|Special Edition Summer 2009 Newsletter|
Like medicine, the truth can sometimes be bitter to the taste, but necessary to our wellbeing. The numbing comfort of ignorance is always a temporary experience, readily replaced by the naked terror of seeing events unfolding for which we were not prepared. It does the souls and hearts of men no good to give a false sense of hope, nor is it in any way profitable to sugar coat the truth. We are living in the last days, and as such must be aware of the things that are to come, and the events that are about to unfold.
One of the attributes of the Holy Spirit is to tell God's children of things to come, that they might prepare themselves spiritually, grow in strength, learn to trust the Father implicitly, and walk in the light of His Word.
John 16:13, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you in all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come."
Whether through His holy Word, by prophecy, dreams, or visions, God still speaks to His children. He still tells them of the things to come that they might watch and pray, that they might not be beguiled to slumber just a little while, or believe in their hearts that these truths are for a future generation. We are living in the last days!
The world as we know it is changing at breakneck speed. Prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes, and what seemed improbable and even impossible as little as a year ago, has become a very present reality.
I first started publishing parts of this study on my web log in April of this year. At the time I had no intention of sending it out as a special edition of the newsletter, but this all changed when the Holy Spirit began speaking to my heart that I should do just that. Those of you that have been with this ministry for some time know that this is not a common practice. I must however be obedient to the urging of the Spirit.
The following study is not intended to frighten, but rather to encourage; it is not intended to tear down but rather build your faith and hope in our heavenly Father. If God knew these times would come, and in His goodness forewarned His children, it is a logical assumption that He has already prepared their provision and protection as well. We enter this season of global uncertainty with the full assurance of the hope that God is with us, and if He is with us, who can be against us?
If we react as the world reacts, where is our hope? If we rage as the world rages where is our faith? Our actions and reactions to everything that is happening in the world will testify to whether or not we truly believe that God is not only our provider, but our provision. The difference between those who merely say they trust in God and those who truly trust Him will be evident to all. May we be found among those who truly trust Him, and who rest in His omnipotence.
Luke 21:28, "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift your heads, because your redemption draws near."
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
A Bird's Eye View Of The End Times
We look at the prophetic landscape today and see many pieces of the same puzzle. We are seeing the fulfillment of some prophecies, the partial fulfillment of others, and events are progressing with such unprecedented speed, that by the time we process and understand one thing, three others have already occurred. Before going any further, I need to stress that although we are seeing the fulfillment of end time prophecy, and I discuss it from time to time, our focus must continue to be Jesus, and a relationship with Him. We cannot be so consumed with the prophetic that we miss out on knowing the giver of prophecy; we cannot be so consumed with end time events that we miss out on a relationship with the One who is to return in these end times. We can know the times and the seasons, we can know the what, the when, the where, the how, and the who, but if we don't know Jesus, all our knowledge amounts to nothing, a handful of dust swept away by a strong breeze.
Some have accused me of not being faithful to end time prophecy, since I don't talk about my grandfather's dreams or visions, or even my own too often, and my response to that is that my primary concern is to be faithful to Jesus, not to prophecy. Jesus is more important than prophecy, and prophecy is given to God's children that they might not be ignorant of the times they are living in, and that they might prepare spiritually for the dark days ahead.
Today we are going to be discussing three major pieces of the end time puzzle. The first piece is the state of prophecy in the end times, both true and false. The second piece of the puzzle we will be discussing is the state of the church during the end times, and the third piece is the state of the world.
The State of the Prophetic!
For the past few decades, self appointed and self anointed prophets have been attempting to redefine the nature of God. Each time God sends a warning, each time God attempts to awaken His people by sounding the alarm, these men come out of the woodwork, and in soothing voices tell the Church that it wasn't God that allowed these things, it was mere chance, and happenstance.
"God doesn't do that anymore!" is the cry of the modern day pseudo-prophets, dismissing the fact that we serve a God who changes not, who is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. Apparently for the past twenty years God has no longer been concerned about holiness, righteousness, sanctification and obedience; His primary focus has been blessing, and prosperity and self-esteem. "Do what you want to do, establish your own level of morality, and as long as you sow a seed into this ministry, God will bless you abundantly, pressed down, shaken together."
