Whom Will God Rapture? – Another Look

My previous article with a similar title elicited quite a bit of response and pushback.  In that piece I suggested that God would Rapture His true church, thus potentially leaving behind some number of Christians who didn’t fit that definition.  To be clear in what I previously said, I wasn’t redefining salvation and equating it with being Raptured—this isn’t a salvation issue in my mind—nor was I suggesting a partial Rapture with some going up initially and others sometime later in the Tribulation.

The response I received came in the form of “How do I know I’m part of that true church?”  The pushback was “No way, no how!  ALL who are saved are Raptured.”

I didn’t come to this idea lightly.  It’s born of a concern for the state of the church and seeing how lackadaisical far too many Christians are in their salvation.  It also derives from my reading of Scripture, which issues many warnings about how we revere and interact with God, or rather our lack thereof.  I previously mentioned Christ’s warning to the church at Laodicea.  Here is Hebrews 9:28:

so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

We have other verses such as Titus 2:13 that speak of those who look forward to His glorious appearing and 2 Timothy 4:8 which says we’ll receive a crown of righteousness in longing for that appearing.

Obviously, a desire to see Christ return is important.  It may also be that what I see in some places as a “withholding” of the Rapture for some may actually be a lack of a crown, not a failure to be Raptured.

Here’s my heart in this, and I suspect that most reading this article will likewise feel the same.  God wants His church to be on fire for Him.  He wants a fire-purified bride, a church refined as pure silver and gold.  Anything else is, frankly, abominable to Him (remember Laodicea).  He wants us to not only be born again, but to desire fellowship with Him.  The issue for me is that fellowship in much of the church is all too lacking.

My pastor preached a message on a recent Sunday about Naaman, Elisha, and particularly Elisha’s servant Gehazi.  The story, found in 2 Kings 5:15-27, describes how after Naaman took Elisha’ advice he was cured of his leprosy.  He wanted to reward the prophet, but Elisha would have nothing to do with that, so Naaman went on his way back toward Syria.

The servant Gehazi had other ideas.  He ran after Naaman, lied to him, and received silver and clothing, which he then hid for himself.  When Elisha questioned him, Gehazi lied to the prophet of God—never a good idea.  For his efforts, Gehazi received Naaman’s leprosy for himself and his descendants forever.

As sad as that is, here’s what Gehazi really missed.  Recall that Elisha was likewise Elijah’s servant.  Elisha wouldn’t let Elijah out of his sight and at the right time requested a double portion of Elijah’s anointing, which he received.  Elisha ran after God, while Gehazi ran after the things of this world.  Each received his due reward from the Lord.

Gehazi is mentioned in Scripture only one further time, telling the king of Israel about the exploits of Elisha; he had none of his own.  Think about this.  Elisha pursued God, not the things of the world.  Gehazi pursued the things of the world, not God.  There was no mantle for Gehazi, simply grief for him and his descendants.  It’s a sad story.

What does God want of us?  Simply, that we run after Him.  Now, here’s the crux of this second look at the question of Whom Will God Rapture?  If God wants His church, His children, to pursue Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and a significant number of them don’t and aren’t, what is He to do?

When we consider the martyrs of the church through the ages (Hebrews 11) and see them in operation today throughout much of the world, we realize that it’s through tribulation, trials, persecution, and suffering that people’s hearts are purified toward God.  Contrary to human logic, there is joy in suffering.  Jesus said that when we follow Him, we will be persecuted.

Okay, so if all are Raptured, the fiery ones among us along with the apathetic, when do the Words of Jesus apply?  When does this definitive statement in 2 Timothy 3:12 apply?

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

I’d bet that few of us reading this verse from the comfort of our homes have ever faced true persecution.  In America particularly, our comfort is foremost.  We have no idea what suffering for Christ truly is.

Scripture is replete with verses that speak of the falling away of the church.  Maybe it’s the falling away that actually answers the question.  As the church diminishes, so too does the mystery of lawlessness increase.  With lawlessness comes hatred toward Christ and those who follow Him.

We can see the effects of this in America and around the world.  Things are getting dicey for Christians.  How long will it be before the treatment we see toward Christians in the Middle East comes to America and other “safe” areas?  Is that even possible?  Yes.  The darkness is increasing at a rapid rate.  Things are deteriorating more quickly than anyone would have expected.  The hot term is convergence.  It’s plausible this persecution will accelerate in these last days with the unthinkable happening that we comfortable Christians could also be persecuted.

