DISCOVER THE PERFECTION OF JESUS
The greatest mystery in the world today is the patience of God in allowing sin to run rampantly through this world.
ü There is no village or town without its seething, and there is no human heart without its caliginous, black drop. ü There is no life without its tears and its sorrows. ü There is no home that ultimately does not break up, and there is no family that does not see the circle of the home dissolved in the depths of the grave. ü There is no life that does not end in the grave. ü The pages of history, from the time of the first murder until this present hour, are written in blood, tears and death. Why God delays in taking, the Kingdom unto Himself. That is the most inexplicable mystery that mind could dream of, the mystery of the presence of evil. For these thousands of years, God has allowed Satan to wrap his vicious, slimy, filthy, cruel tentacles around human life and around this earth. Does God know it? Is He indifferent to it? Is He not able to cope with it? Oh, the mystery of the delay of God! ü That mystery has brought more stumbling to the faith of God’s people than any other experience in all life. The infidel, the atheist, the agnostic and the unbeliever laugh and mock us, and God allows them to mock and laugh. ü Our missionaries are slain, our churches are burned to the ground, people in this Earth by uncounted millions and millions are oppressed, living in despair, and God just looks. He seemingly does not intervene; He does not say anything, and He does not move. Sin just develops. It goes on and on. Oh, the mystery of the delay of the Lord God! But somewhere beyond the starry sky there stands a herald angel with a trumpet in his hand, and by the decree of the Lord God Almighty, there is a day, there is an hour, there is a moment, there is an elected time when the angel shall sound and the Kingdoms of this World shall become the Kingdoms of our God and of His Christ.”  Open with me to that moment when the trumpet sounds and the Lord takes back His world: Revelation chapter 6 opens the Tribulation; the first step in Christ’s taking back the Earth, which is rightfully His. One by one Christ unrolls the seals. As each seal is broken, He takes further possession and control of His inheritance. Finally, “the seventh angel sounded; and there arose loud voices in Heaven, saying, ‘The Kingdom of the World has become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever’” (11:15). When He unrolls the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet blows, the Earth is His. The horrors of Christ’s wrath Walk with me through the pages of Revelation chapters six, eight, nine, and sixteen. Briefly, may I describe the living hell you can avoid if you are a part of the Rapture? Here are only a few of the dreadful disasters that take place during the Tribulation: • One out of every four people will die (see Rev. 6:8), some through the ravages of war, others by starvation, and amazingly many others by the ‘beasts of the earth’. So, whether by death that comes instantly and thus less dreaded or a slow and painful death that is lingering and agonizing-25 percent of all people will die. The world’s population was 5,733,687,096 in 1995, so that means at least 1,433,421,774 will die. That amounts to just about five times the current population of the United States-can you imagine that? And remember that the population of the world is doubling every 39.5 years. So every day the number of people who will die becomes larger and larger. • One third of all vegetation will be burned up. All grass, every tree, everything green will be destroyed (see Rev. 8:7). • The sun and the moon will be darkened as nature goes into revolt (see Rev. 8:12). • The gates of hell will open and hordes of locusts, the size of horses, will come upon the earth. Those locusts will be allowed to sting men like scorpions and the pain will last for five months. The Bible says men will beg God to let them die but they will not die (see Rev. 9:3-6). • There will be worldwide famine unlike anything the world has ever seen (see Rev. 18:8). • There will be a world war so bloody that the blood of those killed in battle will flow for two hundred miles, and reach up to the bridle of a horse in the valley of Jezreel. This will be the Battle of Armageddon (see Rev. 14:20). • All told, during the Great Tribulation, as many as half of all the people on the earth will be killed. Now do you see why God refers to the Rapture as a ‘blessed hope’? Because the Tribulation to come is so horrible! The first six seals opened REVELATION 6 JESUS’ DESCRIPTION of the Tribulation in (Matt. 24:3-34) exactly parallels the seals of Rev. 6! Seal #1 FALSE PEACE (v. 1-2) Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.”2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. ü Without Jesus the WAY, TRUTH & LIFE (14:6) – He guides us, apart from Him is to be endlessly lost. ü This is a picture of the release of Antichrist into the World scene; a white horse; its rider has a bow and