Soothsayers are nothing new among the people of God. They have been around for millennia, and the true servants of Christ, the true followers of God have had to contend with them throughout the centuries.
The reason soothsayers are so successful is because human nature likes to hear good things. We do not like being confronted with our own sins, we do not like being confronted with the righteousness of a righteous God, we like to be told that God understands, God overlooks, God glosses over, and that there is no consequence to sin and disobedience.
We hear a word of coming judgment, and the first thing we do is seek out the contrarian position that tells us God only wants good things for us, and abundantly so. For every one servant that speaks a true message from God, that receives true revelation, there are ten who tell the people what they want to hear, so by sheer numbers alone the true messengers are at a disadvantage from the start.
"But brother so and so said that God's going to continue blessing us, and we will prosper again, and no judgment will come upon us, why do you still hold to your position?"
Well, because I stand on what God showed me, and on what the Bible says. No matter how good a 'word' might sound, if it contradicts the Word, it is not of God. The Word says God punishes sin, the Word says judgment begins in His house!
Jeremiah 5:12-13, "They have lied about the Lord, and said, 'it is not He. Neither will evil come upon us, nor shall we see sword of famine.' And the prophets become wind, for the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them."
God cannot contradict Himself. God cannot overlook sin simply because it is taking place in a nation that has 'in God we trust' on its money, although if some people have their way even that may soon be a memory.
Often we allow our sense of patriotism to cloud our reasoning concerning the righteousness of God. Just as some in Israel of old did not believe God would send judgment because they were His people, some today do not believe that God will send judgment because we are a Christian nation. Whether or not we are a Christian nation is debatable, but for the sake of argument let's say we are; the only thing that would mean, is that God will hold us all the more accountable for our disobedience and sin.
I've used this analogy once before in a sermon, but I think it might serve to bring understanding, and shed some light on why the churches in America will not be spared judgment, but rather be the first to experience it.
Imagine being a parent who sees their own child, and a complete stranger's child doing something truly horrible. They were both doing the exact same thing, whatever the horrible thing might have been, and the question that begs to be asked is which child do you discipline? Do you go to the stranger's child and proceed to give him a spanking, or do you go to your own child and do likewise?
Those of the church are the children of God. Those of the world are not. God disciplines His own children first and foremost.
Jeremiah 5:30-31, "An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?"
The 'prophecies' of a tolerant God, a God who is indifferent to the sin in His own house, the 'words of knowledge' heralding a new season of prosperity and a transference of wealth, are only sustainable for a season. Yes, the people love to hear the good words, they love to have their ears tickled, but the question that we must individually ask ourselves, is what will we do in the end? If we trust in the pillow prophets, and the soothsayers rather than the Word of God, if we believe their imaginings over the truth of scripture, what will we do in the end? How will we react to the times and the seasons of which the Word clearly forewarns?
It's not that God is not speaking, He is! Whether through His word, or His chosen vessels, God is speaking to His people, but a great majority is dismissing and rejecting His words, because they do not line up with their preconceived notions of what the world will be like in the end times.
If we choose to believe a lie, just because it is temporarily soothing to the flesh, and accepting of our fleshly pursuits, we will have no one to blame but ourselves for these times coming upon us, and finding us unprepared.
Jeremiah 6:10, "To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold the word of the Lord is a reproach to them; they have no delight in it. "
We have become addicted to the superficial comfort that words which originate from men's bellies rather than the throne room of God offer us. We are temporarily encouraged when we hear the words of peace and safety, only to be plunged into hopelessness upon seeing the truth with our own eyes.
We revel in flattering revelation, because such revelation bolsters our flesh, and we mock and belittle those who would speak the truth, who would hold up the mirror of the Word that our true self might be revealed. We hate the truth, and the word of the Lord has become a reproach to us because the truth is uncompromising, unyielding, and it judges without partiality. I know this will offend some, but it must be said, we have to stop believing we are somehow more special than everyone else in the world, just because we are Americans. God does not see nationality, He does not see skin color, He sees the heart, and He weighs the heart and more souls than we would like to admit have been found wanting.
We have marginalized the Word because it is offensive to the sensibilities of sin and transgression. We no longer love people enough to tell them the truth, and so we turn a blind eye to the filth, ruination, and darkness they call home. What's worse, is that we strengthen the hands of the wicked, by encouraging them to continue in their sin, while at the same time make the hearts of the righteous sad, because we readily label them intolerant, backward, or the big word, fundamentalist.
