What Saith the Scripture?
Thy Hidden Ones
Or, Hidden for Those Who Can Receive It
"Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger"
by Tom Stewart
If I were to miss the Pre-Tribulational Rapture, it would only be because I was walking in known sin. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18). [See the section, "All That Are Accounted Worth to Escape at the Pre-Tribulational Rapture", of our article, "How to Trust God", for an explanation of the concept of who is "worthy to escape" (Luke 21:36) in the Pre-Tribulational Rapture.] By God's grace, after I had repented, I would be faced with the possibilities of living or dying: (1) martyrdom [see our article, "Martyrdom: They Loved Not Their Lives Unto the Death"], or (2) another Rapture exiting event, the Pre-Wrath Rapture [see our article, "The Seventh Trumpet and the Second Rapture" -- http://Whatsaiththescripture.com/Prophecy/The.7th.Trump.2nd.Rapture.html -- ].
After making right my repentance, I would immediately beg God's Spirit to teach me His will for what I should now do. "Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou art my God: Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness" (Psalm 143:10). I believe that the Holy Spirit would impress me with His will by His Word and my circumstances. "Howbeit when He, the Spirit Of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all Truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come" (John 16:13).
He would guide me with:
(1) special direction for evangelical witness, concerning the method and means, i.e., "ye shall be witnesses unto Me" (Acts 1:8),
(2) special preparation for martyrdom, i.e., "them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held" (Revelation 6:9), or
(3) special promise for supernatural escape, i.e., "Come out of her, My people" (Revelation 18:4). All these alternatives would be subject to His sovereign choice. "But now, O LORD, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand" (Isaiah 64:8).
Hidden or Visible?
Scripture clearly describes God's Saints as Hidden Ones, i.e., "They have taken crafty counsel against Thy people, and consulted against Thy hidden ones" (Psalm 83:3). The New Testament describes our position as "hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). At the same time, the LORD Jesus said that His people are the "light of the world" (Matthew 5:14), just as He claims Himself to be (John 9:5). We have been called to be a Visible Light to the world. "15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your Light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven" (Matthew 5:15-16).
At times the children of God may be hidden, while at other times they may be visible. "7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the LORD; and whether we die, we die unto the LORD: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the LORD's" (Romans 14:7-8). God alone will decide what action is to be taken, and one need not fear the lack of approval from other Tribulation Saints. "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand" (14:4).
While David fled from King Saul, he desired to be hidden. "Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto Thee to hide me" (Psalm 143:9). When he surfaced periodically, he desired his presence to be a witness. King Saul searched for David to kill him in the wilderness of Engedi. "And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained [hidden] in the sides of the cave" (1Samuel 24:3). Though David had cut off part of Saul's robe as Saul slept, he refused to kill him. After King Saul left the cave, David made his presence known to Saul. Further, David desired it to be made plain to Saul that God could have killed Saul by his hand in the cave, if God had so desired. "Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD'S anointed" (24:10). Likewise, God may call for His Tribulation Saints to hide and to surface to give testimony and witness for the LORD.
Pre-Tribulational Rapture: Event or Promise?
I believe that the Pre-Tribulational Rapture is both an event as well as a Promise. Let me explain. An event occurs because the LORD determines that it is the "fulness of the time" (Galatians 4:4) for something to take place. A promise is fulfilled when the LORD answers the prayer of the believing Saint, who is "strong in faith, giving glory to God" (Romans 4:20). End Time events such as the Pre-Tribulational Rapture, Pre-Wrath Rapture, the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ, the Seal Judgments, etc., will be fulfilled because the LORD has deemed it appropriate and because the Saints have prayerfully requested it. "Thus saith the LORD GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them" (Ezekiel 36:37).
Would anyone go at the Pre-Tribulational Rapture without knowing, understanding, or receiving the doctrinal teaching of a Pre-Tribulational Rapture? Certainly. All who walk without known sin will be taken. "3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in His holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully" (Psalm 24:3-4). However, I believe that the LORD Jesus has called us especially to be intercessors for the readiness of our fellow Christians. "And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him" (Isaiah 59:16).
Tribulation Saints' Experience: Revival, Persecution, or Deliverance?
Revival During the Tribulation Week
Whenever a Backslider returns to the LORD, that is the beginning of a revival. "Revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2). As the Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25) were sinfully unprepared for the Pre-Tribulational Rapture, they demonstrate the truth of their Christian profession by their repentance, i.e., "If you say that you are a Backslider, prove it by your repentance". "3 And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His Commandments. 4 He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His Commandments, is a liar, and the Truth is not in him" (1John 2:3-4).
The Tribulation Revival would be much like the repenting from backsliding of Ephesus that resulted in a spiritually healthy, but persecuted Smyrna. The LORD Jesus wrote to Ephesus, "4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy First Love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent" (Revelation 2:4-5). Suffering Smyrna was poor, but faithful. "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a Crown Of Life" (2:10).
If the Seven Churches of Revelation 2-3 represent the history of the Church-- not to mention, seven kinds of professing Christians at any time, or seven kinds of churches at any time-- then the Seven Churches may also represent the future of the Saints in the Tribulation. "The secrets of Wisdom, that they are double to that which is!" (Job 11:6).
The history of the Church may be correlated to Revelation 2-3 as follows:
1- Ephesus (2:1-7): the Loveless Church of the late Apostolic Age (to 100 AD), i.e., "Thou hast left thy First Love" (2:4).
2- Smyrna (2:8-11): the Suffering Church of the period of persecution (100-300 AD), i.e., "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer" (2:10).
3- Pergamos (2:12-17): the Compromising Church (300-500 AD) that led to the Dark Age, i.e., "Thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam [diffusing the power of the godly by alliances with darkness]" (2:14).
4- Thyatira (2:18-29): the Worldly Church of the Dark Age (500-1500 AD), i.e., "Thou sufferest that woman Jezebel [the harlotry of Rome]" (2:20).
5- Sardis (3:1-6): the Barely Alive Church of the Reformation (1500-1700 AD), i.e., "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die" (3:1-2).
6- Philadelphia (3:7-13): the Missionary Church of the late Church Age (1700-1900 AD), i.e., "I have set before thee an Open Door, and no man can shut it" (3:8).
7- Laodicea (3:14-22): the Lukewarm Church of the present apostasy (1900 AD to the present), i.e., "Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (3:16).
A similar alignment of the Seven Churches of Revelation 2-3 may be made with the events of the Tribulation Week:
[See our Tribulation Chart -- http://Whatsaiththescripture.com/Timeline/Big.Chart.Intro.html -- for further analysis.]
1- The Ephesus period begins the Tribulation Week with apostolic-like exploits. "The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Daniel 11:32).
2- The Smyrna period follows with the martyrdom of the 5th Seal Judgment. "And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held" (Revelation 6:9).
3- The Pergamos period confronts the Tribulation Saints to compromise their testimony for the LORD Jesus. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" (2Corinthians 6:14).
4- The Thyatira period marks the center part of the Tribulation, where many choose to worship the Antichrist with the rest of the world. "15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Revelation 13:15-17).
5- The Sardis period follows with a Reformation-like rally back to the LORD Jesus Christ. Many will be martyred for the unwillingness to bow to the Beast. "I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands" (20:4).
6- The Philadelphia period culminates with the Pre-Wrath Rapture of the living Tribulation Saints, immediately before the Vial Judgments are poured out. "Because thou hast kept The Word Of My Patience, I also will keep thee from The Hour Of Temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (3:10).
