In a book of this nature, it is necessary to offer a biblical strategy for spiritual survival during the tribulation period to those who will not be ready to meet the heavenly Bridegroom, and will consequently be left behind. In the light of what has already been said in the book, supplementary information and advice are given in this chapter. The main purpose with the strategy is to indicate to people how they can spiritually survive and ensure that they get to heaven despite the most gruesome tribulation and deception that they will have to face during the Antichrist’s reign of terror.
The promise of escape from the tribulation is only for those who are spiritually ready and worthy (Mk. 13:33-37; Lk. 21:34-36). The fulfilling of this promise will be a tremendous shock to the backslidden, compromising and worldly-minded Church of the 20th century. Utterly panic-stricken, they will have to face the fact of their spiritual bankruptcy. The question on everybody’s lips will be: “What will happen now, and what should we do?”
The Bible has clear answers to these and other questions. It will guide those who have been left behind to work out a proper plan of action. If biblical instructions are carefully followed, people can still be saved during the tribulation period and ensure that they inherit the kingdom of heaven.
However, it won’t be easy to find the way to eternal life through the narrow gate during this time. Apart from the basic requirement of faith in the Lord Jesus as Saviour, a very high price of self-denial, economic impoverishment and public scorn and rejection will have to be paid. Counting the cost to become a Christian will also include the willingness to die as a martyr for your faith.
Although many people will accept the challenge to obtain eternal life the majority will, to their everlasting ruin, choose the easier way out of the dilemma. The mass deception of the false church will be so strong that millions of people will be swept away by it.
On the following page is a basic exposition of events in the two halves of the tribulation period. From the rest of the discussion the distinctive nature of the two periods, that is the false peace of 3½ years and the great tribulation of 3½ years, will be quite obvious.
(THE 70th YEAR-WEEK OF DANIEL)
Seven year long absence of the Bride of Christ from the earth. During her earthly ministry she shined as a light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. After her departure, spiritual darkness will prevail on earth.
RULE OF THE ANTICHRIST
Antichrist is revealed as Prince of Peace. He bases his global leadership position on political, religious and economic structures.
Antichrist desecrates the temple, abolishes the sacrificial service and declares himself as God. Israel abrogate their covenant with him.
The New World Order with its universal government and World Peace Force is instituted, and it greatly empowers the alliance of world religions.
The alliance of world religions (the false world Church) is destroyed and replaced by the forced worship of the Antichrist as God.
The Antichrist concludes a covenant with Israel as their Messiah. All other religions accept and worship him in this capacity.
Severe persecution is instituted against Jews and Christians who refuse to worship the Antichrist as God. They are convicted and executed.
The third temple is built in Jerusalem next to the Islamic mosque. The lie is proclaimed that all religions worship the same God.
The Antichrist becomes sole ruler and military dictator. He controls a cashless world economy by means of computerised 666 related numbers.
Babylon is rebuilt in Iraq as the New Age capital and symbol of world unity. A temporary economic recovery and a false peace prevails on earth.
An unprecedented death-toll is caused by wars, pestilences and natural disasters. Military mobilisation for the battle of Armageddon occurs.
The moment when the rapture occurs, the light of the world will be gone. Great spiritual darkness will prevail after those who have witnessed for the true light, Jesus Christ, have left planet earth and are nowhere to be found. Panic will suddenly erupt, particularly in the traditional Christian world.
The backsliders, those who only had a form of godliness, the agnostics, and all the people who practised non-Christian religions will be perplexed and confused by this dramatic event. However, soon the most absurd and far-fetched explanations will be offered for the rapture in an effort to calm their feelings and allay their fears. More treacherous lies will soon follow in an attempt to deceive humanity into believing Satan’s account of the events.
Around the time of the rapture, a surprise attack will be launched on Israel by a Russo/Arab alliance (Ezek 38-39). Nuclear missiles will in all probability be deployed against Israel, thereby creating the possibility of a full-scale world war. A crisis of global proportions will suddenly be caused. The political and economic stability of the world will be seriously threatened, stock markets will collapse, and military mobilisation will occur in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and in the USA. Then, events will take a quite unexpected turn...
The enemy forces deployed in Israel to annihilate the nation will in a highly surprising and dramatic way be destroyed by God (Ezek. 39:1-5). The besieged Israeli’s will recognise the divine intervention and give glory to God. But then they will make the fatal mistake of accepting the wrong Messiah.
