How do the Sheep Prepare?
End times are upon us.
Are we prepared for the worst times in human history?
D. J. Maxwell
This post is presented in response to Marianne’s dream presented on Heaven Awaits, November 11, 2011. The Lord brought me to write a reply back then, which led Marianne to ask me to explain my thoughts in more detail. It is an important message – for we are His sheep living in a fallen world and the time of tribulation is upon us, according to my interpretation of her dream and my understanding of the times and signs.
He is our Good Shepherd and cares for us. But we have work to do.
There is great passion within various camps of “rapture theology” and “end time studies”. Many Christians stake a large share of their theological belief upon a Pre-Tribulation position –the trumpet blasts then believers are gathered up to Him in the air. As the bride of Christ, we go off to the marriage supper. This occurs before the 7 years of Tribulation period begins.
I once was a Pre-Tribber, but I am no longer. This past year, I studied the Word with a new softer heart (Psalms 40), asking the Great Shepherd to lead me through a study of The Great Day of the Lord.
Our Good Shepherd gave us victory over the grave, promised to save us from the second death — so we keep watch for his return with lamps trimmed, oil full, and not leaving but waiting for Him, sober and vigilant (Matthew 25:1-13). We are to “hold fast” and “overcome” (Revelations 2 and 3) for His coming. He will come at the sounding of the last trumpet (Revelation 11:14-16)when the dead in Christ rise first, then we who are alive – get “raptured” unto Him (1Thessalonians 4:15-18; 1Corinthians 15:52).
What you read in this posting begins with a supposition that believers will be “saved” from the Great Tribulation – as Noah was saved from the flood of God’s wrath upon the earth (by entering into an ark), and as the Hebrews children were saved from the plagues of God’s wrath upon Egypt.
Remember, for anyone in the land of Egypt obedient to the message and faithful in action – placing the blood of a lamb over their doorway, and not going out from under the blood that night – death passed over the first born of their household, and they were saved from God’s wrath.
Within Mathew 13:30, 37-43(NKJV), Jesus presents a parable of the last days. My emphasis and explanation are added to this scripture reference to help make an acute point.
“Let both grow together until the harvest [gathering
all people on the earth into a 2 step process] and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers,
“First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn [a safe place, protected from the events of burning the tares]….
The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom [believers], but the tares are the sons of the wicked one [unbelievers]. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels [Rev 14:14-20]. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire [of the Great Tribulation], so it will be at the end of this age.
The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they [angels] will gather out of His kingdom [they will be taken away] all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire [this is not hell but the purification of the Great Tribulation and The Great Day of the Lord, then comes the judgment and second death]. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth [pain, anger, and frustration during this time of Great Tribulation].
Then [not before but after the gathering of all things that offend, next] the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” [This closing phrase is the same attention phrase given to each of the 7 churches in Revelations: “He who has an ear, let him hear…”!].
My supposition raises many questions on interpretation and application of scriptures. You may say I’m confused, misinformed with false teaching or just don’t understand the purpose and promise of the rapture. You may believe that I am not applying the correct interpretations of tears and wheat into “my barn’ – as if that barn is heaven.
Well, blessings to you in your reading of end time prophecy and your study of the Scriptures. Let us agree to disagree on where His barn is located (earth or heaven) during the Great Tribulation. I pray we share a common love of our Lord and Savior; therefore we are members of the Body of Christ and must prepare to meet the Good Shepherd in the air at the last trumpet blast. God bless you, as Paul writes in Ephesians 1:2-6.
I respectfully ask that you read and consider with open mind this introduction and a Pan-Trib view of the 7 year Tribulation period, in response to the dream posted on Heaven Awaits – “When the flock becomes the prey.”
In my opinion, based on signs in the heavens alone, the Tribulation is officially underway. The same signs in heaven that told of His birth (on Feast of Tabernacles) and the Day of the Cross (on Passover) occurred on September 29, 2011 (on Feast of Trumpets).
Is this just a coincidence or is it another sign of the end of the age? If you watched the Bethlehem Star presentation as referenced on Heaven Awaits (bethlehemstar.net and seen on YouTube), you would better appreciate the significance of the heavenly sign occurring on September 29, 2011.
According to John’s Revelation, chapter 12 verses 1-3, the 7 year period is underway because this sign was above us months ago. Revelations 12 is a future sign, not revisiting the signs above Bethlehem, and looking back at the birth of Christ.
It is the same Virgo, sun clothing her, and moon at her feet, and Venus (Bright Morning Star) in place within her womb, but Saturn (Satan) is so very close and Mercury (angelic messenger) nearby. All of this was displayed in the heavens on an important Hebrew Feast day – Feasts of Trumpets. That is no coincidence.