crown, and he goes forth to conquer. Seal #2 WAR (v. 3-4) When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.”4 Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword. ü Without Jesus the DOOR OF SHEEP (10:7,9) – He admits us to that life apart from Him is only hopeless exclusion. ü A red horse, a great sword given to the rider; peace taken from the earth (vs. 3-4) speaks of the unmasking of Antichrist who brings a false, superficial peace. But at this point, peace is removed from the earth and the time of killing begins (cf. Ezk. 38:21) ü One estimate counts 143 separate wars with more than 12 million dead since 1945. WAR ITSELF HAS INTENSIFIED: Moreover, the lethality of modern conventional weapons is virtually incomprehensible. In World War II, the standard infantry rifle, the M-1, fired an eight-round clip. ü Today’s M-16 fires a 30-round magazine of far more devastating projectiles. ü The A-10 attack aircraft, a jet used to support ground troops, carries a heavier bomb payload than the largest World War II strategic bomber, the B-29. ü An AC-130 gunship, a transport aircraft configured for fire support, carries four 20mm Vulcan cannons with six barrels each, four multi-barreled 7.62mm mini-guns, a 40mm Bofors cannon and a 105mm automatic howitzer. In other words, one plane delivers the firepower of a World War I infantry battalion. ü Tanks and artillery shoot twice as far, several times more rapidly and much more accurately than in 1945. Or, as Professor Richard A. Gabriel of St. Anselm’s College notes in his newly published book, “No More Heroes”: “A Soviet motorized rifle division can deliver ten times the firepower at three times the rate of a similar World War II division. The same is true of NATO divisions.” His conclusion: High-intensity conventional warfare, like nuclear war, may now be too terrible to fight. Seal #3 starvation (v. 5-6) When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius; and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.” ü Without Jesus the BREAD OF LIFE (6:35) – He sustains us; apart from Him is only unsatisfied hunger. üA denarius was one day’s wage (or fifteen cents). A slave would work a whole day and earn fifteen cents. Here we see that one meal of wheat or three meals of barley will cost an entire day’s wages. Now that’s famine! All a man’s money will go to buy food. A terrible famine is going to hit the earth. STARVATION – (By Anastasia Toufexis) Close to the Zocalo, Mexico City’s great central square, lies the barrio of Morelos, a vast warren of dusty, potholed streets and narrow entryways. The passages lead to a gloomy world. On each side of a roofless patio is a ten-room jumble. Each room holds a family; each family averages five people. The only bathrooms-two to serve 100 people-are located at the back of the patio. The odor of grease and sewage permeates the air. Flies buzz relentlessly. The people who live here are considered lucky. In the shantytowns on Mexico City’s outskirts, tens of thousands of people shelter in huts made of cardboard with aluminum roofs. There is no running water and no sanitation. The stench is overpowering: garbage and human waste heap up in piles. Rats roam freely, like stray domestic animals. To the more privileged, those scenes look like a science-fiction vision of civilization’s breakdown, perhaps after a nuclear war. In fact, Mexico City has been described as the anteroom to an ecological Hiroshima. With 20 million residents (up from 9 million only 20 years ago) the Mexican capital is considered the most populous urban center on Earth. Mexico’s capital has been struck not by military weapons but by a population bomb. Seal #4 death (v. 7-8) When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.”8 So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth. ü Without Jesus the RESURRECTION AND LIFE (11:25) – He provides us life and, apart from Him is only endless dying. üWith the breaking of this seal, one-fourth of the population of the World is going to die. As a green (Greek chloros as in chlorine) horse: death, and Hades follows. Death receives the bodies and Hades the souls of unbelievers. Death may refer to pestilence (Scott, Ironside, Gaebelein). üBeasties of Leeuwenhoek microscope. Think for a moment of the vast legions of deadly agents surrounding you this morning: • TB: once thought conquered has re-emerged in highly resistant strains that have even known to piggyback with HIV to be contagious in an airborne infection. • Staph: causing a fifth of the hospital system’s two million infections a year has just shown up as staphylococcus aureus, which is resistant to vancomycin, the final gun in the antibiotic arsenal. At present 60 to 80,000 die of staph annually but if aureus comes out it is so deadly that the numbers will skyrocket. • Ebola: with a mortality rate of 90% + in less than a week, Ebola is horrible. Connective tissues of the body liquefy and every orifice of the body bleeds as the infected individual convulses and splashes deadly contaminated blood in