Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Trump of God

The next most significant development in the course of history will be the rapture of the church. While we don't know when our blessed hope will occur, we do know we have to be close given all the stage setting for the Tribulation that has been going on.

At the rapture, God Himself will announce His coming for us, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord"  (1 Th 4:16-17, KJV). The sound that we will hear at our resurrection is called here the "trump of God."

There is only one other use of the word trump in the King James Bible and it is another classic rapture passage: "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor 15:52). Everywhere else this same Greek word occurs, the translation is, "trumpet." In both places the use of the word "trump" is associated with the rapture of the church. And thus we can see that the "trump of God" is the same as "the last trump".

It is clear that the translators of the King James Bible considered the trumpet sound that will occur in conjunction with the rapture to be sufficiently different from other trumpets that they distinguished it with the term "trump." The distinction of the trump of God is that it is from Him directly and not from more ordinary trumpets as sounded by men and angels.

Look again at the description of the trump in 1 Thess, it describes "the Lord Himself" taking action to meet us in the air upon our resurrection. Our resurrection is announced by a shout from the Lord that is like the voice of an archangel and sounds like a trumpet. This is reminiscent of the Apostle John being called to heaven: "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, 'Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this'” (Rev 4:1, NKJV). The description here is a picture of the rapture in the book of Revelation which is generally taken to be in chronological order because of Rev 1:19. It is interesting to note that Rev 4:1 divides the church being on earth and in heaven with Christ. The letters to the seven churches in chapters two and three correspond to the different phases of the Church Age, followed by a depiction of the rapture in Rev 4:1 and following that the church is only seen in heaven with Christ.

If the announcement of the rapture of the church will be the last trump of God, it begs the question, what was the first trump of God? First things and last things always have special significance in Scripture. For example, 1 Cor 15:45 says, "it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit."  As a study of the first Adam sheds light on the last Adam, in order to better understand the "last trump of God" it is helpful to consider the first trump.

A study of the 111 references to trumpets in the Old and New Testaments reveals that in general, the use of trumpets were ordained by God to be used by Israel for: (1) a call to war, and (2) a call for assembly and/or movement. Trumpets were used in conjunction with all the seven feasts of God, with the most trumpet activity associated with the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). In the midst of all this trumpeting, the only other occasion a trumpet sound could be considered to be from God Himself was when Moses received the Law from God at Mount Sinai, see Exodus 19:16-20. The trumpet sounding at Mount Sinai could have been from an angel but Scripture makes it clear in other places when angels sound trumpets and this passage does not say that.

So, given that the first trump of God occurred at Mount Sinai, it announced the beginning of God dealing with Israel upon the basis of the Law. The light that shines on the last trump of God is that it will announce the resumption and completion of God's dealings with Israel upon the basis of the Law.

Consider the promises God made Israel in Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy." These weeks here are referring to weeks of years which is a principle well established in Scripture (see Genesis 27:27-28 regarding Jacob, Laban, Leah and Rachael).

God told the prophet Daniel that God would use Israel for 70 x 7 or 490 years to accomplish several things: (1) bring an end to Israel transgressing against God by rejecting Him and the Messiah, (2) bring an end to Israel living in sin apart from the Messiah,  (3) provide a way for sins to be forgiven, (4) usher in everlasting righteousness, (5) complete the prophecies that have been revealed, and (6) anoint the Messiah as King. Only one of these promises have been completed, the others will be completed at the end of the 70 weeks of years when Jesus returns.

Daniel 9:25-26 goes on to describe some key developments that will happen during the first 69 weeks of years, "from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem." Jerusalem would be rebuilt, the "Messiah shall be cut off" which is a euphemism for being killed, and "the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary" (which happened in 70 AD.)

The last of the 70 weeks of Daniel is highlighted separately from the first 69 in verse 27...The prince who is to come will "confirm a [7-year] covenant" involving Israel and in the middle of the 7-year week, "bring an end to sacrifice and offering" committing the abomination of desolation Jesus warned about during His Olivet Discourse. This prince who is to come is the Antichrist who will make it possible for Israel to build a temple in Jerusalem at the beginning of the Tribulation then desecrate if by declaring himself God at the mid-point of the Tribulation.

