Many Christians today can be eschatologically myopic. This is particularly true for many of us who live comfortably in the West, working comfortable jobs and making enough money to enjoy a fairly comfortable living while Christians in other parts of the world, especially the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia where Islam is the dominant religion, live under the constant threat of persecution and even death simply because of the very fact that they are Christian. According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians in at least 60 countries are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith. David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, and Peter F. Crossing in their 2009 report in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Vol. 33, No. 1: 32) estimate that approximately 176,000 Christians were martyred between mid-2008 to mid-2009. This, according to the authors, compares to 160,000 martyrs in mid-2000 and 34,400 at the beginning of the 20th century . And it’s getting worse.
I believe that we are in the last of the last days and are about to soon be plunged into a time that Christ described as “great tribulation” in Matthew 24. I do not believe, however, in a seven-year-tribulation nor do I believe that we, at any imminent moment, will be whisked away in a secret rapture to avoid any and all persecution that may be coming to our shores, as much as I would love for that to be the case (read here to find out where Paul and John place the gathering (rapture) of the Church in Scripture, and here to find out what the Church is according to Jesus).
As the end of the age approaches, the picture of radical Islam and its role in the Last Days is becoming increasingly clear (cf Dan 12:4), and just as our Christian brothers and sisters on the other side of the world are today being persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, shot, blown up and even beheaded for the faith of Jesus, I believe that we, too, will be present to witness all that is about to take place. As such, I hereby present to you a commentary on Revelation 13 for your consideration that I believe reveals to us the time in which we are now living today, and the time that will soon be upon us.
Buy a book written by virtually any popular ‘Bible prophecy teacher’ today and you are guaranteed — at some point within the confines of its pages — to read a sentence or two that sounds a little something like this: “The Bible says that we are not appointed unto wrath, which means that Christians are not destined to suffer the wrath of God. Since the Tribulation is the wrath of God that means, therefore, that the Church must be removed from the earth before the Tribulation begins. Otherwise, the Bible is lying.” You get the idea. Sounds reasonable, right? I mean, if the premisses are true then the conclusion must be sound, correct? In theory, yes, but only if all of the premisses are true. So allow me, if I may, to take a closer look at the ‘not appointed unto wrath’ proposition that leads many of us to conclude ‘removal from the earth’, and join me as together we delve a little bit more into the text in an effort to better understand the wrath that we see in the Book of Revelation, and the wrath that we specifically are not appointed unto. Something very, very important has been lost in translation. Read more…