Please either listen to the seven minute audio clip above or read the notes below or both at the same time!
A group of young army cadets nervously assembled on the training ground. The Sergeant Major, a battle-hardened veteran of countless battles came out to greet them with a warm and welcoming smile.
He pointed to a long camouflage net that had been pinned to the ground and invited the cadets to crawl under the net to the other side.
“How long do we get to crawl through” asked one of the cadets. “Take as long as you like”, replied the Sergeant Major, twirling his moustache and smiling benignly at the youngsters.
The Sergeant Major marched to the other end of the camouflage net. The young cadets looked at each other, with barely concealed smirks on their faces, each one wondering if the training ground exercises could be so simple.
And so they got down on their tummies and began to crawl under the net. One or two even began to whistle quietly under their breath as they slowly made their way to the other side.
Little did the cadets realise that the Sergeant Major had a little surprise in store for them. He bent down and began to fire live rounds of ammunition over the net. The bullets whistled past, barely a few inches above the heads of the cadets.
All of a sudden there was a change of mood among the cadets, from jaunty and relaxed to absolute sheer panic. Some tried to stand up, some began to cry and one had a rather unfortunate accident!
The point of this rather ridiculous story is how the circumstances of life can change dramatically and how we need to be prepared in advance. As I write this essay, it is a glorious sunny day and tribulation seems far away, but the weather can change in a moment in these parts and the dark clouds will return in their time.
I was discussing the time of tribulation described in Matthew 24 with a pastor of a small church and he assured me that if and when this period of time arose that he and his church would cope with it. Until then, he would wisely wait to see how things panned out.
I would argue though that the Lord has carefully taken the time to warn us in Matthew 24 of these end-time events for a purpose, that we might be prepared and equipped ahead of time.
Matthew 24:25 ‘See, I have told you ahead of time.’
I would suggest that when the end-time anti-Christ beast launches his persecutory attack on the Church then there will be no time for preparation. Many will be completely unprepared and will be overwhelmed by the rage of the enemy who will use shock-and-awe tactics to crush the Church.
Revelation 12:17 ‘Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.’
In the heat of the battle, many will deny Christ.
Matthew 24:10 ‘At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.’
And they will fall by the wayside because they not been prepared by the leadership of their churches.
They will have been deceived by popular false notions that the Church will be raptured before the tribulation or that the tribulation has actually been fulfilled in AD 70. Both erroneous teachings will cause much damage within the Church.
Or else they will have distracted themselves with an ever-lasting search for inner development.
Sorry if that sounds too harsh.
In these days, so many Christians throughout the world already live under the dark cloud of a persecutory regime. And the writing is on the wall that these dark clouds are not going away any time soon and that many more of us will soon be affected by them.
The history lessons of Germany in the 1930’s scream at us with indignation.
I would suggest that the chances or probabilities of these end-time tribulation days bearing down on us in the near future is high.
This should not cause us to panic or head for the hills or run around like frightened headless chickens.
But it does mean that we need to take these Olivet warnings seriously and have a serious discussion among ourselves on how we should be preparing the Church for these traumatic times.
Our purpose should be not only to survive these times but also to thrive and play a dynamic part in the lead-up to the return of Christ Jesus.
Ezekiel 3:16-19 should be upmost in our minds.
The time for sober and sensible preparation is well upon us, even though the sun is shining!