It is important to consider why God separated the 70th week of Daniel from the other 69 weeks. It was necessary so that Jesus could pay the price for our sins on the cross. And it was also necessary to make the mystery of the church possible; "For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25).

God took a break from the 70 weeks of years to work through the church but this does not mean that the church has replaced Israel in the promises of God. God is not done with Israel; He will fulfill the promises He made to them in the 70th week of Daniel. God revealed Himself to the world through Israel up until Jesus went to the cross. Since the cross, God is revealing Himself to the world through the church. But the Church Age will be complete when we are raptured off the planet and God will resume revealing Himself to the world through Israel again for one final week of years.

The last trump of God will be an eye-opening supernatural sign for Israel. While God will send a strong delusion so that the unbelieving world will not see the rapture for what it is (2 Th 2:11), the spiritually discerning will recognize the rapture as being from God. This supernatural event will cause multitudes to become followers of Jesus including 144,000 Jews. The 144,000 are introduced in Revelation 7 following the seal judgments but the scene is in heaven as a parenthesis to explain how a core remnant of Israel will be supernaturally protected for use by God during the Tribulation.

There are some who try to equate the last trump of God with the seventh trumpet judgment in Revelation. But the seven trumpets of Revelation are blown by angels, the trump of God is His speaking directly to us. The trump of God is an act of grace, while the trumpets of Revelation are acts of wrath. Looking forward to the trump of God is comforting to the church (1 Thess 4:18), while the trumpets of Revelation will cause the nations to be angry (Rev 11:18). Also, there is no mention of Jesus leaving His throne when the angel sounds the seventh trumpet of Revelation, instead, the twenty-four elders worship God on His throne (Rev 11:15-18). The previous reference to the twenty-four elders worshiping God makes it clear that the object of their worship is Jesus (Rev 4:10-5:6).

Given that we are in the season of our Lord's return, we should not be surprised to see a foreshadowing of the trump of God. God is in control, so you have to think twice about anything that appears like a mere coincidence. If God is in control, there are no coincidences. With that in mind, it is certainly interesting that a political unknown by the name of Donald Trump would become the leading candidate for president in the Republican Party. But Dan 2:21 comes to mind, "He removes kings and raises up kings."  Could God be sending the spiritually discerning a message that we should be ready for the trump to sound since he has raised up a trump that is sounding off? This is even more interesting when you realize that the name "Donald" means "ruler of the world."

The last trump of God is not only our summons to meet the Lord in the air, it constitutes a wake-up call for Israel. As we see the stage being set for God to resume working through Israel again for one final but critical seven-year period, it should drive us to get on with what the Lord is calling us to do. Time is quickly running out for the Church Age. "Now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11). Given the lateness of the hour, we should be listening for the Lord's call as much as watching for signs of His return.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Antichrist Rising

The direction the presidential election appears to be headed can tell us a lot about how close we are to the end of the Church Age. It certainly looks like Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president and this means he will likely win over his Democrat challenger who will probably be Hillary Clinton. There has been significantly more enthusiasm for a Republican winning the presidency as demonstrated by the turn-out in the primaries. Such a difference in enthusiasm is understandable in light of the pent-up dissatisfaction with the direction that Democrat President Barack Obama has taken this country.

If the people of the United States managed to elect a president with proven conservative credentials like Ted Cruz, it would indicate that God is still at work restraining evil in this country. However, there are strong indications that God is in the process of removing His restraint of evil foreshadowing the Tribulation when mankind will be totally given over to the consequences of our natural selfish ways. The process of God removing His restraint of evil is accelerating so we should expect the next president to exhibit many of the characteristics of the Antichrist.

It is amazing to see the evangelical support for Donald Trump. The man is obviously pandering to Christians yet so many see him as their political deliverer. It is admittedly refreshing to hear a politician who appears to have no regard for political correctness which is a tactic of Leftists that has been growing in effectiveness. But Trump is a strange Christian indeed who builds casinos and strip clubs, who stumbles over Bible references, publicly lusts for his daughter, and said he never had to ask for forgiveness. Trump is a wolf in sheep's clothing who will turn against his Christian benefactors when it becomes politically expedient as he has demonstrated during the campaign in response to people critical of him. Such a superficial assessment of Trump by evangelicals reveals the apostate condition of the church in yet another indicator of our times.

It is likewise amazing to see those who consider Trump to be conservative. People have blindly accepted his explanation for previously supporting Democrats on the basis of business pragmatism. But his words betray him even as he runs for the Republican nomination... he praises Planned Parenthood, will help unions by imposing tariffs on imports, and likes the Obamacare mandate. One thing we know about Trump is that he knows how to build an empire. When he has the power of the federal government behind him, he will use that to grow the reach and influence of the government just as any big government liberal is driven to do.

If we are in the era leading up to the return of Jesus, we should see some of Antichrist's characteristics in Donald Trump. And indeed we do, the Antichrist will rise from obscurity, a "little horn" who "shall be different from" other world leaders (Daniel 7:8, 24, NKJV). Despite Trump being a political outsider, he has proven to be very shrewd politically and has a background that is significantly different from all of his challengers. The Antichrist will also be a charismatic, boastful speaker (Daniel 7:8, Rev 13:5) who will use unusual methods to come to power (Daniel 11:21) and have devoted, worshipful followers (Rev 13:8); just as Trump.

We all know Trump to be a deal maker which speaks to his ability to bring both sides together and this especially appeals to progressives who criticize conservatives for not compromising with them. The Antichrist will be known for his miraculous deal making when he "confirms a covenant with many" allowing Israel to build a temple in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15). What a phenomenal feat of deal making that will be.

Trump has also gone on record during his campaign saying that he is flexible and thus "capable of changing to anything I want to change to." This certainly applies to his ideological "principles" which reveals that while he campaigns as a conservative, he could well govern as a big government liberal. When you have no moral mooring, you are subject to being "tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14). Likewise, the Antichrist will himself legislate change (Daniel 7:25). Barack Obama ran on "hope and change" and this country is falling for the same deceptive lie all over again. There will be change but not for the good. "Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).

We will find out soon for sure but based on the surprising strong support for Trump in South Carolina, it is likely that there is nothing to keep him from winning the presidency. The Antichrist will be likewise invincible... "they worshiped the beast, saying, 'Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?'" (Revelation 13:4).

The characteristics of society in general during the time before Jesus returns is given in 2 Timothy 3:1-7. Among those exhibited by Donald Trump during his campaign are: "lovers of money, boasters, proud, ...unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, ...headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure ...led away by various lusts." Trump is certainly reflecting the society in which he is seeking to rule over so you'd expect him to display those very same characteristics. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

With all this said, it looks like I am making the case for voting Democrat in the upcoming presidential election. I am not. While there is a local Democrat office holder I will be voting for because I know he is not aligned with the Democrat Party on a national level, the Democrat Party platform is in fact the greater evil. It was very telling during the 2012 Democrat Convention that the delegates loudly booed the idea of making a token reference to God in their party platform. No way can I vote for the party of abortion, socialism, corruption and lawlessness. The Republican party is far from being white as the driven snow but when there are only two practical choices, it is the lesser of the evils. It has been a long time since I have voted for a presidential candidate in the general election, it has instead been necessary for me to vote against the most evil ideology in the last several elections.

I know that some of my fellow Christians will likely not vote in the presidential election at all because they will see the choice between two evils as no choice at all. I will not condemn them for that position but I am personally convicted that voting is part of being a good steward and our civic responsibility before God. So, if it comes down to voting between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I will hold my nose and vote for Trump. As Trump exhibits many of the characteristics of the Antichrist, Hillary Clinton has even more. We can not know who the Antichrist will be during the Church Age so while both presidential candidates exhibit his characteristics, this is only an indicator of the stage of history we're in.

There is certainly some gratification in seeing a political outsider do an end-run around the Republican establishment and their ruling elite brethren but the end results have the potential to be worse than if the Democrats had just retained their power in the federal government. Our consolation is in knowing that God is still in control and what is happening to this country serves His purposes whether we like it or not. If I have to vote for Trump, I know I am not voting for the Antichrist, I am voting for the will of God to be done on earth.

"Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20)

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Restrainer

As we observe the rapid acceleration of events foreshadowing the coming Tribulation, it is becoming more clear that God is removing His restraint of evil. The spiritually discerning recognize this trend as evidence that the Bridegroom is preparing to come for His bride, the church very soon.

The key passage that tells us about God removing His restraint of evil as an indicator of Jesus coming soon is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10. The Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to the Thessalonians because their persecution was so bad some of them were thinking the rapture of the church had occurred and they were left behind. Paul wrote to clarify why that was not the case thus helping us understand the proper order of events. This passage is among the most important establishing that the rapture must happen before the Tribulation.

The context of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10 is established in the first verse by the reference to "our gathering together to Him." This has to talking about the rapture of the church. The second verse addresses the "day of Christ" which is another term for the Tribulation because it culminates in the revelation of Christ to the world. In verse three, Paul makes it clear that the Tribulation can not happen until the "falling away" happens first.

The original Greek word translated "falling away" in English is "apostasia" which sounds like our word apostasy meaning falling away from the faith. Scholars however have recognized that this word is another term for the rapture of the church because we will fall away from the earth when we meet the Lord in the air. However, many have dismissed this term as referring to the rapture of the church because it could also mean a falling away from the faith which is an end times trend supported in Scripture. Whether Paul was making reference to a great falling away of the faith or removal of the church at the rapture, the rapture is implied either way because the rapture results in zero believers on earth, a pretty thorough apostasy.

Also in verse three we find that the "man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition" following the "falling away." This is referring to the Antichrist who is also called "the lawless one" in verse eight. The Antichrist will be empowered by Satan to rule the world as an alternative human savior to Christ. It will not be clear who this coming world ruler will be until the church is removed at the rapture. So any effort by Christians to speculate on who the Antichrist will be is a futile activity.

2 Thessalonians 2:4 tells us what the Antichrist will do, representing himself as God in the temple. This is the "abomination of desolation" Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:15. For the "abomination of desolation" to occur, there must be a temple in Israel. It is amazing that there is a growing desire for a Temple in Israel even though the population is thoroughly secular. The Jews want a temple as part of their national identity but it is clear that something significant must happen changing the political situation to allow it. The "abomination of desolation" is the event that makes the Jews realize the world leader is not their savior but a deceiver.

Verses six and seven tell us that God is restraining lawlessness keeping the Antichrist from coming to power while the church is on earth. The "mystery of lawlessness" refers to Satan and his minions conspiring to thwart God’s plans to call out a people for Himself. The Restrainer of lawlessness is personified referring to Him as "He." This can only be a reference to the evil restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit who indwells followers of Christ. The Restrainer will be taken out of the way when the church falls away from the earth at the rapture thus ending His restraint of lawlessness.

Verse eight reinforces the truth that the Antichrist will not come to power until the evil restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit ends. The Tribulation is when lawlessness is allowed to run its full course. The Antichrist will establish a totalitarian government that will enslave the world. He will start out representing himself as a friend to Israel but will seek to destroy them and all who will not swear allegiance to him. God will tolerate un-throttled evil for only a short period and will ultimately destroy the Antichrist when Jesus returns.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 tells us that the Antichrist coming to power will be accompanied with great signs and wonders to deceive people into following him. God will allow deceptive miracles to dupe all who do not have the spiritual discernment that only comes from a relationship with Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:14 and Matthew 24:24).

Why God Allows Evil

The fact that God removes His restraint of lawlessness thus allowing a Tribulation shows that God has a purpose for evil. This is however the very thing that is often cited by atheists as justification for rejecting God... How could a good God allow evil? People who don't see their need for a Savior don’t understand the concept of sin. A just and holy God demands that there be consequences for usurping His authority. And in our fallen world, evil happens as a consequence of sin.

All people are made in God's image. One important aspect of being in the image of God is that we have freedom of choice. We have exercised our freedom to put ourselves before God and that sin has consequences. God loved us so much that He wanted us to experience the depth of relationship with Him that is only possible if we are free to accept or reject a relationship with Him. If there is to be true free will, God has to allow evil for a time.

However, God makes use of evil to help us. For example, He raised up the Babylonians to help Israel see their need to return to Him. He used the evil of Jesus dying on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins. And He uses evil in our lives to bring about a greater good, "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28, NKJV).

How the Holy Spirit Restrains Evil

God orchestrates events to bring about His plans (Isaiah 46:9-10). But God limits the reach of evil as He did with Satan who was given permission to touch the life of Job (Job 1:12). While all of earth’s rulers are under the influence of Satan, God influences their hearts so that His will be done as demonstrated with the Persian King Xerxes in Esther 6 and the Roman King Augustus prior to Jesus being born.

God works through His children whom the Holy Spirit indwells (1 John 4:15). The Holy Spirit helps us to discern evil and commands us to expose it per Ephesians 5:11. Indeed, there will be loss of reward if we fail to speak up when we see evil (Ezekiel 33:9).  Jesus said His followers are salt and light in Matthew 5:13-14; acting as a preservative helping others know Jesus and shinning the light of truth about evil.  Exposing evil does reduce it’s impact, "for everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:20).

The United States has been known as a Christian nation, indeed, the most preeminent Christian nation on earth. We were founded by Christians, made laws based on biblical values, and had the highest percentage of Christians. We have promoted liberty and crushed tyrants who enslaved their people. We acted as God’s agent to squelch the plans of those who sought to enslave Africans, the Nazis and their allies, and the Soviets. We have stood by and encouraged Israel along with the nations who would also befriend Israel. The U.S. has been a force for good in the world. But the U.S. acting as a force for good in the world is beginning to change as part of the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit being removed...

The U.S. is now known as much for its export of entertainment filth as restraining evil in the world. We have legalized the murder of the unborn and have sought to end the Bible’s concept of marriage. We have institutionalized our national debt. We are abandoning our allies like Israel and embracing their enemies instead. There is a growing propensity to appease evildoers and yield our sovereignty to the world community of nations. Our rule of law is being replaced with rule of man and along with it, our freedoms of religion and speech are under assault. Truth and justice is being replaced with political correctness and social justice which is simply a ruler’s view of fairness. Our mainstream press no longer serves as a force which exposes evil, instead it has become a propaganda agency seeking to manipulate the population.

What God’s People Should Do About It

In the Parable of the Minas, Jesus told us to "do business until I come" (Luke 19:13). God has gifted us to serve His purpose to be salt and light in the world. He wants us to take full advantage of the resources and opportunities He gives us to be His representatives. When we apply the principles He has given us to our lives, we will experience the spiritual fruit of Galatians 5:22-23 and this will attract people to Jesus.

Part of being a good steward of what God has blessed us with is being a good citizen. That means we should participate in the political process in this country to slow the growth of evil here. Often this means making a choice of the lesser of two evils when we vote. However, we should recognize that evil will grow despite our best efforts to expose it because of the times in which we live.

We are privileged to be able to serve the Lord in this time when so many are being convicted by the Holy Spirit that this world is not headed in a good direction. As we see the stage being set for the Tribulation, we should experience joy knowing that our redemption draws near. This joy is infectious and the Lord can use it to lead people to Him. It will not be long before we will all be united with Jesus. And then our joy will be complete.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Looming Collapse

One doesn't have to be an economist to see that all is not well with the economy. The U.S. national debt is so high that no one believes it will ever be paid off and stock markets are volatile world-wide. The only thing keeping our debt from triggering a melt-down is that most other nations in the world are just as bad or worse in their GDP-to-debt ratios.

Government spending and increasing the money supply which is called "quantitative easing" are seen as the solution to bring us out of the world-wide recession that began in 2008. This has not been working despite the mainstream media narrative that all is well. No amount of statistical gymnastics can hide the fact that record numbers of Americans are unemployed or under-employed.

Quantitative easing has never really worked to end recessions. In times past, the government effectively printing money to increase the money supply appears to have worked because inflation caused the debt to be reduced. Inflation was a painful but effective tool in reducing the national debt because it also meant that people made more money as the demand for labor increased. But this time the demand for labor has not increased thus keeping wages depressed.

Among the theories given to explain why the demand for labor has not increased is that automation is now replacing jobs faster than new jobs can be created. This may indeed be a factor but a more significant impact is certainly due to the globalization of the world economy. Jobs that used to be done locally are now being outsourced to places were labor is cheaper.

The inflation that usually accompanies the government printing money has not materialized this time. We have had an increase in asset prices such as stocks and real estate but commodity prices led by the price of oil have been depressed. The biggest factor in the depression of commodity prices is due to wages not increasing and it is not possible for wages to increase if there is a reduced demand for labor.

There has never been a time in the history of the world when interest rates have been so low for so long. This is making it harder for governments to employ their quantitative easing strategy which they believe stimulates the economy. It is hard to reduce interest rates on government loans when you are already at zero percent.

When the government is effectively giving money away at zero percent interest, they can no longer just bail-out failed financial institutions. What the European Union is now looking at doing instead is a "bail-in." This is where some percentage of depositor savings is reduced similar to what happened in Cypress. All EU member states have been required to have bail-in legislation on their books beginning this year. 

While the European Union will probably not execute their plans to confiscate depositor savings through a bail-in until the next major economic melt-down occurs, some banks there have already begun charging negative interest rates on savings. They are now effectively charging depositors to warehouse their money. This is intended to get depositors to take their money out of the bank and spend it in an effort to stimulate the economy.

Whether negative interest rates works to stimulate the economy or not, it will lead to governments implementing some sort of cashless system in order to have more control. Most transactions are already done digitally out of convenience. A cashless economy sets the stage for the time when all transactions can be micro-managed by the state which is necessary for the mark of the beast that will be implemented during the Tribulation (Revelation 13:16-18).

The European Union is the model for the world coming together as expressed in their motto, "united in diversity." What is being tried to stimulate the economy in Europe will eventually be done world wide. All that is required is a big enough economic crisis to cause governments to take action. And such action has generally resulted in them gaining more control over their people. When the problem becomes bigger than national governments can fix by printing more money or confiscating savings, there will be increasing demands for a bail-out by an even higher governmental entity, a more powerful global union of nations.

Every crisis is taking us closer to the global government the Bible says will be in place when the Lord returns. The stage-setting is picking up pace at such a rate that many have theorized there must be a conspiracy of the elite orchestrating developments in order to rule the world. Whether or not there is a human conspiracy at work in the world, there certainly is a spiritual one. God is removing His restraint of evil to prepare the world for the Tribulation when lawlessness will run its course. This is allowing Satan and his fallen-angel followers to have more influence over the nations of the world.

God is in control of the economy and allows it to flourish or fail in order to serve His purposes. The idea that mankind can control the economy is an illusion that will eventually become apparent to all. But until then, mankind's solution to fix the economy will be to double-down on the flawed policy to seek a bail-out from a higher governmental authority. This is the dynamic that will eventually give us a global government. This world will experience the ultimate in human control over mankind and Revelation 18 says it will fail spectacularly.

There have always been economic cycles and they are nothing to fear for those who are trusting in the Lord. God promised us in Genesis 8:22, "while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease" (NKJV). The best way to prepare for the coming economic melt-down is to apply the principles God has given us in His Word to be good stewards of His blessings. And this includes such things as getting out of debt and investing to lay up treasure in heaven.

The bail-out this world sorely needs is for Jesus to return. All the economic pain this world will experience in the next few years will bring mankind to the end of themselves and prepare society for rule by the Lord Himself. But followers of Christ during this Age of Grace will not have to go through the worst of the economic turmoil that will characterize the Tribulation. The best way for people to be prepared for the economic crash described in Revelation 18 is to allow Jesus to be their Savior and Lord now before the rapture of the church.

