Terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon being always in our thinking, it is perhaps appropriate to reflect upon where this generation might stand while the prophesied apocalyptic storm approaches.
My colleagues and I often discuss these days the apparent lull in birth pang-like contractions the world seems to be in at this time. Other than the tsunami of December 2004, the catastrophic hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, and the current ISIS rampages across the Middle East, major convulsions that might be harbingers of the tribulation have seemed minimally significant. But, upon closer examination, is the supposed lull really a lull?
Scripture verses like the following come to mind, when thinking on end-time activity prophesied, with regard to the “time of sorrows” spoken of by the Lord: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Lk. 21:25).
Jesus said world conditions just before His return will be like a woman in travail with child. Geopolitical, geophysical and societal/cultural matters will be in a state of wave-like flare-ups. Yet there seems a dichotomy in His Mount of Olives discourse prophecies. Jesus’ words indicate that the time of His coming will be preceded by, at the same time, a worldwide perception that lulls earth’s inhabitants into a sense of things being as usual. Here is what He said in a couple of prophetic passages: “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:44). “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Lk. 17:26-30).
Perhaps a bit earlier–in the late 20th century— we were left to wonder why this dichotomy. Why Jesus foretold a time of tremendously increased troubles for the world –that come in birth pang-like fashion—and yet at the same time gave a picture of a day when no one will really see the birth pangs, except those who are truly watching for end-time things that are occurring. How can it be that these painful contractions are going on, while they are, for the most part, not noticed, just before Christ intervenes with catastrophic results?
The answer is, I think, that the contractions are so frequent now that the world has by and large become desensitized to what is happening. The quaking earth, the raging seas–both literally and figuratively (the seas of humanity), the signals of societal collapse, and all the rest assaulting our brains day and night through reports from the ever-present news media simply overload the senses. Thus there is at the same time the birth pang-like convulsions and the ho-hum attitude –even among God’s people—that things are the same as always. So, the perceived lull is really no lull at all. We reflect on what’s really going on at present.
- The world’s economy is as near collapse as the next financial default of any number of nations.
- The highest court in America has over-ruled God in the matter of His making marriage between a man and a woman, forcing upon the American people what God’s Word calls Abomination.
- America’s president embraces the tyrants of the world yet flagrantly demonstrates his dislike for Israel, threatening to pull America away from close alliance with the Jewish state.
Yet the world wags on, with America – in spite of rumors of serious economic and social ills that could disrupt not only the U.S., but the world’s economy, continuing to carry on business as usual.
We can definitely begin to understand the two conditions co-existing that seem in such diametric opposition one to the other. We begin to comprehend the paradox —both the great upheaval, and the sense of business as usual.
Obviously Jesus Christ, who is God, foresaw this incrementalism that will dull the perception of most alive on Planet Earth just before He intervenes catastrophically into the affairs of mankind in the end of days. He knew all about the lull that will in actuality not be a lull at all, but a situation not unlike the proverbial frog who does not realize it is being boiled alive because it can’t perceive its precarious, even lethal, circumstance.
That is why Jesus instructed those who are called by His holy name: “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” (Mk. 13:37).
The following article is one I wrote upon the death of Dr. James D. Kennedy. Considering our nation’s precarious situation at present, it is good to reflect.
The former Kennedy to which I refer was a charismatic politician, who, as president of the United States, dealt with the issues of war and peace on a global scale. The latter, president of Coral Ridge Ministries and pastor of a 10,000-member Presbyterian church, dealt in matters of spiritual war and peace.
President Kennedy died a sudden, violent death from an assassin’s bullets on a street in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Kennedy died in his bed while he slept at home, recuperating from a severe heart attack several months previous.
We are all familiar with the massive amount of air time and print space that continues to be given to John F. Kennedy’s life and death. His legacy is as much legend as historical fact, with speculations about the assassination and what might have been, had he lived to complete his term(s).
Two men named Kennedy, now having passed into history, left their marks on our time: John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, and James D. Kennedy, this past Wednesday, September 5, 2007. James D. Kennedy filled the airwaves and even the pages of newspapers, his activities often crossing from spiritual to political matters. His involvements in the moral issues that are part of the politics of the day received few accolades from news media. Most often his taking issue with anything detrimental to family values, from the Judeo-Christian perspective, met with opinion pieces of a scathing nature not unlike those opinions of opposition thrown as barbs from the liberal-leaning journalists of America.
The private conduct of these men, according to what is known about them, diverges greatly from each other, from the standpoint of morality –the issues that surround traditional family values in America. But, if the journalists rewriting history toward the objective of shaping legacy is accepted when all is said and done, each man’s own biography will cross at some point in the matter of morality.
Here’s what I mean.
John F. Kennedy has a space center, airports, many streets, schools, a ship, and who knows what else named after him, and didn’t even really begin to get to start the work his glowing inaugural address proclaimed–saying finally, “ …Knowing this first, that here on earth, God’s work must truly be our own.” With the exception of being at the American helm of state during the Cuban missile crisis of October, 1962, he did little of substance to carry on what the politicos consider “God’s work.”
Following his death, the journalists who make their livings dredging up muck, if it can be made to translate into book sales or commercially funded documentaries and other remunerative works or popularity creation, presented the president’s many dalliances with “ladies” other than his wife. But, after the mud settled to the bottom, JFK’s reputation for doing “God’s work” –according to the politicos’ definition of the term—again sparkles pristinely, because of the constant revisionist scrubbing given the assassinated president’s Camelot legacy. He now again seems among the most moral of men, because he was–according to the history-fictioneers— progenitor of the modern Democrat Party, who champions the poor and downtrodden through government action. As a matter of fact, his influence in death was so powerful in this area that Lyndon B. Johnson, who succeeded him, was able to get taxes raised for the government to spend, to this point, literally trillions of dollars on the great society, then the ongoing war on poverty –which is still with us today.
Dr. James D. Kennedy, from the news pundits’ perspectives, constantly preached morality, exhorting, urging, even chiding government legislative leaders and the executive branch to “impose” Judeo-Christian principles upon all freedom-loving Americans. This Kennedy preached that here on earth God’s work must truly be his and other Christians’ own work. He then proceeded to actually carry out that work, not simply pontificate upon how it should be accomplished, as liberal government and media types do, and advocate doing in throwing taxpayers’ money at causes that require other than simply massive funding of socio-political programs. For this activist Christian leadership, he was, like the late Jerry Falwell, despised by the journalistic powers that be.
James Kennedy lobbied from his TV pulpit and other venues to try to bring this nation back to the true principles of the founding fathers, principles steeped in instructions provided within God’s love letter to mankind, the Holy Bible. Dr. Kennedy didn’t propose to “impose” his morality on the citizens of this nation, as charged by his, Jerry Falwell’s, and others’ sometimes virulent opposition. He went into great detail, and often, to instruct from early history books about how a people can be blessed of God, only if they adhere to godly principles for societal and cultural deportment. He showed plainly how this was not and is not the melding of church and state, in the sense of the state establishing a single religious entity to rule over citizenry. He proved constantly and consistently that Jefferson’s words in an obscure letter didn’t mean that Jefferson meant there should exist a separation of church and state as claimed by those who demand that God be kept out of America’s public life. Rather, the nation’s third president meant simply that there should be no one religion sanctioned by the state. For Jefferson and most all of the founding fathers, their belief was almost unanimous. America must not be free from religion, but must be free for all to worship as they please, free from fear of intimidation from the state.
But, if the media pundits opposed to biblical morality (that plainly endorsed by the founding fathers) succeed in continuing down the present path of vilifying men like the late Dr. Kennedy, it is the phony legacy of legend that will sit as the “shining city on the hill,” as Ronald Reagan put his view of and vision for America. It will be the fictitious “Camelot,” not “one nation under God,” that will be the ever-dimming beacon of freedom for the world to see and emulate.
