Let me start out by saying that I am not going to get into the scriptures dealing with the Tribulation, it is very complex and will take a very lengthy study in looking at all the various aspects of what God’s word says about this subject. I would encourage you to get involved in a Bible study that covers this topic though. It is very exciting, and a little frightening at times, as well as being very revealing of how God and Satan will work during these final moments in time.
First of all in God’s word, the Bible, it does not say when the end of the world will come. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 that many people will appear and say that they are the Christ, but Jesus tells his disciples that when the last day arrives for the Earth, he will come like lightning across the sky, everyone will see him at once.
Now what about the times before the tribulation comes about, before Jesus arrives and the end of the world occurs? Jesus tells his disciples that the world’s birth pains near the end will be full of famines, earthquakes, and wars and rumors of wars. Some today are saying that it is now happening, that we are entering the end times. Many are even looking at such things such as the Mayan calendar and saying that this year in 2012, we are going to experience this, the last year of life on earth. Is this to be the case? Let’s look at what the Bible has to say.
What does God’s word tell us about the last day, will we know about when that day will arrive? Again in Mathew 24:36 Jesus tells his disciples that even God’s angels in heaven do not know when the last day will be. Jesus goes on to say that not even he, God’s son, will be privileged with the knowledge of when the last day is going to happen. Jesus says that only God knows when that day will arrive.
So then, are we to prepare for the tribulation that precedes the end of the world? That is a complicated question in that since we do not know when the last day on earth will be, we are also not given the knowledge of how much time we have to prepare for those cataclysmic events, that bring about the final day of our earth. Different Christian faiths have various beliefs as to whether we as Christians will even be in the tribulation that precedes the last day.
Some Christians interpret the Bible to mean that Jesus will rapture us before all these horrible things take place in the tribulation, while other Christians believe we will indeed go through it. In spite the different positions taken on this topic, scriptures do tell us that there will be Christians living during the tribulation. Whether these are Christians who accept Christ before or during the Tribulation is left up to speculation. (Rev. 13:7&10; 14:12 & 20:4-5) So if we are not going through the tribulation, do we still have an obligation to be prepared? Jesus tells his disciples that we must be prepared as recorded in Mathew: 24:42-51. His statements to his disciples are very sobering and right to the point; we must be made ready, but then in what ways are we to be prepared? Do we go out and buy weapons, food, save silver and gold, or that of building fences around our homes? In what way does God want us to be ready for these times?
In Matt 24:4 Jesus tells us to be aware and watchful of these things: In versus 4 through 8 of Mathew 24, Jesus warns us to be on the watch for false prophets, wars and rumors of wars, nations rising up against nation, kingdoms against kingdoms, as welling saying there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. These are the beginnings of the end, or birth pains. So Jesus wants us to be watchful or observant of these things that will take place. What else does the Bible say about preparedness?
In the Old Testament, God was very specific in what he wanted his children to do during times of crisis. He did not give generalities; God was very detailed in his directions in what he wanted his people to do. God warned Noah about the upcoming flood and specifically what he wanted of Noah by him building a large boat for his family, and to bring in sets of 2 of every animal to his boat, as recorded in Genesis chapter 6. God also warned the Pharaoh of Egypt through Joseph, a man of God who was given the gift of dream interpretations. This led Joseph into explaining the king’s dreams. Joseph informed the Pharaoh of what he must do to save his people as recorded in Genesis 41:30-31. God also warned Lot and his family that they must leave Sodom and Gomorrah right away, this was due to the cities being destroyed by God for their wickedness as recorded in Genesis 19:14. In Genesis 41:30-31 God warned the Israelites (Exodus 12:23) living under Egyptian slavery that the angel of death would come and take every first born that did not have lambs blood sprinkled about the doorway to their homes. God also warned the people of Nineveh through the prophet Jonah, of God’s coming destruction if they did not repent and turn away from their wicked ways. Because Jonah listened and obeyed God’s leading by telling the Ninevites what God wanted of them, the people of Nineveh repented and averted God’s judgment. (Jonah 3:4-5)
In all these instances, God spoke to his people in what they must do to be in his will. God revealed to them his desires because these individuals were praying and listening to his voice. They spent time reading his word to better understand God’s will for themselves and his people. God might choose to do something totally different for your Christian neighbor than for yourself and your family. There is no formula for how God works, only that we must be listening to him, reading his word and asking God what he wants us to do, to be prepared for any eventuality in our lives. During perilous times such as these that we live in today, it is so important to seek God out and listen to what he has for you. When you do this, it does not matter what is happening all around you, that is, if you are carrying out God’s plan for your life. The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Paul had learned that in all circumstances, with prayer and petition and praise to God for everything that we have and are going through, all of these things have a purpose in his plan for us. We are not dependent on the world; God will provide, direct and lead us in all areas of our lives, if our eyes are focused on him. He does not ask us to be blind to what is happening in the world, but he does ask that we be not overcome by it. Know where your peace and life come from, and all that is around you will fade into insignificance when you are in God’s presence. Remember this, Jesus has overcome the world. (John 16:33)