Tens of thousands believe there is a place of safety, probably in the Jordanian desert, awaiting God’s church. Thousands fervently hope they can qualify to flee to this place to escape the coming Great Tribulation. Is this a valid hope? WILL the church go to such a place? Are YOU headed toward a “place of safety”?[see also “Where is Your Place of Safety?”]
No one wants to suffer pain, injury or death! Yet the “Great Tribulation” spoken of in the Bible (Matthew 24, Luke 21) promises terrible persecution, pain, suffering and DEATH by martyrdom for Christians!
Jesus Christ prophesied, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9).
Who are these Christians?
WHY are they singled out to suffer in the Great Tribulation? Jesus also said, “But there shall not an hair of your head perish”! (Luke 21:18). WHO are those who will escape unscathed? Who are those who will be afflicted and killed?
Are the ones to be afflicted the “inferior” Christians; people with hidden sins, spiritual weakness; in a “lukewarm” condition, while those who escape are praying, studying, meditating, overcoming, zealous Christians?
Jesus said some of those in God’s true church would be put to death but others would be spared! Why? What’s the difference? Why are some spared, but others allowed to suffer tribulation and even martyrdom? Notice what Christ said:
“And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. . .” (Luke 21:6-18).
Obviously, when Christ said “SOME of you…” He is describing the whole church, and saying of SOME that not a “hair of their head would perish,” but of others that they would be betrayed by family and friends, and taken into terrible trials.
Jesus was describing the time of the GREAT TRIBULATION, just prior to the DAY OF THE LORD, and the end of this present age.
Some of His true disciples were to be “delivered up,” but not all!
Notice. “But before all these [wars, earthquakes, famines and pestilences], they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues [churches], and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.
“And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist” (Luke 21:10-15).
Here is a picture of true Christians, those who are a part of the Body of Christ in the final generation of this world’s civilizations, doing the work of God. That work they are accomplishing becomes such a stench in the nostrils of carnal-minded, God-defying human governments and religious organizations that Jesus prophesied His remnant church would be terribly persecuted—many of them MARTYRED for the sake of His name, and His work!
Who are these who will be “delivered up”?
Are they inferior? Have they become lukewarm? Are they the “Laodicean church,” whom Christ is going to “spew out of His mouth”? (Revelation 3:14-16).
Notice Mark’s account. “And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
“But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up [this means arrested, being `brought’ before officialdom], take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: But whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: For it is not ye that speak, but the Holy
Spirit” (Mark 13:10, 11).
Obviously these are deeply converted Christians! Filled with the Holy Spirit, they confidently, in FAITH, expect that Almighty God will put powerful, moving witness in their mouths by which they will convict their tormentors. As such, they will join the ranks of those righteous men and women cataloged in the 11th chapter of Hebrews, “of whom the world was not worthy.” They will join ranks with Stephen, who gave powerful witness as he was being murdered; with Peter, who was probably crucified upside down; with the apostle Paul, who died a martyr; with Jesus Christ of Nazareth Himself!
Are these, singled out by Almighty God and by the HEAD of His true church, Jesus Christ, “inferior,” lukewarm Christians?
Were those mentioned in Hebrews 11 inferior? Was Stephen? Was Paul? Was Jesus Christ?
WHO is better able to give a powerful witness and testimony before the highest courts, before religious conclaves, before officialdom at every level, including heads of state? Those who are lukewarm? Or those who have been called of God to deliver a witness and a warning to God-rejecting, sinning mankind?
WHO were the “spokesmen” and the “watchmen” of God in the past? Why, they were the prophets and the apostles! God did not select the WEAKEST among His people for His spokesmen, but the strongest!
The “Laodicean Church”
The false concept that lukewarm Christians will be martyred; “left behind” while the “Philadelphian Era” will be “taken to a place of safety” came from the false notion that God’s church would pass through seven successive “eras” or stages of development.
Study Revelation 2nd and 3rd chapters in this regard.
Because the “letters to the churches” were revealed successively, along an old Roman mail route, commencing with Ephesus and ending with Laodocea, it began to be assumed that these letters were intended to be understood as “eras” of the church, one following another.
Thus, since “Ephesus” is mentioned first, it was assumed that the first century, when the apostles were alive and working, was the “Ephesian era.” This would be followed by “Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and, finally, the Laoocean era.”
However, notice that the truly large churches; those where Paul primarily worked, and where Peter preached (Peter wrote from Babylon, or near modern day Baghdad, while Paul worked among the Gentiles in Corinth, Thessa-lonika, Philippi, Colossae, Galatia (Lystra, Iconium and Derbe), and Rome), as well as the large church in Jerusalem and the other large one in Alexandria, are not mentioned!
Further, notice that the rejoinder to each of the seven churches in Asia (Asia Minor today, or modern-day Turkey) are warned, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the CHURCHES” PLURAL! (See Revelation 2:7, 11,17, 29; Rev. 3:6, 13, and 22 in this regard.)
Elaborate attempts were made to assign various dates and events to justify this doctrine.
Those who believe the “Laodicean church” is comprised of those “lukewarm” members of God’s true church also believe that the “Laodicean church” is more like an “attitude” in the hearts and minds of perhaps 50 percent of those WITHIN another church era.
