By Juan R. Rains
Across the years, there have been pro and con beliefs
concerning the place of safety doctrine.  In this article, we
look at both sides of the issue – probing for the truth, as well
as prophecy may be found out.

In order to do this subject justice – speaking here of the
Gospels only – one needs to study Luke 21:5-36, the parallel
account in Mark 13:1-37 and chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew.  
We will just look at the Luke account with references to the
other two as necessary.

This paper was written in response to the question, “Is there a
place of safety”.  A general question is difficult to answer,
simply because the response can go in many different
directions.  The Church of God is divided between two
perspectives on the subject during these last days because it is
divided over the substance of what determines a righteous
person.  Some cling to one perspective because it fits better
with their personality and desires best – others choose a
different perspective for the same reason.  

Therefore, we have those people who believe in a “place of
safety” and those who are strongly opposed to it!  There is
probably more than one answer to this dilemma; however, two
broad categories of people make up the world – conservatives
and liberals.  The very thrust of this difference compels a
person in a given direction.

In context, Luke 21:36 is saying that we should watch the
conduct of our daily lives and make sure that we are living
according to God’s will.  This has nothing to do with watching
world news, as some have taught.  The context is clear on that
matter.  Verses 34-35 make that point without question.  
Verse 36 continues that we are to pray always, not necessarily
asking to escape what is coming on the world, but because
prayer will keep us close to God and help us <watch> the
conduct of our lives.  The thrust of the escape phrase is that
God will find one <worthy> and afford him a haven from the
insanity of the world, during the final hours of human misrule
on the earth.  This does not prove that everyone worthy will
escape!  Verse 16 makes this clear.  Some will die because of
betrayal!  However, many will escape or the Messiah would
have never made the statement – giving hope of escape from
satanic powers.

The point we want to make here is that we should not be
consumed with being taken or going to a place of safety,
however, we should understand that it is a real possibility.  We
should not seek to save our life, but to lose it.  Moreover, one
should not understand even this statement as absolute in all
perspectives!  The perspective is that we must obey God
rather than man.  If we are willing to compromise with God’s
laws, and do what man wants when it is in direct opposition to
God’s will in order to save our life, we will lose it!  The thrust
is about eternal life.  There is nothing wrong with preparing
for difficult times ahead.  In fact, the Proverbs tell us that the
wise will do just that.  The prudent man sees evil ahead and
hides, but the simple passes on and punishment is his lot.  
Nevertheless, we should not do anything wrong to save
ourselves.  Furthermore, the stronger one’s urge to live, the
more likely he will do something wrong to survive.

Lu 17:33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and
whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

Pr 22:3  A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the
simple pass on, and are punished.

Lu 21:16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and
kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to
death.

Lu 21:29  And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all
the trees;
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that
summer is now nigh at hand.
31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that
the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all
be fulfilled.
33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass
away.
34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be
overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life,
and so that day come upon you unawares.
35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of
the whole earth.  Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be
accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass,
and to stand before the Son of man.

In the Mark account of this same prophecy, The Messiah
pinpoints the abomination of desolation as the time for those
in Judea to flee to the mountains.  There are different
perspectives on this issue as well.  Was The Messiah referring
to the Jews in Jerusalem or was He referring to His
followers?  He could have even been referring to both!  The
point is that if you are in Judea at the time of the abomination
of desolation, flee to the mountains.

Mark 24:14  But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation,
spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him
that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the
mountains:

Matthew’s account also includes the same information as
Mark 24:14.  It would be good to read all three of these
accounts.  Each writer adds some information to the
prophecy.  Matthew chapter 25 shows that the marriage
supper of the Lamb will come soon after the tribulations of
those days.  This shows the general period of the prophecy.

Another verse that tells us directly to pray that God will
deliver us from sore trial is in Matthew 6:13.  In the prayer
outline, the Messiah clearly tells us to pray that God will
deliver us from sore trial.  The tribulations of the last days are
definitely sore trial and this prayer request would cover the
most agonizing of all sore trials!  The statement <deliver us
from evil> probably is more at <deliver us from the evil one>
who brings sore trial upon us.  The tribulation of the last days
is sore trial of the evil one.  We certainly can ask God to
deliver us from that time just ahead.  If God did not intend to
honor this request in many cases, why would He have
admonished us to ask?  The word <temptation> means trial.  
Adam Clark says that the thrust of the word is <sore trial>.

