I have been a student of Bible prophecy for over 40 years and am well read on the subject. For the past 10 years, I have been listening to many well-known prophecy teachers on a regular basis. (If I listed them, you would know them all). I have had to stop listening because of the constant harping on persecution. This didn’t happen until the start of Covid. I have watched it jump from one pastor or teacher to another in rapid succession. It doesn’t matter what subject they are discussing; they always find a way to bring it back to persecution.
These teachers are NOT saying that we will be going into the tribulation. They are saying that we will face extreme persecution right before the rapture. One of them has said, (and I quote) “We won’t be here for the tribulation, but we are going to get a taste of it”. Since the tribulation is the wrath of God, and we are not subject to wrath, why would we get a taste of it?
Within the past year, I have heard two pastors give sermons on the Roman persecution of the early church. One recounted several stories of gory deaths from “Foxes Book of Martyrs” and “Jesus Freaks”. He ended his message by saying essentially that this is what is coming for us before the rapture. He asked that everyone pick a martyr that they most “identify with” and pray to be prepared.
This same pastor believes that since Christians are being persecuted in Africa, North Korea, China, Iran, etc., that it must come here too. Unfortunately, this pastor has begun to gain some prominence in the prophecy community and wherever he goes, this teaching takes hold. He seems to imply that global bloody martyrdom is a pre-condition for the rapture.
All these teachers and pastors agree that the Olivet Discourse was not a message for the church, but for the Jews. They all agree that the churches of Philadelphia and Laodicea in Revelation 2 & 3 are the churches of our age, yet this passage does not mention persecution for these two churches. The church of Smyrna was told to expect persecution, so it seems an important detail to leave out. End times passages describing the time right before the rapture point to a relatively normal, “business as usual” existence. There doesn’t seem to be any biblical basis for this bloody persecution teaching.
I believe it is a case of repeating what they have heard other pastors saying. They are leaning on their own understanding and speculating based on what they see and not what the Bible says. The thing that I find so disturbing is how many Christians are living in fear because of this. Fear is a tool of Satan that he uses to destroy our faith.
I know that things will get progressively worse. I know we have to “embrace the suck”. But the word persecution covers a wide range of possibilities. I just don’t think it’s necessary to always go to the worst-case scenario. We are to be looking up, not digging a bunker and stockpiling food and weapons.
Most true Bible believing Christian are not stupid. We see the signs of our times very clearly. We don’t need to have this fear shoved at us every day. I do not object to teaching about persecution per se, just the open ended “Get ready for persecution” statements with no instruction or hope.
- Where are they getting this? It does not appear to be Biblical.
- What can be gained by spreading fear and destroying our blessed hope?
- Fear is a powerful motivator, but what are they trying to motivate us to do?
- How do they expect us to “get ready” for persecution? This is never discussed.
Is the phrase, "get ready or be left behind" also another fear tactic to make one question their own salvation or doubt the promises of God?
I think the closer we get to that time (the Trib) the more they are going to echo this because it’s pressing the easy button. However, is it the right button? I don’t think it is. A lot of them gain followers by fear mongering and sensationalism. I believe things may get harder (economically speaking) but I don’t think the west is going to suffer any persecution. We’re going out the way of Laodicea.