It seems a man arrived at the pearly gates. There was an angel there to meet him. Notice I didn't say St. Peter. And the angel had a clipboard, took down his name, address, pertinent information and just said, now could you tell me a story, give me an example of some kind, unselfish deed that you have performed while on earth? And he said, well, I have something you might be interested in. One day as I was walking down the street, I saw this older lady being mercilessly beaten by a motorcycle gang member and I stepped right in, pushed the guy's motorcycle over, slugged him upside the head, kicked him, and told the lady to run and she escaped. The angel said, well, you know, that's very impressive, when did all this happen? The guy said, oh about three minutes ago. Now there are many examples of people who have sacrificed their life for good causes. Chivalry, love, relationship. The noblest of all causes, we see it here in our text this morning, is for the cause of Jesus Christ. Living your life even to the point of death because of the love for Jesus Christ.
A few years ago I visited Rome. It was a place I always wanted to see. It was a place Paul always wanted to see. But there were many Christians in Rome who were persecuted and I stood in that great coliseum in Rome, the ruins that still stand. And as I looked at the seats and I looked at the floor and I heard the guide's description of its original construction and how it was used, I tried to imagine the tens of thousands of people that would come into that coliseum and watch games, but they watched among other things, Christians being torn by beasts and the blood of the martyrs being spilled on the floors of that coliseum. And I tried to imagine the scenes and I gotta tell you, it was hard for me to imagine the scenes because in this country I really don't know what persecution is. We may be ridiculed for our faith and persecution certainly may be coming, but as of yet that kind of persecution, that kind of martyrdom, we don't see here. Yet the world always has and always will persecute God's people. The world will not tolerate true Christianity for very long. They will tolerate a mild form of religion but true Christianity they won't tolerate. Give it enough time and persecution will arise. All who live godly in Christ Jesus, Paul said, will suffer some kind of persecution. The reaction is much like turning on a bright light when somebody's grown accustomed to the darkness and is falling asleep. If you turn on a bright light in that room, the person whose eyes have grown accustomed to the darkness hate the light and long for the darkness. And so in a spiritual sense, Jesus even said that men love darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. Neither would they come to the light lest their deeds would be exposed and made manifest that they're not of God.
Now I remember, and I bet you remember, the first time you shared your faith with someone and it wasn't very well-received. I was so excited that I was a Christian; I figured my friends would share that excitement. My family. And so I naively went back to my high school friends, I went back to the campus after graduating, I even played some music out in the courtyard thinking, oh they're gonna love this. And they didn't. I was obnoxious to them. They wanted me to fade away or just leave the scene. They didn't want to hear about it. Now beginning in verse 9 we see persecution arise and basically we are seeing beginning in verse 9 the response to the seals that have come and the judgments that have come so far. One is a reaction upon the earth, that's in verses 12 onward. The other, the first, is a reaction in heaven, the martyrs who have been slain. In verse 9, "When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was an earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
Great persecution is the result of the great commission. Whenever you fulfill the great commission, if you really fulfill it on an ongoing basis you can expect great persecution. A little formula you can commit to memory is this: Acts 1:8 and Acts 8:1. If you do Acts 1:8 you can expect Acts 8:1. Let me share those Scriptures. In Acts 1:8 they were commissioned to go out into all the world, you shall be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. If you do that, you can expect the reverse or Acts 8:1 which says at that time a great persecution arose against the church that was in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. They were scattered abroad. So the great commission, if you fulfill it, will produce great persecution, as we see here. Four riders during the tribulation period have already come forth. Four seals have been broken. The Antichrist comes forth conquering more and more people. But there are some people who don't fall for his lies or his tricks. They trust in Jesus Christ during this period and we see them beginning in verse 9 and the fifth seal, their reaction is a prayer to God in heaven. But on the earth as the judgments continued to be meted out on every class of people, there is also the reaction and the cries of those upon the earth. Not crying to God but to the mountains and the rocks to fall on them.
