Ready in the End Times?        

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    Introduction
    1. What did Jesus say?
          The Danger of being Deceived
          War
          Famines and earthquakes
          Persecution
          Gospel preached to all
          The final Abomination
          Great Distress
          A new Heaven and Earth
    2. What have the OT Prophets Declared?
          The plan for an eternal Kingdom
          The need for a crucified Saviour
          Nations and earth Shaken
          The end of sin, Atonement and Righteousness   
          Isaiah shown New Kingdom
          Persecution, not Revival
    3. NT Letters Concerning the Last Days
          Scoffers
          Evolution Theory Lie and Consequences
          Increasing Wickedness
          Encouragement of Reformation History
    4. Meanwhile ... Be Ready
          A Servant is either wise or wicked
          10 Virgins, 5 wise and 5 foolish
          Talents. Five, Two and One
          Sheep and Goats
    5. Israel in the Last Days
    6. Tribulation in Revelation
    7. Poem - The Carpenter

 
Introduction       [Contents]

I am not a prophet,
      but will gladly quote what the true prophets have written in Scripture.
This article does not claim to know the timing of the events;
      nor even the precise application / interpretation of the God-given prophecies.
Its sole purpose is to awaken Christians to the signs of the times
      and thus enable us to be ready for the expected (and the unexpected !).
The Lord God clearly wants us to know something about the future,
      else he would not have written so much detail about these days in his Word.

 
1.  What did Jesus say?       [Contents]

In the last week the disciples asked Jesus privately about the end of the age.
His answer is given in Math 243-35 (also Mk 131-37 Lu 215-36)

a) The Danger of being Deceived       [Contents]
Jesus began, "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many."  Math 244,5

Do these words impress us as a formidable warning;
      or are we among the many whom he says will be deceived?

With modern internet communication, deception and ‘fake news’ can easily influence a gullible public; especially when so few make time to read Scripture. The media today are more concerned to propagate their opinions than they are to just give facts. Democratic leaders rely upon popular votes to gain or to remain in power. They inevitably make promises of intent and though their desire may be genuine, they are often unable to fulfill them. Dictators are less choosy about what they promise. Communism stands for equality of wealth, yet few if any communist leaders ‘live simply that others may simply live!

Jesus began his reply by warning about deceit, and he repeated it twice more in this narrative. Math 2411 and 24  He states that there would be many 'false prophets' who will deceive many! It is foolish to disregard what the Son of God declares so clearly.

There have always been false prophets. But at the end they will be more numerous than at any earlier time.

What sort of leaders are likely to deceive us?

1. Very presentable, confident, and usually popular. They will not wear an obvious label saying 'Beware, False'. In Act 2030,31 Paul warns the Ephesian leaders, "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!" Today such men could well teach the benefits of Yoga, or be some benevolent leader advocating the worship of Budda. They may be like Pope Francis who claims that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Popular mega-church preachers are often false teachers, who neglect to tell their followers about the judgement of God and that the propitiation for our sins requires the crucifixion of the perfect Lamb of God. In their Churches testimonies are usually various stories about their decision and the kindness of the church, instead of about their crying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." They rarely testify to the glorious relief of knowing God has forgiven their sins. Few of their followers will say, like one Chinese lady, who when asked how she became a Christian, answered, "I enter by narrow gate."

2. Preachers to use a verse from scripture to confirm what they want to say. A classic example would be for ‘a peacenik’ to only quote  Is 24 "They will beat their swords into plowshares ..." but never mention Joel 310 which instructs the nations to prepare for war, "Beat your plowshares into swords". Scripture never contradicts itself. These two words of God were delivered in quite different circumstances. The context is vital to the truth being delivered.

3. Abusing scripture is by neglect. A leader may choose to ignore part of God's Word because it is unpopular, 'non pc'. For example Lev 2013 clearly says, "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination." Some excuse this as 'just Old Testament'. But Ro 126-28 also terms homosexuality as 'depravity'. False prophets will deny what Almighty God has clearly declared. Both the current (2021) C of E Archbishops support homosexuality and just ignore what God has written. This sort of selective use of scripture is most often used in compromising, liberal, inclusive churches that seek popularity.
4. The use of big emotional meetings led by charismatic (small 'c') leaders who encourage partakers to 'enjoy the flow'; 'Don't spoil it with criticism', don’t be judgmental they say. However the apostle Paul said, "The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scripture every day to see if what Paul said was true."  Act 1711  Much wiser. And Paul was an Apostle!