Mt 6:13 And lead us not into temptation (sore trial), but deliver us
from (the) evil (one): For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the
glory, for ever.  Amen.

Now let us look at the Scriptures of Revelation on this
subject.  The context of the following section is to the church
in Philadelphia.  Nevertheless, we understand that John is not
indicating the church in Philadelphia during his lifetime
because the trial to come upon the whole world did not take
place at that time!  This is speaking of the crisis at the close
when Satan will be desperate to destroy all of God’s people.

In Luke, the Messiah said to watch and pray so that God
would find one <worthy to escape all these things>.  The
“Philadelphians” are told that they will be <kept> or
preserved from temptation because they followed the
instruction of The Messiah in Luke 21:36 and now they have
been found worthy and will be protected.  The thrust of the
occasion is the end time.  The word <temptation> again means
sore trial.  This is the same word used in the prayer outline in
Matthew 6:13.

Rev 3:7  And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These
things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of
David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man
openeth;
8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and
no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my
word, and hast not denied my name.
9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they
are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come
and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep
thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world,
to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Nevertheless, God will not protect another group of people –
and they are part of the Church of God!  In the Scriptures,
this group comes after the Philadelphian group so the
indication is that they have arisen after them.  However, these
two groups will live along side each other in the last days just
a few years ahead.  God will not protect this group of people
from the tribulations of the last days.  Those in this group will
have to prove their loyalty to God by giving their lives.  Their
problem is that they did not have a desire to do what The
Messiah admonished in Luke 21:36.  They are lukewarm.  
They think that the observance of world news is following the
admonition of the Messiah to watch!  They have their eyes on
what they can get from the world.  God’s ways are not
foremost in their minds!  God counsels them to buy gold tried
in the fire.  This figure indicates that God’s way, His law, is
pure gold.  The only way they will be able to buy that gold, for
their own lives, is to go through sore trial – even the trial of
fire.  This seems to be a reference to the tribulations of the
last days.

Ps 19:7  The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the
testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the
commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of
the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold:
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Rev 3:14  And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write;
These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the
beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou
wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will
spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have
need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and
miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest
be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the
shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with
eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and
repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice,
and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and
he with me.

The Scriptures we have examined thus far do not tell us that
there is some special place for this protection.  They just say
that God’s protection is available for some.  As other verses
show, some will have to die in order to be a witness or because
of betrayal.  Others will have to die to prove their loyalty to
God’s way.  Their lives in the past have shown that they are
not sure about this matter.  

John tells us in Re 12:1-17 that there is a place prepared for
those who meet the test of Luke 21:36, unless they are
martyrs for God as a witness or because of betrayal.  The
timing of this prophecy is simple – verse 10 says that salvation
has come.  In other words, the time for eternal life has come.  
Moreover, other phrases show that this is the time of the end.  
In fact, the entire book of Revelation is about the end time.

The reason God will spare these people is because they loved
not their lives unto the death, and they overcame Satan by the
blood of the Lamb.  In other words, they worked out their
salvation with God’s justification and their watching and
correcting the conduct of their lives and praying always to
that end.  They put on the whole armor of God.

Rev 12:1  And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman
clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head
a crown of twelve stars:
2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be
delivered.
3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great
red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon
his heads.
4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast
them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was
ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with
a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place
prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two
hundred and threescore days.
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against
the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil,
and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the
earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation,
and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his
Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused
them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word
of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

This prophecy indicates that God will carry the woman
(church) into the wilderness, which John records is <her
place>.  This is speaking of a specific place.  One factor we
should not overlook is that God <carried> them into the
wilderness.  This indicates that God will take them to this
place by a miracle.  Even the amount of time that they will be
there is given!  Three and one half years is the duration of
their stay.  Satan tries to destroy them but God performs a
miracle and rescues them.  However, notice something we
tend to overlook.  Satan was very angry and went to make
war with the rest of the church, who keep the commandments
of God!  

Rev 12:12  Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.  
Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!  For the devil is
come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he
hath but a short time.
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he
persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she
might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished
for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the
woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth,
and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war
with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God,
and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, as we have shown, there are two different groups.  
God takes one group to her place and He keeps her there for
3.5 years while Satan wars upon the other group.  The
Philadelphians and the Laodiceans of Revelation 3 are
symbolic of these two groups.