That “era,” they say, is “Philadelphia.” This church era is called “the church of brotherly love.” That this connotation is completely unscrip-tural is lost on many. While it is true that the Greek word philadelphos means “brotherly love,” there is nothing which leads us to apply the meaning of the Greek names of all of the churches to each “era” (so-called) which they identify. Smyrna, Thyatira, Pergamos and Laodicea are merely names. Laodocea was named for “Laodice,” the wife of Antiochus Epiphanes! If one is to claim application of the Greek meaning of philadelphos to so-called “eras” of the church, then one must also explain the meaning of all the others!
According to the belief in “church eras,” at some moment in time (expected continually, reinforced by excited, speculative sermons repeatedly), the “Philadelphia era” will be whisked away to a “PLACE OF SAFETY”!
Perhaps they will be taken up by the grounded fleet of DC-10s—Almighty God supplying “a 10-inch angel” for each so-called defective “10-inch bolt”! You may laugh at this, but this supposition was PREACHED before nodding, agreeing, believing people many years ago, in the wake of a terrible, fatal crash of a DC-10 in Chicago.
As the supposition goes, those who are “lukewarm” (of the “Laodicean attitude”) will be SHOCKED when this pseudo-rapture occurs, and their own beloved friends, perhaps family members, even husband or wife, are suddenly GONE, but they are “left behind” to suffer the pangs and horrors of the GREAT Tribulation!
Is this scenario true?
For, if it is Not, then literally tens of thousands of the members of God’s church are being completely DECEIVED; are banking on a FALSE HOPE, and are doomed to great disappointment, and perhaps some will stumble, spiritually, and simply give up when they discover they have believed in a completely FALSE doctrine!
The concepts I have explained above require that THREE of the seven eras must be CONTEMPORARY during the final century of this age!
Those who accepted this concept in the 1950’s and 1960’s should therefore believe that the “Philadelphian era” died when my father died, in 1986! The church which emerged would then be WHICH CHURCH, according to this concept?”
Why, Laodicea, of course!
But this concept leaves no place for the more than TWO HUNDRED different churches and groups which have resulted from one of the most (if not THE most!) gigantic apostasies in history! The church God used my father and me (as well as many other “pioneers” of the 1950’s and 1960’s) to raise up, DISINTEGRATED!
None of those groups which sprang up wanted to lay claim to being the END TIME ERA, and so NONE of them has incorporated as “The Laodicean Church of God!”
Church Eras—True or False?
What about the concept of “church eras”? Did God foreordain that His church would pass through specific, different “eras,” or “phases,” down through history each “era,” or “phase,” of His church having distinctive characteristics, strengths and/or weaknesses which would clearly identify that particular era?
Certainly there can be no argument against the obvious fact that the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 are symbolic of the entire Church of God, both during that apostolic age, and down through all history!
Repeatedly the Scripture warns that all members of God’s church are to hear what the Spirit says to all the churches!
None of the supposed “eras” is told to ignore what the Spirit said to all the other “eras” (so called), paying attention only to the message directed toward themselves.
Certainly it is obvious that this section of the book of Revelation was indicative of the general trials, persecutions, tribulations and difficulties affecting the whole church at that time!
Further, it is very likely indicative of the general type of trials, troubles and persecutions which would afflict the whole church throughout history, and which does afflict the church NOW!
But are we to understand that each of these seven contemporaneous churches represented a completely separate, different “era” or “phase” through which God’s true church would pass from the time of the apostles until the final remnant spoken of in Revelation 12?
If the remainder of the theory presupposes that each era supersedes the other, and emerges and becomes extant only after the passing of the other (even if it admitted there is a transitional period), WHY should more than one third of the number be presupposed to remain extant contemporaneously, during the last days?
For, if Sardis is yet alive, and there be those who will “walk with Christ in white”; if “Philadelphia” comprises another, separate organization; if “Laodicea” either comprises lukewarm members WITHIN that organization, or another organization, you have THREE of the SEVEN existing side by side, contemporaneously! Then why not FOUR or six, or all seven?
But there is a far more important truth which destroys the theory.
As I have asked out of the pulpit, and in private conversations, “This is NOT a `trick’ question:
WHEN did the detestable, lukewarm “Laodi-cean” attitude first rear its ugly head in the Church?”
Usually, when I ask this, people remain silent. They become confused; speculative. What do I mean by the question?
It is a simple question _ not a trick! The answer is OBVIOUS to anyone who knows his or her Bible.
Surely, if you are one who remembers the elaborate theory of “church eras,” you well remember the answer. The answer is, “why, IN THE FIRST CENTURY _ contemporaneous with all the others!”
Then, if one must cling to the “church era” theory, the following statement is true: “Laodicea was part of Philadelphia!” Right? Of course it is! There it is, in your own Bible, in Revelation the 2nd and 3rd chapters! For IF the time of the apostles; the time when John wrote the book of Revelation, was the “Ephesian ERA,” then ALL the problems, attitudes, and spiritual difficulties which are set forth in Revelation 2 and 3 were extant right then, in the end of the FIRST CENTURY!
