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Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ,
Warm greetings to you all from Charlotte, NC! Dr. Meredith has been very busy in the last few days, so he asked me to write this month’s co-worker letter. Just in this last week, he has been completing several writing projects, holding meetings about plans for the Work, and taping the last in a series of interviews for use in this year’s “Behind the Work” film. I watched him taping one of his interviews, and was both moved and inspired by what I heard. Brethren and friends, we are indeed blessed that God has used Dr. Meredith so powerfully for more than 60 years in the Work! Even at age 81, he continues to persevere in fulfilling the Great Commission. I hope we are all thankful for his continuing zealous and inspired leadership.
I am happy to report that God is blessing our efforts to preach the Gospel through different media. So far this year, our television presenters and other ministers have given 89 Tomorrow’s World Special Presentations [TWSPs] including the following international cities: Durban, South Africa; Kingston, Scarborough, Fredericton, Moncton, Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton, and Grand Prairie, Canada; Mexico City, Mexico; Dublin, Ireland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Auckland, New Zealand; Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth, Australia. My wife and I just returned from TWSPs in Chicago and Milwaukee where I was able to meet with some of you co-workers. We appreciate your enthusiasm and support for the preaching of the Gospel and the mission that Christ has given us (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15). Be sure to monitor our Tomorrow’s World Web site for future presentations that may be planned for a city near you.
Given the many natural disasters around the world in the first half of 2011, one theme I have emphasized is, “Be prepared!” When I have asked audiences how many have emergency drinking water to last a week, I have been surprised to learn that only 10 to 15 percent typically indicate they have even that minimal degree of preparation for a disaster. After my presentations and warnings in Chicago and Milwaukee, a powerful “derecho” (violent windstorm) left hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans without electricity. “ComEd officials compared the freak weather to a World War II bombing campaign” (Chicago Sun Times, July 12, 2011).
Even man-made disasters can severely affect us. Last year, in Boston, Massachusetts, a major water main was damaged and two million residents were without safe drinking water for several days. Dr. Meredith in his upcoming September-October Living Church News article writes: “Remember, in doing our part, we need to take proper action to protect ourselves and our families…. May God inspire us all to ‘take action’ and to do our part in every way—yet seeking God more than ever so that we are ‘walking with God’ and can then have His protection and His guidance in the days just before the final events of the age occur—as they surely will.” His article includes excerpts from a Federal Emergency Management Administration “Guide to Citizen Preparedness” which emphasizes “creating a disaster plan” and presents guidelines on “disaster supply kits.”
Yes, as Dr. Meredith admonishes us, we need to “take action” physically and spiritually. We are living in the “end-time” or “the time of the end,” an expression emphasized five times in the book of Daniel. Outlining the sequence of prophetic events, Jesus stated, “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 famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6-8).
In these dangerous times, we need to live with active faith and ensure that we “are not troubled” as we experience “the beginning of sorrows.” We all need to draw close to God for His protection. Psalm 91 is a psalm of protection. Dr. Meredith referred to it in his last co-worker letter (June 16, 2011). “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust’” (vv. 1-2). Read all of Psalm 91—pray for protection and thank God that He has given His angels the responsibility to watch over those whom He has called: “But to which of the angels has He ever said: ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13-14).
The living Christ at God’s right hand has given us this instruction: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). We must stay alert spiritually and recognize the “signs of the times.” Your support of the Tomorrow’s World telecast, magazine and Web site enables millions to understand the prophetic trends revealed in God’s word, the Bible.
Famines are one important prophetic trend about which Jesus warned us. Consider the extreme poverty of millions trying to survive in northeast Africa. “The United Nations has described the drought in the Horn of Africa as an emergency, one phase before famine. Some 10 million people are affected in a triangle straddling Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. It says it is the worst drought in 60 years and almost a dozen aid agencies have launched massive appeals” (Reuters, “Somalia is world’s worst humanitarian disaster: U.N.,” July 11, 2011).
We in the Western world often complain about the most trivial inconveniences. Yet some of these African families walk on foot for miles seeking food: “‘We ran because of starvation,’ said Ulmay Abdow Issack, 32, who spent three weeks walking to the border with her six young children and sick husband. ‘We didn’t have anything to eat or drink on the journey.…’ Increasing numbers of malnourished young children are dying after trekking for weeks to receive emergency aid in what [U.N. officials say] has become the ‘worst humanitarian disaster in the world’” (ibid.).
Brethren and co-workers, we need to face the reality of these end-time prophetic trends. We should “sigh and cry” (Ezekiel 9:4) over the abominations that lead to massive suffering and starvation. We need to spend more time on our knees in fervent prayer for God’s Kingdom to come, and for the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to go forth with greater power and effect as a witness to the world (Matthew 24:14).
Another major trend we have all been watching, and have been experiencing to varying painful degrees, is the global financial crisis. More than one financial professional has described the crisis as our “financial Armageddon.” The deadline for raising the 14.3 trillion dollar U.S. national debt limit is August 2. Many are fearing that if the U.S. Congress does not act by this date, the nation could default on its debt obligations. Experts disagree about the exact scope of the danger, but even U.S. President Barack Obama stated in his news conference last Friday (July 15), “It is constructive to say that if Washington operates as usual and can’t get anything done, let’s at least avert Armageddon. I’m glad that people are serious about the consequences of default.” The Charlotte Observer called such a default “a development that could spawn chaos in financial markets around the world and kick the U.S. economy back into deep recession” (“Never have debt stakes been so high,” July 15, pp. 1, 5).
Unless we change our way of living, the U.S. and other Western nations will face skyrocketing inflation, and “financial Armageddon”! Will our Western nations repent of their immorality and disobedience to God’s righteous and holy commandments? As I reported in my April 2010 co-worker letter, “BBC Focus magazine recently analyzed the world’s nations according to the classic ‘seven deadly sins’—lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. What nation was measured as most sinful? Australia! The United States and Canada followed at numbers two and three (‘The Most Sinful Nation on Earth,’ February 2010, p. 30).”
I hope you have read our July-August Tomorrow’s World cover article, “The Debt Bomb!” Our Director of Business Operations, Mr. Dexter Wakefield, warns us: “Estimates suggest that the total federal budget deficit in 2011 will reach $1.6 trillion! Along with this sobering news, the International Monetary Fund projects that total U.S. debt will exceed the nation’s annual output of goods and services sometime in 2012!” In other words, instead of the 2009 U.S. fiscal deficit amounting to 10.0 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the 2010 fiscal deficit amounting to 8.9 percent of GDP, “the highest since World War II,” “the government debt load will likely reach 100 percent of GDP by 2012…”
Is there any solution to these increasing dangers? Tomorrow’s World continues to call our nations and peoples to repent and turn to the God of the Bible. At rare moments in history, a few bold kings, prime ministers and presidents have called on their peoples to humble themselves and confess their national sins. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was one such leader. When his nation was at war with itself, experiencing terrible death and destruction, President Lincoln called the nation to “a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer” on April 30, 1863. The proclamation stated:
And whereas, it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
Will any government today in our dangerous world have the courage to confess its national sins to God? We have restricted the public posting of God’s Ten Commandments; we have profaned His name; we have stolen from God and will reap a national curse (Malachi 3:8-9); we have practiced, marketed, and exported immorality and perversion. As Thomas Jefferson wrote: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever” (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, “Manners”).
The Apostle James affirms that our liberties are assured by observing and practicing the commandments of God. “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:8-12).
Let me share a powerful example of God’s intervention after a national leader called a nation to earnest prayer. During the early months of World War II, the advancing German army had conquered the lowlands of Belgium and the Netherlands, and had trapped the British Expeditionary Force—along with more than a hundred thousand French troops and some Belgians—in a coastal French enclave. There seemed no escape. But King George VI set aside May 26, 1940 as a National Day of Prayer in Britain. The nation responded in earnest prayer, and was soon blessed to see the evacuation of 338,000 troops across the English Channel—an event later called the “Miracle of Dunkirk.” Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave this assessment before the House of Commons on June 4, 1940:
“When, a week ago today, I asked the House to fix this afternoon as the occasion for a statement, I feared it would be my hard lot to announce the greatest military disaster in our long history. I thought—and some good judges agreed with me—that perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 men might be re-embarked… The whole root and core and brain of the British Army, on which and around which we were to build, and are to build, the great British Armies in the later years of the war, seemed about to perish upon the field or to be led into an ignominious and starving captivity.”