I subscribe to the belief that the Rapture has no preconditions and could happen at any time.  Yet, for God to purify His church—as I believe He must—then in the time we have left before Christ returns, the purifying fire may be just around the corner.  In this time, those who truly love the Lord and follow hard after Him will be solidified in their faith.  Those on the fence will have to make a decision.  In the Middle East, time and again, lukewarm and apathetic Christians have learned of God’s mercies through their trials and become ardent followers of Him.  Anyone that falls away, perhaps they were never truly saved in the first place.

I can’t imagine any of us who love the Lord want to see the church in its condition today with deviant, heretical teachings and false prophets who lead people astray.  Every one of us should have God’s heart for this prodigal church that’s so prevalent.

For God to be true to Himself, tribulation must come to the church so that the bride of Christ truly wants the betrothal.  It very well may be that a time is coming soon whereby the virgins in waiting will either bring oil for their lamps or they won’t (Matthew 25:1-13).  They’ll either enter through the door to meet their bridegroom, or it’ll be shut with them on the outside because they didn’t care enough to be ready.

Or consider Luke 12:35-48:

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

This is strong language.  What does it mean to be shut out as in the case of the virgins?  What is it to be cut to pieces and put with the unfaithful?  Or for the knowledgeable but negligent servant to receive a severe beating?

Doesn’t something have to give in all this?  If the “cutting to pieces” or “beating” doesn’t happen in the Tribulation because all the servants are Raptured, then for this kingdom parable to be true, it must happen prior to the Rapture, and then not just to the apathetic servants, but presumably to all who claim the Name of Christ.

There’s good logic in that.  In the early days of Christianity in the times of Nero or Diocletian, there were few who followed Christ—likely whether on fire or lukewarm—who escaped the judgment of these terrible emperors.  Persecution was as common as the sun rising each morning in the east.  It could well be that those same days are coming for us regardless of the depth of our faith.

In that case, all who believe and are saved would be Raptured.

“How long, O Lord, how long?”

God’s Grief

Have you ever encountered the question, “Why is the Bible filled with stories of rebellion and all-around bad behavior?”  Sure you have.  The standard answer is: “That’s what makes it real; one of the reasons why we know it’s true.”  This is a good response, but does it go deep enough?  I don’t think so.

Throughout Scripture we have stories of bad or neglectful fathers, often kings who were probably too busy to sow into their son’s lives.  Kings had many responsibilities, and many wives!  Who could blame them for not shepherding often dozens of children?  As we know from observing the culture around us, perhaps even from our own lives, when children don’t have a father figure as an example of how to grow up, how to live, and for sons: how to be a man; they often have authority issues.

Even for the king, the father, the man after God’s own heart: David; there were issues in his household.  Absalom betrayed him and tried to usurp the kingship.  In that time, this wayward son even tried to kill David.  But we see David’s heart toward his son despite his rebellion in 2 Samuel 15:30:

David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill.

He was grieved immensely.  What must he have been thinking about this beloved son?  How could he turn on his father the way he had?  It had to be pure heartbreak for David.

Through it all, David had to contend with the consequences of Absalom’s aggression against him.  As much as he hated to do it, he prayed for Absalom to accept foolish advice (2 Samuel 15:31) since he couldn’t allow his son to succeed.  David’s responsibilities as king to the people wouldn’t allow that.

Ultimately, Absalom dies and David’s grief overflows in 2 Samuel 18:33:

The king was overcome with emotion. He went up to the room over the gateway and burst into tears. And as he went, he cried, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son.”

It had to happen, yet the reality was exceedingly difficult for David.

The account of David and Absalom isn’t an isolated incident in the Bible.  We don’t really know what kind of a father Solomon was other than that he had many wives and children.  One legacy he left for us is the wisdom of Proverbs with the warnings to his son(s) about following wayward women.  Solomon obviously had much experience in this area.  His own son, Rehoboam, caused many problems with his reign.  How had Solomon been an example to him?

All this is instructive to us today, but what about the deeper issue I mentioned earlier?  Right from the start of humanity, we have Adam and Eve disobeying God’s Word and being led astray.  But even that doesn’t go back far enough or cover the ground we need to in this article.

The original rebel was the serpent.  We don’t know why Satan chose to go this route, although I’ve suggested previously (http://garyritter.com/satans-jealousy-of-man/) that it came about because of Satan’s jealousy.  Have you ever wondered what God thought of this?  Why had this beloved son of His done this?  But it gets worse.

After God scattered mankind in Genesis 11 because of the Babel incident, He set His sons over the nations where he’d placed mankind (Deuteronomy 32:8).  Why did He do this and what did He expect?

