As most people go about their business just trying to scratch out a living and provide for a family, we, on the other hand, have an acute awareness of the massive seismic shifts which are taking place in the world today, as we see freedoms eroded throughout the world, increases in persecution, police state activities, threats of worldwide economic collapse and ensuing violence, an unconstitutional government, and basically - overall threats to our way of life - at least as we know it.
The world is a scary place right now, there can be no doubting that. The more you are immersed in the world of prophecy, the darker and more ominous it becomes. As stated before, we should expect such as we enter the Tribulation - it must be this way - and it is for this reason, I believe, that Jesus gave us the scriptures found in Luke 21:28-31, where on two occasions He informed us to be looking up for Him during these days - the days of "birthpains" which will lead to His coming.
Jesus knew we would be living in dark days and that we would be aware of such. He wants our focus to be on Him during these days, and more specifically, His return.
Recall the scriptures;
"When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near"
"Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near."
But we should also look at the insight given to us by the Apostle Peter, which is very important for us during these last days:
"And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19)
Just think about that for a few minutes. We are surrounded by darkness are we not?
And in such darkness, we can use prophecy as a "shining light".
How could that be? How could the prophetic scriptures gives us light, when it involves nothing but bad news?
These two concepts don't make any sense unless you combine it with Jesus' teachings in Luke 21.
It is only the coming of Christ Jesus that can give us this "prophetic light" - while we live in the midst of nothing else but bad news.
There is nothing fundamentally "positive" or "light" in terms of the signs around us - famine, pestilence, warfare, earthquakes, persecution, rumors of war, tyranny, economic collapse etc etc... No, there is nothing uplifting or positive there - certainly not a "bright light".
Only Jesus' return for His bride can be found as a "shining light" as revealed to us through prophecy. Without this hope and promise, there would be no such light for us to follow.
So what does Peter tell us?
To "pay attention to it". The promises involved in prophecy.
And when we do this what happens? The "day dawns" and the "morning star" rises in our hearts. We are uplifted and elevated.
We have a far far better fate awaiting us, and it is so close you can almost feel it.
What did the Apostle Paul tell this generation?
"For God did not appoint us to suffer this wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ"
And our instructions?
"...to wait for his son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath"
So what if we have to endure hardships on this side of the gathering up - for some brief period? (I don't believe we will be here long enough to consider such hardships as being long-term)
What type of hardships could we face? Significant persecution? Economic collapse? False imprisonment? Death?
Then we would look at the model provided for us in the book of Acts, especially as seen in the 5th chapter. After being imprisoned and flogged, the apostle Peter exclaimed:
"We must obey God rather than men!" (v29) and later we see this important scripture,
"The apostles left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." (v41-42)
It is hard to know what we may have to endure in the last days - prior to the gathering up.
I personally believe we will be taken up before a worldwide collapse takes place, and that appears to be coming soon.
But if we do have significant hardships to endure, we can then be overjoyed that the nearness of His return is even closer. That is worth repeating: we can then be overjoyed that the nearness of His return is even closer.
In the meantime we can still do His work on earth whole waiting expectantly for His coming.
If we are persecuted? Then we can be counted as "worthy" according to the Apostle Peter and we can consider ourselves as "blessed" - based on Jesus' very words as found in Matthew 5:11-12:
"Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven"
Regardless of what happens - the news is only good for a believer.
If we experience hardships and persecution for our beliefs, then we will be rewarded. If we are taken up before such hardships, then we will be in the arms of Jesus even sooner.
It's a "win-win". The news is all good. After all, the prophetic message for our day is like a "light shining in a dark place".
In the midst of this darkness, we look towards the light - we look to Jesus with great anticipation and joy. We will be in His presence soon, and all that we endured on this earth will have been worth it.
Maranatha - I'll see you when we get there - in the most joyous epic celebration ever imagined. Soon, brothers and sisters - soon.