribulation—called the worst time of trouble ever (Matt. 24:21)—will take the world by surprise. Jesus warned, “For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35). Solomon added, “For man also knows not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time [the end-time], when it falls suddenly upon them” (Ecc. 9:12).
However, the Bible also warns, “There shall come in the last days scoffers...saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers [the patriarchs] fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (II Pet. 3:3-4). Beware of those who scoff at all end-time prophecy.
Matthew 24 primarily deals with the final desolation of Jerusalem, possibly including a restored Temple. This desolation is part of the fulfillment of what is referred to as “the abomination of desolation” in Daniel 12:11. (Notice Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14.) While many Bible prophecies have dual fulfillments, “the abomination of desolation” has three.
The first fulfillment occurred in 167 B.C., when Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes offered a pig to the Greek god Zeus on the Temple altar in Jerusalem. The second fulfillment is a type of what Christ referred to in Matthew 24:15, when Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The third fulfillment—the main one—is now imminent!
This final fulfillment has two aspects or applications. One is primary, the other secondary. Get this clear before continuing!
Before Christ returns, armies will again surround Jerusalem and an idolatrous statue will be set up in an at least partially rebuilt temple. God’s people are warned to flee to safety (Matt. 24:16-22; Luke 21:20-27).
Matthew 24:16 states, “Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains.” At the third and final fulfillment, immediately before the Tribulation, God states in Revelation 12:14 that His people will literally flee. (To learn more about world conditions preceding Christ’s Return, read our article “What Is the “Abomination of Desolation”?” and our booklet Are These the Last Days?)
The coming Great Tribulation is real—as is God’s promise to protect His people. But, unlike the rapture theory, the Bible reveals there is a designated place on Earth—not heaven—where His Church will be safe during the three and a half (not seven) years of Tribulation. Matthew 24 also reveals that the surrounding of Jerusalem by foreign forces is part of the event that signals when God’s people should flee to safety—not be raptured away to heaven! (Part Two covers this in detail.)
Jesus was concerned for His people. He warned of what was coming, and of the need to escape invading armies and escalating war. He knew three problems would be apparent. First, those with small children, and especially nursing babies, would have particular difficulty escaping (vs. 19). Second, God’s people should pray that the time of flight not be in winter—meaning wintry conditions, because a related prophecy may suggest a wintertime flight. The third had to do with the Sabbath (vs. 20). Obedience to the sanctity of God’s seventh-day Sabbath—which God’s Church has always observed, and would therefore still be faithfully observing right to the end—could make flight more difficult.
Consider: Why would Christ instruct to pray concerning the time of flight if His servants were going to be supernaturally sucked away? Rapturists ignore this by incorrectly focusing on, “Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house” (Matt. 24:17; Mark 13:15). Such misrepresentation bypasses any need for personal responsibility!
Christ wants His Church prayerfully involved in their escape—not self-assured, lazing back, expecting a heavenly vacuum cleaner to do it all for them! See through not only the false—but also irresponsible—rapture theory.
Rapture supporters commonly cite the following five verses as supposed “proof texts.”
(1) Daniel 9:27: “And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
Due to the muddled prophetic understanding of rapture theorists, they claim the phrase “one week” refers to the last seven years, or seven “prophetic days,” of mankind’s society. This is false!
This verse actually references the abomination of desolation, when occupying forces stop the Jews’ daily sacrifice at the Temple. It also addresses the final week of the 70 weeks prophecy about the Messiah and that Jesus Christ would be cut off in the middle of the week, after three and a half prophetic “days”—three and a half years—of His earthly mission. Daniel 9:27 is not a prophecy about how the antichrist will turn on the Jews halfway through the Tribulation. (To learn more about this prophecy, read our article “What Is the “Seventy Weeks” Prophecy?”)
(2) Matthew 24:36 and 40-42: “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only...Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come.”
Comprehending any difficult scripture begins with knowing its context. Beginning in verse 40, Jesus explains the condition of society in the last days. People will be “in the field” and “at the mill,” carrying on daily activities. They will also be “eating and drinking” and “marrying and giving in marriage.” In other words, life will seem normal just before destruction—just before the snare. Verse 42 confirms that this will come unexpectedly. Famine, pestilence and military invasion will together claim two-thirds of the population of the modern nations of Israel. Read Ezekiel 5:12. Captivity—enslavement!—will take the remaining third. Before this, God’s people will certainly be “taken” to safety.
(3) John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
The question becomes: Where will Christ be?
One of the greatest problems with the rapture is that heaven is not, and has never been, the reward of the saved. Jesus said, “The meek shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). He was quoting Psalm 37:11, which says the same thing. Now add this passage: “And has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we [Christians] shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10). These verses explain why He also said, “No man has ascended into heaven” (John 3:13). So then, not only are God’s people not raptured to heaven before Christ returns, they are not going there later. Further, no one is in heaven now.
Christ’s coming again in John 14 will be to Earth. He will be here. The word translated “mansions” means “rooms, abode or residence.” The Temple held rooms for various priests who administered there. Different rooms signify differing positions of authority. Christ’s parable of the pounds, in Luke 19:11-27, makes these positions over cities easy to understand. “Mansions” simply refers to offices—or positions of authority.
(To learn more, read our booklet Do the Saved Go to Heaven? You may also want to read the book The Awesome Potential of Man. The millions who worry about being “left behind” never hear the truth about salvation. This inspiring book brings it.)
True salvation is infinitely greater than going to heaven. John 14 reveals that, after His Return, Jesus’ faithful servants will work under Him as kings and priests. Just the truth of salvation—rulership over cities beside Jesus Christ on Earth—reduces the rapture to a pile of scrap.
(4) I Corinthians 15:50-54: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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.”
There is no proof—or even hint—of a rapture here! Notice the phrase “last trump.” This refers to the seventh trumpet, which announces Christ’s Return to the whole world. This last trumpet is also referred to in Revelation 11:15 and I Thessalonians 4:15-16. It sends a piercing—immense—and reverberating—sound that all inhabitants of Earth will hear.
Notice this in Matthew: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man [nothing secret here] coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet [this has to be the last], and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (24:30-31). This references the saints wherever they are buried. This becomes more clear.
Nothing “secret” is being described! This trumpet blast announces Christ’s Return, and it is then when He gathers His people. At this point, His true followers will be changed into perfect, immortal beings. This is the time of the Resurrection, when the “dead in Christ” are raised to spirit-born immortal life. They first meet Him in the clouds, not as a rapture—so that they can join Him as He U-turns for a trip back to heaven—but so they can return with Him to begin rule of the earth.