Prime Minister Churchill called the evacuation “a miracle of deliverance.” Our nations do need a “miracle of deliverance.” But the greatest deliverance will come with the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ! If you have not read our inspiring booklet, The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?, I encourage you to write to the regional office nearest you (listed on page 30 of the Tomorrow’s World magazine) or to request it on-line from the Tomorrow’s World Web site.
As humanity’s long and painful experimentation with worldly systems nears its end, we can lift up our eyes in faith and hope, looking forward to and preparing for the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). Jesus encourages us to persevere and to visualize our glorious future: “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).
Thank you for your faithful and continuing support as we strive to do our part to fulfill the Great Commission.
With love, in Jesus’ name,
Richard F. Ames
Vital Keys For Bible Study
Presenter: Richard F. Ames
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The Bible can transform your life, if you know how to study it. Bible study can be exciting and fresh and relevant, if you apply the Bible’s own guidance to your study. This week’s program will share several time-tested keys to make your study of the Bible come alive as never before!
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January 14, 2011
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ,
Warm greetings from Charlotte, North Carolina! Dr. Meredith asked me to write this month’s co-worker letter while he continues to work on various projects. And I must begin with some sobering news.
You may recall that in his December 2010 letter to brethren and co-workers, Dr. Meredith announced that the Tomorrow’s World telecast would start airing on “God TV” in January 2011, potentially reaching 500 million viewers in 175 million TV households. On January 2, God TV aired Dr. Meredith’s powerful program, “How To Overcome Satan,” offering his booklet Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity. Viewers from around the globe contacted our call-center in Kansas City—from as far away as Bangalore, India; Bavaria, Germany; and Vraa, Denmark, for example.
Understandably, not all the response was positive. God TV executives, once they realized that our teachings are at odds with “mainstream Christianity,” pulled us off the air after just one week! So, that “open door” closed very quickly. But we should not be disappointed. We remember that, even though the telecast aired for just three weeks on the “Love World” station in South Africa, that brief airing brought more than 20 new attendees—and three people being baptized into God’s Church! Even though the telecast aired for just one week on God TV, we cannot yet know what impact that airing will have. Of course, Dr. Meredith will now be looking for other open doors to preach the true Gospel—to a world that will not always receive it favorably.
Despite the God TV cancellation, we have much to be thankful for. Responses to the Tomorrow’s World telecast increased 10.8 percent in 2010 over 2009! We thank God for the open doors (Revelation 3:7-8) to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7).
Thank you, brethren and co-workers, for your prayers and your support in fulfilling the Great Commission that Jesus gave His true servants: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus was very plain in his instruction to the Church: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16:15). We appreciate all the co-workers and brethren who are joining us in supporting that mission with their whole heart and being! Certainly, we have a long way to go in reaching all nations and peoples with the Gospel. But Christ has encouraged us with open doors to preach the Gospel through various media in addition to global television. The Tomorrow’s World magazine print-run for January-February 2011 was 338,000, and issues were mailed to subscribers in 161 countries and dependencies. More than a million visitors from 226 countries and territories visited our Tomorrow’s World Web site in 2010—a 17 percent increase over last year. Currently our Web-based Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course serves students from 133 countries, who are learning in their own homes or offices through the Internet. The latest online student just joined us from Uruguay. Since its inception in 1999, more than 246,000 students from 181 countries have registered for the print version of the Bible Study Course. The latest print-version student joined us from Singapore! We urge you all to subscribe to this outstanding free course, if you are not already a student.
We were encouraged last year when more than 100 Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course students who had completed the 24-lesson course accepted Dr. Meredith’s invitation to enroll tuition-free in his semester-long Living University course, THL 135 Life, Ministry, and Teachings of Jesus. An online student from South Australia commented, “I have found this class extremely beneficial as it has increased my understanding of the Gospels and also the person of Jesus Christ,” and another from Oregon said, “An understanding of the gospels is invaluable, and getting the flow of the story has been enjoyable and educational.” A South African student wrote, “Analysing the Gospels in the context of the political, social, and religious aspects in the life, times, ministry, and teachings of Jesus was not only informative, but now in my opinion, essential in understanding the significance of Jesus Christ. Thank you for bringing the Bible to life for me.” Although registration for the Spring Semester has closed, Living University will be offering this course and others in the Fall Semester, for those who want to study God’s word in-depth in a stimulating academic environment. To find out more, visit the Living University Web site, www.livinguniv.com, for more information
Another way to deepen your knowledge of God’s word and His ways is to keep up with the articles in the Living Church News. Many co-workers responded to my April 2010 offer of a free subscription to this informative bi-monthly magazine. For those of you co-workers who are not familiar with it, the Living Church News features more in-depth biblical articles than you will find in the Tomorrow’s World magazine, as well as congregational news from around the world. I invite you to request your free subscription. Just contact the Regional Office nearest you (listed on page 30 of your Tomorrow’s World magazine), and let them know that you are a co-worker who would like to subscribe to the Living Church News.
In 2010, Living Church of God ministers conducted 102 Tomorrow’s World special presentations (TWSPs) in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and parts of Europe and Africa. Along with thousands of you brethren and co-workers, more than 3,400 new visitors came to these presentations, where they heard the Gospel preached with power. Later this month, on January 22 and 23, I am scheduled to give TWSPs in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I hope to give several more TWSPs throughout the upcoming year. I look forward to meeting many of you personally at these presentations. Be sure to check our www.TomorrowsWorld.org Web site for the locations and dates of future presentations in your area! Jesus said, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 10:23). We are following our Lord’s guidance, striving to witness powerfully to as many cities as we can, despite the obstacles that we encounter.
Late last year, we were saddened to lose one shining witness of the power of God’s truth. Long-time evangelist Dibar Apartian—a faithful servant of Christ, and a dear friend—died December 8 at age 94. Not only through his preaching and writing, but especially through the very example of his life, Mr. Apartian demonstrated the blessings of living God’s way. Almost to the very end, even at his age, he continued to work diligently, arriving here at our office every morning at 8:30 a.m. But while we will miss his warmth, his positive attitude and the fruits of his inspired and faithful service of more than 55 years, we are happy that he has “finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7), and we look forward to being reunited with him in the Resurrection when Christ returns in the not-too-distant future!
As we look forward to the Second Coming, what prophetic trends can we expect in 2011? A quick review of the news can give us a hint. The top news story last year, according to several agencies, was the disastrous 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti. Be sure to read “Is There Hope for Haiti?” in the January-February 2011 Tomorrow’s World magazine. Mr. Rod McNair wrote, “On January 12, 2010, the island nation of Haiti was jolted by the worst earthquake in the region in two centuries. The catastrophe caused horrific suffering that defied description. More than 300,000 people perished, with hundreds of thousands injured, and more than a million homeless.… Even a year later, in the midst of a cholera epidemic that had killed almost 2,000 Haitians by early December, it is still hard to grasp fully just how overwhelming this catastrophe was, and the depth of the damage it has done to an already troubled nation.… But why did such a disaster strike a nation already crippled by poverty, unemployment, and corruption?” (p. 16).
Already in 2011, catastrophic flooding in Queensland, Australia, has inundated vast land areas equivalent to the size of Germany and France combined. The State Treasurer Andrew Fraser described it as a disaster of “biblical proportions” costing the nation’s economy billions of dollars. Remember Jesus’ warning in Luke 21:25-26, “And 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.” In the future, these powerful events will cause people all over the earth to die from heart attacks and fearfulness! But we must face the future with faith! Christ Himself gives us this encouragement: “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:27-28).
He then exhorts us, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (v. 36). Are you alert to prophetic trends? Are you reading each issue of Tomorrow’s World magazine? If you have a computer, have you subscribed to our special TomorrowsWorld.org feature, the News and Prophecy E-Zine? Also, just last month, we began our new “Heads Up” podcast (www.headsupshow.org), featuring interviews and timely commentaries on today’s news in the light of Bible prophecy. My friends, be sure to keep up with these vital articles and reports on biblical Christianity and end-time prophecy.
