I still hold to the pre-tribulation, pre-millennial theology of end time events. I still live with the hope that our Lord’s return to take His church out of this world is imminent.
But I have noticed that many who held this point of view back in the exciting days of the 1960-70s when Israel was vanquishing her foes in wars that lasted only 8 days. A popular subject for numerous books and scholarly articles, not to mention a vast multitude of sermons and messages from the pulpits of our land. Many of those who were so vociferous in those days, beginning with the re-establishment of Israel in 1948, have wavered and even changed their theology. Many have become mid-tribulation and even post-tribulation proponents. And I fear it is because they have fallen in the trap of interpreting the Scripture in light of current events rather than the opposite and proper way.
The current unrest and turmoil in the Middle East, I gladly admit, have me listening a bit more closely for that SHOUT and the sound of God’s trumpet when our Lord calls us home.
BUT, the challenge that a popular British preacher confronted me with ‘way back when’ still rings in my ears and challenges me to dig deeper into the Word of God. He said “You Yanks bother me with all your ‘imminent rapture’ talk. I don’t think you are as convinced from Scripture as you are realistically thinking. You know that you have gotten yourselves into such a mess morally, financially, politically, and socially, at home and on the international scene that your only hope for getting out of the problems you have created for yourselves is the rapture of the church!” (I quickly pointed out to him that I am from Georgia. I am NOT a yankee!)
But I have often confessed to my post-tribulation friends that if they are right and I’m wrong, I am the one who will suffer most. I had rather be prepared to endure suffering and tribulation and get the rapture than to carry on carelessly and carnally and not be ready to suffer for our Lord’s sake.
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”
That is still in the Bible. I read it again this morning in I Peter 4:1-2.
So how do I prepare myself for suffering? Whether it is the heartache of sending a loved one on to Heaven ahead of me or facing persecution at the hands of those who think they are doing the work and will of God, His Word gives us only one method: “Arm yourself with the same MIND” –the mind of Christ, Who has already suffered unspeakable physical, emotional and spiritual torture.