From time to time the staff receives phone calls and emails asking, “Has the time come to ‘run for the hills?’ ” I have no doubt that many people would like to escape the stresses and demands of life by “running for the hills,” but this article will focus on the serious side of this question.
A growing number of Christians (and non-Christians) are worried about the future. Looking ahead, they see a huge catastrophic meltdown coming. They believe the U.S., in particular, and the world in general, cannot continue on its present course much longer. They are convinced that a series of calamitous events will occur and the result will be indescribable chaos, suffering, and death.
Given this looming destiny, people are actually considering the idea of “running for the hills.” For purposes of discussion, let us identify this coming time period as “The Great Tribulation,” a time when survival will be far more difficult.
The Bible confirms a coming global meltdown and in fact, the books of Daniel and Revelation reveal much about this topic. Jesus also spoke about The Great Tribulation when He was on Earth. When asked about signs that would indicate His return was near He said, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matthew 24:21–25, italics mine)
When Jesus spoke these words in A.D. 30, He indicated that the number of days allotted for The Great Tribulation had been cut short (notice the past perfect tense). This means The Great Tribulation will be shorter than originally planned. I believe God reduced the number of days originally allotted for The Great Tribulation redundant when He devised “Plan B” and He revealed the reduced number (1,335 days) to Daniel during the sixth century B.C. (See Daniel 12:11–12.)
(For a discussion on Plan A and Plan B, please see Appendix D in Jesus’ Final Victory.) I have come to this conclusion for several reasons. First, Jesus used the past perfect tense to indicate action completed in the past. The time allotted for The Great Tribulation was reduced before the meeting occurred in Matthew 24. Second, 65 years after Jesus ascended to Heaven, Jesus met with John on the Isle of Patmos (about A.D. 95).
The information revealed in Revelation contains several prophetic time periods that harmoniously align with the 1,335 days recorded in Daniel 12. This raises an important question. How could Jesus say The Great Tribulation had been shortened in Matthew 24 and then 65 years later, Jesus told John that the time allotted to the Two Witnesses was 1,260 days and the time allotted for the composite beast was 42 months? In fact, Jesus showed John several prophetic time periods that perfectly align with the 1,335 days reported in Daniel 12.
This leads me to ask, was the time cut short before the book of Daniel was written or will the time be cut short after The Great Tribulation begins? I conclude the number of days was reduced before the book of Daniel was written because (a) Jesus used the past perfect tense in A.D. 30 to indicate the number of days had been reduced, (b) in A.D. 95 the prophetic time periods given to John harmoniously align with the 1,335 days given to Daniel, and most of all, (c) Gods Word means what it says. The prophetic time periods will be fulfilled as God declares. Of course, I would be very happy if The Great Tribulation was reduced to 35 days or less, but I believe the Bible says otherwise.
During The Great Tribulation, desperation and anxiety will overwhelm those who do not know how to live by faith. Even those who walk with God will tremble! Circumstances will be dire and extreme. Survival will be a day to day struggle. The Bible teaches that God will release Lucifer (the Antichrist) and his demonic angels from the spirit realm during the fifth trumpet, about 890 days into The Great Tribulation. (For additional study on this topic, please see Prophecy 8 in my latest book, Jesus’ Final Victory or “The Greatest Deception of All Time“).
After Lucifer and his angels are released from the spirit realm, they will appear physically before the people of Earth. Compared to mankind, they will be giants who far exceed human stature. They will have physical, mental, and miracle-working abilities that will make everyone in their presence tremble.
The devil, himself, will masquerade as Almighty God. (Daniel 11:36–37; 2 Thessalonians 2:4) He will be glorious in appearance. (2 Corinthians 11:14) Millions of demons (fallen angels) will attend him. (Revelation 9:1–11) Acting as magnanimous benefactors, they will perform all kinds of “good miracles.”
The nations of the world will enthusiastically receive them because human beings worldwide will be doing whatever it takes to survive. The saying, “seeing is believing” is applicable, because Lucifer’s extravagant displays of power and miracles will be impossible to deny. Because of Lucifer’s deception, Jesus warned His followers to ignore rumors or reports saying that Jesus has returned and He is in this place or that place.
This warning brings up two points about the Second Coming that everyone must know. First, when Jesus returns, everyone on Earth will see Him. “Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” (Revelation 1:7, italics mine) This text means that if you go out to see “Jesus” in one place or another, you are actually going to see a demon!
Second, when Jesus appears, He will not touch Earth! The saints (both the dead and the living) will meet the Lord together in the air at the Second Coming because they will leave Earth and return with Jesus to live in New Jerusalem for 1,000 years. (John 14:2–3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17) Lucifer and his angels will do just the opposite.