God hears the prayers and answers the prayers of these martyrs in heaven. He talks back to them as they sing or as they talk to Him, as they offer their prayer. Their prayer is sweet to Him. Their song is beautiful to the Lamb. They have been sacrificed in death as martyrs for the sake of Jesus Christ. Now as you know, China has seen over the years great revival and great persecution. Some have estimated that 20,000 people a day come to Christ in China. That's a country of about 1 billion people. There's been such a great revival, the government hasn't been able to contain it and there's been wave after wave of persecution in China even though there's a front church, a government church. Christians have basically gone underground and gather together in house churches and worship the Lord. They have been persecuted in untold ways. Yet their churches grow and more and more become Christians and they sing. I was given a letter this week from a group in Japan that take Bibles into China and they mapped out where they're taking the Bibles to and what we should pray for, what I should pray for specifically. They said they just got back from some of the mountain provinces in the north where they taped some songs of a church high up in the mountains and she said they don't have sheet music, they can't read music, but everyone in that congregation sings. They've been persecuted but their response to persecution is prayer and praise to God. And she said as I listened to them, I felt heaven.
A persecuted church singing and I have that tape. I just want to play a little excerpt from it. Here's a church in China singing a familiar song in their language as a response to persecution. Recognize the tune? What a friend we have in Jesus/all our sins and griefs to bear/what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. And all of them, as you could hear, were beautifully singing their anthems to God. As here they do in heaven. Let's look now at these verses, the martyrs in heaven crying out to God. "When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed." We notice their place first of all is under the altar in heaven. Now this is imagery; this is filled with idioms from the Old Testament to paint a picture of what's going on. And the Old Testament, you remember, the priest would offer the sacrifices of the nation. The animal would be killed and the blood of the animal was literally poured out at the base of the altar. Out in the courtyard was a brass altar of sacrifice and it was at the base of that sacrificial altar where the lifeblood was drained of the animal. And the blood drained at the base and under the altar. And blood, in Old Testament imagery, symbolizes life, the pouring out of life. As it says in Leviticus, the life of the flesh is in the blood. So here these saints, persecuted, their souls are under the altar, their bodies are on the earth, their blood is still in the streets of the cities, but their souls are under the altar. They have poured out their life unto death. Now Paul the apostle said that we as Christians should be living our life serving God as a sacrifice. I beseech you, Romans 12:1, by the mercies of God that you would present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable which is your reasonable service. In other words, my body is Your tool, God. These hands are like Your hands. These feet will run where You want them to. My mouth will speak Your words. I am instrument in Your hands.
Now that testimony of service lasts through life and, if need be, through death. That's what a true witness is. Paul the apostle again in his last letter that he wrote to Timothy, his last words, is the book of 2 Timothy and he said in that book in chapter 4 verse 6, I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure is at hand. Now that describes the Christian life and that's what a true martyr is. Somebody who's a witness. As you read through these verses, you may have noticed the word martyr isn't used in English. But in the original language it is. For it says here, they were slain for the word of their testimony which they held. The word testimony is martyria. Somebody who gives a testimony, a witness. That's what a martyr is. Somebody who witnesses about Jesus Christ and because they witness about Jesus Christ during the tribulation period, they are attacked by the Antichrist who doesn't like their testimony. These are people who have not conformed to receiving this economic mark that we'll read about later on in chapter 13. The devil uses the Antichrist to bring a false peace we already read about. He will set up a system. He will break the covenant with the Jews. He will persecute Jews and Gentiles who do not conform to his system. We read about the same group later on in Revelation 20 verse 4. It says, I saw thrones and they sat on them and judgment was committed to them and then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus, same word witness, martyr. And for the word of God who had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received the mark on their foreheads or on their hands.
