Psa. 11:3 π Eccl. 3:3 π Jer. 12:5 π Mt. 24:4 π Mt. 24:4-12 π Mt. 24:12 π Eph. 6:12 π 2 Cor. 10:3-5 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π Rev. 12:11 π Rev. 13:10; 2nd
Recent trends toward lawlessness, the expectations of seeing prophecy fulfilled and the advent of the new millenium are teaming up to cause some American Christians to be concerned about the future. They look to their "church leaders" to provide leadership toward the "right" thing to do - and they are shocked when these "great leaders" have no real answers either. After years of looking to this or that leader for doctrine, teaching, decisions and opinions, suddenly these rightly concerned folks are having to make up their own minds as to what is right.
And this is as it should be - though it is very late in coming. These leaders will indeed be held accountable for the way in which they have kept these people under their own shadows for so long.
But the process of seeking an answer to the troubling questions brought on by a recognition of how things are likely to be in the near future is no walk in the park by any means. There are a great deal of considerations and influences which are to be weighed even though in the end, we will find that God has provided a simple solution. But let us walk through this and see where every possible response takes us.
First, let us look at the possibilities of the future. Any reader of the end times prophecies can easily see that dark times are ahead for this world. And yet we must never miss the whole picture. In the midst of the darkness, the people of God shine like stars. Houses and land will be bought and sold as usual. There will be times of peace and prosperity intermingled with great movements of armies of the one-world government combined with great likelihood there will also be roving bands of lawless gangs.
The doomsayers have been around for centuries - and sooner or later, they will be correct. But an interesting facet of our current economy, because it is not set on any solid standard of measurement (such as the gold standard), is that it depends on the expectations of the people. That is, if the people (the consumers, those with disposable income) expect the economy to go bad, it will go bad. If they expect it to improve, it will improve. All that is required for the economy to crash is for a large number of people to believe that it is crashing - and this could be accomplished in any number of ways. And a collapsed economy could be the spark that ignites a time of lawlessness followed by a time of heavy-handed authoritarianism. But that is only one possible scenario.
In looking at the future, one does not need to be a prophet to see that there are only a few ways (if one paints with a very broad brush) in which the scenarios depicted in the New Testament could be played out. We see plainly the rise of the demonically-powered one-world empire of the last days. We see plainly how that empire wars against a large army of the east. We see plainly that a large army from the north invades Israel and is destroyed. And there are other facets of the future that are plainly depicted though the exact sequence of events remains to be seen.
But what is not as clearly depicted is the daily living that will go on underneath all these world-shaking events. There are hints and clues that we can pick up here and there - and with those we must be satisfied. Two of the key elements of everyday life for the believer in the end times are deception and lawlessness (see Mt. 24:4 , 12; top for example).
Deception will run rampant on many levels. The apostasy - the great falling away from the faith - must occur before the Day of Christ. ( 2 Ths. 2:3; top ) Lawlessness - a complete disregard for order and justice so that self can do whatever it thinks is "right" or "good" in one's own eyes - will abound and cause many self-proclaimed "Christians" to no longer lay down their lives for one another. And through all of this the genuine believer must persevere. ( Mt. 24:4-12; top )
But what does it mean to persevere? Are we to stand idly by and watch roving bands of lawless gangs, intent on looting and pillaging, ravage everything they see? Are we to stand by and do nothing when women are raped and children are killed? Some leaders in the "church" today would say, "Yes," and others would say, "No." And yet both of these answers miss the real battleground of the Christian faith and provide a simplistic answer to a complex question.
Solomon, the wisest man in the world, wrote, "There is a time to kill - and a time to heal." ( Eccl. 3:3 ) But nowhere in all of Scripture does it say that there is an appropriate time to sin. This is precisely why the psalmist cried out, "When the foundations are destroyed, what are the righteous to do?" ( Psa. 11:3; top )
There are those who are feverishly stockpiling arms and supplies. Is one to point them out, as does the worldly media, and ridicule them? Are these merely over-zealous reactionaries over-reacting to rumors and gossip? Or is there any real possibility that the Holy Spirit is prompting these people to be prepared for a particularly dark future?
In the natural realms, there are only three options when we are confronted with a crisis situation of the oncoming proportions - whether that be the invasion of a foreign army, roving violent gangs or a complete crash of the economy. Those options are: fight, flight or surrender.
These are the same options that were available to the children of Israel when God led them to the Red Sea. They are the same options that were available to Shadrach, Meschach and Abed-nego in Daniel's time. And they are the same options that were available to Jesus in the Garden. In each of those instances, God took each one through the circumstances and performed His mighty deliverance.
In the first instance, God had led the children of Israel into a trap. Mountains on one side, desert on the other, the sea in front of them and Pharaoh's army closing in behind. The Israelites could have picked up their farming and construction implements and turned to face the steel of Pharaoh's chariots, hoping by sheer numbers to win the battle, recognizing that vast numbers of them would simply and unavoidably be slaughtered. Or they could have fled into the mountains or into the desert where most of them would have died within three days or they could have plunged into the Sea and drowned immediately. Or they could have simply surrendered to Pharaoh, trusting themselves to his "tender mercies" and his "kind heart" - the same heart that was still mourning the loss of his own and his country's firstborn sons.
In the second instance, the three Hebrews refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar's golden image. For this they were to be cast into the fiery furnace. They could have staged a rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar. They could have fled. Or they could have bowed to the golden image.
In the third instance, Jesus was to be betrayed into the hands of sinful men by Judas Iscariot. Not only were some of His disciples ready to fight (Peter actually whacked off someone's ear) but Jesus Himself could have called down legions of angels who would have instantly obeyed His command to crush this detachment who had come to arrest Him. He too could have fled - in fact, it would have been the simplest thing for Him to have been anywhere else that night. He did not have to be where Judas would know where He would be. Or He could have simply surrendered to them and gone with them as a beaten and defeated contender for the Jewish crown.
But in all of these instances, there was a fourth option - the divine option. In the first two instances it was a way of escape. The children of Israel safely crossed the Red Sea while Pharaoh's chariots were drowned there. The three Hebrews safely walked in the fiery furnace - after boldly but graciously telling the king they would not bow to his idol - and met the Son of God there in the flames! The third instance became a way of deliverance - not for Jesus Himself but for all those who would afterwards believe on His name.
Nor are these the only examples from Scripture which apply to how we ought to respond in the turbulent times that are coming upon this world. God did indeed raise up Gideons and Samsons and Davids to lead His people into war. There was a time in David's life where he fled from Saul. There was a message from God to Jeremiah that the people going into Babylonian captivity were to submit to their captors and they would be blessed for doing so.
When it comes to examples from the Scriptures, we can easily find that God has used all four of these options in His dealings with His people.
But, "What is the 'right' answer?" someone might ask. "How are we to know what we are to do?"
The answer to these questions is indeed quite simple but will require great effort on the part of those who will follow it. It is for this reason that the answer is not simplistic or over-simplifying the complex issues involved.
The bottom line answer to all these complex and worrisome issues is this: There is only one Person who has been or ever will be given all the information that you, the reader, need to know in order to obey the will of God for your life. That is the Holy Spirit. If you will learn to hear His voice now and learn to obey His every command now, you will have no difficulty when He tells you which option He wants you to choose in a crisis situation. He may indeed tell you to fight. He may tell you to flee. He may tell you to surrender. Or He may tell you to stand still and see the deliverance of God.
But if you can't hear Him, you can only hope to take your best guess at the first three options. And be warned, much of the "church" today does not believe that you need to - or indeed that you are even able to - hear the voice of the Holy Spirit for yourself. If you begin to hear the Spirit now, you will most likely be ostracized from the "church" because you will be marching to the beat of a different Drummer. But also know that the ekklesia, the assembly of God's people, is also out there learning to do exactly what I'm talking about here - hearing the Holy Spirit and obeying His commands by forsaking the clergy who stands between the people and God and abandoning the Babylonish "church" system which deceives and corrupts the multitudes.
With all this in mind, let us return to the question of those who are stockpiling arms and supplies. Is it possible that the Holy Spirit is indeed leading these people to do what they are doing? I suppose that it is - and I do know for certain that God hasn't filled me in all of His game plan for the end times. But this question must be asked: Is it the Holy Spirit or is it fear that motivates these people? And only these people can answer that question. And those of us who are not involved in this activity have absolutely no right to pronounce judgment on these people. Let us instead pray that they are indeed led by the Holy Spirit in all that they do - for if the Spirit of God is indeed leading them, someday they might just invite you and me over for lunch when we have nothing!
But if you, the reader, are involved in stockpiling arms and supplies, let me assure you that I am aware that you have gone through much soul-searching. You have sought the right answer and you are doing what you believe to be right. My only concern is: Which spirit are you obeying? The spirit of fear or the Spirit of God?
If you are motivated by fear, you are only playing into the devil's hands. If you are afraid that you will not be able to stand by and watch innocent people be slaughtered - which has happened in times past and has brought much glory to God - then you are obeying a spirit of fear. If you are afraid you cannot stand by and watch people starve to death - something which God has allowed in times past for His own reasons - then you are obeying a spirit of fear. If you are stockpiling arms and food simply because you don't know what else to do, this too is (at best) obedience to some area of your soul. If you hope to beat off some foreign coalition of forces and restore America to its godly heritage or die trying, I think you are under a lot of deception in many ways. But if you know that the Holy Spirit is indeed leading you to be ready to provide for His people, let me strongly encourage you to continue in what He tells you to do. You will never go wrong in God's sight by obeying the direct instructions of the Holy Spirit.
But if you are obeying the promptings of the devil or your flesh, know that you will only make things worse for the people of God. The media is already pumping up the people to fear the militias and the Christians. If you begin killing people outside of the will of God, you will only bring retribution on people who are working to further God's kingdom in this world - a kingdom of spiritual peace, joy and righteousness. And you should know - though it will probably not dissuade you - that he who kills with the sword must himself be killed with the sword. ( Rev. 13:10; top )
Again, I can only tell you that the answer you seek is a Person. It is not a principle, nor an activity nor a way of life. He is the Captain of the Armies of the Lord. This is not His first battlefield experience and it will not be His last. We will conquer the world. But we must be in Christ to do so.
Paul reminds us that we don't fight against human beings but against spiritual forces that rule in high, dark places ( Eph. 6:12 ). He also tells us that our weapons are not carnal - that is, they are not of this material world nor of our soul's powers - but they are mighty and powerful in God. They are capable of tearing down spiritual strongholds of darkness that control men and keep them blinded from the truth. ( 2 Cor. 10:3-5; top )
John tells us how the people of the end times overcome Satan. He wrote, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." ( Rev. 12:11; top ) John saw this, by divine revelation, as a past-tense occurrence. A done deal. And that was how it was done. If we, looking at this in the future tense, want to overcome, we must do it by this way.
Please, let it be clear that I am not advocating for or against the stockpiling of arms and supplies. Nor am I advocating for or against practicing peaceful civil disobedience as did Ghandi in India. Nor am I advocating for or against running off to the mountains to build our own fortresses and private communities. Nor am I advocating that we all just pretend that there is nothing wrong in the world, that life is going great and there are no troubles coming for the people of God. I am not advocating for or against any of these things of this world.
There is a warning given by John in the Revelation to those who would blindly settle for the options of the natural realm. He wrote, "He who leads into captivity into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." ( Rev. 13:10; top ) If you opt to fight, run or surrender when God is saying, "Stand still and see My deliverance," you will rob yourself and those around you of a great thing and you will bring upon yourself these prescribed consequences of captivity or death by the very means of your disobedience to the Spirit of God.
What I am advocating is that we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit and that we learn to listen to and obey Him now. As God said to Jeremiah, "If you can't keep up with the footmen, what will you ever do when the chariots arrive?" (see Jer. 12:5; top ) If we in this land of plenty and comfort cannot obey the Holy Spirit now when the persecution against us is excessively mild, what will we ever do when our lives and the lives of the ones we love hang in the balances?
I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!