“Left Behind” or “Left Unprepared” for the Coming Persecution?
With tens of millions of books, tapes and videos being sold in America and around the world, the “Left Behind” series has convinced multitudes of Christians into believing that they will be raptured away before the time of the “Great Tribulation.” Christians have suffered persecution and martyrdom for nearly two millennia. Today in Muslim countries, under dictatorships, and under communism, untold numbers of men and women are facing jail, torture, and even death for their faith in Christ. But will those who have bought into the pre-tribulation rapture myth be ready for the persecution to come to Christians in our modern-day Western Nations?
Steven L. Sherman, author of THE LAST DAYS CALENDAR: Understanding God’s Appointed Times is a “watchman on the wall” who is willing to stand against the tide. He believes that we now live in the day that men no longer put up with sound doctrine. “Instead, to suit their own desires, they have gathered around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Although there may be many who reject the message, Steven Sherman must sound the trumpet and announce that the coming tribulation is ordained by God as a refining fire for His people.
The Book of Revelation is a letter to all Christians. It is a call for patient endurance and exhorts the believer to stand firm until the end. Those who have placed their faith in the Messiah can take heart because Jesus has assured his followers of final victory. In order to better understand the Book of Revelation, as well as all the prophetic verses of Scripture, it is necessary to interpret these passages within the context of historic Judaism and with the knowledge of The Festivals of the LORD. God’s “Appointed Times” for Israel are not just historic ceremonies, but prophetic declarations which encompass both the First Advent and the Second Coming of Christ.THE LAST DAYS CALENDAR: Understanding God’s Appointed Times is a “must” read.
To order from the publisher by phone, call: 1 (877) 421-READ. To contact the author for a personal appearance, debate, or prophecy conference email: LDaysCal@aol.com or call (727) 647-6467.
After harvesting wheat to obtain the grain, milling or pounding is needed
to remove the husks. On threshing, the chaff breaks up, releasing the grains.
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11-12
A threshing sledge was made of logs and had sharp flints embedded in the under surface. First, cut stalks of grain were spread on the threshing floor and a threshing sledge was pulled over the stalks by oxen. When the oxen dragged the sledge over the stalks of wheat on the threshing floor, the stones ripped the husk away from the grain. Threshing the wheat could also be accomplished by having the oxen walk over the stalks or by beating the stalks of wheat with heavy sticks.
The grain is heaped and then winnowed by the farmer whose winnowing fork is in his hand. The winnowing fork is a several-pronged pitchfork and is used to toss wheat against the breeze to free it from chaff and crushed straw. Since the grain is heaviest it falls straight to the ground. The straw is blown a short distance and collects in another heap, while the chaff is completely scattered by the wind.
John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus the Messiah would come to gather his wheat into his barn but would burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. Jesus used the term wheat as a symbol for his true followers – the elect in Christ. He also spoke of the master’s barn as a picture of heaven. The chaff burning in unquenchable fire symbolizes the unregenerate sinner who will suffer eternal torment.
But before the wheat can be gathered into the barn, it must be threshed. Pounding the wheat, the heavy weight of an ox’s hooves or dragging a threshing sledge over the stalks causes great pressure to burst the grain free from the husks. The word for intense pressure in Greek is thlipsis. It literally means being crushed under a rock. The word, thlipsis is translated as hardship, trouble, persecution or tribulation.
The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble (thlipsis) or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
2 Thessalonians 2:3
Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
There will be many who will fall away in the last days when they face persecution. They will be unprepared to stand firm because they were taught that the rapture would occur before the time of great tribulation.
Immediately after the tribulation (thlipsis) of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
The Great Tribulation is an extended period of persecution of the saints, not the hour of God’s wrath. After the thlipsis of those days – the time of great persecution, there will be signs in the sky and the Son of Man will appear in great glory. He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather the elect from the four winds (the Rapture).
This passage of Scripture so clearly states that the Rapture takes place after the Great Tribulation, that those who hold to the doctrine of the Pretribulation Rapture claim that the elect of Matthew 24 must refer to Israel. But the Apostle Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us clearly who the term elect refers to when used in the New Testament:
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded … Romans 11:7
Israel could not obtain righteousness by observing the law but the elect did by receiving God’s grace by faith. In the New Testament, the elect means Jew and Gentile in Christ – the Church. After the distress of those days the Rapture of the Church will take place, not 7 years before. It is obvious that the term elect refers to believers – the church, and not to Israel who has experienced a hardening in part.
Before his wheat will be gathered into his barn, it will be threshed. The bride of Christ will be purified through the cleansing fires of persecution before the rapture takes place at the seventh trumpet.