Again, let’s consider recent prophetic trends. A year ago, Time magazine reported that the top news story of 2009 was: “America’s Economic Crisis: Now for the Non-Recovery.” Certainly, 2010 certainly lived up to the label of “non-recovery.” As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, “Personal bankruptcies in the U.S. topped 1.5 million last year, rising 9 percent from 2009 as more households buckled under debt loads” (January 4, 2011, p. 1).
Will 2011 see a global economic recovery? The Kiplinger Letter (December 30, 2010) predicts, “The economy will finally start to show more-robust job growth” in 2011. But this general outlook has its downside predictions as well: “Housing prices have further to slide…. About 100 banks will fail next year…. No end in sight to the Afghanistan war, grinding into its second decade.”
God will give the world a few more years to face the realities of its sinful ways. But Judgment Day is coming! The world needs to be warned and witnessed to! Jesus prophesied that “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” (Matthew 24:14). You who are reading this letter all have an integral part in that mission, and in advancing the preaching of the Gospel through your prayer, your generosity and your faithful service! And you have been generous and faithful! Even while the income of many non-profit organizations and churches declined in 2010, God blessed this Work with a 7.2 percent increase over 2009! Thank you very much, brethren and co-workers, for your loyal, dedicated and generous support.
In 2011, the world’s population will pass the seven billion mark for the first time in history since the great deluge described in the seventh chapter of Genesis. As the population grows and standards of living decline, witnessing to the whole world will take much more effort, sacrifice and determination. We have the faith that God will work through His servants—brethren, co-workers, Church members, ministers and others—to each play their vital part in accomplishing that awesome mission.
We all need to watch prophetic trends and pray for God’s Work! Look for exciting prophetic events in 2011 that will bring us another year closer to the return of Christ. Let us all pray fervently for the Kingdom to come, and let us look forward to a growing family of brethren, co-workers, and laborers. As Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37-38). As we work together to fulfill the Great Commission, may God bless us all as we pray for more laborers to enter the great spiritual harvest, and as we fervently prepare for God’s awesome soon-coming Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Richard F. Ames
P.S. A compact 2011 calendar, listing the dates of God’s Holy Days, was sent with the printed version of this letter. If you would like a copy, please e-mail your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Armageddon and Beyond
By Richard F. Ames
Mankind is developing newer and more frightening technologies with which to destroy itself, while political and social tensions increase around the world. Will the years just ahead of us bring worldwide nuclear devastation, or usher in an era of lasting peace? Will the prophesied “Battle of Armageddon” soon bring destruction and death to our planet? What will “Armageddon” mean to you and your loved ones? And what will come afterward? Your Bible reveals a frightening time ahead—but there is ultimate hope! Read on, to learn the amazing truth!
In the first decade of the 21st century, most of us realize we live in a very dangerous world. It was just six decades ago that a new weapon of unprecedented capacity was first unleashed, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945. A new era of mass destruction had begun.
At the end of World War II, General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, accepted Japan’s unconditional surrender. Aboard the battleship U.S.S. Missouri, General MacArthur summarized the danger and the choice facing humanity in this new era:
“Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be the way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence [renewal] and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.”
Human beings will continue to seek a way to peace. But without acknowledging the Creator God and His supreme rulership over planet Earth, nations will ultimately fail. The Apostle Paul nearly 2,000 years ago wrote of humanity’s violent and anti-God tendencies: “Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:15–18).
As we will see, Bible prophecy reveals that World War III is on the horizon. The greatest war in human history will explode in the Middle East. Nations will use their military power to cause massive death and destruction. They will gather in northern Israel for the climactic battle your Bible calls “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). Most commentators refer to this awesome event as “Armageddon,” “the final battle between good and evil.” Who will win? Will humanity survive? Your Bible gives us the answer—and the good news that goes beyond today’s global threats to all life on our planet. You need to understand the sequence of prophetic events, and to prepare for them physically and spiritually.
Our Nuclear Era
Is there any current danger of nuclear war? Perhaps international treaties have calmed Cold War fears; since 1968, more than 180 nations have signed the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. But several nuclear nations have not signed the treaty, and many that have signed are believed to be violating its provisions. Jesus prophesied of these dangerous times in which we live: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21–22).
Christ was not speaking of spiritual salvation. He was speaking of the potential of human annihilation—of cosmocide—the death of all life on planet Earth! This danger is recognized not just by Bible students, but by respected scientists. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists monitors the dangers of living in this nuclear age, and expresses that danger with its “Doomsday Clock.” The closer the hands are to midnight, the closer the scientists perceive humanity has come to nuclear devastation. On January 17, 2007, the Bulletin moved the minute hand of the clock to five minutes before midnight, announcing, “We stand at the brink of a second nuclear age. Not since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has the world faced such perilous choices.”
An earlier Bulletin press release described the scope of just two nations’ nuclear arsenals: “Between them, Russia and the United States still have upwards of 30,000 nuclear weapons—strategic and tactical—in various states of readiness. Nine years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States and Russia collectively have some 7,000 warheads ready to be fired with less than 15 minutes notice.” Humanity, now, has the tools to destroy itself with very little warning. Will we bring about our own destruction? Will Armageddon play a role in humanity’s downfall?
Perhaps we will never know just how close we have come to mistakes that might have precipitated a nuclear conflagration. Today, at least nine nations are known to possess nuclear weapons. Two of these are by far the world’s largest nuclear powers. The United States—the only nation that has used nuclear weapons against another—has more than 10,000 nuclear warheads in its stockpile, down from the more than 31,000 it held in 1966. The United States is currently the only nation known to have some of its nuclear weapons deployed outside its own borders, with as many as 150 warheads located at ten airbases in seven NATO countries. The vast majority of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, however, is found across 14 states, with New Mexico, Georgia, Washington, Nevada and North Dakota accounting for about 70 percent of the total, according to a National Resource Defense Council report, Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments.
Russia is estimated to have at least 15,000 active nuclear warheads—down from the more than 40,000 the Soviet Union had deployed in 1986. At its peak, the Soviet nuclear arsenal stretched across hundreds of locations in Eastern Europe and to 14 of the 15 Soviet republics. Today, those warheads have reportedly been consolidated to just 90 sites in Russia.
By comparison, France’s estimated 450 nuclear warheads in four locations, China’s 200–400 in 20 locations, and the United Kingdom’s nearly 200 may not seem like much. As the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists pointed out in its “Five Minutes to Midnight” report in January 2007, if the U.S. and Russia each agreed to dismantle one warhead a day for the next 25 years, they would still possess more nuclear weapons than all the other nuclear nations combined.
Israel, India and Pakistan possess an unknown number of nuclear weapons. Estimates regarding the size of Israel’s nuclear arsenal vary from about 75 to as many as 200. India and Pakistan are thought to have fewer than 50 each. Are these nations’ small arsenals a serious threat? Joseph Biden, U.S. senator from Delaware, put the Pakistan situation into perspective in a speech to students at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire on November 8, 2007: “It is hard to imagine a greater nightmare for America than the world’s second-largest Muslim nation becoming a failed state in fundamentalist hands, with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a population larger than those of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea combined.”
Other nations are at the brink of widespread nuclear development. In October 2006, calling it a “historic event that brought happiness to our military and our people,” the North Korean news agency KCNA said North Korea’s nuclear weapon capability would maintain “peace and stability” in the region, and was “a great leap forward in the building of a great prosperous, powerful socialist nation.” Since North Korea’s Rodong missiles can deliver a warhead at a distance up to 800 miles, this nuclear development unsettled many Asian nations.
Iran is perhaps the most noteworthy of the nations known to be developing nuclear technology, but it is far from alone. Mohammed El Baradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s director general, estimated that another 20 to 30 countries possess the capability, if not the intent, to pursue nuclear weapons technology.
When we think about nuclear weapons’ devastating capabilities, we may have in mind the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. But we need to understand that today’s “strategic warheads” are far more deadly than the weapons that were burned into our consciousness at the end of World War II. At Hiroshima, a 15–kiloton bomb obliterated a city and killed 100,000 people. Today’s smaller “strategic” nuclear warheads typically measure about 200 kilotons, and even one-megaton bombs have been built.
