The Olivet Discourse and the Letters to the Seven Churches are a manual on how to prepare for Jesus’s return.
What the Pretrib. Teachers Say
“If the church was going to face the Antichrist, Jesus would have given us specific instructions on how to prepare. But the Bible contains nothing on how to prepare to face the Tribulation.” This paraphrased quote was part of the discussion on a recent national radio broadcast by famous pretrib. rapture teachers.
As I listened, I wondered, “What Bible are they reading?” It then dawned on my that they were likely reading the same Bible, but avoiding the sections where Jesus’s instructions are found. These teachers claim Jesus will rescue the Church prior to the 70th Week of Daniel beginning. Because of this, they don’t focus on parts of the Bible about that time. And it is those sections that contain Jesus’s instructions.
If the church faces the Antichrist and the 70th Week, it will be the greatest challenge in church history. Yet even the most prominent teachers of the pretrib. rapture position are oblivious to the instructions Jesus has given us for that time. This blindness may be the greatest threat facing the Church today. If churches are unprepared, their churchgoers may not overcome those times.
The Article Series Thus Far
This is the sixth , article in the series “Why is the Rapture Debate Important?”
In the First Article, we examined whether one can take the Mark of the Beast and still be forgiven. We decided the answer was no.
In the Second Article, we discussed why the rapture debate is necessary. We saw why Churchgoers with weak faith are at risk of falling away. In that article we also discussed the three parables Jesus told his disciples after delivering the Olivet Discourse, his teaching on the Tribulation and his return. These parables are Jesus’s primary instruction on how he wants his end time teaching applied.
In the Third Article, we examined Jesus’s warning to Christian leaders in the Parable of the Head of the House, the Thief and the Master (Matt. 24:43-51).
In the Fourth Article we examined the Parable of the Ten Virgins. We determined the foolish virgins were churchgoers who fell away and had the door of heaven closed on them.
In the Fifth Article, we examined the Parable of the Talents. We uncovered that the servant who hides his treasure is a follower of Jesus. We also determined that the treasure is the gospel, and that the servant falls away.
How to Prepare for Jesus’s Return
In this article, we will examine Jesus’s specific instructions on how to prepare for his return. Now it only makes sense that these instructions about his return will be the sections of the Bible that are about his return.
Two major parts of the Bible contain most of Jesus’s instructions on preparing for his return. Those sections are the Olivet Discourse and the Letters to the Seven Churches. The Bible organizes both of these sections according to the Seven Seals (Rev. 6). Both sections parallel the seals in exact order and give advice on how to overcome during the time surrounding each seal.
Now most prophecy experts understand that the events in the Olivet Discourse parallel the seals. Even major pretrib. teachers like Ice, Walvoord, and Hitchcock agree. However, most of the church is oblivious to the fact that the Letters to the Seven Churches also parallel this section. It is beyond the scope of this article to demonstrate why.
If you are interested in an in depth examination of the reasons why, and a comprehensive study of the letters, please pick up a copy of Revelation Deciphered. It is the ground-breaking book on this subject.
This article will present Jesus’s specific instructions organized by “seal.” In other words, we will present all of Jesus’s instructions regarding the first seal. Then we will present all the instructions regarding the second seal, etc.
The First Seal: Deception
When the first seal opens, the Antichrist and other false prophets and messiahs will enter the scene. They will attempt to deceive the world. Jesus’s specific instruction is:
And He said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them. (Luke 21:8)
Jesus wants us to know that false messiahs will come in HIS name. Does this mean that they will claim to be Jesus? Yes, it may mean that. In addition to potentially claiming to be Jesus, these false prophets and messiahs will perform miraculous signs:
For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. (Matt. 24:24-26)
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the [d]deeds you did at first. (Rev. 2:4-5)
- Do not believe the false wonders of the false prophets
- Do not believe that the false Jesus is Jesus. Jesus said his coming would be on the clouds and “like lightening.” The sign of his coming is his Shekinah Glory.
- Fall in love with Jesus again. It will be necessary to overcome all the seals.
Second Seal: Chaos and War
When the second seal opens, the Antichrist will break the false peace he established. War, revolutions, and fighting in the streets will ensue. Jesus has one simple command upon the outbreak of this chaos:
When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first (Luke 21:9)
“Do not be terrified” is not an easy command to obey. The wars may be nuclear. The fighting on the streets and revolutions may be in your own city. However, Jesus gave the reason not to be terrified. He is in control. “These are the things that must take place.” This is part of his plan.