5. It may surprise some that ecumenical endeavours are often based upon deceit. Why? Quite simply it ignores the historical and continued serious errors of the Roman church. Their errors that ignore Scripture are numerous and important.
      See website '25 Roman Catholic Errors'   (then use return arrow to return here)
Ecumenical proponents say, 'lets forget the past'; and thus pretend it never happened. Pope Francis said that he regrets the events of the Reformation. Obviously he does. Not only was Britain severed from Roman power, but for 5 centuries Rome lost a huge annual income. The long line of ‘infallible’ Popes have always refused to admit it was wrong to burn men who translated the Scriptures into English, or refused the Roman Mass and transubstantiation. They remain unwilling to repent or admit any Roman error. It sounds so good to say 'let us follow the instruction of Christ and learn to love one another.' But without contrition it remains in the area of deception that Christ warned us about. The Reformation strongly blessed this country and delivered us from immense evil. There is inscribed (in Polish) on a plaque at the Auschwitz concentration camp, a quote (from George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905), "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
      See website 'Our Debt to the Reformation' by J C Ryle   (then use return arrow to return here)

What is the best defence to avoid being deceived?
      1. Read, learn and practice from all of Scripture.  James 122
            Do not be satisfied with just a daily 'snippet'.
      2. Maintain a meek spirit that delights to learn from all the Word of God.
      3. Rejoice in the revelation of Almighty God.
      4. Pray earnestly and repent quickly.
      5. Be wary of anything that is popular!  See Math 713,14
      6. Seek righteousness and truth, ask questions.  Math 633
      7. Trust in the faithful Lord and the truth of his Word.
      8. Fear not what mere men can do to you.  Lu 124,5

b)  War       [Contents]
You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.  Math 246-8
This, the second matter of which Jesus tells us is that wicked men will always wage war against each other. Naturally history has proven him to be correct. Not until the Millennium, when Jesus returns and reigns, will this beautiful earth have the peace that many have always longed for. Almighty God told Daniel the same truth. War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.  Dan 926b My wise wife told me many years ago now, "The Treaties of men are founded on fear and honoured when convenient." No matter how much we may pour out our hearts for peace; it will remain an unfulfilled longing. Our God also awaits the day when he can say, "Today!" But that day will not come until Jesus as 'King of kings' returns to defeat the Beast, the False Prophet and all his followers in battle.  Rev 1911-21   James tells us the cause of all the fighting: What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. James 41,2
Sometimes 'the battle within' is simply revenge - and it is never sweet!

c)  Famines and earthquakes       [Contents]
There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  247
Natural disasters - what insurance companies correctly call an "Act of God"!
They include volcanoes, mud slides, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, pandemics, locusts ...
How will men respond to these? Are they the judgements of God for the wickedness of men? See Amos 46-13

The Lord tells us in Revelation 6 - 18 of the 7 year Tribulation sequence of events. It will be a time when men will grow more wicked, more blasphemous and less repentant, in spite of God's patience and willingness to extend the day of opportunity for grace and forgiveness.

d)  Persecution       [Contents]
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.  249
When I was a boy in the 40's and 50's Christianity was largely respected, even envied, though not commonly sought. (It has always been costly). Now it is largely rejected and despised. Anyone who believes in Creation is ridiculed. Anyone who dares to speak of God judging sinners is hounded for being critical and judgmental. Jesus tells us that soon in the UK tolerance will be replaced by savage persecution. Some will stand firm, but he says, "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold."  Math 2410-12
These words are alarming and depressing. Our Saviour knows our weakness, so he adds another phrase for us to cling to: But he who stands firm to the end will be saved.  2413 Lord, please give us strength for such a day lest we also fall.

e)  Gospel preached to all       [Contents]
This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.  Math 2414
Not only has the Lord promised to give us his strength for the final hours, but he commissions us to work for him. Even at the very end, Almighty God has ordained it to be a day of opportunity. There will still be faithful warriors for Jesus preaching God's truth to the mostly very unwilling hearers. Today scripture is available free to all who have internet access, and audio Bibles in their own language are commonly available for the blind and those who cannot read.

f)  The final Abomination       [Contents]
So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel - let the reader understand - then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.  2415-20
This is clearly for literally the final hours. The abomination is more than the Al Aksa Mosque and the Golden Dome (on which is blasphemously written in arabic "God has no son"), on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Exactly what this is I don't know. But on the day we will be shown. The warning will be clear. It was only partly fulfilled in AD 70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. At that time many Jewish believers heeded this word and fled. Their lives were spared.

g)  Great Distress       [Contents]
For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now - and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.  Math 2421,22
On such a day of unequalled trial, it will be too late to escape, too late for anything! But for the elect the Lord returns and the trial ends.
His return will be like the shudder of close lightning. We will not need to be told, every one will experience it together. So if anyone does tell us he has come, it is false; don't be deceived. All the nations of the earth will mourn. ... And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds ...  Math 2430,31  What a comparison, what a reversal of fortune!

h)  A new Heaven and Earth       [Contents]
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  Math 2435
All exactly as promised.

Also Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.  Lu 2124
On the day when Jesus made this declaration, Jerusalem was under Roman (Gentile) rule. Since then it has changed hands 19 times, starting with the Persians in 614 AD followed by various Muslim, Turks, Monguls and finally British rulers - all Gentiles.
      See details on website, "Jerusalem, History of the City of God."   (then use return arrow to return here)

In 1947 the (Gentile) UN passed resolution 181 which proposed an International body should rule Jerusalem. The Jews accepted this resolution, but the Arabs did not. They immediately went to war against the Jews. They lost. At the 1948 cease-fire, Israel controlled the western part of Jerusalem, but Jordan controlled all the Old City. In 1967 the Arabs tried again to destroy the Jewish state of Israel and failed. This time the Israelis won all the Old City and their historic land of Judea and Samaria (commonly today called the West Bank). The Arabs tried again in 1973 to destroy Israel with a surprise attack on Yom Kippur. And again they failed. But on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem there still remains the al-Aksa Mosque and Golden Dome. So it could be said that Jerusalem remains being trampled upon by the Gentiles and the 'Times of the Gentiles' is still not quite at an end.

Rev 1911-21 tells us of the last great battle when all the Gentile nations will gather together under the Beast (see Rev 13) to attack the city of Jerusalem. At this moment Jesus Christ returns to earth as the King of kings and he conquers the Gentiles that are attacking Jerusalem. This great battle is also prophesied in Zechariah 12 and 14.

 
2.  What have prophets declared?       [Contents]

The Bible is full of prophecies. Some 662 have already been fulfilled by the ever faithful Lord. There remain 206 which are either partly fulfilled or await fulfillment. The great majority of these refer to the Last Days and the 2nd Coming of Christ.       See website ‘Bible Prophecies’   (then use return arrow to return here)

a) God's plan for his eternal Kingdom       [Contents]
One of the earliest comes in 2 Sam 7 when Nathan has to tell David that it was not God’s plan for him to build the Temple. He would fulfill a better role.

“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. ... And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” 2 Sam 78-16

God revealed his plan for ‘great David’s son’, Jesus Christ, to establish an eternal kingdom. Being ruled by Christ, it would be totally righteous. This is the goal of God’s plan; the whole purpose of his great creation. He wanted David to know this, and all who followed him. To others he would reveal how this plan would be fulfilled; what needed to happen first.

Almighty God also chose to reveal his great plan for the kingdom of God to a despotic gentile, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon!
God gave him a number of dreams that he was unable to sort out. Daniel was a young Jewish exile in his late teens to whom Almighty God not only told the true substance of the dreams, but also their interpretation. It was about a statue that represented the 4 great world empires, Babylon, and 3 that were yet to come into being, Persia, Greece and Rome.

First, what was the dream?
You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue - an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.  Dan 231-35

Then Daniel told the king the interpretation:
The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold. After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron - for iron breaks and smashes everything - and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure for ever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands - a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future.  Dan 237-45

This dream covers 2,500 years of major world history! Nebuchadnezzar thought that his blossoming new Babylon could never be defeated. (In fact it only lasted 66 years!) But more importantly, and very simply, Almighty God planned to establish an eternal righteous kingdom that will blow away every memory of these 4 'super-power' world empires. The significance of this revelation is rarely understood; which is why I have quoted most of it in full. As the Psalmist often wrote, "Selah" !!

b)  The need for a crucified Saviour       [Contents]
To establish a righteous kingdom, sinful man needed a Saviour, a Redeemer. A perfect sacrifice was the only way that we could be forgiven. God revealed this part of his costly plan to Isaiah.
He was despised and rejected by men,
      a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
      and as one from whom men hide their faces
      he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
      yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
      upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
      and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;
      and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
 Is 533-6

2,000 years ago the Son of God was born on the earth he had created.
The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Jn 129
All this time he has waited patiently while he included Gentile believers into his chosen people.

c)  Nations and earth Shaken       [Contents]
Haggai was also shown that all the proud empires of man would be shaken and destroyed. At the end they would be replaced by the righteous kingdom of God. Fear not. For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts ... I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations.  Hag 26,7, 21 That is why Jesus taught his disciples to pray ‘Thy kingdom come ...’

The writer to the Hebrews confirms God’s word that at the end he is going to shake the earth: See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.  Heb 1225-29

This shaking will undoubtedly cause considerable anguish among those not ready and whose trust is in their earthly wealth.

d)  The end of sin, Atonement and Righteousness       [Contents]
Daniel had been taken to Babylon as a teenager and was now over 80. The Persians had conquered Babylon. The city had continued with its multiple temples and their idol worshippers until the day when the blaspheming Belshazzar had a drunken party and was killed by the Persians. But Daniel continued to pray three times a day for Jerusalem, longing for the name of the one true God to be honoured. One day God sent the archangel Gabriel to give Daniel his answer to his continuing heart longing. It is one of the most significant and prophetic Words in all Scripture. "Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy."  Dan 924

Almighty God had a definite specified plan for an eternal kingdom. It would be filled with righteousness, justice and truth. All wickedness would be forgiven and no longer would sin ever be seen again. What a revelation!

e)  Isaiah shown New Kingdom       [Contents]
This revelation is like a glorious dream. But when will it be fulfilled?
Only when Christ returns and establishes his new kingdom. We need patience.
A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."  Is 403-5

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus. ... Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness ... it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.  Is 351-10

Although greedy and wicked men have done so much to spoil this earth, Almighty God still has a plan for his glorious creation. To achieve this, the Sovereign Lord has a lot of work to do. First he had to redeem sinful men. Then later he will come to repair and establish a world that will be filled with righteousness, truth, love and justice. What a day that will be. No wonder John wrote:
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" ... He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!  Rev 2217,20

f)  Persecution, not Revival       [Contents]
The old man Daniel was also shown what would happen immediately before the kingdom of God is established. The prospect is daunting, which is probably why it is part of scripture that is rarely read or taught. But Almighty God included it so that we may be warned that the world will be ruled by a most evil man. Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws - the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. ... He gave me this explanation: 'The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever.  Dan 719, 23-26

In a second vision Daniel was shown the same truth about the last days:
Gabriel told him: "I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power. In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future."  Dan 819-26

Alexander was the Greek king from whom the four horns came. One of them was the Selucids who ruled the area that is now Syria. Antiochus Epiphanies (~170 BC) was the evil ruler.
      See website Bible study notes on Daniel   (then use return arrow to return here)

He was a fore-runner of the 'stern-faced king' who this vision then describes. It has not yet happened, 'for it concerns the distant future' , 'the appointed time of the end'. A time when the righteous will be harshly persecuted, until rescued by the return of Jesus Christ, 'not by human power'. This master of intrigue is also called the Lawless One, the Beast or the Antichrist. He will only rule the world for the last 3½ years. Some now call this the time of the One World Order. His world economic system will collapse in a single hour. Rev 18. So will his control of the internet.

These visions are carefully avoided by popular modern restorationists who think that it will be a victorious Church that is going to welcome the 2nd Coming of Jesus. Scripture reveals that they are wrong and are guilty of leading the flock astray. The victory of Christians will be martyrdom! They will overcome evil by the blood of the Lamb.  see Rev 69-11 79-17

      Thy Kingdom come O God, thy rule O Christ begin,
      Break with thine iron rod, the tyranny of sin.

