Eyes but Do They See?

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).

“Lifesaver” discussion continued.

Question 10: Is knowing the tribulation is coming enough? What must Christians do to prepare for these difficult times?

Answer 10: Knowing is not enough. It is only half the battle, but an important step nevertheless. We have to clear our head of false ideas or we will be unprepared for the distress Jesus says the elect will endure prior to his coming. We must study and teach prophecy. That was Paul’s encouragement to the church in Corinth.  The prophets have the revelation we need. Gather with others who dig into prophecy using the rules I referred to earlier. Develop Christian communities that are self-sufficient. Do all the things Jesus says or we won’t pass our future test. Nothing can be done for those in denial. They will likely fall away because they put their trust in a lie.

   No one can afford to ignore prophecy. Heads must come out of the sand. This is all about salvation. Our Savior wants us to be saved to the uttermost. He wants our bodies and souls to be saved from what will soon come upon the whole earth. His Son Jesus is coming as the deliverer of his people. He is coming to establish his reign and rule over the earth and those he saves from out of the time of great distress will make up his kingdom and his priests. That is the future salvation that is written into Scripture in Revelation. Christ will demonstrate his glory and God will reveal his Sovereignty. He will punish those who alter prophecy for that reason. For those alive today, there is nothing more important than to know the truth. Why are we confused or in the dark about it? I suggest there is a diabolical answer to that question.

“Lifesaver” discussion continued.

Question 8: So what you are saying then, is that those supporting the Pre-Tribulation Rapture look for scriptures to support their view, rather than searching the scriptures for what is actually there?

Answer 8: Yes, you nailed it! That’s what not only Pre-tribbers do but other Christian ideologues do on a host of pet subjects. That’s how we get the cult spin-off groups.

   I have made it a point to tell my students, that if you start out with a wrong assumption, you cannot come to a correct conclusion. That’s where this is at. I saw this repeatedly in the writings or statements of Pre-Tribbers. They begin at the wrong starting place and go from there with cleverly crafted scenarios. Sincere students, those who are teachable, are susceptible because they trust teachers who love the Lord and sound knowledgeable about Scripture. Prophecy is still future so we think, “Who are we to say; they could be right.” If we would be more like the Bereans and listen intently to what our teachers give us from the Bible, then go back and examine it critically for ourselves to see if it is true, we would not have the differences we have in the church.

   I was surprised by how easy this book was to write. Coming up with Biblical arguments that dismantled PTR suppositions or starting points was not difficult. It helps that I did not just destroy. I had something valid to replace the false. Truth always gives hope.

“Lifesaver” discussion continued.

Question 7: So you are saying that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is a lie?

Anwers 7: As far as what it is, I concluded that Pre-tribulationalism is a failed ideology. PTR ideology is an extension of Dispensationalism—a theology that explains for them in a simple way God’s working throughout history and into the future. It is easy to understand and easy to teach. In regard to prophecy, it happens to be false.

  To support Dispensationalism, a Pre-tribulational story-line had to be created from the Scriptures. For reasons, it caught hold among the Biblically-minded and what was a theory is now dogma in a lot of places. Ideologues make everything fit into their way of looking at things. They believe whatever because that is the prism they choose to look at everything through.