Ever since the Left Behind series was first released back in 1995, interest in End Times prophecy has sky rocketed. There are so many different interpretations about how things will play out in those days.
Some people believe that Jesus will return and take the church to heaven in the blink of an eye before the Great Tribulation throws the Earth and its inhabitants into turmoil the likes of which have never been seen before.
Some people believe that Jesus will come mid way through the Great Tribulation and take the church to Heaven, forcing believers to endure these terrible times for 3.5 years.
Other people believe that Jesus will come only after the 7 years of great trial have been completed.
Basically the only thing believers disagree about is timing- when Jesus will return for God's children.
I've read the Left Behind series- if you haven't you can find information about it here: Left Behind Series. I've studied the Bible prophecy pertaining to the end times and I believe that the book series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye are pretty spot on. I believe in the first scenario- that Jesus will return and remove true believers from the earth before the Great Tribulation.
When Jesus was here the first time, people saw him and those whose hearts were inclined to believe didn't have to have faith that He was real. He was there, He was real, they could touch Him and hear Him with their ears. Today, we have to believe by faith alone. We've never seen Jesus with our eyes, heard him speak with our ears, touched Him or felt His touch. Our faith is all we have.
Revelation 3:10 says: 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
Because we, God's children, have believed in Him without seeing, have kept His world and endured patiently, He will take us from the Earth before the Great Tribulation. That is what I believe.
And why do I believe that those days are upon us?
Matthew 24:36-38 says: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark.
In the days of Noah, the people were corrupt, they were full of sin, they were wicked and participated in all manner of sinful lifestyles. If you read the story of Noah, you could very easily imagine that you were reading about our world today. Homosexual marriage, vulgarity and sex on TV, child abuse, murder, drugs, alcohol, and all manner of depravity are so common it fails to shock the average person.
In the days of Noah, God chose the only Godly people left. He chose Noah and his family to build the ark, save the animals, and represent Him as they rebuilt the world after the flood. And just as will be in the end times, God will take His children out of harms way when He unleashes His wrath on the earth. God made sure that Noah and his family were safely sealed inside the ark before the rains came. Because Noah and his family loved God, kept His commands, God saved them from the flood. He will do no less for His children today.
Jesus' disciples asked Jesus about the signs of the end. Here's what Jesus said in Luke 21:7-19:
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
We've had many people come and try to convince people that a certain date will mark the end of the world. Just recently a preacher insisted that the rapture would happen in May of 2011 and again in October 2011...both dates came and went and we're still here. We're hearing of wars and uprising nearly daily- our embasies and consulates being attacked all over the world, Syria and Egypt in turmoil, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel and the Palestinians.
10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
Earthquakes causing tsunamis in Asia and the south Pacific. Japan, Haiti, Chile, and Indonesia. Massive tornados, hurricanes, and snow storms around the world. Drouts causing crop failure and famine.
12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
Christians around the world are being persecuted for their faith. Church leaders in China, North and South Korea, Afganistan, Iran, and India being imprisoned, tortured, and killed just for believing in Jesus. Even here in the United States of America believers are being persecuted. Churches are being attacked, burned down, and our rights are being stripped away at an alarming rate. Families are being torn apart. Christians are being labeled as intollerant and hateful because we stand against sin. Our freedom of speech is being revolked because what we have to say isn't what the world wants to hear.
All of these things we're seeing are things that Jesus himself said would happen at the end of the age...in the time before He would return. Never before in church history has the world been more ready for the return of Christ than it is now.
I pray daily for Jesus to return. I long with everything in me for His return, to be in Heaven with Him. But I know He waits for one reason only...He loves every unsaved person as much as He loves those of us who've made the choice to love Him back. He wants everyone to come to Him and He'll be patient until the time when He knows there is no more hope. That being said, it is up to us, God's children, to take up the cross daily and win souls for Him. Win the lost, do what we must- sacrifically so- to lead the blind to the arms of Christ.
We are at the gates of eternity. The signs are before us, staring us in the face if we'll but open our eyes to see them. Jesus is preparing to return! Do you have someone in your family who is lost? Someone in your neighborhood who doesn't know Jesus? Can you in good conscience let those people continue to live in darkness when you have the lamp the light the way? Can you picture them trying to survive in a world ruled literally by Satan. Through the Great Tribulation that will be the worst and most desperate time our world has ever faced?