Why of COURSE they were!
Then, admit to yourself what is as plain as the nose on your face that, even as ALL the described difficulties, from those who had left their first love, to those who were “spiritually dead,” to those suffering persecution, to those before whom God had set an open door, to those who were lukewarm, were taking place WHEN JOHN WAS TOLD TO WRITE THE LETTER TO THEM!
They were contemporaneous!
They all existed at the same time!
And that is the point. The warnings contained in Revelation 2 and 3 are for ALL the church, EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME!
They were never intended to be understood as phases or eras. God did not “foreordain” that people born during the middle ages HAD to belong to the so-called “Thyatiran era,” while those born in the early part of this century HAD to belong to the so-called “Sardis era.”
IF the so-called “Ephesian era” was the first 100 years or so of church history, and IF it was the era of the apostles, then why did not any of the apostles warn the church that they were about to lose their place; that they had “lost their first love?”
WHO was the apostle who most exemplified LOVE? Why, JOHN, of course! He was “that disciple whom Jesus loved”; the disciple who leaned on Jesus’ bosom during the last supper. He wrote repeatedly about LOVE in his three letters in the Bible.
Never did Paul warn the many churches in his jurisdiction that “their candlestick would be removed out of its place,” or that they “had lost their first love.” Neither did James, or Peter, or any of the others.
ONLY EPHESUS, that specific city where John had been the overseer for many years, is warned that they “had lost their first love” (Revelation 2:4). But, since all the churches were contemporaneous, IF the days of the apostles comprised the “Ephesian era,” then this warning should have been repeatedly proclaimed to all the church for DECADES! Instead, it went ONLY TO EPHESUS, and not to Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome, Corinth, or anywhere else!
Actually all New Testament literature would supposedly represent “Ephesian era literature,” and should be replete with many warnings about “losing one’s first love” IF an era was involved. The absolute silence concerning any such warning throughout ALL the New Testament except for those few verses in a book not written until about 92 AD proves none of the apostles remotely thought that they were living in “the Ephesian era.”
Some have said, “Yes, but what about Revelation 12? What about the woman who flees into the wilderness on the wings of an eagle?”
“The Two Wings of an Eagle”
Those who cling to the idea of a “great escape” into a wilderness; a kind of “physical rapture” into a place of safety, are fond of quoting Revelation 12:14, which says, “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.”
There is no doubt about it. Almighty God plainly says, in His Word, that He will protect, and preserve alive, a “remnant” of His true church!
That the “woman” is God’s church is without doubt. That the symbol “wings of a great eagle” connotes God’s protection is without doubt. However, “the wilderness” is metaphor, and could include (as it did in the Middle Ages) all of Europe, including the deep, plunging valleys of the Swiss Alps, the French Alpine region, the provinces of Northern Italy, and the rugged terrain of Spain. In Biblical terms, it usually meant any desolate, uninhabited wilderness.
Also, we know that the “time, times and half a time” corresponds to the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord!
The ministry of the two witnesses also takes place during 31/2 years! Further, Israel is said to be suffering the pangs of the Great Tribulation for approximately the same period of time.
This is the identical time span during which “Jerusalem will be trodden down of the gentiles.” All of these great events are to take place within the same three and one-half year period.
Not only is the term “wilderness” metaphorical, so is the expression “two wings of a great eagle.”
Notice what God says about how He rescued ancient Israel from the wrath of Pharoah and the Egyptian army: “And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.
“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine” (Exodus 19:3-5).
Remember, the Israelites WALKED every step of the way, or perhaps rode animals, or were carried in carts, by horses or oxen! They were protected in Goshen in their own homes, and then protected by the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. God described this entire experience as having borne them “on eagle’s wings.” So the metaphorical expression “two wings of a great eagle” does NOT mean DC-10s, or any kind of aircraft at all, but merely is referring to God’s supernatural protection.
The term “that she might fly” does NOT connote actual flight, as in an aircraft. Fleeing is “flight.” The expression “take flight” when one flees from danger or an enemy is quite common in literature, and never connotes flying in an airplane.
Now, notice what Christ said in His famous Olivet prophecy about WHERE, or in which direction the saints are to “take flight” when they see all the terrible events of the Tribulation coming to pass: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
“Then let them which be in Judaea flee [i.e. “take flight”] into the mountains:
“Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
“Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
“And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:15-21).
WHY PRAY AT ALL, that one should not have to flee either in the winter, or on the Sabbath, if such “flight” is by SUPERNATURAL MEANS?
The “flight” away from danger for those who SEE that the tribulation is about to take place involves PHYSICAL RIGOR! Just as when the Israelites walked out of Egypt, so these end-time Christians will WALK, or use whatever physical means of transportation available to them, to escape!
WHICH Christians? Christ said “…they which be in Judaea,” NOT “them which be in Seattle, Washington, or Miami, Florida, or London, or Sydney, or Cape Town!”
And WHERE would they flee? Christ said “to the MOUNTAINS.” Jerusalem is high up in the mountains. Steep, precipitous mountains are in every direction from Jerusalem; North, South, East and West. Christ did NOT say to flee across the desert to Petra. He said those in Judaea (which includes the entire ancient province so named by the Romans) should flee to the mountains!