Now I believe these souls are tribulation saints. I think the church has already been raptured and during the tribulation period, there will be those who still come to Christ but face a terrible time of persecution. The reason I don't think it's the church is because we read about, in the book of Revelation; the Antichrist makes war against the saints and prevails against them, that's what it says. He will prevail against them. but I remember Jesus saying, I'll build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I think that there is a different group of people here. Every time you read the word saints or souls, don't think it always means you. There are other saints and other souls and other believers besides those in the church age. Now the question people ask at that point is well how could they come to Christ during the tribulation if all the Christians are off the earth? How will they hear the gospel? Well folks God has lots of means to get His message across. We're going to read in chapter 11 two witnesses, God says they're My witnesses and they proclaim the gospel, especially to the Jewish nation. There's 144,000 Jewish, it seems, evangelists who are sealed in chapter 7. There is an everlasting angel. Now we've never heard this before; it's never happened; flying through the midst of heaven proclaiming the everlasting gospel. Now I would think that would get people's attention. Imagine looking up and seeing an angel, maybe with a megaphone, of course I don't think they need one, proclaiming to everyone on the earth the everlasting gospel. There will be lots of ways people will hear. And besides that, there's what I call the silent witness. When Christians are gone, their books remain. There will be many Bibles, magazines, portions of Scriptures translated by Wycliffe, Gideon's, and others in virtually every language. Now imagine a scene of somebody during this time of distress and perplexity that Jesus said would happen, being shaken, maybe spending the night in some other foreign city or some American city and as they're in the hotel, they open up the top drawer of the little bureau and there's a Gideon's Bible in there. And so they fish through the first couple pages that say what you should read when you're distressed and so they start reading through it and in the course of the evening, they come to realize what has happened and they kneel at the foot of their bed and they give their lives to Jesus Christ. Many means during that time.
Now I want to sort of shift the focus. In talking about these martyrs, martyrdom, though it will be very harsh during the tribulation period, will not be unique to the tribulation. There have always been martyrs. From the inception of church history, men and women have stood tall and to pour out their life even to death for the gospel. One of the best books you could ever read on this is called Foxe's Book of Martyrs. It is a treatise of the early church all the way up until the time that that author wrote the book. Cameos, examples of people who have given their life. It's very, very inspiring. Now think of just the twelve apostles. Matthew was slain with a sword in Ethiopia. Mark was dragged through the streets of Alexandria, Egypt until he was dead. Luke was hung upon an olive tree in Greece. John was put in boiling oil, he escaped his death, was sentenced to Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation and he was branded as a Roman prisoner. James the Greater, we read about in Acts, was beheaded. James the Less was thrown from a pinnacle of the temple mount and then beaten to death with a club. Bartholomew was flayed alive. Andrew was put on a cross where he preached to his persecutors until he died. Thomas was run through with a lance. Peter was crucified upside down. All martyrs for Christ.
Then I think of the Roman coliseum where I stood. Thousands of Christians persecuted. Torn by beasts. It is said that Caesar Nero would take Christians and impale them on poles, put the poles in his garden, cover the people with pitch, and light them on fire to be living torches in his garden at night. He would take the skins of freshly gutted animals and wrap them around Christians and cursorily sew them up and have his hunting dogs attack. Hot lead was poured upon them. their eyes were gouged out. Hot pieces of brass were placed at the tenderest parts of their body. Some of their extremities were cut off before their eyes and then burned in the fire while they watched. You say, oh but that happened so long ago! That certainly doesn't happen anymore today. Well I'm sure that you and I don't see it as we turn on what's happening in our country, but it happens all over the place. In fact, folks, it happens more now than it did. Kent Hill, the executive director of the Institute of Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C. says, "There have been more martyrs produced in the 20th century than every other century combined since the time of Christ." The Manila Conference on World Evangelism estimates that since 1950, 10 million believers have been put to death for their faith. This year alone, 156,000 worldwide.
Now in our country we don't see that kind of martyrdom. Yet. Perhaps we will and if we ever do, as sad a day as that might be, the church will be stronger. Look at the churches in those countries. Now we do see however, and I bet you've noticed it, this growing undercurrent, this sediment of anti-Christian feelings. We're the enemy. We're the narrow-minded. We're the bigots. We're the people holding progress up. We're those people filled with hate crimes. We're so intolerant. You know it's very okay to be spiritual in this country. Generically spiritual. And the more generic you are the better. I believe in a higher power; I'm such a spiritual person. I was out the other day meditating on a rock. That's okay in this culture. It's okay to be pro-gay, it's okay to be pro-abortion, but if you're a Christian, you're the enemy in this country. And they'll talk about your intolerance. Listen to the sentiment of Madeline Murray O'Hare, ever heard that name? I bet you have. She founded that group for atheists, the Association of Atheists, in an interview she said, now listen carefully to her wording, "Christianity is intolerant." That's her premise. "Christianity is intolerant. It is anti-democratic, it is anti-sexual." Look around, I wouldn't say that's true. "It is anti-life, it is anti-woman, and I cannot stand that. It's anti-everything that is good and human and decent and kind and love-filled and understanding." She goes on, "I used to have an intellectual hatred for Christianity. I think it's broadening now. I'm enjoying hating the whole thing." Did you get that? Christians are unloving and I hate them! Hello? Christians are intolerant and I can't tolerate them! People don't see it but that is the growing feeling in our culture.
