The following chapter from Garyâ€™s first book â€œEn Route to Global Occupationâ€ represents the climactic conclusion to that book. In some respects it is more timely today â€“ 25 years later â€“ than when it was written. Read it prayerfully, with an open heart to Godâ€™s leading.
The Coming World Crisis
By the mid 1980s I had assembled enough convincing evidence that friends were forced to acknowledge the fact that there was indeed a plot to establish a New World Order. However, some of these same friends could not see how a world government could be brought about during our generation. They felt that too many people would resist such an effort and that it could therefore never happen.
Between the years of 1985 and 1987 I began to think about how something like this could happen during our lifetime. I believed that a world government was possible, even probable, within the next decade or two. But, how might it come about?
I felt that if I could develop a realistic example of how the New World Order â€œcouldâ€ be achieved, perhaps people would take the threat more seriously and respond accordingly. So, in June 1987 I prepared the scenario presented in this chapter. [It went through two revisions by 1992 to keep it up-to-date with last minute findings coinciding with this bookâ€™s release.]
I wish to make clear that there is no way of knowing exactly how the final pieces will fall into place. Only God knows this. We only know from Scripture that at some point a one-world government will become a brief reality. I have prepared the following scenario to present an idea of how the enemy might be thinking. My hope is that we might be more discerning and less likely to fall into his traps.
There are many uncertainties. For one thing, we do not yet know the full consequences of the Persian Gulf War. It could be that the hidden powers believe this crisis was all that was necessary to take us the final step, and that we will see steps taken in the near future to install the New World Order. Most of the researchers in my immediate circle, however, believe that a much larger final crisis will be needed to accomplish this task, and that a little more groundwork remains to be laid before the world is prepared to take such a â€œquantum leap.â€ I personally lean in this direction.
The recent war with Iraq might have been only a dress rehearsal for something much larger yet to come. The fact that Saddam Hussein is still in power and is believed to possess at least three or four nuclear bombs, seems to be an indicator of more trouble ahead. If there is another Middle East conflict, it could result from, or start out very similar to, the recent crisis; only this time, the chances of it escalating into a regional, or even a global conflict would be much greater.
One possibility is that the new order will be achieved in stages, with the United States first leading the nations into a loosely knit world federation under an empowered United Nations (something that appears to be happening presently). A major global conflict could then be precipitated at a future time to take humanity the rest of the way into an all-out occult based world government.
Whatever happens, we may be certain of three things â€“ a world government will be formed; the Antichrist will be revealed; and he and his world system will be destroyed by Jesus Christ at His second coming. The only thing we donâ€™t know is when this all will happen.
Before the nations of the world ultimately embrace a system of global government, they must first have a reason to do so. Humanity, convinced that permanent world peace cannot be attained without the creation of a powerful world authority capable of protecting countries from one another, will eventually sacrifice the current world order â€“ seeing no alternative. Significant strides have already been made in this direction since the turn of the century, and if history repeats itself, further â€œprogressâ€ will be made soon.
Two world wars have already been fought in the twentieth century. In each case, an aggressive power was used to ignite a crisis that drew in the rest of the world; and both times the aggressor was defeated. After each war, a supranational organization was established for the alleged purpose of promoting world peace, first the League of Nations, then the United Nations. Each organization has brought us one step closer to the realization of a one-world government.
The United Nations today is the closest thing to world government that humanity has ever known. Unlike the incomplete League of Nations, which consisted of only 63 countries and did not include the United States, the United Nations consists of 159 nations, nearly every country in the world. Its infrastructure is all-encompassing and includes the World Court, the U.N. peace-keeping forces, and specialized organizations ranging from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to the World Health Organization (WHO). It oversees dozens of additional agencies ranging from UNESCO to UNICEF, covering virtually every aspect of life. The U.N. lacks only the power to implement and enforce its strategies.
Could a third world war be used to finally lead mankind to accept a New World Order? If so, how might such a war begin? Who would be its main players? And what would be the outcome? To answer these important questions, we must examine those areas where current events and the blueprints of the conspirators coincide with what the Bible teaches must yet take place.
A Possible Scenario
I believe that insiders will initiate a world crisis only if they feel it is necessary to get the public to accept their New World Order. The mere threat of a major world conflict could be enough to scare the public into accepting such a change â€“ especially when coupled with the existing problems of world hunger and global debt, and the created panic over the environment. As their campaign slogan openly proclaims, â€œGlobal Problems Demand Global Solutions!â€
Historically, however, wars have been effective in advancing the cause of world government; the fact is, major changes occur more easily during times of crisis.
Unlike the previous world wars in which Germany was the main instigator, the worldâ€™s next major conflict will undoubtedly be sparked by the hotbed of tensions surrounding the Middle East. If not Iraq a second time, then perhaps Iran or Syria.