(5) I Thessalonians 4:15-17: “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
But where will the saints “be with the Lord”? The prophet Zechariah answers: “And [Christ’s] feet shall stand in that day [not seven years later] upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east...and the Lord my God shall come [recall John 14], and all the saints with [Him]” (Zech. 14:4-5).
What could possibly be plainer?
These verses obviously describe Christ’s only additional coming, which is announced by the seventh and last trumpet blast. There can only be one last trumpet—one seventh trumpet. To state He will return a secret additional time suggests He misrepresented His Second Coming to Earth! If Christ returns to Earth a third time, there must be another trumpet blast, which would make it the “eighth trumpet,” and the seventh and last trumpet really the “second-to-last trumpet.” This is utterly ridiculous! The rapture makes Jesus a liar—and the perpetrator of confusion!
After examining the plain words of the Bible, the above supposed “proof texts” actually prove the falsehood and deceptiveness of this doctrine!
Revelation 1:16 describes Christ’s appearance as “the sun [that] shines in his strength.” That is bright! Jesus Himself describes His Coming this way: “For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:27).
Two Greek words should be noted here. These are altered and misapplied by rapturists to change Jesus’ intended meaning.
“Lightning” comes from astrape, meaning “lightning, glare, bright shining.” Would any suggest that people could not see lightning occurring worldwide? Some do suggest this about Christ’s Return, even though it is foretold to be as a glare and bright shining that “comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west.”
The word translated “coming” is parousia, meaning “being near, coming, presence.” Rapture supporters claim this does not really mean “coming,” but instead, a “secret nearness” or “invisible presence.” Ridiculous! This is plain dishonesty with Scripture. Jesus said what He meant. Had He meant “secret nearness,” He would have said this to His disciples—and to all who would read ever after.
Parousia is used in many other scriptures (Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39; I Cor. 15:23; 16:17; II Cor. 7:6-7; 10:10; Phil. 1:26; 2:12; I Thes. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15). In all of them they refer to the same meaning—not some mysterious “secret nearness.” Remember, rapture theorists speak of Jesus’ secret coming and His visible coming. The secret one is fiction, fantasy, invention—pure imagination. It may be real in its authors’ minds, but it is not in the Bible.
As we have seen, the rapture theory has some truth mixed with much error. The difference between this teaching and what God’s Word really says about Christ’s Return is astounding.
Recall that God’s Word reveals a future last fulfillment of the “abomination of desolation,” when a religious-political-economic-military force stops the daily sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem. This desolation will be one of the two aspects of the sign for God’s people to flee, again, as you will learn in greater detail in Part Two, to a physical place of protection. Soon after, the Tribulation will strike the world—to the complete surprise of all its inhabitants.
This is explained by the apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 5:2: “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.” The apostle Peter underscored this: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Pet. 3:10).
While no one knows when a thief is going to come, homeowners certainly do know when he has broken and entered their house. This worst time of trouble in history will last three and a half years—the duration of the reign of the Beast and False Prophet. No one will—or could—miss it.
Revelation 1:7 declares, “Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him [again, nothing secret here]...and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.” Also, how could anyone miss such a verse? It practically screams off the page! Jesus further confirmed in Acts 1:9-11 that He will return in the clouds.
Sadly, most just do not read their Bibles, choosing to trust deceived ministers instead.
Let’s repeat from Matthew 24: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn [this would be closely connected to wailing], and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds [the “dead in Christ” will be resurrected—not raptured—from their graves], from one end of heaven to the other” (vs. 30-31). This should be literally impossible to misunderstand. Christ and His saints will then rule for 1,000 years in the established kingdom of God. This is the plain truth about what will occur at Christ’s Second Coming.
Do not be fooled by teachings claiming that Christ has already returned a second time, or that He is returning in secret. Christ clearly warned in Matthew 24:23-27: “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets [what follows should sober you], and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before [this is then a repeated warning]. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert; go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (vs. 23-27).
The events preceding Christ’s Return are certainly horrible to contemplate. How to get through them naturally engenders more than worry—it begets great fear. So, it is also natural to want to escape what is coming. The rapture is merely a humanly devised path for escaping the horror of the Tribulation. The problem has always been that it is not what GOD says!
Jesus warned that many false teachers would arise. Deception about His Second Coming would not be an exception. Peter warned: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables [Greek: a tale, fiction, myth], when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ...” (II Pet. 1:16).
While this verse refers to accurately representing Christ’s First Coming, the principle applies to His Second. The rapture is a tale—a myth—aimed at giving what is false hope to the unwitting and unsuspecting!
The Bible records the unmistakably LOUD and BRIGHT Coming of Christ. His Second—final—Coming will mark the end of the three-and-a-half-year period of the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord, and will inaugurate the 1,000-year reign of Christ and His saints on the earth.
Jesus Christ built His Church—the true Church—the only one He built—2,000 years ago. This Church believes and teaches the truths of the Bible—all of them—not human ideas—any of them! The people of this Church have always stood in the plain certainty of what God does promise for those alive at the end—not the false hope of human inventions.
Reject the fiction of the rapture theory—and accept the truth of what God really promises in your Bible.
Unrest is growing worldwide. So is violence and terrorism. Bad news is replacing good news everywhere. World troubles and conditions now worsen daily. People are unsure of what the future holds. Many fear the arrival of end-time prophecies and World War III. Most are largely unaware of what the Bible says, but do hope to escape the dreaded Great Tribulation, leading to Armageddon.
What does the future hold? All want to know what lies ahead. Many have opinions, but few recognize where to find real answers. Others think they understand the prophecies of the Bible—and this is probably most true of the book of Revelation. Yet all popular human interpretations of the Bible’s biggest prophecies border on ridiculous. They are a jumble of ideas where a little truth is invariably mixed with much error. These are almost painful to read—yet major magazines report that great numbers do believe these dangerous, counterfeit scenarios.
Adding to the confusion, a culture of “end-of-the-world” prophecy scholars has arisen. These supposed experts manipulate and twist Bible prophecy to feed the public’s hunger for “understanding.”
Even Christ’s disciples, who heard His Matthew 24 Olivet Prophecy, did not at first grasp the timing of events preceding His Return. Similarly, the prophet Daniel did not understand what he was inspired to record: “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (12:8-9).