 
3.  NT Letters Concerning the Last Days       [Contents]

The early church thought / hoped that the return of Jesus Christ was imminent.
Many years have passed since then, so his Coming is certainly much nearer now.
What can we expect? What events? What social conditions? How can we be ready?

a)  Scoffers
In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  2 Pe 33-5

b)  Evolution Theory Lie and Consequences       [Contents]
Over the last century the glorious creation truth by the design and the hand of Almighty God, has been replaced by scoffers with the 'Evolution Theory' lie. This has been disastrous for the UK. If God did not create, then what is his relevance? Men now think that Almighty God can be safely disregarded, ridiculed, and blasphemed against. What disastrous folly! Paul reveals the consequence of sidelining the Almighty.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools ... Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.  Ro 118-27

Thus the proof of our folly and the proof of the accuracy of God's Word is seen today in all the western world - the rise of homosexuality and even the legalising of it, which is an abomination to God! You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.  Lev 1822 2013 (Judgement of Sodom Gen 19)
Whenever God removes his protection, man is in a disastrous predicament. But UK remain quite careless of this certainty. This prophecy in Romans reveals that wickedness will surely increase. It will not be long before all real Christians are severely persecuted in UK. Paul then lists the resulting social ills: They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Ro 129-31

c) Increasing Wickedness       [Contents]
How should Christians respond to the growing wickedness?
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Ro 1311,12

Paul gives more instructions, which the wise will take heed of:
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for [that day will not come] until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.  2 Thes21-12

There are several names in Scripture for Satan: the Lawless One, the Master of Intrigue, the Beast ... Each is appropriate and descriptive of his satanic character.

d)  Encouragement of Reformation History       [Contents]
One of the most encouraging means of living a holy life is to review the history of the Reformation persecution by Rome and the biography of the many more recently persecuted missionaries. See God's faithfulness to all those, who like Jeremiah, have been called to both destroy and to plant. They are never popular.
      See website Vital Lessons of the English Reformation mostly by J C Ryle.   (then use return arrow to return here)

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Jim Elliot

 
  4.  Meanwhile ... Be Ready       [Contents]

An important aspect of what Jesus taught is 'when' will all this happen?
Jesus tells us: "you also must be ready ..."  Math 2444
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. ... Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come."  2436, 42

This 'meanwhile' has continued for the last 2,000 years and counting!
Jesus continues his warning with 4 short stories - how very Jewish!
Each ends with a 'not ready' crisis when the Master returns unexpectedly.
They each tell us how to 'keep watch' and use our short lifespan during this time.

  a)  As a Servant who is either wise or wicked  2445-51       [Contents]
The faithful servant is put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time, and does so. As a result he will put him in charge of all his possessions. The wicked servant is bored, arrogant and cruel. My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. He misused his power and privileged life-style. He is not faithful, but wicked. What is the result when the Master returns unexpectedly? He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This makes it very plain that Almighty God is not like a nice loving cuddly teddy-bear as many seem to portray him today. Suddenly it was too late and the end dire.
"True faith is not a single step, but a long walk."

  b)  10 Virgins, 5 wise and 5 foolish  251-13       [Contents]
All 10 had lamps and all 10 went to meet the bridegroom. The only difference was that the wise also took some spare oil. They expected, and prepared for a delay. How do we prepare for the apparent delay of the return of Jesus. Do we work as if there is no tomorrow, but prepare for a long delay? They all fell asleep. The wise were able to refill their lamps. They had the truth of God's Word in their hearts, stored up and ready. But the foolish were lazy, unprepared, possibly distracted or presumptuous. They had to go and buy oil. Then it was too late. The door was shut. Like when God shut the door of Noah's Ark. When the foolish eventually knocked, they were told the awful truth, "I don't know you!"

