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When can we get the heck outta here???

            There is in the Body of Christ a lie promulgated among the elect that they will entirely escape the tribulation of the wicked one. This has been perpetuated by the very popular “Left Behind Series.” While that has some entertainment value, it is not founded in the truth of what the Word teaches us. In that series, the main theme is that believers will be extracted from all over the world by Jesus and that only unbelievers are “Left Behind.” This understanding is built upon verses found in Matthew 24:40-41 & Luke 17:34-36. To say that Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins {Writers of the Left Behind series} took liberty with the scripture is an understatement. Nevertheless, to echo the sentiments of Paul… at least Jesus was preached. I have no doubt that our Lord has used the faulty Left Behind theology in all of its error to draw people to Himself and for that, I am thankful.

            That being said, it is a mandate that we rightly divide the Word of Truth and with the Holy Spirit’s direction deliver ourselves from the destruction that accompanies a lack of knowledge. Thus, to unpack the truth of Revelation 3:10 at the very least should be our mission so that our faith does not shipwreck when the proverbial “crap” hits the fan!

            In our study verse, it is understood that the “hour of temptation” refers to the tribulation spoken of in Matthew 24 and Revelation 6. It is referred to as “the hour of temptation”  because during that time, many will be tempted to submit to the beast and receive his mark because they are unfamiliar with walking in the faith that God is their source. They simply will not have any way to provide for themselves beyond denouncing their faith and accepting the mark. It is profound that God refers to it as “the hour of temptation” because it is our God who, in 1 Corinthians 10:13 states that with EVERY temptation, He provides a way of escape. Further, we must understand that we are already chosen and kept in the hand of God since we have received Jesus. Our Lord Jesus affirms this in John 17:12 (b) by stating to the Father that “those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition.” As well God tells us that even when we are faithless He is faithful. {2 Timothy 2:13}. Now both of these verses aver, in no uncertain terms, that once saved, always saved. However, there is a time when a person, who is saved can become unsaved. That person is described in Hebrews 6: 4-6. In order to keep it brief, let it suffice to say that a person can become unsaved who was once saved by experiencing the fullness of salvation and then choosing of their own free will and volition to walk away from God and deny the redemptive power of Jesus Christ in their life. They would then be personally responsible for their own sin since they rejected the gift of Jesus paying for their sin. Therefore we can assure our hearts that we are among those of whom our Father speaks in Revelation 3:10 – we are those who have “kept the word of {His} patience.”

            The word “keep” here is the Greek word #5083- “tereo”. And Strong’s defines it as “to guard, to keep one in the stage which he is, and to undergo something.” These are wonderful definitions that direct us to the fact that God has no intention of pre-trib extraction of the Church. If He wanted to tell us that we would face none of the wrath of the wicked one, then He would have said in Matthew 24:22 that for the “elect’s sake they will not see that day” instead He says that “for the elect’s sake, those days {plural} will be shortened.”` The word “Keep” that God inspired here in Revelation 3:10 confirms what Jesus said. Those saints still breathing on earth when the tribulation such has never been seen hits will be kept in the same state in which they enter the tribulation; and they will be kept that way by God. Moreover, Vine’s expository dictionary illuminates this word further in an astounding way. According to that source, “keep” here also means, “to be kept in charge, to watch over, to cause to stand.” This is an amazing thought because what God is saying is that during the tribulation- the wrath of the wicked one against the Church- those who have chosen not to be deceived into taking the mark of the beast will be kept in charge by God, they will be maintained in the same state in which they were when the tribulation begins!!! They will not be under the circumstances presented by the tribulation, but these circumstances will be under their feet in the same way that all circumstances are by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony!!

            Next, there remains the thought that pre-trib believers hold {based on this verse} that believers will not be required to endure the tribulation. They have established this position using the word “from” in Revelation 3:10. That is to say, they use this word to build an understanding that is similar to being protected “from” a burglar for example. They hold that the position of God with respect to the tribulation is to remove the church “from” ever experiencing it. This understanding is based not only on Revelation 3:10 but on 1 Thessalonians 1:10 wherein it is stated that Jesus has “delivered us from the wrath to come.” The problem is that those who believe in a pre-trib rapture do not understand that the tribulation and the day of the Lord’s wrath are two separate and distinct events with two separate and distinct authors. We can confirm this by examining Scripture more fully but in short, just one indicator that the tribulation is the wrath of the devil and not the wrath of God is that in the middle of it, having anything to do with the God of the Bible will be illegal and the two witnesses will be killed and their deaths celebrated.  That is not God!

To strengthen our case then, that the rapture will occur at some point during the tribulation, we must examine the etymology of the word translated here as “from”. This is the Greek word “ek” #1537. It denotes the place of origin from which action or motion proceeds. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon gives many variations of the exact context in which the meaning of this word is derived. But in general and over all, the derivation is that it refers to the place from which a person or a situation started. It would be the same as someone saying they are “from”  Minneapolis or the understanding that Jazz is “from” New Orleans or the idea of being rescued “from” a burning building.

The connotation also reflects a closeness between the situation or place that the person or motion is “from”; meaning that they are intimately involved with that situation or place by experience therein.

            Thus the word “from” does not refer to a “pre-tribulation” rapture but rather a rapture that extracts the saints of God “from” the tribulation after they have experienced it.

            At last, the end of Revelation 3:10 states that the reason for the “hour of temptation” is to “try them that dwell upon the earth.” The word translated as “try” here is the Greek word #3895- “pierazo”….it simply means to prove. Let us think of this word in this way; let us say that I tell you I have a car that is so fast it can go 0 to 60 in less than 3 seconds, but it doesn’t look like a Ferrari, it looks like a Buick! You would naturally want me to “prove” what I am saying because the visible evidence is to the contrary. This is the same concept as presented here in Revelation 3:10 with the word “try.” There have been many, many people swear that they are of God and that they love Jesus, but they do not have any visual indicators that Jesus in fact dwells within them. Thus, the devil is essentially saying to members of the body of Christ “Oh yeah? Prove it!” During the “hour of temptation”, what- or really who- is inside everyone on the face of the earth will be proven out. Hence, it does not square that God would remove His church from the tribulation because in that hour the church will have to be solely dependent upon Him to show up and since the beginning, the eyes of God roam to and fro upon the whole earth, seeking to whom He can show Himself strong {2 Ch 16:19}.

Jesus prayed, in John 17:15: “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” The question is then, when He returns, will Jesus really find faith upon the earth?

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