OVERCOMING AND BEING OVERCOME
As we consider the role of the Body of Christ, the Church, during the forthcoming time of ‘great tribulation’, the last ‘contest of the righteous’, it may be difficult to understand the paradox of the Church overcoming Satan, whilst at the same time being overcome by him. We read in the Book of Revelation that the saints overcome "because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even unto death," (Rev.12:11), whilst at the same time, Satan overcomes them, through the beast, who it is given "to make war with the saints and to overcome them," (Rev.13:7). This is our paradox, the Church ‘overcoming’ whilst being ‘overcome’!
A ‘prophetic vision’ was received by an evangelist, Tommy Hicks, in 1961. This ‘vision’ gives us insight into this most amazing time of tribulation which will coincide with the Church’s victorious end-time ministry. It is a ‘vision’ which also conforms with Scripture.
Tommy Hicks was an evangelist in the 1950’s. He was the house guest of Demos Shakarian on 26th December 1952, the night that God gave Demos the vision which was to see the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship begin to grow under the Lord’s hand. On this same night Tommy Hicks was told by God to go to Argentina to preach the gospel. Something he did a year or so later, after much prayer and preparation.
When Tommy Hicks first arrived in Argentina he went to see if he could meet President Juan Perón. A government official refused Tommy Hicks permission, but as this official walked away Tommy noticed that he had a limp and asked what was wrong. The official explained that he had had terrible pain for many years. Tommy asked if he could pray for him, and subsequently commanded the pain to leave ‘In Jesus Name’. The man walked away but suddenly stopped, realising he was healed! He told Tommy Hicks to return twenty four hours later and he could see the President.
When Tommy Hicks had an audience with President Perón, the President told him of a severe skin complaint he suffered from. Tommy Hicks prayed for this too, and Perón was instantly healed! So he gave permission for Tommy Hicks to use one of the large stadiums for his crusade.
It is, supposedly, one of the biggest evangelistic events ever known. Over a period of several weeks more than six and one half million people heard the gospel. Many thousands gave their lives to Jesus. One afternoon, whilst preaching on Peter’s shadow, Tommy Hicks’ shadow fell across those with severe physical disabilities, those on crutches and in wheelchairs, and even some on stretchers. They were being healed! As they began to shout the whole arena erupted. Many healings accompanied this amazing event.
It was on 25th July 1961 that Tommy Hicks received a ‘prophetic vision’ of "The Body of Christ and the End-time Ministry". Tommy Hick’s went home to be with the Lord many years ago, but I still have contact with a brother who remembers Tommy sharing this vision publicly. This is a transcript of Tommy Hicks telling of this vision and revelation :-
"My message begins, July 25th, about 2.30 in the morning, at Winnipeg, Canada. I had hardly fallen asleep when the vision and the revelation that God gave to me came before me. The vision came three times, exactly in detail, the morning of July 25th, 1961. I was so stirred and so moved by the revelation, that this has changed my complete outlook upon the Body of Christ, and upon the last end-time ministry. The greatest thing that the Church of Jesus Christ - that has ever been given to the Church - lies straight ahead. It is so hard to help men and women to realise and understand the thing that God is trying to give to His people in the end-time.
As the vision appeared to me, after I was asleep, I suddenly found myself at a great high distance. Where I was, I do not know, but as I was looking down upon the earth - suddenly the whole earth came into view - every nation, every kindred, every tongue, came before my sight. From the east and from the west; from the north and the south; and I recognised every country, and many cities that I had been in. And I was almost in fear and trembling as I beheld the sight before me. And at that moment, as the earth came into view, it began to lightning and thunder. As the lightning flashed over the face of the earth, my eyes went downwards. I was facing the north. Suddenly I beheld what looked like a giant - and as I stared and looked at it, I was almost bewildered by the sight. It was so gigantic and so great in stature; his feet seemed to reach to the north pole and his head to the south; its arms were stretched from sea to sea. I could not even begin to understand whether this were a mountain or whether this be a giant. But as I watched it, I suddenly beheld this great giant, I could see it was struggling for life, to even live. But his body was covered with debris from head to foot; and at times this great giant would move its body and act as though it would even raise up at times. And when it did, thousands of little creatures seemed to run away - hideous looking creatures would run away from this giant - and when he would become calm, they would come back.