A man with astounding supernatural powers will appear on the scene (2 Thes. 2:9; Rev. 13:11-13). He will claim the credit for the victory and allege that he was sent by God to avert a third world war and thereby to save humanity from a terrible catastrophe. He will conclude covenants with all nations and religious groups, and soon rise to a position of world leadership. People everywhere will follow him in amazement. They will be highly impressed by his peace initiatives and his ability to reconcile even the most hostile groups. They will refuse to see anything bad and deceptive in his actions, and openly worship and adore him as the long awaited Prince of Peace. They will even be prepared to reject and persecute the evangelical Christians who brand the new leader as the Antichrist. Such people will be regarded as negative and evil-minded.
One of the most conspicuous aspects of the Antichrist’s reign will be the close association between religion and politics. He will right from the onset combine these two offices and concurrently be the head of a world government and universal messiah. His co-ruler will be the false prophet who will be heading the alliance of world religions. He will seduce the members of all religions to honour the beast and worship him as their messiah (Rev. 13:12).
The religious cloak of the Antichrist will render him a deceiver of the masses such as this world has never known before. He will transform himself into an angel of light – a messenger of God who has come to bring real peace, unity and reconciliation to mankind. Jesus strongly warned against this kind of deception that will be perpetrated in His name: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Mt. 24:4-5; see also verse 11).
The rapture will formally end the dispensation of the Church of Christ on earth. Up to this point the guarantee was effective that Jesus will protect His Church against the attacks and wiles of the Evil One. He said: “I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18). In the great tribulation, the Antichrist will “make war with the saints and overcome them” (Rev. 13:7). He will defeat them physically but not spiritually if they remain true to the Lord Jesus Christ and their testimony of salvation (Rev. 12:11).
Long before the rapture most churches have already become victims of a lifeless form of godliness, false revivals, dogmatic deception and religious compromise through involvement with the Ecumenical Movement. In these compromising and lukewarm churches the standards are lowered as the clear condition of rebirth is not insisted upon for members to become Christians (Jn. 3:3).
All backslidden Christians (Mt. 24:12) as well as those who are saved during the tribulation will have to dissociate themselves from churches. Because the Antichrist will gain control over all governments, churches and monetary systems, the only churches that will be allowed to exist during his reign will be the false churches who recognise him as their spiritual leader.
More shocking forms of spiritual compromise and apostasy will occur in the churches and religious groups that are seeking public recognition as well as the right to remain ‘in business’. The small evangelical churches that were almost emptied by the rapture will not be allowed to exist during this time as they will refuse to worship the Antichrist as Universal Messiah. If they do compromise for the sake of continued existence they, too, will become false.
Much more than the resisting of the Antichrist and his ideologies will be needed to survive spiritually during the time of the tribulation. The blood of the Lamb of God that was shed for the atoning of the sins of a lost world will still be the only basis for salvation (Eph. 1:7; 1 Jn. 1:8-9; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). You will have to confess your sins to the Lord and also forsake them (Prov. 28:13). Accept His forgiveness in faith, become spiritually renewed (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 5:17) and experience deliverance from the power of sin (Jn. 8:36). Witness to other people about your salvation (Rom. 10:9-10) and your unconditional commitment to the Lord Jesus. Have fellowship with other Christians and encourage one another to persevere to the end.
A great outpouring of the Holy Spirit will occur among Jews: “And I will pour on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10).
Right at the beginning of the tribulation a group of 144 000 Jews will be saved. Endued with the power of the Holy Spirit, they will boldly proclaim that Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha Mashiach) is the only true Messiah of Israel and the whole world. Their testimony will immediately bring them in conflict with the followers of the false messiah, whose deceit will be exposed by the Messianic Jews. Persecution of the followers of the true Messiah will commence in all fury, but the Lord will protect and keep them (Rev. 7:1-8).
Christians who are newly saved, must associate with the Messianic Jews and support them despite the risk of persecution. Regard it as the very last chance to do something for the extension of the Lord’s kingdom on earth. Don’t be drawn into the structures of the false church of that time and in that way give credibility to the false messiah who will be sent by the Devil. They will both pretend to be ‘angels of light’ to deceive naive people (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
The nature of the persecution of Christians will take different forms in the two halves of the tribulation period. The first 3½ years will be characterised by a false peace and unity, while the last 3½ years are aptly described as a great tribulation. During the first half the Antichrist will rule in association with other leaders, and also handle religious affairs in consultation with the leaders of the alliance of world religions. Force will be used, but not excessively so and only with the consent of his co-rulers. Softer methods of intimidation, bribery, deception and brainwashing will be employed to gain wider support. When the use of force is necessitated, an international 'Peace Force' will be commissioned to discipline the opponents of the New World Order. They will be branded as rebels whose actions and beliefs constitute a major threat to world peace and unity.