The end of this age looms much closer! Daniel’s prophecies are no longer “sealed”—their meaning has been made known. It has become God’s time to reveal what lies ahead. The stage is set and God has lifted the curtain on the future. Certain great nations must be warned while there is still time. So must you be warned!
Revelation describes soon-coming terrible plagues and earth-shaking events! Take heed. If you do, God’s Word also reveals that you can escape—and, as you have seen, it will not be by a secret rapture! (To learn more about the book of Revelation, read our booklet Revelation Explained at Last!)
God promises to protect His people from the terrible suffering that will be unleashed on the world during the Great Tribulation. His statements are real. Will you take them to heart?
First notice Christ’s admonition: “Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36). The phrase “all these things” means all end-time events—those just before Christ’s Return. Recall that verse 35 states, “For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.” It is God’s purpose that some be spared—that they can escape—global calamity.
Matthew 24:21-22 shows the coming cataclysm will be worldwide—and unprecedented in severity: “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 [alive]: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”
Daniel adds, “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time...” (12:1). Of this same time of extreme global troubles, Jeremiah 30:4-5 reveals, “And these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus says the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.” Then, in verse 7: “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.”
Another of God’s explicit promises of safety is found in Revelation 3:10, addressing what is the Philadelphian era of His Church: “Because you have kept the word of My patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation [trial, meaning the Tribulation], which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” This has to be the same as the “snare” of Luke 21:35. Yet, rapturists actually cite Revelation 3:10 as proof of a secret rapture. You will soon see it to be proof of ignorance.
Jesus Christ built one Church (Matt. 16:18). This Church does His Work of announcing the true gospel around the world and warning great nations of impending punishment. It also holds to and declares all of the many truths of the Bible. And this Church exists and functions under God’s government. (To understand the true Church, its teachings, its government, its work—and its eras—read the fascinating book Where Is the True Church? – and Its Incredible History!)
All of Revelation 12 briefly overviews the 2,000-year history of the true Church of God. Verses 1-4 reveal that Satan attempted to destroy Christ when He was born of a “woman” depicted there. This woman symbolizes the Old Testament Church that was ancient Israel. Read Acts 7:38.
Revelation 12:6 adds, “And the woman [now spiritual Israel, the New Testament Church] fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” We will see that, on several occasions—this is one—history demonstrates that God sent His people into hiding in a special place to protect them.
In Bible prophecy, a day often represents a year, as revealed in Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6. With the Nicene Council in A.D. 325, the Roman Empire forbade the true Church from functioning within its domain, forcing God’s people to flee into northwestern Europe. Ultimately, this allowed God’s Church somewhat greater religious freedom. Catholic domination ended in Britain in about 1585 (and shortly afterward in Holland). Thus, 1,260 years of suppression and martyrdom came to an end.
Revelation 12 continues, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:9). This leads to the event described in verse 13: “When the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman [the true Church] which brought forth the man child.” The timing of this persecution is in the near future.
Notice how the woman is to be protected: “To the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent” (Rev. 12:14).
A biblical “time” is equal to a prophetic year of 360 days. Revelation 12:14 refers to the same period, that of three and a half times—Revelation 11:2 says 42 months—or 1,260 days (3½ x 360 days). In this case, the context of time is in units of literal days. (This will be important when we examine Daniel 12:11-12 because the 1,260 days correspond with verses there.) The Revelation 12 woman was taken into “her place” in the wilderness for three and a half years—the length of the Tribulation. This is inconsistent with a secret rapture.
Some have misunderstood the phrase “she might fly into the wilderness.” This does not indicate the mode of transportation, but rather that the woman escapes, or flees—“flies”—from Satan’s persecution. Notice that Exodus 19:4 uses this same term: “You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself.” Israel did not literally fly out of Egypt—they walked! Yet God still carried them on “eagles’ wings”—He provided for and protected them in their journey.
The providing of a place for the Church (Rev. 12:14) corresponds directly to the promise given to Philadelphians (Rev. 3:10). Revelation 12:15-16 continues this prophetic account: “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman [the Church], that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.”
This paints a dramatic picture, with miraculous delivery necessary for God’s people to survive. The term “flood” represents an army sent to destroy the Church. A number of scriptures use this analogy. For example, notice Isaiah 59:19: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” Speaking of Korah’s rebellion against Moses’ authority, Numbers 16:32 gives the following account: “And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.”
The account of the earth swallowing up the flood is also analogous to the Red Sea closing in and drowning the Egyptian army pursuing the Israelites. The parallels are clear. Revelation 12:15-16 points to God’s deliverance of His Church during the time of protection when the woman is “in her place, where she is nourished” (vs. 14). The timeframe indicates Satan’s attempt to destroy the woman.
Revelation 12:17 shows what happens next: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This occurs during the Tribulation—the time of Satan’s wrath against the modern nations of Israel and the true Church. The “remnant of her seed” are brethren who will not be protected. The Greek word loipoi translated “remnant” also means “remaining ones,” “residue,” or the “rest.” These are those of the lukewarm Laodicean seventh era—who have not stressed personal growth and overcoming in their lives as they should. But they do still keep God’s Law—His Commandments.
Thus, Revelation 12 gives a 2,000-year overview of the true Church until the Return of Christ.
The place of safety is directly tied to the biblical understanding of Church eras—that Christ has guided His Church through seven successive eras, described in Revelation 2 and 3. Those who dismiss the plain scriptural record that the sixth era—Philadelphia—is promised protection, also dismiss the existence of seven literal Church eras. Conversely, those who reject this doctrine inevitably reject the belief in a literal, single place of safety.
Below is a listing of the seven successive eras along with the approximate dates and key events of each era. (The term “RC” in the chart is an abbreviation for Roman Catholic.)
The passage appears to state that there will be people of three different eras who could still be alive when Christ Returns—but this is only true IF individual members within the two eras described next have repented and long since become part of the one, undivided true Church of God under His government and doing His Work.
First, in Revelation 2:25, Christ addresses the Thyatiran Era: “But that which you have already hold fast till I come.” This short statement shows that there will be a remnant (however tiny) from this era alive when Christ returns.
Next, in Revelation 3:3-4, Christ addresses the Sardis Era: “Remember therefore how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.” Christ is obviously correcting a Sardis remnant alive at His Return.
Then, in Revelation 3:10, is Christ’s promise to Philadelphians to protect them from the hour of temptation, the Tribulation, which does not begin until late in the Laodicean era. The Philadelphians existing at that time will be a remnant of the Philadelphian era—including those who “anointed their eyes” (vs. 18).