All of a sudden this great giant lifted his hand toward the heavens, and then it lifted its other hand; and when it did, these creatures by the thousands seemed to flee way from this giant and go into the darkness, and into the night.
Slowly this great giant began to rise - and as he did, his head and hands went into the clouds. As he arose to his feet he seemed to have cleansed himself from the debris and filth that was upon him, and he began to raise his hands into the heavens as though praising the Lord. And as he raised his hands it was even unto the clouds.
Suddenly, every cloud became silver. The most beautiful silver that I have ever known. As I watched this phenomena, it was so great, I could not even begin to understand what it all meant. I was so stirred as I watched it and cried unto the Lord, and I said, ‘Oh, Lord, what is the meaning of this?’ And it felt as if I was actually in the Spirit and I could feel the presence of the Lord, even as I was asleep.
And from the clouds, suddenly, there came great drops of liquid light raining down upon the mighty giant, and slowly, slowly, this giant began to melt; began to sink, as it were, into the very earth itself. And as he melted, his whole form seemed to have melted upon the face of the earth. And this great rain began to come down; liquid drops of light, as it were, began to flood the very earth itself. And as I watched this giant that seemed to melt, suddenly it became millions of people over the face of the earth. As I beheld the sight before me, people stood up all over the world. They were lifting their hands and they were praising the Lord.
At that very moment there came a great thunder that seemed to roar from the heavens. I turned my eyes toward the heavens and suddenly I saw a figure in white - glistening white - the most glorious thing I have ever seen in all my life. I did not see the face, but somehow I knew that it was the Lord Jesus Christ. And as He stretched forth His hand - as He did - He would stretch forth His hand upon the peoples and the nations of the world, men and women. As He pointed towards them, this liquid light seemed to flow from His hand into this person and a mighty anointing of God came upon them. And those people began to go forth in the Name of the Lord.
I do not know how long I watched. It seemed it went into days and weeks and months, and I beheld Christ as He continued to stretch forth His hand. But there was a tragedy. There were many people, as He stretched forth His hand, that refused the anointing of God, and the call of God. I saw men and women that I knew, people that I felt that certainly they would receive the call of God, but as He stretched forth His hand toward this one, and toward that one, they simply bowed their heads and began to back away. And to each of those who seemed to bow down and back away, they seemed to go into darkness. Blackness seemed to swallow them everywhere.
I was bewildered as I watched it. But these people that He had anointed - hundreds of thousands of people all over the world - in Africa, Asia, Russia, China, America - all over the world - the anointing of God was upon these people as they went forth in the Name of the Lord. I saw these men and women as they went forth. They were ditch diggers; they were washer women; they were rich men; they were poor men. I saw people who were bound with paralysis and sickness, and blindness and deafness. As the Lord stretched forth His hand to give them the anointing, they became well; they became healed, and they went forth.
And this is the miracle of it. This is the glorious miracle of it; those people would stretch forth their hand exactly as the Lord did, and it seemed that there was this same liquid fire that seemed to be in their hand; as they stretched forth their hand they said, ‘According to my word, be thou made whole.’
As these people continued in this mighty end-time ministry, I did not fully realise what it was. And I looked to the Lord and said, ‘What is the meaning of this?’ And He said, ‘This is that, that I will do in the last days. I will restore all that the cankerworm, the palmerworm, the caterpillar - I will restore all that they have destroyed. ‘This, My people in the end-time, shall go forth; as a mighty army they will sweep over the face of the earth.’
As I was at a great height, I watched these people as they were going to and fro over the face of the earth. Suddenly there was a man in Africa, and in a moment he was transported in the Spirit of God, and perhaps he was in Russia, or China, or America, or some other place, and vice versa; all over the world these people went. And they came through fire and through pestilence and through famine. Neither fire nor persecution - nothing seemed to stop them.
Angry mobs came to them with swords and with guns, and like Jesus, they passed through the multitude and they could not find them. But they went forth in the Name of the Lord, and everywhere they stretched forth their hand the sick were healed, the blind eyes were opened. There was no long prayer.
And one of the things that seemed - after I had reviewed the vision so many times in my mind; and I thought about it so many times - I never saw a church, and I never saw or heard a denomination; but these people were going in the Name of the Lord of hosts. Hallelujah!