In this brave new world, God no longer has a standard, sin is no longer sin, hell no longer exists, and disobedience is no longer punished. Welcome to the new paradigm; welcome to the new god that this present generation of deceived souls calling themselves oracles of the "one true God," have created.
Ezekiel 13:8-9, "Therefore thus says the Lord God: 'because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,' says the Lord God. My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies."
For the love of God, for the love of all that's holy, for the love of our very souls, let's grow up already and stop the foolishness! Rather than chase after gold dust, and rubies, and oily hands, let's get on our knees in true repentance of the heart, and seek fellowship with the eternal Father; rather than chase after personal words of prophecy, let's crack open the Bible and do what it says first and foremost, because if a 'word' contradicts the Bible, it's not from God no matter how much you might 'bear witness'.
We're looking for shortcuts, when there are no shortcuts to the holy of holies. We're looking for ways wherein we can skip a few steps, you know just the time consuming stuff like praying, fasting, and reading the Word, and still be all that we can be in Jesus.
The church is to blame for the influx of false teaching, false prophets, and false doctrines that abound therein, because we reject the truth, and embrace the lie. You can read passages from the Word itself, and there will be those within the church today that will say in their hearts 'that's not the God I serve! My God wouldn't do that! My God is love, my God is not judgmental, my God accepts everybody just the way they are!'
'But it's in the Word', you retort. 'It may be but that's not the way I see it.' And that is the theological and doctrinal foundation of today's nominal Christian. They believe only what they want to believe, they make it up as they go along, and they accept only those parts of the Bible that tells them good things, that do not challenge them, that do not compel them to change, or be born again.
Challenge their flawed beliefs, challenge their superficial faith and they will label you unloving, uncaring, and go to the church with the smiling guy that tells the jokes, and makes them feel good.
By all means, feel good, chase illusions, prophecy good things, profane the name of God for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, and believe that God's only desire is that you prosper in this life, I can't stop you, but what will you do in the end?
Whether we believe it or not, whether we accept it or not, it does not change the fact that we are living the end times. How can I be so certain? I can be so sure of the times we are living in because of the state of the church today, and the state of the world that we are currently living in.
The State of the Church!
The Bible speaks allot about the end times, and especially the church, or the body of Christ, in relation to them. Throughout the Word, we are forewarned that these end times, will be troublesome, turbulent times, seasons of great upheaval and persecution toward the children of God. The Word also relays the spiritual condition that many who call themselves Christians will be in as these times unfold.
For some unexplained reason, since it has no Biblical foundation, many are living with the expectation of a great outpouring of repentance and brokenness on a global scale in these end times, when in reality the Bible paints a very different and somewhat disturbing picture of what these times will be.
2 Timothy 3:1-5, "But know this that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"
There is much to process in these five verses, but the first thing we must come to terms with is that Paul is not referring to the unsaved, he is not referring to those of the world, but to those within the church.
Why would I say this? Because the world has always been evil, the world has always been enamored with money and self, it has always been filled with boasters and proud men, but all these things plus many more have only been evident recently within the house of God. Preaching greed from the pulpit, making money a substitute god, associating pride with righteousness, boasting of one's accomplishments, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof, all these are new phenomenon only in relation to the church.
I will delve deeper into these verses, but for now I want to make one more observation to back up my assertion that Paul was referring to the church when detailing what men will be like in the last days.
After listing all the signs that will accompany the last days, Paul gives a stern warning, and admonishes those who would hear that from such people we should turn away!
If Paul was speaking of the world when detailing the heart conditions of the time, then there would be no need to warn believers to stay away from such people, because they already knew they were to be separate and set apart from the world. The only way this scripture makes sense, is if these things were taking place, and easily visible within the house of God.
The first words Paul uses in the context of this scripture are 'but know!' It matters not what my opinion is, it matters not what I think; the Word admonishes me to know, and not be ignorant, not be caught off guard or surprised.
It is with great clarity that the Holy Spirit speaks by way of Paul and other writers concerning the last days. Just the thought of the last days causes one's heart to race a little faster, because what we understand by the last days is in essence the end of time as we know it, the return of our beloved Lord, and the fulfillment of all that God has promised.
Throughout the Bible we are forewarned that the last days will be perilous, stressful, full of deception, the Word will be mocked, Jesus will be rejected, the believers persecuted, and the love of many will grow cold.
2 Peter 3:3-4, "Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts and saying, 'where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."
1 John 2:18-20, "Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us."
Jude 17-19, "But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are worldly persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit."
Why would God, in His all knowing wisdom include such passages in the Word if they did not apply to the believer, if we were not to take them as a warning that we might prepare, cling to Jesus, increase our faith and strengthen ourselves?
The reality of the times is sobering to say the least. Not only is the Church under attack from without, but also from within, by men who readily deny the preeminence of Jesus, the need for Jesus, and the fact that He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. Whatever one might call them, from emergent, to progressive, the reality of these men is that they walk according to their own lusts, and imaginings, denying the Christ, and forging new paths, which although lead to nowhere are made to seem like the shortcut to heaven.
Going through each dark sin of the heart that Paul mentioned would be an exhaustive study in and of itself, but one thing I need to point out is that all the other sins, from the love of money, to pride, to disobedience to absence of thankfulness or holiness, to slander, to absence of self control, are byproducts of love of self.
When men are lovers of themselves, then there is no room for the love of God in their hearts. Just as all good things are birthed out of love, all the sins of the heart are birthed out of love of self.
There have always been men who were lovers of themselves, and lovers of money, the proud and the blasphemers have always existed, but never in the history of mankind have so many been found within the church. We have lowered God's standard, we have stopped being the watchmen He expects us to be, and the darkness has overtaken the citadel, it has invaded the house of God, and is now attempting to destroy it from within.
A great many pulpits are no longer preaching Jesus, at least not the Jesus of the Bible. We preach the self, we worship the self, we praise the self, and we still wonder why the church no longer has a voice, and we wonder why the church no longger has a voice, and we wonder become lovers of self rather than lovers of God, and every time anyone has the courage to preach Jesus, they are verbally stoned by the masses because the ugly truth is that the masses love their lethargy. Mention anything that challenges the individual and you will be labeled an intolerant bigot, mocked and ridiculed, because rather than facing their sins most would rather simply silence the messenger.
The end result of allowing these sins into a heart unchecked and unopposed, is twofold. First, men will become lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Second, they will have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.
Egotism or self centeredness will always end in hypocrisy. These two sins are like the bookends of the devil's work, with all the other vices and sins finding a home between them.
True godliness is both beautiful and necessary in the life of a true believer, but a form of godliness is ugly and dangerous. True godliness leads to life, fulfillment, sanctification, peace and joy, while a form of godliness leads to death and despair.
Although a form of godliness seems very similar to true godliness at a cursory glance, often so much so that absent the Holy Spirit and the gift of discernment one is unable to tell, one has its origins in darkness, while the other has its origins in the light of God. The great danger for many Christians today, is receiving the form, while denying the reality. A form of godliness is often more appealing to the masses than true godliness, because the form is often dressed up in fine attire, it is well organized, the religious ceremonies, and traditions providing an easy to follow plan, absent of self denial or self sacrifice. The only problem with the form is that it has neither power nor life. Having a form of godliness can be likened to having a painting of a loaf of bread, and staring at it hoping to get filled. As realistic as the portrayal of the loaf of bread might be, it will not satiate your hunger; it will not provide any nourishment to your body.
A form of godliness might be pleasing to the flesh, it might even impress those with whom we come in contact, but it will not feed our spiritual man, it will not help us grow in God, and when we need strength, when we need substance, the form becomes utterly useless.
A form of godliness is more dangerous than no godliness at all, because the form deceives souls into believing they are fine, thereby keeping them from seeking true godliness.
As an elderly preacher I once heard so succinctly put it, 'true godliness is a lifelong pursuit and a lifelong struggle. We grow in God, and as we grow we desire to grow all the more. The more we grow in God, the more God grows in us, and the flesh is systematically expelled. Now the flesh doesn't want to go, but it must if God is to reside in us, and have preeminence in our hearts.'
So why the command to turn away from such people, why would Paul be so adamant on this point? In short, we should turn away from those with a form of godliness because good health is not communicable, but diseases are.
True godliness is simple in its definition. In its essence true godliness is being wholly surrendered to God, and perpetually submitting to His will, allowing Him to mold us and chisel us.
A form of godliness however, presupposes that one can have a divided heart, and that one can walk in the world, and walk with God at the same time.
Having a form of godliness is deceptive, and contagious, and this is why we are admonished to turn away from such people.
True godliness presupposes a life of prayer, a life of sanctification, a life of continual mortification of the flesh. True godliness is not flashy, it is not entertaining, it is a walk of constant humility and obedience.
The form of godliness however, is all flash absent of substance. Why would you spend time in prayer, why would you spend time studying the Word, when you can go and witness people getting kicked in the face, gold fillings growing in people's mouths, fully grown adults barking like dogs, and the list goes on. When we associate with those possessing a form of godliness, the temptation is always there to sacrifice our intimate time with God, and go witness the train wrecks that have become our charismatic congregations.
The house is on a corrupt foundation, and nothing substantive and lasting can be sustained on a fractured and inconsistent foundation. Anything not built upon the Word of God, anything not built upon the truth of Christ, will inevitably crumble into the dust of the earth. It is not a matter of if; it is only a matter of when.
In broad strokes we are already beginning to see the implosion of many doctrines that had nothing to do with Christ, but had everything to do with the self. We are beginning to see in very real terms that a form of godliness is only sustainable for a season, because you can only go so long without feeding your spiritual man before you either starve altogether, or seek out spiritual nourishment.
True godliness is clothed in humility and obedience, while the form of godliness is clothed garments that sparkle and attract the eye. One give you true power, true faith, true strength, true peace, while the other offers nothing more than an illusion placing a flawed, impotent, and vain self upon the throne of a heart that ought to be reserved for Christ and Christ alone.
If we look at the list that Paul laid out, at all the sins that would not only be evident, but would multiply exponentially during the last days, we see that to the last they are alive and well within the churches today.
Our constant hope rests in the knowledge that God knows our struggle, God sees our obedience, and that he who endures to the end will not only be saved, but also receive the crown of life as just recompense.
The State of the World!
As far as I am personally concerned, there is no passage in the Bible that better describes the events and the state of the world during the end of days than Matthew 24. The same passage is also relayed in Mark 13, as well as Luke 21. When combining the three scriptures, and comparing them, one may see a difference of nuance, but the same focal points and main themes.
The reason I believe that Matthew 24 is one of the most important, and overlooked passages in God's word, is because these words were spoken by Jesus Christ, and they were of a prophetic nature. Part of this prophecy has already come to pass; actually it came to pass some 37 years after Jesus rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. I will explain shortly, but for now I must point out something obvious yet profound: If part of this prophecy has already been fulfilled, is there any doubt that the rest of it will be fulfilled as well?
Jesus had just finished telling His disciples some truly troubling things. In so many words, He had informed them that the temple would be destroyed, and not one stone would be left upon another. To the disciples who were with Him, this must have been some truly disturbing information. It was after all, the temple that Jesus was speaking of, the place of worship for all the Jewish people.
Matthew 24:2, "And Jesus said to them, 'Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down."
The amazing thing to me is that none of His disciples doubted, or questioned Jesus as to why He would say such a thing. They believed Him at His word, and their only questions were:
Mathew 24:4, "Tell us when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
So the two things the disciples desired to know were when the temple would be destroyed, and what would be the signs preceding Christ's return and the end of the age.
What follows in Christ's discourse, are two separate prophecies concerning a future time that is relatively near, and one that is further out in the time stream.
First we are going to cover the prophecy that has already been fulfilled, that of the destruction of the temple. Although it is detailed in Matthew 24 (verses 15-20), the gospel according to Luke describes it more clearly.
Luke 21:20-24, "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations.
And Jerusalem will be trampled by gentiles until the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
In 70 A.D. Cestius Gallus, president of Syria marched at the head of a powerful army ready to sack Jerusalem and bring it under his submission. They had surrounded the city, and everything seemed favorable for an immediate attack, the Jewish army was on the point of surrender, when suddenly and without explanation, Cestius abandoned the siege, withdrawing his armies for no apparent reason.
