About a month ago, the division I work for was involved in helping a neighboring County in the evacuation of its resident’s due to a wildfire. Our role in this evacuation was very limited, but it reminded me of another wildfire that occurred a few years earlier. In 2013, I was personally affected by the Rim Fire, the third largest wildfire in California’s recorded history. Because of that fire, we had family evacuated from the area, friends from church were ordered to evacuate and stayed a while with us, and we were put on alert that an evacuation order might be given to us as well at any moment. On a professional level, my division was directly involved in evacuating residents who were unable to get out of areas that were greatly threatened by the fire.
As I thought about these evacuations, I was reminded of a massive evacuation that is set to take place in the very near future. We’ve been told that there will be an evacuation coming, the reason for it, and that we are to be alert and prepared for when it happens. With the Rim Fire, there were some who chose to ignore or discount the need or urgency to evacuate, and people are choosing to do the same thing regarding this upcoming evacuation order.
What is the purpose of an evacuation? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to evacuate means: to remove especially from a military zone or dangerous area; to withdraw from a place in an organized way especially for protection. In other words, to evacuate means to escape a place of danger to go to a place of safety. In Luke 21:36, following what He shared regarding end-time events, Jesus tells us to, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to ESCAPE (caps added) all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” It could be said that Jesus is commanding us to take specific steps in preparation of a great evacuation that is yet to come. Some in church circles belittle those looking to the rapture as an escape from what is coming, arguing that Christians shouldn’t be looking to escape the coming Tribulation period, but in doing so they are discounting the very words of Jesus, leading others to disobey the commands of Jesus.
Others make light of, and in some cases even mock, Jesus’ command to watch and pray, something He mentions multiple times in the Gospels. Jesus isn’t telling us to spend our life sitting on a patio lounger, staring off into the eastern sky, watching for Him to return. What He is telling us is simple. We are to be watching the signs of His return, not sticking our heads in the sand because we don’t like or want to see what is happening around us, and to pray always that the life we’re living is one that He will count as worthy to be evacuated to safety in advance of the coming tribulation and judgments. Jesus tells us that when He returns for the Church, His bride, people will be living and enjoying life, oblivious to what is quickly coming upon them. There is also absolutely no indication, from Jesus or any of the Apostles, that His return for His bride will come in the middle of, or immediately following, a great revival as some would like to believe. Why would there be the danger of judgments from God when He’s in the middle of changing the hearts and minds of man back to Him? Yes, I do believe there is a great revival coming to the earth, but I strongly believe it will not take place until after the rapture of the Church, the evacuation of the bride of Christ to safety. In Isaiah 26:20-21, we see a passage that seems to point to the rapture of the Church, and the fact that God will call His people up to safety before He punishes the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.
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. – Isaiah 26:20-21 (NKJV)
There is a great evacuation set to take place in the very near future. This will be an evacuation for followers of Christ who are actively watching for His return, and who are always praying that their life will be counted worthy to escape that which is coming. Are you taking His return seriously, as well as His commands for us to follow in preparation for that time? The risk for neglecting His commands regarding His return for us is extreme, and something to not take lightly. If you haven’t been taking the words of Jesus seriously, now is the time to start. Don’t be like those who choose to ignore or discount the need to prepare for an evacuation due to wildfires or some other dangerous situations. Unlike evacuations ordered for wildfires and such, your response to the evacuation orders Jesus commanded us to prepare for will have eternal implications for you, good or bad.
John Johansson (Pastor John)