Revelation 2 and 3 show that there will be remnants of Thyatira, Sardis and Philadelphia in existence at the time of Christ’s Return. It is evident, however, that only those of Philadelphia will actually be Spirit-led people. So what this means is that those of Thyatira and Sardis are being warned that they need to repent long before Christ’s Return to have any hope of being protected through the Tribulation, as well as the more important hope of achieving final salvation in the kingdom of God.
Scripture shows that none of Laodicea survive the Tribulation. Those who purchased “gold tried in the fire” (Rev. 3:18) will die physically, but survive spiritually. Those who yield under pressure and take the mark of the Beast (13:15-17), to save their physical lives, will lose out on eternal life.
The above scriptures make obvious how interrelated the understanding of Church eras is with the place of safety. Anyone rejecting either one of these doctrines inevitably abandons the other.
Ezekiel 5 records a truly stunning prophecy concerning the nations of modern Israel in the coming Tribulation. We must carefully examine it for God’s promised protection of His faithful servants.
Verse 1 states, “And you, son of man, take you a sharp knife, take you a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon your head and upon your beard: then take you balances to weigh, and divide the hair.”
Verse 2 shows what is to happen to the portions of thirds: “You shall burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and you shall take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part you shall scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.”
Verse 3 introduces a fascinating detail: “You shall also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in your skirts.” Verse 4 expounds on this: “Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel.”
To understand this passage, we must allow the Bible to interpret itself. Verse 1 is thoroughly explained in verse 12: “A third part of you shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of you: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about you; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.”
The first third of the populations of all modern Israelitish nations are foretold to perish from disease and famine. The second third will die from military invasion. Then, the final third attempt to escape—unsuccessfully. The majority of this surviving third are taken into captivity.
Notice the clarity with which Jeremiah records their fate: “And it shall come to pass, if they say unto you, Where shall we go forth? Then you shall tell them, Thus says the Lord; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity” (15:2).
The term “skirts” in Ezekiel 5:3 is from the Hebrew word kanaph, better translated “wings” (as noted in most Bible margins). This is the very same Hebrew word translated “wings” in Exodus 19:4, where God bore Israel on “eagles’ wings”! This parallels Revelation 12:14, in which the Church is taken to “her place” by the wings of an eagle.
A passage in Daniel 12 reveals God’s Plan with His people: “Many shall be purified, and made white [righteous], and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (vs. 10). There are two times of trial to understand. One is already taking place and the other is future. The first involves God’s people, who are all being spiritually “purified, made white, and tried.” Their conversion is being purified. This process continues into the second trial—the Tribulation—which, recall, “shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev. 3:10), and the modern nations of Israel in particular—“the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7). Also recall the Revelation 12:13 persecution of God’s Church by the devil.
Let’s look at three critical time periods. The Tribulation and Day of the Lord together last 1,260 days, or three and a half years before Christ’s Return. The others are “1,290 days” and “1,335 days.”
The 1,290 appears in Daniel 12:11: “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” These are obviously also literal days, beginning with the setting up of the abomination of desolation—which includes armies around Jerusalem. So then, with the Church to be protected for only 1,260 days, there are 30 days before it arrives at its designated place.
The 1,335-day period is introduced one verse later: “Blessed is he that waits, and comes to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days” (vs. 12). What is this?
Starting 45 days before the 1,290-day mile-marker, the 1,335 date also counts down to the Return of Christ. This moment signals the end of God’s Work of preaching the true gospel for this age—the completion of the Matthew 24:14 commission—and the warning of the world’s greatest nations. The 1,335 is when God’s people are “taken” to—gathered in—Judea for flight to safety. Then, when the abomination is set up—45 days later—events culminate in Jerusalem and the Church flees from Judea. The 45-day period permits the Church time to be brought from around the world in what we will see to be Judea.
These periods begin with different events, but end with the same event—Christ’s Return! The following graph illustrates how these three durations of time overlap.
Since Daniel prefixes the event beginning the 1,335 days with “blessed is he that waits,” this is designated as the signal, with a possible accompanying event—at this specific time—for which the Church has patiently waited (Matt. 24:13; 10:22; Luke 21:19; Rev. 14:12).
The arrival of the critical 1,335 moment is something that will only be known to those in God’s one, undivided Church. An internal signal will be given by Jesus Christ, who is the Church’s true Head (Col. 1:18-19; Eph. 1:22-23). Real faith will be required. God’s people will plainly understand when Christ is “revealed” (Luke 17:30). (But it will probably also be at least partially recognized for what it is by certain ones in the world looking for this to happen.) Obviously, miracles, almost certainly many, will have to be involved. Merely recall how God supernaturally eliminates Satan’s army right before the Church arrives at her place. How many other miracles will be needed just for brethren from all over the world to be “taken” to Judea, let alone escape?
The dual event of the daily sacrifices being taken away and the abomination set up is crucial. Matthew describes it: “When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet [Christ validates both Daniel’s prophecy and timing], stand in the holy place, (whoso reads, let him understand)” (Matt. 24:15). Luke clarifies this: “When you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is near” (21:20).
The abomination of desolation will involve not only the sacrifices being taken away, and a religious figure standing in the holy place, but also Jerusalem being surrounded by armies. The most evident of these signs would naturally be Jerusalem being encompassed by armies. This seems to be the only part professing Christians notice.
Grasp this. All who believe in the rapture—all of them—are being set up to enter the Tribulation. They have literally been conditioned to patiently wait until the Tribulation falls on them like a snare. And they have been set up for what will be indescribable shock and disappointment. Here’s how.
They have been told that the worst of the Tribulation begins three and a half years after they will have supposedly already been sucked into heaven. In addition, they have been lulled into believing therefore that it would not be something that really concerns them. In truth, the Tribulation will blindside rapturists with a force of a 100-car runaway freight train! They are oblivious to what is coming—and you cannot convince them otherwise. But the Tribulation also awaits other vast millions of professing Christians because virtually all their other beliefs can be proven to be unbiblical human inventions and traditions.
Directly contradicting rapturists, here is what Christ instructed regarding the abomination’s appearance: “Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto” (Luke 21:21). The message is clear: leave quickly! Remember, this warning is so urgent, the need to leave fast so great, that those who flee are told not to return home for anything (Matt. 24:17-18).
