Frustrated with post-tribbers for urging the Church to gracefully accept Her inevitable endurance of the tribulation, one prominent pre-tribulationist speared them by calling them "macho" Christians. It is that writer's use of the term that has spurred me to use it here against his own colleagues, because it serves pre-trib' schemers more aptly than humble post-tribbers. Yes, anyone accepting the tempering of their souls produced by God-permitted trials is hardly formed into a proud or egocentric person, but, on account of the trials themselves is molded to the very contrary. So, if we post-tribbers are not yet humble, we will be. But pre-tribbers, after realizing their error, armpit-deep in the tribulation, will be more humble still.
I, for one, am eager for the tribulation to begin, but I am not fearless in the face of the trials. I welcome the period, not because I then get a chance to show off my valiant machismo by kicking the anti-Christ's butt, but because it's the crossing of one last desert before reaching the Heavenly Oasis. Certainly, every Christian with an average filling of the Holy Spirit understands the cause for this optimism. The dictionary word, "macho," hardly applies, although I will entertain it if I can re-define it loosely as "Godly courage," instead of an exaggerated sense of manly pride.
Now, it was Hal Lindsey who called post-tribulationists "macho," and I wish I could say it was with jocularity, but I can't. He appears to resent us simply because we proclaim the Church's need for purification by trial prior to the rapture. Brother Hal has little to endure to the end if he must only endure until the start of the tribulation. And I do not need to be a true prophet to predict rightly that he will have to come down from his literary pedestal, as he has been caught plagiarizing big time so that even his publisher pulled one book (about Gog) off the shelf! Yes, it's true, and thanks be again to Dave MacPherson for sharing this and other bits of uncommon knowledge. I also had an author email me and testify that Hal had attempted to "steal" her book prior to her publishing it.
NO EGO ON OUR FACES
The apostle Paul recognized that his painful thorns were given him for the express purpose of keeping him from becoming macho. Therefore, the post-trib' position should be considered an immunity to machismo. God in his wisdom will adjust the volume and intensity of our tribulation trials at his own discretion, for our good, and we must try to endure them to the end, though I am sure it will be heart-wrenching at times. But if that's what's going to make us refined, spotless and complete, then let it be. Daniel had no reservations about understanding the need for macho saints in the end-times because he accepted God's words without pre-tribulation rapture principles to muddle up his view:
"And many of those [in the tribulation] who understand shall stumble, to refine and to purge and to make them white, to the time of the end" (Daniel 11:35).
It is a pretty simple matter to see that Daniel places the beginning of the 1260-day great tribulation period at verse 31, where the "abomination of desolation" occurs, while the quote above concerning the trials and refinement of the saints is found afterwards, in verse 35. Therefore, as the trials come after the Abomination, while the Abomination itself initiates the great tribulation period, it means the purification process of the depicted saints will occur IN the great tribulation period. Moreover, as the text clearly indicates, the purging continues to the period's very end. Macho or not, the depicted saints are going to have to endure it, for which reason they will be wise to prepare in advance for it, like the wise virgins of the parable.
Now, pre-tribulationists are not at all inclined to agree that the "abomination of desolation" in verse 31 is the Abomination of the last days because such an interpretation would depict the related saints too much like Christians in the tribulation. Of course, they cannot deny that an Abomination of Desolation will be associated with the end-time anti-Christ, but what they do do, erroneously enough, is to interpret the abomination here in verse 31 as another abomination of an earlier time. Then, whenever they discuss the end-time Abomination, they will cite the instances in either chapter 9 or 12.
In other words, merely to protect their pre-trib' theory, they wrongly enter an ancient Greek king, Antiochus IV, as the fulfillment of Daniel 11:21-35. In order to justify and promote this, they stress Antiochus IV as a type, or forerunner, of the anti-Christ. Having interpreted these initial verses in this way, pre-tribbers can then view the anti-Christ's activities as beginning in verse 36, although this is completely without textual justification because verse 36 does not introduce a new personality!
I dare say that the sole reason for this late placement of the anti-Christ's textual appearance (i.e. in verse 36) is to push him one verse after the saints are depicted in tribulation. In this way, the saints no longer appear to be related to the anti-Christ, or to the great tribulation period that he causes, but can be (mis)interpreted as ancient Jews suffering at Antiochus' hands. However, this interpretation is flatly rejected by the text simply because the depicted saints are to endure "TO THE TIME OF THE END," which is clearly a reference to the end of the world and cannot by any means be referring to any period in pre-Christian times.