7- The Laodicean period completes the Tribulation Week with elect-but-never-saved professing Christians remaining until the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ, when the Nation is Born in a Day (Isaiah 66:8). The LORD Jesus is accurately portrayed as standing on the outside of this Church, knocking for permission to enter. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" (3:20). [I incorrectly used this "door" opening in a former article, "1998: Year of the Apocalypse (Part 3)", to correspond to the Pre-Wrath Rapture, i.e., "The Laodicean Church contains a cloaked reference to the Pre-Wrath Rapture". This was devotionally correct, but prophetically inaccurate. Otherwise, my assertions about Two Raptures, I believe, are still appropriate.]
Persecution During the Tribulation Week
The Tribulation is that unthinkable time of trouble for all mankind, but who is troubling who? "He [the Almighty God] cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity" (Psalm 98:9). This is the time of God's judgment of the world. "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him" (2:12). Though the "accuser of our brethren [Satan] is cast down [to the Earth at the Middle of the Tribulation Week]" (Revelation 12:10) and seeks "whom he may devour" (1Peter 5:8), it is still a more "fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God" (Hebrews 10:31).
The world religious and political system will distinguish themselves in the persecution of the Saints, as they did in the Inquisition. "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration [wondered greatly]" (Revelation 17:6). Also, Israel-- a special target of Satan's jealousy-- remains unconverted until the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus, and will experience great trouble in the Tribulation Week. "Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's Trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7).
Though the Tribulation Week is primarily God's judgment of the world, it is a time of great persecution of the Tribulation Church by the world, Antichrist, and Satan:
First, Christians will be present throughout the Tribulation Week-- until the Pre-Wrath Rapture (8-9 days before the End of the Tribulation Week). God will allow them to be sanctified (tried and purged) by their suffering. They will be present to give testimony for the LORD Jesus Christ-- by life and death. "33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. 35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed" (Daniel 11:33,35).
Second, the KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:16) will allow Satan additional power to trouble and overcome the Tribulation Saints, i.e., "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain" (Psalm 76:10). "And it was given [by the "dragon" (v. 2), but allowed by God] unto him [the Antichrist] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations" (Revelation 13:7).
Third, a correct response of the Righteous to the persecution of the Antichrist is to physically and geographically flee, if you can. Continue fleeing until the LORD Jesus comes for you. In other words, do not feel yourself unspiritual by this attempt to preserve your life. After all, this command is from the LORD Jesus Himself! "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come" (Matthew 10:23). Also, "when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains" (Mark 13:14).
Fourth, persecution picks up momentum as the Middle of the Tribulation Week and the Abomination of Desolation approach. "And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled" (Revelation 6:11). Smyrna-type persecution characterizes the first half of the Tribulation Week. "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a Crown Of Life" (2:10). The 5th Seal Judgment embodies the fact that persecution will turn into martyrdom for many Saints. "And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held" (6:9). Pergamos-type martyrdom portrays the willingness of the Tribulation Saints to die, rather than take the Mark of the Beast. "I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast My Name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth" (2:13).
Fifth, the Mark of the Beast at the Middle of the Tribulation Week will provide the circumstance for many more Christian martyrs to witness a "good confession" (1Timothy 6:13) when they refuse to worship the Antichrist. "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed" (Revelation 13:15). Evidently, these Tribulation martyrs will be beheaded. "And I saw Thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (20:4). Not all, but certainly a multitude will be martyred at this time. "And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of Great Tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (7:14).
Finally, the Sovereign God will bring to a conclusion this time of affliction soon enough to prevent the extermination of humankind. "19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. 20 And except that the LORD had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened the days" (Mark 13:19-20).
Deliverance During the Tribulation Week
Although the Pre-Tribulational Rapture's deliverance will necessarily have transpired prior to the Tribulation Week, there is good reason to believe that the LORD is not through delivering His Saints. "He delivered me, because He delighted in me" (2Samuel 22:20). I believe that it is incorrect to conclude that a Tribulation Saint must be martyred, and that only those who happen to be alive at the end will be delivered. "He is able also to save them to the uttermost" (Hebrews 7:25) refers to the spiritual, but extends to the physical as well.
Why would there be deliverance for Tribulational Saints?
