“Are you a pre-tribulation believer, or a post-tribulation one?”
For the first 31 years of my Christian journey, I answered this question by saying something like, “To be honest, I don’t understand those labels because I haven’t really studied end-times prophecy. But I will go along with whichever one states the church will go through painful trials and agonizing hardships before Jesus returns.”
How could I make such a statement without really understanding end-times prophecy? My insights came from reading about the church in China and studying Israel.
First, let’s look at China:
When Mao Zedong and his Chinese Communist Party took over China in 1949, many Chinese Christians believed Mao was the Antichrist. These believers felt they would be raptured by Jesus and would not have to endure any suffering for their faith in Christ. But it wasn’t long before they discovered their error on this matter. Thousands were murdered or imprisoned by the Chinese Communists. Thousands of others walked away from the faith because they weren’t spiritually prepared to go through painful trials.
Mao certainly acted the part of an Antichrist with his determination to purge China of American and Christian influence. His soldiers murdered, imprisoned and tortured Chinese who had vacationed in America, had studied in America, had been trained by American missionaries, were pastors of churches or were just ordinary believers. Bibles were burned, and all foreign missionaries were ordered to leave the country.
By the early 1950s, the number of believers in China was estimated to be approximately 1 million. These believers had no Bibles, no overseers, very few pastors and were not allowed to gather in churches. At best, the believers assembled in groups of twos and threes to weep and pray over their condition.
Yet, in this fiery crucible of painful trials, God purified and readied the Chinese church to preach the Gospel to the whole nation. Today the number of evangelical Christians in China is estimated to be more than 100 million and still growing.
In his book, “The Heavenly Man,” Brother Yun, who was tortured and spent numerous years in prison, explained:
“God has used China’s government for His own purposes, molding and shaping His children as He sees fit. Instead of focusing our prayers against any political system, we pray that regardless of what happens to us, we will be pleasing to God. We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure. Then the world will see that God is with us, empowering us to live in a way that reflects His love and power.”
There has never been a revival in the history of Christianity to match the one that has taken place in China over the last 40 years. All of it has occurred in the midst of ruthless persecution by the Chinese government.
And then there is Israel:
The main storyline of the Bible from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation revolves around the nation of Israel and God’s covenant people – the Jews. There are side narratives, allowing Gentiles to be grafted into the main storyline, which believers like me are thankful for. Yet even so, the Apostle Paul warns Gentiles not to think of ourselves as being superior to the Jews, but to be grateful and to fear God. Paul also states that the calling of God on Israel is irrevocable.
Christians should be encouraged by reading in the Bible how God has treated Israel with His loving patience and faithfulness over the last 6,000 years. When His chosen nation walked with God, the Jews were a blessed people. Their enemies were defeated, their storehouses were filled with grain and wine, and their families were blessed.
But when Israel turned its back on Him, God did whatever He could to try and bring Israel out of its rebellion. He warned them through His prophets and sent droughts, plagues and enemy nations in an attempt to draw Israel back to Him and His ways.
“God uses the least severe means to reach the greatest number of people at the deepest level of love without violating their free will.” (Mike Bickle)
Our Western mindset struggles to understand a God who allowed His covenant people to be enslaved by Assyria in 722 B.C., to be carried off to Babylon in 586 B.C. and to be slaughtered in the battle of Jerusalem by a Roman army in A.D. 70. Then, if we add in all of the pogroms against the Jews throughout history and the extermination of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, we have to shake our heads in wonder at His ways.
Yet, no other nation has the prophetic promises awaiting them like Israel does in the end times. One of them is the greatest blessing any nation could ever receive: “All of Israel will be saved.”
“So that he might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27)
I have spent the last two years studying end-times prophecies and am convinced there is only one way for the church to be prepared for her Bridegroom. That’s for the church to be purified and cleansed by going through the great tribulation.
There are many godly people who will disagree with my conclusion, but very few of them will be Chinese or Jewish believers.