There are at least 3 categories of Church of God people in the
last days.  #1) Those who die as martyrs, not because of their
lack of watching and praying but because they are involved in
preaching the gospel much as Paul, Peter, James and others of
the New Testament apostles.  This category would also
include people caught by time and chance in the early part of
the tribulations before it is time for God to remove the
Church to its place.  Even today, God’s people suffer death
for righteousness sake.  As the Psalmist says, “…we are killed
all the day long and counted as sheep for the slaughter”.  #2)
Those who do not watch and pray always and must prove their
loyalty to God.  #3) Those who watch and pray and are
protected in a specific place for 3.5 years.

Ps 44:22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are
counted as sheep for the slaughter.

God keeps a book of remembrance of those who feared the
Eternal and think about Him.  These are the ones who watch
the conduct of their lives and pray always as admonished in
Luke 21:36.  Verse 17 says that God is going to spare them as
a man spares his own son that serves him.

Mal 3:16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another:
and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance
was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that
thought upon his name.
17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I
make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own
son that serveth him.
18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the
wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

Now that we have seen some different perspectives, lets take
stock.  We have seen two divisions of the righteous – those
who will die for righteousness sake, and those whom God will
spare.  Then there is the lukewarm group  - an unknown
quantity to God – they must purchase gold tried in the fire.  
They will have to go through sore trial in order to prove their
loyalty to God, for they cannot purchase the gift of God with
money.

Acts 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee,
because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with
money.

This means that those who are righteous cannot know if God
is going to spare them or if He will require them to give their
lives for righteousness sake.  This keeps us from becoming
obsessed about “going” to a place of safety.  None of us
knows if God will allow one to die for Him, as did many of the
apostles of the New Testament era, or if one will be spared.  
The important thing is that God finds us <worthy> to escape
all these things, if it is His will – and if we live up to that time.  
This should also neutralize the anger of anyone who feels that
those believing in a place of safety are elitists.  We only
believe in the doctrine of a place of safety for some.  We do
not know if we will be in that group because that group is for a
specific time.  We do not know if we will be living at that
time.  Those few will be spared the horrors of Satan’s
tribulation because God found them worthy, not just because
they <thought> they were worthy.

However, this brings up another question.  If God wills to
spare us, what, if anything, are we suppose to do in order to
help bring it about?  God told those in Judea to flee into the
mountains.  However, if one is not in Judea what is he
supposed to do?  

We offer the following as speculation.  The possibility of
getting to the area of Judea for those who are righteous is
impossible on one’s own.  In addition, it would be a
presumption that God did not have other things for us to do.  
As we are dealing with prophecy, we cannot predict what will
happen unless the Bible spells it out.  Moreover, as our names
are not in the Bible, that leaves somewhat a mystery about
what will happen to us as individuals.  However, take the
following as another possible perspective of the issue.

To begin with, let us pose the question, “Why was Elijah
taken in a whirlwind from one place on the earth to another?”  
Moreover, Why did The Messiah refer to John the Baptist as
the prophesied Elijah?  Why was John the Baptist beheaded?  
In other words, why were there <two> “Elijahs” and
furthermore, why did their lives have two different outcomes?

God took the first Elijah to another place on the earth –
miraculously!

2Ki 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that,
behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted
them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot
of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.  And he saw him no more: and he
took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

The Messiah said that John the Baptist was the Elijah to come.

Mat 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall
first come, and restore all things.
12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him
not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.  Likewise shall
also the Son of man suffer of them.
13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the
Baptist.

Herod beheaded the second “Elijah”.

Mt 14:6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias
danced before them, and pleased Herod.
7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she
would ask.
8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here
John Baptist's head in a charger.
9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them
which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel:
and she brought it to her mother.

John the Baptist seems to have lost faith that Yehoshua
(Joshua) was the Messiah to come.  He sent his disciples to
ask, “Are you He that should come or do we look for
another?”  The Messiah sent this message back to John, Tell
John what you have seen and heard.  And blessed is he, who
shall not be offended in me.  Whether this happened to John
as a specific witness to the Laodicean group we do not know,
but it seems possible.  In any case, Herod beheaded John and
this is the fate of those, in the last days, who do not watch the
conduct of their lives.

