THE CLOCK OF GOD, Part 8, CLOUDS OF APOCALYPSE

Goodnews Christian Ministry

"Come near and listen, all you races, pay attention all you nations, listen, earth and all that you hold, world and all that comes from you. God is angry with all the nations, enraged with all their hordes. He has vowed them to destruction, and marked them down for slaughter." ---Isaiah 34:1-2

CHAPTER 32

A Last Call to Faith

"I am the resurrection. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live,
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."
John 11:25-26

_____________

Many still find it difficult to see the gates of heaven closing and God's offer of reconciliation drawing to a close.

But the prophets have sounded their warning. History, they say, is preparing its final moments even as we speak. Rebellion has entered through the portals, an age of truculence firmly in its hand. The Great Revolt is unfolding all around us.

And as it envelopes us in its crushing embrace, this reign of violence will smash Babylon's gateway to heaven, shuttering forever the portals Jesus opened for our escape. Those doorways will never reopen again. (Is.24:12).

Despite its nearness, because we live for such a short time, some of us will not see the final terrors described by scripture.

But even those fortunate enough to escape the worst of the tribulation must undergo, just as our ancestors did, a true corollary of these terminal events. Jesus said that the end of the world "will come down on every living man on the face of the earth." (Lk.21:35).

His words confirm, then, that the end of the world actually began when Jesus initiated His preaching in Palestine. This is why the apostles have termed the entire period of Christ's offer, 'the last days'.

And it proves that as far as God is concerned, the last days are all the years between the first and second coming of Jesus. The wrath has been held back and these days exist so that everyone on earth can have time to repent of their sins and escape the coming judgement.

Each of us has only the days of our own lifetime to accomplish this escape. The end of the world correlates with the day of our last breath, and this is what Jeremiah's vision -- the 70 years -- was designed to tell us. Many do not even see 70 years.

We have only a short time to accept the terms of peace offered to us by God through Jesus, and if we fail to make this conversion before we die, the world will end for us just as surely as if every part of Armageddon had been played out in our lives. (Rev.16:15).

In fact, the disaster that looms for each of us at the end of our own lives is little different that that faced by our ancestors -- it is a type of the tribulation.

It is a catastrophe that none of us can understand when we are faced with it. That is why we always respond to it the same way no matter how powerful our faith had been before. In this response we silently voice the same kind of words that Jesus did: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Ps.22:1).

Yet the end of the world has been going on in this way, seen but unseen, since the day of Pentecost. This is why everyone should be concerned about the end of the world. It is a very real event in all of our lives. If not as Armageddon, it comes in the image of Forest Lawn.

Billions of people on earth have already passed through its portals. The 'last days' began when Jesus walked the hills of Palestine, and every person who has passed away on earth since the moment He first appeared has had to enter into its circumstance.

There is no difference between those deaths and the ones destined to occur at the hands of the troops of Gog (Ez.38).

This indicates that the final end (the tribulation preceding Armageddon) is merely the grand finale to an event that has been ongoing since the day of the crucifixion. Those of us who are alive today are no more special to God than any of our older brothers and sisters in Christ who lived and died before we came.

All these visions in scripture were for them as much as for us. We need to remember our common unity with the end of the world whenever we read any of the prophecies.

The mark of the beast for instance (Rev.13:15-18) is not an isolated contamination restricted only to those Christians who happen to be on earth at the time of the Rebel. It is a universal mark that has threatened all the people who have ever lived on the earth since the first days of Jesus Christ (Rev.13:8).

It is a symbolic marking that is the antithesis of Christian baptism. Certainly the Rebel will introduce such a brand when he comes, but his tattoo will only be the physical manifestation of a spiritual mark that has always designated those who love this world more than God.

Since the end of the world comes down on every person during their own lifetime, our short life here completely determines how the final judgement will affect us. The Book of God is being written in our lives every minute and hour we live.

From the moment that Jesus first appeared, our lives in this world have been completely integrated with God's purpose to bring each of us, in our rebellion, before the light of Christ to make a decision whether to follow Jesus or the world -- whether to remain in Babylon, or to follow Jesus Christ to the Jerusalem of heaven.

Once that decision has been made, and held onto, God removes us and brings those who are in line behind us up to the front to make the same decision.

This means that no matter which church people have been in over the last two thousand years, Christ's work has been perfectly accomplished in their lives.

Christianity, therefore, is not evolving -- it is not forming itself into some perfect state or church, nor was it ever.

While our whole view of salvation is an obsession with getting into or out of this or that church, God is rescuing us outside of this quest.

Our call to walk in the commandments of Christ's Gospel is our only chance for eternal life.

For almost two thousand years, God has been cuing up a vast world population and bringing them, one by one before Jesus to make a decision about his offer of reconciliation.