As they marched forward, everything they did as the ministry of Christ, in the end-time. These people were ministering to the multitudes over the face of the earth. Tens of thousands, even millions, seemed to come to the Lord Jesus Christ as these people stood forth and gave the message of the Kingdom - of a coming Kingdom - in this last hour. It was so glorious.
God is going to give to the world a demonstration in this last hour such as the world has never known. These men and women are of all walks of life. Degrees will mean nothing. I saw these workers as they were going forth over the face of the earth. When one would seem to stumble and fall another would come and pick them up. There was no big ‘I’ and little ‘You’, but every mountain was brought low and every valley was exalted, and they seemed to have one thing in common; there was divine love that seemed to flow forth from these people as they went together, as they worked together, as they lived together. It was the most glorious thing that I have ever known. Jesus Christ was the theme of their life.
As I watched from the very heaven itself, there were times when great deluges of this liquid light seemed to fall upon great congregations. And that congregation would lift their hands and seemingly praise God for hours and even days as the Spirit of God came upon them. God said, ‘I will pour My Spirit upon all flesh,’ and that is exactly the thing that God was doing; and to every man and to every woman that received this power and the anointing of God; the miracles of God - there was no ending to it. And then again, as these people were going about the face of the earth, a great persecution seemed to come from every end of the earth.
Suddenly, there was another loud clap of thunder that seemed to resound around the world, and I heard, again, the voice. The voice seemed to speak, ‘Now this is My people, this is My beloved bride.’ And when the voice spoke, I looked upon the earth and I could see the lakes and the mountains. The graves were opened and people from all over the world; the saints of all ages seemed to be rising. As they rose from the graves, suddenly, all these people came from every direction, and they seemed to be forming again, this gigantic body. As the dead in Christ seemed to be rising first, I could hardly comprehend it. It was so marvellous; it was far beyond anything I could ever dream or think of.
But, as the body suddenly began to form and take shape again, it took shape again in the form of this mighty giant. But this time it was different. It was arrayed in the most beautiful, gorgeous white. It’s garments were without spot or wrinkle as the body began to form. And the people of all ages seemed to be gathering into this body, and slowly, slowly, as it began to form up into the heavens, suddenly from the heavens above, the Lord Jesus came - became the Head. And I heard another clap of thunder that said, ‘This is My beloved Bride in who I have waited. She will come forth, even tried by fire. This is she that I have loved from the beginning of time.’
As I watched, my eyes suddenly turned to the far north and I saw - seemingly destruction - men and women in anguish and crying out, and buildings in destruction. Then I heard again the fourth voice that said, ‘Now is My wrath being poured forth upon the face of the earth.’ From the ends of the whole world the wrath of God seemed to be poured out and it seemed that there were great vials of God’s wrath being poured out upon the face of the earth. I can remember it as though it happened a moment ago. I shook and trembled as I beheld the awful sight of seeing cities, and whole nations, going down to destruction. I could hear the weeping and the wailing. I could hear people crying. They seemed to cry as they went into caves, but the caves and the mountains opened up. They leaped into water, but the water would not drown them. There was nothing that seemingly could destroy them. They were wanting to take their life but they could not take it.
Then again, I turned my eyes unto the Body, arrayed in the beautiful white garment. Slowly, slowly, it began to rise from the earth. As it did, I awoke. I had seen the end-time ministry; the last hour. Again on July 27, at 2.20 in the morning, the same revelation; the same vision, came exactly as it did before.
This vision pertains to the time of ‘great tribulation’, describing the Church’s ministry during this period, and finishes as God’s wrath begins to be poured out, just as the Church is caught up to be with the Lord. Presently, it seems we are in that time just before the ‘giant’ suddenly begins to break free; as the chains come off. The debris and demons, being the spirits of religion and antichrist, amongst others, which have ensnared the Body of Christ for the last 2000 years, are soon to go. Corresponding to the vision of ‘the separation of Harlot and Bride’, we see an end-time release of the Church, the Body of Christ. A release which will bring the Body of Christ into a corporate ministry, the likes of which have not been seen before.
