How Do I Prepare for the Great Tribulation?
Dear Mr. Wilson:
A few weeks ago I discovered your free book offer on the internet. I received your book, Warning! Revelation is about to be fulfilled and I�m not sure that "thank you" is an appropriate response. Your book has created a deep stirring within me that is hard to explain and difficult to live with. I am afraid and excited at the same time. I know I am better informed, but I feel like I know nothing. I find myself wondering if I am even a Christian. The returning Jesus that you talk about is very different from the Jesus I have known. I have been a Christian for 24 years. I have been a sincere student of the Bible (the New Testament) and I conduct a weekly Bible class in my church, but I am blown away by the concepts presented in your little book. I�ve never heard anything like this.
At first, I thought you were seriously misguided, but I could not put your book out of my mind. After a few days of trying to forget about your book, I decided to reread it with an open Bible. I wanted to prove you wrong. As I finished Chapter 2 on the full cup principle, a light came on. For the first time, I saw some divine wisdom and justification for the Great Tribulation. I am beginning to see how the Great Tribulation is harmonious with God�s character. I also see the need for a global process to separate the sheep from the goats. I can see how the seven trumpets are redemptive in nature and will awaken the whole Earth to the fact that Jesus Christ is Sovereign Lord, returning to Earth to terminate the curse of sin on mankind. Your book indicates that God�s people will be on Earth during the Great Tribulation. This may sound strange to you, but I have had lingering doubts about a pre-tribulation rapture. The media shows how millions of people on Earth are suffering to the point of death right now. S o, why should I expect to escape the Great Tribulation?
Although I do not worship on Saturday as you do, I can see how worship could become a testing experience during the Great Tribulation. My church, like most Christian churches, treats the seventh day Sabbath as a Jewish custom that was nailed to the cross. I believe the fourth commandment requires resting from work on a seventh day, so I literally rest from work each Sunday. You, however, make a distinction between "a" seventh day and "the" seventh day. This idea is new to me and I plan to investigate it further.
I am writing for two reasons. First, I want to know more about God and His Word and at the back of your book you have some Bible study helps listed. What do you recommend I read next? Second, how do I prepare for the Great Tribulation? How do I deal with my fear of God�s judgments and persecution? How can I be happy and joyful in the Lord with this great cloud of doom hanging over me? What do I tell unsaved friends and family members? What do I tell those who attend my weekly Bible class? I hope you can see that I am in an uncomfortable position and it�s all your fault! (Grin) I know the Holy Spirit is at work in my life because my prayer is that He will guide me into all truth. Please help me put these matters within a context where I can "rejoice in the Lord always." I don�t want to live in fear or ignorance.
Thank you for your e-mail. I sincerely appreciate your honesty and search for truth. Your love for God and His Word rings true. I do not know if this helps, but your email mirrors hundreds of sincere letters and phone calls. Your reaction to the Warning! book is appropriate and to be expected. A certain amount of fear and confusion usually rises when sincere people first learn that the events described in Revelation are about to be fulfilled. You asked two questions and I hope my responses will be helpful:
Question 1: "What should I read next?" This is a tough question since I don�t know you personally. If you are upset and worried about the oncoming Great Tribulation to the point that it constantly robs you of your joy and peace in the Lord, then I recommend reading the book, Bible Stories with End-Time Parallels. I wrote this book in 2002 to encourage God�s children. I took ten well known Bible stories of faith and paralleled each story with the Great Tribulation. If we "put on the sandals" of those saints who lived in Bible times and examine their lives and experiences, our faith in God will increase because God is changeless! When early Christians in Corinth became discouraged with persecution, Paul encouraged them to read stories from the Old Testament! "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come." (1 Corinthians 10:11) So, if you need some faith-building stories, you can read this book for free on the internet. Just go to this link: http://www.wake-up.org/daystar/DSIndex2002.htm (Editor�s note: This book can also be obtained by calling the WUAS office at 800-475-0876.)
On the other hand, if you are not overwhelmed with fear or dread to the point of distraction, you should continue to expand your theological framework so that you can better understand the love, the ways, the plans, and the character of God. Every human being, including me, has a flawed view of God. This is why faith in God is eternally important for angels as well as humans! Our finite minds are too small to comprehend the works and plans of an infinite God, so He asks us to obey His laws and patiently wait upon Him until knowledge and understanding arrives. God may take several thousand years to work something out or He may take one second. While we are waiting for God to accomplish His corporate purposes or plans for us as individuals, we have to trust and obey. Eventually, we will see His wisdom, His love, and His ability to make all things work together for good! (Faith, when viewed in reverse, always makes sense.)
