The Great Tribulation Will Be a Test of Character
The August 2005 issue of The Wake Up Report focused on the importance of making a personal commitment to be honest in every aspect of life and the necessity of standing on the side of righteousness and truth at any price . Within this context, the identity of the Great Prostitute in Revelation 17 was discussed because she represents a great horde of people who will prostitute themselves with the devil to survive during the Great Tribulation. The Battle of Armageddon was also discussed in last month�s study because it exposes the logical end to which every carnal heart will go. Every carnal heart would destroy God in order to save itself because the carnal heart loves itself more than it loves God. (This is why the wicked have to be annihilated at the end of the 1,000 years � God�s universe cannot be free of sin until every carnal heart is destroyed.) From birth, our carnal nature stands in opposition to loving God with all our heart, mind and soul. (Romans 8:5-7) This is why we have to be born again. (John 3:3) Of course, God does not have any carnal propensities in His heart. He has proven that He loves us more than He loves His own life and He requires the same of us. (Matthew 22:37,38; John 10:11-17)
Have you ever found yourself in a sudden and unexpected situationwhere you were challenged to be honest? I have. My failures remind me of Paul�s words in Romans 7. Even after Paul had been a Christian for 30 years, he wrote: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me." (Romans 7:15-17) Have you ever found yourself in an ongoing situation where you tossed and turned with the consequences for being honest? I am speaking of situations where dishonesty appears to resolve or make the best of a bad situation. Should situations determine our commitment to honesty? No. Being honest at all costs produces peace and even though there may be serious consequences for telling the truth, there is joy in having done the right thing. Honesty may produce an immediate problem, but honesty also enables God to accomplish objectives that go far beyond our knowledge. (Remember how Joseph went to prison for refusing to have a sexual affair with Potiphar�s wife, only to become the second highest ruler in Egypt? Genesis 39)
Honesty Caught by Surprise
For an example of how the carnal heart works, let us examine Peter�s boasting. "Peter declared, �Even if all fall away, I will not.� �I tell you the truth,� Jesus answered, �today � yes, tonight � before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.� But Peter insisted emphatically, �Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.� And all the others said the same." (Mark 14:29-31) Most Christians are aware that Peter denied the Lord within a few hours of his empty boast. I think there are two reasons that Peter denied Jesus. First, when Peter said he would never disown Jesus, he was thinking about being brave alongside Jesus as Jesus moved to establish a kingdom on Earth, but the capture and humiliation of Jesus separated Peter from Jesus. When Peter saw Jesus in chains, Peter was defeated because he thought Jesus had been defeated. In a matter of a few hours, Peter�s world imploded. When the young girl identified Peter in the courtyard, fear had pushed his emotions totally out of control, leaving him an emotional "basket case." Second, I am sure that Peter honestly thought when he declared his loyalty to Jesus that he would be loyal to Jesus "no matter what," but Peter was not aware of the strength of his carnal nature. When circumstances forced Peter to consider the painful ramifications of being associated with a defeated Jesus, he lied to escape the sufferings of Jesus .
Make no mistake about it. Circumstances during the Great Tribulation will produce a sharp test of character. "He [the beast, the crisis government, the pre-cursor to the great prostitute] 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 [including the United States, Russia, China, etc.] . 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. He who has an ear, let him hear." (Revelation 13:7-9, insertions mine)
God will thoroughly test the honesty of every human being. He will separate the sheep from the goats by testing our honesty and our love for Him, as well as our love for our neighbor. I am discussing these important and timely matters because I believe that this generation will soon experience the Great Tribulation and I want to encourage everyone who is willing to listen. God will, at the right time, give His children the necessary strength to stand for truth and righteousness and be victorious over the forces of evil. Notice what Revelation says about the 144,000 who will die and be resurrected during the Great Tribulation: "And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: �Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.� " (Revelation 15:2-4)
Abandon the Human Point of View!