I have a certain respect and admiration for John F. Kennedy’s presidency. He was in the presidential saddle when death in the form of nuclear Armageddon came riding across the Atlantic from the Soviet Union. Even though it was God’s staying hand that preserved this nation and the world during that nail-biting time, I must give Mr. Kennedy respect, because God, the Bible tells us, sets up rulers and brings them down. Both happened, in JFK’s case.
I disagreed very much with Dr. James D. Kennedy on matters of eschatology. His belief that the church had replaced Israel in God’s prophetic promises yet future, were, and are, totally flawed. His denial in matters revolving around the pre-trib rapture of the church flowed out of the Reform beliefs in God’s reneging on His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He failed to see God’s two programs—for Israel and for the Church. He knows better now.
Dr. Kennedy’s faithfulness to the Word of God in most all areas of Scripture, however, was a powerful tool in his Lord’s omnipotent hands. His absolute adherence to the gospel message –that Jesus is the only way to God the Father and heaven—was always presented clearly, eloquently, and wonderfully from his pulpit in Ft. Lauderdale. Dr. James D. Kennedy’s legacy, though trampled upon by those who oppose God’s truth here on earth, is a legacy that will live for all eternity throughout God’s kingdom –the only kingdom that matters in the final analysis.
Years ago, before I finally received assistance with my email, every time I opened my email Outlook Express brought to my attention the same sort of salacious e-mail prompts. Being blind now due to a retinal disease since 1993, I must endure the laborious process of listening to my JAWS (Jobs Accessible Word System) computer-synthesized voice program read to me the cesspool verbiage.
I learned to quickly hit the delete key, thus ridding my senses and my “In Box” of the invitations to wallow in the sewage that floats within cyberspace. I guess I should be thankful I can’t see the graphic depictions that lure so many into those depths of depravity. And, deep they are. These allurements to enhance one’s sexual prowess are often disguised as medical assistance for genuine physical problems. The intention of the father of lies, however, is to use even the “legitimate” sexual assistance drugs to drag all who take the lures into the swamp of debauchery. He seems to be succeeding in that regard. One researcher analyzed the burgeoning sexual addictions in cyberspace:
“The internet is now a contributing factor to nearly one-half of all marital or family problems. In some cases, relationships are breaking down when a man or woman develops a relationship in cyber society. High levels of Internet use can produce social isolation, loss of real intimacy and depression. Men, women and families are going into counseling for relationship problems that are partly or entirely caused by compulsive internet use or virtual addictions.
Women are filing for divorce claiming that their husbands are having sex on-line or looking at ‘pornography’ for hours every day. Kids stay up all night. Parents stop relating and spend less time raising their children… Many people go on-line to find information. But unfortunately the most perverse human and even human-animal sexual interactions are available on-line. The biggest ‘rushes’ for the severe addicts come from violent sexual cruelties that are available on-line. People tell themselves that they can just click and look for a second, but they don’t realize that the trauma and stimulating effects are addictive. The most addictive content is the most shocking that changes your mood quickly. A quick look at graphic violence is a ‘rush’ even if you find it offensive. Normal people can become addicted to disgusting content not because they approve but because it changes and excites their mood. People become excited and disgusted at the same time…” (“Internet Addiction, Cyber Sex, Internet Sex and Virtual Addiction,” by Michael Conner, Psy.D).
I’m certain that most everyone reading this face the same type prurient e-mail prompts as I used to face every time you open your e-mail programs. Even the most fervent Christian is susceptible to the allurements of the world, the flesh and the devil. Jesus prophesied an end-time generation that would be like in the days of Noah and of Lot: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 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, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:37-39).
The relevant sin that links this generation to that of Noah’s day, as prophesied by the Lord, is: “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5).
The internet is an excellent tool for use in God’s service; it is invaluable in my work in my writing, etc., to be sure. But, its use as the devil’s tool in feeding garbage to the minds of an increasingly perverse generation already full of wickedness, whose imagination of the thoughts of their hearts are only on evil continually, cannot be denied.
While this present dispensation of God’s grace culminates, and we consider what is coming upon a wicked and rebellious world of earth dwellers, those who name the name of Christ are instructed from God’s prophetic Word: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Pet. 3:11-12).
