“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
The Lord gave Mike a vision of an athlete with a race set before him. He trains and prepares himself everyday for it. He denies himself the kinds of food and drink, entertainment and anything else that would hinder his ability to run his best. He brings his body into submission for it. His desire is not only to finish the race, but to win the prize! The day of the race has arrived and he is anxious to run. He feels so ready to run that it is hard for him to be still. He then climbs into the starting block and the gun goes off. He takes off with great confidence and runs with the strength he has built. He comes around the last corner and gives it all he has as he crosses what he believes is the “finish line” – only to find that his vision of the finish line is 10 yards short.
What the Lord has revealed to us about His Church is that we have had our eyes on the wrong finish line. Most of my younger life I was taught about future events as to the Church being taken out (the rapture) according to Revelation chapter 4 before all the major judgments, and that “the rapture” will take place before the Church will suffer any of God’s “woes” listed in the book of Revelation.
It was in my quiet times that I read and studied out the following passages of 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, Revelation chapters 1 – 10 and Daniel 12. All of the things mentioned in 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians are mentioned in Revelation along with the “mystery” of what is, I believe, “the rapture” of the faithful church (Revelation 10:6-7).
Revelation 10:6-7 “There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
Daniel 12:6 “One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?”
Daniel 12:7-12 “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” The “power of the holy people” is the Holy Spirit in the Lord’s people. So when He has left the earth – so does the faithful church – for the time to begin of the prophesied Great Tribulation under the world-wide reign of Anti-Christ.
“I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, ‘My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?’ He replied, ‘Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up (anti-Christ in power), there will be 1,290 days. (3 1/2 years) Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.”
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-53 “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last (7th) trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”
I asked the Lord, “Will the Church go through the ‘seal’ judgments and the six ‘trumpet’ judgments recorded for us in the first 10 chapters of Revelation?” The Lord told me, “Yes.” This is why I write about being prepared both spiritually and physically; about being prepared for what and who is coming. Most Christians don’t want to read the book of Revelation but the Lord tells us that we will be blessed in doing so. The blessing is that BECAUSE we know what is coming before it comes – we will not be caught unaware, but rather be faithfully prepared to go through the tribulation revealed in in the seal judgments and up to and through the sixth trumpet, and then be ready to meet Him in the air. We need to understand the signs of our day and then obediently do what the Holy Spirit tells us to do. This is wisdom.
Do you remember the parable the Lord taught about the ten virgins on their journey to meet the Bridegroom? Only five took ‘extra’ oil for their lamps in case the journey was longer than they thought. The other five only had the oil in their lamps and when they ran out had to go back for more oil. They missed the “rapture” by not being prepared to journey through a longer darker time. The five ‘wise’ virgins went on to meet the Bridegroom in the air, or in the clouds as the Scripture puts it in 1 Thessalonians 4. What do you think the Lord meant by “oil” and “lamps?” They were all “virgins” too. What did the Lord mean by that? I believe the Lord covers it in His letters to His churches where He rebukes most of them for something He won’t put up with, and then states what it will cost them if they do not repent (turn away from it); losing what they thought they had.
I had a hard time with this revelation about the Church stopping 10 yards short and kept it to myself for a long time. The Lord took me to the book of Exodus to show me how Israel (the Hebrews while in Egypt as slaves) went through the first 3 judgments that God pronounced on the land and the people. (God must also judge His people too, and first.) Then it says that God made a distinction between His people and the Egyptians so that no more of His judgments came on the land of Goshen where the Hebrews lived in Egypt.
The number “10” means: the end of suffering.
If what we believe is true, in that the Church will go through all the judgments up through Revelation chapter 10, then the Lord’s church has been given great knowledge along with great opportunity with His “open door that no one can shut.” (Revelation 3:8-11) This should not bring on fear, but rather great excitement and eagerness in preparing for some very difficult times and preparing provision for those left behind “the rapture of the Spirit-filled Church.” God provides through His people; we are the “body” of Christ. So, let the church be wise and hear what the Holy Spirit is saying!
Nothing or no one can stop or delay what God has planned whether it was the Savior’s ‘first’ coming into the world for His appointed time on the cross ‘in our place,’ or whether it is God’s judgments leading up to Christ our King’s ‘second’ coming to conquer, reign and renew all things that God originally called “good.”
The Lord has told us ahead of time (in His Word) what will come ‘world-wide’ so that we would not be fearful, helpless and impotent, but rather that we would make sure we are filled with Him (the oil of the Holy Spirit), useful to Him, and ready to meet Him face to face as we hope to. Is it any wonder why the devil has hindered most believers from reading and studying God’s Word on a daily basis – to know what the Lord expects them to know, and for which they will have no legitimate excuse for not knowing.
There are ‘practical’ things to do as well as there are ‘spiritual’ things to do because the physical and spiritually are united. When you know a terrific storm is coming you secure and store-up the best you can. The better prepared we are – the more God can use us to help others both physically and spiritually.
God prepares in advance for people, and so should His people prepare in advance, especially for our loved ones left behind to endure the Great Tribulation period. We don’t know the hearts of our loved ones like the Lord does. We can hope and pray, but still we don’t know until it happens who gets left behind to endure the worse time on the earth.
Preparing for others, and not just for ourselves, is “true love,” like Jesus had when He sacrificed for us and then went to prepare a place for us.
Are you prepared and ready for the Lord? Don’t be like King Hezekiah who was only concerned for his own lifetime on earth. You don’t know which loved ones will be left behind to endure extreme persecution, tempted to take the mark of the beast so that they can survive. Jesus was very clear about those who take this mark. Read Revelation 13:16-17, 14:9-10 and 16:1-2 and be PREPARED! You can fully trust the Lord our God! He will not fail the faithful!