The economy of the Lord is far superior to that which mankind envisions. It is actually encouraging to see the end of mankind's economy foreshadowed when you know it only indicates the Kingdom of God on earth is very near. Come soon Lord Jesus! 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Society's Phobias

One attribute of the ungodly is that they are generally guilty of the very thing of which they accuse others. This characteristic is most apparent in the use of the term Islamophobia. Those who want to confront Islam and hold Muslims accountable for inspiring terrorists are called Islamophobic as if they are the ones with the irrational fear. But what is really more fearful, dealing with the root cause of a problem or trying to appease evil doers in the hope that they will change their ways?

Those who seek to shut down the voices of people speaking the truth about Islam by calling them Islamophobic say they don't want to incite a backlash against Muslims. But this only masks their own fear that the terrorism will get worse if the Muslim religion is publicly criticized. Despite the growth of Islamic terrorism, there has been no significant backlash against Muslims. Most people understand that the vast majority of Islamists are cultural Muslims who are just trying to get by in this world and have no desire to get too serious about following the literal tenets of their religion.

The ideologues accusing others of being Islamophobic are generally the same ones calling those wanting to preserve traditional marriage of being homophobic. Followers of Christ don't fear being among sinners because we too still struggle with our old sin nature and while we are forgiven and thus no longer of the world, we are still in the world to make disciples of all the nations. The ungodly accusers of homophobia fear God's Law and seek to squelch followers of Christ because they fear anything that reminds them of God's Law.

Intelligent conversation about immigration is shut down by calling those who oppose open borders of being xenophobic. Followers of Christ don't fear being among people from other places who are not like us. Indeed, we welcome this because it makes it easer to reach the nations for Christ when they come to us. But we do fear the loss of what makes this country attractive to people of the world when we throw out our due process of law. One of the things that made America great was having a tradition of following the law which was developed with appropriate Constitutional checks and balances. Increasingly, our rule of law is being replaced by rule of man which changes with the wind. Those yelling xenophobia are fearful that conservatives will dampen their globalist aspirations which calls for collective human achievement, the same spirit behind the Tower of Babel.

The common thread in accusing others of some sort of phobia is political correctness which is all about not offending people. Now this sounds good because no one wants to be offensive to others. But the spirit behind political correctness is to further a narrative that can only be sustained when the truth is suppressed. So accusing the opposition of being insensitive shuts down the conversation. The ungodly fear the truth and cannot allow a free exchange of ideas because the truth has an uncanny way of making itself known. Among the birth-pang signs Jesus gave us indicating His soon return was this: "many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another" (Matthew 24:10, NKJV). Certainly political correctness institutionalizes people being offended and this tactic is growing in power as a tool of the ungodly.

Fear is generally growing in the world as God removes His restraint of evil which foreshadows the Tribulation (2 Timothy 3:13, 2 Thessalonians 2:7). There is a growing sense that something is very wrong in this world even among the biblical illiterate. Peace between the nations is elusive and there is nuclear proliferation occurring in the most irrational of regimes. The economy has multiple indicators of serious sickness despite the media narrative that all is well. The ruling elite try to channel the growing fear into other areas such as a fear of guns and global warming in order to further their globalist agenda. The persistence of the globalist visionaries set the stage for the Tribulation and thus will make steady progress to have their day because there will be a ruler where, "authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation" (Revelation 13:7).

The soon coming Tribulation is when fear will reach its peak, "there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26). It will be hard to deny that supernatural events are occurring during the Tribulation. These prophetic developments will be very fearful as people who have taken the mark of the beast realize they have committed themselves to the wrong side. And that will be most of the people in the world during the Tribulation.

While fear is often irrational and immobilizing, it can be helpful if it is channeled in the right direction. "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). The healthiest fear is the fear of God. It is a good thing when our fear leads us to the Savior for deliverance. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10).

While fear is useful in driving us to Christ, it dissipates once He breathes life into our human spirits and we begin trusting Jesus as our Savior. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (1 Timothy 1:7). The presence of the Holy Spirit who indwells all believers gives us courage in the face of an increasingly fearful world. And God can use that to attract people to Christ. A great way to lead people to Jesus is to help them see why we do not fear the trajectory of this world.

"Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).