  c)  Talents. Five, Two and One  2514-30       [Contents]
A man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. The journey and the time were both long. The Five and the Two talent men worked faithfully. Both doubled their entrustment, and for their faithful work were rewarded and invited to share the Master's happiness. But this one-talent man was different. He thought his Master was hard and expected too much. Why did he think this? Master had told him the Law, what he should and should not do. But how could a kind Master expect him to achieve what he knew he couldn't. Paul wrote, the Law is our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ.  Gal 324 Not being able to keep the Law was intended to make us turn to Christ for forgiveness and help. But this one talent man refused, he gave up (God called him 'lazy'). He refused to plead for Christ to give him new birth. The Master was right to condemn such a wicked, lazy man. The Christian life is not easy, but our gracious and merciful Saviour is definitely not a 'hard man', he is most gracious and merciful. However, he does require that as sinful men we come before him humbly, admitting our weakness and inability to be righteous, meekly pleading for mercy and forgiveness. He expects Christians to be wholehearted; not just occasional, not just 10%, not just "the Sunday's and the dog-ends of our time". He expects us to value, to treasure and to share the new life that he has given us and which cost him death on a Cross. This is where the careless one talent man went so badly astray. He knew he couldn’t keep the law but was too proud to come before the Lord and plead for mercy. He was like Esau; a proud, macho man who 'despised his birthright'  (Gen 2534) and sold it for a single bowl of stew! But God declared, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Mal 12,3). Strong words, but justified.
(In case any should think 'but that was Old Testament', Paul quotes the same truth in Ro 913). Jacob (and the multi-talent men) hungered for God; such was their longing that he wrestled all night and in the morning cried, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."  (Gen 3226). But Esau and the one-talent man had no such longing. He had to hear the Master's verdict, "Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." His life was not just a foolish mistake, but an eternal disaster. One ordained minister I heard preaching on this was completely off target when he said, “The one talent man should have tried a little harder.” ! No man can keep the Law, however hard he tries. Salvation is by faith in what Jesus has done for us, never by our works.

  d)  Sheep and Goats  2531-46       [Contents]
This is a slightly different story. It involves why God separated them at the end according to what they had done for the poor, hungry and forsaken during their lifetime. The 'sheep' saw the needy people and had compassion. They shared, fed, clothed and housed them without expecting any reward; and certainly not for any 'photo opportunity'. The 'goats' were too busy enjoying themselves to notice others in need; or if they did see them, it didn't bother them, they didn't care. In many ways it is similar to the story of the 'Good Samaritan' where Jesus answered the question 'who was neighbour to the man left to die by thieves' ? The Samaritan cared, the others did not and passed by on the other side. The separation of the 'sheep' and 'goats' is both final and extreme.
It should be added that the 'sheep' did not gain a place in heaven because of their good deeds. Rather that they had compassion because they put into practice their new life in Christ. Like Noah; he was not saved because he obeyed God and built the Ark. He was saved by God and therefor he was righteous, obeyed God and built the Ark.

Jesus told the these 4 stories for a very good reason. Individually each of them is fairly straight forward for the Christian to understand. So why did he consider it necessary to tell them? Very simply because the consequences of not being ready for Christ's return is so dire; and he does not want any of his people to suffer.
Does the Church today need to hear this warning about being ready? Yes! If we knew Jesus was planning to return early tomorrow morning, how much would my life-style need to change? How much sleep would I get after trying to complete my readiness?!
Dare to be different from the world, don't just 'swim with the tide'.  Ro 122

      "He who loves the coming of the Lord
      is not he who affirms it is far off, nor is it he who says it is near,
      rather it is he who, whether it is far off or near,
      awaits it with sincere faith, steadfast hope and fervent love."
  Augustine

 
5.  Israel in the Last Days       [Contents]

God's plan for Jesus Christ to bring salvation to sinful men begins with his choice of one man, Abraham, and his descendants, the Jews. First God made him a promise that not only affected Abraham, but through him all nations would come to know the blessing of God. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."  Gen 122,3
Matthew and Luke trace the lineage of Jesus as being through king David and back to Abraham. But many seem to think that when the Jews rejected Jesus the Redeemer, that was the end of this promise. It wasn't. Almighty God never breaks any of his promises. Even in the days of Jeremiah when they refused to listen to his pleas, and God had to exile them to Babylon, they were sent back to Jerusalem by Cyrus. God has never given up on the his people, the Jews. 1,878 years after the Roman exile in AD 70, Israel became a nation again in their own land and speaking their ancient Hebrew language, just as God promised.

