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Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE in Prophecy – By Bill Salus

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE in ProphecyBy Bill Salus “Saudi Arabia Opens Airspace to Israel” (NYT – 9/2/20)

“After UAE, Bahrain deals signed, Trump says 7-9 countries seek peace with Israel”

“Soon after historic Abraham Accords ceremony at the White House, US president includes Saudi Arabia among those nations also now ready to normalize ties with Jewish state.” (Times of Israel – 9/15/20)

            Saudi Arabia is back in the news again and that has some Bible prophecy pundits warning that a 2600-year old biblical prediction could be about to happen! In one of his most detailed apocalyptic writings, the prophet Ezekiel identifies the nation of Saudi Arabia in his 38th chapter.

This ancient prophecy informs of a forthcoming massive invasion of Israel in the last days. It identifies an invading coalition that appears to be led by Russia and includes Turkey, Iran and nine populations in total.

In addition to this intimidating list of invaders, Ezekiel identifies a group of nations that appear to be contesting the evil intentions of this coalition. The verse below explains the sinister motives of the invaders and identifies the concerned protesters.

Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you, (Russia), gathered your (coalition) army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?’” (Ezekiel 38:13, NKJV; emphasis added)

This passage identifies Saudi Arabia under the banner of Dedan. The Saudis are assembled alongside Sheba, (Yemen), Tarshish, (UK), and their Young Lions, (USA, and maybe Canada and Australia). This grouping of countries appear to be actively protesting, rather than militarily preventing this invasion of Israel.

The concerns of these sideline spectators are lodged in several questions, which help us to recognize that the primary goal of these invaders is to conquer Israel for their own capital gains. These belligerents intend to seize control over all aspects of Israel’s economy.

Due to the budding relationships between Russia, Turkey and Iran, several Bible prophecy teachers believe that Ezekiel 38 could be the next event to find fulfillment on the end times prophetic calendar. But is it?

Saudi Arabia is actually identified in at least four unfulfilled prophecies and when they are laid out sequentially, it turns out that Ezekiel 38:13 is seemingly the last of the four to find fulfillment. In addition to Ezekiel 38, Saudi Arabia, as Dedan, is the subject of biblical predictions in Jeremiah 49 and Ezekiel 25. Moreover, the Saudis appear to be represented as the Ishmaelites in the 3000-year old prophecy foretold in Psalm 83.         These prophecies will be presented in their apparent chronological order, but beforehand it is important to connect the ancient territory of Dedan and the Ishmaelite peoples of the past with modern-day Saudi Arabia.

Where is Dedan?

 Historic Mideast maps locate Dedan in Northwestern Saudi Arabia. Some Bible scholars, such as Gary Stearman of Prophecy Watchers,[i] suggest that in the Old Testament, Dedan might even extend beyond Saudi Arabia to also include the modern-day Gulf Cooperation Council, (GCC), countries of Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and the UAE. If Dedan represents the entirety of the GCC Arab states, this could be prophetically relevant in light of recent events.

Israel signs accords with United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at White House ceremony” (USA Today – 9/15/20)

Presently, the UAE and Bahrain are in the process of normalizing national relations with Israel as part of the “Peace to Prosperity” aspect of Donald Trump’s, “Deal of the Century” Mideast peace plan. This economic part of Trump’s plan was introduced by White House adviser Jared Kushner in Bahrain on June 25, 2019.

“In Bahrain, U.S. Tries to Promote Mideast Peace Through Prosperity” (NY Times – 6/25/19)

In the process of achieving peace with the UAE and Bahrain, which are two Arab nations that never posed a real threat to the Jewish state, Israel has agreed to temporarily postpone its plans to annex territory in the West Bank. The annexation of this land was part of the political aspect of Trump’s Mideast peace plan.

“UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan: “I thank Netanyahu for choosing to stop annexation of Palestinian land.”” (Times of Israel – 9/15/20)

It’s interesting to note that UAE’s Foreign Minister considers the territory in question “Palestinian land.” In the cosmic CHESS MATCH between good and evil, it appears that evil moved two PAWNS, the UAE and Bahrain, forward and successfully put Israel into CHECK when it comes to the “Chosen People” expanding further into the “Promised Land.” How this newly formed alignment between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain may have prophetic implications will be explored near the end of this article.

Whether or not Dedan includes all of the GCC countries, most biblical scholars would agree that at least it identifies Saudi Arabia.

Who are the Ishmaelites?

Some suggest that Ishmael, the patriarch of the Ishmaelites, was the father of the Arabs and that he settled in Arabia. Ancient Arabia is now often alluded to as the Arabian Peninsula, and it is mostly encompassed by Saudi Arabia. The map and quote below it, reinforces these understandings.

The Book of Genesis and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael to be the ancestor of the Ishmaelites/Arabians and patriarch of Qaydār. According to Muslim tradition, Ishmael the Patriarch and his mother Hagar are buried next to the Kaaba in Mecca… Ishmael is recognized as an important prophet and patriarch of Islam. Muslims believe that Ishmael was the firstborn of Abraham, born to him from his wife Sarah’s slave, Hagar. Ishmael is recognized by Muslims as the ancestor of several prominent Arab tribes and the forefather of Muhammad.”[ii]

The Four Unfulfilled Saudi Arabia Bible Prophecies

SAUDI PROPHECY #1

Flee, turn back, dwell in the depths, O inhabitants of Dedan! For I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, The time that I will punish him.” (Jeremiah 49:8)

This often-overlooked Jeremiah foretelling concerning Dedan was penned approximately two decades prior to Ezekiel’s issuance of his 38th chapter. Jeremiah issues a stern admonition to the inhabitants dwelling in Dedan to,  “Flee, turn back, dwell in the depths.” This forewarning is given because “the calamity of Esau” is coming.

Apparently, when this future prediction happens, the Saudis will have joined forces with Esau’s descendants, and in so doing, will become positioned in the line of fire. The Lord is going to punish Esau severely, and for Saudi Arabia’s own protection, Jeremiah warns them to flee and turn back to the depths of their homeland. This infers that at the time of Esau’s calamity, that Saudi armed forces are involved in a military operation that is taking place on foreign soil.

The fifty-million-dollar question is, “what is Esau’s Calamity?” This topic will be addressed further down in this article, but beforehand it’s important to note what Jeremiah says happens to Esau’s neighbors as a result of the calamity.

And he, (Esau), shall not be able to hide himself. His descendants, (the Edomites), are plundered, His brethren and his neighbors, And he is no more. (Jer. 49:9–10, NKJV; emphasis added)

Esau’s neighbors are plundered. This would include Saudi Arabia, if they don’t heed the warning to, “flee, turn back, dwell in the depths.” In other words, back off and go back home or else be plundered alongside of Esau’s descendants.

SAUDI PROPHECY #2

“‘Thus says the Lord God: “Because of what (the) Edom(ites) did against the house of Judah (Israelis) by taking vengeance, and has greatly offended by avenging itself on them,” therefore thus says the Lord God: “I will also stretch out My hand against Edom, cut off man and beast from it, and make it desolate from Teman; Dedan shall fall by the sword. I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel, that they may do in Edom according to My anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance,” says the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 25:12-14, NKJV; emphasis added)

About two decades after Jeremiah pens his warning for the Saudis to disengage from their alignment with Esau, Ezekiel prophesies that the Saudis will fail to do so. As such, “Dedan shall fall by the sword.” In the Bible, “the sword” is often used as a typology for a war. Thus, this identifies the Saudis as one of the neighbors that get plundered in the related war when Esau’s Calamity comes.

This Ezekiel passage also explains why Esau’s Calamity comes and how this calamitous campaign is carried out. The Edomite descendants of Esau will be guilty of attempting to bring harm against the Jews, and in retaliation, the Lord will empower the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to execute His anger, fury and vengeance.

This curse for curse in kind response comes directly out of the Genesis 12:3 playbook. This verse represents God’s foreign policy to the Gentile nations. Those countries that do good to Israel will be blessed, but those that do harm will be cursed. The Edomites seek to harm the Jews, so in turn, God lifts up the IDF to eliminate all of Esau’s descendants! Yes, I said ELIMINATE ESAU’S DESCENDANTS. The prophet Obadiah foretells it this way:

““The house of Jacob, (the IDF), shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph, (the IDF), a flame; But the house of Esau shall be stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor, (descendant), shall remain of the house of Esau,” For the Lord has spoken.” (Obadiah 1:18, NKJV; emphasis added)

Understanding the size and scope of Esau’s calamity, it’s understandable why Jeremiah previously warns the Saudis to back off and go back home before this war happens.

SAUDI PROPHECY #3 

They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You:  The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites;  Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;  Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah” (Psalm 83:4-8)

Saudi Arabia’s third unfulfilled prophecy is encapsulated in Psalm 83. I have covered Psalm 83 extensively in my book and associated DVD entitled, Psalm 83: The Missing Prophecy Revealed, How Israel Becomes the Next Mideast Superpower. In those prior works, I explain the connections between the three Saudi prophecies identified thus far.

ESAU’S CALAMITY

In my book I explain how Esau’s Calamity is described in Psalm 83 and the related peripheral prophecies provided below. This is not an exhaustive list; all told there are nearly 150 verses that chronicle this calamitous event. Within these passages we find out that the IDF is God’s tool to defend Israel when these prophecies happen.

  • Psalm 83:1-18………………………………….                (18 verses)
  • Jeremiah 49:1-29, 12:14-17………………….             (32 verses)
  • Ezekiel 25:12-17, 28:24-26, 35:1-36:7, 37:10       (32 verses)
  • Isaiah 17:1-14, 19:1-18, 11:14……………….              (35 verses)
  • Obadiah 1:1-21…………………………………                (21 verses)
  • Zephaniah 2:4-11………………………………               (8 verses)
  • Zechariah 12:2, 5-6……………………………              (3 verses)

So who are Esau’s descendants today? They are the “Tents of Edom” in Psalm 83:6. Esau fathered the Edomites as per Genesis 36:1. In my Psalm 83 book I point out that the Edomites have an ethnical representation within the Palestinians. Not all Palestinians have an Edomite heritage, but many of them do.

The fact that they are identified as the “Tents of Edom,” infers that at the time of Esau’s Calamity, they are classified as refugees. In the Bible the “tents of” typically represents either military encampments or refugee scenarios. I believe that the Psalm describes the Palestinian refugees of today.

These Edomites are enjoined in the ten-member confederacy of Psalm 83:6-8 that wants to destroy Israel in Psalm 83:5. Below is a map that identifies the modern-day equivalents of these ancient populations. Observe that Saudi Arabia is included.

 

SAUDI PROPHECY #4

This fourth Saudi prophecy takes us back to the top of the article and Ezekiel 38:13. If the sequence of prophetic events presented thus far is correct, then by this future time Saudi Arabia has been plundered severely with the Palestinian refugees and their Psalm 83:6-8 confederacy.

Apparently, after being plundered, the Saudis decide to align themselves with the protesters, rather than the invaders in Ezekiel 38. Perhaps at this future point, when there is no further Palestinian plight to banner, the Saudis will abandon their Arab (Saudi) Peace Initiative in favor of normalized relations with Israel.

The Prophetic Implications of Israel’s peace with Bahrain and the UAE

If the first two prophecies about Dedan extend beyond Saudi Arabia to also include Bahrain and the UAE, then this current peace will be temporary. Those two predictions point out that Dedan gets plundered at the time of Esau’s Calamity. The IDF wouldn’t plunder Bahrain or the UAE if these peace deals were still in place.

However, there is another possible prophetic scenario to watch for that might include Bahrain and the UAE. Jeremiah 49:34-39 informs of an end times war with Iran. I write about this war in my book entitled, “Nuclear Showdown in Iran, Revealing the Ancient Prophecy of Elam.”

In a nutshell, this prophecy declares that Iran will experience a disaster, probably nuclear, and it appears that this results from a military attack by the enemies of Iran. The key verse is below.

For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies And before those who seek their life. I will bring disaster upon them, My fierce anger,’ says the Lord; ‘And I will send the sword after them Until I have consumed them.’” (Jeremiah 49:37)

Unfortunately, this verse does not specify who Iran’s enemies are, but it’s highly likely that if this prophecy were to happen soon, that Iran’s enemies would at least include Israel, the USA, the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. It’s common knowledge that a primary reason that Bahrain and the UAE are normalizing relations with Israel is to gain America and Israel as allies in the event of a future war with Iran.

If a war with Iran is forthcoming in the near future, these current peace deals between Israel with the UAE and Bahrain, could make it easier for an American, Israel and GCC Arab coalition to form and fight against Iran in fulfillment of this prophecy.

