As Jesus continued to speak to His disciples on the Mount of Olives about the things to come, He warned of the days during the Great Tribulation, and what they would be like in Israel. The last 3 1/2 years of this most horrible time ever to come upon the earth will be particularly difficult in the Holy Land. God has declared that Israel is His Chosen People. They will come to the point of recognizing that Jesus Christ is their Messiah, Deliverer, Savior, Lord, and King. Unfortunately, what they must endure to come to that point of understanding, repentance, and blessing of Yeshua as the One they’ve been seeking will be a hard won salvation.
In Luke 21 Jesus describes much of what will occur in those days. The city of Jerusalem will be overrun by Gentiles and greatly abused through the “blessings” of the Antichrist. His coming out party will throw the Israelites into panic when they realize his anti-God fervor through his desolating the temple for all to see. When that happens, Jesus warns those who have eyes to see and ears to hear to flee for their lives. Many will die during this period.
The natural order of the physical realm will be in great disarray. The actions of the sun, moon, and stars will confound all who look to the skies. Nothing will make sense, and fear unlike any other that anyone has ever known will come upon people. These will be signs that Jesus is about to step out of heaven – out of the spiritual realm – into the physical universe, visible for all to see.
Jesus warns that anyone living in those days – that generation in that particular time – should see all that is happening and realize that God’s Kingdom is about to manifest on the earth. He likens this realization to the fig tree and its organic development to become fruit bearing. Leaves appear first in the spring. As summer comes, figs mature and grow ripe. So it is with these prophetic events. They will move forward progressively from one event to another until the fig is ready to be plucked, i.e. all of God’s preparation is in place for Jesus to appear.
In His discourse, Jesus makes this statement in Luke 21:34:
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.”
The word dissipation is of interest. It is the Greek word kraipalé (Strong’s 2897), which on the surface means just what it says: dissipation, surfeiting (KJV), and drunkenness (drunken nausea). But wait, it’s almost as though Jesus repeats Himself using this word that can mean drunkenness, and then to also warn about intoxication/drunkenness in the same sentence. In the Strong’s Concordance, it makes the interesting observation that kraipalé is “probably from the same as harpazo.”
The word harpazo (Strong’s 726) should be familiar to those of you who adhere to the pre-Tribulation Rapture. This is the very word that means to snatch away, to catch up, to seize; i.e. it’s the word we associate with the Rapture. Going a little further down into the rabbit hole, Strong’s Concordance then tells us that harpazo is “from a derivative of haireomai.”
Haireomai is Strong’s 138 from the Greek root haireó. This is where it gets interesting. Haireó means to choose or to prefer based on self-interest, i.e. it implies a personal choice, or a taking for oneself.
Climbing back out of our deep warren where the rabbit took us, it appears as though Jesus is pointing out that those upon whom this trap may come have chosen this for themselves because of their self-interest. In other words, they thought that the choices they made would benefit them in the here and now, and they cared little for the eternal consequences.
What does that mean from a practical perspective? Recall that in the Tribulation around the midpoint, the 666 Mark of the Beast system of buying and selling will be implemented. When people take the Mark, they also commit their hearts in worship to Satan. They deliberately choose him over Jesus Christ. One reason among others is the practical side; only by taking the Mark are they able to acquire food and goods in order to survive. They decide that the world system will care for them, i.e. God can’t or won’t or they simply don’t care, and they reject the eternal consequences.
The Word of God warns us repeatedly about deception and how great it will be during the Tribulation. People will be deceived that Antichrist and his regime is a better choice for their survival than Jesus Christ. In their self-interest they fall into Antichrist’s trap, thinking that by following him all will be well.
This is why Jesus explicitly tells us in Luke 21:36:
“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
All who wish to see the Kingdom of God will do so only through faith in Christ. For those who come to the Lord during the Tribulation, they – just like us as believers today prior to the Rapture – must remain awake, watchful, and full of prayer. These seven years will not be easy for those who enter that time. Many – oh, so many! – will die. Those who turn to Jesus will largely all be martyred for their faith. Yet, that will be the most blessed event they can imagine because it brings them into the presence of the Lord.
For all who are still asleep: Wake up! All these things will soon come to pass. Are you ready?