In addition to the September 2011 heavenly sign, there is the “blood moon” cycle of 2013-2016 (emphasis on the blood moon of September 13, 2015 occurring on Feast of Trumpets) and solar eclipse events of 2015. These blood moons and solar eclipses on Feast Days are another sign of the end of the age, and the beginning of the Great Day of the Lord (Revelations 6:12; Luke 21:25-26; Joel 2:30-32).
Finally, in regard to the end of the age and a Pan-Trib position, I believe the first seal opened back in 2009.
The 2nd seal was open months ago, evident with “Arab Spring” as a fiery red rebellion is occurring throughout the Middle East.
The 3rd seal will be opening during 2012, as we see the economic scales of “crisis” occurring with the euro, and soon thereafter the US dollar (the world currency standard), which will lead to a new worldwide currency system. The events in Iran / Iraq with their oil fields always have our attention for good reason.
The 4th seal would then be open soon thereafter.
You can read more about the 4 Seals within Heaven Awaits by searching “First 4 Seals of Revelation”. Of course these are my interpretations, but consider this: the 4 horse colors (white, “fiery red”, black and “pale”) match the 4 colors banners of the Caliphate (4 Islamic empires and religious brotherhood regional reigns of the past 2,000 years). These 4 colors are also in the same color order for both horse and banner. And, the objectives of the four seals not only match the historical legacy of each of the 4 Caliphate but they also are in the same order as the 4 seals. Is this just multiple coincidences?
All of the above (and there is more) presents clear evidence to a few believers that we are within the last 7 years of this age. The Millennium reign of the King of kings and Lord of lords will begin very soon.
Rapture? Yes, at the last trumpet blast (Revelation 11:14-16). The account of Phillip’s rapture in Acts chapter 8 gives us a picture of heavenly transportation, and he remained on earth to tell about it too!
The sheep know His voice and He speaks through His Word.
“But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:2-5, NKJV).
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them” (John 10:9-12, NKJV).
Our Good Shepherd provides green pastures, and reveals the scriptures to a heart yearning to be fed on the Word. With ears that are tuned to the Spirit, He will lead His sheep besides the still waters, placing us on paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalms 23).
We have a choice to keep our oil lamps filled with the Spirit, giving us peace and safety bind the door, while within the house, along with our fellow believers, we are preparing for the wedding feast (Mathew 25:1-13).
We, as His sheep, have a responsibility to follow our Shepherd, stay near Him, listen to Him, prepare for Him, and trust Him.
Our responsibility applies to body, mind and spirit.
Our priorities must be in proper order and the physical body is the least important. We will receive a new body in heaven, thank you Lord.
Spirit – We are told to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mathew 6:33). Our Kingdom is in heaven, believers are ambassadors of the Kingdom on earth, and Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Paul tells us that we are now, in our spirit, seated there with Him and He is next to the Father. (Ephesians 2:6). His Kingdom is in heaven, and He is coming very soon to establish His Kingdom upon earth.
Meanwhile, Satan is currently and rapidly drawing together his principalities and powers, demons and satanic worshipers to fight the Lord and all who belong to Him (Revelation).
Please — realize, understand, appreciate and proclaim your spiritual position, and structure your priorities– “seek ye first the Kingdom”!
Your position in the spiritual realm (with the authority the Lord graciously gave to us) is tremendously important during times of tribulation. Christ shed His blood, died, and is alive today so that you can be seated with Him and come to the Father (Hebrews 9:11-22). In His name, and by His holy blood, we overcome the enemy and have the victory. Thank you Jesus!
Do you know the authority our Lord and King graciously gave to you as citizen of the Kingdom? There is power in the Blood of the Lamb, yes? Do you claim it?
Soul – our will is to be brought under submission, and is subject to the Lord. His will be done (not my will) on earth (now) as it is in heaven (Mathew 6:10).
We are called to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15). We are called to righteousness. (Psalms 119; Ephesians 4: 20-24). This is a daily process of inspecting our will, our intentions, and bringing before Him our body, minds and hearts with all our strength – seeking Him as our Lord as well as Savior.
“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10-11, NKJV).
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalms 19:14, NKJV).
Whom do you serve?
What is the condition of your heart and soul?
Body – We are told to not live by bread alone but on the Word of God (Mathew 4:4). We are told that our war is not with flesh and blood (body) but it is a spiritual battle (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).
We are told that He will provide for our needs should we put our trust in Him (Psalms 34 and 84), but we have work to do.
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1, NJKV).
“Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:9-10, NJKV).
This war, as believers in Christ, is against demonic evil spirits and with our lower nature of “selfishness” and “pride,” and Peter pleads with us!
“Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul.
Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock]” (1 Peter 2:11-12, AMP).