Lu 7:19  And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to
Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come?  or look we for another?
20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath
sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come?  Or look we
for another?
21 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and
plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave
sight.
22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John
what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame
walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the
poor the gospel is preached.
23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

God miraculously removed the first Elijah from one area of
the earth to another to save his life.  God allowed Herod to
imprison and behead the second Elijah – the fate of the
Laodiceans.

Could it be that the two Elijahs type the two parts of the end
time Church of God?  God will take one part of the church to
a place of safety miraculously and God will allow the beast
power to imprison and behead the other part of the church.

Laodicea and Philadelphia picture the two end time parts of
the church, showing what is to happen to each.  These two
parts of the church mirror the outcome of the two Elijahs.

The following passage indicates the removal of the elect, from
their places of work.  This is a miraculous accomplishment.  
The scripture does not say that they are to flee of their own
power, but some exterior power takes them away.  A
miraculous removal of the elect during the time of the end
seems to be the indication.  Elijah seems to be a type of this
removal.  Sometime after this happens, another segment of
the church goes into captivity and the beast power beheads
them – John the Baptist (the second Elijah) seems to type
them.

Mat 24:38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were
eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day
that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall
also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken (accepted),
and the other left (rejected).
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken
(accepted), and the other left (rejected).

The Messiah gave two perspectives for the end time believer.  
The righteous taken into an ark of safety, as was Noah and
the unrighteous swept away with the flood of destruction that
follows.  

The second perspective is that of acceptance and rejection.  
God will accept the righteous for their protection, as Noah
and the ark; and He will reject the unrighteous to suffer the
consequences of the flood of Satan’s wrath, as those in Noah’s
time suffered the flood of waters.

The time that God accepts the righteous, in the above
Scripture, is not the very day of the Messiah’s return – these
scriptures do not require that understanding.  It could be the
beginning of the last 3.5 years.  God will decide those to
accept and those to reject.  This takes the human element out
of the equation except for our own relationship with God,
from now until then.

If this is not the significance of Elijah’s whirlwind experience,
what is it?  Why did God take Elijah in a whirlwind?  Why did
he not just walk away and go into another part of the world.  
Why was it important to remove Elijah in a whirlwind?  Why
was it important to have a second Elijah?  Why did God not
spare this second Elijah?  God inspired these events.  God can
tell the end from the beginning.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is]
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness:

Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I [am] God, and
[there is] none else; [I am] God, and [there is] none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times [the
things] that are not [yet] done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I
will do all my pleasure:

The can be no doubt that there are two different categories of
people in the Church in the last days.  No wonder we have two
different perspectives about the place of safety!

Another aspect of the argument is that God will protect us
wherever we live, in the mountains, etc.  Forget that!  The
mountains of this country are no haven for anyone.  They are
full of forest rangers and if people started hiding out in the
mountains the FBI, and other federal agents, would be
swarming in no time.  Furthermore, there is the problem of
finding food to eat and water to drink.  Moreover, let us face
it; most of us could not climb a good size hill without having to
call in an ambulance with a cardiac massage team!  One might
say, “But God will have to produce miracles.”  True!  
Therefore, why does it have to be in the mountain at the back
of our home?

Isa 33:15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that
despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding
of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth
his eyes from seeing evil;
16 He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions
of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.

Isaiah tells us that those who watch the conduct of their lives
will dwell on high and his place of defense (refuge) will be the
munitions (stronghold) of rocks.  God insures him bread and
his water will not fail.  This seems to indicate that a place
known as a stronghold of rocks will be the refuge of those who
watch their lives as Luke 21:36 says.

The Psalmist says that God will hide one who is righteous in
the time of trouble and set him upon a rock.

Ps 27:5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in
the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a
rock.

There is no doubt that at a specific time in the future, God will
hide those who are considered worthy to escape (from His
perspective) for 3.5 years from the sore trial that is coming on
the earth.  If I am living at that time, I would definitely prefer
to be in that group than with those who are taken captive and
beheaded because they had not watched the conduct of their
lives in order that God might find them worthy to escape.

A great amount of speculation is possible, but as we are
dealing with prophecy, we can never be sure about every
detail.  Perhaps I have shown enough to answer some of the
questions this subject brings up.

The End

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