Preparing for the End Time
Approximately a fourth of the contents of the Bible is prophetic in nature. Much of this material is profoundly connected to world-changing events. The Bible is a perennially up-to-date, applicable book.
Regarding earth-shaping trends and occurrences, no section of Scripture is more applicable to our world than the Olivet Prophecy, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. This is where Jesus Himself warns us to be vigilant about our spiritual state. He describes and summarizes the conditions and events that will lead to His second coming. What should we be doing—or not doing—as that time draws closer?
After describing the grievous state of the world to which He would return, Jesus told His disciples, "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Mark 13:32, New American Standard Bible).
That we will not know for sure does not mean we should neglect to keep a watchful eye on world trends and conditions. Notice what Jesus instructs in the next verse: "Take heed, keep on the alert, for you do not know when the appointed time is" (verse 33, NASB).
He then compared Himself and His second coming to a man who traveled to a distant country, left his servants in charge of his property and asked the doorkeeper "to stay on the alert" till he returned.
Then Jesus Christ gives His warning to His disciples a second time. "Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming . . ." (verse 35, NASB).
Next He warns His servants not to fall asleep on the job, followed by a third and final appeal emphasizing the importance of their task. "And what I say to you I say to all: 'Be on the alert!' " (verse 37, NASB).
In his account Luke emphasizes our personal conduct, that Christ warns us to be diligent in keeping our personal spiritual house in order and shows us exactly the kind of distractions to avoid.
"Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day [of Christ's return] come upon you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of the earth" (Luke 21:34-35, NASB).
The vast majority of people, says Jesus Christ, will be taken by surprise. They will not be spiritually alert, much less be aware as prophesied conditions and trends develop. Christ wants His servants to avoid falling into this trap.
So He tells us in verse 36: "But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man" (NASB).
In his exhortation regarding the Day of the Lord, the apostle Peter asked his readers: "Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?" (2 Peter 3:11, NASB). The emphasis throughout is on the importance of personal preparedness for Christ's coming and having an alert anticipation of that event.
Protection for God's servants
One of the most encouraging aspects of this subject is knowing God has promised to watch over and care for His people during this time of unprecedented worldwide trouble. Jesus said there is nothing wrong with wanting to avoid suffering the end-time disasters. In fact, He encourages us to be alert and aware, watching our own spiritual state as well as world events and conditions and earnestly praying we will be worthy to escape the coming devastation, if it occurs during our lifetime.
Just as in Noah's and Lot's day, God has promised a way for many of the faithful to be protected during those 3 1/2 years. Peter explained that "the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment" (2 Peter 2:9, NASB).
Although Satan in his anger will try to destroy God's people, God will provide the means for many of them to be spared this dangerous time (Revelation 12:13-17). Jesus promised to care for those who faithfully serve Him during that time. "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth" (Revelation 3:10).
In Revelation 7 God's servants are sealed and spared from the coming global upheavals. "Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, 'Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads' " (verses 2-3).
Who are these servants of God? Notice how the book of Revelation describes them. They are those "who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 12:17), those "who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12), and "those who do Hi commandments" (Revelation 22:14).
The book of Revelation shows that those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus are among God's people. (To learn more about these commandments and the people who comprise God's Church, please request your free copies of our booklets The Ten Commandments and The Church Jesus Built.)
Yet, sadly, prophecy reveals that not all of God's people will be protected during the end time. Christ predicted part of His church at the end would not be spiritually ready for His coming. In Matthew 25 His parable of the 10 virgins shows that some of His people would neglect their spiritual state and be unprepared when He, the bridegroom, comes for His bride, the Church.
He concludes the parable with this warning: "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (Matthew 25:13).
Consequently, as the end time begins, some of God's people will be protected from Satan's persecutions while others bear the brunt of the devil's fury (Revelation 6:9-11; 12:14, 17).
A time to be spiritually awake
Although the end time is a period of unprecedented world trouble, it is also the threshold to God's Kingdom. Paul gives a wonderful perspective of how we should spiritually prepare for that time, whether it takes place in our lifetime or not.
"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:4-11, NASB).
We should take great comfort in the knowledge God has made available about the end time. The good news is that, if we prepare ourselves spiritually, this can be a time of confidence, hope and joy. It will inexorably lead to God's wonderful Kingdom.
What Can You Do?
In light of the prophecies, what can you do? What should you do?
When informed about a recent grisly tragedy, Jesus Christ responded by saying to those around Him: "Do you suppose that these [men] were worse sinners than all other[s], because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:2-3).
Understand the gravity of your relationship with your Creator. God "now commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). We must turn from our ways, which are bringing the world to the brink of disaster, and we must turn to Him (Matthew 6:33).
Prove for yourself the Bible is God's Word. Find out where He is working, and see how God may be leading you to become more involved. To begin, you might want to request our free booklets Is the Bible True? and How to Understand the Bible.
You should study the prophecies of your Bible and how they relate to current national and world trends. Write for our other booklets on prophecy to better understand what God reveals about our world, your future and His coming Kingdom. Jesus tells us, ". . . When you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door" (Matthew 24:33, NASB).
Be sure to subscribe to The Good News magazine. Each issue analyzes world news in the light of Bible prophecy and shows you how to apply God's Word in your life. Realize that "now it is high time to awake out of sleep" (Romans 13:11).
Also request to be enrolled in our free Bible Study Course. Its monthly lessons will take you systematically through the major themes and teachings of the Bible.
"Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near," God tells us. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7).
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