every direction. There is no known cure, no treatment, in fact no awareness of how it is transmitted. Chilling to say the least, if it started in a populated area. • biological warfare: anthrax is a cheaply produced poor man’s atom bomb. Once infected the area is persistently a problem for decades. If Berlin had been hit with anthrax in WWII it would still be uninhabitable today! • Yursinia pestis: or to us non-doctor types Bubonic plague is (rod-shaped, non-motile, non-sporulating, gram-negative, aerobic bacterium) in other words it killed tens of millions of Europeans in the Middle Ages and it is being cultivated in laboratories of terrorist countries this morning! Black Death as it was called in the 1400’s goes from rats to fleas to humans to hemorrhages, to suffocation and/or general toxemia. • botulinum toxin: this is the most powerful poison known to man. Nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, respiratory paralysis and death . . . all from a cultured bacteria called clostridium botulinum anyone can grow in their home lab with $10,000 worth of equipment in a room 15 feet square. In 1986 Ma Anan Sheela confessed to growing and spreading trillions of salmonella bacteria in four restaurant salad bars in Oregon as a biological terrorist. 750 people became seriously ill in that one town! • Up until 40 years ago there was no way anyone could kill one-fourth of the world. Today “beasts of the earth” are multiplying by the trillions in laboratories, boiling in the cauldron of hatred in the Middle East, and before long they will spill out into the deadliest hour of the planet. So deadly are these beasts that Jesus said in Mark 13:20 “And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.” Seal #5 martyrdom (V.9-11) When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. ü Without Jesus the LIGHT OF WORLD (8:12) – He illumines us and, apart from Him is only impenetrable darkness. üWhen the fifth seal is broken, martyrs who died because of their faith during the Tribulation are seen under the altar in Heaven, praying for Christ to take back the Earth and avenge their blood. üThese are the souls of those who are slain during the Tribulation period on account of their testimony to the Word of God. ü The terrible martyrdom of Rev. 6 is much clearer to us who have lived through or pondered the horrors of World War II. The atrocities of Nazi war criminals’ discrimination — ghetto concentration camps — mass extermination; in 10 years, 60% of Jews in Europe, 6 million, were butchered. G. M. Gilbert wrote in the “Nuremberg Diary”, his history of the criminal trials of those involved, “…the torture, the starvation, the mass murder, the diabolical experiments on live human guinea pigs. ‘History,’ he said, ‘does not record a crime perpetuated against so many victims or ever carried out with such calculated cruelty.’ ‘Mass murder,’ he said, ‘was becoming a State industry, with byproducts.’ That is only one page from the sordid story of modern persecution. There are many pages more. The world is getting ready for the breaking of this seal. What is shown here, under the breaking of the fifth seal, is elaborated further in chapter seven, where the great tribulation is introduced. Here only a preview is given of the terrible persecutions which will engulf the globe in a coming day.” What leads to such faithfulness even to death? One thing: Faithfulness to Christ in life. Jesus Christ calls all of us to walk in faithfulness to Him each day..In fact, we are called to be in living crucifixion, Gal. 2:20, that equals: ü Christ is our high priest and we are His priests (Heb. 8:1; Rev. 1:6 who offer Him: • Our lives as a daily sacrifice (Rom. 12:1; 15; 16; Darby); • Our devotion as continual burnt offerings (Mk. 12:33) • Our service poured out to Him as a drink offering (II Tim. 4:6, R. V. mgn; Phil. 2:17); • Our deeds as intentional spiritual sacrifices (I Pet. 2:5; Heb. 13:16); • Our prayers constantly ascending as an incense offering (Ps. 141:2; Rev. 8:3, 4); • Our earnest worship poured out at His feet as a praise offering (Heb. 13:15). Seal # 6 CHAOS (v. 12-13) I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. ü Without Jesus the GOOD SHEPHERD (10:11) – He cares for us and, apart from Him is only aimless wandering. ü A great shaking; signs in the Heavens, terror on Earth. ü This means earthquake, sun darkened, moon red as blood, meteors, disturbances in the atmosphere and on earth, terror on rich and poor alike. ü The great day of the wrath of the Lamb came; this clearly identifies the Tribulation period as the wrath of God. In Revelation 6:15-17, John describes for us the greatest prayer meeting in the history of the world: “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every slave, and every free man (that covers everybody) hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?” • God has given to us the conclusion to human history- the bible! Trust Him completely. If people are the only investment that lasts…. Invest heavily in disciple making. • God