What would it be like for your city to be the target of a one-megaton nuclear bomb? After a nuclear explosion’s blast wave, its pulse of heat radiation and its intense release of X-rays, it triggers powerful firestorms in its wake. How many people would be killed by just one such bomb? Dr. Alan F. Phillips describes it this way, “The estimates for a city of one million or two million struck by a single one-megaton bomb are that around one third of the inhabitants would be killed instantly or fatally injured, one third seriously injured, and the rest uninjured or only slightly injured. That number of injured, if they could be distributed throughout the hospitals of North America, would occupy something like one third of the total number of beds; and of course no hospital can deal adequately with such an influx of urgent cases within a few days” (Position Paper, Physicians for Global Survival, Canada, October 1995).
At least one nuclear accident, in 1986, illustrates the suffering and danger resulting from extensive radiation. Filmmaker Maryann de Leo wrote about her visit to the desolate Ukrainian town of Pripyat, which was permanently evacuated after the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in 1986: “On a bright Sunday morning in Kiev, outside the Minskaia metro station and in front of a Ukrainian McDonald’s, a streamlined yellow tour bus idles its engine. The driver waits for passengers heading into the exclusion zone, a radioactive no-man’s-land created two decades ago by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Soon about 20 people, mostly Ukrainians and Russians, gather near the bus. Two young, dark-haired men hand out white and blue radiation hazmat suits, yellow plastic slickers, and bottles of water. One of the day-trippers is Alex, born and raised in Pripyat until he was 10. Now 30, he is part of a virtual community of mostly young people who once lived in Pripyat, the forgotten city that was built in the 1970s for workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power station less than two miles away. At the time, Pripyat was called the City of the Future. Instead it was abandoned April 27, 1986, when its residents became the first and, so far, only permanent nuclear refugees in the world.
“The trip, which the former Pripyat residents organized, coincided with the 20th anniversary of the explosion.… While the bus heads north to the exclusion zone, the 18-mile-wide region around the reactor, the organizers start showing Pripyat movies. After a few adjustments to the bus’s faulty video player, a small monitor begins to display gruesome scenes of the aftermath of the fire at the reactor. Scratchy black-and-white footage of the emergency workers shows graphic images of men in agony, with peeling sheets of skin and severe burns covering their bodies. Then we watch the mass exodus from Pripyat, a procession of 2,000 city and school buses inching their way out of the city like some strange funeral procession.
“There are also images of April 26, the day of the blast, before residents knew of the danger. Home movies capture ordinary weddings, blurred bluish footage of brides in white dresses and smiling grooms.… This seems to be the last place on Earth where the Soviet Union is still alive. No one mentions the word radiation. They hand you a small necklace to wear when you arrive, a miniature dosimeter.
“All in this land of make-believe, where everyone says everything is all right. And after you are here for a while, you start to believe it. Maybe radiation isn’t so bad. Maybe the body does adapt. Mice aren’t affected. Maybe humans aren’t either” (“The First Nuclear Refugees Come Home,” Discover, June 2007).
The former residents of Pripyat, who cannot safely return to their homes for more than a brief visit, have seen for themselves the terrible destruction mankind can wreak on the environment. If, as Voltaire wrote, “optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable,” are the former residents of Pripyat mad?
Bible students know that our world is dangerous, and that the danger is increasing. But they also know there is a real reason for hope—for optimism—as we will see in this booklet.
Forty years and more before the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, Russians—and Americans, and billions of others on planet Earth—lived under the constant threat of nuclear war. During the “Cold War” of the 1950s, that threat covered the United States and the Soviet Union like a cloud, and citizens of both countries rushed to build bomb shelters. In 1962, the “Cuban Missile Crisis” brought a frightened world to the brink of nuclear devastation. By late 2007, at least nine nations around the globe—the U.S., Russia, China, France, Israel, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan and North Korea—were known to have tested nuclear weapons, and several more were working diligently to gain nuclear capability.
Iran’s nuclear ambitions prompted the International Jerusalem Post to feature an Israeli jet fighter on its front page, above the headline, “The highest stakes: If all else fails, can Israel stop Iran’s nuclear program by force?” The article reported, “With Iran pushing ahead with its program in defiance of the UN and the international community, Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates announced in early November that they intended to begin upgrading their nuclear energy programs. Of the six, the most advanced by far are Egypt and Algeria. Turkey is also reported to be toying with the idea of starting a nuclear program” (January 12–18, 2007, p. 15). You can learn more about events prophesied for that region by requesting our free, eye-opening booklet, The Middle East in Prophecy.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many have become less fearful of nuclear catastrophe. But are we truly safe? Even today, Russia and the United States can launch nuclear missiles within 15 minutes’ notice. Rogue states continue to develop atomic capabilities, and the threat of nuclear terrorism is only increasing, as technology allows ever-smaller devices to be built by the growing number of scientists with the knowledge to create them.
The terror has even moved to outer space. According to General Joseph Ashy, retired commander in chief of the United States Space Command: “We’re going to fight from space and we’re going to fight into space…. That’s why the U.S. has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms.… We will engage terrestrial targets someday—ships, airplanes, land targets—from space” (quoted in “Waging War in Space,” The Nation, December 27, 1999).
In January 2007, China became the third nation (after the U.S. and Russia) to shoot down a space satellite. A Chinese anti-satellite weapon system destroyed a Chinese weather satellite orbiting at an estimated 537 miles above Earth—a feat demonstrating China’s new ability to shoot down other nations’ spy satellites and other objects in high Earth orbit. Officials from China’s near-neighbors Japan and Australia expressed fears that this move might portend a new arms race in space.
Is another world war around the corner? Do you know what the Bible reveals? Most Bible students have heard of the great climactic end-time event known as “the Battle of Armageddon.” But what is this battle, and how will it affect you and your family?
“It Was Like Armageddon!”
When our world faces any great calamity, we often hear commentators exclaim, “It’s like Armageddon!” We read a BBC News report that a rogue computer worm could spawn a “digital Armageddon.” We see business writer Michael Panzer publish Financial Armageddon, warning of economic disaster leading to hyperinflation and social breakdown. We find TIME magazine calling the loss of rainforest and the extinction of animal species an “impending Armageddon.”
“It was nuclear winter. It was like Armageddon. It looked like the end of the world,” said San Diego firefighter Mitch Mendler, battling the devastating Southern California fires of October 2007. But what exactly does—what exactly will—”Armageddon” look like? Your Bible has the answer!
History’s climactic battle, at the end of this present age, is described in the book of Revelation—the last book in your Bible. “And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16). How and why will the armies be gathered there? Just two verses earlier, we read, “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14).
Notice this! The actual battle is not called the battle of Armageddon. It is called “the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” But battle preparations commence at Armageddon. What is this place? The word Armageddon is a transliteration of the original Hebrew har megiddo which means the “hill of Megiddo” or “the mountain of Megiddo.”
Megiddo is located about 55 miles north of Jerusalem in Israel. In ancient times it guarded the main trade route between Egypt and Damascus. It also overlooks the largest plain in Israel, called the Valley of Jezreel or the Plain of Esdraelon. The Old Testament records several major battles that took place here. In World War I, British General Allenby defeated Turkish military forces there in what became known as “the Battle of Megiddo.”
With all the historic battles that have taken place at Megiddo, and its role in prophecy, the word “Armageddon” has come to symbolize any large-scale devastation. Humanity has invented many terrible weapons of mass destruction. Will these weapons bring about our Armageddon?
Deadly Threats to Planet Earth
In 2006, ABC News produced a program titled “Last Days on Earth.” They state, “Last Days on Earth takes viewers inside seven of the deadliest threats to humanity. Some have the power to render us extinct, others can destroy the planet; all could entail the end of our civilization.” These “deadliest threats” include nuclear war, super-volcanoes, asteroids, and plague. The CNN series titled “Planet in Peril” featured wholesale destruction of forests, and increasing numbers of extinct animal species. In presenting major threats to our planet, the television History Channel declared the week of October 22, 2007, “Armageddon Week.” Former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore produced the movie An Inconvenient Truth. He stated: “All the triumphs and all the tragedies, all the wars, all the famines, all the major advances… it’s our only home. And that is what is at stake, our ability to live on planet Earth, to have a future as a civilization.” Paramount Classics, in its promotion of the movie states: “Humanity is sitting on a time bomb. If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced.”
Another movie, titled “The 11th Hour,” produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, stated in its promotion, “The tragedy is the potential extinction of mankind.” And “Not only is it the eleventh hour, it is 11:59.”
In addition to nuclear concerns, chemical and biological weapons are a growing threat. And a new threat is on the horizon: along with the feared nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons of mass destruction, a new category—genetics, nanotechnology and robotics (GNR)—promises new horrors for the 21st century.
Sun Microsystems founder Bill Joy, an early pioneer of the minicomputer age, wrote a startling essay published in the April 2000 issue of Wired magazine. Titled “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” Joy’s essay contemplated the effect of these new GNR technologies on warring humanity: “I think it is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of the further perfection of extreme evil, an evil whose possibility spreads well beyond that which weapons of mass destruction bequeathed to the nation-states, on to a surprising and terrible empowerment of extreme individuals.”
Joy is not alone in this sobering assessment. Journalist Gideon Rose offers the following analysis: “The really difficult problem will be a new kind of proliferation involving the acquisition of chemical, biological and cyberweapons by subnational actors such as terrorist groups, cults or angry individuals. These weapons are easy to make, hard to track and hard to defend against. This means that even if the U.S. does spend tens of billions of dollars on a system to shoot down North Korean missiles, we will still have to deal with the equally pressing problem of stopping doomsday cults or future Unabombers armed with deadly viruses” (“Will Everyone Have the Bomb?”, Time Magazine, May 22, 2000, p. 103).
Amid all of our scientific advances in weaponry, man’s inhumanity to man has not ceased. From Kosovo to Kashmir, from East Timor to Chechnya, wars and massacres continue to escalate. Since World War II, atrocities against nations or peoples have continued unabated. According to Newsweek: “The Genocide Convention outlawed ‘acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part,’ a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Postwar atrocities [include]: Bosnia: 300,000 dead, 2 million displaced; Cambodia: 1 million dead, 500,000 displaced; Rwanda: 1 million dead, 3.5 million displaced.”
In the face of such evil, we can see why judgment is coming upon our planet. Yet there is good news beyond the bad. Jesus Christ, the greatest newscaster and prophet in all of human history, told us that these atrocities would end: “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” (Matthew 24:14).
Gathered for War
Scripture shows us that Armageddon is the gathering place for the climactic battle of the Great Day of God Almighty! Massive armies will gather on the plain of Esdraelon to begin the ultimate conflagration. But where does Armageddon fit into the panorama of prophecy? The Apostle John described the famous four horsemen of the Apocalypse. They symbolize, in order, false christs and false religion, war and its devastating effects, famines that normally follow war, and pestilences and disease which follow after famine.
Look at what the Bible says about the terrible devastation that these four horsemen bring: “So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:8).
Have the nations laid down their arms since World War II? No! In the last half of the 20th century, millions suffered from wars around the world, from Korea and Indochina to Bosnia and East Africa, as well as the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Today, few nations are left untouched by conflict. The 2006 Conflict Barometer, published by the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research, gave this sobering report: “In 2006, there were 278 political conflicts. Six of these were wars, and 29 severe crises, amounting to a total of 35 conflicts carried out with a massive amount of violence. Eighty-three
conflicts were classified as crises, meaning violence was used only occasionally. Altogether, 118 conflicts were carried out violently.”
Yet all the destruction we have seen since the end of World War II will pale in comparison to the death that will cover planet Earth at the end of this age. One-fourth of all human beings on earth will die, as war, hunger and disease expand across the globe.
Outside the Bible, do any in our modern age see such devastation as possible? Indeed, they do. Comparing the risk of genetic tampering to the “Black Plague” that ravaged Europe in the 14th century, author Joy commented: “My own major concern with genetic engineering is… that it gives the power—whether militarily, accidentally or in a deliberate terrorist act—to create a ‘White Plague’” (Wired, April 2000, p. 249). Modern scientists know that these horrors may be just over the horizon!
Yet mankind need not look to genetic manipulations to foresee devastation. Another deadly trend is heat and drought. World temperatures are shifting in dramatic ways. Just a few years ago, in the summer of 2003, more than 20,000 in Italy died as a result of an unprecedented heat wave. As many as 10,000 in France also died as a result of the heat that summer. In 2007, the U.S. Drought Monitor, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, classified several states in the western U.S. as experiencing “severe” or “extreme” drought, and several southeastern U.S. states as facing the ultimate category of “exceptional” drought. As we read earlier, drought conditions in Southern California supported widespread wind-whipped fires in October 2007, destroying more than 500,000 acres and at least 1,700 homes in what firefighters described as an out-of-control inferno!
Will the southwestern U.S. be able to support growing populations in the future? The October 21, 2007 cover of The New York Times Magazine asked: “The Perfect Drought: Will population and climate change leave the West without water?” In that magazine, writer Jon Gertner observed, “In the Southwest this past summer, the outlook was equally sobering. A catastrophic reduction in the flow of the Colorado River—which mostly consists of snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains—has always served as a kind of thought experiment for water engineers, a risk situation from the outer edge of their practical imaginations. Some 30 million people depend on that water. A greatly reduced river would wreak chaos in seven states: Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California.” Gertner goes on to quote Columbia University scientist Richard Seager, who recently completed a study of the present dry conditions: “You can’t call it a drought anymore, because it’s going over to a drier climate. No one says the Sahara is in drought” (“The Future Is Drying Up,” pp. 70, 74).
The continent of Australia has also been experiencing unprecedented drought. Australia’s National Climate Centre in November 2007 issued a report outlining drought conditions across the parched continent. Although northwestern Australia has experienced very wet conditions, other large regions have since November 2001 experienced “lowest on record” rainfall, accompanied by unusual heat. In the Murray-Darling Basin, rainfall from November 2001 through October 2007 matched or surpassed historic lows, with 75 percent of the basin experiencing rainfall levels in the lowest 10 percent since recordkeeping began.
In the U.S., older Americans living in their nation’s Midwest region can still remember the “Dust Bowl” conditions that ravaged the Great Plains states from 1933 through 1939. Will such conditions be repeated—or grow even worse? Will we see more extended droughts in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand? The Creator God gave this warning through the prophet Amos: “‘I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered. So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water, but they were not satisfied; yet you have not returned to Me,’ says the Lord” (Amos 4:7–8). Unless we wholeheartedly turn to God, we will experience severe punishment.
Seven Seals Reveal Our Future
The well-known “four horsemen of the apocalypse” symbolize the devastation of much of planet Earth, and the death of billions of human beings. You need to understand the sequence of these awesome prophetic milestones, if you hope to prepare yourself and your loved ones for what is ahead. The Bible reveals that six major prophetic events, including the famous “four horsemen,” lead up to the battle of Armageddon. That battle, as we will see, is in fact a part of the prophesied “seventh seal.” What are these mysterious, prophesied seven seals—and how can we understand their meaning?
The Book of Revelation—the last book in your Bible—is a mystery to most people. Some think it is just allegory. Others say it is all about past events. Did you know that this book, in its description of the seven seals, gives the outline of end-time prophecy? You can know how end-time events will unfold—and how you can be ready for them! You need to understand the seven seals of Revelation. For a more complete explanation of the mysteries of Revelation, be sure to write for our free booklet, Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!
Around 95ad, the Apostle John wrote down in Revelation the inspired words of God. John had been exiled to the island of Patmos off the southwest coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea. The island was used as a Roman penal colony in the first century. He wrote: “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9).
God chose the Apostle John to record the Apocalypse, or Revelation. As Scripture explains, it was John “who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (v. 2). Notice this blessing pronounced on those who seriously study the book of Revelation: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (v. 3).
Humanity as a whole is ignorant of one of the greatest books ever written! God has deliberately hidden the deep meaning of this mysterious book from those who are spiritually blinded—which means that He has hidden its meaning from most of the world.
Even Adam Clarke, the famous Bible commentator, found difficulty in making any sense of Revelation. Clarke wrote: “I had resolved, for a considerable time, not to meddle with this book, because I foresaw that I could produce nothing satisfactory on it” (Preface to the Revelation of St. John, p. 966).
But you can understand the book of Revelation. Notice that this is the Revelation of Jesus Christ—not that of St. John the Divine, as some Bibles title the book. What, then, is the purpose of Jesus’ revelation? It is to “show His servants—things which must shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1). The purpose of the book is not to hide the truth, but to reveal events leading up to Christ’s return! In fact, the word “apocalypse” comes from the Greek apokalupsis, which means “uncovering” or “unveiling.” You need to know what those prophesied events are!
The seven seals reveal prophetic events that lie just ahead of us. In Revelation 5, we read about a scroll sealed with seven seals. John begins to weep when at first “no one” is found worthy to open the scroll. Then: “But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals’” (v. 5). The Lion of the tribe of Judah is Jesus Christ—He begins to open the scroll sealed with seven seals.
In Revelation 6, we read the description of six of those seals. The first four seals are known as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The Apostle John describes the Lamb—Jesus Christ—opening the first seal. “Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, ‘Come and see.’ And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer” (vv. 1–2).
What do the white horse and its rider represent? Some commentators mistakenly say that these represent Christ, because the imagery appears similar to the description of Christ given in Revelation 19. But when we compare the Revelation 19 description to the first horseman, we find notable differences. Christ comes with many crowns (v. 12), not just one crown. And He comes with a sword (v. 15), not a bow as in Revelation 6.
Christ is the Revelator. He reveals the meaning of this white horse. Jesus describes the signs of His second coming, and the sequence of events, that coincide with the seals of Revelation. “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’” (Matthew 24:4–5).
This white horse, and its rider, represent false religions—“false christs” (v. 24). In Matthew 24, Jesus continues describing the sequence of events: war, famine, pestilence and tribulation. Jesus is the One who interprets the seals of Revelation. He tells us: “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 famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (vv. 6–9).
The second seal reveals a horseman riding a red horse, having the power to take peace away from Earth. The third seal presents a rider on a black horse, representing a scarcity of food and resulting famine. The fourth seal shows a rider on a pale horse, whose name is Death. As we have seen, these four horsemen have power over one-fourth of our planet to kill “with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:8). Jesus also spoke of the pestilence that normally follows a famine. We see in Matthew 24 that Jesus confirmed the meaning of these seals when He spoke of:
• Deceptive religion (Matthew 24:4)—the first seal, or the first of
the four horsemen
• Wars (Matthew 24:6–7)—the second seal, or the second of the
• Famines (Matthew 24:7)—the third seal, or the third of the
• Pestilences (Matthew 24:7)—the fourth seal, or the fourth of
the four horsemen
• Tribulation, religious persecution and martyrdom (Matthew
24:9–10)—the fifth seal.
Abomination of Desolation
In Matthew 24, Jesus also gave another very specific sign of the imminent coming of the Great Tribulation. “‘Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place’ (whoever reads, let him understand), ‘then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains’” (Matthew 24:16).
We need to understand what this abomination of desolation is all about. Historically, in 167bc, the Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes issued a decree that prohibited further sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple, as Daniel had foretold. “And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:31).
In addition to stopping the daily sacrifices, Antiochus further erected a statue of Jupiter Olympus in the temple and directed everyone to worship it. This abomination, also mentioned in Daniel 8, foreshadowed an end-time event. In the future, end-time animal sacrifices will again be cut off, this time 1,290 days before Christ’s return. “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days” (Daniel 12:11).
Jesus warns His followers to be alert to an end-time abomination of desolation! Just as Antiochus Epiphanes profaned the temple in 167bc and cut off the sacrifices, so a profane authority will cut off Jewish temple sacrifices in the future. In fact, the Apostle Paul warns of a great false prophet who will stand in the holy place. “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4).
In the first century, Christians fled Jerusalem to the town of Pella and escaped the devastation brought on Jerusalem by the Roman Army in 70ad (Please write for your free copy of our booklet, God’s Church Through the Ages, to learn more about how God’s Church was established, grew and resisted terrible persecution over the centuries). But the context here is “the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus describes this period as “Great Tribulation” (v. 21)—the time of Satan’s wrath and evil persecution. “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12). As Jesus said, this time of tribulation will be the greatest ever (Matthew 24:21). In all the atrocities and genocide we have known in the past, the history of the world has never seen this degree of evil.
We read: “Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (Revelation 12:13–14). The biblical symbol for the Church is a woman (cf. Ephesians 5:22–32). God will protect His true saints—genuine Christians—from the Great Tribulation. This is not a secret rapture. There is no such event in the Bible. Notice that the woman is taken to “her place” in the wilderness. Then the dragon pursues those lukewarm Christians who had not been intently growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (v. 17). Satan will attack the remnant of the Church, and the national descendants of Jacob. “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7). This unique time in all history, the Great Tribulation, will see Satan’s wrath on the descendants of Jacob—not just the Jews, but also the American and British-descended peoples, and peoples of northwestern Europe. We certainly need to take warning!
As Christ’s second coming nears, God will begin to intervene more powerfully in human affairs. Dramatic astronomical and terrestrial activity will draw everyone’s attention. Notice: “Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:14–17). Whose wrath will be poured out on the nations? The Lamb of God—Jesus Christ—will be wrathful! Why? Because most of the world has rebelled against God and gone the way of wickedness. John explained that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). Or, “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (KJV).
The world today does not know the true God, but those living in tomorrow’s world will know God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ! People will be teachable. After the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord and Armageddon, the nations will be humbled. They will even want to learn the way of God and the Bible! Notice: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it” (Isaiah 2:2). All nations will come to the newly established world capital, Jerusalem, where Jesus Christ will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. “Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths’” (v. 3). They will desire knowledge of God’s ways! Do you have that desire now? Notice what the Messiah, the King, Jesus Christ will teach in the Millennium. “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (v. 3). That word is available to you now, in your Bible. The Bible is God’s gift to us—we need to read it daily! As Jesus said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
The Heavenly Signs
The four horsemen will intensify their ride as we approach the Day of the Lord. As we have seen, they are revealed in Revelation 6 as Christ opens the first four seals. What happens when the fifth seal is opened? “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9).
Here is described the martyrdom of the saints, true Christians. In the first century, the Emperor Nero violently persecuted Christians and put them to death. A major end-time persecution of saints is also foretold by this fifth seal. Jesus predicted this future tribulation in Matthew 24:9. Then Jesus opens the sixth seal, revealing the heavenly signs that will shock people all across our planet. What are those heavenly signs? “I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood” (Revelation 6:12).
These future cosmic disturbances will warn all of humanity. During the first century, about the time of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, there were also signs in the heavens (Luke 23:44–45). The Apostle Peter referred to them in his Pentecost message: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’” (Acts 2:14–21).
The Apostle Peter instructed them to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38), and 3,000 were baptized that day!
Now, notice the end-time prophetic signs. The Apostle John continues in Revelation chapter six: “And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place” (Revelation 6:13–14).
Will asteroids and meteors cause catastrophic damage to life on Earth? Will God eventually use asteroids, small or great, to punish unrepentant, rebellious nations and peoples? Scripture shows plainly that huge hailstones will crush people and property. “From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible” (Revelation 16:21, NIV).
Movies such as 1997’s Asteroid, and 1998’s Armageddon and Deep Impact, have portrayed asteroids as threatening all life on Earth. Is there any real danger of smaller asteroids colliding with our planet? Author John Roach, writing in National Geographic News, warned: “It is almost certain that Earth will be hit by an asteroid large enough to exterminate a large percentage of our planet’s life, including possibly over a billion people, according to researchers. But as such cataclysmic collisions occur on average only once in a million years or so, are they really worth worrying about?” (“Killer Asteroids: A Real But Remote Risk?”, June 19, 2003). Yes, Bible prophecy reveals that we should be very concerned!
Not only will asteroids and meteors frighten people, but massive earthquakes will also shake planet Earth. As the Apostle John saw in vision, “every mountain and island was moved out of its place.” If you have ever experienced a strong earthquake, as many have in California, you know how frightening earthquakes can be. Your knees and legs feel weak as water, even if you have not been seriously injured. Perhaps you feel secure because your city or region has no history of earthquakes. In a TIME magazine cover story, author George J. Church reminded us: “Earthquakes are unpredictable. They almost invariably strike not only at times but at places nobody expects, and no one quake is exactly like any other” (January 30, 1995).
How powerful can earthquakes be? The historic Mississippi Valley earthquake on December 16, 1811, near New Madrid, Missouri, actually reversed the course of the Mississippi River! The series of quakes had estimated magnitudes of 8.6, 8.4, and 8.8. As the Time Almanac 2001 states: “It is the largest series of earthquakes known to have occurred in North America” (p. 614).
Natural disasters have killed hundreds of thousands in recent years. In October of 2005, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck Pakistan, leaving nearly 90,000 dead and more than three million homeless. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, and disrupted millions of lives along the U.S. Gulf Coast. On December 26, 2004, the 9.1 magnitude Sumatra earthquake, and the resulting tsunami, killed more than 280,000 across South Asia.
Earthquakes and the “heavenly signs” will introduce the Day of the Lord: the time of God’s wrath and judgment on an unthankful, rebellious world. Jesus Christ, the Lamb, will be wrathful. He will execute God’s righteous judgments. The Day of the Lord is also called “the great day of His wrath” (Revelation 6:17)!
Some critics say, “There have always been earthquakes. There have always been volcanoes and other environmental disruptions. What we’re seeing today doesn’t mean Christ’s return is any closer.” It is incredible to believe, but even as end-time events grow far more intense, some scoffers will deny until the last possible moment, when they will be confronted by God Himself, that He is pouring out His judgment on rebellious humanity. Just after Jesus speaks of His second coming, He states: “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” (Matthew 24:32–33). Jesus instructs all His true followers to be knowledgeable about these signs.
Yes, there have always been cynics and doubters, but now is the time to wake up and heed what is happening around the world. God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel about the skeptics and scoffers. “Son of man, what is this proverb that you people have about the land of Israel, which says, ‘The days are prolonged, and every vision fails’?” (Ezekiel 12:22). What does God say about mankind’s skepticism? “Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.” But say to them, “The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision”’” (Ezekiel 12:23). We need to keep our eyes open to what God is doing—now, and as the end of the age approaches and the seals are unleashed on our world!
Framework for Prophecy
We need to understand the time sequence leading up to the Christ’s second coming. There are three major prophetic milestones leading up to His return:
• The Great Tribulation
• The Heavenly Signs
• The Day of the Lord
These three events cover a period of about three-and-a-half years. There are more than 30 prophecies in your Bible referring to the Day of the Lord. How long is the Day of the Lord? Two scriptures give us the answer. Speaking of God’s judgments on the nations, Isaiah writes, “For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion” (Isaiah 34:8). Isaiah 63:4 also shows that the Day of the Lord in end-time prophecy, the time preceding Christ’s return, is a period of one year!
In addition to those milestones, the book of Revelation reveals four ongoing events that continue for that period of three-and-a-half years (see chart on pages 22–23). What are the four ongoing events that occur during the three-and-a-half years? The first event is that Jerusalem is trampled by the Gentiles for 42 months (Revelation 11:1–2). The second event is the Two Witnesses prophesying for 1,260 days (Revelation 11:3). The third event is the Church’s time in the wilderness, which the Bible describes as “a time, and times, and half a time”—biblical language for three-and-a-half years (Revelation 12:13–17). The woman described here in Revelation 12 is symbolic of the Church. The fourth event is the Beast continuing for 42 months in its final revival (Revelation 13:1–5). This Beast symbolizes a revived Roman Empire. For more detail on this vital topic, be sure to request our free booklet, The Beast of Revelation, Myth, Metaphor, or Soon-Coming Reality? This revived Beast will be a superpower that will rival and eventually surpass the United States! Watch events in Europe as this Beast prepares to appear on the scene.
Three major milestones lead up to the second coming of Christ. The Great Tribulation lasts for about two-and-a-half years. Next, the Heavenly Signs shock people all over the world. The Heavenly Signs introduce the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is the prophetic time period of one year leading up to Christ’s return. So there are four ongoing events during these three-and-a-half years: Jerusalem is trodden down by the Gentiles, the two witnesses prophesy, the church is nourished in the wilderness, and the Beast power dominates for 42 months.
The Day of the Lord
The Day of the Lord is a major prophetic event that will affect the lives of every human being on Earth. You need to understand the meaning of the Day of the Lord, its powerful significance, and its place in prophecy. The great prophets of the Bible, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel spoke about it. The so-called “minor prophets”—Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Zechariah and Malachi—also emphasized this event. Even the Apostles Peter and Paul wrote about it. The Day of the Lord is the seventh seal of Revelation, consisting of seven trumpet plagues, through which God judges the nations. The seventh trumpet plague includes Armageddon!
As we read in Revelation 6, the sixth seal or the heavenly signs introduce the Day of the Lord, also called “the great day of His wrath” (Revelation 6:17)! So, what is the Day of the Lord? It is the climactic time of God’s judgment on the nations. It is the time when Almighty God begins to intervene more directly and powerfully in the affairs of humanity. Holman Bible Dictionary defines the Day of the Lord as follows: “The time when God reveals His sovereignty over human powers and human existence.”
The book of Revelation emphasizes prophetic events leading up to the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Apostle John writes in Revelation 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet.” John is not describing a day of the week, as some commentators believe. He is speaking of the major prophetic period of time described in the rest of the book as the Day of the Lord. The expression “Lord’s Day” here in Revelation is plainly referring to the theme of the whole book, the prophetic Day of the Lord culminating in Jesus Christ’s return as King of kings and Lord of lords!
We need to understand that John is not referring to Sunday as the Lord’s day. If He were doing that, he would have referred to Sunday as “the first day” of the week as he did in the Gospel of John. Jesus Himself, who kept the seventh-day Sabbath, said He was Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27–28)! He was not speaking of Sunday!
As we have already established, this year-long Day of the Lord is the seventh seal of Revelation. And the seventh seal consists of seven trumpet plagues or judgments. John writes in Revelation 8:1, “When He [Christ] opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.” They are introduced by “noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake” (v. 5).
The first four trumpets announce ecological devastation that will plague our planet. A third of all trees are burned up, and all green grass is burned up. A third of all living creatures in the sea die; a third of ocean-going ships are destroyed. A third of rivers and springs become poisonous. A third of the heavens become darkened.
Notice Joel’s sobering warning: “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations” (Joel 2:1–2).
The trumpet is used to sound an alarm—to help people prepare for major battles or as described here, an invading army! Here the prophet Joel warns of a unique time in all history. The next verse describes terrible destruction, a scorched-earth policy—everything is left desolate. “A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them” (v. 3). During the Day of the Lord, invading armies will burn vast territories. Humanity will also see incredible disruption of the heavens as well as total destruction on the land. “The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?” (Joel 2:10–11).
God calls this destructive Gentile force His army! As we will see later, a powerful army of 200 million, prophesied to destroy one-third of Earth’s population, will send troops into the Middle East. Almighty God will intervene in human affairs in a dramatic way. Major wars will erupt when God executes judgment on the nations.
Not only will military weapons destroy vast regions, incredible ecological devastation will destroy agriculture. “What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; what the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; and what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten” (Joel 1:4). In October 2007, The West Australian News reported the following: “Locusts are emerging as the latest threat to WA’s drastically slashed grain crop and sought-after livestock feed…. Last year, the department spent $11.1 million spraying 450,000 hectares across about 70 shires through the northern, central and southern agricultural regions. Farmers matched those efforts. While the campaign was mainly a success, the pests remained in big enough numbers to invade about 70 towns and healthy enough to reach the south coast and put down eggs to produce the latest generation.”
In the not-too-distant future, the insect plagues some nations experience today will seem minor by comparison. When God brings punishments upon rebellious nations in the future Day of the Lord, He will call upon the nations to humble themselves and repent! Of course, you and I do not need to wait until then! As we approach the coming Day of the Lord, we see that God calls His people to humble themselves: “Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty” (Joel 1:14–15).
We need to remember that—as devastating as these events may be—they lead up to the great hope we all have, the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ! God will judge the nations during the Day of the Lord, but He will also be preparing a time of restoration.
Notice: “The Lord also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the Lord will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain” (Joel 3:16–17). Yes, our hope is in the Savior and His coming rulership over all the nations!
The last three trumpet plagues are called woes. The word “woe” is an exclamation of grief! “And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!’” (Revelation 8:13).
Revelation 9 describes the first woe or the fifth trumpet plague. The fifth angel sounds a trumpet that begins a military action that lasts for five months. The Apostle John describes the war in apocalyptic terms: “And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit [Satan], whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things” (Revelation 9:9–12).