An extensive propaganda campaign and psychological war will be waged against the fundamental Christians who only worship the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, and explicitly dissociate themselves from the alliance of world religions. They will be hated and condemned by all nations, and also by the powerful religious alliance of the false messiah.
The following scenario of the persecution of Christians will progressively manifest during the tribulation period. Initially, the fundamental Christians will experience hatred, rejection and intimidation. With the passing of time, pressure against them will mount and culminate in a campaign of extermination:
The Christians of the tribulation must refrain from compromising in any way whatsoever. Be among those who refute the kingdom of the beast, and instead proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Be prepared to die as a martyr for your faith and never shrink from the implications of your decision: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10:28).
In order to achieve the maximum advantage for the kingdom of God, it is important to follow the right approach from the very beginning of the tribulation. Guard against the tendency to live a life of self-interest in which you only pursue the economic survival of your family and yourself. Not one Christian will physically survive the tribulation, and should never regard the challenge of economic and physical survival, as well as hiding, as major objectives. The following are guidelines for a sensible strategy:
· You are commissioned to resist the Antichrist and, like Daniel’s three friends, not to bow the knee before the modern king of Babylon. Warn as many people as possible against the deception and spiritual dangers of recognising the false messiah. Collaborate with other Christians to organise an awareness campaign against the dangers of deception and compromise.
· Don’t make futile attempts to dethrone the Antichrist or to promote your endangered national interests. The tribulation is the hour of darkness, and to its leader will be given authority over every tribe, tongue and nation (Rev. 13:7). Warn people against being loyal to this deceiver and dictator, and convince them to be prepared to pay the highest price for their faith in the true Messiah.
· Don’t do foolish things which may at an early stage lead to your arrest, imprisonment or execution. Try to stay out of the reach of the Antichrist and his forces for as long as possible. Guard against their treacherous methods to get information about the movements and whereabouts of Christians. They will most definitely also plant informants among the true believers to spy on them. Daniel says that “many shall join with them by intrigue” (Dan. 11:34). Make very sure about a person’s testimony of salvation and don’t reveal unnecessary information to newcomers.
· As in the time of the early Church, Christians should assist one another to survive economically. Sell your fixed property, unless it can be used as a basis for survival or as some kind of Christian centre. Remember that you won’t be able to sell any property during the second half of the tribulation when a cashless monetary system based on the number of the Antichrist will be in operation. Also sell other assets that you don’t really need on the short term. Spend the money on evangelism and the provision of places of refuge for fellow Christians. Food, cooking facilities, clothes, blankets and medical supplies should also be bought and stored in a safe place. Don’t resign your work and abandon your source of income during the first 3½ years unless unacceptable pressure is exerted upon you.
· During the first 3½ years, centres for evangelism should be established in various centres where Bibles and Christian literature can be stored and even printed. Only use the King James Version of the Bible as a reliable account of the Word of God. Store some of the Bibles and literature in secret places where it can’t be easily traced and confiscated by the antichristian authorities. Remember that the Word of God will become unobtainable: “They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it" (Amos 8:12).
A very shocking event will occur after 3½ years, in the middle of the tribulation period. The Antichrist, who is depicted as a beast with seven heads in the book of Revelation, will be assassinated but revive again after a few days (Rev. 13:3). To the amazement of all people he will miraculously arise from the dead. People will fear him as a divine ruler with the most astounding supernatural powers. They will worship him, as well as Lucifer through whose power he was revived from the dead: “And all the world marvelled and followed the beast. So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Rev. 13:3-4).
The satanic triumvirate of the Devil, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will move swiftly to usurp all power on earth. Satanism will be the only officially recognised religion in the world, and those who refuse to subject themselves to it will be executed in public (Rev. 13:15). All adversaries of their rule will be mercilessly killed.
Of these terrible evils the Lord Jesus said: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” (Mt. 24:21-22).
In order to obtain absolute control over all people the Antichrist will institute a centrally controlled, cashless economic system for the world. 666 related personal identity numbers will be issued to all economic active people, without which it will be impossible to gain access to the cashless monetary system. The 666 qualifies this number explicitly as the number of the beast; consequently it associates the bearer with the satanic rulers of the New World Order.
An oath of allegiance will have to be made to the Antichrist and his world government before a personal identity number will be issued. The oath will also imply allegiance to the beast as the god of this world, and for that reason the taking of the oath will be a covenant with death (Rev. 14:9-11). This absolute form of control will extend much further than buying and selling, as people will subject themselves body, soul and spirit to the control of this evil dictator. Don’t follow the example of Esau by selling your soul to the Devil for financial gain (Heb. 12:16-17).