Prayer, Bible study and working to carry out Christ’s great commission is the combined preventative and antidote for imagination of the heart that is only on evil continually. Let us keep our thoughts on a higher plain, while we watch for Christ’s calling us to be with Him.
One of the most false and cutting accusations launched at the belief that the Bible teaches that a person cannot lose his or her salvation when truly born again (John 3:3) is: “If you believe once saved, always saved, you are saying that people can live any way they want without fear of punishment.” Or so the line of condemning criticism goes.
The absolute assurance of eternal security, of course, engenders no such thought within the mind truly regenerated by the saving power of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that the Lord convicts His children in their spirits, and that habitual, unrepented-of sin will result in severe penalties—even physical death, in some cases. The Heavenly Father’s patience is longsuffering, but it is not infinite.
A person who is a child of God cannot sin without severe repercussions, if repentance isn’t forthcoming. But, that person will never be kicked out of God’s family. Never.
A kindred sort of accusation is thrown at those who believe in the Pre-Trib view of Bible prophecy. The Pre-Tribulation view, of course, is the one we believe God’s Word teaches. It is the view that Jesus Christ will call all who are born again to Himself before the Tribulation, which is the last seven years of history leading to the Second Advent (Rev. 19: 11).
The angry diatribe against the Pre-Trib Rapture view—by even genuine Christians, in many cases—usually goes something like this: “People like you, who believe that the Lord is going to rapture them before the Tribulation, think you can live however you want, because you think and teach falsely that you are going to be rescued before God’s judgment and wrath fall, no matter what.”
The non-Christian accusers who castigate those of us who hold the Pre-Trib rapture view have their own version. It goes something like: “Christians who believe like that don’t care anything about making the world better. You even hope for things to get worse and worse. You wish for earthquakes, famines, pestilence, war in the Middle East, and for Armageddon to hurry up and get here so you will go to your pie in the sky, and watch the rest of us get ours.”
Although the first criticism is absolutely not true, I have to admit that, regarding the second, too often I’ve sensed—even heard—such sentiments from some of those who believe in the Pre-Trib rapture. And, it is entirely the wrong attitude for the Christian to hold. There are no excuses for wanting the Christ-rejecting world of non-believers to be the recipients of God’s judgment and wrath. It is only by God’s unfathomable grace that every one of us isn’t headed into that time of unprecedented horror.
No matter how—to use Lot’s King James Version word—”vexed” we becomes by the debauched, debased actions of the lost world around us, our job as Christ’s children—His representatives here on earth—is of a completely different nature than wanting to see them “get what’s coming” to them. The changed nature produced by being born again into God’s eternal family should make you and me do just the opposite of wanting them, in our vexation, to get what we see as coming to them.
The Christian whose spirit is attuned to the Holy Spirit’s desire for the lost doesn’t want to see them “get what’s coming to them” either during the Tribulation or upon death. Rather, we want to do all within our power to keep them from having to go through the coming time of God’s judgment and wrath. That’s what Christ’s Great Commission to His disciples before He ascended to sit at the Father’s right hand is all about, you see. That is what God’s love—love that those who have Christ indwelling them possess—is all about. (Read Matthew 28:18-20.)
In the same vein, that’s what Bible prophecy is all about. Prophecy given in God’s Word has purpose—profound purpose. Bible prophecy has at its center the commission from the Lord to forewarn of God’s judgment and wrath to come upon all who oppose Him—the Lord of Heaven and Creator of all things. It is not the hatred of God for the lost people of this fallen planet that drives prophecy. It is the love of God that powers His prophetic Word. It must be the Christian’s desire, therefore, to study Bible prophecy and put forth those forewarnings out of a spirit of God’s love, not through an anger-filled abhorrence of those who are lost.
Christians who do study prophecy—and they seem to be few these days, I’m sad to have to say—are often heard wondering about when Christ will call the church (born-again believers) in the rapture. Everything seems so ripe for His plucking His people from this sin-darkened sphere.