Then, during these last days, the demonic activity increases (Revelation 9:2-3 and 12:13-17). But, as believers in Christ Jesus our Lord, we have the victory – if we hold onto our faith to “overcome” (a repeated message to the 7 churches in Revelations 2 and 3) to obtain a great reward. Our Good Shepard shares with John the key to overcoming, and gaining the victory during the time of Tribulation:
“And they have overcome (conquered) him by means
of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony, for they did not love and cling to life even when faced with death [holding their lives cheap till they had to die for their witnessing]” (Revelation 12:11, AMP).
Do you have a testimony of your faith in Christ? Are you prepared to proclaim your testimony? Do you know the power of the Blood of the Lamb that covers you?
An Obligatory Call to the Churches
Both spiritual and earthly wars will intensify in the last days. But the war believer’s face is within them – spiritual warfare. To obtain the victory, our Lord tells us with an obligatory, essential call.
The first direct message to the churches in Revelations 2 and 3, from our Good Shepherd, is to “REPENT”. “REPENT” means: Stop, think and turn back from your selfishness, pride of life, and “sinful ways,” and return to God and the path of righteousness – the narrow way.
He tells us to also return to our first love. Do you know what that first love fells like right now? Do you have that feeling today?
Look within your heart/soul (your will) by doing an inventory, recognize your faults and sins, and turn away from them. This is a message to believers as well as “sinners”. Yes, we are to REPENT!
Please read these verses of Revelation 2 and 3, placing your name in the place of each church listed, as you and I are members of the Body of Christ.
Apply these verses as criteria, making an assessment of your spiritual body as a member of the Body or Church. Please, read it again, mediate upon the Word with new eyes and give ear to the Spirit.
** Editor’s note: this is a very good suggestion. Usually we just assign the 7 churches as past, historical entities from the first century, or to modern “groups” of Christians. We should realize that each of the 7 churches may represent some aspect of ourselves.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, there is work for us to do as it is written – “working out our salvation” (Philippians 2:12-16). We have an obligation (Psalms 19:14 and 2 Corinthians 7:1), and the Lord said we, believers, are to REPENT! This gives us victory over the greatest war we face – attacks coming upon us from Satan and his minions.
The sheep that are protected are ones that hear His voice and follow Him. Listen to the Good Shepherd; abide in His pastures and drink of the still waters that refreshes our soul. If needed, return from wandering over a hill and out of His sight. “REPENT” and return to Him.
We gain the victory in this spiritual battle through our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Please give your attention, meditating upon the words of John with a translation that more accurately translates the original text into English.
“EVERYONE WHO believes (adheres to, trusts, and
relies on the fact) that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) is a born-again child of God; and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him (His offspring). By this we come to know (recognize and understand) that we love the children of God: when we love God and obey His commands (orders, charges)–[when we keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and His teaching]. For the [true] love of God is this: that we do His commands [keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and teaching]. And these orders of His are not irksome (burdensome, oppressive, or grievous). For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith” (1 John 1:1-4, AMP).
Our Good Shepherd gave us a promise to provide, meet our basic needs, and to sustain in times of tribulation. He will reward those who “hold fast and “overcome” (Revelations chapters 2 and 3, AMP):
- I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God
- I will give you the crown of life…[and] shall not be hurt by the second death
- I will give to eat of the manna that is hidden, and I will give him a white stone with a new name engraved on the stone, which no one knows or understands except he who receives it.
- I will give him authority and power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a scepter (rod) of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, and [his power over them shall be] like that which I Myself have received from My Father; and I will give him the Morning Star.
- I will not erase or blot out his name from the Book of Life; I will acknowledge him [as Mine] and I will confess his name openly before My Father and before His angels.
- I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God; he shall never be put out of it or go out of it, and I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which descends from My God out of heaven, and My own new name.
- I will grant him to sit beside Me on My throne, as I Myself overcame (was victorious) and sat down beside My Father on His throne.
How do we overcome during the time of tribulation?
- Establish a Humble Soul (Matthew 18:4, 23:12; James 4:5-7; 1 Peter 5:5-6; Psalms 25; Psalms 40; Psalms 19:12-14)
- Repent and Turn to the Lord (Ephesians 4: 20-32; 6:12-13; 2 Corinthians 12:19-21; 2 Peter 1:10-11; Revelations 2, 3)
- Put on The Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18)
- Prepare and Proclaim Your Testimony and “apply” the Blood of the Lamb to your “self” (Ephesians 1:7-14; 1 Peter 1:1-3; 1 John 1:7, Revelation 1:4-6 and Rev 12:11)
“The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come! And let him who is listening say, Come!
And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of Life without cost” (Revelation 22:16-17, AMP).