The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people. (Ezekiel 12:1-2 NIV)
How can prophetic truth be so distorted or misunderstood by so many who boast that they love Scripture? “God said it. I believe it. That settles it!” is the mantra of Gospel preachers and Bible believers alike. But does this bold declaration apply when Jesus’ testimony conflicts with the teaching of our pastors.
A case in point involves Jesus’ promise of “Great tribulation” or “time of great distress” (Greek thlipsis megala). “Great distress or tribulation” is mentioned four times in the context of the Bible’s teaching on the end times (Daniel 12:1, Matthew 24:21, Luke 21:23, Revelation 7:14). Examining these prophecies in their context, using the basic rules for interpretation, how can so-called Bible-believers assert “in the rapture the Church will escape the great tribulation”? Could it be that they have eyes, but do not see?
Do many Christian leaders have ears, yet fail to hear? A friend noted the term “the elect” or “chosen” used in Matthew 24:22. With respect to the intensity and global scope of the thlipsis megala (great distress) we read, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect [bold emphasis mine] those days will be shortened.”
It must be hidden from their eyes or how could an entire segment of Christianity conclude that the elect are in heaven with Jesus prior to the Tribulation? The simplest among us will reason that the elect will survive only because the great distress is cut short or shortened (Matt. 24:22). Those who stand firm to the end are saved (Matt. 24:13) through their time of severe trial, not from it. Every other N.T. use of “the elect” is taken as a synonym for the church. God’s chosen people. Why do we allow someone educated by men to tell us it means something other than what it says?
Bible school students often emerge from their training claiming the prophecy in Matthew 24 applies only to Jews who remain after the church is taken up. What about the parallel Scripture in Mark 13 and Luke 21? Are these accounts, also of The Olivet Discourse, exclusively for the Jews or are they two more witnesses against those who reject the truth?
When Christ prophesied to his disciples about the time of great distress in Luke 21:12-24, was he speaking to Jews or was it to his disciples as our “federal head” (see prior post)? The elect are wise with seeing eyes. They will not be fooled. They anticipate their suffering and affliction during the days of Satan’s unequaled wrath.
For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. -Jesus (Matthew 24:24)
Who but someone with a veil over their eyes will make the argument the church is raptured before the Tribulation period begins? If ears do not hear, than we remain ignorant of the Lord’s words, “See, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matt. 24:25)
If Christians are unprepared for the thlipsis megala the fault does not lie with their blind guides. If they fall into a hole, it is on them. Before bragging about our faith in God’s Word, we ought to take God’s eye test (cf. Jeremiah 1:11-15). Only if we see through the lens of Scripture will we stand in the hour of our great test (cf. Matt. 24:10, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 9-12).