Now, what of Christian people who are NOT in Judaea, but are living in countries all over the world?
Notice what the Bible says about WHERE God’s converted saints are to be found at the coming of Christ! Jesus said, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30,31). The angels do NOT gather God’s elect from ONE SMALL LOCATION in a desert hideout in Jordan! Instead, they gather them from every point of the compass; from Canada, Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, the United States – the Islands of the seas – from “one end of heaven to the other!”
Where are they? ON THIS EARTH. Notice, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep [death is described as a deep, unconscious sleep!].
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:13-17). Clouds are part of this earth’s atmosphere. They are generally found under 50,000 feet, and are formed from water vapor and tiny ice crystals.
Clouds are a part of the three “spheres” forming our earth, which are the “bathysphere” [oceans and waters], “lithosphere” [rocks and land] and the “atmosphere.” By way of analogy, if you have a desk-sized globe, the actual mantle of air where the clouds form is thinner than the lacquer finish on your globe! Christ is coming back to this earth! He will descend to the MOUNT OF OLIVES in that same day!
“Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:3, 4).
NONE of the scriptures describing the return of Christ refer to a special group of people hiding in caves in the Jordanian desert, or anywhere else!
The Bible says those in and near Jerusalem should flee to the mountains! It says the saints of God will be gathered by the angels from all over the world to meet the descending Christ in the air! It says nothing about all of God’s people being in some special place!
The Wrath of SATAN
John saw, in a vision, the final attempt of Satan the devil to overthrow the very throne of God!
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9).
That this occurrence takes place just prior to “the Great Tribulation” is obvious from the language of verse 12, and the fact that the dragon makes war with “the remnant of her seed,” meaning the church.
Further, it is at this time God offers salvation to countless humans who have previously heard His warning message:
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, now is come salvation, and strength, and the Kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accuse them before our God day and night.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they LOVED NOT THEIR LIVES UNTO THE DEATH”! (Revelation 12:10, 11).
Reread carefully those verses!
At the beginning of the Great Tribulation it is not (as some have preached and written) TOO LATE for salvation!
Remember, the entire host of the 144,000, plus the vast, innumerable multitude (Revelation 7), are converted as a direct result of the calamitous events of the tribulation!
Notice the characterization of God’s true servants during this terrible persecution from Satan. How do they overcome the devil? “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb”!
Further, they were involved in more than just an “organized” work, for each one of them, at some time or another, will be called upon to give his own PERSONAL testimony! They also overcome Satan “by the word of their testimony. . .”
What kind of people will they be?
Will they be terribly concerned about sustaining, extending, preserving and protecting—at practically any cost—this human, physical life?
No! “. . . And they loved not their lives unto the death”! (Revelation 12:11).
Remember! Those righteous men and women who were singled out to make a final witness before the satanic forces of this evil world, and who were MURDERED because of their righteous stand for God and His laws, are not the “weak” of God’s church!
For years, many ministers have taught FALSELY that Almighty God will use physical punishment, the GREAT TRIBULATION, martyrdom and torture before death as the final means of expiating guilt; the final manner in which God will cleanse unrighteousness, and bring about brokenhearted REPENTANCE in recalcitrant, unyielding or “Laodicean” (lukewarm) people!
Ask yourself the following question: “Is that why Stephen died?” Is that why Paul died? Is that why Peter died? Is that why John the Baptist was beheaded? Is it why they killed James, the brother of John, with a sword?
What about all the others? Polycarp was a student of John the apostle, and was burnt at the stake!
Was it because he was a “Laodicean?” No, of course not!
Turn to and read the famous “faith” chapter, Hebrews 11!
Notice! After mentioning a host of the righteous patriarchs, prophets and some of the judges of Israel, including Gideon and Samuel, God’s Word summarizes this catalog of His holy martyrs by saying,
“Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
“Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to fight the armies of the aliens.
“Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
“They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
“(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth,
“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
“God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:33-40).
Here God is dealing with two different categories of people!
Notice that some subdued kingdoms, obtained promises, escaped the lions’ den (as did Daniel), waxed valiant in fight, or fought alien armies. Some women received their dead raised to life again!
Each of these is a “success” story!
But OTHERS were “tortured,” and others “had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings—were thrown in prison, stoned, sawn asunder,” etc.
Was it because of a difference in their character?
No! It was because of a difference in their CALLING!
Notice what God says!
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a crowd of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross [Greek: stauros, a `stake’ or `tree’], despising the shame, and is set down at the right
hand of the throne of God.
“For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin”! (Hebrews 12:1-4).
WHERE are the members of God’s true church to look?
Are they to get their minds and hearts on some means or method of ESCAPE?
Are they to focus upon a particular geographical location? Should they be thinking about ways and means of traveling to a far distant place, across seemingly boundless seas and oceans, harsh deserts, forbidding mountain ranges, and wondering what they will wear, what articles they can take with them, what foodstuffs they should provide?
Should God’s people have their minds on valid passports, saving seeds and cans of honey?