This writer believes that Syria might play a significant role in ushering in the New World Order, if not as an instigator of war, then as a middleman for negotiating peace. It is too critical a nation to remain on the sidelines for very long and, contrary to popular belief, Syria â€“ not Iraq â€“ is the most powerful Islamic military state in the Middle East. It therefore merits close watching.
During the past several years, Syria appears to have been laying the groundwork for its own attack against Israel. Syrian troops now hold long sought after positions in Lebanon and have been prepared for such an invasion since early 1987. According to the U.S. Department of Defense publication, Soviet Military Power, Syria has also become the site of the largest Soviet arms build-up in the Third World, having contracted for $19 billion in military hardware. It currently boasts the largest number of Soviet military advisors of any Third World country.
The Syrian government, meanwhile, has effectively turned the tables by falsely warning its people of a coming Israeli attack on Syria, although Israel has repeatedly denied such allegations.Â According to the Jerusalem Post, during one of Syriaâ€™s propaganda campaigns several years ago, it took a personal statement from Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir, to maintain peace. Shamir voiced his â€œincomprehensionâ€ at Syrian â€œnervousness,â€ â€œwhich, he said, had triggered several strong Soviet warnings to Israel in recent days.â€Â I believe the Syrian government was deliberately misleading its people in order to justify its own â€œpre-emptiveâ€ strike against Israel down the road. For these reasons, I have chosen to use Syria as our example in this scenario (although a similar scenario could be constructed using Iraq, Iran, or even Libya).
If the powers-that-be were to move Syria against Israel, it would be Syriaâ€™s fatal mistake, planned this way by the conspirators in order to precipitate a world crisis. Unlike previous invasions, the Jewish state this time would have almost no time to respond. Its back would be to the wall quickly as Syrian MIGs would streak over Jerusalem within four minutes. Israel would be faced with a very difficult decision â€“ either allow itself to be conquered, or else launch its nuclear arsenal against Syria and possibly Iraq. In late 1986, â€œLondonâ€™s Sunday Times printed an article stating that Israel may have a stockpile of as many as 200 nuclear warheads.â€Â So we know that a nuclear exchange is a very real possibility.
There is an Old Testament prophecy concerning Damascus, the capitol of Syria, which has yet to be fulfilled. Isaiah proclaimed: â€œSee, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruinsâ€ (Is. 17:1). As it is, Damascus is the oldest standing city in the world, never having experienced mass destruction. This prophecy must be fulfilled sometime before the return of Christ.
Having lost several thousand of its military advisors in the exchange and with world opinion seemingly turned against Israel for her use of nuclear force, the Soviet Union could seize this opportunity to do what it has long desired â€“ move against Israel. Arab pressure on the Soviets to invade Israel would add to the temptation.
If the Soviet Union came to the rescue of Syria, it would suddenly find itself on opposite sides with the United States. What could happen next is unthinkable. Mankind will have been brought to the brink of destruction.
Wicked men in high places have been contemplating such a crisis for years. In a letter to the Italian revolutionary leader Giuseppe Mazzini dated 15 August 1871 Albert Pike, the leader of the Illuminatiâ€™s activities in the United States and the head of Scottish Rite Freemasonry at the time, described a distant final war, which he felt would be necessary to usher in the New World Order.Â According to Pike, this conflict between two future superpowers would be sparked by first igniting a crisis between Islam and Judaism. He went on to write:
We shall unleash the nihilists and the atheists and we shall provoke a great social cataclysm which, in all its horror, will show clearly to all nations the effect of absolute atheism, the origin of savagery and of most bloody turmoil. Then, everywhere, the people, forced to defend themselves against the world minority of revolutionaries, will exterminate those destroyers of civilization; and the multitudes, disillusioned with Christianity whose deistic spirits will be from that moment on without direction and leadership, anxious for an ideal but without knowledge where to send its adoration, will receive the true light through the universal manifestation of the pure doctrine of Lucifer, brought finally out into public view; a manifestation which will result from a general reactionary movement which will follow the destruction of Christianity and atheism, both conquered and exterminated at the same time.*
*Is it a pure coincidence that the most powerful figures of the Middle East are Freemasons? Have they been destined to trigger the conflict about which Albert Pike wrote? A prominent Arab-Christian leader recently informed me that according to his contacts in Lebanon, King Assad of Syria and King Hussein of Jordan are both Freemasons. If this is true, we could be closer to the New World Order than people realize. (He was uncertain about whether Saddam Hussein belonged to the same secret society.)
A few months ago the son of this same Arab-Christian gave me a Masonic document â€“ a membership certificate â€“ which he found in Lebanon, issued by a Phoenician lodge located in Lebanon. However, the document notes that the lodge is under the jurisdiction of The Grand Lodge of Jordan, which is under the authority of The Arab Supreme Council. For at least several centuries, Jordan has been a bastion for the secret societies in the Middle East and has much more influence in the regionâ€™s behind-the-scenes politics than most people realize. The same Masonic symbol appearing on our dollar bill and found at ancient occult worship sites throughout the world, the all-seeing eye, is prominently displayed on the certificate. [See the adjacent exhibit or click to enlarge.]
