Earth’s Final Exam
[Jesus says,] “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” —Revelation 3:10, NASB
In your life, you have probably had at least one academic test. You might have thought that your performance on this test was pretty important. However, there is another test in which your very soul is at stake. This test, which will come upon the whole earth, will determine who has faith in God and who does not. You might say, “How can I take this test when I have not learned anything about God?” I would reply that if you have ever chosen love or forgiveness, you have chosen God, for God is love (. . . everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. —1 John 4:7-8, NASB) and forgiveness is a part of love. Furthermore, God will not grade you on what you have not learned but on what you have personally experienced. (From everyone who has been given much, much will be required . . . —Luke 12:48, NASB) If you have done well on all of your quizzes, that is, if you have continually been faithful to God and his command to love, then you might not have to take the final exam:
[Jesus says,] “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing,” —Revelation 3:10, NASB.
What does it mean to be kept from the “hour of testing”? It means that some people will leave the earth and not have to go through the tribulation, the time of distress and testing on the earth at the end of the current age:
[Jesus says,] “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.” —Matthew 24:40-41 NASB
In the book of Isaiah it is written:
The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil . . . —Isaiah 57:1, NASB
Not everyone who is faithful to God will be removed from the earth before the time of testing. God has chosen some faithful people to survive the time of testing and to be his people.
“It will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD,
“That two parts in it will be cut off and perish;
But the third will be left in it.
And I will bring the third part through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’” —Zechariah 13:8-9, NASB
The three parts mentioned above are these: the faithful who don’t survive the tribulation physically, the unfaithful who don’t survive the tribulation physically, and the faithful who do survive the tribulation physically. The people who survive the testing are called the elect, the chosen, or the remnant. They have been chosen by God to begin a new age on the earth. They are not perfect (they will have to be refined during the tribulation) but they will live by faith in God:
“Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith.” —Habakkuk 2:4, NASB
After the time of tribulation or testing, the earth will be renewed, and an age of peace and joy will begin:
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create . . .” —Isaiah 65:17-18, NASB
What is the purpose of this “final exam”? The purpose is to separate those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6, NASB) from those who “are intent on doing evil” (Isaiah 29:20, NASB).
Those who have treated others with love, respect, and forgiveness will eventually reap the good rewards of their actions. Those who try to destroy others will be destroyed by the results of their own actions:
“For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head.” —Obadiah 1:15, NASB
It is not for the faithful to destroy the unfaithful—in that case there would be no difference between the two groups. The unfaithful will destroy themselves by their own actions and their blood will be on their own hands. They will be overwhelmed by the results of their own guilt.
“Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” —Matthew 23:34-35, NASB
It is not the strong who will survive but the meek or gentle:
The strong man will become tinder,
His work also a spark.
Thus they shall both burn together
And there will be none to quench them. —Isaiah 1:31, NASB
[Jesus says,] “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” —Matthew 5:5, NASB
In conclusion, everyone will relinquish or give up his life by the end of this age. However, only some of those who give up their lives voluntarily will be saved.
[Jesus says,] “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” —John 15:13, NASB
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” —Matthew 16:24-26, NASB
[Jesus says,] “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” —Revelation 2:10, NASB