WHERE should we look?
Your Bible says, “Unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”!
How Modern Weapons Render a Physical “Hiding Place” Obsolete
Today we live in the age of nuclear weapons. Pinpoint accuracy can deliver nuclear weapons to within a few yards or so of a target. Intercontinental ballistic missiles, intermediate-range ballistic missiles, nuclear bombs dropped by aircraft, laser-guided “smart bombs,” wire-guided tank rounds, cluster bombs, parachute bombs, nuclear warheads in artillery shells, rocket-launched nuclear warheads from mobile, truck-mounted launchers; these and a host of other methods of delivering huge, multimegaton thermonuclear explosions are in the arsenals of modern armies.
Helicopter gunships, even if using the more “conventional” weapons, such as cannon, machine guns and napalm, could completely obliterate any given place in a matter of moments.
Chemical warfare, nerve gas or biological warfare could completely exterminate ALL LIFE in major cities, and in whole regions of countries!
“Ah,” one might say, “but the people who would be there would be supernaturally protected of God!”
And that is precisely the point! If God chooses some to be supernaturally protected, He will do so. If he chooses some to be martyred, as he did some of the greatest men and women of all time, He will do so. There is not one iota of proof, and not one iota of LOGIC in the thought that God will ONLY protect those who are in “Petra” but WILL NOT protect those who do not make it there!
The point is: WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE IN ETERNITY?
If you are a converted, begotten “new creature in Christ” developing within your human body, you are SAVED! Paul said, “If in this life ONLY we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable!” (I Corinthians 15:19).
Paul did not urge his fellow Christians to concentrate on “escaping to a place of safety!” Instead, he wrote, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
The entire concept of a “place of safety” is based primarily on FEAR. Fear of being “left behind”; fear of physical hardship or pain; fear of being “looked down on” by others. Yet, Paul wrote, “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6).
FEAR produces a kind of bondage. It keeps those who are fearful quavering before various would-be spiritual leaders who promise them protection, but only if they measure up to the demands of the leader! Jim Jones was one of these. His idea of “escape” from the United States federal Government, and escape from the consequences of the murders his henchmen had carried out was to commit mass suicide, demanding that nearly a thousand of his followers drink “Kool Aid” laced with a powerful poison! Earlier, this group had been commanded to FLEE to the jungles of Guyana!
They thought they were in their own “place of SAFETY!” Notice what Paul said about the “spirit of bondage” which Jim Jones practiced, and which other would-be religious leaders impose upon their followers: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the
Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:15-18)
What sufferings? Did Christ promise His true disciples that they would never have to suffer? Would they live a life of a church-going, feast-attending, socially active member; taking part in youth programs, sports programs, cookouts, regional holy day meetings, and have to wrestle only with the day to day difficulties of living, but never experience real persecution? After years and years of this, would they then be supernaturally whisked away in a kind of “pseudo-rapture” to a cave in the wilderness?
Such a fanciful notion is nowhere justified in scripture.
Jesus Christ Has Conquered Death, And The FEAR Of Death!
The reason the concept of the “rapture” is so popular, and the reason many cling to the notion of a “place of safety” on this earth is because it is a part of our nature to fear pain, suffering, and death!
One of the most powerful of all human instincts is “self preservation.” The “survival” kinds of television programs and movies; those such as the “great escape” from a prison camp in Germany during World War II, are very popular. They appeal to the carnal human nature of fear of suffering and death.
But Jesus Christ has CONQUERED death, and He has conquered the fear of death! In Him, you and I MUST do the same thing!
Notice what God’s word says about spending a lifetime in fear of death: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
“And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14, 15).
Jesus Christ, was HUMAN as well as divine, and He was tempted in every point like as we are.
Therefore, in the night in which he was betrayed, He flung Himself on the ground, earnestly praying to His Father to “remove this cup” (of impending torture and death) from Him. Yet, he very quickly added, “…nevertheless, not MY will but THINE…” After the third prayer, signifying finality, He knew God the Father would NOT CHANGE what had been decided. He knew He must endure what lay ahead.
Christ commands you and me, “Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
“What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:26-28).
The Greek word for “soul” is psuche, which means the life, and not something immortal. The point is clear: man can kill a human being so that the body becomes inert; lifeless; dead! But man CANNOT kill the “new creature in Christ” which is SPIRIT.
Paul wrote, “But ye [you who are Christians: you who have been begotten of God, and are no longer carnal] are not in the flesh [your life is not constituted merely in the flesh], but in the spirit [your life is now a SPIRIT life; the “new creature in Christ”], IF so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
“And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:9, 10).
Of course! This is why the martyrs of God could face death, saying to their tormentors, “You can kill THIS, this body of mine, but you cannot kill ME; my SPIRIT which is secure for God’s kingdom!”
This great CONFIDENCE; to know one is SAVED, and that the spiritual creature developing within one’s mind is gradually taking on the “divine nature,” becoming more and more like Christ, means one can overcome the fear of death!
Again and again, Christ told His disciples, “FEAR NOT!”
Then WHY do so many want to cling to a doctrine which is entirely based on FEAR?