[i] Visit Prophecy Watchers website at:  (www.prophecywatchers.com),

[ii] Ishmael quote taken from this web link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael#:~:text=Islam,-See%20also%3A%20Ishmael&text=Ishmael%20is%20recognized%20as%20an,and%20the%20forefather%20of%20Muhammad.

THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY – By Bill Pierce

INTRODUCTION

     PROPHECY is defined as: ‘A foretelling…a declaration of something to come. As God only knows future events with certainty, no being but God or some person informed by him [called a prophet], can utter a real prophecy. The prophecies recorded in Scripture, when fulfilled, afford most convincing evidence of the divine original of the Scriptures, as those who uttered the prophecies could not have foreknown the events predicted without supernatural instruction,’ (Noah Webster, 1828). In the last study—THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS, we learned that the entire Holy Bible testifies of Jesus Christ, and that according to the declaration of the angel in the scriptures, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Therefore when Jesus warned about changing “the words of the book of this prophecy” (Revelation 22:18-21) he could have been speaking of the entire Holy Bible, and not only the book of Revelation. There are many prophecies to be found in the entire volume of the scriptures—including both the “first testament” (Hebrews 9:15, 18) and the “new testament” (Hebrews 9:15).

‘More than a fourth of the Bible is predictive prophecy. Approximately one-third of it has yet to be fulfilled. Both the Old and New Testaments are full of promises about the return of Jesus Christ. Over 1,800 references appear in the Old Testament, and seventeen Old Testament books give prominence to this theme. Of the 260 chapters in the New Testament, there are more than 300 references to the Lord’s return—one out of every thirty verses. Twenty-three of the twenty-seven New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy on the first coming of Christ, there are eight on Christ’s second coming’—Your Future, George Sweeting.

The website—https://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/353prophecies.html, lists 356 old testament prophecies about the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ which were all fulfilled. See also http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/m_prophecies.shtml.

GOD KNOWS ALL THINGS!

SCRIPTURE: ‘Appropriately, and by way of distinction, the books of the Old and New Testament; the Bible…bound in a single volume’ (Noah Webster, 1828).

God alone knows the future—The Holy Bible is the only book in the world containing true prophecy. Comparing the time when he saw the Lord Jesus glorified on the mount and heard “a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5), Peter wrote: “We [who believe the scriptures] have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2Peter 1:19-21). Amos declared: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). God has given mankind one Holy Bible in the universal language of English. This Holy Bible contains all of his words and the prophecies that God has foreordained for men to know. Faithful believers—like those who were noble among the Thessalonians, receive the word of God, “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God” (1Thessalonians 2:13). By reading, studying, and meditating on the word of God, we know that the expectation of the believer “shall not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18; 24:14), because we know that everything God reveals to us in his “sure word of prophecy” (2Peter 1:19) will come to pass!

Be not deceived by the supernatural—The scripture tells us that, “There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification [‘The act of making known, or of communicating ideas to another by signs or by words, by any thing that is understood, particularly by words.’]” (1Corinthians 14:10). God warns and commands his children: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1John 4:1). Should I ever hear a voice speaking words contrary to the scripture from a cloud, I would know that it was not from God!

Be not deceived by any religion—‘There are well over 4,000 different religions in the world today…having a combined total of nearly 10 million adherents…nearly 75 percent of the population belongs to one of five religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism. These five religions are considered to be the most influential in the world and are often referred to as the “world religions” due to their size and influence’ (The Holy Books of World Religions, by Stephanie Hertzenberg). The books of the four non-Christian religions—the Quran, Torah, the Veda’s, and the received texts of the Buddha contain no prophecy! Sadly therefore, the followers of these false religions do not know where they came from, for what purpose they are living in the world now, and what eternity holds for them. They are the blind being led by the blind (Matthew 15:14). They are children of darkness (1Thessalonians 5:5). The Holy Bible also warns believers to avoid prognosticators (Isaiah 47:13), soothsayers (Daniel 2:27; Micah 5:12; Acts 16:16), astrologers (Isaiah 47:13), witches (Deuteronomy 18:10; 1Samuel 15:23; Galatians 5:20), diviners (Deuteronomy 18:10), enchantments (2Chronicles 33:6), familiar spirits and wizards (1Chronicles 10:13; Leviticus 19:31).

God’s prophecies are not predictions that may or may not come to pass. They are not like weather or stock market forecasts, which may be inaccurate. They are not based on astrology or speculation, the deceiving words of ‘spirit guides,’ or the pronouncements those who falsely call themselves prophets, such as: Nostrodamus, Edgar Cayce, or Jean Dixon, or even men and women in churches who claim to be prophets. Referring to the perfection [completion] of the word of God with the completion of the book of Revelation around 96AD, almost forty years earlier the apostle Paul prophesied: “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail [‘To be extinct; to cease; to be entirely wanting; to be no longer produced’ (Noah Webster, 1828)]; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away [This is a reference to the supernatural knowledge that was given to the apostles before the word of God was perfected]. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part [Before The Holy Bible was perfected the Lord gave portions of prophecy to the apostles and prophets.] shall be done away” (1Corinthians 13:8-10). Therefore without the inspired prophecies in the word of God it is not possible for any of God’s creatures—man, angel, or devil, to know what will happen in the future! Such truth is a great blessing if you will think about it! Just think how miserable your life would be if you knew in advance every time you would be hurt, break an arm, have a car accident, or any other terrible thing; and there was nothing that you could do to prevent any of them? So if you really believe God alone knows the events of the future, then the truth of the word of God will make you free from the deceiving lies of false prophets, false teachers, false preachers, and all kinds of devilish deceptions, apprehensions, and imaginations (John 8:31-32).

The prophecies of holy scripture are immutable—IMMUTABLE means: ‘Unchangeableness; the quality that renders change or alteration impossible; invariableness. Immutability is an attribute of God. Bible prophecies are the absolutely true and immutable declarations of Almighty God whose “understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5)! As a Bible believer it is a great comfort to understand how God has made our hope of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, “both sure and steadfast” by “two immutable things” (Hebrews 6:17-20). God has confirmed his counsel [his word] with an oath [a solemn declaration].

The eternal counsel of God—“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 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” (Isaiah 46:9-10; 45:21). Because “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2Timothy 3:16-17), “that cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), and “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), the “LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:10-11; Proverbs 19:21; 21:30).

FOREKNOWLEDGE WITHOUT PREDESTINATION—The truth that our great God knows “all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18) does not interfere with man’s free will choices whatsoever! Although God knows what every man will do, and how he will react to the calling of the gospel of Christ, God predestines no one to belief or unbelief! God gives all men the “power” to freely receive or reject the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12-13). Calvinism has a greatly mistaken view of the character of our great merciful God, and also about the doctrine of predestination. These things will be discussed in more detail in a future post we will call: CHOSEN.

THE FIRST AND THE LAST

The prophet Isaiah declared: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2). The LORD JEHOVAH became Isaiah’s salvation when “the Word” [Jesus Christ] who “was God” (John 1:1), “was made flesh” (John 1:14). Declaring the same miraculous event, the apostle Paul wrote: “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1Timothy 3:16). Both the LORD JEHOVAH and the Lord Jesus Christ declared themselves to be the first and the last! This is entirely in agreement with other scriptures. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30)…making himself “God” (John 10:33). Jesus “said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). Jesus Christ “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:5-6).

JEHOVAH’S DECLARATION—Isaiah the prophet wrote: “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6).

JESUS CHRIST’S DECLARATION—When the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the apostle John, he said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last…And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last (Revelation 1:10-11, 17). And in the last chapter the Lord Jesus again declared: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13).

God’s first prophecy warned of the curse of death—After God created everything to support and supply man with all his needs, we know that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:1-27) on the last day of creation, for another scripture says, “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” (Exodus 20:11). And when he had finished the creation, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

The first prophecy was a warning to Adam: “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed…And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:8, 16-17).

God’s last prophecy promises a blessing to all believers—The last prophecy in the scriptures is found in the last two verses of the Holy Bible where the Lord Jesus Christ proclaims the last prophecy of his coming for his church (1Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1Corinthians 15:51-53). The Lord Jesus said: “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:20-21). This is a wonderful prophecy for all the believers who are “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

SIX FINAL KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD

Prophesied in the book of Daniel—History has already verified that Daniel’s prophecies about five of the six final world empires (Daniel 2) are accurate. The last kingdom of this world—the kingdom of the antichrist [“the man of sin…the son of perdition” (2Thessalonians 2:3)] is yet to come.

The prophecies in Daniel chapter two concern “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). God uses the wicked as a sword in his hand (Psalm 17:13-14). Many times God chooses to use heathen men to fulfill his purpose. For example the Lord used Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Jeremiah 27:6); Pharaoh, king of Egypt (Exodus 9:16); and Judas Iscariot, king over the “bottomless pit” (John 6:70; Revelation 9:11; 11:7; 17:8).

Daniel also prophesied accurate details of the events that happened during the four hundred years between the last old testament book and the first new testament book (Daniel 11:1-35). Daniel chapter eleven concludes with prophecy about the final world kingdom of antichrist (Daniel 11:36-45). Even though the Lord Jesus verified Daniel’s prophecy of “the abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14), which shall stand in the holy place of the rebuilt temple in the middle of the seven year long “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), some unbelieving detractors claim that the book of Daniel was written after the events occurred! Such a lie would fit well with the ridiculous fantasy that the destruction of the temple by Titus the son of a Roman governor in AD 70 fulfilled all the prophecies concerning soon to come tribulation period called, “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7).

PROPHECIES OF THE FIRST AND SECOND COMING

Excellent source—We cannot afford the space to list prophecies here. For those who want more information, I suggest that you go to the article, ‘356 Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ.’ For a list of 119 future prophecies that will certainly be fulfilled, see the article, ‘What will the Future Bring? A Prophetic Timeline of the Future,’ and ‘Last Days Prophecies’ on the same excellent website (https://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/353 prophecies.html).

With God all things are possible—At his first coming the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled over 300 old testament prophecies. Forty eight of these are listed in the article: ‘PROOF GOD EXISTS: Indisputable Proof the Bible is True (www.makinglifecount.net).’ This article goes on to say, ‘Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies in the Bible. Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963) calculated the probability of one man fulfilling 48 prophecies to be one in 10 to the 157th power [That is one with 157 zeros after it: a very large number.]…This could not have happened by mere chance. Only a supernatural God could have inspired and fulfilled the prophecies in the Bible. The evidence is so compelling that it should convince you beyond a reasonable doubt. God left His fingerprints on these prophecies so that you could “figure out” that He is real and the Bible is true.’

In an article titled, Silver Dollars All Over Texas! by Bill Perkins, he wrote: ‘There are over 300 prophecies in the Bible of Jesus’ first coming, all having come true. What would be the odds of just eight of these prophecies coming true?

(1) Messiah to be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2)

(2) Messiah betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. (Zechariah 11:12-13)

(3) Messiah’s clothes would be gambled away. (Psalms 22:18)

(4) Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced. (Psalms 22:16)

(5) Messiah’s bones would not be broken. (Psalms 34:20)

(6) Messiah would be born in the tribe of Judah.  (Isaiah 37:31)

(7) Messiah would be called from Egypt. (Hosea 11:1)

(8) Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s grave. (Isaiah 53:9)

The odds of all eight coming true are virtually incomprehensible! Consider this illustration—Suppose we filled the entire State of Texas with 100 trillion silver dollars. That would make the entire state about two feet deep in coins. Then we mark only one coin. Next we stir-up the state full of coins so they are thoroughly mixed and random. The marked coin could be anywhere in the state in the two foot deep coins. Finally we blindfold a man and let him travel the entire state to choose one random coin. What would be the odds of him finding the marked coin in one try? He would have the same chance the prophets had for those eight prophecies being fulfilled. Which is virtually no chance. But that was only eight of the over 300 prophecies! Figuring the odds of fulfilling all 300 Bible prophecies is ridiculously astronomical. Simply incalculable—except that the real author of these prophecies knew the future. The God who created the universe out of nothing was in total control and knows the past, present AND future.’

