1. How happy are the little flock,
Who, safe beneath their guardian Rock,
    In all commotions rest;
When war’s and tumult’s waves run high,
Unmov’d above the storm they lie,
Unmov’d above the storm they lie,
    And lodge in Jesus’ breast.

2. Such happiness, O Lord, have we,
By mercy gather’d into Thee,
    Before the floods descend;
And while the bursting cloud comes down
We mark the vengeful day begun,
We mark the vengeful day begun
    And calmly wait the end.

3. The plague, and dearth, and din of war,
Our Saviour’s swift approach declare,
    And bid our hearts arise;
Earth’s basis shook, confirms our hope;
Its cities’ fall, but lifts us up
Its cities’ fall, but lifts us up
    To meet Thee in the skies.

4. Thy tokens we with joy confess;
The war proclaims Thee Prince of Peace;
    The earthquake speaks Thy pow’r;
The famine all Thy fullness brings;
The plague presents Thy healing wings,
The plague presents Thy healing wings,
    And nature’s final hour.

5. Whatever ills the world befall,
A pledge of endless good we call,
    A sign of Jesus near.
His chariot will not long delay;
We hear the rumbling wheels, and pray,
We hear the rumbling wheels, and pray,
    “Triumphant Lord, appear!”

6. Appear with clouds on Zion’s hill,
Thy word and myst’ry to fulfill,
    Thy children to approve;
Thy members on Thy throne to place,
And stamp Thy name on ev’ry face,
And stamp Thy name on ev’ry face,
    In glorious, heav’nly love.


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The lyrics for this apocalyptic song were written by Charles Wesley. He clearly understood that the church would go through a great time of trouble just before the return of Jesus Christ, and so presented those thoughts in these verses. Isaac Watts expressed a similar interpretation of prophecy in his poetic rendition of Psalm 91.

These men of God understood the truth that:

Romans 5
3 …we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience.

and

Acts 14
22 …that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Or, as Jesus expressed it,

John 17
15 I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil.

It was only in recent times that a new view of prophecy was introduced among professed Christians: namely that Christians would be “raptured” off the earth before the time of trouble. This interpretation is based on an incorrect understanding of the gospel: the idea that since Jesus suffered for us, we should not have to suffer. But this theology is not new, it was clearly expressed by Peter, when after Christ explained how He must suffer and die, Peter exclaimed:

Matthew 16
22 …Be it far from you, Lord: this shall not be unto you.

This is the theology of the flesh. It doesn’t want to suffer and die, but would rather find another way to heaven. But the only way to heaven is the way Jesus consecrated for us, by His life of prayer, obedience, self-denial, and suffering:

John 16
33 In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

It is through suffering that the character of God is most clearly revealed in His saints. Only then is it fully proved that they serve God because they love His ways and trust His providence. This is why the cross of Jesus Christ was such an effective weapon to bring down Satan’s kingdom. It showed that the love of God was stronger than any other power in the universe.

If Christians serve their Lord when circumstances are pleasant, this is no clear proof of their love, for even a heathen man is happy when circumstances are in his favor. The children of Israel were happy to follow God in the wilderness, and seemed quite full of faith and obedience, until the water and food supply threatened to run out. Then their lack of faith and trust were revealed.

It was through lack of faith and trust in God that man fell into sin. The gospel promises to bring us out of this fall, back into full trust and faith again. But this must be tested, and severe tribulations are a high honor that God reserves for those saints that He trusts to remain faithful under pressure. Job was such a man. We may be also, but only if we let the little daily tests prove and try us, and purify us from all doubt and unbelief.

The danger of false prophecy is that it causes us not to prepare for this time of tribulation, and therefore we will be caught unready, and unprepared. Let us not be deceived then by smooth speeches that flatter our flesh. Christians who live through these last days will suffer. It is an opportunity to reveal the hidden power of grace that reigns in their hearts:

Philippians 1
29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.

Revelation 7
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14 And I said unto him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

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