December 8, 2008
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
We closed last time by stating that there is one main thread woven throughout scripture, and that is that God does not judge the righteous and the unrighteous on the same level. As you think about the hour in which we live you will need to keep this important principal in mind. He does not allow the righteous to suffer His wrath along with the unrighteous. God always provides a fair warning and a way to escape to those who serve Him. The Word says,
9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Thess. 5:9 NASB] God has not destined or appointed His people to experience His wrath. This is why I submit to you that the Church will not be on the earth for any of the events of the Great Tribulation period that is coming, I believe, in the near future. I know that there different schools of thought on this, but this is what I believe and this is the position I take after nearly thirty years of very serious Bible study.
Last time we shared with you the words of the Angel of the Lord spoken just before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities in Genesis 19. He said, 21 And he said to him, “See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.”
Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. [Gen. 19:21, 22 NKJV] I said last time that there are three important points contained in this passage.
First, the angels of God could not initiate the destruction of the cities until Lot, his wife and two daughters were physically removed from the city. Second, the city of Zoar was actually included on the hit list for God’s judgment, but was spared because Lot made Zoar his new home. Third, only after Lot was safe in Zoar did the fiery destruction consume Sodom and Gomorrah. [Vv. 23, 24] The spiritual principle of protection for the righteous is clear in the flood account and the deliverance of Lot from Sodom.
Three truths are also parallel as we explore the fact that the Lord will not send the Tribulation on earth until the Church is safe with Him in Heaven. Just as the angels were restrained from destroying Sodom until Lot was removed from the city, so the wrath of God cannot be released until believers are physically removed from the earth through the catching away, the Rapture. As we stated earlier, Believers are not appointed to wrath [1 Thess. 5:9], and we are told to pray to be accounted worthy to escape the coming Tribulation [Luke 21:36].
One reason judgment has not yet come is because multitudes of born again believers are living in cities around the world. Because Lot chose Zoar, God spared this small city from destruction. The presence of true Christians in the major cities actually restrains the fullness of God’s wrath from being released in those cities. Only after Lot went up the mountain and reached the city (Zoar) did the four cities of the plain face sudden annihilation. Only after the Church has been removed to the mountain of God in Heaven will the sealed book containing the first stages of God’s judgments on earth be opened [Rev. 5, 6].
After 400 years of living in Egypt, one generation of Hebrews experienced the Exodus. After 100 years of preparing the ark, one generation in Noah’s time experienced a deluge, the flood of Noah. After a one-day warning, one generation of people was burned into destruction by the fire of God’s wrath on the cities of the plain.
After 1,500 years of expectations, one generation was blessed to see the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of the Messiah. A generation of 40 years followed Christ’s Ascension, and that unbelieving generation lived to see the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.
There is a generation that will live to hear the trumpet of God sound and see the Lord coming in the air! If we are that generation, then we must watch and pray if we are to be accounted worthy to escape the coming Tribulation and to stand before the Son of God [Luke 21:36].
After years of study and research, I agree with many prophetic teachers that we are the first generation to witness such a culmination of numerous prophetic signs and indicators occurring at the same time. The Apostle Paul wrote that we [believers] are not in darkness that the day should overtake us unaware [1 Thess. 5:4].
There is a generation who will be watching, praying, and waiting. We are that generation!
The Weekly Word is found in Luke 21:36. Here the Bible says,
36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” [Luke 21:36 NKJV]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson