The loss of housing and employment among families today is staggering, but even so, the degree of suffering and loss being felt in our age is comparatively light in view of what is to come.
During the biblical period known as the tribulation, those people left upon the earth will experience unspeakable horrors throughout the numerous judgments that will be poured out upon them.
When reading through John's book of Revelation, it is hard to imagine that God will have any influence among the nations. In fact, there will be a very special group of people chosen to represent God upon this earth during the various plagues, judgments and utter desolation. Within the first four verses of Revelation, chapter seven, the four angels that are stationed at the four corners of the earth are commanded by God,
"Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:" (ESV)
This group, specially chosen by God himself, will receive a particular blessing perhaps not experienced before by any of mankind. God has always granted grace and mercy, and even certain miraculous powers to a select few over the history of the earth. Perhaps you will recall the life-sustaining manna that God sent to the Israelites as they wandered throughout the desert for forty years. The spiritual powers granted to the disciples upon the day of Pentecost allowed those men to minister among the people with signs and wonders.
The sealed 144,000 chosen as God's messengers upon the earth will no doubt require real and specific protection and provision. When the rivers either dry up or turn to blood, where will these people receive water? When the land becomes parched and devoured by locusts, where will they receive food? As each judgment, bowl, and plague ravages the landscape, such people will be able to survive through only through the miraculous powers of God.
We would expect some of these sealed individuals to succumb to the harshness of their environment or to fall at the hand of mercenaries. Such an occurrence would make sense when we look back over biblical history. Even though the Israelites where God's chosen people, not all of them survived the 40 years in the desert. Also look at the violent demise of Jesus' disciples. Who could imagine all of the 144,000 to survive the chaos and violence of the tribulation? While none of may be able to, Revelation, Chapter 14, verse 1 makes a startling claim that these chosen few will not be harmed during the tribulation.
"Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads." (ESV)
The 144,000 are not a timid lot, hiding out in a remote cave, awaiting and merely surviving. They are warriors and servants of God, Jesus' own army on earth.
"They [the forces of the anti-christ beast kingdom] will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful." (Revelation 17:14, ESV)
Survival during the tribulation will be a harrowing experience for those present, but faith in Jesus Christ will continue to be rewarded with grace and power. The power granted to the soldiers in Jesus' army will be not unlike those of the Old Testament history. Perilously outnumbered, the righteous will prevail. The enemies of Christ will likely experience utter frustration at their lack of ability to crush such a small number, but it will be their lack of faith in Christ that seals their ultimate fate. Which side do you believe that you are fighting for?