“And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” – Daniel 12:7
A man once told my father that Christians were just weak minded people. To which my dad calmly replied, “ok, then let me challenge you. Live as a Christian for one month, laying down your sins and selfish desires, obeying the scriptures, acting in selfless humility at every opportunity, enduring trial, persecution, opposition, and resistance with love and patience. Not for a lifetime, but just for one month.“…. After only a few days the man confessed that he could not do it and had to concede to giving up the challenge to which my dad simply said, “so now I ask you, who is weak?”
The truth is that we are all weak, the only difference is that the Christian is strong enough to admit that he is weak and humble himself before God seeking His infinite strength, wisdom, and power. The true Christian’s faith is not in his own strength but in God’s to guide, direct, and deliver him from the Fowler’s snare. The sinner, on the other hand, in his pride places his faith in his own strength and is therefore destined to fall into every snare the enemy lays before him. This is the lesson that tribulation comes to teach us. Weather it be small tribulations in our personal life or the great tribulation of the last days, the purpose is the same. To cause us to get off of the fence, choose a side, and take a stance. To decide where we are going to place our faith in action, weather in our own strength and understanding unto failure and deceit, or in God’s unto victory.
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
In our opening passage we read of a prophecy given to Daniel of a future time when the Antichrist will accomplish to scatter the power of the holy people of God (the Christians) for a time period of 3 and 1/2 years (time = 1 + times = 2 + an half a time = 1/2 …. 1+2+1/2= 3 1/2). We see this prophecy given again in even greater detail to John the Revelator on the isle of Patmos. Here John is warned of a time when the antichrist will overpower and persecute the saints for the space of 42 months, or 3 1/2 years.
“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear.” – Revelation 13:4-9
This time is known as “The Great Tribulation” and Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 24 that no time since the beginning of time has ever been as bad as this time period will be, nor will it ever be again. If a person can not stand for God now while it is easy, they will surely not stand for Him then when it is the hardest it will ever be. Therefore, don’t run from the little trials that life throws at you now, but rather rejoice in them, for they are working to perfect those that endure, that they might withstand the greater tribulations to come and instruct others to do the same.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” – James 1:2-4
“And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.” – Daniel 11:31-33
Many come to know Jesus but fall away because they have been sold a false Christianity of prosperity, pomp, and blessings without hardship. They teach of a Jesus who will fill your pockets, house, and garage with luxury while the real Jesus had to barrow a penny to illustrate His sermon, get a fish to cough up the money to pay their tributes, and told the rich man to sell all that he owned before he could follow him. Yes God blesses, but He blesses obedience and He blesses sacrifice, not selfish vain desires.
“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” – James 4:3-10
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Matthew 16:24-26
If you have been handed this fake gospel of selfish prosperity, vain glory, and fleshly hype, choose to lay it down today so that you can pick up your cross and truly follow Christ. Count the cost and set your heart now for endurance that you be able to withstand when things get tough. Understand that being a true Christian (not just in name only) is not easy, it makes you the enemy of the enemy of God and that invites conflict, struggle, and resistance to say the least. If you do not face resistance for your faith then you do not actually have faith because the only people that never come face to face with the devil, or those already at his side. Being a real Christian isn’t easy, it’s a heavy and painful cross to bare, but it is worth it all. Though our rewards are not of this world, they are surely out of this world. Those that endure till the end will be saved and rewarded but even if I received no rewards at all, I would still fight the fight with vigor and joy, that I might see to it that others make it to there’s. After all, that is what Christ did for us, ought not we all desire to do the same?
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” – Matthew 5:11-12
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:17-18
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:9
“When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” – Jonah 2:7-9
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” – 1 Peter 4:12-19