Gary W. Ritter
(Isaiah 34-36; Philippians 2)
For you who are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, who washed and cleansed you through the salvation you freely accepted, I ask these questions: Is the Lord enraged at you? Does His wrath rest upon you? Has Jesus forgiven your sins so as to keep you from God’s day of judgment? If your answers are “No – No – Yes!” then I have Good News for you. God is not saving up His wrath to pour out upon you. You will not be collateral damage in the great and fearsome Day of the Lord when He vents His anger upon the world.
What do I mean by this? How many of you continue to believe that for some reason you, as a true believer in Jesus Christ, must enter into and endure the terrible indignities of the Tribulation? Come on, be honest. You’ve had enough doubts sowed in you over the years by various pastors that you are unworthy to escape this time of horrors destined to come upon the earth – the Day of Jacob’s Trouble. Some part of you believes to this day that you will be lumped in with the unbelieving world when God rains down His punishment on those who have deliberately chosen not to accept the free gift that Jesus offered – deliverance through His shed blood. For this reason, you think the coming Tribulation is for you, along with your pagan neighbor or family member. After all, if they must suffer for their unbelief, surely you must have some part in that. It’s why you’re double-minded about the pre-Tribulation Rapture. You think that perhaps it might be true, and God will snatch us out of here. On the other hand, you have enough uncertainty that you’re bracing yourself for a mid-Trib or even a post-Trib endurance marathon.
Please, in your thinking this way, remember James 1:5-8:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
What’s going on in the world? The Lord tells us in Isaiah 34:2:
For the Lord is enraged against all the nations,
and furious against all their host;
he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter.
There are three things going on in this verse.
One: God is enraged against all the nations. Why? If you’ve read any significant part of your Bible, you know the reason. Mankind is sinful and has chosen to live away from God. Our iniquities have been stored up for a day of judgment. This is inevitable. Why? Because the Lord is just. He will not allow the transgressions that men have committed against Him and His Word to stand. He has a day of vengeance planned, and it will come to pass. Is there any remedy against God’s wrath upon sinful man? Glad you asked. Of course: salvation through Christ alone by His grace alone through our faith in Him alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Everyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be (shall be!) saved (Romans 10:13). Thus, those who have not called upon the Name above all names will not be saved. They will not be delivered from God’s wrath and judgment. The sinful, unrepentant nations are in view here along with the people who inhabit them.
Two: God is furious against all their host. Who are their host, and why is He angry with them? Briefly, because I’ve written about this many times in great detail, these are the rebellious sons of God (bene Elohim) who rule as gods over the nations of the world. These are the mighty princes in the spiritual realm, who joined with Satan to come against their Father in heaven, because the power they determined they could exert upon the earth and upon all humanity was their idol. They chose to make themselves equal to or higher than God, just as Satan did, as seen in Isaiah 14:14 when he said:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
For this transgression, these powerful beings who think themselves omnipotent are subject to the fury that God will unleash. It is they who have continually worked to turn the hearts of men away from the Lord. Their influence is what has caused the world to reject Jesus Christ as its rightful King and Savior. In league with Satan, they have multiplied the sins of man, causing depravity and the grievous rot that we see all around us. Is it any wonder God is storing up wrath for them?
Three: God has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter. When we see the term devoted to destruction in the Bible, this is meant to convey total annihilation. Scripture records this judgment that God decrees upon certain nations. There are numerous Old Testament situations in which Yahweh told the people of Israel to spare no one and nothing. If they were lenient in any way, God’s anger came upon them. The rebellious host of heaven is in God’s crosshairs. They, along with the nations of the earth that hate Him, are destined for a day of slaughter.
This is serious stuff. It will be a time in which God gives no quarter. None will escape. This is one of the primary purposes of the 7-year Tribulation. All nations upon the earth, all men who inhabit them, and all the gods over those nations, will be completely destroyed. We know this because following the Tribulation is the Millennial Reign of Christ with all the blessings that entails. No one who opposes God will enter that 1,000-year period of peace.
Can anyone escape this terrible time? Yes. Those who call upon the Name of the Lord during those years will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. No one else. It will be a time of final reckoning where Jesus will cause all men to answer the question: “Will you trust in Me, or not?” Those who will, will be saved from eternal torment. Those who won’t, will be judged and cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity.
Notice how I phrase the question that Jesus poses. It is one that requires a decision at that time. He asks it of those who have not already decided to place their lives in His hands.
This is one of many reasons I declare this assurance we have from Christ Himself: We who believe today are not destined for His wrath. It’s why Paul wrote to Titus that Jesus is our blessed hope (Titus 2:13). The promise of the pre-Tribulation Rapture is why Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 could say:
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Could there be any possible encouragement Paul might give to the Thessalonian believers if he was teaching them that they must endure the Tribulation? You know the answer. There would be none.
So, I urge you brothers and sisters in Christ, believe the promise and the encouragement that Paul brought to the ancient church in Thessalonika, and that John echoed in the letter to the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10-11:
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
God will save us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). What an encouragement this is!
[Author Note: Briefly, I want to set the stage for you as to the nature of most of my articles in this season. Each year I read the Bible through completely at least once – that has been my practice since I came to the Lord in 2005. I remain astounded at what God has done in my life because of that discipline! Each day I read from both the Old and New Testaments. I choose a verse from one of those passages and write my commentary and reflection based on that. In the title of my article, you’ll see the verse I chose. In addition, you’ll see the reading for that day if you’d like to follow along with greater context.]
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and prolific author. His Whirlwind Series comprises three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is A Time. These books are contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has been given the Christian Redemptive Fiction award for three novels: The Tattooed Cat, Alien Revelation, and for his collaboration with Terry James in writing The Minion Protocols, the third book in James’ Second Coming Chronicles. Earlier this year Gary released a four-volume set of Awaken Bible Study Notes that comment verse-by-verse through Scripture from a Biblical prophetic lens. He is currently editing a sequel to Alien Revelation called Alien Zombie Plague, which he plans to release later in the fall of 2021. Recently, Gary wrote a novella for the new Kindle Vella platform. That story is called Tribulation Rising: Seal Judgments – The Coming Apocalypse. This seven-part short work can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099Z462WD. Each day this year Gary has been writing commentary and reflections based on his reading through the Bible in a year. The intent in all his writings is to bring a strong Christian witness to what people read. You can see all his books and blog articles and reach him at his website: www.GaryRitter.com or his Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/gritter3390. You can also see his older video Bible teachings on his Gary Ritter YouTube channel – look for the fish symbol, and more recently on Rumble on his Awaken Bible Prophecy channel: https://rumble.com/c/c-783217.