It was during this brief respite that the followers of Christ remembered His words, that when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies, desolation was near. They obeyed the admonition to flee to the mountains, and journeyed to Pella, a city beyond the river Jordan, some one hundred miles away from Jerusalem. As a result of their obedience, not one Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place upon the siege and subsequent sacking of the city and the destruction of the temple by a man named Titus.
Just as Jesus gave a detailed account of what would occur in Jerusalem, and how the temple would be destroyed, He also gave a detailed account of the events that would take place during the end of the age.
Before we get into the actual text, and study what Jesus said concerning His return, and the end of the age, I must say something that some may find offensive, but it must be said nonetheless: Novel writers, and movie director make for bad theologians.
When we believe men over the Word of God, and come up with fanciful new doctrine that we've fashioned out of thin air with no scriptural backing, we run the risk of disobeying Christ's first command, and thereby rejecting the rest of what He has to say concerning the end times.
Matthew 24:4-5, "And Jesus answered and said to them: 'Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying 'I am the Christ' and will deceive many."
Before He could go into a detailed description of the last days, Jesus had to forewarn even those closest to Him that many would come in His name saying they were the anointed ones. Not only would they come in His name, but they would be so convincing that these men would even deceive many. There are countless examples of men offering new paths to heaven, even as Jesus unequivocally asserts that He is the only path to heaven.
I pray we can at least agree on the following premise as we continue with this study: If the Bible has an opinion concerning a certain thing, then we as followers of the Bible are not allowed to formulate an opinion contradictory to it.
The fundamentals of the faith that the Word of God set forth are unchanging. They worked for those two thousand years ago, as they worked for those a thousand years ago, as they work for those whom today are willing to submit to the authority of the Gospel.
There is so much deceit floating about, that unless one is tethered to the Word, unless they filter everything by Scripture, they will be stained by some doctrine or another, or draw certain conclusions that have no Biblical basis.
The first thing that Jesus points out, is that the last days, will be days of great deception. It is somewhat superfluous for me to point out the fact that abomination is now mainstream, that sin is widely embraced within the house of God, that preachers and teachers fearing for their paycheck and the reputation and relationship they forged with the world are being brow beaten into silence, but these things must be pointed out, that we might understand the times we are living in.
The truth has become a rare commodity indeed, and those willing to stand for the truth are shrinking in number on a daily basis. The words of Jesus echo to this day, warning and pleading with those who would hear, 'take heed that no one deceives you.'
Matthew 24:6-7, "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be various famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places."
"But there have always been wars and rumors of wars, there have always been famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places." True, but the signs of the end times have to do more with frequency and intensity than they do with the actual events taking place. During these last days, what was once known as the exception becomes the rule.
There have always been wars, but they will increase in frequency and intensity as the last days draw near. There have always been famines, but they will increase in frequency and intensity, as the last days draw near. There have always been natural disasters, but once again, they will increase in both frequency and intensity as time as we know it breathes its final breaths.
Other than the deluge of deception, and the warmongering of the last days, Jesus points to three distinct areas that will foreshadow the end of the age. He speaks of material disasters, biological disasters, and natural disasters.
First on the list are famines, which in my view is the material disaster. We all know that famine is caused by poverty, and what we are beginning to see on a global scale is the first stages of what will most likely be an implosion of the financial systems the world over. This is by no means an isolated case, having to do with the economy of America, but every nation in the world is feeling the strains of an economic meltdown. Because Jesus said it, I believe things will get markedly worse, and the famines that we are seeing in such isolated places as Darfur or Somalia will become a common global theme.
Second on the list are pestilences, or biological disasters. I believe these will focus largely on diseases, new strains of known or unknown viruses that will sweep the globe leaving much death in their wake. As I write this, the big story on the news is swine flu, a couple years back it was bird flu, but whatever these pestilences are, keep in mind that Jesus spoke of them in the plural form. It was not one pestilence, but pestilences, that would ravage the globe.
Third, when He speaks of earthquakes, He is referring to what we would call natural disasters. It's not just earthquakes that will grow in frequency and intensity, but all manner of natural events, that even the scientific community will have a difficult time explaining. It would seem that as of late, we are seeing an explosion of seismic activity all over the globe. Almost every week there is a new earthquake, whether in Italy, Mexico, Romania, Pakistan, Indochina, the Philippines, America, and the list goes on. One disturbing trend that I heard a news anchor comment on is that they are growing both in frequency, and intensity.
