Prophecy forewarns that just before the return of Jesus Christ the world will experience the worst time of trouble that it has ever seen. How can you prepare for it?
Bill Faith: Although no one knows the exact time that Christ will occur, the Bible does give a general time frame. In Hebrews 4 we learn that the weekly Sabbath day pictures the time of "rest" when Christ will rule the earth. The writer of Hebrews wrote:
"Since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.... For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: 'And God rested on the seventh day from all His works'...For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest [Gk. sabbatismos: a keeping of the Sabbath] for the people of God (Hebrews 4:1-1 4-5; 8-9).
Also, in II Peter 3:8 we read "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day." So, if one day is as a thousand years and the seventh day Sabbath portrays the future rest of God's people, then many Christians have guessed that the 7th millennium since the creation of Adam will be when Christ will rule the earth.
There were approximately four thousand years of recorded history before the birth of Christ. And there have been about two thousand years since Christ. Therefore, the time of Christ's return and the tribulation that proceeds his coming may soon occur.
But how many years of human history have really passed? According to Jewish calculations, there are still over two hundred years to complete the six thousand years since Adam. This may be true. But even if we knew the exact number, it might not help because Jesus said that the time would be cut short for the sake of the elect (Mt. 24:22).
Because many people are expecting the tribulation to start soon, they are worrying that the Y2K problem will ignite the beginning of the prophesied trouble at the close of this age. Stories abound of people selling their homes and moving to the countryside. Some are even thinking of moving to South America! Also, many are stockpiling food, water and other necessities to see them through a major crisis.
However, we must be careful that we don't put our trust in material things. Our Savior Jesus Christ told us not to worry about our life:
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is life not more than food and the body more than clothing? ... Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear' ...But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these thing shall be added to you (Matthew 6:25, 31, 33)
It is important that we put God first. if we seek His righteousness and His kingdom, He will take care of our needs. It should, however, be noted that the word "worry" (or "thought" as it is translated in the KJV) in verse 32 means "anxious thought". Obviously, we have to give some thought to what we eat, drink and wear. Before we go shopping, we decide what it is that we need to buy. We also have to plan our expenses to pay for it. But what Jesus is saying is that we need not worry excessively about it.
Power outages, hurricanes, floods, tornados, earthquakes, ... , strike somewhere in the world every day. The Red Cross organization says that everyone should always be prepared for a two week disaster. This is undoubtedly good advice. It is something we can do and yet not worry excessively about what will happen. Some people have a tendency to worry themselves sick over various problems of life. However, about the only thing they get from all their worries is ulcers! If we want to enjoy life, we can't worry all the time.
Perhaps no one had more problems than the apostle Paul. Yet it was he who gave us the key to understand how to enjoy ourselves even in times of severe stress. We find the answer in Acts 20:24, "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy." Paul's trust was in God. He accepted whatever God willed. And most important, he did not consider his human life that important. His mind was obviously on Christ and eternal life. He looked beyond his present problems and hoped for the kingdom of God.
Our Only Hope
No matter how hard we try, often the best of plans go astray. This is illustrated in the parable of the rich man. In this parable, Jesus tells of a rich man who produced so much fruit and goods that he didn't know where to store it all. So he decided to build new larger barns where he could store it. He even comforted himself by thinking he could now take it easy the rest of his life and eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him: "You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:20-21). This reminds us that we can't have our hope based solely on material things.
When the tribulation does come, the Bible indicates that it will be so devastating that God will be our only hope. We need to seriously consider the words of Christ when He said, "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26).
Have you ever noticed that after doctors do all they know to do they tell the patient, "Now it is in God's hands"? The truth is, it was in God's hands from the beginning; they just didn't realize that fact. We also need to understand that everything we do, especially if we live in Christ, is in God's hands. That is why it is so important that we believe in and put our whole trust in Him. "The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them ... Because they trust in Him" (Psalm 37:39-40). God will help and deliver the righteousness because they trust in Him. If we trust in riches and goods, then He might just leave us to our riches and goods.
In conclusion, no one knows exactly when the tribulation will come. But we need to be always ready because our life could end at any time.
There are, however, still many prophecies that must be fulfilled before the tribulation begins. We are told, for example, that the king of the south will push at the king of the north (Daniel 11:40). Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20). And the abomination which makes desolate must happen (Matthew 24:15). These have not yet happened. [See The Time of the Signs.] Nevertheless, we know that each passing year brings us one year closer to when it will happen. For all of us, we need to stay close to God, and to trust Him wholly.
Let God be your best friend.
Written by Bill Faith, pastor of the St Louis Church of God
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Issue 17, September/October 1999. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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