The prophet Hosea describes the same 30-day period before the destruction of Judah and certain great nations, as well as why destruction comes: “And the pride of Israel does testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim [their modern descendants] fall in their iniquity [disobedience]; Judah also shall fall with them. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord; but they shall not find Him [Why? They waited too long.]; He has withdrawn Himself from them. They [the nations of the West] have dealt treacherously against the Lord: for they have begotten strange children [look at today’s generation]: now shall a month devour them with their portions” (Hos. 5:5-7).
This reveals why the Church must flee in great haste. During that short interval—from 1,290 to 1,260 days—God holds back events, just as He did when Noah prepared the ark and when Lot had to leave Sodom. Imminent destruction was apparently delayed until these men and their families had reached safety.
Christ described Noah’s time: “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-27). Once Noah’s family was safe, the Flood slammed into a disbelieving world!
Let’s now examine Lot’s situation: “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all” (vs. 28-29). As with Noah’s time, destruction came the same day—immediately after Lot had escaped!
First God protected Lot’s family in the little city of Zoar, but they later also took refuge in nearby mountains. Here is God’s directive to Lot: “Haste you, escape there [Zoar]; for I cannot do anything till you be come there...” (Gen. 19:22). Regardless of Lot’s location, God could have destroyed Sodom, but He held back events until certain individuals were taken out of harm’s way!
Likewise, Christ indicated that His people will flee in great haste without returning for their possessions or anything that would slow them down. Events are apparently held back until His people have left Judea (Hos. 5:5-7; Matt. 24:16; Luke 21:21).
Two incredible passages in Isaiah speak of those whom God will protect from Satan’s army: “Let Mine outcasts [God’s people] dwell with you, Moab; be you a covert [a cover] to them from the face of the spoiler [the devil]” (Isa. 16:4). (The location of Moab introduces a fascinating key to identifying the place of safety. The Bible does offer certain real clues—but precisely where God may choose to protect His people is not the subject of this booklet.) When understood in full context, Christians being “cast out” of their nations through persecution harmonizes with passages about also being “taken” to safety.
Now God’s direct promise, 10 chapters later, to these outcasts who will be protected during the three and a half years of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord: “Come, My people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself as it were for a little moment [three and a half years], until the indignation [God’s wrath during the Day of the Lord] be overpast. For, behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity [again, lawlessness, the breaking of the Ten Commandments, including God’s weekly Sabbath]: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain” (Isa. 26:20-21).
Now let’s examine an extraordinary—and truly fascinating—parallel event in the first century when God protected the Jerusalem congregation. This was just before another time of great trial for that city and Judea.
Provocations by Roman procurators against the Jewish priesthood starting in A.D. 60 finally led to a revolt by Jewish separatists. This brought escalating Jewish military reprisals, which resulted in miraculous delivery of God’s people.
Some may find it embarrassing to believe in a literal place of safety. They associate it with religious fanaticism, such as the Jim Jones cult, who retreated to Guyana in the late 1970s, and the crisis at Waco, Texas in the 1990s under David Koresh, and other religious groups with fanatical or bizarre conduct.
The actions of such leaders, and the groups following them, distort and taint the Bible’s teachings, repelling many from the truth. Such fanatics personify this prophetic scripture: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you...And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of ” (II Pet. 2:1-2).
Some who have been called, and who became aware of growing world trouble, have expressed that they do not want their relatives, friends, neighbors or associates to look upon them as religious fanatics. They seem to prefer to suffer the greatest time of trouble the world has ever known, rather than obey God and risk suffering ridicule and scorn.
What about those who fled Jerusalem in AD 69, who may have been considered traitors, fanatics or cowards? Then, what about those who stayed behind, concerned about what friends and associates would think? In the end, these were victims of starvation, crucifixion and other horrors of war. Those who obeyed and trusted God—following His instructions to flee—survived. Certainly many around them would have thought them fanatical.
Obedience and faith in God will again be crucial in the prophesied flight to come!
In Judea, A.D. 66, intending to crush the rebellion, the Roman army under General Cestius approached the walls of Jerusalem to capture the city. For unknown reasons, Cestius lost his momentum and turned back. The Jews took heart. Cestius had missed his chance. Later, a second Roman advance, this time under General Vespasian, also suddenly halted so he could race back to Rome to become Emperor. Upon his departure, his son Titus assumed command.
These two delays were not random events. God’s people—the true Church!—were still in Jerusalem! Of course, it was only a matter of time before Rome’s mighty armies inevitably defeated Jerusalem. But Christ, who oversees His Church, was guiding and altering events to allow His people to vacate Jerusalem before the city was besieged and finally devastated by the Roman armies.
The famous Jewish historian Josephus gave a detailed account of various signs that occurred at the time of Pentecost A.D. 69. He related that many had witnessed, shortly before Pentecost, what seemed to be formations in the clouds that took the form of troops and chariots surrounding cities. Josephus continued: “Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple...they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a multitude, saying, ‘LET US REMOVE HENCE’” (Wars of the Jews, bk. VI, ch. V, sec. 3).
God’s people did flee Jerusalem at that time. But without God’s intervention, they would have never been able to leave. While the Roman army was readying for siege, the congregation exited in full view of the soldiers, before crossing the Jordan River. The brethren also had to contend with patrolling Jewish fighters who considered them traitors. With God’s protection, the new exiles went northeast to another little town—Pella. Within months, after horrible suffering and starvation, Jerusalem fell to the Romans. The Temple was destroyed.
The all-powerful God is unlimited in His ability to choose any form of miraculous intervention—whether an earthquake, cloud formations or the loud noise of a multitude. Without His divine intervention, the Jerusalem congregation would have perished during the destruction of the city. Quite possibly, the voices of the multitude were discernable only to God’s people—just as Paul heard a voice in Acts 22:6-9, when others with him did not. Those in tune with God both heard and heeded. Others may not have heard the warning. Obviously, the Temple priests did.
Some ridicule the promise of a flight to a place of protection on the premise that “there is no way to know the time to flee” or “one cannot know that the signal is valid,” among others. These are but shallow excuses to those who serve and believe the true God!
God’s servants must steadfastly look to Him to know what to do, and when to do it. Timing is vital to God’s protection. Suppose some in the congregation learned beforehand that Pella would be their place of protection. Suppose they fled there even just a little in advance. The result? They would have been killed by the Roman armies that had devastated Pella just months previous. God sent His people there only after that city was destroyed!