has given to us a job to do for him while he is away-soulwinning! Therefore, obey Him now. If you haven’t started to give out the good news, start today. • God has given to us a way to stay in touch with him – time in the word! If you haven’t started start daily contact in the word and prayer today! • God has given to us a means to start an investment account in heaven – sacrificial giving! Give sacrificially to support His church. God has indicated the earth is doomed so start today. Pleasing God and making disciples must be a priority! Special Study — Plagues Epidemics Global Pestilence Outbreak! In 1976, Karl Johnson, a world-renowned expert on infectious diseases for the Center for Disease Control (CDC), received an urgent phone call: “An entire hospital has been wiped out and we still don’t know what’s behind the outbreak!” Johnson boarded the next plane for Central Africa and there, near the fetid banks of the Ebola River in Northwestern Zaire, a horrible fever of unknown origin was raging. Several hundred deaths later, the disease vanished as mysteriously as it had appeared. The researchers eventually determined that it was a blood-borne virus, unprecedented, until then, in medical history. The case of the Ebola virus is a warning that new armies of deadly viruses–though most are relatively obscure and perhaps deceptively fragile–may be waiting for the opportunity to infect unsuspecting human populations. (You may recognize this scenario as the basis for the biological movie thriller ‘Outbreak’, starring Dustin Hoffman.) An outbreak of the Ebola virus would be unthinkable at a modern, well-equipped hospital in the United States, but that hasn’t stopped Karl Johnson from pondering the alternative outcomes. There are frightening “what-if” scenarios that haunt him like a recurrent nightmare more than a decade later. “What would we have done if the virus was spread by cough droplets in the air?” he asks. “If that were the case, there’s no doubt in my mind that Ebola fever could have qualified as the Andromeda strain, and we’d have all died.” (As we go to press, there is a report of another Ebola death in Africa as a result of a monkey bite.) The Present Threat In a span of less than 15 years, the United States alone has been stricken by a wave of new infections. Toxic shock syndrome, Legionnaires disease, AIDS, Lyme disease and hanta virus have emerged from obscurity to become household names. Infectious disease experts fear an escalation of new and possibly more deadly epidemics in the future. Indeed, some candidates already loom on the distant horizons, isolated in tiny geographical pockets. Why this sudden explosion of pestilence? A Losing Battle During the 1950s and 60s the successful use of antibiotics and vaccines led many people to assume that the war on infectious disease had been won. Unfortunately, the war is still on due to changes in human behavior or in the microbes themselves. To be sure, changing morality associated with sex and drug use has contributed to the spread of highly lethal diseases–AIDS being a leading example (see our Briefing Package What You Haven’t Been Told). Also, with air travel now more affordable, infectious agents previously confined to one corner of the world can jump across continents. Among the more alarming infectious diseases laying siege to the current human population are tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, sexually transmitted diseases and disorders caused by antibiotic- resistant strains of bacteria or fungi. Tuberculosis, as an example, continues to take a toll worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, one-third of the World’s population is infected with TB, and after three decades of decline TB is again on the upswing. Researchers are also discovering a new, darker side to summer’s vegetable bounty. Our nation’s love affair with fresh, uncooked produce is now being conclusively linked to outbreaks of diseases, and this time it isn’t pesticides or toxins. In a series of recent discoveries, epidemiologists are now beginning to take full measure of what has been an unrecognized problem: bacteria and viruses hitchhiking on fresh vegetables. In 1988, iceberg lettuce gave 200 people in Louisville hepatitis; in 1989-90, fresh melons sickened hundreds with salmonella. Microbiologists think these are the culprits in a quarter of all U.S. viral stomach diseases–an astonishing conclusion for viruses so new, no one’s figured out how to grow them in the laboratory! Biological Terrorism “Now that extremists are willing to use weapons of mass destruction, they have crossed the threshold that experts have watched with dread for two decades,” says Bruce Nelan in the April 3, 1995 edition of Time. Commenting on recent police raids of a cult in Japan, one newspaper reported that the group had sufficient chemical materials to wipe out 4.3 million people. The leader of the cult, Shoko Ashahara (who calls himself “Today’s Christ”), wrote in his book, ‘Disaster Approaches the Land of the Rising Sun’, that