The point is that, while Petra, or any other wilderness place is completely obsolete as a “place of safety” in the face of modern weapons and methods of warfare, God’s protection will never be obsolete!
“The Daughters of Moab at the Fords of Arnon”
For many years, many in God’s church have assumed Isaiah 16:1-5 is a prophecy of God’s church, being protected in PETRA.
First, read the entire passage as it appears in the King James version:
“Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughters of Zion.
“For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.
“Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; betray not him that wandereth.
“Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land.
“And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.”
From the very first verse, there are difficulties in translation. For example, the word “lamb” is a totally different word from that used to connote “lamb” elsewhere in the Old Testament!
This particular word is used only in Isaiah 16:1, and is the Hebrew word kar, which is used in the sense of “plumpness.” It is used for a “battering ram,” also “a meadow” (as for sheep); also a pad or camel’s saddle (as puffed out)—captain, furniture, lamb, (large) pasture, ram.
The authorities are agreed that the translation should read, “Send ye the “tribute lamb,” or send “the tribute of lambs.”
This is obviously a reference to the tribute of lambs which the Moabites had previously paid to Israel (II Kings 3:4, 5).
Remember, you must understand biblical prophecy in its context, and in the light of all other cogent scriptures.
Isaiah 15 and 16 are prophecies against Moab! Read the entire 15th chapter, and then study the entire16th chapter in context.
This is a prophecy about the Moabites—THEY are the “wandering bird cast out of the nest,” and they are the ones who are “God’s outcasts,” Not members of God’s true church!
For example, verse 4 should read: “Let mine outcasts [the daughters of MOAB] dwell with thee—as for Moab, be thou a covert to him from the face of the spoiler, for the extortioner is at an end…”
The Critical and Experimental Commentary says: “Let the outcasts of Moab dwell with thee.”
In the prophecy of Daniel 11:40 to the end of that chapter, we see that “Edom and Moab and the chief of the children of Ammon” escape out of the hands of “the king of the north” (the beast power) when the land of Palestine is occupied.
Later these nations are to be punished of God from the huge armies which will come into the land of Palestine out of the north and the east!
This prophecy found partial fulfillment when the armies of Shalmanezer, incensed because the king of Moab had thrown in his lot with the king of Israel, sent armies in a passing campaign to obliterate some of the cities of Moab.
That there may be a veiled reference to “Petra” is possible. That there is reference to a cave is sure.
Also, that there is reference to the coming Kingdom of God (verse 5) is also sure.
What is not SURE is that this is a prophecy concerning God’s true church! The following points are certain from a careful study of this passage:
- “The lamb” does not refer to Christ, but to “tribute lambs” sent by the king of Moab to the king of Israel in supplication.
- The wandering bird cast out of the nest is not “God’s people” but “the daughters of Moab”!
- They are not at the “Wadi-Musa” in Petra but “at the fords of Arnon,” a river forming the southern borders of the land of Moab.
- “Mine outcasts” are not the fleeing remnant of God’s true church, but fleeing Moabites.
- The leaders of Israel are commanded to “be thou a covert to them [the daughters of Moab].”
- They were to protect them from “the face of the spoiler” who was Shalmanezer in ancient history.
Your “Hiding Place”
Jesus Christ is continually referred to as the Rock of our salvation! (Deuteronomy 32).
David said, “… The Eternal is upright: He is my rock…”(Psalms 92:15).
He called God his “. . . defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge” (Psalms 94:22).
He spoke of God as “…as the rock of our salvation” (Psalms 95:1).
Jesus Christ is called “that ROCK” who followed the Israelites in the wilderness (I Corinthians 10:4), thus combining two biblical types of God’s protection.
Remember that God said that He bore the Israelites “on eagle’s wings” when He removed them from the land of Egypt, and watched over them during the 40 years’ wandering; also, He continually showed them He was their “ROCK” of refuge!
In each case these are biblical types which portray the protection, and, more important, the salvation of God!
WHERE, then, is your “hiding place”? Is it in Jordan’s most popular tourist attraction, the “Rose Red City of Rock,” Petra? Or is your life “hidden with Christ,” instead?
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above [NOT some desert cave on this earth], where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above [God’s soon-coming KINGDOM, and eternal life], not on things on the earth [including desert `places of safety’].
“For ye are dead, and your life is HID WITH CHRIST in God”! (Colossians 3:1-3).
Note that well!
If you are a member of God’s true church; if you have received the Holy Spirit of God (I Corinthians 12:13), then your life is ALREADY HIDDEN! Does God say you are to FEAR persecution, even imprisonment, torture or death? Notice! “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul [Greek: psuche, meaning the life], but rather FEAR HIM who is able to destroy both soul [psuche] and body [soma, meaning our physical, temporary bodies] in Gehenna”!
Man may be able to kill us, physically! Yet God says, “The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs WITH CHRIST: If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together”! (Romans 8:16, 17).
There is a “SPIRIT IN MAN”! When Almighty God imparts to us His Holy Spirit, His Holy Spirit begets that spiritual essence” which lifts our minds above the mere “brain” of human animals, and gives us our humanity, our personality, and our character.
Almighty God begets us as His CHILDREN!