Also, critics might have insisted at the time that Pella was the worst possible choice because it was within territory easily accessible to the Romans. And Jewish patriots also patrolled the region around Pella. But God protected the Jerusalem/Pella congregation exactly where He led them. They survived, and even thrived there for decades. This is connected to why—of all places—God’s people are to gather in Judea.
God can reveal all necessary events to His people. The first-century leadership of His Church eventually would have known their destination, as well as other important details. The Bible does reveal what the sign will be for the Church’s flight in the years just ahead. (Read Luke 17:30!) There will be no doubt among those willing to trust God’s instructions.
Those who reject a place of safety deny all of God’s explicit promises to protect His people. Keep this simple! You have seen that Scripture emphatically proves there will be a specific, physical place of safety! This extensive booklet should have made this abundantly clear. And Part 1 proved conclusively that there will be no secret rapture.
Remember Christ’s admonition: “But pray you that your flight be not in the winter [again, meaning in wintry conditions], neither on the Sabbath day” (Matt. 24:20). Verse 15 reveals the signal for God’s people to flee—the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place. Those in Judea at that time are to flee into nearby mountains.
Most today do not—and will not!—understand the shocking crush of events soon to smash into civilization. Here is why. God’s servants obey Him. Acts 5:32 speaks of “the Holy Spirit, [that] God has given to them that obey Him.” Understanding flows directly from having God’s Spirit and obedience: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments” (Ps. 111:10).
All who yield themselves to obey God, and strive to serve Him in all points, will understand these great events, and will be found worthy to escape this worst time of trouble ever (Luke 21:36)!
The masses of professing Christianity refuse to obey God, they reject plain truths of His Word and reject His authority over their lives. Thus, they remain blind. These have no hope of unlocking God’s Purpose. Stuck in confusion, they misunderstand and mangle the prophecies about terrible, civilization-shattering events to soon impact every human being on this planet!
God will supernaturally hide and protect His people in a specific location. Will you trust Him? Will you believe His promises? Will you qualify for deliverance and protection?—or await a rapture that will never come?
Civilization will soon experience untold—and almost entirely now UNSEEN—calamity! Almost no one envisions what is coming on the entire western world, and later the whole world. Troubles and difficulties are mounting worldwide, and will soon spin completely out of man’s control. Yet nothing is out of God’s control! He has a Master Plan, involving 6,000 years in which man is learning that he cannot rule himself or solve his problems and ills apart from God.
Of course, the wonderful world tomorrow lies beyond the terrible time foretold to strike the whole world soon—and, as you have seen, suddenly. But only a small percentage of the world’s population will live through oncoming events into that time. You have seen that God will take faithful Christians to a specially-prepared place of safe protection, and keep them from the “hour of trial,” which will come on the “whole earth.” We have learned that their flight will occur before horrendous, earth-jarring, supernatural punishment strikes all nations.
But we have also learned that even some of God’s people will not be protected. Like the vast numbers caught unprepared when atomic bombs struck two Japanese cities at the end of World War II, and when millions of Jews lost their lives because they could not believe the Nazis capable of a holocaust, many today will be unnecessarily swept away into suffering punishment and death when they could have been protected—could have survived!
Verses 9 to 11 of Revelation 6 describe the opening of the fifth seal—the Great Tribulation. This passage symbolically paints a grim picture of martyred Christians from previous ages awaiting a final time when “their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” Revelation 12:17 identifies who these “fellow servants” are. We have seen that they are described as “the remnant of her [the Church’s] seed”—those that “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” While verses 13 to 16 describe those whom God will protect, verse 17 identifies those who will not be protected. This remnant is directly persecuted by Satan, as he “makes war” with them, eventually causing their death.
Understand! As we learned in the previous section, including the inset about Church eras, even some true Christians will not escape the devil’s wrath in the Tribulation!
This is most serious! Think of it. If even certain true servants of God will not be spared from coming martyrdom, because their conduct is deficient in various ways, then He must have very high standards for those He DOES select for protection. Your life hangs in the balance. Quite literally, if you miscalculate or falsely assume, the personal price you pay could be catastrophic. It is time we WAKE UP to what is at stake!
Grasp this! You have a personal responsibility—and the remainder of this booklet covers basic, vital points that you must know, if you hope to escape what others will not! Also recognize that, however important, just “keeping the commandments of God” (Rev. 12:17) is not enough to be protected from—to escape—the devil’s angry attack. Although the world ignores or rejects this great spiritual law altogether, God requires far more than just this essential but basic obedience to escape the coming times of world trial.
We have seen that the rapture theory has no biblical basis whatsoever. But this may not be the worst part of this false doctrine. Consider for a moment. Merely waiting to be whisked away—mysteriously vacuumed into heaven—produces a carefree and careless attitude in those awaiting Christ’s Return. This thinking subtly defeats the need for any personal responsibility—for taking action in a host of vital areas of Christian conduct and behavior. Tragically, millions are now being set up to “Simply believe in Christ, and He will take care of everything else.”
This is short-sighted, dangerous thinking! It is also very irresponsible.
Recall that the Bible instructs God’s people to “Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).
Numerous verses demonstrate that Christianity involves active effort. True conversion does not allow for passive bystanding. Of course, just the act of escaping implies effort. But Luke records that one must do at least two other specific things for escape to be possible: “watch …and pray always”!
This further introduces the need for taking action and accepting personal responsibility!
Take Christ’s instruction at face value. There is no room in Luke 21:36 for disinterest, or even passive semi-interest, in the exact sequence of crucial events, as they lead up to the fulfillment of the greatest single prophecy in the Bible—Christ’s Return. All who wish to truly be God’s servants—and to stand before Christ in His kingdom—will be found carefully watching for many specific trends and events, either occurring now or lying just over the horizon.
The Restored Church of God has prepared many tools to help you look ahead to—and carefully watch—BIG EVENTS, soon to EXPLODE on the world scene! I urge you to develop a burning interest in what will happen and to learn while there is still time. Determine to grasp, with full understanding, how and in what order these events will occur. Nothing less will do.
Luke also said to “pray always.” Obviously, prayer—“effectual [poured out], fervent [intense] prayer” (Jms. 5:16)—requires real effort. Such prayer is not done automatically or easily, and you must set your hand to learn how to do it and to work at it.