This process did not start fifteen centuries after Christ was crucified -- it did not start with Joseph Smith or Martin Luther. This examination of the world by the Holy Spirit has been going on since the day of Pentecost, fifty two days after Jesus was lifted up on the cross -- almost two thousand years ago.

On a sunny friday in Jerusalem almost 20 centuries ago, the sky turned suddenly dark at noon and stayed so for three hours, until the middle of the afternoon. (Mark 15:33-34).

We celebrate that day now and call it 'Good Friday' every time it reappears on the calendar. Many ponder why we should call something so horrendous as the crucifixion of Jesus a day of 'good'?

It is called such because He gave His life that day so mankind might live forever. He sacrificed His life so that we would not have to die. This was the greatest good that ever happened on earth and it is the greatest good that can ever come into our lives.

By turning our lives over to Jesus we can live forever because of what He did for us on that incredible friday afternoon.

He brought us reconciliation with God. That is what the word 'religion' means. 'To bind back' or 'to reconcile'. Jesus bound us back to God. He brought us redemption and salvation, taking our sins onto His own shoulders. No other 'religion' on earth fulfills the meaning of that word.

It is a narrow road he marked out for us to follow, and a hard path. Yet He made the yoke easy and the burden light. All we have to do is convert our lives from the wicked pursuits we have chased since childhoon and convert into His Gospel, and obey its simple directives.

We must abandon the anger, the hate and the greed and live, instead, a life of love and forgiveness.

There isn't any ritual to this. Only repentance and conversion. There isn't any secret knowledge in this. There is just Christ and His Gospel of peace. There isn't any theology in this. There is simply resurrection and eternal life -- escape from death. That is the miracle of Christ. He has raised us out of the clutches of death and given us all the opportunity to live forever!

As soon as the entire world has been raised up by God and given an opportunity to be reconciled with Him through Jesus, His purpose for holding back the wrath from this earth will have ended.

Then, suddenly, the circumstance of the Exodus will re-occur. At that critical moment, the 'Pharaoh' of this world (the beast) will be attacking Christianity's rear-guard just as his predecessor did at the time of Moses when the prince of Egypt had a change of heart and led his troops after the departing House of Israel as they crossed the Red Sea.

And just as the Red Sea did then, the waters of the wrath -- which have been held back by the power of God all these years -- will come crashing down on his whole army and sweep them away in the earth's conclusion.

That moment will come soon. All the signs are converging. The last call to faith has been sounded. Already Babylon's ravagers are on their way. And unless they are blocked and held back by a deep and committed return to faith by a world which is abandoning faith, nothing can prevent their imminent attack.

God tried to cleanse this earth, but couldn't. (Jer.51:7-9). That is why God has created a new heaven and a new earth. It is because Satan has corrupted this world so completely that God cannot save it.

That is why Jesus warned us about its impending destruction. He did not come to cure the world -- He came to get us out of it before the judgment Day of God arrives and puts an end to it completely.

"You must not love this passing world or anything that is in the world. The love of the Father cannot be in any man who loves the world...because the world, with all it craves for, is coming to an end..." (1 Jn.2:15-17).

That End is precisely what Christ came to warn us about -- the day of Judgment when the world is going to be utterly and completely destroyed. Nothing can prevent that destruction. It is as inevitable as the waters that crashed down on Pharaoh's army.

All that God can do is create an escape and hold the devastation back (just like He held back the two walls of water of the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites when they fled Egypt) until everyone who wants to be rescued is rescued.

He can rescue us from the Wrath, but He cannot prevent this deadly vengeance from occurring. There is a time set for that occasion and it is a moveable time, predicated on our own behavior. But it is inevitable.

If we live in Christ, none of this wrath will have any more lasting effect on us than cancer or heart disease; because the death that kills eternally is not the first death, but the second -- the death of the soul. Our conversion into the Gospel is the only chance we have to escape the execution of this 'second death'.

The earth is doomed by wickedness. The prophets have all borne witness to this: "On the day of the anger of God, in the fire of his jealousy, all the earth will be consumed. For he means to destroy, yes, to make an end of all the inhabitants of the earth." (Zeph.1:18).

Satan's corruption here is so complete that God cannot correct it -- He can only come and rescue us before the world is destroyed, and take us to the place of safety that He has prepared for us -- a place far away from this earth.

"After I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me..." (Jn.14:3).

If we obey him, he can raise us up there just as easily as he raised us up here a few decades ago. Our obedience to His command is faith. Our faithfulness is what makes His 'power to save' work in us.

The rule of Christ on earth has only one meaning. That meaning is God's intent to remove us from this wicked world. Jesus did not come to set up a future utopia on this planet. The perfect reign of Christ is in heaven (Rev.20:4), not on earth.

If God could cleanse the world of sin and create a global paradise here He would not have to destroy the world the way scripture has defined.

The only utopia this world will ever know is the reign of the Church -- the victory of all the churches built in His name. And even that limited triumph took a great doing by God to accomplish.