Pre-trib' proponents will then say that the "abomination" of verse 31 was the slaughter of a pig in the Jewish Temple over 2,000 years ago by Antiochus. But understand that, as true as it might be that this well-documented slaughter was an abomination, the text makes it quite clear that the anti-Christ is introduced much sooner, in verse 21, meaning that he is fully associated with the Abomination of verse 31. Furthermore, and as it should be, the saints of verses 32-35 are end-time peoples associated with the great-tribulation period.
We all want to walk the New Jerusalem streets of gold, but the scriptures tell us time and time again that there's some hard times for the saints to endure before they may see their new faces reflected in its luster. Goshen-like protection in the wilderness we might receive from God, but that will not necessarily eliminate hard times. But if we are in spiritual pits living in this present society, as Lot was in Sodom, then we should certainly welcome the final desert. Not that desert localities have magical powers for refining us, but that the "civilized" society of man poses negative influences conflicting heavy-handedly with the spiritual condition desired in us by God, and we too-often succumb.
The alternative to running out into the desert in the tribulation will be to stay amid the complacent society where homosexuals are respected more than Spirit-filled Christians, and where too many unregenerate men neigh for the wives of others, and vice versa. In such an environment, how can you be purified spiritually? I say, be macho! Welcome the hard times for the sake of your purification, and do charge into the tribulation with courage. Do it for someone else if not for yourself, for by that attitude you will succeed with God's help.
As it has been said many times before, let me say it again: many Christians are in danger of repeating the error of Lot's wife. Whoever is more concerned with earthly endeavors, including church-related careers, will steer away from talk about tribulation preparation. "Any day now," pre-tribbers keep telling us, while we live in comfort and at ease, hardly bothered by the stench of Satan in our midst. No need to break away from materialism before entering Heavenly bliss; just come as you are in your soiled, worldly garb.
But, and we may have passed over this point, there was one fellow in a certain parable who actually made it to the Wedding Supper in Heaven--who had already spread the butter on his bread!--when he was seized and thrown out by the Bridegroom into the outer darkness because it was discovered that he was not wearing the proper wedding clothes (Matthew 22:11-13). In whatever way you might like to interpret this parable in terms of eternal security, the point is clear: the proper "clothing" is vitally important for believers. And the tribulation will urge us to dress in the proper, "white" clothing.
The evil around us has been steadily pacing forward, and the society we must live in has been suffering an escalating loss of righteousness for a while now. We are being asked to keep our clothes white in a world that is very prone to staining them. We might say that God has been conditioning us for the greater darkness yet to come? God may be doing his part to prepare you for the tribulation, but are you permitting progressively-difficult trials in your current experience? You have been partially conditioned for the tribulation already if you have been accepting these. I know at times I reject my trials, and like a child (or worse) I complain to God. But they are designed to make us mature men and women, and we may as well engage them the first time around because they will come back again until we act and think acceptably within their pressures.
Remember that Lot was mocked by his sons-in-law when he urged them to flee the immoral city to the wilderness town of Zoar. In the same way, your brethren may laugh behind your back if you reveal your plan to dress a wilderness locality to serve the tribulation there, and you may lose their friendship. But as Lot surely left Sodom with the Lord's angels, but only at the proper time, the Lord is going to stretch out his hand again to lead us into far-removed areas protected by angels. Look for that hand, and grab hold of it, no matter what others may think, no matter how they may mock. If Hal Lindsey mocked us several years ago, how much more will mockery come our way when the time is more at hand...when sinners have come to full sinfulness?
Nobody in their human nature wants to talk about suffering, or to welcome pain and trials. God has promised an end to all of these, in his Rest. Naturally, we are longing for the last whistle of the day, when we can punch out of here. At that last trumpet, the Lord will punch us out of here with a bang! There will be a spectacular rending of the sky making visible the dimension of Heaven. The saints will rise to wide open spaces in the sky while the world falls to the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. Satan will be imprisoned, and a new thing will be done in the earth. Christians will rule the planet as co-rulers with Christ and his apostles; a glorious kingdom it will be. In light of all this, let us welcome the trials. Let us prod each other on to a very macho task whenever we have the opportunity.
