Page 15 - February 2024 - Truth & Tidings
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Rapture of the Church this deception   22:63; Joh 18:23). All forms of physical abuse
        will become even more sophisticated   have been endured by His followers since.
        and widespread. The final iteration of   In the future, after the Church has gone, this
        counterfeit christs is undoubtedly the   persecution will escalate dramatically. The
        Antichrist himself (Rev 6:1-2; 13:1-10),   opening of the fifth seal presents John with
        but the Scriptures are clear that “even   the vision of souls under the altar “slain
        now are there many antichrists” (1Jn   for the word of God, and for the testimony
        2:18). The believer must not be taken in   which they held” (Rev 6:9-11).
        by “seducing spirits” (1Ti 4:1).      How should persecuted believers re-
          Second, do not be scared by catastrophes   spond? They are not to be anxious ahead
        (vv7-8). There will be many catastrophic   of time or to spend time thinking up clever
        events before the end of the age – wars,   ways to outwit their opponents. Rather, they
        earthquakes, famines. The disciples   should depend wholeheartedly on the Spirit
        had asked concerning the “sign when   of God to provide the necessary words in
        all these things [i.e., the Lord’s coming   that hour of need. They must not then fail
        and the end of the age] should be ful-  to “speak” (v11) in dependence upon Him.
        filled,” and the Lord is at pains to point   God will control the circumstances so that,
        out that such catastrophic events do not   in the worst of persecution, testimony will
        signify the end, for “the end shall not   be given to “rulers and kings” (v9) and the
        be yet” (v7). These are the “beginnings   gospel will be “published among all na-
        of sorrows” (v8), the first birth-pangs   tions” (v10).
        of an expectant mother, anticipating   Finally,  do  not  surrender  in  the  crucible
        much greater suffering in the future.   (vv12-13). Persecution will be extreme. It
        Wars,  earthquakes  and famines  will   will be personal, maximal, universal and
        grow in intensity and frequency as the   diabolical. Loved ones will call for the execu-
        age progresses. These catastrophes will   tion of their family members. Everyone will
        reach a climax following the Rapture (cf.   hate those who associate with the name of
        Rev 6:4-7). Then there will be wars and   the Lord Jesus Christ.
        “natural” disasters far greater than all   The Lord does not soften the intensity of
        that has preceded.                  the hate-filled opposition which believers
          We should not be “troubled” or fright-  will experience throughout history, and
        ened. Such things “must needs be” (v7).   particularly as the end approaches. However,
        They are the certain outcome of man’s   He adds a tremendous encouragement: “He
        sin and a groaning creation (Rom 5:12;   that shall endure unto the end, the same shall
        8:22), but God is in ultimate control and   be saved” (v13). True believers (all of whom
        is working out His purpose through   endure) can take comfort that the “end” will
        such events.                        bring them into the fulness of salvation.
          Third, do not be silent in the conflict   The introduction to the Olivet Discourse
        (vv9-11). Animosity to the gospel will   has lessons for us all in our service. We
        result in believers being delivered up   should prioritise truth in the midst of much
        to councils and beaten in synagogues   falsehood; we should learn to trust while in
        (v9). Servants of God have always expe-  an unstable world; we should testify to the
        rienced such ill-treatment, including the   Lord, even in persecution; we should keep
        Perfect Servant Himself (9:31; 10:33; Luk   in mind the triumph which will surely come.

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