Should such a crisis be permitted to occur, the amount of destruction would be staggering. Humanity would tremble with fear believing that man is about to destroy himself. For even if the Soviet Union or the United States were eliminated as military powers, over thirty countries would still have nuclear capacity. It would be a time of despair and mass confusion. Add to this the resulting chaos of global financial markets, which are already on the brink of disaster; the economic turmoil would only contribute to the worldâ€™s state of panic.
Once such a war began, there would be no guarantee that the United States or Europe would remain entirely unscathed. But, it is important to remember that no matter how much the powers of darkness plot and scheme, in the end, they can only bring about what God allows. Only He knows with certainty what the future holds. Thus far, God has prevented the hidden forces from making their move. But the time could soon come when the world will have become so wicked and abominable in the eyes of God that He will say â€œenough is enough,â€ and He will permit the powers of darkness to succeed for a time (Dan. 11:24).
As a result, man would be disillusioned and searching for answers. Many would blame God for the devastation, not even considering the fact that it was manâ€™s own wickedness and willingness to be deceived that brought it about. For one professing to provide the solutions, the time would be ripe. The real crisis is about to begin.
If You Build It, I Will Come!
The moment which Satan has so long awaited and for which his disciples have diligently labored, will have finally come. The conspirators will submit their power to one who will rise to the occasion and whom they will recognize as their undisputed leader. Their complete allegiance and devotion will be given to him â€“ truly a first since the Tower of Babel. He will be Satan personified and will have all the powers of darkness at his disposal â€“ capable of performing every sort of sign and wonder imaginable. He is the one spoken of in the Bible as the lawless one or the beast; he is also referred to in the first letter of John as the Antichrist.
For awhile, he will remain in the background; his servants overseeing the final phase. Tens of thousands of New Agers will appear on the world scene, fully organized, demanding that a one-world government be established. This restructuring of the old order, they will claim, is necessary to deal with existing global problems and to prevent any future catastrophes from taking place. The international media will give full coverage to this unfolding drama. Most of the public will be unaware that this network has been organized specifically for this purpose years in advance; it will simply appear to be a spontaneous democratic grassroots movement, held together by people with a common pursuit â€“ the desire for world peace and unity.
Every problem, no matter how small (or how fabricated), will suddenly become a reason for why we need a world government. The most convincing arguments will have to do with the environment, global debt, world poverty, and the prevention of war. A New World Order, they will say, is needed because individual nations are no longer capable of dealing with these complex problems on their own.
The New World Order will appear to come from the bottom up, as something that the people of the world want. It will come in the name of democracy, non-threatening â€“ not as a system being forced upon us by our politicians. Too many people would become suspicious otherwise, sensing that they are being manipulated. Instead, the inhabitants of â€œMother Earthâ€ will believe that they are in control of their own destiny, unaware of the hidden agenda of those really in charge behind-the-scenes.
Most of those initially involved at the core of this movement will in some way be connected with the secret societies, having in common an obsession with mysticism and the occult â€“ a fact not readily apparent to the public. One popular battle cry among New Agers is, â€œIf you build it, I will come.â€ More clearly put, if you build the New World Order and put all the pieces into place, then I (the Antichrist) will come and take my seat of power.
Once this movement goes public, it will gain momentum rapidly; many unsuspecting citizens who are not involved in the occult will join the effort, simply because it seems like the most logical thing to do. The call for democratic world government will sound most appealing.
At some point, the beast, or one of his representatives, will step forth with what will appear to be a brilliant plan for Mideast peace. The initiative will include some type of settlement between the Jews and the Palestinians, claiming to ensure permanent peace in the war torn region. The agreement would probably guarantee Israelâ€™s security and would allow the Jews to rebuild their long-anticipated temple, in exchange for allowing the Palestinians to have their own homeland with autonomous rule. The beast will succeed where others before him have failed.
His appearance will most likely be as a democratic leader, riding into power on the back of the democracy movement, appearing as a genuine man of peace. Whether he first emerges as a world diplomat or as a religious leader (such as the pope or the Dalai Lama) remains to be seen; remember, he could be someone who is still unknown to the world. However, once he and his main accomplice, the false prophet take their positions, discerning Christians will recognize them for who they are.
The Antichrist will come to reside over an empowered United Nations or, perhaps, over a newly created global authority, such as the Federation of Earth, at first a loosely knit federation of nations. However, it would most likely emerge rapidly into a powerful structure administrated on the basis of [probably] ten world regions.