We become CO-HEIRS with Jesus Christ! Notice! It tells us, “If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together”! These tremendous promises show us that we are not to fear what MAN is able to do unto us. God does not promise that every Christian will escape all suffering!
Refer back to Matthew 10:28, and the succeeding verses. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
“Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows”!
Does Jesus Christ say we are to spend a great deal of our conscious thought deeply concerned over how to “FLEE” to a physical, geographical location of PROTECTION?
No! “He that findeth his life shall LOSE IT: AND HE THAT LOSETH HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE SHALL FIND it”! (Matthew 10:39).
Your Bible says, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman [the church!] and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [the last generation of the true Church of God!] which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”! (Revelation 12:17).
Are these “lukewarm” Christians? No, they are Christians who ARE KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS! They are Christians who HAVE THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST!
Notice! “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the SAINTS, AND PREVAILED AGAINST THEM; until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom”! (Daniel 7:21, 22).
Here, just as in the book of Revelation, it shows, NOT that all of the members of God’s true church are safely tucked away in some cave in the wilderness, but that Satan the devil actually “prevailed against them”! For how long “Until the Ancient of days CAME”!
In other words, just as Jesus warned (Matthew 10), there will be some members of the Church of God who will be specially called and chosen to give a powerful witness and TESTIMONY to the satanic forces of evil in this world, and who will pay for their loyalty and faithfulness to Almighty God and Jesus Christ their Savior with their lives!
Notice! “But beware of men: For they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues [churches!]; and ye shall be BROUGHT [not `invited’ or received in a gracious manner, but DRAGGED, `brought,’ as PRISONERS] before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the gentiles.
“But when they DELIVER YOU up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: For it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
“And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: And the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake [how can this BE, if some in the church are ashamed of the name of Christ?], but he that endureth to the end [even if it means the end of his life] shall be saved”!
These are powerful words.
They clearly foretell that SOME in God’s true church—NO, not the “weak ones” but the STRONGEST—will be “brought before governors and kings” and will be called upon to give powerful witness and testimony!
To Which “Church Era” Do the Two Witnesses Belong?
Clearly, at the time of the great persecutions to be brought upon God’s church during the tribulation, which is SATAN’S WRATH, all organized preaching of the gospel will cease. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord Eternal, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Eternal:
“And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even unto the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Eternal, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11, 12).
NOT because they are sitting on the sidelines, huddled in caves for their own physical protection, but because they are being “delivered up to the synagogues” and being subjected to terrible religious persecution, the true servants will be unable to carry out any organized preaching of the gospel.
But God’s work will still go on!
God says, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy [including inspired preaching and witnessing] a thousand two hundred and three score days [3 1/2 years] clothed in sackcloth.
“These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth [see Zechariah 4:3], and if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: And if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
“These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: And have power over waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”
Who are these two witnesses? The Bible doesn’t say. Yet it is obvious they are two human beings who very likely are alive right now, and who will be used to carry on God’s work in the very last few years prior to the second coming of Christ!
Their ministry BEGINS when all organized preaching of the gospel by the church ceases.
When the Great Tribulation begins, the nations of Israel are subjugated and taken into captivity, the church scattered and persecuted, the great, end-time ministry of the TWO WITNESSES begins!
There are many biblical types evident here.
Just as Moses and Aaron went before Pharaoh (a type of Satan) and his two magicians, Jannes and Jambres (types of the beast and the false prophet), continually saying, “Let my people GO!” while the plagues fell upon rebellious Egypt; so shall the two witnesses go before the beast and the false prophet in Jerusalem, demanding that Israel be RELEASED from their captivity, and will be met with the same “hardness of heart,” resulting in their calling down PLAGUES upon the beast power!
Those who believe in “church eras” have apparently completely overlooked the fact that, IF the entire so-called “Philadelphian era” is “taken to a place of safety” (meaning PETRA, in the Jordanian desert), and the only ones exempted are the “Laodiceans” (usually spoken of in deprecating terms, as totally and wholly unfit, lukewarm, sleepy, unconcerned, weak ones), then to which “church era” do the two witnesses supposedly belong? The only remaining choice is “LAODICEA”!
But how ludicrous it would be to believe that these two powerful witnesses; prophets with more power than Elijah and Elisha, are “luke- warm!”
Whoever they are, they are finally killed, and their bodies, lying in the streets of Jerusalem, cause great rejoicing over the whole earth.
Later they are resurrected in what is apparently a physical resurrection, PRIOR to the actual second coming of Christ (Revelation 11:11).
They are the FINAL martyrs for the name of Jesus Christ. Like their Savior, Jesus Christ; like Paul, Stephen, Peter and so many others, they not only dedicate their human lives insofar as their work is concerned to the name and the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, but they literally lay down their lives for His name’s sake, and are finally MURDERED because they thunderously urge the leaders of the world to REPENT, to STOP the hellish wars they have begun, and to recognize the supreme LORD OF LORDS and KING OF KINGS, the coming King of the Universe, Jesus Christ of Nazareth!
God Can Protect You Where You Are
Study the 91st Psalm!