But if believers are waiting for the Knight on his white horse to come sweep them away by the silvery moon before the tribulation testing, they will be shocked to discover that their "date" isn't showing up for seven more years. We can only wonder if this shock will or will not cause a giving up the wait, and a turning to another lover instead--the world and its techno-complacency.
Whoever honors the tribulation love-affair by first separating from the skincode's money-based affluence, and thereafter keeping the command of love-thy-brethren, deserves to be separated more gloriously into the age of everlasting love and to SHINE LIKE THE STARS FOR EVER AND EVER" (Dan. 12:2).
GET OUT YOUR SPIRITUAL GRITS AND USE 'EM!
Tribulation preparation has to do with more than storing food and gasoline, and providing a piece of land for sustenance. It has also to do with, and in fact begins with, mental conditioning. To prepare your mind, you must at least become used to the idea of going through the tribulation. If you don't know what's coming, read the prophecies. If you neglect the entire topic, you will most likely suffer mental shock when the time arrives suddenly. Shock leads to hasty, frantic action, and even if this condition dies down and stabilizes, the reality of your situation will still be there, staring you in the face.Then, whether you find refuge with prepared Christians or not, there will occur the debilitating mental condition called "guilt." You will acknowledge your own foolishness for doing nothing for yourself and jeopardizing your family's welfare. You will feel guilt every time you need to impinge your situation on the backs of other Christians. You will eat their food with it written across your forehead, and dredging the mud is a terrible way to enter the tribulation marathon. However, if you accept the call to endure it, and you also prepare physically before it arrives, then you might put your mind to helping others instead of worrying about yourself. And you might have BLESSED written across your smooth forehead, and down your upraised neck, and around your proud shoulders, down to your firm and stable knees, and all the way to your blessed toes.
You don't want to be caught by surprise without mental conditioning because the battle to accept or reject the "mark of the beast" will occur in your mind. Above and beyond the strengthening of our faith through our current experiences, mental preparation will be necessary for things we have not yet experienced, such as severe starvation, repeated cold nights, great despair, imminent death, murder, mass murder, etc. All these things may happen to some loved ones in the fiery furnace, and perhaps to ourselves. Accept these things as real events yet to happen and make every effort to assure they don't happen to you and your loved ones.
Jesus did not ask us to put ourselves in harm's way to prove our worth, but told us to "beg" God for assistance...for avoidance or faithful endurance of the tribulation's persecutions. That doesn't sound like a call to take it all in stride. And judge for yourself whether Jesus meant for us to start begging while in the tribulation, or to begin before it comes upon us:
"Be watchful at all times, begging that you may be able to escape all these things that are about to happen, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21:36).
We see that we should beg/pray on our own behalf before the tribulation comes upon us. That makes sense. Prayer is a future investment towards our struggle against the skincode. As an added benefit, prayer's by-product is the conditioning of our minds for the situations that we, or our loved ones, may have to experience. Not only that, but we also give Him the opportunity to implant in our (open) minds the strategies needed to avoid them.
Yes, the body will likely suffer. Accept it. Get used to it, and pray you won't need to endure the worst. But don't engross yourself and thereby produce living nightmares in the process. Don't believe, as some are suggesting, that extreme persecution/death is a certainty for all believers. The Spirit of God will help you with threats to your life and body when the time comes, but if you are preparing your mind now, you will then be more on top of things, whether it means life or death for you. The more you are horrified by death, starvation, or the wilderness, the lovelier the mark will become. You must not love your life so much that you are unwilling to die for Christ. Seek this condition, for it takes an extended period in your life to even come close to perfecting it, and is not a thing to be manufactured in an instant in the tribulation period.
Jesus tells us to watch while begging. For very good reason, he did not instruct us to build in the wilderness nor to prepare loads of food there. If he had so instructed, every generation from the onset of Christianity would have seen a running out into the wilderness to carry out the order, for it appears to be God's will that all generations should somewhat feel that they may be the very last of this age. And what a big mess premature preparation would have created for countless lives throughout the centuries! However, it is the watching for the signs provided to us that alerts to the right time for building and storing, and it is through the begging that God will provide our physical requirements so that we might successfully reject the skincode, remembering this, that rejecting it is not in itself complete assurance of salvation. One word: love! Love for others makes your faith strong, for faith is the Gift granted to those who love.
