Now, not all the prophecies are accurate, nor is God the source of them all. Our Lord warns us that false prophets and false teachers will multiply during the times leading up to His return. Therefore, our spiritual discernment needs to be accurate and in alignment with God's prophetic voice. But, without a doubt, Men's hearts have grown cold. Lawlessness and sin abound. Love for each other is diminishing; our differences fuel the hate this is increasingly evident. The Enemy of the children of God is getting ready to mount his final campaign against us as he plots to defeat Almighty God.
This pretty much describes our relations with China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and countries around the globe. And if you are unable to see that it illustrates our national crisis, then I'm afraid you're being naive. I know there are counter voices in the Christian culture that promote the religious message that Revival is on the way. And we should most definitely pray and intercede that recognition of God will reawaken in our land, and impassioned worship will sweep the nation -- that we will actually humble ourselves, pray and seek God's face, and turn from our wicked ways. Then He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land. Oh, Lord, how I pray that that becomes our reality. I know one thing for sure -- it is imperative that we do these things. But it is also wise to prepare for what Jesus most emphatically prophesies as our future. And I'm afraid "the Church" doesn't want to hear that message.
And yes, no one knows what the future brings, or just how close we are to what the Bible calls the Tribulation. But I do believe this -- we cannot escape the tribulation and persecution that Jesus told us will be our experience as the time for His return approaches. Jesus tells us that we will not escape being hated for His Name's sake, and that we must stay awake and be prepared for the hour our faith will be tested.
In fact, there is a Biblical phrase that is equivalent to our modern expression of Brace Yourself, and it is to Gird up your loins. The meaning of this language is to get ready for service; prepare for a challenge or battle; and in the sense of the Tribulation, to strengthen yourself by putting on the armor of God. And here is where my question posed in the title of this blog comes into focus ... Are you spiritually ready for these times?
I am reminded of the posture of Job as he endures the persecution by the Devil. As trial after trial mounts against him, we see Job, in chapter 38, feeling abandoned by God. Job has ached for a comforting word from God; for an explanation of why this was happening to him. Job just doesn't understand why he has suffered so severely when he's done everything he could to be a good servant to the Lord. Scripture suggests that Job was struggling with understanding why God hadn't come to his defense, and he [Job] was, in effect, wrestling with his understanding and relationship with God. And what is God's response when Job questions what appears to be a lack of obligation on God's part? Now gird up your loins like a man [dress for action]! I will question you, and you make it known to Me (Job 28:3).
"Gird up your loins" is an expression often found in the Bible that is an urgent call to get ready for immediate action, or it may be a call to prepare for a coming action or event. The phrase is related to the type of clothing worn in ancient times. To keep from impeding the wearer during any vigorous activity, e.g. battle, exercise, strenuous work, etc., the loose ends of garments (tunics, cloaks, mantles, etc.) had to be gathered up and tucked into the girdle. The girdle was a band about six inches wide that had fasteners in front. It was worn around the loins (the midsection of the body between the lower ribs and the hips). Gird up your mind or gird up your heart are variations of this phrase which call for mental or spiritual preparation for a coming challenge.
In Job 28, we see what I think the Bible refers to as Christians "falling away" or stumbling in their faith when the tribulation and persecution begin. Like Job, they will begin to question God about His faithfulness, and begin to doubt what they have believed. Because they have been taught that they would somehow not be required to suffer as the Bible prophesies, they will become offended by what they perceive as God's lack of protection and His desertion in their time of need. But like, Job, these Christian believers won't appreciate that there will be aspects of these End Times that are known only to God, and are hidden from man. And I believe that God expects us to "man up", so to speak, and prepare spiritually for the battles ahead.
I worry that far too many Christians will stumble and be unprepared to pay the cost of being a follower of Christ. We must strengthen our faith and prepare to carry our own cross, just as Jesus did. We must be prepared to lose everything, just as Job did! Sadly, the Church has given lip-service to this concept and shied away from confronting believers with the hard truth that suffering and tribulation will be our temporary circumstances before Jesus's return. We have fallen for the messages of false prophets such as Darby and Scofield, who wrote Bibles promoting a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This doctrine has certainly led people astray, and it was never spoken of by Jesus. Yet, many in the Church choose to believe this false theology, which is only 200 years old, rather than the Word of God spoken by our Lord and Savior 2000 years ago!
I am being honest when I say that I fear for my fellow Christians. I don't want them to be surprised or in shock when the promised persecution comes. And it will be far worse than anything we have witnessed to date. I want them to be strengthened to endure and persevere during what is coming, and to keep their eyes and hearts and spirits focused on the One who will ultimately deliver us. I want them to be able to reinforce the faith of our fellow Christians who will falter during the satanic oppression, and at the same time, be prepared to share the Good News of [both] Salvation and God's Kingdom on earth with those who have never heard it. I want them to be prepared to declare Jesus Christ even when the sword is at their breast. I want their spirit to rise up in their identity as warriors for the Kingdom, even when their flesh is weak. I want them to be sure of who they are, and just how great is their God, so that even in the midst of persecution like the world has never seen, they will be known for their faith.
I desire all this for the Body of Christ, and I desire it for myself. I have no great illusions that all Christians will meet this test. But I pray that the Remnant, however large or small it is, is even now preparing itself in all these matters. I pray they see through the dirty veil that the Enemy has placed over the physical eyes of my fellow believers, and that they see clearly [with spiritual eyes] the truth of what Jesus spoke. May God Almighty strengthen us and fortify us to meet the coming tribulation, and may we serve Him with courage and spiritual might, knowing that because we will endure, we will be saved. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that You have given us Your Word of Truth so that we might not be caught unaware; so that we might train and equip ourselves to be ready when the Evil One comes against us at the end of this age. Lord, we gird up our loins, our minds, and our hearts as we make ourselves spiritually ready for whatever is to come! Amen.
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1 Peter 1:13 So prepare your minds for action, be completely sober in spirit—steadfast, self-disciplined, spiritually and morally alert -- [gird up your loins], fix your hope completely on the grace [of God] that is coming to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.