A World Constitution will be proposed, and a â€œdemocraticâ€ World Parliament will be created. World citizens will believe they have a say in matters, not realizing that occult-based secret societies are really the ones in control. If the New World Order, for example, were to be based on a two or three party system, all that New Age occultists would have to do is control each of these parties â€“ something easily accomplished since they were the ones responsible for proposing the world government in the first place. These insiders would determine the tempo of change and the rest of the world would follow their lead.
The public would be content because it would retain its right to vote and choose candidates, seeing itself as part of a representative government. But in reality it wouldnâ€™t matter who was elected; the result would always be the same: supporters of the Antichrist would be running the system unchecked. As a worldwide system, there would be no place to run.
Sovereign nations would cease to exist. A single global economic system would be established and anything remaining from the old order of things would be purely superficial, such as languages, cultures, names of countries, etc. Any real authority would now rest with an international body controlled by Satan himself.
The disputing world religions will become unified, and as he will be a master of spiritual intrigue, it is not inconceivable that, at some point during his ascent to power, he declares himself to be â€œthe Christ.â€* If this were to be the case, he might also claim to be the long awaited Messiah to the Jews. To the Buddhists he would be the fifth Buddha; to Moslems, the Imam Mahdi; to Hindus, Krishna. Those Christians accepting this lie would unfortunately see in him the fulfillment of the second coming of Christ.
*Unbeknownst to many, the term â€œAntichrist,â€ in I John 2:18, may also be interpreted as â€œin place of Christ.â€
But regardless, Scripture tells us that a majority of the worldâ€™s inhabitants will be deceived (Rev. 13 and 2 Thess. 2); thus, the rise of the Antichrist will be extremely convincing to those who are unprepared and who are not firmly grounded in Godâ€™s Word.
New Age principles, which have subtly worked their way into many churches disguised as sound biblical teachings, will prevent unsuspecting Christians from recognizing the Antichrist. If he would come proclaiming to be a servant of Satan, few would be foolish enough to follow him. Instead, he will come in the name of Christ, posing as an angel of light. Discerning Christians will be astonished at who steps forth to head the New World Order â€“ possibly the last person ever suspected.
Jesus Warned of This Time
For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect â€“ if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. (Matt. 24:24-25)
The Christianity represented by the Antichrist will be a complete counterfeit, saturated with all the pantheistic teachings of eastern mysticism and the ancient mystery religions â€“ the same beliefs held by New Agers and promoted by the secret societies. The topdressing of Christianity will be necessary to make it acceptable to the public.
The focus will be on elevating self rather than God. It will be a popular religion to a me-oriented generation seeking fulfillment in the empty teachings of self-esteem. The false teachings of me-ism have already permeated churches to an alarming degree. Most people do not realize that self-worship and occultism go hand in hand. The naÃ¯ve will actually be practicing occultism in the name of Christ, while worshipping the father of lies. It will be the ultimate deception.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, the Apostle Paul warned:
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.
At first, the Antichrist will be remarkably successful in keeping peace on the planet. This is because most of the worldâ€™s conflicts were incited by his followers. With the prince of darkness now in power, his followers will cease fomenting wars, giving him credibility among the people as a genuine peacemaker.
According to Scripture, the length of his reign will be seven years (Dan. 9:27). The first 3 Â½ years will most likely be used to consolidate his power and to put in place any final mechanisms needed to ensure absolute control of the world.
During the second 3 Â½ year period, his nature will be fully revealed as he will demand the loyalty and worship of the earthâ€™s inhabitants (Rev. 13). This moment will mark the beginning of the great tribulation spoken of in Revelation 7:14. Regarding the reign of the Antichrist, the Bible says:
And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast â€“ all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Rev. 13:7b-8)
The tragedy is that most people will voluntarily serve this man of lawlessness and his system, seeing him as their savior. He will have a way of making people feel good about themselves, teaching them how to get in touch with their â€œhigher selves,â€ and showing them how to receive supernatural power. During this time, man will indulge in every sort of perverted demonic activity that God has ever warned against. Evil will go forth in the name of goodness.
Of this time, it may be said that the principalities and powers of darkness will be unleashed upon the world. The Bible warns: â€œâ€¦woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is shortâ€ (Rev. 12:12b). It will be Satanâ€™s moment. He will receive that which only God deserves â€“ the worship of man, the worship that Satan most desires and which he wants to deny to God.
In order to ensure that he will receive the worldâ€™s allegiance and worship, the Antichrist will force everyone
small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. (Rev. 13:16-17)
The mark will probably be similar to the bar code system of the Universal Product Code, each person tagged with their own permanent identification number easily read by scanners. The mark, however, will most likely come in the form of an invisible laser tattoo [or chip implant].
Those accepting the mark will be seen by God as submitting to the worship of Satan and his system, a terrible offense in the eyes of God â€“ like spitting in his face. In Revelation 14:9-11 God warns us:
If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of Godâ€™s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.
The passage goes on to acknowledge that â€œthis calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey Godâ€™s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.â€
Yet those remaining obedient to God, refusing the mark, will be pursued like animals. Many will be put to death. In Matthew 24:9-10, Jesus warned:
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.
Christians who are alive during this period and who refuse to participate in this system will be seen as obstacles to world peace. They will be labeled as uncooperative troublemakers and warmongers. That remnant of believers determined to remain faithful to God during the tribulation are repeatedly warned in Revelation 13 and 14 to take heart and to prepare for this time of persecution.
He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. (Rev. 13:9-10)
Those families who are free of debt, who own some land on which to grow food, and who own precious metal coins, which could be used as barter for needed goods, will initially fare better than others. However, eventually even they will find life difficult if they refuse the mark. They might be unable to pay taxes, for example, since all transactions with the new government will probably be conducted via the mark. Those unable to pay taxes will have their possessions taken and will be pursued. One might wonder, how will anyone be able to stand under such intense persecution? But the same God who warns of tribulation offers comfort and hope.
First of all, we know that the severest persecution will last for a time only, namely 3 Â½ years (Dan. 7:25, 12:7; Rev. 13:5). Secondly, those who are pursued will find pockets of refuge where they will receive help. Apparently some of those having accepted the mark will finally realize their mistake when they see the ruthlessness of the new order against uncompromising Christians. They will recognize that such a system cannot possibly be of God and will try to help those being persecuted. Daniel 11:34 states, â€œWhen they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them.â€
Finally, those who keep their eyes fixed on the eternal and strive to please God during this period, whether they die or remain alive until the end, are promised a tremendous reward in eternity with God.
And he said, â€œThese are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.â€ (Rev. 7:14-17)
In the same spirit, Revelation 14:13 continues, â€œâ€¦Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.â€
â€œYes,â€ says the Spirit, â€œthey will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.â€
Scripture indicates that there would even be a spiritual revival of sorts in the midst of this persecution. Daniel 11:32-33 states:
And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
And they that understand among the people shall instruct manyâ€¦
Daniel 12 goes on to say:
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. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.
Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. (Dan. 12:3-4, 10)
The Bible makes it very clear that the time of the Antichrist must come, but it also assures us that Jesus Christ will put an end to the tribulation when He returns. Paul wrote:
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to himâ€¦
Donâ€™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 destructionâ€¦whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. (2 Thess. 2:1,3,8b)
Jesus described His coming in detail to His disciples:
Immediately after the distress of those days â€œthe sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.â€
At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matt. 24:29-31)
Those who remain faithful to Jesus will be avenged. They will receive their just reward, reigning with the Lord forever.
I believe that God wants us to heed His warnings and to take His prophecies seriously, otherwise He would not have given them to us. By His prophecies we are warned, prepared, and encouraged. Unlike the thousands of psychics and spiritualists whose predictions are mostly inaccurate and originate in the occult, the prophetic statements of the Bible are proven and true. They are Godâ€™s direct revelation to His prophets through the Holy Spirit.
You must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophetâ€™s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:20-21)
The Apostle Paul warned, â€œDo not treat prophecies with contemptâ€ (I Thess. 5:20). And Jesus, speaking through His angel to John, promised, â€œBlessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this bookâ€ (Rev. 22:7b).
Some may consider the scenario presented in this chapter too overwhelming. Yet the Lord has impressed it upon my heart to warn people, particularly Christians, of coming hard times so that they might be spiritually prepared. I must remain true to this regardless of what the world might say or think.
Jesus said that no one would know the exact day of His return, â€œnot even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Fatherâ€ (Matt. 24:36). However, from the multitude of prophecies given concerning Christâ€™s second coming, God clearly wants us to know when this time draws near so that we might be prepared. The same may be said concerning the rapture.
Over the years, two primary views have arisen within the Church regarding the general time when God would rescue His remnant from the earth. One view first became popular in the 1800s and contends that God will take Christians from the world before the beginning of the great tribulation. This is commonly referred to as the pre-tribulation rapture theory. According to this view, those Christians referred to in the New Testament as being alive during the tribulation are new Christians who will accept Christ following the rapture.
The other view contends that Christians will go through the entire tribulation period, not being rescued until the actual second coming of Christ. This interpretation is known as the post-tribulation rapture theory and has been the more traditional view.
Other less accepted views also exist, placing the rapture at some point during the seven year period.
The question of the rapture remains a source of debate within the Church, as it is truly difficult to determine from the Bible the precise moment when the rapture will occur. But regardless of when the Lord takes His people home, too many Christians believe as they do for the wrong reasons.
I have heard it said repeatedly that God will spare the Church from going through the tribulation because He would never allow Christians to endure such hardship or persecution. But people forget that many in the early church were martyred for the sake of Christ. Nearly every one of Jesusâ€™ disciples died in the face of persecution. And these were the very ones who were closest to God. Are we to believe that He had forgotten them?