GAMBLERS WILL LOSE THEIR SOULS

From the Popular Mechanics website: https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a27259/ how-many-particles-are-in-the-entire-universe/, we learn that there are 3.28 times ten to the eightieth power [that is 3.28 with eighty zeros after it] particles [protons, electrons, and quarks] in the known universe. Therefore the chance of choosing one particular particle out of all the particles in the entire universe is much greater—much more likely, than a man choosing one out of 100 trillion silver dollars! It would be inconceivable and absurd—opposed to manifest truth and inconsistent with reason or the plain dictates of common sense, for anyone to think that the prophecies of the Almighty God could have been chance events! Our great God the LORD declared: “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isaiah 42:9). In reference to the powerball lottery, a Forbes article by Vanessa McGrady on 01-08-2016 says, ‘The probability of winning the big prize is 1 in 292,201,338.’ That number is about 3 times ten to the eighth power. The chance of a man winning the powerball lottery therefore is ten times greater than finding one silver dollar among 100 trillion silver dollars. Jesus declared: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). According to the scriptures a man who rejects the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel through unbelief will certainly lose his soul and “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). There is absolutely no chance for you to “escape the damnation of hell” (Matthew 23:33) if you remain an unbeliever!

READ THE WORD OF GOD FOR YOURSELF!

Where to begin—The gospel according to John has been the source of faith and salvation for a great number of people, including myself. All believers are saved “by grace…through faith” (Ephesians 2:8-9). John explained that he wrote his book to give the reader faith to believe and have life. Salvation is possible to the reader, because “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). John wrote his book to give faith to the reader. John wrote: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31). Also, in his first epistle, John wrote: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1John 5:13). God gives every true believer, who is “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8) the internal witness of his Spirit: “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit” (1John 4:13): “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).

Believe and be saved!—Perhaps until this very time, Satan, “the god of this world” has blinded your mind to “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God” (2Corinthians 4:3-4). If you are still breathing in “the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13), God promises you, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9); for the “gospel of Christ…how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scripturesis the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16-17; 1Corinthians 15:3-4). The terrified keeper of the prison at Philippi said to Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:25-31).

The Season of His Coming – By Michael Hile

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

The Song of Solomon talks about the bridegroom (my beloved) coming for His bride (my love, my fair one) after “winter is past” and when “the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell” (SOS 2:10-13). The book of Luke tells us that “the kingdom of God is near at hand” when “the fig tree, and all the trees…shoot forth” and “summer is near at hand” (Luke 21:29-32).

The statement “winter is past” lets us know that summer has probably not yet arrived, while “summer is near at hand” implies that winter has passed, and summer is close, but has not yet arrived. After winter but before summer is a period called “seedtime” in the Bible but is referred to as spring in modern usage. Spring is generally regarded as beginning in the month of March and ending in the month of June, depending upon the calendar system used.

“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

As summer draws near, the first three spring feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits) have passed, and the fourth feast, Pentecost, is quickly approaching. Christ’s ascension into Heaven (Ascension Day) was forty days after He rose from the grave on the feast of Firstfruits (resurrection day, traditionally called Easter). The feast of Pentecost, which is ten days after Ascension Day, occurs during the months of May or June each year, and is always fifty days after resurrection day. The anniversary of Christ’s ascension and the feast of Pentecost occur during spring time; after winter but before summer.

Spring is the season when Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of mankind, buried in a borrowed tomb and rose from the grave. His death, burial and resurrection were on the feast days, and He literally fulfilled the first three feasts of the Lord (Lev. 23:1-44). Spring is the season when Christ ascended into Heaven and “two men…in white apparel” (angels) standing near, asked the apostles: “Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus…shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). Spring is the season when “the day of Pentecost was fully come,” and “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1-4).

Spring is the season when the bridegroom, in the Song of Solomon, says to his future bride:  “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away” (SOS 2:10-13). Spring is the season when “the fig tree putteth forth her green figs,” “her branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves,” “summer is near” and “the kingdom of God is near at hand” (SOS 2:10-13, Mark 13:28-29, Luke 21:29-31). We are told, “when ye shall see all these things,” you are to “know that it (the bridegroom and the kingdom of God) is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:32-33).

Modern day Israel, sometimes symbolized by the fig tree in the scriptures, was absent from its land for nearly 2000 years before beginning to come back from its dispersion throughout the world (the Diaspora) in the mid 1800s. Then, through several miraculous events, the Jewish people acquired national status (statehood) on May 14, 1948.  Is it coincidental that the season (spring) of Israel’s birth date, over seventy years ago, corresponds with the season in which the fig tree buds, puts forth green leaves and begins to develop green figs? Is it pure happenstance that spring is also the season that the bridegroom comes for His bride, as pictured in the Song of Solomon?

Although no one knows the “day and hour” the Lord will return; will the bridegroom arrive at some future date in the spring to whisk away His ecstatic bride to the ultimate, consummate, wedding ceremony, as hinted at in the Song of Solomon?  Is spring the season, before summer arrives, when the Lord will return to earth, in some future year, to set up His kingdom on earth?  The Lord has not given us concrete evidence for the time of His return; however, spring is the season for new life and new beginnings, and the Lord fulfilled much of His redemption plan for mankind during the spring season.  Although we do not know what time of the year the Lord will return in the air for His saints, spring, after winter but before summer, is an important season to be watching!

Is the Day of His Return Approaching?

Although no clue is given in the Scriptures concerning the precise time of the Lord’s return, some believe Hebrews 10:25 implies that we will be able to see the day of His coming (the rapture) approaching:

“…Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is: but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.”

Knowing “the times and seasons” of the Lord’s return is similar to knowing the Thanksgiving season is near when the merchants start putting up their Christmas decorations. The appearance of Christmas lights and ornaments in the marketplace several months prior to Christmas, heralds the coming of the Christmas season; however, we also know the arrival of the Thanksgiving holidays is even closer than the advent of Christmas day.

In like manner, when we see the prophecies that will take place during “the day of the Lord” approaching and beginning to assemble themselves on the world scene, we can be confident that “the day of redemption” (rapture) (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30; Luke 21:28; Romans 8:22-23) is even closer, and the season for the “catching away” of the ‘bride of Christ” has finally arrived. Believers would not be excited to see “the day of the Lord” (judgment) approaching, unless they were confident “the day of redemption” would occur before “the day of the Lord.”

Anticipation of the approaching rapture of God’s saints also seems to be implied in the book of Luke as “the day of redemption” draws near, and the generation that will usher in the kingdom of God is revealed:

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.  So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled” (Luke 21:28-32).

A Thief in the Night

The Lord told His apostles, as recorded in Acts 1:6-7, that it was not for them “…to know the times or the seasons…” for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. The mystery of “the times and seasons” of the kingdom’s restoration was not for the apostles to know, but it was to be reserved for and revealed to a future generation. The timing of the rapture, also called the “blessed hope” in Titus 2:13, will be as “a thief in the night” to those not watching, but “the times and seasons” of the rapture will not be a surprise to those who are looking for His return (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, Matthew 25:1-13, Luke 21:34-36, Rev. 3:3).

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

Jesus told His disciples that the judgments coming on the earth would happen suddenly, like a trap that closes quickly on its prey.  He predicted that many would be caught off-guard, and cautioned them not to be distracted by overindulgence, desires of the flesh and the daily cares of this life. Jesus’ advice to the terminal generation living at the close of this age was to watch for “the signs of the times” pointing to His return and pray continuously that they would be “kept from the hour of Temptation” that would “come upon all the world” (Rev. 3:10).

“… 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. 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” (Luke 21:34-36).

Those Taken and Those Left Behind

When the Lord returns in the air for His saints, there will be two categories of people on the earth: the saved and unsaved; also called believers and nonbelievers. All of the nonbelievers will be caught off guard when the Lord returns for His saints “as a thief in the night.” Those “left behind” will not immediately know when “the great theft” takes place, unless they see believers disappear on a TV screen or happen to be near those who are taken. Those “caught up” (raptured) will immediately know they have been removed from the earth to “stand before the son of man” and will “escape” the coming judgments (Matt. 24:21, Luke 21:34-36, Rev. 3:10-11, Rev. 22:12-14).

Those “caught up” will also receive their glorified body and complete the glorification salvation process (Phil. 3:20-21, 1 Cor. 15:51-58). The raptured saints will be rewarded for their faithfulness and will receive a “crown of righteousness” given to “all…that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). On the other hand, there are many nonbelievers who are “scoffers” that mock and make fun of those who are watching the gathering signs of the Lord’s return. Even among believers, there are some “not watching” but “scoffing” (2 Peter 3:3-18, Jude 14-19).

Professing believers, who are “not watching,” may be going to church, but they are “spiritually asleep” and not following the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:26-28). They are in love with this world and the things of this world and don’t realize they have deceived themselves. We are to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving our own selves” (James 1:21-22). If your focus is on the “world” and “the things in the world,” the scriptures boldly and bluntly state that the love of God is not in you.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).

What are Your Priorities in Life?

People many times set priorities early in their life that include education, sports, recreation and leisure time.  As we get older and more mature, our goals may become more focused on higher education, career goals and technical skills that help us become productive members of society.  At some point, hopefully earlier rather than later, we should establish spiritual priorities and cultivate a relationship with God, the creator and sustainer of all things.

“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;  Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things…for in him we live, and move, and have our being…” (Acts 17:24-28).

If you have developed a relationship with the God of the Bible, your focus should not only be on the current world we live in but also on the world to come. In fact, as we serve the Lord on the earth in our career and through some ministry He has given us, our main focus should be on making preparations for our Heavenly home.

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-3).

That is why Jesus and His disciples exhorted the saints over a dozen times to “watch” for the signs of his return and commanded them to be “ready” when the “son of man cometh.” If you are not watching for the return of the Lord, you are ignoring Christ’s commandments and will miss out on many rewards and crowns. The danger you risk by not “watching,” as he commands us, is to be left behind “in the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).

“If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Rev. 3:3). 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.  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:10-11).

Charles H. Spurgeon, famous pastor (1834-1892) of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, described the spiritual mindset that should be present in those who are seriously watching for the Lord’s return:

“While I am at work, my Master may come. Before I get weary, my Master may return.  While others are mocking at me, my Master may appear; and whether they mock or applaud, is nothing to me, I live before the great Task-master’s eye, and do my service knowing that He sees me, and expecting that by-and-by He will reveal Himself to me, and then He will reveal me and my right intention to misrepresenting men. May the Lord keep you waiting, working, watching…” 1 

In the Twinkling of an Eye

When the time of His coming arrives, “…the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:16-18).

After laying out the events of the resurrection and rapture, the Apostle Paul states boldly that his brothers in Christ were not in darkness, and the day of the Lord would not include them (children of light and the day) as it would the nonbelievers (children of the night and darkness), who would be overtaken as a thief in the night. Rather, Paul’s brothers in Christ were told to be spiritually awake and to watch and be sober, while continuing to grow in faith and love, knowing they had the hope of salvation.

“But of the times and the seasons (of the resurrection and rapture), brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you…But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day (the day of the Lord) should overtake you as a thief (they would not be part of the day of the Lord).  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober…For God hath not appointed us to wrath (during the day of the Lord), but to obtain salvation (be caught up) by our Lord Jesus Christ…Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thess. 5:1-11).

Paul told his brethren to be comforted and to comfort one another concerning both “the day of redemption” (rapture) and “the day of the Lord” (judgment). Being comforted and comforting others, knowing “the day of the Lord” was coming, would only make sense if they (Paul’s listeners) knew they were going to be “caught up” (raptured) before “the day of the Lord,” and they were confident and assured they would escape God’s wrath that would be poured out during “the day of the Lord” (Luke 21:34-36, Rev. 3:10).

That is exactly the scenario set forth by the Apostle Paul (1 Thess. 4:13-5:11), with the “resurrection” and “catching up” of the saints preceding “the day of the Lord,” and both events surprising those left behind as “a thief in the night” (Matthew 24:43-44, Rev. 3:3, 16:15; 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 2 Peter 3:10).  The description given by the Apostle Paul is also the order of events that seems to be emerging today, with the leaders of the future Gog and Magog war (Russia, Iran and Turkey) meeting regularly, and the leaders of the Israel/Palestinian peace process (U.S. and other nations) using the prophesied code words “peace and security” in their speeches and formal documents (Ezekiel 38:1-39:29, 1 Thess. 5:1-3).

Prophecies that will take place during “the day of the Lord” are beginning to assemble themselves on the world stage and cast their shadows backward into today’s news headlines.  As the day of our redemption draws near, each of us should be asking ourselves: Am I “watching” for the Lord’s return, and will I “be ready” when He returns “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” (Luke 21:34-36, 1 Cor. 15:52, Rev. 3:3)?