Tommy Hicks says that as the giant stood up, seemingly having cleansed itself from the debris, liquid light rained on the giant. There was no big ‘I’ or little ‘You’ in this equal brotherhood, made up of people from every walk of life. These ordinary people, rich and poor, were used to release many from sickness, paralysis, blindness or deafness. This mighty end-time army came through fire and pestilence and famine. Angry mobs with swords and guns were unable to touch them, if it were not their time. On occasions they were translated in the Spirit. The scene being described was of a demonstration of ‘overcoming power’.
There was no church [building], or denomination, although there were congregations, and as they went forth in the Name of the Lord Jesus, [no other name], and gave the message of the Kingdom in this final hour; a multitude seemed to come to a salvation knowledge of the Lord. The gospel of the Kingdom was being preached in the whole world as a witness.
Like any other vision, this one must conform to Scripture. It certainly should not alter Scripture. The only place in Scripture where this vision fits, is within the time of the ‘great tribulation.’ Here it fits exactly.
Many are presently looking for a great revival, but are seeking for it in a time other than this time of the end; other than during the time of ‘great tribulation’. Some hold the belief that they will bring in a harvest to give to the Lord, many thinking this would occur before the year 2000. Others even believe they will take the kingdoms of this world for the Lord before He returns. But there is only one last great revival harvest mentioned in Scripture and this is part of that which takes place in the time of the ‘great tribulation’. Despite this, few have held to this understanding.
Paul, we know, strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God," (Acts 14:22). This does not describe a passive, ‘accept anything’ attitude, for "the Kingdom of God suffers violence and violent men take it by force," (Matt.11:22). This verse does not describe ‘force against God’, but the battle required against Satan who is doing all he can to keep us out of God’s Kingdom, or from the benefits of living in the good of it. Our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual. We fight a spiritual fight of faith. We need to ‘fight’ in the heavenlies, but ‘love’ in our lifestyle. This is how we overcome. When we stand in the Spirit, in the authority and victory of Jesus, the spirit in the world will cause us to be "hated by all nations on account of Jesus Name," and we will be "delivered up to tribulation," (Matt.24:9); but we still overcome.
Our flesh might say, "I do not want to overcome because I do not want what it entails," but this is our flesh! It is in the Spirit where we experience His Kingdom reality, and no matter what the circumstances, if we are in the Father’s will, having committed our way to Him, we can be in no better place.
The Paradox of Overcoming and Being Overcome
When we contemplate what it will be like during the ‘great tribulation’, the aspect of ‘overcoming’ and ‘being overcome’ seem to be contradictory, as well as disconcerting. It has seemed as though the Church has not wanted to face the reality of an end-time tribulation, preferring to allot the persecution of that period to a group other than themselves! Also, Satan has done all he can to keep us from facing the realities of this 3½ year period because, in reality, this is where his defeat is found, and our victory.
Daniel had a "dream and visions in his mind" which told of the four great worldly powers which would arise on the earth. This described the fourth ‘beast’ [power] as having "ten horns", from amongst which a "little one came up" having a "mouth uttering great boasts," (Dan.7:7&8). He eventually saw this "beast... destroyed and given to the burning fire," (v.11). He saw that after this ‘beast’ was manifested, "One like the Son of Man was coming... with the clouds of heaven," (v.13). This clearly agrees with the timing of the ‘first resurrection and catching away of the saints’ occurring after the rise of the ‘beast’, the revealing of the man of sin. The description of the "Son of Man", coming "with the clouds", corresponds to Rev.1:7: "Behold, He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him," and Matt.24:30&31: then "they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other."
Daniel saw that the Son of Man was given "dominion, glory and a Kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and tongues might serve Him," (v.14), after His coming "with the clouds," (v.13).
In the visions, Daniel was given an interpretation of what he first saw. He was told that the "four beasts" were "four kings who will arise from the earth," (v.17), and it was explained to him that the other ‘horn’ which came up among "the ten horns which were on" the "head" of the fourth beast, "that horn which... uttered great boasts," was "larger in its appearance than its associates," (v.20), despite being seen initially as a "little horn.". He saw this horn "was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until... the time arrived when the saints took possession of the Kingdom," v.21&22).
