"Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3)
The world today seems to be spiraling out of control. Amidst the ever-increasing carnage and chaos there does not seem to be any one person, group, country or international body with the ability restore calm, or even basic common sense. We are living in the age of chaos.
We are met daily by scenes of butchery via 24-hour news. From the ruin that once was Syria and the active genocide taking place there, to the open use of WMD's (by whichever ever side), and subsequent retaliations by the United States.
We see a resurgent Russia and Iran invading the Middle East and making no bones about the fact that in their estimation, Syria now belongs to them. How long until they turn their gaze upon little Israel, and her significant "spoils?" Not long now.
We see a nuclear armed and belligerent North Korea led by an unhinged and crazed madman. We are witness to the United States of America apparently locking itself into a mutual cycle of ever-increasing escalation with this reclusive and crazed power.
Where is this heading and where will it end? World War III? Or will it fizzle out and amount to nothing? How will this affect us? Will any of it touch us personally?
We must understand that the battles and confrontations we see manifesting in the physical world today are mere weak reflections of the battles taking place in the spiritual world at the same time.
The battle that began eons ago in the Garden of Eden is likely to soon reach its climax in our own age, quite possibly during our own lifetimes. Of all people, we as Christians have been blessed to have the future history of the earth's final years revealed to us in advance through God's Holy Word. The Bible, uniquely, is our guide throughout this final cataclysmic chapter in earth's history.
We stand today on the threshold of these cataclysmic events, and to some that brings a sense of dread and foreboding, even fear. But God does not intend for us to fear what is to come:
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)
It is for this reason that God tells us the end from the very beginning, as Isaiah testifies:
"I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, 'My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.'" (Isaiah 46:10)
Amos tells us that the reason God reveals these things is because He intends for his people to know both His Sovereign will, and how human history will work itself out according to His purpose,
"Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7)
Jesus Christ, whilst speaking to his apostles on the Mount of Olives, shortly before his crucifixion, explained that he was telling them in advance about his death so that when it happened, they would believe in Him,
"I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe." (John 14:29).
The same is true of all prophecy. Indeed, that is in part why prophecy exists, and understanding this is intrinsic to following Jesus. As John says in his Revelation,
"For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus." (Revelation 19:10)
God tells us, in exquisite detail, what will happen in the future because when it does happen, or when we can begin to see its imminent fulfillment, as we do now, He wants this foreknowledge to bolster our faith in His Son, Jesus. God uses prophecy to direct us to Jesus Christ.
We are not to approach this time as the unbelievers of this day will:
"People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken." (Luke 21:26)
"We are to look upon these days calmly, with insight, as ones who have been told ahead of time, and with a "sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)
As Christians we need to accept that a cosmic war that began many eons ago is now reaching its conclusion. Beginning in the Garden of Eden, with the subtlety of Satan beguiling Eve, human history has been played out against the backdrop of this cosmic war ever since. Scripture reveals to us that whilst Satan is no match for God Himself, he is nonetheless a significant foe who throughout the ages has exacted a great price on humanity itself, and caused inestimable damage to believers of all kinds throughout all ages.
Though Satan is not to be feared by true believers in Jesus Christ, nor is he to be taken lightly either.
Satan, in the Garden of Eden, usurped mankind's rightful ruler ship over this world. Adam's right to rule this earth was given to him by God Himself (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8:5-8). There is no such right of rulership given over to Satan, yet in his diabolical scheming, he has taken what is rightfully not his via subterfuge.
In his tempting of Jesus, when asking the Son of God to worship him, Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and proclaimed this: "I will give you all this power and all their glory - for it has been surrendered to me..."
The word surrendered in the original Greek is paradidomi, indicating that Satan's current rulership of this world was relinquished, abandoned, abdicated, given over or "surrendered" by Adam, in his disobedience. Satan is therefore the de-facto ruler of this creation. Very soon though, the Messiah Jesus Christ, will be taking that rulership back (Revelation 11:15).
We see this process beginning even now.
It is during the Tribulation period, now increasingly clear on all our collective horizons that God will finally reclaim ownership of this earth. At this point, in 2017 there are very specific restrictions and commands over what the forces of evil can and cannot do on this earth. They are being actively restrained on account of the awesome might and irresistible power of God Himself.
As believers in Jesus, we have a secure and Blessed Hope. Even though the study of these biblical end times is spiritually edifying in itself for us, it is nonetheless deadly serious in its implications. None of us today should be under any illusions as to how very bitter this period we are currently living through is going to increasingly become-as we approach the Tribulation period.
This final hour will be characterized by severe testing and hardship, and it is an hour that is almost upon us. There has simply been no period in previous human history with which to compare it, nor will there ever be again. No comparison can be made in terms of the pain and suffering it will bring, the terrible number of innocents who will lose their lives; the vast and completeness of the destruction of this final hour and the sheer scale of the evil that will be unleashed and manifested upon this earth-both visible and invisible.