For over 1700 years, God's holy Church has sheltered us from the power of Satan, hiding us behind its protective doors while it has fought the devil's forces on our behalf.

This time of shelter is the age of the peace treaty of Christ -- an era of protection from the Wrath made possible by Satan's incarceration in the Abyss. It is an age unique on this planet when the kings and queens who ruled the earth commanded the Gospel to be preached to all their subjects.

Yet even at its zenith, with Satan locked in chains and all the people going to the houses of worship Jesus had established on earth, corruption showed the reign of the Church to be a troubled time (Dn.9:25).

That corruption confirms that this world cannot be made perfect, and that now, with Satan rising from his long sleep in the Abyss and coming out to work his power of deception once again, things will get much worse.

The mortal wound is healing.

During the days to come it will be quite evident that the reign of Jesus and His Gospel in this world has come to an end. It is only then, when it is all over, that the world will realize that Christ's millenium has come and gone.

At that moment, when the gates of heaven have fallen down and blocked in the flames of brutality its portals, a lament will be heard among those who are left: "The harvest is over, summer at an end, and we have not been saved!" (Jer.8:20).

Immorality is Satan worship. We do not need to look for devil rituals to find evil behavior. We can see this Satan worship happening now with the political and social acceptance of rebellious and immoral behavior.

These alterations reflect a sea change in the will of our society.

We can see the impact of this vividly in the appeasement of the churches as their various leaderships acquiesce to the changing morality of the people. Their argument is that if they do not compromise the Gospel by making these concessions, they will not stay relevant.

With an eye on public opinion then, they are redefining sin, turning wickedness into a new kind of morality and claiming that their actions are the will of God.

But scripture declares that such actions are often fatal: "There is a way that some think right, but it leads in the end to death." (Prov.16:25). Or again, "The priests teach whatever they please and my people love it! But when the end comes, then what will you do?" (Jer.5:31).

As scripture tells us, when the Israelites were in the desert, they became impatient for Moses to come down from the mountain. In their restiveness they rebelled and demanded of Aaron that he build them a golden calf -- a sacred cow that they could worship in a journey back to Egypt.

Bowing to this 'public opinion', Aaron, the brother of Moses and the high prirest of the House of Israel fashioned for them the pagan idol they insisted upon. (Ex.32). The Holy Spirit has used this circumstance as an illustration of the world's revolt against God.

This incident defined the mentality of the rebellious people that Moses approached when he came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments. It was to just such a people that Jesus later appeared in Palestine 2000 years ago, and the prophets say it is to a similar people He will return at the end. (1 Macc.1:11-15).

In their hatred for the law and discipline of Jesus this future people will command that their churches fashion for them the idols of Babylon -- idols bathed in violence, wickedness, and self-will. (2 Tim.3:1-5). The actions of Aaron clearly demonstrate that many of the churches will comply with the people's demands. (Rev.3:1-6).

We have seen indications of this already.

In 1981 the Salvation Army withdrew from the World Council of Churches because that coalition of Christian churches began supporting armed guerrilla warfare in Africa.

In 1991 the Greek Orthodox Church suspended relations with the National Council of Churches and the Episcopalian Church because the latter two organizations began promoting gay and lesbian priests and ministers.

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness...For this, as stubble is prey for the flames and as straw vanishes in the fire, so their root will rot, their blossom be carried off like dust, for rejecting the Law of God Almighty, and despising the word of the Holy One of Israel." (Is.5:20-24).

The words 'caveat emptor' mean 'buyer beware'. Jesus applied a similar caveat to the churches and to its ministers, warning us all to beware the teachings of the Pharisees who lead us.

"...to those who have been corrupted and lack faith, nothing can be pure -- the corruption is both in their minds and in their consciences. They claim to have knowledge of God but the things they do are nothing but a denial of him; they are outrageously rebellious and quite incapable of doing good." (Tit.1:15-16).

It was for just this reason that Jesus denounced the ministers so intensely: "Alas for you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who shut up the kingdom of heaven in men's faces, neither going in yourselves nor allowing others to go in who want to." (Mt.23:13-36).

"You will know them by their fruits", He warned.

Many of the Israelites who followed Moses out of Egypt tried to return to Egypt. And this is the way it has been with Babylon as well. A great many have left Babylon only to circle back to it again.

Paul warned, "I know quite well that when I have gone, fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard..." (Acts 20:29-30).

Salvation is from Jesus, alone. It does not come from any other source. It does not come from any minister, prophet or church. That is why Paul said: "Remember the maxim: 'Keep to what is written." (1 Cor.4:6).

This means, 'stick to the red letters'. This maxim is the inner power of the religion we call Jesus and is the only hope our world has of avoiding the catastrophe which is now looming so ominously just across history's horizon.

THE END


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