And what about the millions of faithful Christians of our own generation who have suffered death and persecution at the hands of communism. Are they not as important to God since they have suffered and we have not?
Some believers tend to confuse Satanâ€™s persecution of Christians with Godâ€™s judgment of a sinful, unrepentant world. They do not believe that Christians will be persecuted, because God would never judge His own. The fact is, the earthly persecution of Christians has nothing to do with Godâ€™s judgment. To the contrary, it is Satan, the prince of this world, who persecutes us.
Godâ€™s judgment falls only upon those who have denied Him or rebelled against Him; whereas the persecution of Godâ€™s people is the result of Satan lashing out in anger against those whom he is unable to deceive or overcome.
During the time of the great tribulation, as described in Revelation, Godâ€™s wrath will be poured out upon those who take the mark. This wrath will be in the form of plagues (Rev. 16:2). It will later be followed by His judgment â€“ eternal damnation (Rev. 14:9-12). Satanâ€™s fury, on the other hand, will be experienced by those who do not take the mark or bow to worship him. This persecution will be in the form of imprisonment, torture, or death. Christians, however, should draw comfort from the fact that Satanâ€™s persecution is limited to this world; Godâ€™s principle judgment against the wicked will last for eternity.
This ongoing battle is part of the spiritual warfare being waged between God and Satan over our souls. It explains why those who are doing the most for God are often the ones who suffer most.
The life of the apostle Paul best illustrates this point. He was probably the most resilient and dedicated follower of Christ in the early church. Yet, he suffered more tragedy, pain, and suffering than anyone else of his time. He was pursued everywhere he went and was eventually put to death.
Paul summarized his persecution in 2 Corinthians.
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. (2 Cor. 11:23b-27)
Was this Godâ€™s judgment against Paul? â€“ obviously not. It was Satanâ€™s persecution against an unswerving man of God. Paul understood the nature of this warfare and even took comfort in the fact that he was being afflicted. He knew that his problems were a direct result of his faithful service to Christ. This enabled him to keep things in perspective.
That is why, for Christâ€™s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)
Paul adds that all Christians must be prepared.
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I hadâ€¦(Phil. 1:29-30a)
Beginning with the first century church and continuing to the present day, those who have suffered the greatest persecution have commonly been those who were closest to God. Yet today the message of self-sacrifice and suffering for the cause of Christ has all but disappeared from our churches. It is no longer taught that crosses in life must precede the crown. Yet Jesus said to His disciples, â€œIf anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow meâ€ (Matt. 16:24). And John recorded Jesus as saying, â€œNo servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you alsoâ€ (John 15:20). This theme remained constant throughout Jesusâ€™ teachings.
Suffering is therefore obviously not just limited to the great tribulation, but may be experienced in Western society and in the world as a whole, prior to the rapture, whenever it occurs.
If we might soon face this type of persecution and deception, what, if anything, can we do to prepare for it? Getting out of debt and positioning ourselves so that we are less dependent on worldly institutions is all good and well, and Christians are encouraged to do so. However, physical preparation should not be our principle concern. Instead, we should see to it that we are spiritually prepared.
Assuming that you are already a believer, here are some things you can do to get ready for difficult times.
1. Be an informed and educated Christian.
Equip yourself to discern good from evil â€“ truth from deception. This involves striving to know the truth about what is going on in the world around you and becoming aware of Satanâ€™s schemes and tactics. However, while an awareness of current events and critical issues is strongly encouraged, the most important step you can take in gaining spiritual discernment is to know the Bible inside out. Donâ€™t take a preacherâ€™s word for what it says; find out for yourself! Know what you believe and why you believe it. How can you avoid being deceived if you donâ€™t know what the Bible teaches? Someone may be misleading you, but unless you are fluent in Scripture, you will never know it. The time for lukewarm Christianity and Bible illiteracy is over.
Be prepared to defend your faith at all cost; always stand ready to give the reason for the hope that you have in Christ (I Pet. 3:15). How can we expect others to come to love and to serve Jesus if we canâ€™t tell them who he is or what He has done for us? Only if we know and understand Godâ€™s Word can we truly be effective witnesses. Knowledge of Scripture must be accompanied by a life of example; we must know Godâ€™s Word in order to live according to Godâ€™s will.
An understanding of the Bible is part of the armor of God, which Paul exhorts us to put on. Writing to the church in Ephesus, he states:
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devilâ€™s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Eph. 6:10-13
2. Draw near to Christ.
The first step in developing a closer walk with God is to obey His commands. Jesus said, â€œIf you love me, you will obey what I commandâ€ (John 14:15). Either we love Him or we donâ€™t! Are you holding on to something, or have you truly surrendered every aspect of your life to Jesus Christ? It is important to root out any remaining sins and destructive habits by committing them to the Lord.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:24)
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules. (Col. 2:20)
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in this world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. (I Pet. 2:11)
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things. (Col. 3:5-8a)
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Gal. 5:16)
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:1b-3)
The more we die to self, the more Christ can live through us; we must become less so that He can become more. The apostle Paul applied this principle to his own life with amazing results. The impact of his all-out commitment is still being felt today.
