By Elizabeth Prata
There is a Tribulation to come. It is not the Tribulation now. However, the terrible things we see happening on earth today remind us of God’s stored-up wrath that the Lord will pour out on the world during that time of judgment.
Do I refer to the judgments to come because I believe we are in the Tribulation now? Of course not. The rapture of the church will happen first, and then the judgments will be rendered by the Holy and Just Judge exactly and in the order as chronicled in Revelation.
Do I speak of the severe judgment to come in order to instill fear? A little. Holy fear and biblical knowledge of the power of God in wrath is a good thing. His judgment and His wrath are holy attributes of which we should be acquainted.
I’ve been told we should not speak of judgment. “It’s so negative” people say. “You should only talk of the happy things to make people feel comfortable with Jesus,” they say. Yet, the first thing John the Baptist said in his ministry was to warn us to flee the wrath to come. He started with a message of repentance, because judgment was looming. (“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:1; and Matthew 3:7, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?“)
Repentance for sin and warnings of judgment are part of the Gospel message.
Learning about the future judgments the Bible promises should give us an urgency —
–to the lost, witness with words as to the grace available through Jesus Christ now,
–for the saved, live holy lives in the face of known coming judgment
When I read of the judgments in the Bible, not just the ones to come but the judgments already delivered upon sinful people and nations, that mirror so many of the headlines today, my mind goes this:
“Man, I’m sorry for those people. It hurts my heart to see this suffering.”
“Boy that issue is nothing like the one prophesied to come in Revelation. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy…”
“I’m sooooo grateful to have been saved by His grace and living with the knowledge that He is preparing a place for us and to receive us in His great gathering up!”
“What about my neighbor? Does she know Jesus? Does she know how much He loves us but is storing up wrath to come? I should talk with her tomorrow…”
Prophecy gives us urgency. It reveals God’s plan and offers us the wonder of seeing it fulfilled to the jot and tittle, from the past by reading the Bible, and the future as we await His return. Prophecy shows us His holy anger, of which we must fear. We gain comfort and hope- think of Simeon and Anna in the temple, eagerly awaiting the Consolation of Israel, their hope and comfort fulfilled before their eyes as Mary and Joseph came to present the babe. (Luke 2).
I like being heavenly minded. I think of seeing the face of Jesus, singing to Him with all the redeemed. I think of the street of gold, the saints of the past I’ll get to know, and so much more. Being heavenly minded also means seeing the justice of God as He renders it in the Tribulation and at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. Judgment, wrath, and hell are important aspects to mention when we discuss Jesus. There but for the grace of God go I… He took my ragged and pitifully craven life and turned it into something glorious for the Father. He put in me a new heart and my soul daily being cleansed of sin.
In all the ways above and many more, prophecy demonstrates His glory.
I encourage you all to read and study the Book of Revelation. It is not difficult, and the Spirit will make it clear. John MacArthur’s “Because the Time is Near” is tremendous in explaining the Book, or a powerful sermon called Hope for a Doomed Nation, any of his sermons at gty.org from Revelation are good. You know we receive a blessing if you read the Book of Revelation.
Zechariah has as much prophecy in it related to the final days on earth as Revelation does, if not more. I enjoyed Steve Hadley’s verse-by-verse sermons from Zechariah, or Dr. S. Lewis Johnson’s Zechariah sermons. There is so much prophecy in the Old Testament. I guess I should just say that the entire Bible is wonderful. Some say that a quarter of the whole Bible is prophetic. There is history, Law, narrative, poetry, wisdom, and prophecy. Something for everyone! So get to it today, don’t shy away from prophecy, especially Revelation.
Prophecy puts me in my place. I am a crumb, saved by grace, and at His perfect appointed time, placed within the Age of Grace to do His will, and perhaps gloriously see His rapture while I’m alive. What a privilege. Share Jesus with another, His prophetic timetable is moving quickly toward the climactic moments on earth.