We see that this beast, which Daniel saw "uttering great boasts," and which "will devour the whole earth," is mirrored by John’s description in the book of Revelation, where he describes a beast with "ten horns" who speaks "arrogant words and blasphemies; and authority to act for forty two months, [3½ years]", who makes "war with the saints... to overcome them", and who "all who dwell on the earth will worship," (Rev.13:5-8). Daniel tells us that this beast, the little horn, will "wear down the saints of the Highest One... and they will be given into his hand for a time, and times and half a time, (3½ years)," (v.25). Thus we see a picture of the Church being overcome.
But Jesus tells the church in Thyatira, "He who overcomes... I will give authority over the nations and he shall rule them with a rod of iron," (Rev.2:26&27), This they do with Jesus, when Jesus comes from heaven with His "armies, [His saints], clothed in fine linen, white and clean", the time when Jesus "will rule" the nations, "with a rod of iron," (Rev.19:14&15). Daniel, likewise, sees this same time, when "the Kingdom, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His Kingdom will be an everlasting Kingdom, and all dominions will serve and obey Him," (v.27).
Those Christians who hold that the Church will take the kingdoms of this world for Jesus, before He returns, and present them to Him, hold a belief which is contrary to Daniel’s vision, and therefore contrary to Scripture.
A Paradox - being Victorious Whilst being Persecuted
When we look at Chapter 12 of the book of Revelation we come across what seems to be a paradox, however, for we read that the saints "overcome him [the beast] because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony, and they did not love their life, even to death." (Rev.12:11). We see that ‘overcoming’ may still necessitate dying! Overcoming obviously does not mean victory in the natural realm but victory in the spiritual realm. This gets us to the crux of the problem - the concept of being victorious whilst being persecuted.
In facing this reality some might suggest we are in danger of taking upon ourselves a ‘persecution complex’, that by expecting to be persecuted we will thus give ground to Satan in our lives. Nevertheless, we have to face up to the fact that Jesus wants us to "overcome" as He "overcame and sat down" with His "Father on His throne," (Rev.3:21). Jesus, of course, overcame despite Satan’s apparent victory when Jesus was crucified.
We are called to be "found in Him, not having a righteousness of our own," that we might "know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death," (Phil.3:9&10). This ‘suffering’ is not talking about sickness but about the laying down of our lives, [not necessarily unto death], in God’s will, and in love. Jesus told us, "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master," and we are "not to fear those who kill the body", but are "unable to kill the soul," (Matt.10:24-28). Our victory in this age is in the spiritual realm, which enables us to fulfil our calling to love and lay down our lives for others. This may result in our circumstances looking anything but victorious, but this is, nevertheless, real victory.
Nowhere in the Bible are we referred to as ‘Overcomers’, but we are exhorted to ‘overcome’. We know that "whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith," (1John 5:4). We are not given an ‘overcoming life,’ - a guaranteed bed of roses - but life as we overcome. There is a big difference, and it is important that we understand this distinction as regards our role in the age to come.
We need to realise that Stephen was victorious when he was stoned to death, (Acts 7:54-60). If it had not been God’s time for him to die, Satan could not have taken his life. In contrast, John died in old age. It was appointed for Paul to preach the gospel before kings, and in order to fulfil this, his captivity and imprisonment was within God’s will for his life. But just as Jesus could not be seized, "because His hour had not yet come," (John 7:30), so shall we be immune from Satan’s strategies which are outside God’s permissive will, providing we have committed our way unto the Lord and we are walking in the light. Rev.6:11 suggests there has to be a ‘complete’ number of those slain because of the testimony which they had maintained, (Rev.6:11 and 20:4). This has to be fulfilled. This is part of the Church’s ministry, a ministry that mirrors that of her Head.
We need to understand, however, that ‘our’ will is involved in whatever happens to us, and which path God would have us take. God does not want to override our will, although circumstances may overtake us. The Lord does not ask us to do something without first giving us His ability to do it. If we have committed our way unto the Lord, and desire to walk according to His plans and purposes, we can trust Him, even though at times we might find ourselves in circumstances which appear as if all is lost. Paul found himself imprisoned, beaten times without number, often in danger of death, five times receiving thirty nine lashes from the Jews, three times beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked three times, spending a night and a day in the deep, in dangers on journeys, from rivers, from robbers, from his own countrymen as well as Gentiles, in the city, in the wilderness, on the sea and also among false brethren, (2Cor.11:23-33), demonstrating just what it meant for him to lay down his life. Yet in all these things he overcame! This is truly, ‘overcoming power.’
