These are troubling times that we are living in. Many folks are watching their life savings dwindle to almost nothing. Discussions about a world depression are common. Lay-offs. Major U.S. companies on the brink of disaster. Home values dropping dramatically. The stock market is collapsing, along with our way of life. Its an uncertian and often scary world that we find ourselves in. I know a lot of people who are living in fear on a daily basis; fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of terrorism, fear of warfare, financial fears, and on and on this list goes.
What are we to do?
Jesus gave us prophecy for many reasons. One of the reasons is to provide comfort during these times.
In His own words:
"...see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen , but the end is still to come" (Jesus reminds us that we would see the early signs that would potentially lead to fear, but He reminded us to not become alarmed - Matt. 24:6)
"So be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance" (Jesus reminds us that He has given us this information, in advance - another reminder that He is in complete control - we can rest assured in Him - Mark 13:21)
The apostle Paul spent considerable time on this topic. He closed each of his "prophecy talks" (1 and 2 Thessalonians) by extensive considerations towards how we should see the world in these last days:
"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..." (1 Thess. 5:9-11)
"Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (1 Thess. 5:16-24).
Encourage one another? Build each other up? Give thanks in ALL circumstances? How can that be? As we watch the world's financial system collapse? As watch our 401K shrink to nothing? As we lose jobs? As we watch our country rush headlong into a depression? Huh?
The context to Paul's words are critical to understand his rationale. He had just described, in great detail (1 Thess. 4) the "gathering up" or the "catching up" of the Church. He had just described the Rapture of the Church that we're all familiar with.
"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven...and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. THEREFORE ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER WITH THESE WORDS." (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
This last statement clarifies WHY we are able to encourage each other during these difficult, dark days.
We were given many such instructions as they pertain to the last days. Please note. There are NO biblical instructions to the Church regarding how we are to survive the Tribulation. None. Zero. So what "instructions" are we given?
According to the apostle Paul, are we to encourage each other, build each other up? During these times? Yes! The context here is clearly referencing the Rapture of the Church - this is where our hope and optimism can be found during these times. See what else is said in this context. Paul instructed us - as we await our Lord to return:
"...to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." (1 Thess 10)....
That is exactly what we are doing, as prophecy watchers. We wait for Jesus - who will rescue us from this coming Tribulation.
Jesus reminded us again about this "waiting period" that we find ourselves in today:
"I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world...I am coming soon" (Revelation 3:10).
So, rather than receiving information on how to survive the darkest of days (aka the Tribulation) - we receive other, more significant information. We are told that Jesus will rescue us FROM this period of time.
These aren't my words - these are the very words of Jesus.
Jesus clarified how He intends to keep us from this hour of trial that is rapidly approaching:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God, trust also in me.
In my Father's house there are many mansions...
I am going there to prepare a place for you.
And if I go there to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you also may be where I am"
Note the key words: DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED. The same message preached by Paul. TRUST IN GOD, TRUST ALSO IN ME.
Jesuus reminded us that we must trust Him - we must trust the very words that He had just given us.
So, rather than giving us instructions on how to survive the coming "hour of trial", we are told something quite different. We are told to watch for, and wait for Jesus' coming. We're reminded that we can and should trust His words.
Fear? No way. We know what awaits us, and there is nothing to fear. At this very moment, Jesus is putting the final touches on our eternal home. He is awaiting our reunion with great anticipation. As we watch this world collapse around us, we can stand firm, with hope, encouragement and trust.
As stated in the final scriptures of the Bible:
""He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."
"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen."