Furious and frustrated over his blazingly imminent end, Satan is gearing up for a monumental, last-ditch effort to capture the souls of men and women. Satan is an adversary who wishes to harm us by denying God exists and/or attacking His character. Raging psychopath, liar and mass murderer that he is, Lucifer’s mind is consumed with his mad ambition to take as many captives as possible with him into the dark pit. When we flagrantly disobey the rules God established for our protection and well-being, we play into the hands of the adversary.
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. [Matthew 24:21]
The organized church has tended to ignore scriptural revelation of the specifics of the Great Tribulation.
The last seven years of the “age” is known as the Tribulation Period when God will pour out great judgments upon the world because of the sins and wickedness of men.
Modern liberals claim that a loving God would not harshly judge mankind, even though Scripture is very clear that God’s righteousness demands judgment.
Even evangelicals who accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God tend to neglect the passages dealing with the Great Tribulation. Many of them try to explain away the time of great distress as something that occurred in the troubles of the early church. Others ignore it because they are convinced they will not have to endure it as they will be raptured before it begins.
The Signs Are All Around Us
We’ve become a proud people, lovers of self, boastful, profane, disobedient, unthankful, unholy, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, despisers of all that is good.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. [2 Timothy 3:1-5]
There are many people in this world who believe they are following God – they go to church on Sunday and are going through the motions of their faith. Yet, they have permitted a moral rot to infect this world and will be largely responsible for bringing us to the threshold of judgment. They are those “having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
Men will reject the truth until God will turn them over to the “strong delusion” of the Antichrist who will cause them to believe a lie and be damned [2 Thessalonians 2:9-12]. Incredibly, even after God pours out His judgments upon men, they will still defy Him.
At the end of this Tribulation period all the armies of the nations of the world will be gathered together in the valley of Armageddon just north of Jerusalem. It will start with little wars and grow and grow until there will be a great climax “Armageddon.” They will be there to destroy Israel but Jesus Christ shall destroy all of these armies at His Coming. (Zech. 14, Isa. 13:1-18). Already we see the armies gathering in that vicinity as we see the stage being apparently set for this great slaughter.
A Time of Distress Like No Other
Mankind has suffered tribulation throughout the ages but here is distinguished a future tribulation unlike any we have experienced. It is a seven year period that comprises Daniel’s 70th week ending with the second coming of Christ and the setting up of the Millennial Kingdom.
Our Lord told us not to be troubled, because these are only the beginning of “birth pains” [Matt. 24:8]. I believe that God is warning the world. The world has broken His covenant and has gone away from Him and these events are warnings designed to turn us to Him. And what we have seen thus far is just a prelude. The warnings are going to continue during the next few years, even building in intensity. After these warnings, the real judgment is going to come.
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand– then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. – [Matthew 24:15-28]
The Doctrine of Hell
Charles Colson writes in his book, “A Dangerous Grace”…
“When the Church does not clearly teach the doctrine of hell, society loses an important anchor.”
“In a sense, hell gives meaning to our lives. It tells us that the moral choices we make day by day have eternal significance; that our behavior has consequences lasting to eternity; that God Himself takes our choices seriously.
When people don’t believe in a final judgement, they don’t feel ultimately accountable for their actions. There is no firm least holding back sinful impulses. As the book of Judges puts it, there is “no fear of God” in their hearts, and everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
The doctrine of hell is not just some dusty theological holdover from the Middle Ages. It has significant social consequences. Without a conviction of ultimate justice, people’s sense of moral obligation dissolves; social bonds are broken.
People who have no fear of God soon have no fear of man — no respect for human laws and authorities.”
Excerpted from A Dangerous Grace Daily Readings by Charles Colson, pg. 22.