Most of our Christian friends believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture*; in other words, they're convinced that Jesus is going to pick them up (to Heaven) before the 3 ½ year period of the Antichrist's reign after having broken the "Holy Covenant," the peace treaty among the world's leading religions (Judaism, Islam and Christianity), the quarrels among which are presently the greatest remaining threat to world peace. *(Rapture: also referred to as The 2nd Coming of Christ.)
One friend told me on the phone yesterday, "I don't need all that persecution & stuff." She simply chose to believe the easy-way-out myth in spite of the hard in-the-face evidence from the Bible (which most obviously prefer to skip in their readings).
What a bunch of wishful thinkers mainstream Christians are. I think it shows that our friend was wrong: If there's anything Christians need, it IS the great Tribulation, and the Bible tells us why:
In the first description of the 3 ½ year period of the Great Tribulation, given to us by the prophet Daniel in Daniel 12, we find one of God's purposes for this, doubtlessly most troublesome time of world history: "Many shall be purified and made white, and tried" (Dan.12:10).
I believe the church still needs to be purged thoroughly from its lukewarmness, its infatuation with materialism and the world (as in: the System) per se.)
Mentioning and quoting from the book of Daniel Jesus, in Matthew 24:29-31 makes it totally plain that "immediately AFTER the tribulation of those days shall ... appear the sign of the Son of man (Jesus) in heaven. And ... His angels... shall gather together His elect (chosen ones)..."
Some Pre-Tribbers claim that He was referring here to the Battle of Armageddon, but if this is not a clear description of the Rapture, I don't know what is.
Incidentally, we have Him mention here (verse 31) the "great sound of the trumpet," which we find again in three other references to the Rapture: In his first description of the Rapture, Paul tells us, in 1.Corinthians 15:52-53: "I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
In his first letter to the Thessalonians (chapter 4:16, 17) Paul writes about this terrific incident, which marks the end of the world as we know it: "For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, and with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with Him in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air."
In the Book of Revelation we find out what Paul was referring to as the "last trump" in 1Cor.15:53." When the Lamb of God (Jesus) opens the 7 seals of the future in John's visions, upon opening the 7th seal, 7 angels appear with trumpets, each heralding another cataclysmic Endtime event (see Rev.5-10). When finally the 7th angel sounds his trumpet, we read: "In the days of the 7th angel, when he shall begin to sound, they mystery of God should be finsihed, as He hath declared to His servants, the prophets" (Rev.10:7).
Finito. In other words, there won't be another 3 ½ years of world history left to go, but it'll be all over now, baby blue! All that awaits earth then is the wrath of God, followed by the Battle of Armageddon, initiating the tousand years of Christ's reign on Earth.
But there are two more indications of why Jesus won't come back before the Tribulation:
In 2Thessalonians 2:1-11 Paul cautions us not to believe the fairy tale that Jesus could come back any moment (which most Preachers will tell you, while telling you of their new 10 year building project of their new church in the next breath), but that Christ could not return unless there should have been a great falling away from the faith first, and the "son of perdition" (the antichrist) should be revealed, sitting in the temple, proclaiming to be God. We know that the AC (antichrist) will only sit in the temple after breaking the Holy Covenant (see Daniel 11:30,31). But Paul even goes as far to explain why many Christians choose to believe the easy-way-out fairy-tale, in verses 10 and 11: "Because they received not the love of the truth...God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie."
Some folks are simply not that fond of the truth, and rather settle for the much easier to believe lies the Enemy is handing us.
Finally, we find the church (church= "ecclesia"= the called-out ones) of Christ in Revelation 12, not being lifted entirely out of this world during the 1260 days or 42 months of the Tribulation, but merely brought to a safe hiding place in the wilderness. We also find the two faithful witnesses in chapter 11 prophesying for the full length of the Tribulation.
Seems to me like there's no easy way out, folks! It's natural not to want to go through such a time, it's natural to be scared, but that's why we've got supernatural means to acquire a supernatural faith to rise above our natural tendencies to be cowards and wishful thinkers...
In my opinion, with all this evidence pointing toward a Post-Tribulation Rapture, it would sound a lot wiser to be prepared for it, as our good old Dad always used to say: "Better have it and not need it, than need it and not have it." Better get some faith today and not be making in your pants tomorrow when you might find the Antichrist at your door and Jesus refusing to come any earlier than He always said He would.