Those who are wise in the prophetic scriptures (Dan. 12:9-10), know the evidence is overwhelming that we are living in “the times and seasons” of the Lord’s return. Whatever your priorities may be, make sure you are ready to go (Luke 21:34-36, Rev. 3:3) and not one of those who will be left behind (John 3:16-18, Romans 10:9-13, James 4:7-10). Don’t wait until tomorrow to take care of your eternal destiny (Prov. 27:1, James 4:13-15). Eternity is way too long to be wrong. Make your reservation for Heaven today!

♦♦♦

1) The Second Coming of Christ, Charles H. Spurgeon, Chicago, Illinois:  Fleming H. Revell Company, Moody Press, 1896, 117, 118

 

The “Forgotten Pandemic” of 1918 – By Freddy Burton

Rapture Ready note:

This article was written by my life-long friend, Freddy Burton, who served as Saline County Clerk, an elective position, from 1993 to 2012.

The article appeared in our local paper, the Saline Courier (formerly the Benton Courier) two years ago. Benton, Arkansas is the town in which Todd Strandberg, my partner in and founder of raptureready.com, and I live. I’ve lived here most of my life.

The article gives fascinating perspective, contrasting the current Coronavirus pandemic with the Spanish flu of 1918, which the article chronicles in-depth.

             –Terry James

 

The “Forgotten Pandemic” of 1918

By Freddy Burton

“It is an oddity of history that the influenza epidemic of 1918 has been virtually overlooked in the teaching of American history…” National Archives and Records Administration.

More Worldwide Deaths than World War I

World War I, known as the “Great War,” ran from 1914-1918 and claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza pandemic, known as the Spanish ‘Flu’ of 1918 attacked 1/5th of the world’s population and killed an estimated 50 million people. More than 600,000 Americans died; and 7,000 in Arkansas alone.

Greatest Medical Holocaust in History

Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history. More people died of the Spanish Flu in a one year than in four-years (1347-1351) of the “Black Plague”.  Some historians described this pandemic as “the greatest medical holocaust in history”.

Attacked Young and Healthy

One of the unusual features of this pandemic was that it killed mostly young adults. In 1918-1919, 99% of pandemic influenza deaths in the U.S. occurred in people under 65, and nearly half of which were in young adults 20 to 40 years old.

Unlike Other Strains / Summer and Fall

Another unusual feature of this pandemic that was unlike other strains of influenza, which are primarily active in the winter months; The Spanish Flu outbreak was strongest in the summer and fall, and especially in October of 1918.

Downplayed by Officials

Fearing panic, officials were originally reluctant to admit that the pandemic posed a serious threat. James C. Geiger, a commissioned officer for the Public Health Service who was stationed in Arkansas, downplayed the threat with reassuring statements even after he himself had caught the flu and his wife died from it.

Local Conditions

The dire situation was clearly documented by the October 10th 1918 Benton Courier: “Benton and Vicinity in Grip of Epidemic of Spanish Influenza. Public Places Closed. No epidemic has had its grip on this country and county as has the Spanish influenza, which, during the past week has placed itself in almost every home… it has been announced that many churches will have no services Sunday…The American Bauxite had to shut down its plant on Tuesday on account of so many men being sick, and several have died in that section of the county.”

When I first ran across information on this historical event I was shocked, not only of the magnitude of this pandemic, but that I had never heard of it. Some historians have referred to the1918 Influenza pandemic as: “The Mother of All Pandemics.”

Scientists, doctors, and health officials could not identify the disease which was striking so fast and so aggressive. Some victims died within hours of their first symptoms. Others succumbed after a few days; their lungs filled with fluid and they suffocated to death.

BENTON COURIER October 17, 1918: “Influenza Has Our County In Its Grip: Nearly Every Home is Affected And More Victims Are Reported Each Day…Business is at a Standstill and Little Relief is In Sight…The doctors have had more calls than could possibly be attended to, and the druggists have had problems in securing medical supplies. There have been a number of fatalities, Benton undertakers having supplied thirty coffins in the past five days…”

Undertaker’s Records

The Undertaker’s Records from 1916-1928 indicate that in October of 1916 there were only 3 deaths for the month. October of 1917 there were only 8 deaths, but in October of 1918, the peak of the pandemic; there were an astonishing 72 deaths in that one month! Doug Hawkins, owner of Ashby Funeral Home told me recently that 45 burials are the most that he has ever done in one month. To put this in perspective, the population today of Saline County is 114,404. The population of Saline County in 1918 was 16,781.

BENTON COURIER: October 1918: “Sheriff Cox has received a letter from the State Board of Health advising him to see that all places where public gatherings are held in Saline County are kept closed…To open any place for the purpose of a crowd assembling is in direct violation of the law…”

Below are a few samples of the news in the Courier from different parts of Saline County:

CARMEL: “Heath isn’t very good in this section on account of influenza. We hear that the death angel visited the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ed McClain last Saturday and claimed for its own their darling little girl, Ruby.”

BAUXITE: “At this writing the Spanish influenza is about to take hold of everyone. Farry Corn has been quite ill…Lula Elrod has also been quite sick with this epidemic. Jesse Stuckey, son of Mrs. Emma Stuckey, passed away last Saturday… Dewey Hardin has been quite ill for several days…At this writing there are still lots of sickness around. Hardly enough well people to wait on the sick ones. The death angel claimed Susie Bryant from Mr. and Mrs. Joe Bryant last Thursday their oldest daughter.”

LIBERTY: “MR. Editor and readers, I have nothing to report that is bright, amusing or encouraging. All is sorrow, disappointment and dread. There is serious sickness in many homes, and the death angel visited two homes last Saturday. James Elliot, owner of the Rural Telephone system died Saturday, leaving seven small children. Also Dewell Green, about seventeen years of age, son of John H. Green, died Saturday morning. He will be greatly missed by his many schoolmates of Rural Hill School, especially by his class, the eighth grade. He leaves to mourn his loss his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Green one sister, Miss Ola and two small brothers , Ernest and Wilbur. There remains were laid to rest in Ten Mile cemetery Sunday evening. Elder O.C. Robinson and Will Daniels have been very sick for several days with the flu, as is also Miss Delpho Shockley, whose case has now developed into pneumonia. Whole families have been down at once, and many could not get the care and attention they needed. The doctors have gone night and day and have been behind with their calls most all the time. Most all who have escaped the contagion are worn out waiting on the sick.

I am wondering what the future has in store for us. Its best, of course, that we do not know. We should not borrow trouble, nor brood over things gone by. We should make the best of conditions as we get to them, but we never before had universal troubles as now…” (A.B. Stockley)

Cynthia Dunn recalls her grandfather, Paul Rucker, and grandmother, Cynthia Ramsey Rucker, telling her the way it was in the Shaw community in the fall of 1918. “My grandmother Rucker would begin cooking food early in the morning for those families that were sick, and my grandfather Rucker spent the entire day delivering this food.  Funerals of the flu victims were cancelled because everyone was afraid to go to the church for fear of exposure and the other members of the family were often sick themselves.”

Tanlac Tonic

Although there were no cures, desperate times called for desperate measures. People relied on a range of different home remedies, including the wearing of garlic amulets. In some areas people turned to Tanlac; advertized as a “powerful reconstructive tonic.” None of these remedies helped.

Advertisement: Bush Drug Co. ad in BENTON COURIER October 1918: “Persons Weak and Run Down Easy Victims: Fortify Yourself Against Flu by Taking Tanlac…nothing on earth will strengthen you and build you up like Tanlac, the powerful reconstructive tonic, which contains the very elements needed by the system to give you fighting strength and ward off the influenza germ…In connection with the Tanlac treatment, it is necessary to keep the bowels open by taking Tanlac Laxative Tablets, samples of which are included with every bottle of Tanlac…Tanlac is sold in Benton by Bush Drug Co., the only established agency in town.”

Last Article in Courier / First Article October 10th

BENTON COURIER  October 31 1918: “Influenza Situation Improving Rapidly: Although there are several cases of influenza over the county, it is believed that the epidemic has spent its force in Saline County, and the quarantine has been raised, so that churches may hold their regular services Sunday, and the schools of the county can resume Monday.

This has been one of the worst epidemics to strike this section for years, as there were but few homes that were not affected by the disease, and in many instances whole families were ill at the same time, with no one to care for the sick.

Now, that the danger of spreading has passed and the quarantine has been raised, it is expected that within a few days conditions will become normal again, and the business of keeping business moving will be as brisk as it was before our misfortune.”

Nursery Rhyme

In the years following 1918, Americans seemed eager to forget the pandemic. For several years after the pandemic children could be heard skipping rope to the rhyme: I had a little bird, its name was Enza, I opened the window, and in-flu-enza.

Given the devastating impact of the pandemic, the reasons for this forgetfulness are puzzling. It is possible, however, that the pandemic’s close association with World War I may have caused this amnesia. This has led some historians to call the 1918 Spanish flu; the “Forgotten Pandemic.”

The Times of the Signs – Part Four (Conclusion of the Four-Part Series) – By Ed Wood

Armageddon’s End

There is only one event that will keep humanity from destroying itself, something the devil has always wanted to achieve as he has sought for ages to displace God – and that is the return of Jesus himself. Here are two accounts, the first from the Old Testament, the second from the New Testament:

Isaiah {11:1-4} And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and  understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

Revelation {19:13-21} And he* [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies [which were] in heaven** followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on [his] vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all [men, both] free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast*** was taken, and with him the false prophet**** that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which [sword] proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. * Jesus. ** The resurrected saints from all ages, perhaps angels as well. See also Zechariah 14:5. *** Antichrist. ****The Antichrist’s second-in-command and minister of propaganda.

Millennium

After seven years of literal hell on Earth, it is finally over. What is left is a smoking ruin, greatly depopulated. Had Jesus not come back when he did, Earth might have become a complete wasteland, perhaps only inhabited by insects, primitive plants, and microbes (Matthew 24:22). However, the Bible reveals that there will be survivors and despite the carnage, when Jesus comes back to take his place as King of Kings on Earth, everything will begin to change. Once again, Isaiah gives us a preview:

Isaiah {11:5-9} And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah {35:1-2,7; 41:18-20} The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing. . . . And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, [shall be] grass with reeds and rushes. . . I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, [and] the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.

It is my guess that this will happen very quickly and the survivors of the human race, plus the resurrected saints, both from the Rapture (who had been part of the armies that accompanied Jesus for his second coming) and the Tribulation (Revelation 20:4b; Daniel 7:18), will play a part in putting the world back together, Jesus being the ultimate source and director of this restoration. At this time, the Jews, who have at last recognized him as the Messiah (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7), will now fulfill the role God intended for them all along in leading the world to worship him in Jerusalem, perhaps led by the 144,000 that had been sealed by God during the Tribulation (Revelation 7:1-8).

In this time of global healing, even the life span of human beings will be increased:

Isaiah {65:20} There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner [being] an hundred years old shall be accursed.

But the restored world, as magnificent as it will be, will still not be perfect. From the passage above, we see the great hope the mortals who follow Jesus will have, but also the fate of those who resist. But unlike today, where it seems the “good die young and the evil live on, this, too will be reversed. In a time when the life spans of the righteous may very well last the 1000 years of the Millennial Kingdom, those of evil people may only last one-tenth of that.

Here is another piece of evidence that there still will be rebellious people left on Earth:

Zechariah {14:16-19} And it shall come to pass, [that] every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, [that] whoso will not come up of [all] the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that [have] no [rain;] there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

This was an autumn feast whose purpose was for the Israelites to celebrate not only their harvest but to remind them of the forty years they were homeless nomads after they’d left Egypt. When Jesus comes back, its celebration will become mandatory for the entire world. It certainly seems to be most appropriate for the Tribulation survivors and their descendants to reflect back on the horror they endured during the worst seven years in history and to give thanks for now living on a planet that has been restored to a nearly Eden-like state by the one through whom all things were created (John 1:3-10).

As we’ve seen above and as hard as it may be to imagine, there will still be “stiff-necked” people in the world who will not accept Jesus’ rule. It is my own personal belief that at the beginning of the Millennium, there may be virtually none of these rebellious types. Those who are left are will forget living through Earth’s worst years nor dismiss the Messiah who saved and now sustains them.

But what about the kids . . . ?

Since the Kingdom Age is ten centuries long, this is plenty of time for the survivors to produce many descendants who will not have first-hand experience of the bad times. It seems reasonable to assume that they are more likely to fall away than their predecessors. The number of them appears quite significant by the time Satan is released and gets one more shot to oppose God at the Millennium’s conclusion:

Revelation {20:7-9a} And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom [is] as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city . . . 

This time God the Father will deal with these rebels immediately – and finally – along with Satan and his newly-recruited rebel followers:

Revelation {20:9b-10} . . . and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are,] and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

At this point, one may wonder why Satan was only locked away and not destroyed after the battle of Armageddon. As far as I can tell the Bible doesn’t give a direct answer, but perhaps it can be found if we look at its very beginning. In the first two chapters of Genesis, as God created the cosmos (which, of course, includes Earth) notice at the end of each step, he pronounces each part as “good.” Since we know that God is perfect, then anything he says is “good” is likely just perfect, too. It was into this flawless world that he placed the first two humans. But what happened? In chapter three, we see that despite being given every advantage, Adam and Eve were tempted – and gave into it.

Let’s spin the clock ahead to the end of time. Humanity will once more have the advantage of living in a world almost as perfect as Eden but remember what happens: A considerable number of people will succumb to the devil’s temptation once again at his release. It is at this point in time when Satan and his followers, both demonic and human, will be dealt with accordingly. This time it will be forever (Daniel 12:2; Revelation 20:11-15).

Perhaps the Millennium is God’s way of showing us that the only way to really make things right is to “make all things new.” This sin-tainted world and universe will pass away to be replaced by something entirely new.

Eternity

Isaiah {65:17-18} For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever [in that] which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

Daniel {12:3} And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

Revelation {21:1} And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

Into this perfected new creation God literally brings heaven, and himself, to Earth:

Revelation {21:2} And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Here’s just one thing I’d like to mention. Though some have considered New Jerusalem to be the “bride,” I believe this is incorrect. Here is what Paul said of the bride’s identity:

Ephesians {5:23,31} For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body . . . For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

The solution to what appears to be a contradiction, I believe, is cleared up with this quote from Jesus himself:

John {14:1-3} Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.

If we think about this a little, I think we can conclude that the bride is actually the church and that Jesus is preparing a place for this bride in the New Jerusalem. Therefore, in the Revelation passage above, perhaps John wasn’t saying that the New Jerusalem was actually the bride, but only that it looked as beautiful as once would expect a bride to appear. The true bride – the church, composed of all of God’s followers from the beginning of time, is actually living inside.

New Jerusalem on the New Earth

That this city is beautiful beyond comprehension is certainly clear, but also is, is that it is immense – a cube 1500 miles per side.

Now let’s look at a little science.

By the physical rules of our present universe, the Earth, which is 8000 miles in diameter could never accommodate something some 70% the size of the moon landing on it, though a planet the size of Jupiter (88,700 miles in diameter) wouldn’t have a problem with it.

What this strongly suggests is that the New Heaven and New Earth will operate on totally different laws. Maybe the New Earth will simply be enormous. Maybe gravity, as it operates here, will be totally different there. After all, we do know that time will certainly be different, because nothing lasts forever here. Barring Divine Intervention, our sun, all the stars in this galaxy, all the stars in every galaxy, will one day exhaust themselves. In fact, because of the universe’s continuing and accelerating expansion, all matter itself may come apart and every bit of usable energy will be gone. What will be left is . . . nothing!

We can take comfort because based on what the Bible tells us, this grim future is not what lies ahead. Instead of a dark, empty void, Jesus, the Carpenter, already has the building of our new residences well under way in an eternal city which will always be filled with light.

Based on the signs of these times, I’d say he’s putting on the final touches right now and moving-in day for us is just around the next corner!

The Times of the Signs – Part Three By Ed Wood

By way of a review, here are the prophecies from the Olivet Discourse already occurring that we looked at in Part One of this series:

1) The appearance of False Prophets.

2) Wars and rumors of wars (The Twentieth Century was the worst so far.)

3) Famine.

4) Earthquakes.

5) Natural Disasters.

6) People getting worse.

7) Christians being persecuted.

8) The access and preaching of the Gospel to virtually every part of the world.

9) Strife among families.

The second article covered what we can expect before the Tribulation:

10) The Rapture

After the Rapture, the Tribulation will begin with the pouring out of God’s Judgments upon the earth as listed in the Book of Revelation. As conditions become increasingly worse for those not taken in the Rapture, it is likely that these desperate people will be looking for an “Answer Man” in much the same way the post World War 1 Germans ultimately chose Adolf Hitler. This next time, though, the range and demonic power of the future leader will reach beyond a single country. This “man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) will ultimately end up ruling the entire world. A major act of his will be the ratifying of a seven-year “covenant with many,” (Daniel 9:27). It will be a treaty he will also break after three and a half years.

The Great Tribulation Begins

THE ANTICHRIST MOVES INTO THE TEMPLE AND CLAIMS TO BE GOD

After the “son of perdition,” breaks the seven-year covenant “with many” he will move himself into the restored Jewish temple (Daniel 11:45) proclaiming the he is actually God in human form – the “messiah. He will be backed up in this outrageous lie by his henchman, the false prophet (Revelation 13:1-18). The “abomination of desolation” will set up in the temple and the last, worst years of the Tribulation period will begin.

The Jews, who have re-instituted the Mosaic system of the Old Testament in the rebuilt temple, will discover to their dismay that they have been betrayed and no doubt actively resist his claim of deity. Except for resistance from “the east,” the Antichrist would have probably moved immediately to crush the Jews with a Final Solution of his own (Daniel 11:44). The delay buys time for Israel to seek refuge in the wilderness at Petra and with the assistance of the descendants of Moab:

Isaiah {16:1-5} Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela* to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion. For it shall be, [that,] as a wandering bird cast out of  the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon. Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the Outcasts**; bewray*** not him that wandereth. Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler****: for the extortioner**** is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land. And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he***** shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness. *Petra, ** Israelite refugees, *** “betray”, **** The Antichrist, ***** Jesus – who has returned. (We will look at this in greater detail shortly.)

From the New Testament, we have what is appears to be Jesus’ warning to the Jews of when to make their move:

Matthew {24:15-21} When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 

Mark 13:14-19 gives us this same account but Luke’s version, though similar, has important differences:

Luke {21:20-24} And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

Note that the “abomination of desolation” is not mentioned and that the Israelites either be cut down with the sword or dispersed across the world while their territory is taken over by the Gentiles. This sounds much more like the account of the invasion of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D. and its aftermath. The temple at that time was also not desecrated by a false messiah and his image. Instead, it was totally destroyed.

Today, the Jews are still dispersed and until 1948 had no country to call their own. In Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts, Israel has to be a nation because this is a necessary precondition for the temple to exist once more because the Antichrist cannot defile it if it isn’t there.

THE END OF THE TRIBULATION

The last three and a half years will see an increase of the severity of the judgments being poured out upon the earth by God. The Antichrist has usurped the temple and is dealing with opposition from “the east.” During that time, it appears that not all the Jews have sought refuge in the wilderness, that some have managed to hang on in Jerusalem. Perhaps it will be the Israeli army supported by willing civilians. By the end of the Tribulation, the situation will become completely desperate as the Antichrist, with demonic help, gathers together troops from the rulers of the whole world, including those from the east who have now become his allies.

Revelation {16:12-14} And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [come] out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, [which] go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

Here is a description of the invasion of Jerusalem:

Zechariah {14:1-2} Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

The Antichrist’s victory would be inevitable except that:

Zechariah {14:3} Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

Revelation {19:11-16} And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes [were] as a flame of fire, and on his head [were] many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on [his] vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Jesus will banish the Antichrist and the False Prophet to the lake of fire and slay their troops (Revelation 19:17-21). Satan will be locked away for 1000 years and Jesus will reclaim the temple and begin his millennial reign.

Now there will be signs immediately before these events and the return of Jesus.

11) SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS

Matthew {24:29} Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.

It is quite clear from this and from Mark 13:24-25 that the phenomena in the skies will be universal and terrifying to the people who have managed to survive up until this point.

The gospel of Luke provides another look into what is coming.

Luke {21:25-28} 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; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

Once again, Matthew’s and Mark’s versions seem to be totally directed to the time immediately preceding Jesus’ Second coming while the final sentence in Luke’s account suggests that there might be earlier indications as well. Let’s look at verses 27 and 28 again:

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”

It’s true that those survivors who come to accept Jesus during the seven years of tribulation can expect their “redemption” when they see the signs listed above, but could it also be a warning to believers before the Tribulation even begins?

Could they be for us?

We’ve already seen the reasons in our past articles why the Rapture and the Second Coming are two distinctly different events. Remember that the former requires no prior conditions and is therefore unable to be fixed in time, while the latter must occur at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. The unexpected nature of the Rapture is consistent with what Jesus said here:

Luke {13:34-37} [For the Son of man is] as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

We are directed to be on “watch” and that suggests that there will be specific things that will occur even prior to the Rapture.

What kinds of early signs might we expect?

We’ve seen that Matthew 24:29 and Mark 13:24-25 provide us with several specific ones prior to the Second Coming:

The sun and moon darkened (also indicated in Revelation 18:12)

Stars falling from the sky.

The first sounds very much like what is commonly called “nuclear winter,” where the smoke and material ejected into the atmosphere by even a limited nuclear exchange obscures the light coming in from luminous objects in space along with the tainting of the water. A catastrophic asteroid impact or a huge meteor storm (stars falling from the sky) would have very similar effects, differing only in that the fallout from the latter would not be radioactive. This account from Revelation gives us an accurate description of what the results of either of these catastrophes would be like:

Revelation {8:7-12} The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. and the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

Looking at Luke’s passage, we see many other signs in addition to those from the sky which already have an eerie ring of familiarity to our Twenty-First Century world. Nations are increasingly in distress, racial tension is at an all-time high, and our seas are literally roaring with more storms and, earthquakes, and the resulting tsunamis with every passing year.

What we have not seen yet are any pronounced signs in the heavens. If Luke’s account is telling us to expect them in our own time along with those that are already happening, these should show up next. Exactly what they will be is open to speculation, but I think when they do begin to occur, they will be unmistakable. They will indicate that our time to be gathered together in the clouds with Jesus will be very near  (1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)!

Those signs that will occur at the end of the seven years will followed by:

Matthew {24:30-31} And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Bible does not tell us exactly what it will be, but it is clear that it will be so spectacular and unmistakable (Matthew 24:27) that the whole Earth will recognize it for what it is.

In Part Four of this series, we’ll look at what is to follow after Jesus comes back.

The Times of the Signs – Part Two – By Ed Wood

In Part One of our exploration of the prophecies Jesus gave in the Olivet Discourse, we discovered that one had been fulfilled, namely the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., and that the following are already under way:

1) The appearance of  False Prophets.

2) Wars (and rumors of wars) of which the Twentieth Century was the worst in that regard so far.

3) Famine.

4) Earthquakes.

5) Natural Disasters.

6) People getting worse.

7) Christians being persecuted.

8) The access and preaching of the Gospel to virtually every part of the world.

9) Strife among families.

We will now look at the next two events in the prophetic timeline.

The final prophecy to be fulfilled before the Tribulation begins.

THE RAPTURE

Matthew  {24:37-41} 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. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two [women shall be] grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Jesus is the speaker.)

It’s likely that the people of Noah’s time, much like today, were becoming increasingly desensitized to the evil growing around them. Like now, they were also unaware that their own “End Times” would soon be upon them. Though the Bible doesn’t provide details of Noah’s interactions with the people around him, common sense dictates that they must have wondered about his seemingly irrational activity of building a huge ship in a place where none was obviously needed. As if that wasn’t enough, he eventually started collecting pairs of animals to load aboard. It seems reasonable to assume they asked him about all this. Obviously, they didn’t take him seriously or else they would have been making their own preparations to survive. It seems safe to assume that they regarded him as a raving lunatic.

So what about today?

In the passage above, the Bible tells us that Jesus said the conditions at the end of the age would parallel those of Noah’s time, and, indeed, they are doing just that. The presence of evil is growing and, as was the case with the Flood, most of the world, even much of the modern church, doesn’t expect the return of Jesus for his followers, either. When it does happen, it’ll be just as big a surprise as the Flood. The only difference is that Noah’s society didn’t have time to speculate about the Deluge afterwards as today’s will after the Rapture.

Now the problem some have in accepting the passage above as a true Rapture verse is the 50/50 ratio of those taken and those left behind. I suggest that it might not refer to a literal 50% division, but may be a figure of speech to illustrate the point of people being taken away from their daily routines quite unexpectedly while the others left behind are totally baffled. This theme of  “unexpectedness” appears several times in Matthew, chapters 24 and 25.

If we consider that everything the Bible has to say is important, it follows that the more often something is repeated, the more we should pay attention. A good example of this occurred regarding Joseph’s interpretation of the repetitive aspects of pharaoh’s dream in Genesis, chapter 41.

Now let’s see what Paul describes in an unambiguous Rapture passage:

1 Corinthians {15:51-54} Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Much has already been written about the Rapture, pro and con, some of the adherents to the latter doing so vehemently and, quite frankly, unpleasantly. Just to make it clear, I am of the former persuasion because only the occurrence of the the Rapture can reconcile the passages like those above which indicate an initial time when Jesus’ return coming as a complete surprise with believers being gathered to him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) which will mystify those left behind and a second which will be his unmistakable return that the whole world see and which will conclude the seventh year of the Tribulation:

Matthew {24:27} For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Jesus is the speaker.)

The specific timeline for Jesus’ Second Coming to Earth can be found in Daniel 9:24 – 27. The concluding verse reveals that the time of the Antichrist’s “covenant with many” would last one week (seven years), based on the 360 day length of a Jewish year. Though the entire Tribulation, which will certainly mark a dreadful time for the world, begins when the Antichrist ratifies his “covenant” and lasts seven years,  the final half will be even worse. It will finish when Jesus personally comes to put an end to the most horrific despot that has ever lived and destroy his armies at Armageddon (Daniel 7:11-14; Revelation 19:7-21).

From the halfway point, when the Antichrist abrogates the covenant, the exact time of the Second Coming of Jesus is given as 1260 days (symbolically described in Revelation 12:1-7. See also Genesis 37:1-9 which identifies the parties in the Revelation passage), which is also the amount of time Israel is given supernatural refuge by God in the wilderness after the treaty is broken.

We now have two definite markers in time for Jesus’ Second Coming. The Rapture has none. The only way to explain this is that they are two different events.

We also do not know is how soon after the Rapture the Tribulation will begin. It may follow closely, since the sudden and unexplained disappearance of millions of those who have accepted Jesus will send unprecedented shock waves across our planet. I have no doubt that Satan will exploit this time of global fear and confusion to bring his “man of sin” onto the world stage and ultimately into a position of authority that no other human being has ever attained before.

The Beginning of the Tribulation

Let’s look at a possible scenario of how these last seven years might begin.

The Rapture has come and gone, millions of people have vanished. Theories are rampant as to what has happened as the human race reels in fear. How will people react? Looking at post-World War 1 Germany may give us valuable insight into that question.

It was a time when that nation was a complete mess on every level. It’s economy was ruin, unemployment was high, and its people demoralized. Into this scene appeared a young, intense, charismatic man, whom some described as having literally a spellbinding effect on his associates and, ultimately, on the masses of Germans looking for someone who could give them the answers and a hope for the future that they could not find anywhere else.

I’m sure you already recognize this description of Adolf Hitler,  the German Chancellor whose wickedness cost the lives of millions in his mad dash for global domination.

History has shown that desperate people do desperate things and I believe that the Antichrist will come to power following this dark blueprint from the past. Since humanity never seems to learn from history, the Antichrist, like Hitler, will be welcomed with open arms.

Into the Dark Times

It may very well be that with the along with ascent of the Antichrist to power, people will buy into his promises that a golden age is just ahead. I expect he’ll come up with a multi-spectrumed plan to stabilize the global economy and to attempt to deal with the increasing distresses that Bible Prophecy has told us will characterize the Tribulation. Perhaps his most significant action will be his confirmation of a Middle East peace treaty which had already been mapped out before his ascent to world leadership. It will initially succeed where previous peace plans have failed. It will also start the seven-year  Tribulation countdown clock.

Paradoxically, despite an overall deterioration of conditions on Earth as God’s judgments are being poured out, the Middle East, Israel in particular, may experience relative “peace and safety” (1 Thessalonians 5:3) for the next three and a half years.

The reason the Antichrist gives his approval to this peace treaty may be twofold: First, to raise his stature in the eyes of the world. Second, to get as many Jews back to Israel so he can get most of them into one place for future extermination (Zechariah 14:1-2; Revelation 16:13-14).

The confirmed covenant may possibly include a provision that allows for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple on its original site, yet another powerful incentive to get the Jews to come home. That the temple must exist at some level of completion is a necessary element in the prophetic timeline and integral to the Antichrist’s plans when he goes there to declare himself “God” three and a half years later, as we will soon see.

Most people, excepting those who come to believe in Jesus after the Rapture, Jews and Gentiles alike, will apparently believe in this “Answer Man” so much that they’ll embrace his ultimate claims of deity without resistance. That will initiate the final three and a half year countdown when world conditions get a lot worse. As far as Israel goes, it, along with the Tribulation Christians, will become the prime targets of his retaliation.

Into the Darkest Times

THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION

Matthew {24:15, 21} When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)  . .  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Jesus is the speaker.)

What is this “Abomination of Desolation?”

In order to set the stage for that, here is what must happen first:

Daniel {9:27} And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

2 Thessalonians  {2:3-4} Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come,] except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition*; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. *The Antichrist

Without the temple being rebuilt, these prophecies could not be fulfilled because it is needed for the Mosaic system to be reinstituted – and then disrupted. The next prophecy after the Antichrist’s usurpation of the temple is the creation of the “Abomination of Desolation.”

Daniel actually mentions two instances of this taking place:

Daniel {8:13-14} Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain [saint] which spake, How long [shall be] the vision [concerning] the daily [sacrifice,] and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

This first incident involved the desecration of the temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 B.C. At that time, he installed in it his own altar, a statue of Zeus with his face on it and offered up swine – an animal declared by God as unclean. Three years later,  the Maccabees successfully regained control of the temple and purified it. Chanukah annually celebrates this victory and the miracle of a one-day supply of sanctified lamp oil lasting instead for eight days.

Concerning the apparent discrepancy of the length of time noted by Daniel as being  twice as long as the actual length between the defilement (Kislev 25, 168 B.C.) and purification of the temple (Kislev 25, 165 B.C.),  according to the Zondervan Study Bible (copyright 2002), the term “days,” as used by Daniel, was actually the total of mornings and evenings. That brings us to 1150 twenty-four hour days, or about 3 years and two months. The extra two months are attributed to the interval between Antiochus’ removal of the Jewish altar and replacing it with his own.

Now here is the account of the future version, first from Daniel, then from Revelation:

Daniel 9:27 {9:27} And he* shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week** he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of  abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. *The Antichrist. ** Note that the length of time Daniel gives for this second desecration is three and a half years. Here we  have one week equaling seven years, four months longer than the amount of time regarding the first “abomination” by Antiochus IV.

Revelation {13:14-15} And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he* had power to do in the sight of the beast**; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.  *The False Prophet, the Antichrist’s second in command and spokesman. **Antichrist

Where Antiochus had placed an ordinary statue in the temple, the passage above indicates that his “abomination” will be animated somehow by the False Prophet. With the level of electronic technology available today, this does not at all sound far-fetched. There may be even more to it than mere technology, perhaps a supernatural component, at which we can only guess now. Whatever the nature of this “abomination” is, I suspect that most of the world will willingly worship it, especially after the miraculous “pseudo-resurrection” of the Antichrist himself by the devil himself (Revelation 13:3).

This will begin the time at which things get indescribably worse.

The Times of the Signs – Part One – By Ed Wood

The phrase, “Signs of the Times,” is no doubt familiar to anyone who visits this blog, but can we turn this round and use the sequence of them to give us a clue as to how far along we are on the prophetic timeline?  Using the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21), let’s do a “status check” on the signs Jesus told us would be coming to the world after his Ascension.

Fulfilled

TEMPLE DESTROYED

This sign was completed within forty years of Jesus’ prediction when the Roman General Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70. Though Jerusalem exists once again and is under Israeli jurisdiction, the Temple Mount is under control of the Muslim Waqf and the site is presently occupied by the Dome of the Rock and the Al – Aqsa Mosque.

In  Progress

FALSE PROPHETS

It’s important to bear in mind that “prophecy” is not limited to the disclosing of future events, but anything presented as being messages from God. Naturally, there are those who have taken it upon themselves to pass along lies in God’s name. They’ve been around a long time. The passage below from the Old Testament provides the way to recognize a false prophet :

Deuteronomy {13:1-3} If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and  giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

In Jesus’ time we have:

Matthew {7:15-20} Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Jesus is the speaker).

Many of the Epistles were written to combat false doctrine presented by lying prophets as well:

1 Timothy {4:1} Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.

1 John {2:18-19, 2:22-23} Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many  antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out,] that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. . . . Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

That this kind of activity is increasing and is evident in the falling away of what comprises much of “organized religion” today. Much of Protestantism in the Western World has denied Jesus (sometimes, even his gender!) as the only means of salvation. Many have accepted homosexual lifestyles, even among their clergy which the Bible clearly opposes. These false teachings are nothing less than the “doctrines of devils” being promoted by lying prophets.

The worst of these deceivers appears at the end of the age during the Tribulation, namely the Antichrist and his henchman, the False Prophet:

Revelation {13:11-12} And I beheld another beast* coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast** before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. *The False Prophet (Revelation 19:20); **the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 13:2)

Multiple Signs – One Verse

Matthew {24:7} For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

WAR

The Twentieth Century was the deadliest in terms of casualties due to warfare, the First and Second World Wars alone accounting for millions. Along with these, there were more major military conflicts in that century than any which preceded it and the warlike tendencies of this past century appear  not to have abated in the Twenty-First.

Indeed, it will be a war of an unprecedented scale that if allowed to continue would very likely be the end of the human race entirely, were it not for the direct intervention of Jesus himself (Revelation 16:12-14; 19:11-21).

FAMINE

This is unmistakably increasing, especially in Third World countries as the result in overpopulation accompanied by a deterioration in the ability of the land itself to produce food. Part of the reason can be attributed to yet another sign, that of natural disasters, which we will shortly see. Even in the industrialized countries such as the U.S., though there are not the extremes of hunger of the magnitude we see in other parts of the world, a significant percentage of their populations go to bed hungry every day.

PESTILENCE

Disease is increasing across the world and there are many reasons. In no particular order, here are the main reasons, in my opinion. Poverty is getting worse world-wide which deprives people of healthy living conditions ans access to medical care. Pathogens are adapting and becoming resistant to pharmaceuticals that formerly were effective. The relative ease, speed, and modest cost of travel and transport has provided an accelerated mechanism for the transmission of diseases quicker and over wider areas than ever before.

EARTHQUAKES AND NATURAL DISASTERS

United States Geological Survey data clearly indicates that seismic activity has ramped up considerably since the turn of the century for reasons that are not understood. Accompanying these, hardly a day goes by when extreme weather stories do not appear in the news. This year (2019), vast areas of the United States alone have hit with major flooding and unusually powerful spring snowstorms. Formerly record breaking meteorological events have now become commonplace.

The Human Condition in the Last Days

PEOPLE GET WORSE

Look at how people are acting of the opening decades of this century and see if it squares up with what the Bible predicts. Ask yourself: Do these nearly 2000 year-old passages sound very familiar in our own time?

Matthew {24:12} And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (Jesus is the speaker.)

2 Timothy {3:1-4} This know also, that in the last days perilous times  shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.

Let’s face it, unless you’ve been marooned on a desert island for the past half a century, you know that the answer is a definite “Yes!” It seems like every day we are encountering blatant examples of all of the above. The behavior ranges for the more subtle instances of people just looking for pleasure above all else to the extremes of sociopaths committing crimes on a frequency and magnitude hitherto unprecedented. It’s becoming increasingly easier to believe that the inmates are in firm control of the asylum.

CHRISTIANS PERSECUTED

Matthew {24:9-10} Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended,  and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. (Jesus is the speaker.)

Jesus was the first to die for the truth that he was not only the Son of God, but God himself and he made it clear that those who also believed this would likewise subject to persecution – up to, and including death. Of all his original apostles, except for Judas Iscariot who betrayed him and subsequently committed suicide, only John died of natural causes at an advanced age.

In the intervening centuries, history records the many accounts of those persecuted even up to the point of death for their Christian beliefs. There are probably even more whose did so whose names are known to God alone. The persecution continues today, notable in atheistic and Muslim societies where proclaiming that one is a Christian will subject a person to prison or death.

It is certainly not limited to these extremes because even in a free nation like the United States, those who believe in Jesus are increasingly subject to discrimination. For example, in our public schools, Jesus and God have been effectively banned by the Supreme Court since 1963. That this obvious infringement on our First Amendment rights and freedoms has been allowed to stand for 56 years is, to me, even more distressing that this unjust ruling itself. Perhaps what it reveals is that in the United States, God’s opponents are more dedicated to their cause than those who call themselves followers of Christ.