A little while after this promise to Abraham God made a binding, everlasting and unconditional covenant with him. "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God."  Gen 177,8

Today this covenant is severely challenged throughout the world. And that even includes many in the Christian church, who choose to omit or deny that this Word of God remains the truth. The challenge comes largely because it includes a specific bit of real estate, about the size of Wales, called Judea as being the 'everlasting' gift of God to the Jews. We need to remember that as Creator, all the earth is the Lord's, and he has the right to give it to whom he will. This covenant is repeated by God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all his descendants.
      Gen 127 1315 1518 262-5 2813-15 3512 484  Exd 64  Josh 12-4  Deut 67-9

Why is this important in a study concerning the last days?
Very simply because the Jewish people remain central to God plan.
"I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the Lord. "The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness."  Jer 233-6

'How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it. In that day,' declares the Lord Almighty, 'I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.'  Jer 307-9

This is what the Lord says: "Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. ... But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds" declares the Lord, "because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares."
Jer 3012,17

See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel's father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.  Jer 318,9

This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar -
the Lord Almighty is his name: "Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the Lord, "will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me." This is what the Lord says: "Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done," declares the Lord.  Jer 3135-37

"In that day I will restore David's fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be ... I will bring back my exiled people Israel;
they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them," says the Lord your God.
 Amos 911,14,15

"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. ...
On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more," declares the Lord Almighty.  Zech 1210,11 131,2

Paul confirms that the Word of God concerning the Hebrews is fixed. God has definitely not finished with the Jews. Many Christians may have, but Almighty God has not! I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!  Ro 111

Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!  Ro 1111,12

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.  Ro 1125-29

We cannot possibly understand what is happening as we prepare for the end times unless we first acknowledge God's revealed plan concerning the restoration of Israel and God's chosen people in the last days.

      See more details website: "Israel and the Church in the Last Days"   (then use return arrow to return here)

 
6.  Tribulation in Revelation       [Contents]

The book of Revelation also tells us so much about the last days. Sadly it is widely neglected, largely because of the fear of controversy. The cause of this is probably because the popular teaching today is that our God is the God of love. Most prefer to leave out that he is also God of justice and judgement - they claim that is 'all Old Testament stuff'! But by far the greatest proof of God's judgement is in the New Testament! The Cross of Jesus Christ was necessary because our sin needs propitiation. God's judgement for our sin needs to be assuaged. The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is the only way that God can forgive us.  1 Jn 410

In the last days the wickedness of the world reaches a climax; even worse than in the days of Noah. The Great Tribulation revealed in Rev 6-18 is a catalogue of God's just judgement of this increasing wickedness. Modern inclusive preachers hate this truth. Note well that Rev. is also interspersed with various passages of encouragement for the persecuted saints. Such is the grace and kindness of him who knows our weakness and need.

Rev 6 reveals that the Tribulation starts with Jesus Christ opening the seals of the scroll and the four Living Creatures ordering the four 'horsemen of the Apocalypse' to come forth. The first one rode a white horse, 'he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest'. Down through the ages there have always been men and nations bent on having dominion over others. This one will seek to rule the world. The opening of the second seal sees a rider on a red horse. 'Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.' The next two horsemen rode black and pale horses. They brought the starvation and death which usually follow war. The chief characteristic that differs this from all previous wars is that these 4 horsemen cause the death of ¼ of the world population! In WWII ~60 million died. With the world population now standing at nearly 8 billion, this will mean 2,000 million people will die!! So there will not be any doubt as to when the 7 year tribulation starts. Speculation surrounds who the first horseman, the conqueror, might be. I will not add to them!
      For further detail on the Tribulation see website Bible study notes on Revelation
    (then use return arrow to return here)

Alway remember: "The Word of God is sure and the people of God are safe."   David Pawson

It is better to wear out than to rust out.

 
The Carpenter   by Paula Worth       [Contents]

Mk 63  Math 1355   "Isn't this the carpenter?"

We know the gospel story
And of his humble birth,
But who would think a king could be
A Carpenter on earth?
And yet in contemplation
It's not so very odd
For carpenters mend broken things -
Why not the Son of God?
For many years at Joseph's side
He worked with saw and plane
And waited for his Father's time,
The reason that he came.
They heard him speak in Galilee,
Amazed as wisdom flowed
For "Was not this the Carpenter,
Whose family we know?"
And then that final irony
Upon a cross of wood
They saw him die, the Son of God,
Alone, the truly good.
He'd promised this was not the end,
He'd rise, return again,
That those who waited on his word
Would not believe in vain,
For only he could pay the price
Of sin, not his, but mine;
This Carpenter from Nazareth
Who stepped into our time.
And one day, coming on the clouds,
Around the world will flash
The long awaited headline news
"The Carpenter is back!"

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