The horrendous apocalyptic events, the privation, persecution and martyrdom are all going to be very real indeed for those living through it. It will be a time of unrestrained horror and few who witness its beginning will live to see its ending (Matthew 24:22). We are witnesses today to the increasing daily encroachment of this evil into our world, which is also a sure sign of the judgment of abandonment.
It is sobering indeed to think that before the removal of the Church, as those final days draw closer and closer, there is a real and growing possibility that we may all individually experience first-hand the beginnings of the great persecution and the horrors that will characterize it.
Darkness is overcoming this world, and it is bringing with it a visceral hatred for those who genuinely believe in and love Jesus. We are witnesses today to the increasing abandonment of our society because God is giving people in active rebellion to Him over to a reprobate mind.
The current raging debates surrounding LGBTQ+ issues, who can or cannot use locker rooms, at what age a child should be able to "transition" from a male to a female, are all symptomatic of this and indicative of how late this hour really is. The intensity of such discussions, which are becoming increasingly militant, is because God is increasingly giving people over to the desires of their hearts:
"Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts." (Romans 1:26)
Yet God does not give them over to this reprobate mind simply because of their immorality, but also because they refuse to honor God as He should be honored-as King, as God omnipotent and as the Creator:
"Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1:28)
This ever-growing hatred for true believers is only going to increase and will find its ultimate expression in the mass Christian genocide of the Tribulation period under the direct hand of Antichrist himself. (These are the Tribulation saints; those who are saved after the Rapture.)
Yet when we consider the Tribulation and its horrors, we must consider one important fact; this period in time is a part of God's master plan to finally bring to an end the satanic rebellion that began in the Garden all those many millennia ago. In doing so, God will once again bring complete restoration to the universe, to this earth and to humanity itself. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ then this means complete restoration for you also.
"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)
Few Christians today have a realistic, conceptual understanding of what Jesus Christ actually did for them on the cross, aside from "forgiving our sins." Jesus Christ has restored you. He has made you complete before God, sinless and perfect. As a believer, you have been adopted into the inner sanctum of God's family, a position you will hold for all eternity. You have become part of a royal priesthood, a peculiar people. When the Lord God comes near to you, He smells the fragrance of Jesus upon you; and when He looks upon you, He sees the radiance of Jesus covering you. The righteousness belonging to God's Son has been imparted to you, forever:
"This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." (Romans 3:22)
As if this were not enough, Jesus Christ has also made you perfect, spiritually and physically. That this achievement of physical perfection has not occurred yet does not change the reality of it. It is as certain as eternal life is for those who believe in the power of His name:
"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12)
Your eternal life, though lived in the future, is not something you will "collect" at some point after death, it is a present possession right here, right now.
Though we are currently below the angels, of all their various ranks and powers, in His victory at the cross and in His resurrection, Jesus became in His humanity superior to all angels in every way:
"...who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand-with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him." (1 Peter 3:22)
As believers in Jesus we share in this superior position and will do so in the future; experientially, not just in rank but also in abilities. Some of us will actually sit in judgment on fallen angels. (1 Corinthians 6:3)
Although it is unclear whether as resurrected believers we would have any part in physically casting these fallen angels into the abyss (in Scripture it is always angels fulfilling this role), there is no doubt when as resurrected believers the superior properties of our resurrected bodies would mean that we would be certainly capable of doing so (Isaiah 24:21-22).
Jesus has seated you next to Him, in the heavenly realms, now and for all time to come:
"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6)
That verse confirms our future. It is your future in Jesus Christ. But first comes tribulation for this world. There is a heated debate raging within Christianity as to the exact timing of the Rapture of the Church, which is not going to be examined here. What I do intend to state with a degree of certainty is that things will never be as free and as easy as they are for Christians right now.
You are never going to be as free to witness to the lost or as able to step out in faith without fear of consequence as you can right now. Our God, who pulled you from the fire and saved you, though you were steeped in sin, still loves the rest of humanity deeply. He loves each and every person in it, right down to the most abhorrent and despicable.
He has tarried so long because of His deep love, because he wants all people to be saved:
"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)
It is exactly because of this love that God allows each person the freedom to decide for themselves what they think is good. If a person chooses friendship with God through Jesus Christ, then he will come and make his home with that person. If an individual chooses to walk away from God and follow their own path, God will allow it.
But there will be consequences. One of which we are witnesses of today, which is-the increasing corporate abandonment of this nation and other Western nations to their own sin:
"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Galatians 6:7)
The singular focus of our lives, at this late hour, should be as Jude admonished:
"...save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear-hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh." (Jude 1:23)
We are living in a war and it is growing in intensity all around us, every day. It is also rapidly drawing to a conclusion. It may be your testimony alone that proves the eternal difference for individuals who even now stand on the edge of the literal abyss.
Charles. H Spurgeon once said, "The gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, it simply needs to be let out its cage!"
In these last days this is our task, this is our mandate:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19)
Let the gospel out of its cage and watch it run free! Time is short.