Nothing and no one can change God’s timing for His next catastrophic intervention into earth’s history. It will happen exactly on time, as He has determined since before the foundation of this world. However, we might as believers look to ourselves for the Lord’s—often in our view—delay in calling us as outlined in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
The apostle Peter gave the heart of the reason Christ hasn’t raptured His church: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
The purpose of Bible prophecy is to show the love of God to a lost and otherwise doomed world. God is not willing that anyone should perish (die in his or her sins), but that all should come to repentance (accept Jesus Christ as the one and only sacrifice for sin that God will accept).
The Lord is “longsuffering.” The reason, I’m convinced, that the Lord seems so “slack” to many in His coming is because those same people have neglected their duty to share the love of God with the lost—the lost whom God loves so very much that He sent His only begotten Son in order that they not perish.
It is well past the time for God’s people to begin investing in getting the message of the love of God to those who will otherwise not hear the warning of deadly things soon to befall this Christ-rejecting planet. Considering these times that so dramatically are signaling the coming Tribulation, Bible prophecy can and must be used as a productive tool for evangelism.
We can see on the prophetic horizon a monstrous beast lumbering in this direction with a woman astride it. Dave Hunt, you might recall, wrote the provocative—even controversial—book on the subject by the title The Woman Rides a Beast. The woman, most literalists (including Hunt) believe, represents the apostate religious system that will be Antichrist’s mistress, as a counterfeit of the church, the bride of Jesus Christ.
The matters involved present a terrifying specter—a foreshadowing of bloody things to come, given John to record on the Isle of Patmos almost two thousand years ago.
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. (Rev. 17:3-6)
Historicists—those who believe that most prophecy, including this one, has been fulfilled historically–say this all took place during the Roman-based persecutions throughout early church history. The prophecy, they say, has nothing to do with things to come, except in the most general sense. Certainly, the prophecy has nothing specific to do with an end-times persecution leading to the most terrible time in human history. Such a view presents a torturous task for historicist adherents who try to explain the Revelation 17 prophecy of the wicked woman on the hideous beast .
And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Rev. 17:12-14)
This powerful ten-nation entity and the beast have no historical basis as accomplished fact. Any dealing with this part of the prophecy from the perspective of any but the futurist view—that there is much Bible prophecy yet to be literally fulfilled—requires spiritualizing, allegorizing, or else applying pure sophistry to everything to do with these Scriptures.
Contemporary headlines, as they do for so many prophecies yet future, make the case for the Revelation 17 prophecy coming into view in our time. It is literally shaping up for fulfillment before the eyes of those with prophetic discernment. We have written in these commentaries many times dissecting and examining news stories that show the governments of the world re-configuring into what George H. W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Barack Obama, and many others have termed “New World Order.” The dire global economic crises that have moved toward critical mass just within the past couple of years have shown the inextricable national fiscal inter-linkages. It has become obvious that the world is being forced into a monetary mold that could easily morph into something like the ten-kingdom power bloc God’s Word says will give its power and authority to the beast.
So, it is reasonable to expect the harlot who rides the beast—the agglomerate ten kings and kingdoms that comprise the beast of Revelation chapter 17—to be somewhere in the prophetic picture, if indeed we are witnessing that ten-kingdom monster in the making.
This brings home to my thinking how many of the mega-churches within Christianity today are contributing to setting up platforms that will produce the woman who will one day ride upon the back of the beast government of Revelation 17. More and more often there are “summits” on religious amalgamation—-get-togethers—during which there is compromise at the heart of these mega-efforts at man-made salvation.The methodologies employed by such churches include the idea to bring together the saved and unsaved in a sort of “summit.” The idea is one of thesis (Christian faith) and antithesis (the lost or unsaved), with the objective of producing synthesis. The “summits” in these cases aim to bring about dialogue between the two opposite world views to produce answers (synthesis) that both sides can live with.
The process is satanic at its core, denying that God’s way to redemption and reconciliation is necessary. Apostasy is the result—the Laodicean model for the end of the age.
Be sure that you are not a part of helping that woman of wickedness climb upon the back of the beast that will one day be scarlet with the blood of the Tribulation saints.