When we study the cause and effects of the Great Tribulation, we have a tendency to examine this topic from a human point of view instead of looking through "the eye of faith." God has a number of important goals to accomplish during the Great Tribulation and we are much better off when we focus on God�s objectives and God�s power rather than trying to save ourselves. Hopefully, the following parallel will clarify what I mean.
Remember the incident in Numbers 13 when God directed Moses to send twelve leaders from Israel into Canaan to spy out the promised land. At that time, God was ready to move His people forward. He was ready to fulfill one of His promises to Abraham � to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Israel. Of course, God knew the giants who lived in Canaan by name and He knew about the great walled cities - but what are these measly things to Almighty God? God told Moses to send twelve leaders from Israel to gather information about the land of Canaan because He wanted His people to hear from their own leaders about the treasures and goodness that would soon be theirs! God wanted to encourage and delight His people. He also wanted to give them a "heads up" on the obstacles which they would face so that there would be no overwhelming surprises. (Incidently, this is also the reason why the books of Daniel and Revelation were put in the Bible. God wants us to understand His plans.) However, when the twelve spies returned from their investigation of Canaan, the Bible indicates that ten spies were overwhelmed with the magnitude of suffering that would be necessary to conquer Canaan. Ten leaders presented a human point of view and two leaders, Caleb and Joshua, presented God�s point of view.
"At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land. They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: �We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.� Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, �We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.� But the men who had gone up with him said, �We can�t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.� And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, �The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak [the giant] come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.� That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, �If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn�t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?� And they said to each other, �We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.�. . . . The Lord said to Moses, �How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.� " (Numbers 13:25-14:4, 11,12 insertion mine)
The Lord became furious with the nation of Israel when He heard His people grumbling. He had performed hundreds of miracles for them. He had delivered them from slavery in Egypt and had taken them through the Red Sea. He was providing water and food from Heaven each day! His cloud over the tabernacle was a shelter from the desert sun and a glowing light at night. He was taking care of His people on a day-to-day basis and they still did not trust Him enough to go forward. That is the nature of the carnal heart. It is so concerned with its convenience and comfort and so afraid of suffering that no amount of divine kindness is ever enough. So, the Lord condemned that hopeless generation to death. They all died in the wilderness, except Caleb and Joshua.
Same Song, Second Verse
We can be sure that when the Great Tribulation begins, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When God�s judgments begin to fall, billions of people will curse God and give up hope when they see their security and cherished possessions destroyed. Yet, this will not be the worst thing to happen. Prior to the seven bowls, the greatest suffering during the Great Tribulation will not be caused by God�s judgments, but rather, the suffering that men will inflict on each other!
The Bible tells us how this will happen. Revelation predicts that the religious and political leaders of the world will interpret the horrible manifestations of God�s wrath as a wake-up call having biblical proportions. The leaders of the world will conclude that God is demanding repentance and worship. As a result, the countries of the world will rapidly transition from nations consumed with endless wars and internal bickering into a coalition of nations trying to appease God with their manmade solutions . Fear of the Almighty will shatter diverse religious barriers that currently exist. This is precisely what God wants. He intends to set up global circumstances so that the things that He values most will conflict with the things the carnal nature values most. In other words, when God�s wrath is released and life is reduced to a day-to-day survival mode, we will soon discover what matters most to each of us. In this context, honesty, faith and love will be tested. God will do this by sending a clarion message of truth into the world through His 144,000 servants. God�s truth-filled demands, if obeyed, will put the honest in heart in direct conflict with the authorities of this world. We will not be able to obey God and man. This conflict will produce pain. This is how our love for honesty and truth will be tested.
I hope you understand that God has deliberately and carefully designed the events of the Great Tribulation to test mankind. God is about to sort the living into two camps and a harvest of people who are pure in heart will be found! "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matthew 5:8) By God�s grace and with His help, I plan to be in that number and I know you do, too! Heaven will be cheap enough.