Perhaps even more telling is that those who believe in the Jesus of Scripture often find themselves unwelcome in the congregations of most of the liberal denominations of the church today. It seems these organizations have an open mind toward just about everything except those things revealed as truth in the Bible and the people who maintain that Scripture alone is the ultimate authority.

GOSPEL PREACHED WORLDWIDE

Matthew {24:14} And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Jesus is the speaker.)

With the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in the Fifteenth Century, the age began in which printed material could be mass-produced, ultimately making it affordable by the general public. (Interestingly, the Bible was the most notable product of his press.) From that beginning, the Bible remains the best-selling book in the world.

No longer limited to only a physical document, the Bible is now freely available in a multitude of languages on the Internet, accessible anywhere on the planet where one has a laptop, power supply, and a satellite link. We presently see Jesus’ words on this subject fulfilled on a level surpassing any other time in history. Yet, the dissemination of the Bible will go beyond technology into the supernatural during the Tribulation:

Revelation {14:6-7} And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

It seems that in our present time and the turbulent years of the Tribulation, God is still giving people the chance to make the choice of whether to accept or reject him. It certainly makes a defense of ignorance a lot less tenable, doesn’t it?

FAMILIES IN STRIFE

Mark {13:12} Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against [their] parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

In totalitarian societies, the situation was (and remains) grim. For example, the betrayal of a family member to the Gestapo in Hitler’s Germany was considered the duty of a loyal citizen. This outrageous sort of practice continued in Soviet Russia and no doubt has been replicated in many authoritarian regimes past and present. There continue to be beheadings by those who have converted from Islam to Christianity, some betrayed by family members in fundamentalist Muslim nations where such conversions are considered a capital offense.

Free nations, such as the U.S., are not immune to family problems. Even in the instances where an intact family exists, too often economic necessity requires the income of both mother and father to support the household which leaves the rearing of the children, even in infancy, in the hands of a daycare center. Now this is not in any way meant to malign these dedicated and often underpaid individuals who provide this service, but one must wonder if anyone other than a parent can be as committed to the child’s best interests.

Complicating these matters is the growing number of  single-parent families where what should be a shared responsibility is now shouldered by only one person – a situation which is, at best, a lot tougher economically and emotionally on both parent and child.

Finally, in a direct threat to the traditional family, as I see it, is the legalization of “gay” marriage and allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, thus exposing them to a lifestyle which not only the Bible declares as objectively wrong, but, up until very recent times, so has secular society. As to where this will lead in the years ahead, one can only guess. My personal guess is that it will not lead to anything good.

Conclusion

Of all the signs given here, one has been fulfilled, the others are already in progress. Now where do we stand in the prophetic timeline at this point? I believe we’ve arrived at the point where NO additional prophecies, except the Rapture, need to be fulfilled before the Tribulation period begins. The signs that remain will only come to pass until the last seven years of this age have begun. We’ll look at them in the second part of this article. Now, more than ever, let’s remember the words Jesus told his disciples concerning the Last Days:

And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Mark 13:37

Real Christianity – By Jack Kinsella

My dear friend Jack Kinsella, now in Heaven, wrote the following article in 2004. Like all of his writings, they are timeless and right on the mark, Biblically speaking.

The article speaks to me, personally, as a Christian, and I hope it will do so to you, also.

–Terry

For most Christians, there are two kinds of Christianity.  There is the kind of Christianity everybody else should embody — and there is the kind of Christian that they are.

Generally speaking, one bears little or no resemblance to the other.

The kind of Christianity we expect from other Christians is one of sinless perfection; a person who explodes into profanity when he hits his finger with a hammer is not a ‘real Christian’ or he would have been able to check his language.

A Christian who drinks or goes out for a drink in a restaurant or bar isn’t a real Christian.  Christians don’t drink.  A Christian who is going through a divorce isn’t a real Christian.  A real Christian would tough it out, remembering Christ’s admonition about divorce.

A Christian who still smokes isn’t a real Christian.  A real Christian would have been delivered from that nasty habit by the saving power of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

There are Christians who think other Christians shouldn’t have a weight problem — ‘gluttony’ is one of the few besetting sins actually named in Scripture, together with drunkeness and adultery.

(In general, other fat Christians don’t see obesity as a sin — it is a ‘disease’ or it ‘runs in the family’ or it just isn’t as bad as smoking or drinking.)

Still, a fat Christian going through a divorce, who turns to the bottle to drown his sorrows isn’t a real Christian.

Real Christians are never out of fellowship with the Father.  If they are, then they are ‘lost’.  That begs the question, were they ever ‘found’ in the first place?

There are two sides the question of eternal security.  One school of thought is that one can lose one’s salvation through sin and must be reborn again.

The other school of thought says ‘once saved, always saved’.  The latter view says that if someone continues to sin after salvation, then they probably weren’t really saved in the first place.

A quick look at the former view and how that stacks up to Scripture: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27)

Those who believe one can lose one’s salvation through wilfull sin point to this verse, focusing on the “if they sin wilfully” part as evidence that it IS possible to ‘fall away’ and be condemned to ‘certain’ ‘judgment and fiery indignation’ in hell.

But Hebrews 6:4-6 says, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

The other side points out that it is ‘impossible for those who were once enlightened’ TO fall away.  Both miss the message.

What this Scripture teaches is that it is impossible, if one DID ‘fall away’ to ‘renew them again to repentance’, since that would mean crucifying’ to themselves the Son of God afresh,’ putting Him ‘to an open shame’.

Renewing AGAIN to repentance would mean that the first Sacrifice was insufficient, and His Power to save is subordinate to our power to sin.

As Hebrews 10:10-11 tells us, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right Hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.”

Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, assumed the form of sinful man so that He could pay the penalty for sin forever.  On the Cross, He was reviled, beaten, crucified naked, and bore in His Body the sins of all mankind on their behalf.

If His one sacrifice for sins was ‘forever’ but was insufficient to keep those Whom He had saved, then His shame at the Cross is not over.  He must continually be ‘sacrificed’ for sin.

Moreover, if it is impossible, having once been saved, to be renewed unto repentance, then the lost Christian is in much worse condition than the lost sinner.  The lost sinner still has a chance to be saved.

The lost Christian is, on the authority of Scripture, lost forever.

He had his chance, he blew it, and now there remains ‘no more sacrifice for sins’.

He might as well continue in sin for all he is worth. He has no hope of further redemption.  Or Hebrews 6:4-6 is meaningless.

Something cannot be simultaneously possible and impossible — things that are different are NOT the same.

Assessment:

Often, I am accused of preaching a ‘license to sin’ — usually by the ‘temporary security’ crowd, but also sometimes by those who believe their eternal security is eternal and cannot be lost.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  There is no ‘license’ to sin, and all sin will be judged by God.  But that doesn’t mean Christians DON’T sin.

Now the questions grow more confusing.  If a Christian can sin his way out of being saved, which sin is the one that constitutes ‘falling away’?  Is it murder?  Rape?  Lustful thoughts?  Drinking?  Smoking?  Drug abuse?

I know of Christians who became addicted to prescription drugs.  Are they lost?  At what point did they slide across the line?  When they doubled up their Valium prescription, or when they started buying them on the street?  Should Christians even TAKE Valium?

Is taking a prescription tranquilizer the start of the slide — or evidence the slide has already occurred?  Is your doctor contributing to your sin by practicing medicine?  Should you avoid doctors?  Or just ignore their advice?  Why even go SEE a doctor?

What IS sin?  James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

If a Christian ‘knoweth to do good’ but doesn’t do it, Scripture says that to him, that is sin.  Christians, therefore, either ALWAYS do good, or they sin.

Do you know anybody who ALWAYS does good?  Do you?

If not, then are you lost, condemned forever to hell, since you blew your only chance? (Hebrews 6:4-6)

There are two kinds of Christianity, as I noted at the outset.  The kind of Christian you expect your pastor to be, and the kind of Christian that YOU know you are — while despairing your shortcomings.

But only one of them is real.

Your pastor will NEVER live up to the standard of Christianity you expect of him.  You just don’t know his secret sins.  But you can bet they exist..

Just like yours do.

How many sins does it take to get out of fellowship with God?  The answer is one.

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

How much obedience does it take to get right with God?  The obedience of One is sufficient to make us righteous, if we trust Him for our salvation.

Of the two kinds of Christianity, there is only one that is real.

Yours.

Not your pastor’s — or your perception of your pastor, or his perception of you.  Or your Christian friends who continually point out your need to ‘put away your besetting sins’.  They have their own.

(How many of them are walking advertisements for the sin of gluttony?  Do they have a ‘license’ for that sin that you don’t have for yours?  Is John Hagee forever lost?  Sure, he can lose weight.  And YOU can quit smoking, drinking, or whatever.  But he is still fat, and you still smoke)

There is no ‘license’ to sin.  There is only sin.  Our natural state is that of a sinner.  Evil is the absence of good.  Note that the default position in this world is that there is first evil.  Evil is dispelled by good — not the other way around.

Consider a totally dark room.  Darkness is the absence of light.  The default is darkness, not light.  It takes energy to make light to dispell the darkness.

Absent the energy given off by light, it remains dark, and not the other way around.

You cannot shine a beam of darkness into a lighted room.

Jesus said that we are ‘children of the light’ that is, we are energized by the inherent goodness of His indwelling Holy Spirit.  His Presence in the life of a believer dispells the darkness by shining through the clear Light of truth.

It is that Light that exposes the darkness of sin — a lost person sees sin as his natural and inevitable state — how many times has somebody told you that they actually would RATHER go to hell where he will feel comfortable around his friends?

On the other hand, a saved person, indwelt by the Light, wants nothing more than to be in the Presence of Christ for eternity.  Even as he struggles with his sin nature.

The worst thing about hell to a Christian isn’t the torment so much as the eternal separation from Christ — “Having once tasted the heavenly gift” — the writer of Hebrews puts it.

Sin has consequences — their is no ‘license to sin’ in Scripture.  Smokers get lung cancer.  Alcoholics get liver disease.  Drug abusers overdose.  Divorce brings its own misery.  Getting saved eternally doesn’t mean you are exempt from the earthly consequences of your sinful actions.

There is only one REAL Christianity.  And it isn’t your pastor’s, or that person who seems to have conquered sin in their life, or Bill Graham’s kind of Christianity, or Hal Lindsey’s or mine.

There is only one kind of REAL Christianity.

Yours.

You know whether or not you sincerely try to do good, whether you always make it or not.  So does the One Who went to the Cross for you because He KNEW you wouldn’t always make it.  That’s why He did it.

Your relationship with Jesus is unique; it isn’t like anybody else’s. Jesus saves us individually.  He loves us individually.  He answers our individual prayers.

He walks with us as individuals, He talks with us as individuals.  His Spirit indwells us individually, and guides us through our individual trials and tribulations.

Paul wrote to the Phillipians; “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (2:12)

“Work out your OWN salvation” with the Individual with Whom you have a personal relationship.  Through His Spirit, Jesus will guide you into all truth, but it takes time.

For some, it takes more time than others. Like the fat guy who criticizes you for smoking — he clearly hasn’t gotten it yet.

He misses the fact that when he points a finger at you, there are three pointing back at him.

Jesus was crucified, arms outstretched and palms up.

The biggest besetting sin of all is the one that keeps you from doing ‘good’.  In this life, the Scripture says that the only time we do good is when we obey God’s will.

“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.” (2nd Peter 3:9)

Our purpose in this life is to lead others to Christ — according to God’s will that none should perish.

Be grateful that He accounted you worthy of salvation.  Put your life and your sin nature in His nail-scarred Hands.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

You will never be ‘good enough’ — but He is.

Trust Him to make the changes in your life that He sees fit.  Know that you are a work in progress and that your life is ordered according to a Divine Plan — one God has for YOU.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you WILL PERFORM IT until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6)

The only REAL Christianity is the kind that brings victory, not defeat.  Leave defeat in the world it was designed for.

Pray instead that God will, “Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His Sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:21)

That is NOT a license to sin.  It is a license to persevere, getting back up when you fall, doing God’s Will — despite the trials of this world — none of which are news to Jesus.

Don’t let the enemy steal your victory.

It came at too high a Price.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on November 14, 2004

If There is No God . . . Part Two – By Ed Wood

 

Suppose your friend remains unconvinced by the arguments we examined in the first article that the odds that life could have come into existence by chance are so fleetingly small as to be impossible. Now what? Let’s therefore regroup and come at the problem from another direction.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that there is no God and see what that premise does to the things most people take for granted in everyday life.

I went to college way back in the 1970’s majoring in Earth Science, a time still characterized by the uncertainty and turmoil of the decade preceding it. Though the unrest was on the wane, it was still a time of questioning many pillars of our society such as how the government was being run, capitalism in general, and whether or not God was dead or even if he ever existed at all.