But to suggest, as pre-tribulationists do, that Jesus is returning for us before the signs of that return is to put the cart before the horse. Such dull thinking makes the signs useless!! Why did Jesus give the signs at all if he's coming back before them? Ask a pre-tribber that question when he/she claims that the return can be imminent only if Jesus returns before the signs. Tell a pre-tribber: imminence is NOT intended for Book-of-Life believers; otherwise He wouldn't have given signs to tip us off concerning the correct timing of the Return. But it's the world that sins that God plans to surprise imminently.
Having seen the skincode approaching very quickly, I realized that the right time to prepare a retreat had come. Being a few years too early was certainly not a problem for me, but who knows...perhaps I'm a little late; my place is by no means fully prepared as yet. This is great news because the end, and consequently, The Beginning, is finally here! Will you share my sentiments? Please do, and remember that you will make it if you try: God will make it for you if you try!
Exercise faith in the tribulation, yes, but perform your duty now by planning to do all you can for others when the time comes. Mental conditioning of itself is good and necessary, but if you don't let it lead to physical preparation (food, shelter, etc.), you're more likely to end up suffering the things you fear most. Yes, your spiritual condition will be most important, but how will you increase the quality of that condition if you are spending your every day scrounging for basic food? A strong mind may be able to resist the mark till the death of the person, but a solid physical situation is advised for those with average willpower so that it isn't very wise in any case to neglect a pre-trib' plan of preparation.
The net result of pre-tribulationism is to ignore the prompting of the Spirit to pray for some form of tribulation security. Though they may obey Jesus' instruction to pray for deliverance from end-time harm, pre-tribulationists think such deliverance will come about by a rapture prior to the tribulation period. While God attempts to lead them to active preparation, pre-tribbers reject any such direction, considering it to be a distraction from Satan more than a directive of God. Anything having to do with entering the tribulation is anything but God's voice because they "know" that God won't send them through it. Therefore, these believers are more likely to fall prey to the skincode.
Have you ever noticed the revealing picture in Psalm 18 of the coming of the Lord with dark clouds? It is far more dramatic than the picture in Revelation 19. You wouldn't want to be alive at that time if you fail him in the tribulation. Have you never read how the people of the earth will prefer the rocks of the mountains to fall on them rather than to face Jesus on that Day? Can you imagine the lights of the universe turning off so that the entire earth becomes pitch black? Then, in the sky, a light appears from the Messiah as he proceeds through the open throne-room of God. He radiates upon the dark storm clouds while speeding upon a cherub. Thunder and lightning is all about in the drama, shattering the so-called "PEACE AND SAFETY" in the earth, and its people recognize their doom and gasp for one last breath of life.
The saints who have died will then be whisked into the broad, open sky, and some (i.e. not all!) of those without the mark of the beast will be transported anti-gravity style to join the throng. What will CNN be saying then? Will it be on the scene? What will the New York Times be publishing the next day?
Weeping will then replace the celebration in the earth as the people see this sign in the sky. But there will be no more hesitation; the time for mercy ends. Liberalism, the stock market, porn in the local milk store...ends. The mountains and hills melt. Volcanic fire explodes forth and falls as burning hail from the sky onto the cities and nations of godless men, onto believers who in disloyalty took the mark to give themselves over to the New Sodom, and onto the goats who rejected the mark and yet did not conform to sheep-status. The earth will sway like a hut in its orbit. The only hope left for them will be to fight and defeat the King of kings, but within days, the battle of Armageddon is over, and the anti-Christ is grieving horribly in the Lake of Fire.
God has shed innumerable tears for his ailing creation; therefore, understand the immensity of the situation. The Day of the LORD that is so passionately portrayed in the Old Testament time and time again will come to its dawn. Tears will be forcefully held back, and redness of anger, the unmerciful "WRATH OF HIS WRATH" as Revelation puts it, will replace them upon his face.
How long God has waited for this Day he calls his own! How much work he has put into the preparation of our eternal glory! Are we going to enter the stage flippantly, to make ourselves naked and useless? Is it a time to cower, to shy away and depend on a false hope? Does this sound like just another day so that we should treat it as such? Isn't it time now to condition our minds for the task ahead so that we will succeed? Or is this being too macho?