When trying to understand our ‘paradox’, we can gain some understanding by observing how ‘spiritual warfare’ is carried out. As Christians, our warfare is in the spiritual realm and not of the flesh. Our weapons are spiritual, just as Paul explains: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses - destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God," (2Cor.10:3-5). But in the natural we are called to love, laying down our lives, even unto death, should it be God’s will. We can bind spirits [spiritual realm], but we cannot change men’s wills [natural realm]. Thus, we cannot prevent persecution by our praying to alter men’s wills, for persecution comes when men, by their own free will, oppose what is of God. This takes Satan some time to bring about, although it is nevertheless, man’s choice. So, in the end-time we will see the saints being ‘overcome’ in the natural realm but at the same time ‘overcoming’ in the spiritual realm; but only in the overall will of God.
Those who "come out of the great tribulation," once they are with the Lord, "shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat," (Rev.7:14&16). This indicates how hard a time some saints will have. During the great tribulation "men will be fainting from fear" as "there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars... dismay among nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves... the power of the heavens shaken," (Luke 21:25&26). The time of ‘great tribulation’ is one for "perseverance," a time to "keep the commandments of God and... faith in Jesus," a time when a voice from heaven is heard, saying, "Blessed are the dead who die from now on," (Rev.14:12&13). Let us remember, however, it is only some "they will kill," (Luke 11:49). Satan has tried to trick Christians into believing that all the saints who go through the time of ‘great tribulation’ will be killed, but this is not so. These Christians will have laid down their lives in love.
We may wish that we could improve the picture that Scripture paints for us of this time, but it is not possible. Understood correctly, however, what better time could there be in which to live? So, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we need to discern the false picture which Satan has painted, and understand the correct one.
What Will Tribulation be Like?
Jesus said, "I came to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled. Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on the earth? I tell you, no, but rather division," (Luke 12:49-51). Jesus said, "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword," and that families would be divided because of Him, (Matt.10:34-35 and Luke 12:52-53). In these circumstances will we prove to truly be His disciples? Jesus said, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate [by comparison with his love for the Lord] his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters; yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple," (Luke 14:26&27).
Some will be persecuted and brought "before kings and governors for His Names sake," but He will give them what to say in that hour. Some "will be betrayed, even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and some will be put to death," (Luke 21:12-16). Here we see this paradox once more, for Jesus said, "Not a hair on your head will perish. By your perseverance you will win your souls," (Luke21:18-19).
Some believe that this scenario only refers to the time just before the Roman Emperor, Titus, besieged Jerusalem in AD70, because the following passage in Luke 21:20-24 refers to an event when "Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles," and the Jews would be "led captive into all the nations." This was obviously fulfilled when Titus besieged Jerusalem. In the midst of the description of the time of ‘Jesus’ Return’, Luke interjects these verses which were fulfilled nearly 2000 years ago! Once more we find the time sequence of these prophesied events is not in line with the textual sequence.
Also when describing that occasion, which was fulfilled in AD70, Jesus includes the advice for "those who are in Judea to flee to the mountains," (Luke21:21). Similar advice is found in Matt.24:15-20 which confuses some, but this refers to a future occasion, because the passage in Matthew’s Gospel is definitely linked to the time of ‘great tribulation’. We know it describes a different occasion because Jesus tells us this event occurs after the "abomination of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet," is seen "standing in the holy place," (Matt.24:15); this is a prophecy which has not yet been fulfilled. This second occasion, when "those who are in Judea" are exhorted by Jesus to "flee to the mountains," (Matt.24:16), is timed at the very beginning of the ‘great tribulation,’ just as Jesus goes on to explain; "For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall," (v.21).
Jesus explained that "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved, but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short," (v.22). Jesus tells us to pray "in order that you might be able to escape all these things that are about to take place and to stand before the Son of Man," (Luke 21:36), a prayer which needs to be ours in this end-time hour. Let us remind ourselves, too, that "immediately after the tribulation of those days" Jesus will come "on the clouds" to "gather together His elect," (v.29&31), the most amazing event that awaits those who overcome.
"Beloved... we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is, and everyone who has this hope in Him, purifies himself, just as He is pure," (1 John 3:3).
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