The refusing of the Antichrist’s number will have such severe implications that only strongly committed Christians will be able to face it. Among these are the following:
· Persons who refuse it will forfeit their identity number as well as their right of citizenship of their own country and the world state. That will be a punishable act.
· It will be regarded as the rejection of the New World Order and its leader, whose mark will be part of the new ID numbers. Those without the number will be charged for high treason and summarily executed in public.
· It will also be regarded as a rejection of the compulsory religion of the New World Order, which is the worshipping the beast as God. The death penalty will equally apply to this offence.
· Without the number, no access will be gained to the system of electronic funds transfer (EFT). Such a person will not be able to buy, sell or settle any accounts. It will be impossible to license a car and to buy fuel. Bills for services and taxes will remain unpaid, as well as instalments on property, motor cars and other commodities. In default of payment property will be confiscated or repossessed. The message is clear: nobody without the number will be able to remain economically active within this system.
· People will lose their jobs and they won’t be re-employed without an ID number, as these future numbers will at the same time serve as pay and bank numbers.
· After the introduction of the cashless economy, all the money that a person have will be converted to credit that can only be transferred to other accounts or utilised for payment by making use of the new personal identity number.
It is evident that economic control will be a mighty weapon in the hands of the Antichrist to force people to accept his New World Order, and to worship him as their god. In this way he will enslave the entire world population by depriving them of all the political, economic and religious liberties they previously had.
Those who refuse the number will become unemployed, robbed and impoverished fugitives. Because of high treason against the Antichrist and his governance structures, they will face a certain death penalty when they are arrested. Special task forces will hunt them down and drag them to the guillotines. Some will be shot while fleeing, and many others will die of starvation, polluted water, diseases and exposure to harsh climatic conditions.
When the Antichrist declares himself to be God, the Israeli nation will reject him and break their covenant with him. He will then become their biggest enemy on earth and try to annihilate all of them. For a remnant of Jews to survive, they will have to flee from Israel to a place in the wilderness (probably Petra south of the Dead Sea) where the Lord will sustain them for the 3½ years of the great tribulation. It is to this hasty flight that Matthew 24:15-21 refers.
Christians will likewise be pursued and executed for refusing to worship the Antichrist as God (Rev. 6:9-11; 13:15). Despite their own suffering and hardships they should help the fugitive Jews and inform them about the true Messiah and His coming on the Mount of Olives at the end of the false messiah’s 3½ year reign of terror (Dan. 12:11-12; Zech. 14:4-5). Concerning the Jews, the Lord said: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you” (Gen. 12:3).
Although the Antichrist will muster awesome political, military, economic and religious power during his reign on earth, he will never be able to force true Christians into subservience to him. He will succeed in killing the saints, but he won’t gain their worship if they prefer to remain true to Jesus. During this dark hour the Lord will empower His witnesses to resist the Antichrist and remain faithful unto death: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death" (Rev. 12:11).
In the quoted verse, three powerful weapons are mentioned that are to be used by Christians in the struggle:
· The first one is the blood of the Lamb. It forms the basis of salvation when a person confesses his sins to the Lord (1 Pet. 1: 18-19; 1 Jn. 1:8-9). The blood of Christ also protects you against the attacks of the enemy. Trust the Lord Jesus to protect you with His blood when you are in spiritual danger.
· The second weapon is the word of testimony. To witness about the saving grace and redemptive power of your Redeemer, renders the enemy of your soul incapable of influencing you. A testimony of this nature will give sinners the courage to stand up and commit their lives to the conqueror, Jesus Christ. Never stop witnessing!
· To be without fear for death, even in the face of a martyr’s death to which the Antichrist will subject Christians, is a mighty spiritual weapon. It will give undisputed credibility to your witness if you are prepared to die for it. If you are afraid of death, and perhaps even prepared to deny Jesus for the sake of pardon, your Christian witness will be powerless and unconvincing. The enemy will then scoff at you.
The Antichrist and his followers are heading for everlasting punishment away from God and His glory in the lake of fire: “Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. 19:19-21; see also Rev. 14:9-11).
Despite the fact that Christians stand to lose all material possessions, rights and privileges they have during the great tribulation, their final destiny will be glorious (see Rev. 7:9-17 and 21:4-5). Will you be among the multitude of redeemed ones from all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues? There is also room for you!
In the light of these wonderful promises of ultimate victory, the martyrs can take courage to persevere on their arduous course. If they remain faithful unto death, they will inherit the kingdom of God and soon rule with Jesus Christ on earth: