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Why would a God of love allow for the carnage of the Tribulation? Find out from a forum of Bible prophecy experts on the show Christ in Prophecy.
Last aired on September 14, 2014.
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Dr. Reagan: Have you ever given much thought to what the Bible calls “The Tribulation”? It is a future period of seven years when God will pour out His wrath upon this earth, and during that seven years, one-half of humanity and two-thirds of the Jewish people will die. Why would a God of love, grace and mercy allow such a time of terrible carnage? For the opinions of a panel of Bible prophecy experts, stay tuned.
Dr. Reagan: Greetings in the name of Jesus, our Blessed Hope, and welcome to Christ in Prophecy. As you can see, I have a studio full of people, all of whom are experts on Bible prophecy. Let me quickly introduce them to you, and then I want to kick off our forum by asking them a series of questions about the Tribulation. First, is Al Gist, Al is director of Maranatha Evangelistic Ministries, located near De Ridder, Louisiana. Welcome Al, we are glad to have you brother.
Al Gist: Thank you, Brother Dave, it is good to be here.
Dr. Reagan: Alright. Next along the line here is my former colleague here are Lamb & Lion Ministries, his name is Dennis Pollock. Dennis and I ministered together for 11 years before he felt called of God to establish a ministry called Spirit of Grace, it is located in McKinney, Texas but his focus is the continent of Africa. Welcome, Dennis.
Dennis Pollock: Thanks, Dave, great to be here.
Dr. Reagan: Always good to have you brother.
Dennis Pollock: Thank you.
Dr. Reagan: And the bookend on the other end here is Nathan Jones, my fellow evangelist here at Lamb & Lion Ministries and my co-host on this program. Welcome, Nathan.
Nathan Jones: Great to be here, thank you.
Dr. Reagan: Glad to have you. Well, fellows, I want to jump right into this and talk about the Tribulation for a moment, and I want to begin with what is probably the most frequently asked question about the Tribulation, it relates to the overwhelming carnage that is going to occur during these seven years. I mentioned it in the opening in the program that one-half of humanity is going to die, two-thirds of the Jews are going to die, why in the world would a God of love, and grace, and mercy allow such carnage to occur? This is the question I get over, and over, and over. And Dennis I know you’ve thought about this I’m going to start with you.
Dennis Pollock: Ok, well let me just pick up on the way you described God, a God of love, and grace and mercy and anybody who reads the Bible and certainly I perfectly and completely agree with that. But it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. You know some years ago my son-in-law was helping me with my website and he is a very artistic guy that likes to do things just a little different than most people. And so he did some pictures of me and he showed them to me and when I looked at them I was kind of appalled because it showed half of my face. I said to him, “What is this? It isn’t even all of me.” And he said, “Well, this is kind of the way the way people do things now with the pictures, you don’t just show a standard full on picture.” So he was trying to be artistic. I didn’t work with me, I said, “No, way if they are going to see me they need to see all of me.”
Al Gist: There you go.
Dennis Pollock: And that’s exactly the way it is with God. He is a God of love. He is a God of grace, a God of mercy, but He is also a God of justice and wrath. And one thing people need to understand is there are not two Gods. Some people think ok, there was an Old Testament God.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Dennis Pollock: He was cranky and grumpy and He was always getting after people and he screamed at people constantly, “You’re slackers, you’re worthless.” And then there is a New Testament God he wears shorts and flip-flops. He goes around smiling all the time and He tells people, “I want to make your wildest dreams come true. Sure you fornicate and you are an adulterer and you do things, you lie all the time, but it doesn’t really matter because all I see of you is Jesus and so ask me anything and it is all yours.”
Dr. Reagan: A cosmic teddy bear.
Dennis Pollock: Yeah, so two Gods, the Old Testament and everybody goes, oh, thank the Lord we’ve got the new God. The reality is there is one God. The God of the New Testament is the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and He hates sin every bit as much as He did.
Dr. Reagan: In fact the book of Malachi says God never changes.
Dennis Pollock: Doesn’t change. And so He has provided forgiveness for sure, but He also gives us a new heart and the desire to live right. And so, He still hates sin. And to read Revelation, to read about the Tribulation you begin to realize yeah He’s offered forgiveness but He hasn’t fundamentally changed. He hated sin in the Old Testament, still does.
Al Gist: Yeah.
Dr. Reagan: Al.
Al Gist: Well I would only add to what Brother Dennis has already said here and that is sin has to be dealt with. God because He is such a just God will deal with sin in one of two ways, either you are going to be forgiven of it because it comes under the shed blood of Jesus Christ, or you are going to suffer the penalty of it in eternity because it was not forgiven. And so God deals with sin and the Tribulation is going to be a time of earthly judgment upon this world. And God is going to allow man to sin to its fullest degree, and God is going to step back and allow that to happen but with that sin will come horrible, horrible judgment unlike anything this world has ever seen. So I would agree with Brother Dennis’ statements here.
Dr. Reagan: Nathan?
Nathan Jones: I think it all boils down to freewill, the Tribulation is mankind unleashed to do whatever they want to do. And then each of the 21 judgments you read from God even though they come from the throne of God are all letting mankind build upon their sin. So like Brother Al said it is freewill allowed. And what happens with freewill? It answers the question in this day and age, why does God allow suffering, because we have freewill, we can choose to do wrong and usually we end up hurting ourselves. And most of the Tribulation is mankind, the restrainer is removed, they are all at it as much as they want and it ends up destroying almost all of humanity.
Dr. Reagan: Sounds like Romans 1 where it says when a society begins to rebel against God and all the world is rebelling against God these days that God will step back and lower the hedge of protection. And it says when that happens there is a sexual revolution which occurred in this country in the 60’s. Then it says if they refuse to repent He steps back a second time and lowers the hedge again and there is an outbreak of a plague of homosexuality, which has happened in this country and around the world. And then it says if they refuse to repent He steps back third time and lowers the hedge and at that point it says He turns the society over to a depraved mind.
Nathan Jones: Yes.
Dr. Reagan: And the society basically destroys itself.
Dennis Pollock: Yeah, and there is a theological concept that I call the accumulation of sin and wrath.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Dennis Pollock: That speaks about God allowing things to go on often for long periods of time, many times generations, and He gives the appearance as though it doesn’t really matter. He couldn’t be too bothered by it because He has allowed it for so long. He told Abraham your descendants are going to possess this land that I’m going to give them, but they can’t do it now, or they won’t be able to do it too soon because the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Dennis Pollock: These people were idolaters, they were sacrificing their children, sexual immoral, doing a lot of wicked things but God is saying, I have to wait until the iniquity level, that the accumulation of their sin, and my offense against it reaches a certain level. In Revelation it speaks about Babylon, it says, “Your sins have reached up to heaven.” You know you have accumulated. Paul talks to the ungodly and says, “You’re storing up wrath in the day of wrath in Revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” So our world is doing that. Paul was talking about an individual basis but our entire world is storing up the anger and wrath of God, storing up their sin. And finally in the book of Revelation when you read about the Tribulation you find that you are seeing the unleashing of that wrath that has been building up for generation after generation.
Dr. Reagan: Well God’s patience is amazing. What you said reminded me of a famous quote of Billy Graham’s many years ago when he said, “If God does not judge San Francisco soon He is going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” But God is very patient, very patient. Also reminds me of something you told me one time when you were studying the life of the leading atheist in the United States, what’s her name?
Dennis Pollock: Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
Dr. Reagan: Yeah, she used to get out in her backyard on July the 4th when everybody was barbecuing, stand up so everybody could see on her on a table or whatever and shake her fist at God and say, “If you are real strike me dead.” You said it was a good thing you weren’t God.
Dennis Pollock: That’s true.
Dr. Reagan: But He allows it, and here you find this in the book of Nahum, Nahum 1:7 says, “The Lord is good, He is a stronghold in the day of trouble. He knows those who take refuge in Him.” We love that but look what it says in verse 2, “A jealous and avenging God is the Lord, the Lord is avenging and wrathful, the Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, He reserves wrath for His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power and the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.”
Dennis Pollock: Yeah, and the Bible is saturated with those kind of passages, Old and New Testament. One of the things that boggles my mind to be real honest is the number of pastors around that will only preach the other side and never mention, they wouldn’t dare, you could go to their church for 100 years and you would never hear those kinds of passages.
Dr. Reagan: Right.
Nathan Jones: It doesn’t fill the pews.
Al Gist: And I think sometimes too people forget that the natural destructive consequences that are associated with sin. You know the Bible says in 2 Thessalonians 2 that during the Tribulation that God is going to remove the restraint of evil. Today the Holy Spirit works at restraining the tidal wave of evil in this world, but during that time God will just look to mankind and basically says, ok, you want it your way, you think your way is better than mine, you want to live your sinful lifestyle? Go ahead live your sinful lifestyle. And for those seven years sin will be unrestrained and it will flourish and with that the consequences of those sins which are going to be death and destruction, and bloodshed and carnage just as you mentioned. So it is not so much that I see it, of course God is going to be pouring out judgments but it is the natural consequence of man’s sin that will bring a lot of that carnage as well.
Dr. Reagan: Welcome back to Christ in Prophecy and our panel discussion of the Tribulation. Fellas, let’s get right into a question here and the question is, how would you define the overall purpose of the Tribulation?
Al Gist: Well, I would start with that Brother Dave because I see two major purposes of the Tribulation. First of all in the way that God is going to use it to bring a remnant of the Jewish people to a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. God told Daniel way back there in Daniel 9:24 that there were six reasons that He was doing this, He actually defined 490 years that he was going to deal with Daniel’s people, the Jewish people. The last seven of that 490 years is still futuristic, it is that time period that we call the Tribulation. And so it is dealing with Daniel’s people and that is something that we need to remember, it really has nothing to do with the Church, it’s not about the Church, it is not for the Church. The Church is not going to be here, we are going to be in Heaven, thank God, when the Tribulation takes place.
Nathan Jones: Amen.
Dr. Reagan: Sure, hope so.
Al Gist: So, but He’s going to, if you look at those six reasons the way I would summarize it is this way, is that God is going to bring the Jewish people to the end of themselves. They in a moment of final desperation just before annihilation are going to turn to the Lord Jesus, they are going to cry out to Yeshua their true Messiah and He is going to come and save that remnant that survives the Tribulation. So from the standpoint of the Jewish people the purpose of the Tribulation is that God is going to bring a remnant of them into salvation.
Dr. Reagan: In fact that’s the purpose of His gathering the Jewish people in unbelief right now.
Al Gist: Amen.
Dr. Reagan: From all over the world, so that the world then can focus on them and come together against them and they can be hammered to the point that they really will receive Yeshua as their Messiah.
Al Gist: As long as people think that everything is going ok with them, I’ve got my life under control, Lord I don’t really need you I can take care of myself. You know God allows people to go in that direction, but when life gets hard, when tribulation come persecution and difficulties come to people then they want to turn up to God. And it’s sad that is that way, but that is just human nature. And I think that the Jewish people will be a perfect picture of that at the end of the Tribulation because they will have been so persecuted and so hurt that finally, finally they as a people will turn in mass to God and say, “Lord, help us. We can’t save ourselves, we need you.” And that’s what people need to say everyday today, we can’t save ourselves Lord we need you.”
Dr. Reagan: In fact Jesus Himself said that He would not return until the Jewish people were willing to say, “Baruch Haba Bashem Adonai,” blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Al Gist: Amen.
Dr. Reagan: Are there any purposes for the Gentiles nations, fellas?
Nathan Jones: I would add two more to that for one the Gentile nations are in rebellion against God as well as Israel, so God has to judge evil which we discussed earlier. But I would say it is more about God coming, Christ coming to rule the nations. It is about Jesus’ victory lap. He is finally going to come. He is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords and now He needs to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords here on earth over the nations of the earth, over the Gentile nations of the earth as well as Israel that is reformed. So, really the Tribulation is about getting humanity right with God so that Jesus could rule and reign over a righteous people.
Dr. Reagan: I would like to piggyback on that for a moment when you say it is about getting humanity right with God, and that is one of the things the Bible teaches is even when God pours out His wrath His fundamental purpose is not to punish, His fundamental purpose is to humble people to the point that they will accept Him and come to Him in salvation.
Nathan Jones: Yes, definitely.
Dr. Reagan: Isaiah 25:9, talks about this it says, “When the earth experiences the judgments of God the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.”
Al Gist: Amen.
Dr. Reagan: So, the purpose of God is not only to judge sin but also to bring people to the end of themselves so that they might receive Jesus as their Messiah.
Al Gist: Yes.
Dr. Reagan: The sad thing is in the book of Revelation it says most people during that time are going to shake their fist at God and curse God, but many we know are going to be saved there is going to be a great harvest of souls during the Tribulation period.
Al Gist: Amen.
Nathan Jones: There is.
Dennis Pollock: Let me just provide something probably a lot of people haven’t thought about. In one perspective the Tribulation is an answer to mankind’s prayer. The Bible says in Thessalonians because they did not receive the love of the truth, God will send them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie. And we have a world that wants anything but the truth.
Al Gist: Yeah.
Dennis Pollock: We’ll take any philosophy, any strange bizarre religion viewpoint perspective except Christ, and the idea of Heaven and Hell and so forth. And so we have a world that has said, we don’t want God in our schools, we don’t want God in our society, we don’t want God in our news in our media, and the world is basically saying, “God would you please leave us alone.”
Nathan Jones: Yeah.
Dennis Pollock: And so the Bible says, “Ask and you shall receive.”
Nathan Jones: Ironic, huh?
Dennis Pollock: God is going to grant the prayer of a world that is saying, “We don’t want you, we don’t need you, we don’t like you.” And He is going to send them a delusion a lie in answer to this request of their heart, if you will. And the Antichrist will arrive and basically the Tribulation is involving the rise and the fall of the Antichrist and all the war and the death and the misery that is going to happen as a result, and in the midst of all of that. And in one sense you know that has happened, in another sense we have talked about before the idea of God giving up, God ceasing to restrain. We have stockpiles of nuclear weapons that are just lying around everywhere all over the world. We haven’t used them yet in wartime, since World War II. That is going to change, it looks to me like because Revelation really describes something that could easily be nuclear war.
Dr. Reagan: And we’ve come so close several times.
Dennis Pollock: Come very close.
Dr. Reagan: The restraining hand of God has been there, and it is going to be removed.
Dennis Pollock: Yeah.
Al Gist: That’s right.
Dr. Reagan: What about it are there any parallels between what the Bible says about the Tribulation and say the Flood of Noah?
Dennis Pollock: Well, actually I have preached a sermon on that a number of times. So basically there are four easy points for a preacher to use there as you look at the days of Noah and the days of Lot. The first thing is Jesus was trying to show us what the Last Days will be like so He used two societies. One was Noah’s generation, the other was Lot’s era. Well, He couldn’t have used any more wicked societies then he did.
Al Gist: Those two.
Dennis Pollock: He used the most evil, wicked, ungodly societies that the Bible records, which gives us a pretty good idea that things are not quite the way the Post-Millennialist say that things are going to get better, and better and we are going to make more and more progress.
Nathan Jones: Not at all.
Dennis Pollock: Until finally the world is perfect and we’ve converted the entire world, it is all a Christian world then Jesus will come and receive this world to Himself. No, Jesus said it is going to be as bad as it has ever been. So the first point is it is a very wicked society, or a very wicked world. The second thing that I find, really the most interesting of all is that He talks about ordinary activities, He says people are buying, they are selling, they are having weddings, they’re planting and they’re building. Now that is all innocuous enough, there is nothing evil or sinful about that, why even mention that? Well, the point is they are on they’re on the verge of catastrophe, they are on the verge of judgment. It’s like a man reading the newspaper, his wife cooking a meal and the child playing a video game, that is normal enough, but if the house is on fire, that is probably not what you want to be doing, you want to be running for your life. And Jesus is saying, the end times are going to be so wicked, it is going to be more wicked than it has ever been. Judgment is going to be looming on the horizon and nobody cares or even notices, they are just going about their ordinary business. So you have a wicked society, business as usual, and then sudden destruction both Lot’s day, Noah’s day it wasn’t a gradual, it wasn’t a gradual flood that took years, and years it was instant. And the fire that destroyed Lot’s generation again it was a sudden destruction. And then the fourth thing was and that’s the good news in each case a remnant was spared, there were people of God.
Dr. Reagan: Amen.
Al Gist: Amen.
Dr. Reagan: Welcome back to Christ in Prophecy and our panel concerning the Tribulation. Fellas, I want to jump right into this question. As I said a few moments ago the Bible teaches it seems that God never pours our His wrath without warning. Now if we are anywhere near the Tribulation today is God warning? How about it Nathan?
Nathan Jones: Oh, my goodness. Calvin and Hobbes is one of my favorite strips and in it Calvin pretends that he is a little fly and he is yelling and screaming to get his parents, who are giants, attention in comparison, but they can’t hear him because they are not on the same wave length as a fly. God is yelling and screaming from the heavens, but it is the opposite, we’re so small most of society doesn’t even know that God is telling us but He is telling us over and over again what is going to happen.
Dr. Reagan: How is He telling us?
Nathan Jones: Through the signs of the times and through fulfilled prophecy.
Dr. Reagan: Well give me an example, what do you mean?
Nathan Jones: Well signs of the time and this one that we can think recently take for instance the Philippines were slammed by the worse storm in history and almost 10,000 people are dead. And God uses signs of nature to get us back on track. As Al, was saying earlier about having a right relationship with God sometimes you have to such tribulation in life, and God uses signs of nature. He also uses signs of change, Daniel 12:4 talks about in end time’s knowledge will increase and travel will increase and we’re seeing that today. We are also seeing fulfilled prophecy like Israel becoming a nation again. Israel taking control of Jerusalem again. The nations of Russia and Iran and all forming alliances against Israel. That’s all happening today. But you have to have a biblical mindset, the Holy Spirit inside of you to understand that. We hear and see the signs, we know God is yelling, but most of society they don’t have the Holy Spirit so they are not hearing those signs.
Dr. Reagan: How about it?
Dennis Pollock: Yeah, for sure I believe God is using natural disasters. I don’t believe every natural disaster is automatically a judgment of God.
Nathan Jones: Exactly, yeah.
Dennis Pollock: You know just on an individual basis when something happens in our life that really rocks us, something negative, something we don’t like if you’re a believer one of the things you wonder, God are you speaking to me about this? Now it doesn’t always follow that it is God saying, “You really messed up and I’m punishing you.” Or this is some heavy thing I’ve got to say, sometimes it is just something you get through. But never-the-less you ask the question because that is what believers do, that is what people that have any respect for God do. You say, “God, are you speaking?” And our nation, our world needs to be asking when we look at some of these things that are the worst, the worst floods, the worst hurricanes, the worst this, the worst that, the worst weather patterns, God are you speaking? Then of course you look into the Scriptures and you line up where are we compared to what the Bible says in terms of the standards of righteousness? And if you really believe as evangelicals do that abortion is murder. If you really believe that homosexuality is an abomination. If you really believe the biblical morality, the standard of the Scriptures and you see how far we’ve moved away from that. You have to say it sure seems like God is speaking and warning us that we are in serious trouble.
Al Gist: Amen.
Dr. Reagan: Al.
Al Gist: You know I would add a sad note to that Brother Dave, unfortunately, in Matthew 16 the Pharisees came to the Lord Jesus asking Him for a sign to prove to them He is who He says that He is. And He scolded them and He said, “You can look at the weather patterns and tell us what tomorrow’s weather is going to be.” But He said, “Can you not discern the signs of the times?” And He called them a bunch of hypocrites. You know and I wonder if maybe God is not in Heaven right now looking down on His Church and saying the same thing, “You bunch of hypocrites, you say that you love me, you say that you want me to come, you long to be with me. I am sending you all of these signs to tell you that I am coming and you totally ignoring it.” And I think unfortunately it is not just the world, but even a large part of the Church today that does not know anything about the signs of the times or the fact that we are approaching the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. Reagan: You know one of my latest books was entitled, Living on Borrowed Time it was about the signs of the times and I had a prophecy forum in there, in fact all of you fellas were members of it along with a total of 22 guys. And I asked them about: Do you believe that we are living in the season of the Lord’s return and if so what would you say is the most important reason? I expected them to say that we were, and all 22 said, yes, we are living in the season. I expected them to say Israel, they didn’t. What they said instead the vast majority was the thing that convinces me the most is the convergence of the signs, that all of them are coming together for the first time ever. There has always been this sign, or that sign or that one but not all of them coming together at one time. Yes, the most important they said was Israel but more important than that is the convergence of the signs and it looks like that is what is happening today.
Al Gist: You know and for people like myself who have kind of a logical approach to things, I’m bound by that.
Dr. Reagan: You’re an engineer.
Al Gist: I’m an engineer and logic works for me and logic tells you that the convergence of signs is an impossibility. You cannot have all these things happen simultaneously, coincidentally, it couldn’t happen that way, unless God was orchestrating the whole thing, and of course we know that He is.
Dr. Reagan: And of course one of the factors that we find there is the teaching both Old Testament and New that there is going to be an exponential effect in the sense that the signs will become more frequent and more intense. And for example this latest typhoon in the Philippines was the largest wind storm in history, the most powerful. Again everything seems to be increasing in frequency and intensity. It seems like God is shouting from the heavens, Jesus is coming soon.
Al Gist: Amen, that’s true.
Dennis Pollock: And you know Jesus compared the end times to the birth pains of a woman, or contractions we would say.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Dennis Pollock: And in many cases women can go a number of hours having about one contraction an hour, and it is usually fairly light. But at some point it is like they turn the corner and that exponential curve kicks in and suddenly it’s not an hour its 15 minutes, then its 5 and now it is just like one unending contraction, and the baby is here. And I think those of us that are sensitive and aware of these prophecies are looking for the turning of the corner believing that either we’ve turned it or we are getting very close to turning it.
Dr. Reagan: Fellows, I’m concerning about the fact that somebody may be watching right now who really doesn’t know the Bible and does not have a personal relationship with Jesus and they’re listening to us talking about these horrible things that are about to come about the earth. And Al, why don’t you just speak personally right into that camera in front of you here for a moment. Tell them first of all the name of your ministry and what it means, and then tell them how they can get into a personal relationship with Jesus and have the hope of escaping this tribulation.
Al Gist: Alright, well the word Maranatha only appears one time in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 16 and it literally means, until He comes. When you add the second word of our ministry evangelistic to that it means what we’re all about. We want to evangelize until He comes. That is to say we want to share the Gospel of Jesus with as many people as we can so that people can miss the time of the tribulation. The Tribulation as we said would be a day of terrible, terrible wrath, but the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 that God hath not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. And so that’s the secret, salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ will save us from the coming tribulation and of course from an eternity in Hell without God. And so have you done that? Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior? If you haven’t I want to encourage you to think seriously about this because the Tribulation is very near. How much time do we have? Not much that is for sure. Have you come to that point in your life where you have asked Jesus to save you? Just to simply say, “Lord, I’m a sinner, I know I can’t save myself and Lord I am calling on you to save me. I trust Jesus for what He has done for me.” I encourage you to give serious thought to that and give your heart to Jesus today.
Dr. Reagan: Thank you, Al. Well folks, that’s our program for this week. I hope it has been a blessing to you and I hope you will be back with us again next week. Until then, this is Dave Reagan speaking for Nathan Jones and myself saying, “Look up, be watchful, for our Redemption is drawing near.”
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