First, God's special love to those who love Him will still be in effect during the Tribulation Week. "He that hath My Commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21).
Second, the righteousness of God's judgment will not allow Him to confuse the Righteous with the wicked in the judgments of the Tribulation Week. "That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from Thee: Shall not The Judge Of All The Earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25).
Third, if the LORD will deliver unconverted Israel hiding in the wilderness during the second half of the Tribulation Week-- "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent" (Revelation 12:14)-- then it is conceivable that the "remnant of her seed, which keep the Commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ [Tribulation Saints]" (12:17) could also be delivered.
Fourth, both Scripture and modern prophecies point to deliverances in addition to the Pre-Tribulational Rapture. A Second "Come Up Hither" (Revelation 11:12) points to the Pre-Wrath Rapture, which matches the First "Come Up Hither" of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture (4:1). [See our article "The Seventh Trumpet and the Second Rapture" -- http://Whatsaiththescripture.com/Prophecy/The.7th.Trump.2nd.Rapture.html -- ]
Finally, the Tribulation Week is a time of ongoing harvest. "But every man in his own order: Christ the Firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His Coming" (1Corinthians 15:23). Consequently, the possibility of successive Rapture-like events makes Enoch's translation all the more important. "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him" (Genesis 5:24). If the Rapture is as much a matter of individual faith and the reception of a Promise as it is an eschatological event, then it is conceivable that many such Rapture-like events will occur. "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matthew 17:20).
When the Wicked Rise
The Proverbs teach us that "when the wicked rise, a man is hidden" (Proverbs 28:12). This concept is repeated later in the same chapter. "When the wicked rise, men hide themselves" (28:28). Even the LORD Jesus "escaped out of [the Jews'] hand[s]" (John 10:39); thus, delivering Himself. The Apostle Paul was delivered out of the hands of the Jews many times himself, including being let down the wall of the city "in a basket" (Acts 9:25) at night.
Certainly it is the sovereign choice of God to determine if, who, when, and how any of us would be delivered. But, did not the same LORD have the confidence to tell us to command Him concerning these matters? "Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and His Maker, Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons, and concerning the work of My hands command ye Me" (Isaiah 45:11). Jehovah must have already anticipated our prayerful commands in advance of our praying, to be able to answer the requests without losing His sovereignty. "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him" (Matthew 6:8). So, our response to this encouragement ought to be to pray. "12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. 14 Who knoweth if He will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him [even your deliverance]; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?" (Joel 2:12-14).
Promises for the Hidden Ones
Come, My people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast" (Isaiah 26:20). Could we not claim this in faith for a Rapture-like deliverance?
"Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger" (Zephaniah 2:3). Cannot the LORD's hiding go beyond keeping us hid on planet Earth?
"And they shall be Mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him" (Malachi 3:17). If He promises to spare us, could He not also hide us?
"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the Name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call" (Joel 2:32). If He can spiritually deliver us, can He not do the easier-- physically deliver us?
"Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy presence from the pride of man: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a Pavilion from the strife of tongues" (Psalm 31:20). What a delightful prospect-- hidden in the Heavenly presence of God!
"Seek the LORD, and ye shall live" (Amos 5:6). If the LORD grants us a Rapture-like deliverance, then "no man taketh [it] from you" (John 16:22).
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1). I would suppose that the Psalmist would be greatly delighted to know that some of us at the End of the Age could be encouraged by him to pray that God would hide us-- physically and spiritually. "Thou art my Hiding Place; Thou shalt preserve me from trouble; Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah" (32:7). If our deliverance will serve a greater purpose to His kingdom, then may we be delivered. "Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob" (44:4). But, if our suffering and martyrdom is more valuable to His purposes, then may we be given the grace to accept it joyfully. "Looking unto Jesus the Author And Finisher Of Our Faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross" (Hebrews 12:2).
"For whether we live, we live unto the LORD; and whether we die, we die unto the LORD: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the LORD's" (Romans 14:8).
Amen, and Amen.
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