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Will You be Left Behind?

Will You be Left Behind?

In the early 1500s, the Aztec Empire was one of the most powerful and sophisticated civilizations in the Western Hemisphere. However, within a year’s time, this nation of more than two million was conquered and enslaved by just 630 men. How did it happen?

The Aztecs had a prophecy about Quetzalcoatl, a legendary god-king who was light-skinned and bearded. It predicted that someday he would arrive from across the sea and that he would come in the clouds from the east.

In 1519, Spanish galleons arrived carrying conquistadors led by Hernán Cortés. When the Aztecs saw these ships, they thought their billowing sails looked like clouds. Cortés heard about the Aztec legend from people who lived on the shore and used this to his advantage. By assuming the mantle of deity, he hoped to befuddle superstitious King Montezuma II.

While the king was waiting to receive the light-skinned visitor with honor, Cortés marched his army right into the center of the Aztec capital. By the time the people realized that Cortés was not the god they were expecting, it was too late. The conquistadors proceeded to plunder, enslave, and kill the people. An entire nation was deceived and destroyed, in part because the prophecies of their god’s return were so ambiguous that almost anyone could have served as a counterfeit.

Likewise, Satan has introduced a strong delusion into the Christian world that has been almost universally accepted, a popular teaching called the “secret rapture,” one popularized by the book and film series Left Behind. This false theory was likely designed to lull God’s people into a false sense of security and to prepare them for the devil’s final master deception.

But that doesn’t have to happen to you.

A common misconception of the secret rapture theory is that people will continue to live on the earth for several years after Christ’s return. However, the Bible clearly teaches that when Jesus comes, there will be no human left alive on this planet.

In describing this time, the book of Jeremiah explains, “At that day the slain of the Lord shall be from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall become refuse on the ground” (25:33).

One of the clearest descriptions of the earth after the second coming is given by Jesus:

“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:26–30, emphasis added).

Notice that the wicked were destroyed on the same day that the Flood came to Noah and on the same day that the fire came to Sodom. Jesus emphasized that these earlier judgments, which destroyed all of the wicked, were examples of what would happen at His second coming. The Bible is clear that life on the earth does not continue for either man or beast after
Jesus returns.

This idea—that all the righteous will be raptured out of the world just before the tribulation and that the wicked will be left behind to endure seven difficult years—might be appealing. Perhaps that is why this theory has gained such widespread acceptance. But the Bible unmistakably teaches otherwise.

The phrase “seven years of tribulation” does not appear in Scripture. However, Jesus did say that a terrible time of trouble would come upon the world just before His return and that it would be more intense than any other in history. In His prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives, Jesus said,

“There will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21, 22).

If the elect were not in the world during the great tribulation, they would not need the days to be shortened! And all through Scripture, we see examples of the Lord saving His people through tribulation, not from it:

  • Noah was not saved from the Flood, but through it.
  • Daniel was not saved from the lions’ den, but through it.
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not saved from the fiery furnace, but through it.
  • The children of Israel were not saved from Egypt before the plagues fell, but after. God demonstrated His love by preserving them through the plagues. In the same way, the righteous will be in the world when the seven last plagues fall (Revelation 16), but God will preserve them.

God hasn’t promised that our lives would always be easy. Christ prayed for His disciples, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Likewise, the apostle Paul declared, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Paul also told a group of disciples, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

In His parable of the two builders, Jesus taught that the storm comes to the wise man who builds on the rock just as surely as it comes to the foolish man who builds upon the sand (Matthew 7:24–27). The storm comes to all.

The good news is that God’s children will survive the coming tribulation. They will endure by practicing some of the same survival skills used by the Great Basin bristlecone pine. Found on lonely mountaintops, some of these ancient evergreens—up to 4,000 years old—have weathered thousands of years of intense freezing wind, pounding rain, scorching sun, and violent electrical storms. How do they manage to survive such harsh, adverse conditions? They send their roots deep, wrap them tenaciously around a solid rock, and hang on.

In the same way, the saved will have to sink their roots of faith deep into the Word of God and cling tenaciously to the mighty Rock of Ages. Remember that even though God does not always provide an escape from tribulation, He does promise to give us the power and strength to get through it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).



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