Monday, January 4, 2016

Globalism versus Nationalism

Among the many spiritual battles impacting this physical world is the conflict between globalism and nationalism which reveals our closeness to the end of the Age. While the influence of globalism has been an obvious trend for many years, the progress of those with a global vision has been accelerating and thus promises to make even more significant advances in the coming year. All this sets the stage for the global government of the Antichrist when "authority will be given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation" (Revelation 13:7, NKJV).

The drive toward more centralized global authority is relentless and there are some very logical reasons why globalization makes sense. Globalization offers economic benefits such as increasing global trade and investment which expands prosperity. And there is a vision for peace between the nations that should be achievable if the world could just work together more. Of course it would take a powerful global authority to make that happen.

The world's ruling elite are becoming more united in their vision of a global government as the solution for what ails mankind. And as humanists generally deny but wholeheartedly practice, the end justifies the means. They have fabricated a climate change crisis to force the world to work together and have more control over the population. There is nothing like a good crisis to make changes that move us closer to more global governmental power. The intense political correctness associated with the climate change "settled science" reveals that powerful spiritual forces are behind it.

The ugly downside to globalization is the idea that more centralized authority is a good thing. It appeals to a humanist worldview that believes we can solve any problem mankind faces through collective human effort apart from God. This spirit of independence from God is idolatry and was the very same attitude that was prevalent at the Tower of Babel when God scattered the people by confusing their language (Genesis 11).

While progressive humanist visionaries believe more centralized authority makes government more efficient, the exact opposite is actually realized. The failure of powerful centralized governments is an obvious lesson of history. That is why we have the cliche truism that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Yet the world's humanists persist in thinking they are more "evolved" and thus smarter than all who have gone before them really believing they are the ones who can make centralized government work better.  

It should be obvious that in this fallen world, more localized government works better than a centralized authority. A smaller, more distributed government that is closer to the people it serves is better able to respond to the needs of the people. There are geographic, demographic, and cultural differences between groups of people that gives them different needs. Centralized authorities can't even see these needs much less think imposing a solution that works in one place will have universal success.

Among the things that have made the United States exceptional has been our Constitution that provided for a division of centralized powers with checks and balances on authority. And there was the principle of states rights that distributed governmental power more locally. The trend however has been to give more power to the Federal Government and even the checks and balances have been breaking down giving the president more authority than allowed for by the Constitution. This yielding of authority foreshadows the spirit that will bring the Antichrist to power; "these are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast" (Revelation 17:13). 

Change is in the air in the United States. Gone is the Constitutional idea that the government exists to serve the people. Instead, the people exist to serve the collective. As the growing spirit of Antichrist causes local governments to yield their authority to higher governmental authorities, so too are the people willing to yield their freedoms in return for more security. These are the times that Scripture tells us about; "For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman" (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

The spirit of Antichrist spurring on the growing globalization is at its core rebellion against the order God has established. This spirit is what is behind the move to open the borders to unfettered immigration. If the world is to come together as one global family, there can be no national borders. God is in control and He established national boundaries for a reason. "He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings" (Acts 17:26).

The growing desire for people in the world to yield their God-given freedoms and authority is irrational and reveals that spiritual warfare has to be at work. God is giving mankind over to a debased mind so that evil can run it's natural course. "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 'Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us'" (Psalm 2:2-3).

The trajectory of this world is distressing to those who bother to consider the ramifications of the dramatic changes that are afoot. Rather than wasting time trying to fight against these changes, followers of Christ will honor God more by helping people disturbed by the world's trends to see that God's Word offers comfort to mankind in these times. The path of this world was foretold from ancient times and is necessary for God to prepare the world for Jesus Christ to be the ultimate central ruling authority that mankind longs for.

All indications are that this world doesn't have long to wait for the Millennial Kingdom. The stage is rapidly being set for the terrible time of the Tribulation that precedes the return of Christ. But as individuals in this Age of Grace, we don't have to wait for Jesus to return to experience His peace in our lives right now. All who yield their lives to Jesus recognizing Him as Savior and Lord will experience an abundant life in the here and now. And we also have the Blessed Hope of being translated into our glorified, eternal bodies when God concludes the current Age of Grace prior to the Tribulation. Even so, come soon Lord Jesus!