Now notice the prayer of these martyrs, these souls under the altar, they cry out, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" That has been the cry of God's children for a long time. Asaph looked around at the wickedness. He looked around at Christians who were being persecuted by the wicked, 'How long?' David looked around and said, 'How long?' Habakkuk said, 'How long?' When are You gonna get them? When are You gonna quit being so patient? When will You avenge our blood upon those who have killed us on the earth? And this is one of the reasons, by the way, I don't think this group is the church. Because this is an age of grace right now and mercy, and we're told to pray for those who persecute us and love them. But the tribulation is a day of vengeance and wrath. And they're in the day of vengeance and wrath. That's why they're wondering, 'How long?' When is Your work of judgment going to begin and end upon them on the earth? God's answer is enlightening. He says basically their death is an appointment and there's more to follow. "A white robe," verse 11, "was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed."
You know how God sees the death of a Christian? It's a gain for heaven. Precious, Psalm 116 says, precious in the sight of God is the death of His saints. They're given a white robe, they're told to rest during this period. What is noteworthy is that John senses their souls are there. Now their bodies are still on the earth rotting in a grave, their blood is spilled on the ground. But they're in heaven and they're conscious and they're able to sense and feel and articulate. They're very much alive. So when a person dies, though we might go to a funeral and say that person is expired, he's dead, that person's soul lives on in heaven or in hell. Jesus said there was a rich man who fared sumptuously every day and a beggar named Lazarus who sat at his gate wanting to just get the scraps from that man's table and both of them died, said Jesus. And one went to Hades and the other went to be comforted in Abraham's bosom. And the rich man, in hell, cried out in misery and torment while Lazarus was being comforted by Abraham. There was still that sense, that feeling, that the person experienced even after death, which reminds us of the question Jesus asked, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but he loses his own soul? And what will a man give in exchange for his soul? The soul is the most important part of you; it's the part that will live on. Now there's sort of a camera shift, if you will, a scene shift from heaven, the cries going up to God, to mankind upon the earth.
The martyrs in heaven cry out to God, 'Avenge us!' Mankind on earth cries out to the mountains, not to God. 'Hide us from the wrath of the Lamb and He who sits on the throne!' We'll see why, verse 12: "I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake". This is one of three major earthquakes in the book of Revelation. Earthquakes have increased in intensity in the past 100 years. Remember a few years ago in San Francisco, the earthquake, 6.9 on the Richter scale? My brother lives about 6, 7 miles from the epicenter of that earthquake. His house, his community, his neighborhood felt the shock and the destruction of that earthquake. Bridges in San Francisco were collapsed. They're still rebuilding from that time. A few months back I saw whole sections of road still in disarray. And people wondered, is that the big one? I come from the land of earthquakes originally. California. And people are always wondering, not if, but when is the big one coming? The big one's coming in Revelation. There are three big ones that are coming. Earthquakes that affect, it seems, the whole world. Not only that but it says, "the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood." Now this is not the only time this is predicted. It's not the only time it's seen. Several prophets foretold the same thing. Listen to what Joel says in chapter 2 verses 30 and 31: God says I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth. Blood and fire and pillars of smoke, the sun will be turned to darkness, the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome Day of the Lord," Joel chapter 3 verse 15 and 16: the sun and the moon will grow dark. The stars will diminish their brightness. The Lord will roar from Zion and utter His voice from Jerusalem. The heavens and the earth will shake. Isaiah saw it in Isaiah chapter 13, he writes, for the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light. The sun will be darkened in its going forth. The moon will not cause its light to shine. I will punish the world for its evil.