They will descend from the sky to Earth and people will see them in various cities and they will deceive billions of people with their miracles, signs, and lies. Lucifer will claim that he has come to establish a thousand years of peace and unfortunately, billions of people will believe him.
Not So Fast!
There is no doubt The Great Tribulation is coming, but should we “run for the hills” to protect ourselves and our loved ones while we can? Before you pack your suitcase, please consider two things: First, it would be foolish to relocate unless you have prayerfully sought the Lords will and you have “providential evidence” from Him indicating that you should go.
Remember the Christian commitment phrase “go-be-do?” This little phrase sums up the attitude and experience of a true Christian. It means, “Lord, I am willing to go wherever you want me to go, do whatever you want me to do, and be all that you would have me to become.” Second, remember that true Christianity shines best and accomplishes things that would be otherwise impossible when circumstances are difficult.
If the followers of Jesus “run and hide” before The Great Tribulation approaches, no one will be left to support the 144,000 as they boldly proclaim the gospel. No one will be ready to share their homes, food, and water with those who receive Jesus and have no place to go. No one will be left to encourage and strengthen new Christians.
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, all of the disciples fled, except Peter. Peter bravely pulled out his sword and cut off a man’s ear, but Jesus rebuked him and a few hours later, Peter denied that he even knew Jesus. Peter soon discovered that fighting for survival or supremacy is not Christ’s way.
Peter was stunned when he finally realized that Jesus came to Earth to give His life “as a ransom for many.” (1 Timothy 2:6) The “run and hide” game is foolish. When it comes to serving God, saving self is ego-centric (self-centered), whereas surrendering our life to save others is theo-centric (God centered).
Leaving or Loving Thy Neighbors?
Jesus said the second greatest commandment is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) Within the context of The Great Tribulation, the essential difference between leaving your neighbors behind or remaining with your community is love.
Christians should not join a commune or a militia group to survive “doomsday.” (Smile) The destiny of true Christianity is just before us. Again, unless you have “providential evidence” to relocate, this is no time to leave your neighbors behind. A time will come when “running for the hills” will be appropriate, but that day will come near the end of The Great Tribulation.
When Jesus terminates intercession for sinners and the door to mercy closes (the 1,260th day of The Great Tribulation), nothing further can be done to save sinners. Most, if not all, of the 144,000 will be dead by that time and the time for sharing the gospel will have ended. Until the battle for souls is over, each of us must stand fast and serve at our post of duty.
We must remain loving, faithful, and active for the salvation of others, even to death. Jesus has a plan for each of us: “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This [kind of service and commitment] calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.” (Revelation 13:10, insertion mine)
There is a time to be bold and there is a time to evade those who would do us harm. Paul was beaten three times and stoned once for his testimony (2 Corinthians 11:25), but he also escaped certain death when his followers lowered him in a basket through an opening in the city wall. (Acts 9:25) God gives His faithful followers grace and wisdom to meet the challenges of each day. You can count on Jesus for He promised, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
This is why learning to live a life based on faith is so important right now. It is important that we recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice and direction so we can walk with God each day. God does not call for everyone to live like Paul, even though Paul thought his way of living was as good as it gets. (1 Corinthians 7:7)
God does not call everyone to be a pastor, evangelist, teacher, doctor, or lawyer. (1 Corinthians 12) However, God has a special work for you if you are willing to love Him and serve Him with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbors as yourselves. There is enormous and endless joy when our place in God’s will is found.
The Greatest Example of Love
Jesus could have easily played “run and hide.” He could have aborted His efforts to save sinners by saving Himself. He did not want to die, but He was willing to go to the cross in order to save us. Before we examine His never-to-be-forgotten words in the Garden of Gethsemane, consider this: Jesus’ death should not be equated with the death of a man. Millions of saints have stood firmly for their faith and with God’s help, died a martyr’s death, but Jesus’ experience goes far beyond the death of a martyr.
Jesus suffered extremely as the Father imposed the guilt of our sins on Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21) The burden of our guilt was so heavy that it would have killed Jesus before He was crucified! Had it not been for the angel who strengthened Jesus, He would not have made it to the cross.
Later, while Jesus was hanging on the cross, the Father did something that crushed the life out of Jesus. He turned His back on Jesus (indicating His rejection of Christ as a sinner) and this made Jesus forcibly cry out, ” ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ “ (Mark 15:34) On the cross, Jesus died the second death— a death without hope of resurrection. The Father required Him to experience what the wicked will experience at the end of the 1,000 years when the penalty for sin is imposed upon the wicked.
This is important because Jesus is more than a man. He suffered more than a man can suffer. He is a co-eternal member of the Godhead, and to cease to exist forever so that sinners could have His eternal life involves more sacrifice than we can imagine. Divine love does not “run and hide.”
Rather, divine love is willing to do whatever it takes to benefit others. Jesus prayed, ” ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from Heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:42–44)