No person can surround all who God is. In fact, the Bible has more than 40 authors and it took some 1,500 years to write! I am constantly learning more about God, and during the past 35 years, I have had to make major changes in my theological framework. I have learned that if we will allow it, the Bible speaks clearly, just as it reads. This may surprise you, but God has put a number of apparent conflicts in the Bible. He did this for at least two reasons. First, surface readers of the Bible will quickly choose one side of a conflict and ignore many verses that conflict with their conclusions. This foolish behavior quickly exposes surface readers for what they are to those who have spent hours searching for truth. Second, God has put apparent conflicts in the Bible to draw His children into deeper study and discovery. A born again Christian knows the Bible is not in conflict with itself because God is changeless. So, resolving these apparent conflicts requires digging and searching for truth. While pursuing "an apparent conflict," new discoveries will occur. Soon, the Bible becomes an amazing universe of information about God.
On occasion, I have had to let go of flawed concepts in order to embrace a larger harmony that comes from the sum of all the parts. As you already know, renouncing a theological concept like "the pre-tribulation rapture" can be very difficult on a theological level, as well as a social level. So, to help others understand the elements of Bible prophecy more clearly, I wrote the book, Jesus: The Alpha and The Omega. This book presents five essential Bible truths which every student of Bible prophecy should know. I am convinced that a person has to know these five essential truths before the books of Daniel and Revelation make sense just as they read. I feel so strongly about this that I have made this book available to read for free on the internet. I encourage you to read the chapters in their order because there are certain things that must come first. Go to this link and you will see the chapters listed: http://www.wake-up.org/Alpha/Subjindex.htm
Joann, I hope you will eventually read both books, but you will have to decide which one should come first.
Question 2: "What do I tell my friends, my family and my Bible class?" Again, this is a very tough question since I do not know you personally. As a general rule, I tell people to remain silent about their discoveries until they have a fairly good grasp of what they have discovered. As a Bible teacher, you know that once you start raising people�s interest with something different , you will immediately create opposition and when you face opposition, you need to be ready to respond with, "But the Bible says this . . . ."
Of course a person cannot keep silent about everything he is learning. I hope you have a trustworthy friend that will listen to your comments, probe your thoughts, and kindly challenge your thinking. Over the years, I have seen people make a serious mistake. They do not realize the power of religious ideas. They get excited about some aspect of Revelation�s story before they have done their homework, and they begin to tell friends and family things that friends and family do not want to hear. In short, this excitement soon backfires and the advocate of a new understanding is shunned or rejected. Social rejection is powerful and it is also very discouraging. Just remember, Jesus understands.
If you feel compelled to say something during the early phase of your Bible discovery when you speak to your family and Bible class, you might find it helpful to speak in generalities. For example, instead of confronting your Bible class with a statement like, "OK, everybody, listen up: I am renouncing the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture. The saints are going to be right here during the Great Tribulation." You could say, "OK, Bible class, when I read Hebrews 11, I marvel at the faith of God�s people when faced with persecution and death. When I read Daniel 3, I marvel at the faith of Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. I marvel that ten of the twelve disciples were martyrs for their faith! When I study the life of Jesus, I marvel at His life-long anticipation and submission to dying on the cross! When I look at Christian history, I marvel at those martyrs who chose to die rather than compromise their faith. So, here is my question: Do you think that God could give His saints the same kind of courage and faith to endure the Great Tribulation if there was no pre-tribulation rapture?" Of course, someone will speak up and say, "Sure, God can do anything, but we don�t need to worry about this because the saints will be in Heaven during the Great Tribulation!" Then, you can say, "I�m not so sure. The Bible indicates there will be saints on Earth during the Great Tribulation! Consider this text: "He [the composite beast] was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast � all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." (Revelation 13:7,8, insertion mine.)
Joann, I hope this has been helpful. As you begin this new year and a new understanding of God�s Word, I want to share three passages from the Bible. First, please consider the last words of Jesus recorded in Matthew, " . . . and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:20, KJV) Second, here is a blessing from God spoken to all who love Him: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26) A few hours before His death, Jesus told His disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)
With best wishes,