The Bible has promised us that Jesus will return soon, bringing with Him an end to all suffering and pain at His Second Coming. It will be a day of joy and fills Christians with hope.
But Jesus also talked about His people encountering persecution just before He returns: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (Matthew 24:9).
Somehow, that doesn’t sound too joyous or hopeful, does it?
And it gets even worse when we go to the book of Revelation. We are told about creatures named Death and Hades, who at about the same time are “given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth (Revelation 6:8).
“During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them” (Revelation 9:6).
Things get frighteningly worse as Revelation 16 reveals the seven plagues that will bring terror and destruction to the earth.
So let me give you four reasons from the Bible as to why we can be hopeful about the future in spite of the predicted pestilence, persecution and plagues that intervene.
In Mark 13:11, Jesus promises, “whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus’ disciples may be oppressed and arrested, but they are not abandoned. They don’t even need to worry what to say in such situations, for the Holy Spirit will be with them to guide and direct. That should comfort us when we fear the persecution of the last days.
The seven last plagues, the epitome of hard times on the earth, occur in Revelation 16. But chapter 15 depicts singing. It is of victory and deliverance. You see, several times a vision of God’s already victorious people around the throne will suddenly interrupt the flow of the book of Revelation. Such visions are not chronological, for they recur throughout the book.
The idea is that at crucial points, John lifts the veil of heaven to show his readers their final destiny. That destiny is to surround the throne of God and sing praises for the great victory of eternal life that He has given them.
We can be hopeful in spite of plagues because before they strike, God’s people receive assurance of victory and can see the vision of their ultimate destiny with God.
God is doing all He can to bring everyone to repentance, but some are unwilling. However, we do not need to panic about the plagues if we turn to God and glorify Him.
Does it mean that God is good only to those who serve Him and pours out His wrath on everyone else? If understood properly, even God’s wrath gives us reason for hope. That brings us to our fourth reason we can be joyful and hopeful in spite of pestilence, persecution and plagues.
When we study God’s wrath in the Bible, we find that it takes two forms. On the one hand, it is His action against the oppressor in favour of the oppressed.
The other form of God’s wrath is His giving people over to the consequences of their own decisions. It is the reverse side of His principle of freedom. God never forces anyone but gives them the liberty to choose.
Even divine wrath is no reason for fear or panic. It should lead us to see how gracious God is as we come to Him for rescue and salvation.
“Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God you have now received mercy . . . God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all” (Romans 11:30–32).
God’s whole purpose is to save. If we keep our eyes focused on Christ and His promise, this good news gives us assurance and hope. We don’t need to fear the events of the last days or His judgement.\
This article is adapted, wewith permission, from How to Survive Armageddon, Review and Herald Publishing, Hagerstown, Maryland, USA. Click here for a free book offer.