What are the biblical proofs for your teaching that members of the Church of God will be protected at a particular "place of safety," here on earth, during the Great Tribulation?
Jesus Christ warned His end-time disciples of the Great Tribulation, which will be so terrible that nothing like it ever happened before and will ever happen again (Matthew 24:21; Daniel 12:1). At the same time, Christ challenged us to watch and pray always to be counted worthy to escape or be protected from the Great Tribulation. Even though God is certainly capable of protecting us wherever we might be, HE HAS DECREED that He will protect His very elect at a particular place here on earth.
We would like to quote the following excerpts from chapter 8 of our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation,” pages 54-55:
“Christ promises His people—who are worthy—a way to ‘escape all these things that will come to pass’ (Luke 21:34–36; compare Revelation 3:10; Zephaniah 2:3; Psalm 31:19–20). That ‘place of refuge’ (Proverbs 14:26) will be on this earth—not in heaven (Revelation 12:14; Isaiah 33:16; Isaiah 26:20–21).
“Even though God CAN protect us anywhere He wants, He has decreed that His people will be protected at a certain place here on earth—the place of safety and ‘shelter’ (Joel 3:14–16). Christ compares the time preceding His coming with the time of Noah (Matthew 24:37–39), and as God protected Noah and his family in the ark—here on earth—so He will protect His people on this earth in the way that HE has chosen. He will definitely NOT protect them by ‘rapturing’ them to heaven!”
Our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord,” contains the following comments, on pages 58-60:
“God has promised us protection from the terrible times to come, if we are faithful to Him. Christ tells us in Revelation 3:10: ‘Because you have kept My command to persevere (to have patience), I also will keep you from the hour of trial [tribulation] which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.’
“Notice Christ’s additional admonition and promise in Luke 21:34–36: ‘But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
“Recall that the name of Zephaniah means, ‘Whom the LORD has hidden.’ We are told in Zephaniah’s message, as well, that WE can be hidden, or protected, in the day of the LORD’S anger. Yes, there is a way! Notice this remarkable promise in Zephaniah 2:3: ‘Seek the LORD, all you meek [humble] of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the LORD’S anger.’
“King David, himself a prophet, also understood that God would hide and protect those who faithfully trust in Him. Listen to these encouraging words: ‘Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of your wings…’ (Psalm 17:8). ‘For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in his pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock’ (Psalm 27:5).
“’Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, Which you have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of your presence From the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion From the strife of tongues’ (Psalm 31:19–20).
“King Solomon confirms, in Proverbs 14:26, that God’s people will be protected in the coming times of trial: ‘In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.’
“This place of refuge is more clearly described in Revelation 12:14, promising the end-time Church of God her place in the wilderness—on this earth—prepared by God, a place where she will be nourished for 3 ½ years and protected from Satan the devil. Compare this with Isaiah 33:16, describing the righteous person (verse 15) as dwelling ‘on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure.’
“God gives us the same promise in Isaiah 26:20–21: ‘Come, My people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain.’
“Through all this, we can take great comfort from God’s promise for His people, as recorded by the prophet, Joel. We can be protected, if God looks at us as His people and counts us worthy to escape the terrible times ahead of us. Joel 3:14–16 reads: ‘Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will grow dark, And the stars will diminish their brightness. The LORD also will roar from Zion, And utter his voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the LORD will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel.'”
Let us focus once again on God’s specific promise to protect His very elect on this earth–at a particular place “in the wilderness.”
We read in Jeremiah 4:6 that God’s people are to “Take refuge! Do not delay! For I will bring disaster from the north, And great destruction.”
As mentioned, Revelation 3:10 contains Christ’s promise to His people [those who have a Philadelphia spirit] in these end times to protect them from the Great Tribulation. The Moffat translation renders this passage as follows: “I will keep you safe through the hour of trial.” The Living Bible interprets: “I will protect you from the time of Great Tribulation and temptation.”
As pointed out above, one of the key passages, promising God’s end-time Church protection on this earth, at a particular place, can be found in Revelation 12:13-17. The passage reads:
“(13) Now when the dragon (Satan the devil, Revelation 12:9) saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child (Jesus Christ). (14) But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness TO HER PLACE [New International Version: “to the place prepared for her in the desert”], where she is nourished [Living Bible: “cared for and protected”; Amplified Bible: “where she is to be kept safe and fed”] FOR A TIME AND TIMES AND HALF A TIME [Living Bible: “for three and a half years”], from the presence of the serpent. (15) So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. (16) But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon spewed out of his mouth. (17) And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
We explain this passage as follows in chapter 13 of our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation!”, pages 78-79:
“We understand that the woman is, first of all, symbolic for Eve (Genesis 3:15); then for the Old Testament Church which would evolve from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Jacob’s TWELVE sons, and which would become known as the Church of Israel in the wilderness; then for Mary, the mother of Christ; and—subsequent to Christ’s ascension—for the New Testament Church of God (compare Matthew 25:1; Ephesians 5:22–32; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Galatians 4: 26)…
“While the woman has flown to her place of safety, here on earth, with two wings of a great eagle (compare Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 1:31; 32:11; Isaiah 63:9), to be nourished there for 3-½ years (Revelation 12:14), Satan will spew water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman. This might perhaps allude to an army or to a military force (compare Daniel 11:10; Jeremiah 47:2–3). The earth will open its mouth to help the woman (compare Numbers 16:31–32). All of this will happen on earth—not in heaven, as some who believe in the false concept of a secret rapture erroneously teach. Satan will proceed to persecute others within the Church who will not be at the place of safety here on earth.”
Revelation 12:14-16 pictures the flight of a particular group of people. Exactly how all of this will come about is yet to be revealed. However, the biblical parallels as shown in past examples of God’s deliverance are recorded as lessons of encouragement and instruction for us.
2 Peter 2:4-9 tells us that God knows how to deliver the godly from temptation and trials, including the Great Tribulation. He saved Noah by letting him find protection in an ark, and He delivered Lot by leading him out of Sodom and providing a place of refuge for him at a particular location. Early Christians escaped from Jerusalem and fled to the city of Pella, just before the Romans invaded and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (compare Eusebius in his Church History; and Josephus, Bellum Judaicum, Book VI, chapter 3, section 3). God has revealed to us, in His Word, that He will protect His very elect end-time people at a particular place “in the wilderness.” Will you be among those who are counted worthy to escape the Great Tribulation?
Lead Writer: Norbert Link