Now it's hard for me to speculate and I really dare not much on the precise nature of these cataclysms. Whether there's atmospheric conditions on the earth that give the appearance of these heavenly bodies being distorted or it's something that happens to the moon and the sun itself. Some have suggested a prolonged eclipse. Others have suggested a huge hydrogen explosion which would give the moon that red hue, that deep red color. We don't know. I can't help but think of nuclear involvement and what that would do to this earth. I read a little quote by Carl Sagan who said of the involvement of nuclear weapons in a war, he said, "It could plunge the Northern Hemisphere into a nuclear winter. One half of mankind could die with the descent of night around the clock and a drop in temperature of 70 degrees." John sees the stars of heaven being shaken and hurled. Have you ever taken I-40 west and seen that big hole just on the other side of the border? There's a big hole over there from where a meteorite struck the earth sometime back. It's a pretty big hole. It's about 600 feet deep; it's about a mile wide, the lip is 135 feet up, and the rock that hit it from space, about 123,000 pounds. That's a pretty big hole for a rock weighing 123,000 pounds. Imagine if more of those hit the earth and bigger ones hit the earth, what that could do. I think about what it says in Colossians, that Christ made the world and by Him all things are held together. I'm sure glad they're held together because the Milky Way galaxy, you know, billions of stars, 10,000 light years thick, 100,000 light years long, and He's holding it all together. What if He lets go? A scene like this could happen.
Ok with a scene like this happening on earth, everybody turns and repents, right? Everybody prays, O God, You were right! O, the martyrs were right! I give my life to You! No. There's callousness instead. We read about it in verse 15: "And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man". In other words, it affects everybody--educated, not educated. The person down in Africa, the person on Wall Street. Everybody's affected and mankind, it says, "hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!"
What a prayer meeting. They're praying. But they're talking to rocks. They're talking to the earth that many of them said this is our god! We're all a part of the great cosmic mind! And the earth is sacred! And they're praying to the rocks, hide us, protect us from the wrath of the Lamb! It reminds me of Adam and Eve. Rather than running to God in faith, they ran from God in fear. You know, sin does that, doesn't it? Whenever you entertain it and keep it and practice it, you don't want to run to God. You're ashamed or you're hard-hearted and so you run from the very provision for your sin, the forgiveness. And it's very typical of mankind. But you'd think that with all of the shaking going on that they would turn. Do you realize that these judgments, though they come from God, are intended to wake man up, shake them? And judgment after judgment after judgment, there's no repentance. Their heart gets harder and harder. Let me give you an example. A couple chapters later, after the seal judgments come trumpet judgments. Listen to what it says. Revelation 9:20: "But the rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands." We read about the same thing when the bowls are poured out in chapter 16 verse 9: "And men were scorched with great heat and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues and they did not repent and give Him glory." The day of patience is over. This is the day of wrath in the tribulation. You think that'll shake them up, that'll get their attention. It doesn't.
Could it be that you're facing a crisis right now, in the day of grace? Something has come into your life, something has intruded, an enemy, a disease, a bout with your neighbor, you've lost your job, I'm not suggesting that this is God's divine punishment meted out on you, just saying, maybe God is trying to get your attention, in the midst of those things. Maybe all of the shaking is so that your attention would be captured and you'd say, Lord, I'm all ears! What do You want from my life? Is my relationship with You off? I'm listening! Not I'm going to run away from You because of this, but I'm going to run to You because of this. What would You be saying to me in my relationship with You? We'll close with the verses that this chapter closes with. I want to draw your attention to something that I'd never really noticed before. They say, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne," and notice this, "and from the wrath of the Lamb!" Doesn't that sound like a paradox? Or an oxymoron? The wrath of a lamb? Have you ever seen an angry lamb? Look out! A lamb's coming! But here they recognize the Lamb that was slain, God and His Son are judging the world, and there's wrath. There's wrath with that Lamb. You know why it struck me is because we emphasize so much the love and the kindness and the gentleness of Jesus Christ. He's gentle, He's meek, He loves people--we emphasize that. It's a great thing to emphasize. But the other side of the coin is that part of His nature is wrath, is equity, is truth, is justice. And I don't know why people have trouble. Well how can God be loving and be just? Part of love is to be just! God's attributes and His character are complementary; they're not contradictory. You see, God hates sin. It's an offense to Him. And He can't ignore sin. At the same time, He gave His Son to die for sin so that all of the penalty would be upon Jesus and Jesus died on a cross and God can't ignore that either. And so He offers freely all of the wrath to be on Jesus and a person to receive the Savior. If a person says I reject Christ, they're rejecting their lifeline. And they sentence themselves to judgment. Now there is the modern view of God which I don't find very loving at all. The modern view of God is this: well listen, God is up in heaven, He's got a nice, long beard and this little smile, feeble kind of a smile, He's just a gentle, old guy who rolls with the punches and people die and he just lets them in heaven for whatever reason, because they were sincere and so, well, Adolph Hitler, you know, listen, he had a bad childhood, you can't blame him, he was a product of his environment. Well, Adolph, come on him! And Satan worshipers who've killed babies in their rituals. Well listen, you were sincere, it was your own worship system. I find that immoral. I don't find that loving. I couldn't worship a god--that's abhorrent. That's not just. That's not loving. And as you see wickedness on your newspapers, and you hear about it on CNN, I bet you say, Lord how long are You going to let this go on? You're patient, but there comes a time in Your love where You must act. And He will act.