Paulâ€™s devotion is reflected in his testimony:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)
Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Phil. 3:7-8)
Are you willing to pay the price to have this type of relationship with God? If so, it will require making some personal sacrifices and commitments â€“ the type of a permanent nature. You must be willing to give up absolutely everything! If anything is more important to you than God, it must be surrendered to Him!
Purpose right now, to live in â€œdailyâ€ communion with Him, by reading His Word and by talking to Him regularly. God wants our fellowship and praise more than anything. This is part of living an obedient life. If we reject the prompting of His Spirit to draw near, our hearts will soon grow hardened, and we will no longer want to be in His presence. Instead, we will want to hide from God. Donâ€™t allow this to happen. You will have to know God intimately to make it through the difficult times ahead!
3. Keep life in its proper perspective.
This involves continually reminding ourselves of the real reason for being hereâ€¦which is to love, serve, and please God. This, we must remember, is the heartbeat of our mission.
Only that which is done for the Lord will last. Everything else â€“ our earthly belongings, our physical bodies, our sense of prestige and career accomplishment â€“ will pass away. None of these things can be taken with us. So why do we insist on placing so much importance on things with no eternal value? Why do so many people love â€œthingsâ€ more than they love God?
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world â€“ the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does â€“ comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:15-17)
As Christians we must see our earthly lives for what they really are. James reminds us:
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14b)
The fact is, our body is only the temporary dwelling place of our soul. Only our soul (our spiritual being) will live forever. So wouldnâ€™t it be wise to place our main emphasis on the spiritual?
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For all men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever. (I Pet. 1:23-25)
What God has prepared for us in eternity is far better than what we leave behind (John 14:1-6). We must, therefore, train ourselves to see the overall picture of our existence, remembering that we are only temporary dwellers on this earth. Since our time here is so short, let us live to please our eternal Father â€“ not to satisfy the sinful longings of our flesh.
Paul summarizes this issue of the temporal versus the eternal:
Many live as enemies of the cross of Christâ€¦Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Phil. 3:18b-21)
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christâ€¦without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved â€“ and that by God (Phil. 1:27a-28)
This hope we have comes only through the Lamb of God, whose blood was shed for our sins. Jesus said:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28).
Since we have so great a hope, let us not fret over what may happen to our possessions or to our bodies. Rather, let us seek God wholeheartedly and submit our lives to Him on a daily basis. As we do so, we will grow closer and closer to Him; and His Holy Spirit will empower us with a boldness to do things, even in the midst of persecution, which we never thought were possible before. By keeping our lives focused on Jesus Christ and the eternity that He has planned for us, we will be able to persevere under pressure, while maintaining His peace and joy.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!…Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:4, 6-7).
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO EXPERIENCE THIS KIND OF PEACE AND JOY, BUT HAVE NEVER ACCEPTED JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR, HERE IS WHAT YOU MUST DO:
First of all, you must understand what it is that God has done for you through Jesus Christ. John 3:16 explains:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God sent his son to die in our place, so that we might be saved from the penalty of our sins. Had we been perfect, this would not have been necessary; we could have entered Heaven on our own merits.
God created man perfect without sin. However, He gave man the freedom to make decisions; this included the right to choose between obeying God or following the empty lies and temptations of Lucifer (Satan) â€“ the master deceiver.
Lucifer was once a powerful angel, but rebelled against God, wanting to be as God. Filled with self-pride and arrogance, he wanted to be worshiped like his Maker. Rather than submitting to the one Creator, he wanted to be exalted himself. (He apparently suffered from too high a self-esteem!)
Having failed at his attempt, Lucifer was removed from Godâ€™s presence, and became known as Satan. With the creation of man, his goal became to upset Godâ€™s plan by luring man to make the same mistake he made â€“ desiring to be elevated to the position of God. So he held out the forbidden fruit.
â€œYou will not surely die,â€ the serpent said to the woman. â€œFor God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, AND YOU WILL BE LIKE GODâ€¦â€
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Gen. 3:4-5a, 6)
The moment that Adam sinned, his seed became corrupted. As a result, every future human being would be born into sin and would wage a life-long struggle between doing what he knows is right (obeying his spiritual conscience) and doing what is wrong (yielding to the sinful nature of his flesh). Contrary to popular belief, sin is not only learned, it is also inherited. Romans 5:12 states that â€œâ€¦sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinnedâ€ (also see Rom. 3:23).