Here is one of the most encouraging of all of the Bible promises concerning a “place of safety” for You!
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
“I will say of the Eternal, HE is my refuge and my fortress: My God; in Him will I trust.
“Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence [disease epidemics and plagues].
“He shall cover thee with His feathers [like the analogy of `eagle’s wings’] and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee” [because of God’s supernatural protection! NOT because one is huddled in a cave!]
“Only with thine eye shall thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
“Because thou hast made the Eternal, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation,
“There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling”!
Here God absolutely promises that people can and will be protected (if that is in God’s plan for their own personal calling) right where they live!
Even as the plagues fell on Egypt while the Israelites were still within their own homes, and God protected them RIGHT WHERE THEY WERE, so this PROMISE from God concerns protecting
His people from suffering and death, if that is His perfect will, IN THEIR DWELLINGS!
And WHICH is the greater MIRACLE? Protecting countless THOUSANDS, in thousands of different locations, under thousands of different circumstances, or protecting a group of people in ONE place?
Remember, there IS NO DOUBT God promises SOME (not all) of His people protection (Revelation 3:10). But WHICH ONES?
Notice: “…Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and SOME
OF YOU shall they cause to be put to death!
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.
“But there shall not an hair of your head perish” (Luke 21:16-18).
Obviously, if verse 18 (“there shall not an hair of your head perish”) is to be taken to mean not one of the true church will be martyred, then how are you to understand verse 16?
Obviously, Christ is saying that SOME will be put to death, while others will be delivered!
But how does God make that choice?
Notice! “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation [trial] also make a way to escape, that ye may be ABLE TO BEAR IT”! (I Corinthians 10:13).
This scripture says a GREAT DEAL!
God absolutely promises that the degree of trial, trouble, pain, suffering or “temptation” placed before each individual will NOT be more than that individual is “able to bear”! Who, then, is weakest and who is strongest? Are not those who are able to endure the MOST the stronger? Are not those who would very quickly give up their faith, perhaps swear allegiance to the beast, the number of his name or his image; even curse their God (and this has been REQUIRED of people in the past!) under threat or the actual pain of physical torture or death, the weaker?
And are not those who are able to “endure unto the end,” even if it means the end of their own lives, spiritually STRONGER? Did not God choose the STRONGEST men in all history to be His witnesses and His martyrs?
Does it not become OBVIOUS, then, that God would provide a “way of escape” and supernatural protection for those who are WEAKEST, while perhaps singling out for a last testimony and final martyrdom those who are STRONGEST?
Make no mistake!
God did not call you to His truth, beget you as His child whom He LOVES, only to have you live a life of fearful concern over the very things of which YOU REPENTED!
What were some of these?
Did they not include the mundane, daily concerns of HOW YOU WILL SURVIVE; how to feed, clothe, care for, preserve and protect yourself?
Do you see God’s people, according to the Word of God, spending decades worrying about whether they are “qualified” to GO TO PETRA, or, instead, watching world conditions, praying, studying God’s Word, fellowshipping together as His church, caring for and visiting the sick, helping the poor, OVERCOMING their human nature by the power of His Spirit—busily ACCOMPLISHING HIS WORK?
If YOUR LIFE is “HID” with Christ in God—cannot you say, with the apostle Paul, “I will not fear what man can do unto me”?
God has not given His people the spirit of FEAR, but of POWER, and of LOVE, and of a SOUND MIND”! (II Timothy 1:7).
Who Are “Those Who Are Taken, And Those Who Are Left?”
For many decades, an important scriptural quotation from Jesus Christ was turned around backward from its intended meaning! Christ had warned about the “Days of Noah.” Notice it, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
“For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
“And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
“Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:36-42).
Many impassioned sermons were preached from this passage; sermons which inspired FEAR and
APPREHENSION! “Will I be LEFT when the others are `TAKEN TO A PLACE OF SAFETY?” people wondered!
But notice the meaning Christ Himself placed on His words!
Plainly, He said those who escaped were LEFT ALIVE (in the ark), while it was the raging flood waters which TOOK AWAY those who were unaware; who had not heeded Noah’s witness and warning!
The emphasis was placed on the fact that the woman grinding at the mill, going about her daily chores, would be LEFT RIGHT THERE, unmolested, undisturbed! But the other woman would be TAKEN AWAY. Christ would not shift or change metaphors right in the middle of His statement!
Christ said that if two would be going about their daily work in the field, one would be TAKEN, and the other left unmolested! People have looked at this scripture entirely BACKWARD from its true meaning — the meaning Christ Himself placed upon it!
IF God has determined you are one He must supernaturally PROTECT from the terrible times ahead—and He knows your strengths and weaknesses—THEN HE WILL PROTECT YOU! It does NOT MATTER HOW, OR WHERE!
If He has HONORED you with the decision that you are to give powerful WITNESS for HIM and HIS ETERNAL GOVERNMENT He will soon establish on this earth—then you will join ranks with the most righteous, spirit filled, dedicated, COURAGEOUS men and women in all history—those like Stephen, Paul, Peter and your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself!
CHRIST is your PETRA! He is your ROCK! HE is you special “hiding place,” and you need no other!
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