Armageddon will arrive via a gas cloud from the United States (which is said to be ruled by the Freemasons). Ashahara predicted that the end of the Eorld will occur by the year 2000 and would leave behind his enlightened followers and 10% of everyone else. Obviously, Ashahara has not bothered to read the Biblical Armageddon scenario. The potential for biological/chemical terrorism is frightening. For a few thousand dollars, a terrorist group can develop a biological weapon just as devastating as a small nuclear bomb. For example, at the mere cost of $10-20,000, one could obtain anthrax spores (bacteria associated mainly with livestock and animal infections) commercially. A mere eight grams would inflict heavy casualties in a one-square-mile area. Airborne bacteria, anthrax would cause death by pneumonia and suffocation. Marvin Cetron, president of Forecasting International Ltd, a Virginia-based think tank, co-authored an exhaustive study for the Pentagon last year. He thinks a chemical or biological attack on the U.S. is increasingly likely “perhaps within the next five years.” Biological Warfare Examples Biological materials have always been a part of modern weaponry development. Biological agents have been used in previous wartime environments, with the most recent alleged use in the Gulf War. Although there are a number of international agreements that decry the use of biological weapons, its research still continues. In 1972, the Soviet Union signed an international agreement to end biological weapons production. How sincere the USSR was in signing that agreement was demonstrated seven years later, when experiments in biological warfare caused an outbreak of anthrax in Sverdlosk, killing 69. Although the new Russia denies it, experts agree that there are stores of biological weapons still hidden in the vast country. Many of these weapons can be smuggled across borders in coat pockets, causing concern over the ease with which terrorists may acquire such weaponry. Russia has passed regulations on the control of these materials, but these are “quite loose” according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a chemical safety group. The Soviet organization for chemical weapons production, Biopreparat, employed over 25,000 people and continued to operate even after the safety convention of 1972. In Koltsov, scientists experimented for years on how to release hemorrhagic fever and Venezuelan encephalitis. Tests were also carried out in Leningrad, with particular regard to the tularaemin virus. There is also evidence that renegade Soviet scientists have developed a terrifying new nerve agent. Code name “Newcomer,” the agent is reportedly ten times more powerful than its American equivalent, “VX.” Again, Russia denies the existence of “Newcomer,” but when scientist Dr. Vil Marrzayanov discussed it in a Russian interview, he was arrested immediately for “revealing official secrets.” The Biblical Perspective Most of us are familiar with the plagues inflicted upon Egypt in Exodus 5. After the Egyptians were stricken with a series of plagues, including infestations of lice and flies, Pharaoh condemns himself and his land by stating, “I and my people are wicked, and deserve what is brought against us,” and he allows the Jews their freedom. Commentator Matthew Henry writes, “The plagues were standing monuments to the greatness of God, the sinfulness of sin and standing monitors to the children of men in all ages not to provoke the Lord to jealousy nor to strive with their maker.” In Revelation 16, immediately after John’s vision of Armageddon, seven “bowl” judgments are poured onto the earth. “And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the bowl of the wrath of God unto the earth.” The bowls include “foul and painful sores upon men” (Rev 16:2) and the sea becoming “like the blood of a dead man” (Rev 16:3). They will cause man to “blaspheme the name of God, who has power over these plagues; and repent not to give Him glory” (Rev 16:9). Plagues can be expected as part of the scenario that the Bible predicts for the “last days”. They will also be exploited to justify a centralized World government– the “New World Order.” For those who know their Bible and have a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, rather than creating an atmosphere of fear these tragic incidences should draw us closer to the Creator Himself and our incredible destiny now on the horizon. But it’s time to do our homework. May we be prepared to minister to those who have yet to discover the Redeemer of Mankind? Sources: • “Plagues Can Still Spread But They Are Preventable,” The National Times, May 1995, pp. 72-73. • “Emerging Viruses,” John Langone, Discover, Dec. 1990. • “Viruses and Bacteria,” Brian Bashin, Sacramento Bee, 8/91. • “The Price of Fanaticism,” Time, April 3, 1995, pp. 38-41. • “The Killing Fields,” Kathleen McAuliffe, Omni. • “Infectious Diseases on the Rise Again,” Margie Patlak, The Oregonian, Dec. 1991. • “The Hot Zone”, R. Preston, Random House, New York.