I need to make something perfectly clear. These signs that we are beginning to witness, and will continue to observe for the foreseeable, indicate the certainty of Christ's return, not the timeline of Christ's return. Because we witnessed the destruction of the temple as Jesus foretold, because we are witnessing the signs of the end time as Jesus foretold, we are also certain of His return as He foretold. The 'when' is a different matter altogether.
Throughout all these things, throughout the wars, and rumors of wars, natural disasters of varying kinds, through the famines and the pestilences Jesus encourages His followers by saying, 'see that you are not troubled.'
'But how could we not be troubled by what our eyes see, how could we not react as the world reacts?' Because we have a hope, and a sure foundation, we are Christ's and He is ours, and He watches over those who are His. We are at peace in the palm of His hand, and under the shadow of His wing. Our lives are not our own any longer, so come what may, we rest in the knowledge of His omnipotence.
Matthew 24:8, "All these are the beginning of sorrows."
I've heard it more times than I can count, and it always leaves a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach: 'Thank the Lord we're not going to be here for those things!'
'Well apostle, prophet, doctor so and so.'
But did Jesus say it? Did Jesus say we're all going to sprout wings and fly away at the first sign of these things coming upon the earth? Did Jesus even hint that we're not going to be here for these events? Newsflash, we're still here, and we're beginning to see the thing of which Jesus warned coming to pass.
Why is this important?
Because if we don't understand the times correctly, and are living every day with the expectation of being swept away, caught up, beamed home, then our hearts will be troubled with ever event that unfolds, and our faith will be shaken with every fulfillment of end time prophecy.
The escapism mentality is keeping many believers in a static mode, giving them a false sense of security, which in turn keeps them from truly seeking the face of God, truly repenting, and truly building up their spiritual man.
'Why pray for strength, why pray for direction, why pray for protection, we're not going to be here anyway.'
It is a lie that's keeping countless souls in a state of spiritual stupor, and it is a dangerous condition to be in. To use a term that headshrinkers like to use, 'the perception of a thing will determine your reaction to the thing.'
Matthew 24:9-10, "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another."
Throughout history the pattern leading up to persecution has been evident. First you marginalize, then you criminalize, then you are free to persecute to your heart's content. The Christian church has already been marginalized in this country, and due to the willingness of some so called preachers and pastors to compromise the truth, and dismiss the Word of God, those who choose to cling to Jesus, those who choose to stand for truth, will soon be criminalized.
'Why can't you be like those preachers on television? Why can't you just have a positive outlook, and beg off any hard hitting questions with the ever resourceful answer, 'I'm not into doctrine all that much', or 'I think it's just foolish bickering over things like sin and repentance because we're all going to end up in heaven anyway; God loves everybody; He loves you just the way you are, no change required.' Why can't you just know your place, don't hit on controversial topics, be spineless in the face of any opposition, and mimic the chameleon like tactics of politicians to such a degree that the two become indistinguishable?'
What seemed like the mere rants of a conspiratorial mind as little as two years ago, are no longer so impossible, but due to new legislation currently being churned out, it is highly probable. We are on the road of mandating the betrayal of the doctrine of Jesus.
We are witnessing the changes, and the march toward persecution throughout the world, yet we cling to our worn out mantra 'that could never happen here.' Wake up! It is happening here! Persecution is coming, and not because of your denominational affiliation, not because of your ethnicity, but because of Jesus. You will be hated by all nations for His name's sake. Just remember these three steps, marginalize, criminalize, and persecute, and check them off as you see them coming to pass. There will be a catalyst that will turn hatred into open persecution, and that time is not far off.
So who will be offended? If you've read this far, please bear with me a little further, and suspend your preconceived notions for just a little while longer. I know of what I speak. During the communist regime that had a chokehold on my country for forty five years, there were numerous cases of those who were offended, and who betrayed and hated, and it was not the persecutors that were guilty of these things, it was believers who in the face of torture and death denied Christ.
