Q. I know there are some people who believe that the real strife during the time, say, of the mark of the beast, will be for Jews only. I am coming round to this opinion, one reason being that I can’t see the point for it to include 6 billion people, many having no faith at all and who would have no hesitation in worshiping the image if it saved their lives.
Clearly it will be difficult times for everyone, but I refer to Matthew 25, the great ‘end times’ discourse, when the Lord Jesus spoke of His hunger, nakedness, thirst, sickness and imprisonment. The disciples were puzzled, asking Him when this had occurred. He replied that relieving these griefs for one of His, would be the same as doing it to/for Him. As the twelve had no knowledge of doing such things for Him, it would be logical to assume, given it’s inclusion in that particular chapter, that it referred to the coming age of sorrow. I was taught in my youth that this is the explanation of this conversation. Could you please comment on that?
A. The Book of Revelation makes it clear that the whole world will suffer intensely during the Great Tribulation. By some accounts half of its population will perish. The Bible doesn’t describe any neutral position where God is concerned. We’re responsible for knowing He exists and deciding whether or not to follow Him. It’s the primary purpose of our life. Those who elect not to follow Him automatically make themselves His enemy. Taking the mark of the beast will confirm this and cause the full fury of God’s wrath to be unleashed against them. (Rev. 14:9-11)
In Jeremiah 30:1-11 God had the prophet say that His purpose for the Great Tribulation is to completely destroy the nations while disciplining but preserving Israel. That indicates that if anything the gentiles will have it harder than the Jews.
Matt. 25:31 indicates that the Lord was speaking of the time immediately following His return, when He will judge all the survivors of the Great Tribulation to determine whether they will be welcomed into the Kingdom or sent away to eternal punishment. The decision will be based on how they treated His people during the Great Tribulation. It’s a measure of faith, not works, because only a person of great faith would risk his or her own life to help an enemy of the state during that time.