So my question is not how can a loving God judge, how could a loving God not? To be truly loving. Larry Tomczak, in his book Straightforward, wrote this scene: "At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God's throne. Some of the groups near the front talked heatedly not with cringing shame but with belligerence. How can God judge us? What a rip-off! How can He know about suffering? Snapped a cynical brunette. She jerked back a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. We endured terror and beatings, torture and death! In another group, a black man lowered his collar, what about this? He demanded, showing an ugly rope burn. I was lynched for no crime except being black! We suffocated in slave ships being wrenched from loved ones, toiled till only death gave us release. Far out across that plain were hundreds of such oppressed minorities. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and the suffering He permitted in the world. How privileged God was to live in heaven where there was no repression, all is sweetness and light, no weeping, no fear, no hunger, no hatred. Indeed, what did God know about the hassles man had in the world? So each of the oppressed minorities sent out a leader chosen because he suffered the most. There was a Jew, a black, an untouchable from the caste of India, an illegitimate son, a prisoner of war, an Indian, one from a Siberian slave camp. In the center of the plain they consulted with each other. At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather simple. Before God would be qualified to be their judge, He must endure what they had endured. Their decision was that God should be sentenced to live on earth as a man. But because He was God, they set certain safeguards to be sure that He did not use His divine powers to help Himself. Let Him be born a minority, a Jew, let the legitimacy of His birth be doubted so that many will question who His Father really is, let Him champion a cause so just but so radical that it brings down upon Him the hate, condemnation, and eliminating efforts of the establishment and every major traditional and established religious authority, let Him be the object of put-downs, ridicule, let Him be spat upon and labeled as mad, let Him be betrayed by His dearest friends, let Him be indicted on false charges, tried before a prejudiced jury, convicted by a cowardly judge, let Him experience what it is to be terribly alone and completely abandoned by every living thing, let Him be tortured, let Him die and let Him die the most humiliating death, then let His name live on so that for centuries it would be used as a common curse word in moments of rage. As each leader stepped forward and announced his portion of the sentence, loud approval went up from the great throng of people. When the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence. No one uttered another word. No one moved. For suddenly they all knew God had already served His sentence."
That's the life of Jesus Christ who came as a Lamb, sacrificially, and endured all of those things. He will come back with wrath for those who reject gentle Jesus, meek and mild. The One who saves from sin and He'll say, fine, then you will experience the consequence--you're sentencing yourself. Now that makes only sense then that we should turn to Jesus now, while we're in this day of grace, before these terrible things come on the earth. You might say well, the way I figure it, preacher, is that if these things really happen, then I'll give my life to Jesus Christ because, as you said, there's people who can become Christians during that period, so I'll give my life to Jesus during that time. Think about it. If you can't live for Jesus now, what makes you think you can die for Jesus then? When all hell breaks loose on this earth, it's just a ploy of the enemy to keep you from Christ. He's taken judgment upon Himself and He wants to receive you as a child of God so that you don't face these things. People will be saved during the tribulation, that's the extent of the mercy and the grace of God. There will be multitudes saved during that time. But why not now?