It is these selfsame gutless wonders that pollute the minds of the sheep with visions of rose petals and butterflies that will be offended, that will betray and hate the true believers. Why offended? Because in their twisted understanding of God's word, they were never meant to endure hardships, they were never meant to endure persecution, they were only meant to prosper, and have abundance. Never mind the fact that every generation in the history of the Church has had to endure persecution, never mind the fact that today, at this moment in time, there are brothers and sisters throughout the world willingly laying down their lives for the cause of Christ, we're special, we're exempt.
2 Timothy 3:12, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
All! Not some but all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. We are not exempt just because we live in America. If we desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, it is inevitable that our desire will be viewed as counterproductive, incendiary, and outright criminal by those who are deceiving and being deceived. The noose is tightening, but we are too busy to notice; the harbingers of what is about to descend upon the world are evident to those who have eyes to see. Rather than stand for truth however, many who have risen to Christian prominence in this country are doing everything they can to blend, and keep their followers in check by homogenizing their messages to such an extent that one would have a hard time discerning between what passes for a sermon, and a self empowerment seminar.
I have no respect for men who see compromise as a viable option. I have no respect for men who are more concerned with their own reputation than with standing up for the truth. I have no respect for men who are unwilling to stand for anything that might be deemed controversial even though the controversy in question is Jesus. We are worse than those who spat upon the face of the Christ, we are worse than those who mocked Him as He carried His cross to Calvary, because we knew Him, and still we betrayed Him!
Matthew 24:11-13, "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved."
When sin becomes relative, when there no longer remains a right and a wrong, then lawlessness is given free reign. Lawlessness, is being unrestrained by law, and much of today's church has succeeded in being unrestrained by the laws of God.
When we have the temerity to look into God's Word, read the clearly defined guidelines of what is just and unjust, what is righteous and unrighteous, what is lawful and unlawful, then shake our heads and say 'that's not what God meant', we are no longer on the road to lawlessness, we've already reached our destination. Jesus speaks of lawlessness in the context of the church, not of the world, and due to the lawlessness that we've allowed to creep into the house of God unopposed, the love of many is growing cold.
"What do you mean? The mega churches are still full, and the happy preachers are still drawing a crowd. How can the love of many be growing cold?"
The love of which Jesus speaks is not self love, but rather love for God. Yes people are more enamored with themselves than ever before but fewer than ever are demonstrating true love for God, by their unwillingness to obey, and do His will.
So what are we to do in the midst of this lawlessness, what are we to do as we see love growing cold? Endure! Not only for a season, not only for a time, but we must endure to the end, because he who endures to the end shall be saved!
Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."
I realize this verse is pretty much self explanatory, but I have a question. If we're not supposed to be here for the unfolding of the end times, who pray tell will be doing the preaching of the gospel all over the world? If we are not supposed to be here, who pray tell will be doing the enduring until the end? These are just a couple logical questions, in a long list that should get us thinking and which require an honest and reasonable response.
My hope today is that we don't start packing just yet, that we understand the times we are living in, and our place in them. May we not shy away from our duty, from our calling, and from our commission to be the ambassadors of Christ, the light of the world in this season of darkness.
Although I could continue with the second coming of Christ, which is also described in Matthew 24, this article is already longer than I had intended, and I know how the attention span of most can be a fleeting and fragile thing.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
I realize full well that in light of the portrait the Bible paints concerning the end times, any human words of encouragement, no matter how poetic, will ring hollow to the vast majority. I have prayed for some time for guidance as to how I should end this study, because my desire is to be honest and forthright with you, rather than to offer you some disingenuously optimistic platitudes.
The placebo effects of empty promises, false expectations, and lofty rhetoric are temporary and fleeting. The truth however, difficult as it might be for some to receive, helps to prepare us, and compels us to search our hearts and know that we are walking in the light of God's Word, and will.
Yes, there is a hope reserved exclusively for the children of God! Yes there is a place of safety and comfort that God offers those who are His! I will not end this study with my words, but rather with His Word which is immovable, unshakable, sovereign, and eternal. The following are not the promises of man, but rather the promises of the omnipotent God we serve, the God who spoke the world into being, the God for whom earth serves as a footstool. Trust in His Word, trust in His promises, and He will keep you.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr
Isaiah 43:2-3, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."
Psalm 91:7-11, "A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways."
Revelation 3:10-12, "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name."