of the World and the End of the Age
over a year ago a series of crises in banks and lending institutions gave us
reason to believe God was at last beginning to judge our nation for a century
of decadence and moral decline. Soon it was clear that financial institutions
and national economies all around the world were also drastically affected. Many
of us now believe that God is doing exactly what he said He would do. He will shortly
send His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, back to this planet to forcefully set up a
kingdom of justice, righteousness and peace on earth. Jesus is, after all, the
Owner and Heir of planet earth. Sadly the vast majority of people on the earth
today do not know Jesus and do not wish to know Him. His return will therefore
involve a bloody invasion by force.
New Testament tells us that the "church age," now drawing to a close,
has been a 2000-year interval in which the message of God's love and
forgiveness has gone out to the entire world, over and over again. The
invitation has been a call for all peoples to know Jesus Christ as Lord and to
become members of His family. The Bible says that when the "full
number" of gentiles has come in (to the church), Israel would once again
be placed at center stage as chief of the nations, with Jesus ruling all the
earth from Jerusalem as His capital. Ancient promises made to the patriarchs of
Israel will then at last be fulfilled. Then and only then will man's dream of
world peace come to pass.
the historic land of Israel sat empty for most of the past two millennia, Jews
began to return to their land exactly as the Old Testament foretold, until
statehood was declared in 1948. About half of the Jews in the world now live in
the nation which has always historically been called Israel -- but almost none of
them know their God or God's messiah Jesus. The restoration of Israel among the
nations of the world means that ultimately every one of the surviving Jews will
live in Israel and everyone on earth will know Jesus as King.
the number of people who profess to be Christians in the world today adds up to
a sizeable fraction (about 2 billion people out of a total of almost 7 billion)
the number of true Christians who actually know Jesus and who follow Him is a
tiny minority. One out of three Jews died in World War Two during the Nazi
holocaust. The prophet Zechariah tells us that 2 out of 3 Jews in Israel will
perish in the coming world war which will center around Jerusalem. Many more
millions of people will become followers of Christ in the coming final years
that mark the end of the age. The invitation to know the God of Israel will
remain open until the very end, yet the majority will be lost.
daily news from Europe and the Middle East this past year sounds as if it was
written by the Old Testament prophet Daniel or by Jesus' Apostle John. Scores
of Old Testament (and New Testament) prophecies are lining up to be quickly
fulfilled as Jesus draws near and is about to set foot once more on the Mt. of
Olives in Jerusalem.
are many clear indicators in the Bible that give Christians sound reasons for
believing the return of Christ is on the immediate horizon. A year ago while
teaching through the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament I was struck by an
earlier judgment on Israel when God quietly said He would remove truth from
that nation's daily life. "Behold, the days are
coming," says the Lord GOD, "That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the
LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run
to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it." (Amos
The prophet Daniel has told us that an explosion of knowledge
would be one indicator that the time of Messiah's coming was near. That
prediction's reality should be abundantly clear to us today. Vast libraries of
knowledge are at our disposal on the Internet, but God has evidently quietly
been removing truth from our churches, from schools, from government, from our daily
lives. Knowledge is of no use to us if we lack wisdom to apply what we
know. We are in big trouble now
because the widespread rejection of God's rule over us has caused Him to begin
to withdraw His protection from us.
The Bible not only insists that absolute truth does exist, but "true-truth"
is to be found only in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote that "in
Christ are to be found all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col.
2:3), echoing what Solomon said 3000 years ago. "For God
gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to
the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to
him who is good before God..." (Eccles. 2:26)
the Old Testament it can be seen that God does His greatest work through
ordinary individuals or small groups. One example is that of Gideon who routed
135,000 Midianites with only 300 men. (God pruned Gideon's original army of
35,000 down to 300 to make it perfectly clear that it is He who fights our wars
for us). The God of the Bible is the God of remnants. Billions of people
drowned in the Flood of Noah after rejecting God's pleas to join Noah on board
the Ark. At the end of a hundred years of ark-building on dry land, the rains
came. But only eight people were onboard the Ark. In many of today's churches
only a handful are living in daily fellowship with Jesus, yet God will continue
to do great things when even a few of His people come together to make
themselves available to Him.
is one thing to imagine the coming time of glorious world peace which will
prevail under the reign of Jesus in Jerusalem. Meanwhile it is heartbreaking
for most of us when we see how sinful we are, how unworthy. The human condition
is sad and tragic but no matter how long God pleads with mankind only a few have
ever responded. Jesus Christ has already paid in full for the sins of all who
have ever lived, His offer of forgiveness and new life is freely offered to
everyone--but the majority are not to be persuaded. If we grieve, God's heart
of love grieves more.
In his commentary on the book of the Revelation, Ray
Stedman comments on how God's coming judgments will affect us.
"What we are seeing here in the
judgments of the last days is really nothing new. It is simply commonly
experienced penalties for evil increased in amount to an incredible degree. God
has been sending judgments like this all through the history of mankind. There
have been volcanic eruptions, meteors falling upon the earth, red rain from the
skies, poisoned waters, etc. All these terrible disasters have struck before,
but now they grow to a climax. Yet we must not misunderstand them, for they are
for our own good.
list for you five effects of judgment upon us since we are all being judged in
some degree, more or less. Hardships, trials and difficulties are all a part of
the judgment of God upon human evil, and we all experience it.
First of all, judgments frighten us. They are intended to. They are sent to
arrest our attention. They chill our blood. They alarm us. They scare the
living daylights out of us. Like children at a horror movie we are fascinated
by them but we want to hide our eyes from them and not look fully at them. That
is the first effect of judgment. It arouses fear.
Then, because it terrifies us, judgment also sobers us. How many people in the
Bay Area immediately rearranged their priorities five minutes after the earthquake
hit on October 17? We heard many testimonies during that time of people saying,
"I'll never take life as lightly again. That taught me a lot. I began to
see what is really important." That is also what judgments do. They help
us reassess our lives. They change our priorities. C. S. Lewis well
says that fear or pain or judgment is "God's megaphone to reach a deaf
And so judgments correct us. They force us to face unpleasant facts about
ourselves. We do not like that. We do not like to be told that we are not
perfect. We know we are not, but we do not like anyone else to say so. We are
uneasy at having these things pointed out. But judgment strips away our
illusions. It restores us to reality. We begin to think accurately, clearly, as
God thinks. We plan more carefully. We live more thoughtfully. That is why God sends
And fourth, judgment humbles us. We begin to see that we are really not in
control. We do not run everything about our lives. We are not autonomous
creatures. We are not little gods, capable of making anything we want to of
ourselves, as the media keeps trying to tell us. We are not in charge. We see
how foolish we have been in the past, that we have made many mistakes when we
thought we were right. We begin at last to welcome guidance, to listen to
others, and especially, to seek out the wisdom of the Word of God.
Finally, judgment reassures us. It comforts us. It answers Habakkuk's great
prayer, "In wrath, remember mercy," (Hab 3:2). We learn that God does
not like judgment either. He calls it, in Isaiah 28:21, his "strange
work." He keeps it as brief as possible. He gives ample warnings before it
gets unbearable. He sends anticipations of it, forceful reminders, that this
kind of thing can happen so that we might pay attention and act before it gets
out of hand.
this supports the view that the Bible gives everywhere of a loving God,
"slow to anger and plenteous in mercy," (Psalm 103:8 KJV). Is it not
strange that people who do not read the Bible very much almost invariably say,
when you talk about judgment, "Well, the God I worship is a loving God; he
would never do anything like that!" My friend, it is the very love of God
that makes him judge! God must judge in order to eliminate evil once for all
from his creation and bring about the world of universal blessing which men
have longed for throughout all of human history. (From God's Final Word, http://www.raystedman.org/revelation/4200.html)
heart! Cling to the great promises of God. With eagerness, let us act in faith
trusting the living God who can not fail.
thou long expected Jesus,
to set thy people free;
our fears and sins release us,
us find our rest in thee.
strength and consolation,
of all the earth thou art;
desire of every nation,
of every longing heart.
thy people to deliver,
a child and yet a King,
to reign in us forever,
thy gracious kingdom bring.
thine own eternal spirit
in all our hearts alone;
thine all sufficient merit,
us to thy glorious throne.
Excellent Book: Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism
Must be Challenged, by Barry E. Horner.
Current Class: I am teaching
Genesis, Chapters 1-11, on Sunday mornings in the Forum Class at Peninsula
Bible Church Palo Alto. For audio mp3 files go to http://ldolphin.org/genesis.html.
Finances: Most people are feeling the
effects of the current disastrous national and international economic
realities. The forecast is for more to come. My own retirement check has been
reduced by over a third – well below current monthly expenses. Through it
all, your faithful gifts have been sent of the Lord to sustain me, and they are
needed now more than ever! I continue to thank my God for my every remembrance
of you all. Your ongoing contributions may be sent to me through PayPal, or for
a deductible receipt, mailed to Ray Stedman Ministries, P.O. Box 615, Mount
Hermon, CA 95041 (checks should no longer be sent through Peninsula Bible
Church). Be sure and mark your check, "Lambert Dolphin ministries." I
am very grateful for generous support late last year and in January. Thank you
again for your friendship and support. Our God is a sustaining God!
disorganized collection of articles on many subjects is found on this page: http://ldolphin.org/asstbib.shtml.
Previous newsletters are here: http://ldolphin.org/news/.
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