Why Some Christians Are Unaware
Luke 21:34-36 warns that when Christ returns some Christians are unaware of His presence. this "Day" comes as a snare upon two kinds of Christians. some are overcharged with the cares of this life; others neglect the Word and Spirit of God to follow leaders who misguide them.
Study Luke 21:34-36. Remember that this chapter is speaking of signs of Christ's second presence and notice how watching Christians are aware when the day of the Lord comes upon them; whereas the world and negligent Christians are not.
Our Lord says, "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you [Christians] unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them [the world] that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch [watch yourselves and also the word of prophecy] ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."
The phrase "that ye may be accounted worthy to escape" in verse 36 of the King James Version is a poor translation. compare the following translations: Revised Standard Version, "praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place." Rotherham, "making supplication that ye may gain full vigour to escape all these things that are about to be coming to pass." New English Bible, "praying at all times for strength to pass safely through all these imminent troubles."
These translations indicate that the thought of the Greek* is that watching and praying Christians will receive the strength to pass through the tousles during the early period of that "day." Note that the church is still on the earth. Strength is not necessary for an experience from which the Lord removes you, but the Lord gives strength to endure the dangers Christians must encounter in the tribulation. However, negligent Christians are ensnared by these dangers. Note well the implications of this scripture. Faithful Christians are here during part of the tribulation period, but are sustained by the strength of the Lord.
*Both Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words and Thayer's Greek-EnglishLexicon of the New Testament observe that the Greek word in Luke 21:36 translated "accounted worthy" in the King James Version is not found in the most authentic manuscripts. Instead the Greek word katischuo appears which means "full strength." The word "escape" is a translation of the Greek word ekpheugo which means "to seek safety." Thayer defines katischuoekpheugo"to have strength to overpower or overcome."
The Church Lives Into Part of the Tribulation
Nahum 1:5-8 confirms this thought. Verse 5 reveals the mountains quaking, the hills melting and the whole world being devoured by the presence of the Lord. Verse 6 asks, "who can abide in the fierceness of his anger?" Verses 7 and 8 answer this question: "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him." The "day of trouble" (see also Dan. 12:1; Zeph 1:14-15), which accompanies the Lord's presence finds the church still here on the earth. And the Lord is their stronghold during this tribulation; whereas, in verse 8, he will pursue his enemies with an overrunning flood and darkness.
Study Psalms 46:1-6, which deals with the tribulation period that brings the present world to an end. While the earth is being removes, while the mountains are being carried into the sea, while the sea is roaring, while the mountains are shaking, we find in verse 4 that the church, the "City of God," is still on the earth. Why is it that "she shall not be moved" during the tribulation? Is it because she is with Christ in heaven? No! "God is in the midst of her" while she is yet here on earth. The church would not need this protection if she were already taken home, but she needs it in the time of trouble while she is still here. God will not only protect her in the early stages, but in addition, He "will help her right early." The church will only experience part of the tribulation before her resurrection change.
this cannot refer to "tribulation saints," since only the church, the bride of Christ, is symbolized in Scripture as the City of God (compare Psa. 46:5 and Rev. 21:2.
A deeper insight into the nature of the tribulation in Psalms 46 is obtained from the meaning of the word mountain as used in the Bible. Jeremiah 51:24-25, the nation of Babylon, because of her many military victories, is called a "destroying mountain." Speaking of the nations that opposed Israel, Isaiah 41:15 states that Israel would "thresh the mountains" and "make the hills as chaff." In Daniel 2:35, 44, 45, the Kingdom of God is spoken of as a "great mountain, and filled the whole earth." thus we see in Scriptural usage, mountains are symbolic of people (see Rev. 17:15). The roaring sea would represent the restless or anarchistic elements of mankind. When Psalms 46 says, "The waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof" and "though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea" it means "the great tribulation" will result in the destruction of the nations by anarchistic elements of society.
A further proof that the church is still here during part of the tribulation is found in Matthew 24:21. Remember, Matthew 24 contains a series of signs or events that would denote not the imminent coming, but the secret presence of Christ. Faithful watchers would discern these signs of Christ's presence. A period of unprecedented trouble is spoken of in Matthew 24:21 as one of the signs of Christ's presence; and faithful watchers will see these signs. Therefore, some of the church will be on earth when the tribulation begins and discern it as a sign of Christ's presence.
These scriptures are but a few that reveal that the church will still be on earth during part of the tribulation.
Is the Tribulation a Period of Seven Years?
The tribulation period is variously referred to in Scripture as follows:
"Great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be," Matthew 24:21; "A time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation," Daniel 12:1; "a day of trouble," Isaiah 22:5; Obadiah 14; Nahum 1:7; Habakkuk 3:16; Zephaniah 1:15; Ezekiel 7:7. It is interesting to note that nowhere in these tribulation scriptures is a seven-year period mentioned. Many fundamentalists are unaware that the "seven-year tribulation" is mistakenly based on Daniel 9:24-27a scripture that has nothing to do with the "tribulation" that closes the Christian Age. (Turn to Appendix B for a detailed discussion on the Origin and Scriptural Evaluation of The Seven-Year Tribulation' Theory.")