Most people have no idea how to pray, or even that they should regularly talk to God. That is what prayer is—talking to God. Most offer empty, canned, self-righteous platitudes, repeating the same thing over and over, contrary to Christ’s teaching (Matt. 6:7). Others merely pray selfish prayers, reflecting the “gimmes.” Still others seem to confuse thinking “happy thoughts” or “positive thinking” with prayer. Of course, these are good, if correctly based. But they are not prayer!
Take time to read our straightforward article “The Keys to Dynamic Prayer.” It will forever change the way you view the powerful, personal tool of prayer. Also take the time to learn how to study God’s Word, and to meditate on what you are reading, sometimes accompanied with fasting. (We also offer vital, thorough, helpful articles on all these topics.) You can understand and master these tools. Done effectively, they will change—and save —your life!
Paul writes, “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Heb. 11:6). This incredibly blunt statement is in the Bible. Once again, take this passage for exactly what it says. Then recognize that the Bible teaches (in both the Old and New Testaments) that “the just shall live by His faith” (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17).
Many of the Bible’s greatest prophecies lead to and culminate in Christ’s Second Coming. While His establishing of the kingdom of God will be the most wonderful event the world has ever seen, what precedes it will be something vastly different. Humanity is hurtling toward untold catastrophe. Tumultuous events will soon engulf every society, every nation—affecting the lives of every human being on Earth. Even for the strong, with events simultaneously overlapping and crescendoing, it will take immense trust—real FAITH!—in God’s power to avoid panic, and to hold steady, simply believing His promises. Surely, there is no time in human history when the need for true faith would be greater than when these prophecies begin to unfold.
Therefore, Christ asks this all-important and open question about faith, directed to each person who will consider it in the time just prior to His Return: “When the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).
God wants you to rely on Him—to trust Him completely in everything. Remember. You really have no choice if you hope to please Him. In the near future, when others are gripped by fear, uncertainty and confusion, their whole world collapsing around them and having no idea where to turn for answers, God does not want His people to fret, worry or agonize over what will happen next—or to themselves. Think of it this way. One of the greatest things that you really should worry about is if you do not overcome worry. God promises to provide your every need if you believe Him, trust Him and wait on Him without doubting. Having done this, you should expect Him to continually deliver you, no matter how impossible your personal circumstances may become! (Take time to read our booklet What Is Real Faith?)
In Luke 21:19, in the context of events swirling around God’s people, Christ instructs, “In your patience possess you your souls [lives].” Christ knew that having and exercising tremendous patience, in the face of swirling, confusing events, is an inseparable companion to real believing faith.
In the middle of Revelation 13, which describes cataclysmic events happening in Europe and impacting the whole world, verse 10 states, “Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” The rise of the false system described there certainly requires enormous patience and faith to endure, because of the almost non-stop persecution it has brought to God’s people.
Further, in Revelation 3:10, Christ commends His faithful people in the end time, those of the Philadelphian era, “Because you have kept the word of My patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” The New King James Version renders the italicized passage as “My command to persevere.” This helps to better convey Christ’s meaning. Scripture shows how patience, endurance and perseverance are vital in a Christian’s life, especially in the end time, when the severity of world conditions will be worse than ever before.
Take time to look up the following scriptures, noticing that many are attached to having patience at the end of the age.
In Matthew 10:22, Christ states, “And you shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.” Then notice Matthew 24:13, in the middle of the Olivet Prophecy. When describing all that will occur prior to His Return, He repeats, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
If Christianity was compared to a track meet, it would be more like running a marathon than a sprint. It involves endurance, yet it also means running to win (I Cor. 9:24).
Next, read Acts 14:22. It recounts part of Paul’s ministry: “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we [all Christians] must through much tribulation [trial] enter into the kingdom of God.”
Now notice Revelation 14:12: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
We have already seen that Daniel 12:12 states, “Blessed is he that waits…” Why would there be a defined waiting period—until the 1,335 days begin—if extraordinary patience—and patient endurance—were not necessary?
Galatians 5:22 includes longsuffering as one of the nine fruits of God’s Holy Spirit, to be evident in every Christian’s life. “Suffering long,” enduring through trials, requires a great degree of patience to always remember that God has promised a way of escape for those praying and seeking His will, and watching world conditions.
Most people feel trapped, unable to overcome—to grow in areas of weakness, fault and sin. Instead of overcoming their problems, most are overcome by their problems. This should not be—this need not be! You can overcome in your life.
Through the years, I have pastored thousands who have been called to God’s Way. All people struggle against the pulls of the flesh and the temptations of Satan and his world. Some overcome. Others do not.
Christ said, “Enter you in at the strait [difficult] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad [easy] is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait [difficult] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). Most seek the easy, “broad” path in life.
Yet, this world is drifting along, completely unaware of God’s great purpose for man, which is to build holy, righteous character in this life. God is preparing a team of those who will qualify to be part of restoring His government to earth at Christ’s Return (Acts 3:19-21).
In Revelation, Christ stated, “And he that overcomes, and keeps My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron…” (2:26-27). A chapter later, He adds, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (3:21).
These verses picture Christ re-establishing God’s government over all nations on Earth. Christians will receive real power to rule. But first, they must overcome sin— defeating, with God’s help, their flesh, this world and the devil!
Overcoming is rarely easy, nor does it happen overnight. It is a lifelong battle against well-established attitudes and a former way of life that the Christian has now rejected and turned from. The one who is walking God’s path is striving to curb and withhold himself wherever God’s Word instructs him. He strives to exercise himself in matters where God says to do so. When God gives instruction to do something, the Christian strives to do it! When God instructs not to do something, he strives not to do it.
Christians are those who follow—who COPY—Christ (I Pet. 2:21). What then is the pattern Christ established for us to follow? Did He overcome?
In reference to His own struggle to remain free of sin and perfect in character, Christ said, “In the world you shall have tribulation [how true today!]: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Christ had overcome both the world and its god—Satan (II Cor. 4:4). Recall that He said, “even as i also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.” Christ overcame and qualified to rule. Just as He qualified to replace Satan, so must we!
In addition, the Christian strives to fulfill the command to “grow in grace and knowledge” (II Pet. 3:18), also on a daily basis.
Such enormous power to rule—to guide and affect millions of lives during Christ’s millennial rule—could never be given to people who are unprepared—who have not qualified to properly use it. God will not hand this unprecedented authority to people who might rebel and revert to Satan’s ways. God’s servants must diligently use this life to build His very character, so necessary for those who will one day hold offices of great authority.