When Satan succeeded in getting man to disobey God, it gave him the right to condemn our souls; this fallen angel became our accuser. According to Scripture, he stands accusing us before God day and night (Rev. 12:10).
By yielding to Satanâ€™s temptation and choosing to live a life independent of Godâ€™s will, man inflicted upon himself the penalty for sin, which is death (Rom. 6:23). Death, according to Scripture, includes permanent separation from God and eternal damnation in hell.
Manâ€™s sin, therefore, presented what appeared to be an insurmountable problem, since only that which is perfect may enter heaven and live forever with God. This standard of perfection had to be maintained, or else heaven itself would have become corrupt. (This is why Lucifer and his conspiring angels were dealt with accordingly.)
God could have allowed all of us to go to hell, a punishment we justly deserve. But because of His great love, He chose instead to intervene by paying the penalty for our sins Himself. God came to earth in the flesh, in the form of Jesus Christ, to suffer and die in our place on the cross. â€œBut God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for usâ€ (Rom. 5:8).
In this one act of love and mercy God took upon Himself the punishment for all our sins. He paid the price so that we might be set free from the hold of death and have eternal life. This, completely undeserving though we are, is Godâ€™s gift to us. He did not have to do this but chose to do it anyway.
Such an act of mercy runs completely contrary to the thinking of the secular mind. We are not used to receiving something for nothing. It seems unfathomable that God would do something like this for us simply out of mercy or love. That the very Creator of the universe would humble Himself by coming as a man, to be mocked and scorned, and to die a grueling death at the hands of His own creation in order to save them, is incomprehensible. It defies all human logic. It can only be understood as an act of extraordinary, unjustifiable love!
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:13-14)
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christâ€™s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. (Col. 1:21-22)
This is the good news of the gospel! There is nothing we can do to earn this eternal life, for it cannot be obtained through works or human effort. It is purely a gift from God to us.
The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23b)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith â€“ and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God â€“ not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)
The gift of salvation is available only through Jesus Christ, because He is the only one who, as a perfect being â€“ God in the flesh â€“ was able to pay the necessary price for our sins. It took a perfect sacrifice to overcome Satanâ€™s claim to our souls.
Jesus answered, â€œI am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.â€ (John 14:6)
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men â€“ the testimony given in its proper time. (I Tim. 2:5-6, also read John 3:36 and Acts 4:12)
If Jesus is manâ€™s only hope for eternal life, and if we are unable to earn this gift, then what must we do to receive it? We must accept the fact that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and believe that we have eternal life as a result of what he did. Itâ€™s that simple!
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of Godâ€™s one and only Son. (John 3:18)
If you sincerely wish to accept the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, simply pray to God in your own words. Do it right now. Confess to him that you are a sinner and would like to be forgiven. Tell Him that you accept His Son, Jesus Christ, and that you believe His sacrifice on the cross was sufficient to cover your sins. Thank God for what He has done, and ask Him to help you live the kind of life that would be pleasing to Him. GOD WILL HEAR YOUR PRAYER IF IT COMES FROM A SINCERE HEART!
If you have just accepted Christ as Lord, you now have eternal life. Satan no longer has a claim to your soul. You are at peace with God and have entered into a permanent relationship with Him. The quality of this relationship, however, is up to you. Please allow God to take â€œcompleteâ€ control of your life!
As you grow in your Christian walk, you will gain wisdom and understanding. Godâ€™s Holy Spirit will convict you of what changes need to be made in your life in order to serve Christ most effectively. Repentance (turning your back on sin) is an ongoing process. God will give you the strength and resolve to be obedient to Him if this is truly your heartâ€™s desire.
It is important that you find a sound, Bible-teaching fellowship and become involved. Worshipping Christ with other believers is a very special privilege from which you will draw strength. There is nothing more valuable than true Christian friends. They are dependable and loving.
Remember, however, that every church, no matter how sound, has its share of hypocrites â€“ people who hear with their ears but not with their hearts. But we are all accountable to God and must not compare ourselves to others. Rather, we must strive to follow the example of Jesus, which has been revealed to us through Scripture.
Make a special effort to read the Bible every day, beginning with the books of John and Philippians. Talk to God regularly, making your requests known. He is always ready to listen. Thank Him for all that He has done and delight in praising His name. Ask Him for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with your family and friends. He will give you the words to speak along with the courage to do so. Above all, â€œLove the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mindâ€ (Matt. 22:37).
As you grow in your walk, there will be moments of difficulty and distress when your faith is tested. When such times arrive, remember, â€œGreater is he that is in you, than he that is in the worldâ€ (I John 4:4b KJV). Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in your struggle. Millions of other Christians are facing the same obstacles as you; so donâ€™t lose heart! Give it your all! Run to win!
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (I Cor. 9:24-25)
The eternal victory is already ours through Jesus Christ. Through Him we are destined to win!!
Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.