I remember as if it were yesterday when an upperclassman told me in my first freshman weeks something to the effect of, “By the time you’re done here, you won’t believe in God.” I disagreed with him but I can’t for the life of me remember whether I made a good case for my point of view or not. As it turned out, college did not turn me into an atheist and I’m hoping that over the course of the intervening decades I can better defend my beliefs.

Where Science Leaves Off

I’ve always been fascinated by science, ever since the day my mother had sent away for a map of the solar system back in 1959 (I know the date because I discovered its copyright year on the Internet). The sun, planets, and other celestial objects were presented in full, vivid color, and totally captured my attention. From there I went on to getting books on astronomy and the other sciences, an activity that has lasted up through today! Truth is, not being the scholarly type by nature, science is about the only subject I consistently “aced” in school.

I came to appreciate the ability of science to explain how things were put together and how they work, from atoms to stars, single cells to people. I’ve also learned its limitations, the things it couldn’t explain. There are two categories of the latter: things presently unknown which the future likely would resolve and those that are unquantifiable that which will forever lie outside its grasp. Let’s take a look at some of those of those “immeasurables.”

A Pound of Trust

Ever trust anyone or anything? At some point in your life you must have, though a lot of people would strongly deny they ever did. Here are some simple examples: When you go to the grocery store every week and buy a can of soup, aren’t you trusting that what’s inside isn’t actually a lethal poison?

How about when you got into your car to go to the store in the first place? Didn’t you trust that your vehicle was designed in such a way that it would get you there without falling apart en route? Or that the guy with the red light wasn’t going to T-bone you when you drove through the intersection when you had the green?

Admittedly, it gets more complicated when it comes to trusting in any kind of relationship because you’ve probably noticed by now that no one is perfect – including the owner of the face that looks back at you in the mirror every day. Unless you have some level of trust, life pretty much becomes impossible. You might not realize it, but you trusted the total strangers who filled the soup can and those who designed and assembled your car.

Trust is not something science can handle because it can’t be measured or seen. Show me a pound of trust, or any other emotion, for that matter, but it exists all the same. Science is even more at a loss to demonstrate where it came from in the first place.

It’s time now to explore some other “immeasurables” in the context of a universe with or without God.

Why Get Upset?

Unless someone is a sociopath, just about everyone in every culture has a capacity for outrage under some pretty universal circumstances. For example, harm coming to a family member or friend at the hands of someone else. Little kids getting horrible diseases and having to suffer through no fault of their own. Watching a hardened criminal get released on a technicality to commit crimes again. Grappling with someone close to us dying. I’m sure you can make your own list.

The question here is, what is it that gets us so upset about these things? Is it just a matter of self-interest in hoping that the bad things we see happening to others won’t happen to us or is there something more that we can’t quite put our fingers on but is an integral part of our natures? If it is, why is it so?

Putting God into the picture makes the answer a lot easier because we who believe humans are made in his image. The Bible shows us the same sorts of things also outrage God. The evidence of this lies in what Jesus did when he was here. He cured the sick, stood up for the downtrodden, raised the dead, and finally in the greatest of all miracles, was raised from death himself. God makes the concepts of “good” and “evil” genuine because he was the one who defined them in the first place.

Removing God from the equation nullifies everything the Bible teaches as well as the reason we should be indignant about anything because from the atheistic point of view whatever happens is nothing more than a roll of the dice.

Isn’t it therefore interesting that most atheists will still be just as upset over the same things that believers are? Their problem is, unlike those who accept the existence of God, they have no logical reason for their dismay because whatever happens is all the product of random chance.

Morality

One’s point of view regarding the existence of God means everything when it comes to good or evil, right or wrong. For the believer, God is the ultimate lawgiver who defined these things in absolute terms even before he made the universe. These standards are clearly seen in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), Jesus’ summary of the moral law expressed in the Commandments (Matthew 22:34-40), and his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7). Since believers accept that God made the absolutes of the physical laws on which the cosmos operates, absolutes of morality are certainly consistent with his character.

But what do we have if there is no God?

In this case, the concepts of right or wrong are totally in the eye of the beholder. The problem is that if everyone freely “did their own thing,” no stable society could ever exist. Since it was necessary for people to be able to live together cooperatively, they had to come up with some rules to make it possible, some means of governing. Across the span of history right into the present, we see all manner of variations of government ranging from reasonably free kinds where its citizens have a voice in how they are governed to rigid autocracies like North Korea where only the voice of the guy on top matters.

For a country like the United States which was founded by men who believed in God (despite what the modern historical revisionists would have you believe) many of the biblical principles of right and wrong found expression in its original founding principles and laws, a legacy which reaches up into the present, yet is no doubt under challenge in our present times. Even so, we are still a lot better off than those atheistic dictatorships where one man and his underlings call the shots. One need look no further than Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, or Kim’s North Korea to find examples of a state-defined morality those of us in free countries find totally repulsive.

If God does not exist, however, none of these systems or societies is better or worse than any other in absolute terms because right and wrong are defined by whatever the respective society says they are. If one decides that killing some of its residents simply because they are of a certain ethnic group is okay while another society finds this abhorrent, so what? Nothing is intrinsically evil or good because there is no ultimate “Lawgiver” to define these terms in the first place.

Despite this, I would wager to say that most people, even atheists, function as if there really are some kind of universal standards that operate at a level beyond civil law and at times supersede it. That was certainly Dr. Martin Luther King’s premise in his letter from a Birmingham jail in 1963:

“One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’ ”

As we all well know, his premise was based entirely on his belief in God who defined what was just and unjust in absolute terms right from the start – or, in our case, before the universe ever came to exist.

But Dr. King is only right if his premise of God’s existence is correct. Otherwise, his views on racism being evil are nothing more than his personal opinions, not better or worse than the opinions of a leader of the KKK or neo-Nazi group.

To sum it up, a believer in God can logically argue what is right and wrong based on his or her premise that he established the standards. An atheist lacking this basic premise cannot logically claim anything being intrinsically good or bad, even though most of them go through life acting as if this is the case.

Explaining Awe

Ever watch a particularly striking sunrise or sunset? Or see the arch of a rainbow in the summer sky after a thunderstorm? Or gaze up into a perfectly clear night at a sky speckled with thousands of stars?

How did it make you feel?

If you’re like most of us you experienced a sense of awe, even if you know the science behind what you were seeing. There is just “something” about experiencing such things that touches one in a way that words cannot describe. We don’t know if other creatures we consider to have a reasonably high order of intelligence are also capable of feeling what we call “awe,” but we know for certain that we can.

Why do we have this ability? It certainly isn’t required to help us find food, shelter, or to procreate. Could it be related to the universal tendency of humans throughout history to develop some kind of religion which goes beyond just an attempt to understand or perhaps even control aspects of nature that are at the time unexplainable and uncontrollable?

It seems that for some reason we humans seem to have wired into our being some kind of impulse to seek out something much greater than ourselves. I might be wrong but I’m of the opinion that it takes a real struggle for someone to turn into an atheist because they have to make a concerted effort to go against this basic drive all humans seem to have.

Perhaps the best evidence of that is just how vehemently atheists defend their point of view when challenged by someone who does believe in God. Why is that? After all, if God doesn’t exist, aren’t they making much ado over . . . nothing? Seems like an atheist has to work awfully hard at denying God, as if trying to shut out a persistent inner voice that keeps telling them that they are completely wrong! (See 1 Kings 19:9-12)

Bigger than Us

According to Genesis, the first two people knew right from the start that there was “someone” else besides themselves who was much greater than they were. It is likely in their sinless beginning that this relationship with God was on a level far beyond any which was possible after separation caused by the Fall, although there are many incidents of “close encounters” of various kinds afterward throughout the Bible (e.g. Genesis 28:10-17; 18:1; Exodus 3:1-4:16; Ezekiel 1:26-28). When Jesus came to live among us, mortal humans once again could talk to God face to face but even then only Peter, James, and John, got to behold the merest a glimpse of his true glory (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8 ).

However, for most of history since the expulsion from Eden, our knowledge of the one True God has been limited (1 Corinthians 13:11-12) which led to just about every society developing some kind of religion. The earliest were usually some kind of nature worship. In the midst of something like a powerful storm, a total solar eclipse, or the aurora borealis (or australis in the southern hemisphere), this is perfectly understandable. Most of the things in the natural world are much bigger than we are and still remain beyond our ability to control even with the technology of the Twenty-first Century. Nature-religions such as Wicca still exist today and are even finding “scientific” incarnations in the more extreme elements of the environmental movement.

Generally, though, many cultures moved from worship of nature to the “deities” they believed to be controlling it. Only comparatively recently has the idea of “one God” become predominant, with variations amongst them. The one true God has repeatedly made himself known directly across early history to men such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, to name but a few, right up into modern times, most clearly as Jesus of Nazareth, the record of these encounters faithfully preserved across the millennia in what we now call the Bible.

If we accept the existence of God as revealed in this Bible, then it makes a lot of sense that he would instill a trait to seek him out in every human who has ever lived. Unfortunately this quest has all too often led to what in some cases have become bloody confrontations among peoples of varying views across the ages, right up to the present.

Even conflicts which are not overtly termed as “religious wars” have religious underpinnings. In the Twentieth Century, World Wars 1 and 2, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War were between free societies based on Judeo-Christian principles against those in which the “state” (or its respective leader) was the object of worship, as was the Cold War of the century just past.

Today, the increasing rise of Islamic terrorism against Jews and Christians is a particularly ugly, escalating and clearly religious conflict, though it seems that the politicians and media just aren’t seeing it in these terms. I have no doubt the inability to see this reality is but one component of our age that will ultimately bring about the war of Armageddon as the Antichrist tries to take over the world claiming to be “God” and demanding worship as such. With that in mind, it’s time to consider what may be the most important question of all.

A Plan for Humanity?

From the perspective of the pure evolutionist, humans, whales, trees, or algae evolve only in response to their respective environments. If they fail to adapt successfully, they become extinct. There’s no “plan” for any of them, no predetermined destiny. If something ends up going extinct, then it either failed to adapt or was at the wrong place at the wrong time like the dinosaurs when the asteroid hit Earth 65 million years ago and killed off most of them.

If it happens again while we’re still here, we could share their fate. We could even do it to ourselves in a global nuclear war or in developing and turning loose a lethal virus into the environment. An Armageddon is now a real possibility. But if the atheists are right, it doesn’t matter because nothing – including us – has any real purpose anyway. We’re only here as the product of totally random chance

Yet if one instead subscribes to a universe designed and run by God, then humans were created in his image and he has an overall plan for them. Many religions of the world have their own concepts of where we will eventually end up, but for our purposes, we’ll stick to the one that the Bible reveals since it is, in my opinion, reliable to a much higher degree than any of its competitors (a vast subject of study and commentary in itself). That plan is to bring those who believe in him into his presence for all eternity by the atoning sacrifice of his Son Jesus and to one day recreate the entire universe and come to dwell among us in the New Jerusalem on a new Earth.

Without God, there is no plan. On an individual level, once one takes his or her last breath, as far as they are concerned, it’s the end of the line. As a species, our future would continue to unfold in a random manner until it ceases to exist just like the countless other species that came before us Barring divine intervention even if we manage to hang on for a long haul, our sun’s increasing output will one day make life on Earth impossible, evaporating our oceans and turning our planet into a second Venus. But it gets worse because billions of years from now the sun will expand into a red giant and swallow up Mercury, Venus, and possibly Earth itself.

We might be smart enough by then to figure out how to make a mass exodus to Mars to escape the solar fires, but even that will be temporary. Presupposing we did manage to survive the flames, the sun will eventually contract and cool off. The problem will then become one of dealing with the intense cold instead of the searing heat.

If we are then advanced enough technologically to travel to another star system to escape our dead one, it will only delay the inevitable once again because no star lasts forever, nor will the universe itself. There are even some theories that matter itself will be torn apart as the fabric of space continues to expand leaving only an unimaginably cold, dark, nothingness behind.

Just as death is an inescapable fact of life for the individual, so it will be eventually be for everything if there is no God to intervene. (Personally, I like the ending of Revelation 21 and 22 a whole lot better!)

Conclusion

I hope this article and its predecessor have provided something for both believers and non-believers to ponder and hopefully discuss, should the opportunity arise. If you, like me, are a believer, then you have real reason to hope for the future. Perhaps the arguments here may help in convincing others that our hope is a genuine one and one in which they, too, can share.

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