Naturally, God knew exactly what would happen; it was no surprise.  God wanted His sons to watch over these nations, to be judicious and wise rulers.  He intended for them to point their people to Him as the One true God.  But they didn’t.  They made themselves gods in the place of their father.

Here we have to ask: Was God a bad dad?  Was He too busy for these many sons in His sovereign duties?  What was it that they lacked that they would literally all go off the rails and rebel against their father in this manner?

I can’t imagine they lacked anything; it’s a silly question since they are God’s sons.  However, what they had was what humanity also had: free will.  They had the ability to choose.  They were made in the image of God, their Father, and just like He certainly has ego and pride (how could He not if He gave us those attributes?), they had the means to follow in ways that were ungodly.  Because God is God, He has the self-control never to allow any aspect of His nature to lead Him astray.  His divine sons, just like His human sons, never had that self-control.  Just like we developed a sin nature, in some way, so too did God’s heavenly kids.

As a result of their corrupt ways, God had to punish them.  We see His judgment in Psalm 82, and His heart in the matter:

God has taken his place in the divine council;

    in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:

“How long will you judge unjustly

    and show partiality to the wicked? Selah

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;

    maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

Rescue the weak and the needy;

    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding,

    they walk about in darkness;

    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I said, “You are gods,

    sons of the Most High, all of you;

nevertheless, like men you shall die,

    and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth;

    for you shall inherit all the nations!

These divine sons of God were wicked.  Yet God surely loved them.  Hasn’t He loved us despite our many sins?  The interesting thing is that for mankind, God made a way for us to reunite with Him through the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross and the forgiveness of our sins.  That didn’t happen with these sons.

God judged them.  He decreed they will die like mere men.  The judgment upon them will be for all eternity.  And yet, despite this awful fate for these once-heavenly sons, can you hear God’s grief in this Psalm?  God’s expectation was high for these children, and they knew better.  Perhaps God had to make an example for the rest of heaven.  Yet it certainly weighed heavily upon Him.

When we read the accounts in the Bible of human depravity and rebellion, the rest of the story is that God’s divine sons likewise drastically strayed.  The examples in Scripture of man’s turning away from God are a mirror of some of the heavenly host likewise rebelling.

We also see the immense mercy God has showered upon His human family that He didn’t give to His divine children.  We’re growing into the perfect image of God through the process of sanctification.  It may be that God’s heavenly sons already had that perfection, and still chose to go their own way.

How blessed we are that God chose to extend His mercy to us, unlike with His other sons in heaven.  He could easily have decided to separate us from His presence forever just as He did with them.

That’s worthy of much thanks and praise to the King of kings and Lord of lords!

Whom Will God Rapture?

In a number of my blog posts, I make the statement that God will Rapture His true church.  Recently, upon reading one of my articles where I said that, Linda contacted me with a concern that warrants discussion.  In her email, Linda wrote:

You said that Jesus will rapture those who are faithful, believe and follow hard after Him.  The “follow hard after Him” makes me uneasy.  If that is the case how will I know how “hard” is enough?  The thought of not following enough and being left behind is terrifying.  Can you clarify that for me?

The first issue is why I say what I do.  Am I speaking of a works-based faith or one that comes by grace alone?  In my even asking the question, you should know that it’s strictly the latter.  Nothing that we “do” can ever be good enough.  Christ paid it all with the blood He shed on the cross.  He paid our legal debt, wiped the slate of our charges clean, and we scamper out of the courthouse free men and women through the work He did when we repent and trust in Him.

That’s salvation, but it may be a very different thing than “qualifying” for the Rapture.  I have no doubt my perspective here will be controversial, but I guess that comes with the territory.  Throughout Scripture I think God is very clear that He wants a people refined as pure silver and gold.  Now, we’ll never achieve that ultimate perfection in this life.  We’re on a path of sanctification.  Here are some questions: What are we doing on that path?  Are we continuing the climb upward to John Bunyan’s celestial city by seeking diligently to know Jesus more intimately and relationally every day, or are we whiling away our time more interested in the things of this world?  Are we looking for the soon-return of Christ as He comes to take His people away with Him in the clouds, or are our sights set on those things around us?  Would we rather Jesus come quickly, or that He delay His coming so that we can see our kids married along with myriad other worldly enticements?

We had a missionary on a recent Sunday who serves in a very difficult area with an unreached people group.  He used a word to describe Christians of different stripes.  The word he used was trajectory.

He told of supposedly saved Christians who were actually ministry leaders when he first came to the Lord.  Today, they’re no longer serving God, and he’s risking his life among Muslim refugees from Somalia.  At that earlier time in his life, this missionary was saved but still living a worldly life.  As he tells it, he was trying to figure out this whole Christian thing, and he definitely had sin issues.  However, his desire, his passion, was for the Lord.  He was moving toward Jesus and a life serving Him.  His trajectory was upward.  Apparently, those other ministry leaders weren’t sold out in any measure.  They certainly had no upward trajectory.  Perhaps, in a sense, they were playing at Christianity.

The fact that someone like Linda even asks the question tells me that her heart is for the Lord.  In my blog posts, a number of which have appeared on Rapture Ready, I mention Dr. Michael S. Heiser and his book, The Unseen Realm.  One thing that Dr. Heiser has said that I like a lot is that what God desires from us is believing loyalty.  Our belief must be in Christ alone AND we are loyal to Him in that we have no other gods before us.

I think it was Bill Bright with Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU – why did they change the name?) who created the image of a circle with a throne.  The circle is our life and the throne is Christ.  Where is the throne?  Is it outside the circle, and thus Jesus is just one more item in our lives like family, job, church, etc.?  Or is the throne in the center of the circle?  Is Jesus why we live?

A true Christian, in my estimation fits these different criteria, in whichever way one would like to think: Our trajectory is upward toward Christ; we have believing loyalty toward Him; and He is at the center of our lives and the reason we exist.

Christians that don’t look like this, who are more what I call Chinos—Christian in name only—those are the people, I believe, who could be at risk at the time of the Rapture.

This viewpoint admittedly enters treacherous waters for those left behind whom we would consider saved.  The period following the Rapture will be difficult by anyone’s standards.  We know that the vast majority of those who come to believe in Jesus during this time—and there will likely be millions—will also likely be beheaded.  If professing, but lukewarm, Christians must face this challenge, that does seem rather harsh, doesn’t it?  I don’t know the answer, but remember how Jesus reacted to the Christians at Laodicea: He wanted to vomit them out (Revelation 3:16).  He also says that He will rebuke and chasten them—because He loves them (Revelation 3:19).

There’s a simple solution to this dilemma: Don’t be a lukewarm believer.  Actually do what Jesus tells us to do and live as He commands.  Focus on Him and not the world.  If we live our lives in this manner, I don’t think we need to be anxious about anything.

Re-Examining the Third Commandment

Have you ever wondered why the Third Commandment has such a penalty enacted by God?  Doesn’t it seem a little extreme?  Let’s examine Exodus 20:7:

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

Think about that.  You swear just like millions of others, and the Name of God or Jesus slips your lips.  You’ve uttered an expletive deleted, or maybe not deleted these days in which few words other than one that starts with ‘n’ are disallowed.

So, you and a zillion other people are held by God in contempt.  You’re guilty.  Period.  Just for having said a word—a Name—that hardly anyone cares about with any reverence.

Does that really make sense in and of itself?  I would argue that’s not the case.  I think we have to look deeper than that.  In fact, the giving of this commandment goes all the way back to Genesis 11:1-2,4:

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there…Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

Once again, we find ourselves back in the Ancient Near East, this time at the Tower of Babel incident.  God had directed Noah and his descendants after the flood to go out to all the earth, subdue it, and multiply; just like He had originally commanded Adam and Eve.

But, what do these stubborn humans do?  They tell God to stick it.  They have free will and have got different plans.  In the zeitgeist of the day, they choose to remain together.  There’s power in numbers.  “Hey,” Nimrod says, “let’s build a ziggurat, a tower, by which we can approach God, and perhaps He’ll come down to us and do what we want.”  And that’s what they do.  Because, what is their grand purpose?  “Let us make a name for ourselves.”

In making that name, where does that leave God?  Playing second fiddle.  Nimrod and his crew wanted to elevate themselves above God.  Even though the Commandments hadn’t yet been given, they were already trespassing the First and Second.  God wasn’t supreme; man was in their eyes.  In fact, the idea of man above anything else had already become an idol for these people.

The Hebrew word for “takes” or “takes up” in the Third Commandment is nasa.  It means to bear or to magnify or exalt oneself.  In other words, the Third Commandment could read a little differently, such as:

“You shall not bear the name of the Lord your God or exalt yourself with His Name, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in this manner.”

What God was telling His people, then and now, is that we are not God.  We have no right to think in any way that we can take His place.  If we lift up ourselves to His level, we’re committing a heinous offense.  God wants all to know that He alone is God and no one who presumes upon His sovereignty will escape unpunished.  In fact, what did God do to Nimrod’s people for this offense?  He scattered them.  In so doing, He placed His divine sons over them so He wouldn’t have to deal with them directly (Deuteronomy 32:8).  All mankind other than Israel at that point (Deuteronomy 32:9) was in outer darkness with no more direct contact with their Creator.  God effectively divorced all nations other than Israel until He was ready to bring them back to Him.

Let’s briefly think about how this Babel incident and taking up God’s Name plays out today.  What is the objective of Eastern religions—of New Age thought?  All is one.  Everything is composed of the same spiritual matter.  We are all God because our essence is that of all things in the universe.  There is no separation between a transcendent God and man.  Through a little work, and several million incarnations, we, too, can achieve or ascend to that position of God and actually realize it like Jesus, the supreme ascended master.

Those who follow this hollow occult philosophy have taken up the Name of God, bearing it and magnifying themselves above the One true God.

Should we avoid using God’s Name as a curse?  Of course, because it’s dishonoring to Him.  But the deeper implications of this Commandment reflect the world as it is today.  Jesus is indeed a cuss word and self is exalted.  God warned Ancient Israel against this heresy, and He warns us today.  Let us not magnify ourselves over Him.  He will not hold us blameless.

Instead, may our heart position be one of lifting up the Name of God through His Son Jesus Christ, for He alone is worthy.

Prophecy Update: Convergence Increasing

The hot word among those who watch the signs of the times is convergence.  It’s a good word.  The definition basically means the movement toward a point of conclusion.  In the case of Bible prophecy, it’s where all the disparate strands of God’s end times fragments come together for His final judgment upon the earth.  It’s like the master chess player moving his pieces in for the kill: checkmate.  You lose.  In this case, the losers—to put it bluntly—are those who oppose God.  Vengeance is finally His.

In the last several weeks a number of these elements rose up enough to catch my attention.  These are only a few of the many items, but they all add up.  Every week we could probably report on matters like this with a similar article.  Here they are in no particular order.

A July Washington Institute article discussed how Iran and Turkey are cozying up to each other much more than in the past because of their mutual interests.  We know the ultimate mutual interest is the destruction of Israel that will be attempted in Ezekiel’s War articulated in Ezekiel 38-39.  Lately, however, Ankara has moved to resolve tensions with Teheran over Iran’s nuclear program by backing the Iranian government over the protests of its people and by coming alongside it as sanctions have increased.  Turkey actually expressed outrage at the attempt to cut off Iranian oil exports.  Is this simply altruism on Turkey’s part?  Of course not.  Turkey has revival of the Ottoman Empire on its mind, so it’s hoping that Iran will buoy it in its regional objectives of political and economic power.

From the Middle East we move to Yellowstone Park, as noted by Fox News commenting on an August New York Times op-ed.  Apparently, there’s a supervolcano beneath Yellowstone just waiting to erupt and unleash its fury upon unsuspecting humanity.  In fact, there are 20-some supervolcanos lying in wait under the planet.  Just one of these erupting would be “the greatest catastrophe since the dawn of civilization” according to the European Science Foundation.  Yellowstone and its counterparts are the epitome of an ultra-catastrophe because of their potential to destroy all human life.  Jesus spoke of this in warning of the times to come in Luke 21:11, so the rise of these life-threatening planetary horrors is no surprise:

There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

Further west we go to Silicon Valley and the giant tech firms.  According to the media outlet AFP, a study originating from the Dutch NGO Pax quotes these companies as “putting the world at risk of killer AI.”  Through the killer robot developments that Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel are working on, these lethal autonomous weapons in various related military project have the potential to sow much chaos in the future.  Pax says these Artificial Intelligence entities “could decide to kill people without direct human involvement.”  Pick a prophecy relating to this scenario.  Among others, we could certainly point toward the Sixth Seal Judgment in Revelation 9:13-19, which could be demonic in nature, AI robots run amuck, or a combination of these.  Regardless, this will be an ugly time for unbelieving humanity:

Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.

Finally, we come to our financial analyst Jim Rickards, whom I’ve noted previously has a good handle from the secular side that economic catastrophe is coming.  In my last Prophecy Update, I reported that Mr. Rickards was looking at a new Axis of Gold.  Here, he’s predicting that many factors are lining up for a “Perfect Storm.”   We know what that is from the movie of the same name some years ago, which depicted the plight of some fisherman caught in it off the coast of Nova Scotia.  Just like in that instance, things appeared peaceful prior to its development, so too is what Rickards is saying will happen in the financial realm.

Rickards uses very interesting language in his June Strategic Intelligence newsletter.  In recounting prior financial meltdowns, he says, “Here’s one thing I learned: Every one of these episodes was preceded by mass complacency or euphoria…The worst panics are always preceded by a sense that nothing can go wrong.”

Biblically, to review, here’s what Jesus said in Matthew 24:37-39:

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

What are the items leading to the perfect storm?  Rickards lists three, just as there were three in the 1991 disaster:

  1. The effort by the Democrats to impeach President Trump
  2. The socialist-progressive tilt in the 2020 presidential race
  3. The fallout from the Mueller report

Without getting into those here, again the verbiage that Rickards uses dovetails our thesis: “These components are independent of each other, but are at high risk of convergence in the coming months.”  These developments are brewing, the waters are being stirred.  Currently, they’re with us but in the background.  The economy is humming along, on the surface.  Interest rates are low, as is unemployment.  People are going about their lives, in a sense, enjoying the fruit of President Trump’s policies.  The times of Noah and Lot seem to be upon us.  But, as Rickards says, “A storm with no name is coming.”

What could that storm be?  We who love and look forward to the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ believe that storm upon the earth will come as a result of the Rapture of Christ’s true church; those who are faithful, those who believe, those who follow hard after their Lord and Savior will be whisked away into the clouds.

The signs are indeed converging.  We don’t know when these myriad events will come to a head with Jesus returning for His bride, but we know they’re pointing to a time that is rapidly approaching.  We wait with bated breath.

Satan’s Jealousy of Man

Just think of the magnificence of the Garden.  Everything in the earth was new and glorious, fresh from the Creator’s mind and hand.  How amazing that must have been!  To top that off, God made man, the epitome of all that He had conceived.

Observing everything that God had done, His divine sons cheered.  They were as excited about what they’d seen as God probably was in creating it.  Job 38:7 indicates the wonder:

when the morning stars sang together

    and all the sons of God shouted for joy

But then, something happened.  God had created His divine sons sometime prior to bringing the earth and its glory into existence, and He had given them much.  Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 give us a glimpse of what one of God’s sons had.  In fact, if any one of His sons had favor, it was certainly Satan.  He was wise and wealthy beyond compare.  But that wasn’t enough.

Satan and all the heavenly host were created in God’s image with free will just as mankind subsequently was.  But man had flesh.  He had a corporeal body.  The heavenly sons of God were spirit beings, although with great wisdom and power.  Yet, that wasn’t enough.  Satan grew proud and, in that pride, didn’t like that man had something that he didn’t: a fleshly body.

It must have eaten at him.  So much so that he decided to act.  In the creation of the world and of man, God imparted much knowledge to His divine family so that they could work at His pleasure and execute that which He wanted done.  Satan knew of man’s free will because he knew of his own.  He knew man could be tempted because he himself was.

At the success of his venture to tempt Adam and Eve, God cursed and punished Satan just as He punished mankind in His own way.  Can you imagine the grief God’s human children must have experienced in leaving such an incredible place as the Garden?  What remorse they must have experienced.

But Satan in his punishment felt regret only by the fact that he’d been caught out.  He must have stewed in his anger and planned his revenge.  Remembering his jealousy, Satan likely whispered to his brothers, “Look at what God held back from us.  He made man with a corporeal body.  In that flesh, see what man and woman can do.  Why is that we can’t have that kind of pleasure?  In their union, they even produce offspring that are just like them.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful for us to likewise mate with such beautiful women and create sons and gods like ourselves?  Why did Yahweh not give us this ability?”

Those words must have insinuated themselves into the minds of Satan’s brothers.  They looked down at the earth and realized that indeed God had withheld something very special from them.  The daughters of man were lovely to behold, they wanted what they couldn’t have.  And so, Genesis 6:1-2 tells us that they acted:

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.

However, God had determined certain limits and boundaries for His creation.  Those in heaven were to remain there, those on earth were to remain in that sphere.  No doubt God had made these domains quite clear, but Jude 6 tells us:

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling

These angels, these sons of God, had gone where they were forbidden.  But Satan had done his work well.  He had tempted not only man and made him fall, but he likewise tempted his brothers with the same result.  The remainder of Jude 6 makes it clear that God punished these offenders of His holy dictates, surely to their eternal regret:

he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day

Even this wasn’t enough for Satan.  He smoldering anger at God continued.  His accusations and insinuations caused more of his brothers to rebel, which we see in Psalm 82.  In fact, Satan’s consuming hatred for God and all that is His is like Proverbs 30:15-16 tells us:

The leech has two daughters:
Give and Give.
Three things are never satisfied;
four never say, “Enough”:
Sheol, the barren womb,
the land never satisfied with water,
and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

Satan and his jealous rage can never be satisfied.

There is a day coming, however, when everything finally blows up in Satan’s face.  Despite his denial and continuing efforts to corrupt mankind and defeat God, he loses for the final time.  We know the victory has already been won.  Jesus defeated death and the grave (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

On that day of reckoning, Satan will have his comeuppance.  The abyss will welcome him.  All sin will be abolished.  All grief will be made right.  What a glorious day that will be!

Marijuana Legalization’s Demonic Advocates

In a recent article I wrote titled “Marijuana, Salt & Light” I chronicled my experience attending a local city council meeting in which the subject of approving marijuana sale and grow facilities in our community was front and center.  The majority of the council members were all for approval of these businesses, seeing nothing wrong with them since our state has given them a green light despite federal regulations to the contrary.  A very small number of us from our church and a couple other Christians were able to push back and cause the council to at least think through some of the issues in a subsequent work session.  My wife and I went to that work session, so I wanted to outline a few more thoughts and issues that came to the fore.

As I thought about the initial meeting we attended, I reflected on one particular person on the council.  I’d seen her around previously and had a funny feeling about her.  After that meeting, I came to believe that God was giving me a discerning sense about her.  Something about her made me uncomfortable.  There was something not right.  Was it demonic—witchy, if you will?  I believe so.

Alerted to this subsequent work session of the council, we planned to go.  As the time drew near for the start of the meeting, I began getting nervous, and an agitated, very uncomfortable, feeling grew in me that was totally out of character.  I didn’t like it, yet didn’t seem able to do anything about it.

The work session proceeded and the determination of the majority of the members to move forward was evident.  One of them, however, spoke out against approval.  He had been thinking about this and said that he couldn’t in good conscience vote for it and in the same breath tell his grandson not to smoke pot.  The hypocrisy was too much for him.

In the time for public comments I asked why they would even think this was a good idea, questioning the premise rather than the details of implementation.  Prior to that, the agitation within me had grown considerably.  When I spoke I was pretty animated, perhaps even strident.  I didn’t like how I came off, but whatever was negatively working in me was quite strong.

In reflection, trying to assess what I experienced, I’m convinced the demonic element I previously sensed was behind my discomfort, perhaps as a harassing spirit.  Other members of the council were gung-ho for this resolution.  They were enthusiastic to bring this scourge into the community that can do nothing but cause chaos and darkness.  In my estimation, forces beyond them must be strongly at work.  Are they aware of what’s pushing them?  Maybe there’s more than just that one woman on the council who’s in league with powers beyond what we can see.

Am I paranoid about this?  Am I seeing demons behind every tree?  Am I attributing more to this effort to legalize marijuana sales in the community than what I should?

I don’t think so.  We know Biblically in these end times that lawlessness will increase.  At the point of the Rapture, it will increase exponentially.  I believe I got a glimpse of this in the force that was coming against me.  The Holy Spirit lives within me, and I certainly have that which is greater.  However, as Jesus said when He came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, these spirits only come out by prayer and fasting.

All this tells me that I need to step up my game.  I have a consistent morning time with the Lord and His Word.  Without that, I don’t know where I’d be.  What I see, though, is the need to better prepare for encounters such as these.  I need to truly take the Words of Jesus to heart, particularly prior to a known encounter with Satanic elements.

A word to all reading this: If you haven’t run into a situation like this yet, the times are such that the likelihood is you will.  We all need to be more diligent in our preparation.  The Holy Spirit can use us as we are, but how much more could He do through us to attack the enemy if we’re better prepared through our time spent with the Lord?

Prophecy Update: What Is The Overwhelming Scourge?

What if we’re wrong about the overwhelming scourge that will come against Israel?  What if we’re looking in the wrong direction as to the nature of this source of trouble that will plague Israel in the latter days, and which the Antichrist will use as the means to effect or increase the seven-year covenant that initiates the Tribulation?

Now, in one sense of course, from our perspective it doesn’t matter.  We who love the Lord and trust in His goodness know that Jesus will take us out of here in the Rapture prior to these events.  However, we who also love prophecy seek out answers and want to know more about the mysteries of God.  This issue certainly lies within that scope.

Dave Hunt in A Woman Rides the Beast succinctly outlined the reason that the Catholic Church is undoubtedly the harlot who oversees the One World Religion.  With two billion Catholics and an extensive and successful ecumenical outreach, it’s hard to imagine any other religion overseeing this aspect of the Tribulation.

Bill Salus has taken this a step further in The Next Prophecies.  He has proposed that in some measure Catholicism will morph into what it used to be.  It will reach deep into its canons and laws and demand that the world after the Rapture follow its ways or suffer the consequences.  The Catholic Church has a long, dark history of persecution against those who disagree with her.  She could indeed resurrect that mindset as the lawlessness of a post-Rapture world coalesces.

The idea of an overflowing scourge comes from Isaiah 28:15-18 (ESV):

Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have an agreement,
when the overwhelming whip passes through
it will not come to us,
for we have made lies our refuge,
and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;
therefore thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion,
a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plumb line;
and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”
Then your covenant with death will be annulled,
and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through,
you will be beaten down by it.

The idea is that Israel will make a covenant that results in a false security.  Something is coming against Israel that causes great concern.  The Antichrist steps in and brokers a new peace arrangement or increases one already in place.  Israel is thrilled, thinking that for seven years she has escaped what has threatened to overwhelm her.  But, her hopes are dashed at the three-and-a-half-year mark when the Antichrist desecrates the temple and shows his true colors.

The question is: What is the overflowing scourge that the Antichrist in his deal with Israel prevents?

Is it the Catholic Church and her imposition of Catholicism upon the Jewish state?  I’ve believed this for some time and, frankly, am not sure that my thesis outlined here is correct.  However, as you’ll see, there are some factors at play which may argue for this idea.

A recent article in The Jerusalem Post titled: “Why is Israel outsourcing its national infrastructure to China?” illustrates why China could be the force behind the overflowing scourge.  Israel has been awarding significant infrastructure projects to China.  The one that came to light in recent months that causes much head scratching has to do with the Chinese company Shanghai International Port Group Co Ltd. (SIPG) that has a major contract to operate the new Haifa port once its construction has been completed.  There are two problems with this.  One is that like the many companies that are winning these major infrastructure contracts, SIPG is owned by the Chinese government.  Quoting the article: “Israel is outsourcing its national infrastructure — ports, highways, tunnels, power plants, food companies — to one single entity: the People’s Republic of China.”

The second issue is that the Haifa port is where the U.S. docks the Navy’s Sixth Fleet.  This has caused grave concern to our government given that China is an adversary.  We have warned Israel that this arrangement causes “serious security concerns with respect to the leasing arrangement of the port of Haifa.”

Simply from a reasonable point of observation, why would Israel allow China to make such inroads into its infrastructure projects to the tune of more than $20 billion to date?  Why would Israel risk straining her ties with the United States in such a manner?  China is a communist country.  It poses significant threats in more ways than one.  Why would Israel make such deals with the devil?

Adding to these concerns, according to Haaretz-Premium, “China has committed to invest some $20 billion in the new capital [in Egypt] and has provided a $3 billion loan for building the city’s financial district.”  Moreover, “Saudi Arabia, an ally of Washington, also has a full strategic alliance with China—a status equal to that of Iran, in which China invested some $27 billion between 2005 and 2018 and whose trade with Beijing reached a similar sum in 2017.”

It gets worse. Well known financial analyst Jim Rickards has posited that there is a “New Axis of Gold” — China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey.  There is a theme that has caused significant concern for some years that the U.S dollar may lose its status as the world’s reserve currency.  Based on how power structures have aligned, Rickards believes that these four nations may make a financial arrangement to completely sidestep the U.S. and the dollar in their trade dealings by basing their trade on a gold-backed crypto-currency standard — invitation only.

Now, doesn’t this become interesting?  This new axis includes our old friends from Ezekiel 38 and China, which seems to play a major role in the Tribulation as the potential source of 200 million troops coming from the east (Revelation 9:16).

Rickards outlines a sequence of escalating global hostilities.  He says that history shows that currency wars escalate to trade wars, which inevitably lead to shooting wars.  This occurred in the 1920s and 1930s as the world built toward World War II.  The U.S. has been embroiled with China for some time in our concerns about its currency.  Recently, trade disputes and tariffs have taken center stage.  It’s probably a reasonable time to ask: When does the shooting begin?

None of us have any answers, but as observers of Bible prophecy, it’s not a bad idea for us to watch how this China situation plays out with Israel.  Could this lead to the point in Ezekiel 38:13 where Sheba and Dedan (Saudi Arabia), and the young lions, possibly the U.S among them, yawn at Israel’s distress?

China is a major player in global circles.  It’s making dangerous deals with Israel and her neighbors that could come back to harm her.  Is China the source of the overflowing scourge that eventually threatens Israel?  It’s certainly a situation for us to watch and ponder.