Will God’s people be protected from the terrible times to come?


In previous Q&As, including the Q&A on “Matthew 24” and the Q&A on the “events which will occur after the Great Tribulation has begun”,we discussed that mankind will have to endure a time of unparalleled sorrows and suffering.

We also pointed out in the past, that just prior to Christ’s return, some in God’s Church will be protected from the Great Tribulation, while other Christians will have to go through that terrible time.

In one Q&A, we explained the Scripture in “Revelation 12:17,” and in another Q&A, we set forth the “biblical proofs for our teaching that members of the Church of God will be protected at a particular ‘place of safety,’ here on earth, during the Great Tribulation.”

In addition, we explained that following the beginning of the Great Tribulation, which is Satan’s wrath, God will pour out the plagues of His wrath during a time referred to as the Day of the Lord. We also showed that God will protect at that time many of those who will have experienced and survived the trials of the Great Tribulation. However, there is no indication that God will bring those survivors to the place of safety as well; rather, He will protect them wherever they will be at that time. We have addressed the protection of those servants of God in our Q&A on the “144,000” and the great multitude.

It appears that the 144,000 and the great multitude will consist mainly of people who will come to conversion during the trials of the Great Tribulation. Especially addressing the great multitude, for example, we read in Revelation 7:14: “These are the ones who COME OUT OF the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” We also read in Jeremiah 30:7 that later on, the modern descendants of the house of Jacob or Israel will be saved OUT OF the Day of the Lord.

In addition, it is possible that some who will be protected during the time of God’s great wrath will include converted members in God’s Church (commonly referred to as those belonging to the lukewarm “Laodicea” group in Revelation 3:14-22) who were not found worthy enough to be protected at the place of safety from the Great Tribulation, but who worked on their conversion with fear and trembling and who overcame their nature, Satan and society IN and DURING the Great Tribulation. They survived these terrible times and will be declared worthy to be protected from God’s wrath during the Day of the Lord.

But we must note an important point, lest we misunderstand what God is telling us. It is easy to assume and conclude that all those who will be at the place of safety will be those converted members who were worthy of protection, while none of those who won’t be at that place would be worthy. Both concepts are wrong, if carried to an extreme.

First, we are assured that young children and teenagers of those members who are counted worthy will be protected as well (Proverbs 14:26). Since children or teenagers would not be converted and would not have received the Holy Spirit, they would not be “worthy” per se, but God promises their protection because of the “worthiness” of their parents or parent. It is also not inconceivable that well-meaning adults could be protected, who are not yet converted, but who understand and accept God’s calling and promises… as God looks at the heart and does not judge as man judges. Remember that during the time of the Exodus, not only Israelites were departing from Egyptian slavery, but also a mixed multitude (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4).

One might ask, why would God consider “unconverted” people worthy of protection at the place of safety, while He would not protect certain converted, but lukewarm members. The answer is, again, that God looks at the heart, and He expects more from converted members than from those who may not yet be converted. It is interesting to see how enthusiastic and zealous, as well as teachable, prospective members can be, who are being introduced to the truth, while at the same time, certain converted members in God’s Church who have been in the Church for many years, might have lost their original zeal and their first love and their humility, having allowed to slip and to become proud, ending up as being neither hot nor cold.

The flipside of the coin is also true. Not everyone who would “normally” be worthy of protection at the place of safety, will be there. This is self-evident for the two witnesses. They are prophets of God who stand before God, and who preach His Word for 3 ½ years during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11:3-4). God will give them great powers during the time of their preaching (verses 5-6), but at the end, He will allow them to be killed and to be dead for 3 ½ days (verses 7-9).  Following that event, God will resurrect them to eternal life (verses 11-12), together with all the other saints who have died in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). But as we can see, the two witnesses will not be at the place of safety. It is, again, not inconceivable that other converted members who would “normally” be worthy of protection at the place of safety, will assist and work with the two witnesses. Recall that many times, God’s prophets did not act alone, but they were accompanied and supported by other disciples or followers. This is true for Moses and Aaron (we might think of Joshua, as well as the elders of Israel or the Levites etc.); Elijah and Elisha and their disciples, John the Baptist, and even Jesus Christ, as well as, of course, the original apostles.

This will bring us to another important point. It would be a grave mistake to think that God’s followers will not have to suffer any persecution, before the Great Tribulation begins. Remember, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse will have already begun to ride, and the combination of religious deception and “holy” wars will cause much suffering. It is true, of course, that those whom God will protect during the Great Tribulation and the Day of His Wrath will have to be protected, physically, during the times preceding these events, but this does not mean that they won’t suffer any persecution. It does also not mean that every otherwise worthy disciple of Christ will escape violent death prior to the Great Tribulation—we are only told that those worthy disciples who will be alive at the time when the Great Tribulation begins, will be protected at a place of safety.

As we have seen, the fifth seal in the Book of Revelation describes the Great Tribulation (Revelation 6:9-11). It refers to a future martyrdom of the saints. It undoubtedly includes many (but not necessarily all) who are converted members, but who have allowed themselves to slip, become lukewarm and embrace the spirit of compromise, pride and self-sufficiency. But we are also told that future martyrdom will be a continuation of a prior deadly persecution (compare verse 11).  It appears that all of Christ’s original apostles—with the possible exception of John—endured a violent death. This is also true for subsequent apostles, such as Paul. Over the centuries, many true Christians were tortured and killed for their beliefs. They were not protected at that time at a physical place of safety.

In Matthew 24:9, Christ tells us that “they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” This will apparently occur—at least to an extent—before the Great Tribulation begins (compare the continuation of Christ’s warning in Matthew 24:15-28). The same conclusion can be reached, when reading the parallel passage in Luke 21:12-19, apparently referring to events prior to the Great Tribulation, and in Luke 21:20-24, apparently referring to events that begin with the Great Tribulation.

Compare also the parallel account in Mark 13:9-13, speaking first of persecution of God’s true servants in the end time, which will be followed by the Great Tribulation (compare Mark 13:14-23).

There are many more passages telling us about future persecution, apart from the general truism that everyone who wants to live godly will encounter and suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus said in John 15:20: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” Matthew 10:16-26 tells us about future persecution, and Luke 11:47-52 speaks about past and future persecution of God’s prophets and saints in very vivid terms.

We should always remember that no trial will come upon us that will be too difficult for us to bear, and that God will show us the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). If God has the confidence in us that we will be able to endure persecution, who are we to doubt Him? What all of this means is that we have to be willing to accept God’s Will for us, whatever that Will might be. Christ had to do this (Matthew 26:42), and so must we. Rather than concentrating on the thought that we have to be among those whom God will bring to the physical and temporary place of safety, we ought to concentrate on qualifying and doing everything we can to allow God to make us worthy to be able to enter the eternal and immortal Kingdom of God at Christ’s Coming (Matthew 25:34).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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