The final era of Christ’s Church—Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22)—lacks sufficient zeal to receive God’s blessings and promise of protection. Christ describes those of this era as “lukewarm,” stating that because they are “neither cold nor hot, I [Christ] will spew you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3:16). Verse 17 continues with Christ describing a smugness that has taken hold within many of His people.
In the world at large, most people do not get excited about much of anything, preferring to “relax”—“be cool”—“take it easy”—not get “worked up.” But this is not a picture of the true Christian. He is one who is on fire—for all things of God! His whole heart, mind and being is committed to living God’s Way. He continually seeks to fully submit to God, yielding to God’s direction in all matters. He recognizes and practices Paul’s instruction, “I beseech you…brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).
Most in the world do not want to sacrifice for any but themselves, feeling this to be very unreasonable. They are committed to “getting while the getting is good”—unconsciously seeming to follow the unstated goal of “seeing who can die with the most toys.” The vast majority of people lead lives reflecting little more than seeing how much they can accumulate in this life.
But the Christian recognizes that his life belongs entirely to God. He is committed to using it for God’s purpose. He is interested in serving others—in giving rather than getting (Acts 20:25). His heart is in preaching the gospel to the world (Matt. 24:14) and God’s warning message (Ezek. 33:1-9) to the modern nations descended from ancient Israel. He wants to help fulfill Christ’s command, incumbent on His servants for 2,000 years: “Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them [into] the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).
Christ understood and taught His disciples that of Himself He could do nothing (John 5:30). The Spirit of God enabled Him to accomplish all that He did. Prior to His ascension to heaven, Christ told His disciples He would soon send them God’s Holy Spirit.
This event, the beginning of the Church of God, occurred in A.D. 31. Christ described the significance of what happened at that time: “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: And you shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Ten days later, God gave His Spirit, initially to just 120 disciples.
Infused with the Holy Spirit, God’s people were now empowered to fulfill His mission. Like the first-century Church, this same twenty-first-century Church has neither millions of members nor political power or clout.
The true New Testament Work of God also began in A.D. 31. In ignorance of the real gospel of the Bible, and what really is God’s Work, this world’s Christianity has trusted in a false gospel, merely about the Person of Christ. Most today think they must spread this “gospel,” seeking to bring as many people as possible to Jesus to be “saved.” This is far from the truth of the Bible.
Delivering Christ’s real gospel to the world—the good news of the coming kingdom of God—is and always has been the true Work of God’s Church!
Christ said, “I will build My Church” (Matt. 16:18). No matter how men interpret this verse, it speaks of a single Church! Christ continued, “and the gates of hell [the grave] shall not prevail against it.” He promised that His Church could never be destroyed.
In the previous chapter, Jesus had said, “But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (15:9). In Mark’s parallel account of this statement, He continued, “Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition” (7:9).
The world’s Christianity is filled with traditions, assumed by most to be biblical—when the Bible often teaches the exact opposite. One of the largest is the traditional view of what is the New Testament Church. Most ministers, theologians and religionists typically define the church in this way: “All those who sincerely believe in Jesus as their Savior comprise the church.” This is often followed with the familiar statement, “There are many routes to heaven.” Though the Bible nowhere teaches that heaven is the reward of the saved, the clear implication of this statement is that people can largely believe what they want, or be a part of any group that they choose, and still be Christians. While people may sincerely believe these traditional ideas—they are sincerely wrong!
We saw that the Bible declares, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (I Cor. 14:33). God’s Church does reflect peace—not confusion!
You need not be confused about the identity of the true Church. God inspired Paul to write, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thes. 5:21). Surely God would not exclude something of such magnitude—such vital importance—as the matter of what and where His true Church is. He would never tell people to prove what cannot be proven.
God’s Church also walks in complete unity—agreement— with all of the Bible’s doctrines. His servants live Christianity, practicing all the truths and ways of the Bible without compromise. While persecuted in a world rejecting God’s authority, they press forward, determined to fulfill their incredible human potential!
When speaking to His disciples about the importance of seeking the kingdom of God, Christ said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). By no stretch of the imagination can churches comprised of over two billion professing Christians be considered a “little flock.” However, somewhere on Earth today is that same little flock faithfully yielding to and obeying God, and fulfilling His supreme plan in this age.
You must set out to prove the location of God’s true Church!
When Christ stated, “I will build My Church,” it went far beyond just beginning, increasing and protecting it—insuring its survival. There is a great transcendent purpose for the Church that Christ built—the only true Church of God!
God’s Church has a mission. Every member is called to become a part of the exciting, biblically-defined Work of God (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20). We understand the need to spread the truth of God’s real message—to announce a new world order coming to a struggling, suffering civilization, incapable of even addressing, let alone fixing, its mounting troubles and difficulties. While the commission began with the original apostles, The Restored Church of God continues it today. The message and goal are the same—only the methods differ.
This mission has a two-fold commission. The first is “Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). The second is to feed the flock of God—to supply each member of God’s Church with spiritual food (John 21:15-17). As God’s members are fed, they grow spiritually, allowing them to serve and dedicate themselves more to the Church’s great First Commission. Today, large numbers of people can learn the full truth of God as never before. Many thousands around the world are learning sound, proven principles, straight from their Bible, helping them to live happier lives and become better citizens.
The Restored Church of God is a fountain of true knowledge in a parched world with ever-increasing evils!
God’s people are on a crusade to take Christ’s announcement of the kingdom of God—the most important message on Earth today—to a sick, dying world. They are passionate about—consumed with—the need to complete Christ’s Great Commission while there is still time (John 9:4). You are now reading God’s final warning message to all those who will take heed!
Again, The Restored Church of God is fulfilling that commission, and you can be a part of it—you can be protected. By now, you know that no secret rapture is coming, but instead God promises His faithful people a place of special protection—COMPLETE SAFETY—from the incomprehensible horrors soon to engulf the entire planet!
When world leaders, scientists, educators and others offer warnings of worsening global problems, the general public, feeling largely helpless, tunes them out. In addition, the world has many who find reasons to “cry wolf.” As a result, most people have become conditioned to ignore grave warnings.
All who scoff at god’s warning, explained in this booklet, will soon scoff no more!
Will you prepare now—and be ready when time has run out? Will you submit to and obey God? Will you watch and pray always, demonstrate faith and practice patience, exhibiting zeal to grow and overcome, with your heart totally in the Work of God, having sought out the Church that Christ built?
Will you be protected from the “hour of trial”—from the “snare”—that shall soon “come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth”?