In the Letter to Smyrna, Jesus reiterated the command to not be afraid.
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Rev. 2:10)
In this letter, Jesus gives us a further instruction, “Be faithful unto death.” Jesus asks us prepare ourselves mentally for what is to come. Because the subsequent seals will be more challenging, he asks us to prepare ourselves to become martyrs.
Third Seal: Economic Distress
Jesus prophesied, “There will be famines.” If there will be famines, we need to prepare. Jesus gave the prescription in the Parable of the Master, the Thief, and the Head of the House in the Third Article (Matt. 24:43-51) In this article, we analyzed Jesus’s teaching in this parable. We learned that Jesus wants us to be “Josephs” in the 70th Week. He wants the leaders of his “house” to provide food for his household. If you want to refresh your understanding of this parable, reread the article.
In the Letter to Pergamum, Jesus instructs us not to eat food under the Mark of the Beast system:
You have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. (Rev. 2:14)
Eating food sacrificed to idols is the equivalent to eating under the Mark of the Beast. The image of the Beast is an idol after all. The False Prophet will likely introduce the Mark to take advantage of the famines. Churches that have prepared and have food available for their congregation may be help their folk avoid the temptation to take the Mark. In the feeding of the 5000, a young boy provided his lunch, and from that lunch, Jesus did a miracle. Might the initial food storage done in faith have a similar miraculous result?
Notice that Jesus holds us accountable for all those within our sphere of influence. He says, “you have there some.” He expects us to provide for his household not just ourselves (Matt. 24:45).
Fourth Seal: Abomination of Desolation
Jesus said, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place . . .” (Matt 24:15). The fourth seal marks the beginning of the reign of Antichrist. This is a sign that Jesus expects us all to see.
Therefore, we are all to watch for this horrible sign to know when the Great Tribulation is about to begin.
In the Letter to Thyatira, Jesus warns us that he intends to bring pestilence upon the people who follow Jezebel. Although, we are not exactly sure who Jezebel represents (perhaps the harlot), God is going to bring disease on them. Christians need to be aware of this and not fear the disease. In Psalm 91 we read about this time.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that [a]stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you. (Psalm 91:5-7)
Fifth Seal: Great Tribulation
After the abomination, the Antichrist will launch an all out war on Christians and Jews. Because this is such a critical moment in the history of the world, we will address this in the final article in this series.
What the Pretrib. Teachers aren’t Teaching
However, let’s first take a moment to examine all of Jesus’s specific instructions that nearly all pretrib. teachers are avoiding.
- Do not believe the false wonders of the false prophets. If this is not taught, will the unsuspecting “foolish virgins” be deceived into thinking it is a true work of God? Jesus said these miracles will be so deceptive as to almost fool the elect.
- Do not believe that the false Jesus is Jesus. Jesus said his coming would be on the clouds and “like lightening.” The sign of his coming is his Shekinah Glory. If this is not taught, will the unsuspecting “foolish virgins” be deceived into thinking the Antichrist is Jesus and worship him?
- Fall in love with Jesus again. It will be necessary to overcome all the seals. If we do not teach this, will those excepting to escape think a lower level of love for Jesus will suffice?
- Do not be terrified by the wars and chaos. If we do not teach this, the “foolish virgins” will be terrified. They will not encourage others around them. Additionally, they may also choose to worship Antichrist out of fear (Rev. 13:4).
- Prepare mentally and emotionally to face martyrdom. Although some may be able to face martyrdom with faith even without preparation, most need to “set their minds” on it. A long period of emotional preparation may be necessary for most in order to know what to do when the moment comes.
- Prepare to be like Joseph to provide for Jesus’s household. If we do not teach this, churches and house churches will not think to put away food. Without some initial food storage, many “foolish virgins” will be tempted to take the Mark of the Beast.
- Teach all Christians the importance of not taking the Mark of the Beast. If we do not teach this, imagine the number of “foolish virgins” who will fall away.
- Teach all Christians to recognize the sign of the Abomination of Desolation. This horrible sign is the only way Christians can accurately identify the Antichrist. If we do not teach this, Christians will fail to identify him and many will fall away for this reason.
- Instruct all Christians that a plague will fall on the people of Antichrist If this is not taught, Christians will fear providing medical assistance to those with this disease and many evangelistic opportunities will be lost.