The second woe, or the sixth trumpet plague, is pictured with symbols of horses and horsemen. Here we see an intense military counter-attack. We read: “Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates’” (vv. 13–14).
We should note one biblical key that can help you understand the future in the Middle East—prophecies concerning the Euphrates River. The Euphrates River runs from Turkey through Syria and Iraq to the Persian Gulf. The nation of Iran lies immediately to the east of Iraq.
An army of 200 million, prophesied to destroy one-third of the planet’s population, will move troops westward across the Euphrates River. “So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths” (vv. 15–18).
This is describing world war! And this phase of World War III will kill billions of human beings! Jesus said that unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved—all life on planet Earth would be destroyed (Matthew 24:21–22).
Then the seventh trumpet sounds. For Christians, the sounding of the seventh trumpet is good news because it announces Jesus Christ’s return and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on planet Earth. We all need to be preparing spiritually for that time! “Then the seventh angel sounded: and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:15).
Pre-, Post- or Amillenialism?
Some theologians wrongly teach that there will be no literal thousand-year rule of Christ on planet Earth. This teaching is called amillennialism. Others wrongly teach that the Church will grow in power and influence, perhaps over thousands or tens of thousands of years, converting billions of people and bringing morality and peace to our planet before Christ returns to execute His final judgment. This false teaching is called postmillennialism.
The Bible, by contrast, teaches premillennialism—that Jesus Christ will return, before the Millennium, and will rule on planet Earth with the saints for a thousand years. At the seventh trumpet, Jesus Christ will become Ruler over planet Earth, and faithful Christians who are in the grave will be resurrected to immortality and glory. Notice this inspiring statement: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Genuine Christians who are still alive at Christ’s return will be changed from mortality to immortality. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51–53). Resurrected Christians will then begin their rule with Christ on planet Earth. Remember: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).
The establishment of the Kingdom of God on planet Earth will be an awesome event! The world throughout history has been waiting for that great milestone! We need Christ’s return to Earth! Mankind has not brought the world lasting peace. Scarcely more than 60 years ago, mankind exploded the first nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For the first time in history, the human race had gained the means to annihilate itself—complete cosmocide became a very real danger.
Most of us are well aware that nuclear war still threatens us in the 21st century! We need Christ to return, to bring peace, justice and God’s way to mankind! The good news is that the one-year period of time called the Day of the Lord, culminates in the announcement of the good news that Christ is taking over all the kingdoms and governments of this world!
The Seventh Trumpet
The seventh trumpet is also called the third woe! Why? Because it will also signal the seven last plagues! This is an intense fulfillment of the day of God’s wrath and judgment on rebellious nations. “Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete” (Revelation 15:1).
We need to face reality. Read the description of these seven last plagues in Revelation 16. They include plagues of painful sores on those who have worshiped the Beast power and its image. They include even more poisonous rivers and seas to the extent that “every living creature in the sea died” (Revelation 16:3). The sun becomes hotter, resulting in extreme heat waves that torment those who will not repent of their sins!
Here is the frightening description of what the sixth angel unleashes upon rebellious humanity: “Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (vv. 12–14).
Incredible as it may seem, the rebellious nations of planet Earth are so deceived, arrogant, and angry, that they will attempt to fight against the returning King of kings and Lord of lords, whom many will believe is an invader from outer space!
War Against Christ!
“The kings of the earth,” including the Beast—the prophesied European superpower; the revived Roman Empire—will move into the Middle East. And the kings of the East, who would normally be fighting against the Beast power, also move into the Middle East. But instead of fighting one another, they join ranks to fight against an invader from outer space, Jesus Christ! “And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon” (v. 16). The armies of the world will gather there to make war against Jesus Christ—the Commander of Heaven’s armies! The Apostle John writes, “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:11–16).
When Christ returns to planet Earth, He will judge and conquer all His enemies. John continues: “And I saw the beast [the prophesied military dictator], and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him [against Jesus] who sat on the horse and against His army” (v. 19).
Yet, amazingly, as we have seen, the nations will still want to fight the conquering King of Heaven’s armies! Satan’s demons—fallen angels—will gather those armies that were about to annihilate one another and all life on Earth. These opposing forces now join one another to fight against Christ at His coming.
These armies are gathered at Megiddo to make war against Christ and His army. The war or battle is called “the battle of the great day of God Almighty.” But where will the battle take place? The prophet Joel tells us that this climactic battle will take place near Jerusalem. “For behold, in those days and at that time… I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there” (Joel 3:1–2).
The valley of Jehoshaphat, also called the Kidron Valley, is located between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, and extends southward. The world’s armies will move southward from Megiddo to fight Jesus Christ at Jerusalem. In the great climactic battle of all ages, the Creator God will prevail, as puny human beings fail in their futile attempt to conquer God.
Foolish generals will quickly learn how powerless they are against the omnipotent, divine power of God! Listen to the results of that battle: “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem.… Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” (Zechariah 14:2–4). Notice the horrible punishment wrought on those rebellious, evil armies. “And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths” (v. 12).
John writes: “Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:20–21).
Jesus will totally conquer the greatest military combine ever assembled. He will return as King of kings and Lord of lords to bring this war-torn planet a thousand years of peace. “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:9).
God Will Save Doomed Mankind
God will step in to save mankind from total annihilation. The seventh trumpet will announce a new world government—a new world order under the King of kings, Jesus Christ: “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:15).
That is the good news, the gospel this sorry world so desperately needs. Yes, the world will survive Armageddon. Why? Because there are faithful Christians for whom the world will be saved. As Jesus stated in Matthew 24:22, “but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” God will save the world to demonstrate His way of life and peace for a thousand years. The Prince of Peace, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will teach all nations the way to world peace. And how long will the world enjoy the peaceful reign of Christ and the saints? The Apostle John describes that time: “And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years…. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4, 6).
The world will not be totally destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. But God will judge the nations—including our western nations, which have become hypocritical—having at most a form of godliness but denying the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5). We individually need to be spiritually awake, alert and spiritually clothed. As Jesus said: “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Revelation 16:15).
We should all look forward to Christ’s return. Now is the time to prepare spiritually—to repent and change our lives! Seek God in prayer. Study your Bible, and commit yourself to live by it (Matthew 4:4). Look forward to a world under the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, when all nations will learn how to live by the Bible, the law of God, the government of God and the love of God. Today’s Christians are preparing to assist Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God, where they will teach others the Way they have learned from their Savior (Isaiah 30:20-21; Revelation 5:10).
Will the world survive Armageddon? Will we face the reality of a “second nuclear age” and the coming devastation of World War III? Jesus warns us all concerning the end-times and the Great Tribulation, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” (Matthew 24:22). The good news is that Christ will return as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). Remember His encouraging promise to return to Earth and establish the Kingdom of God here. He told His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2–3). The gospel, or the good news of the Kingdom, proclaims a new age of peace and prosperity for the world. Christ will rule on Earth: “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east” (Zechariah 14:4). The King will rule from Jerusalem, the new Capital of the world. Faithful Christians, the saints, will serve and rule with Him: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9–10).
Faithful Christians will inherit the Kingdom of God: “But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18). Those saints will be in the first resurrection when Christ returns. They will rule on planet Earth, serve under the King of kings, and help billions of people during the Millennium. At Christ’s return—at the beginning of the Millennium—they will be resurrected, or changed, and given immortality (1 Corinthians 15:51–54). They “shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (v. 49); They will have glory, power, immortality and a spirit body.
Remember, after Jesus’ resurrection, He ascended to heaven and had His pre-incarnate glory restored to Him, such that “His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength” (Revelation 1:16). Yet Jesus was able to manifest Himself in the flesh after His resurrection; He appeared to His disciples and shared bread and fish with them (John 21:13). The saints also will be able to manifest themselves to the physical nations during the Millennium. As kings and priests, they will be governing and teaching. In fact, the priests in ancient Israel were the teachers. During the Millennium, today’s faithful Christians will be teaching God’s way of life—the way of truth, the way of the Bible, the way of living that Christ exemplified and taught. As kings and priests, they will teach the world the way to peace: “And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:20–21).
We have seen from the Bible that faithful Christians will rule on planet Earth as kings and priests with Jesus Christ for a thousand years. God means what He says. The time is coming when all nations will know the true God. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
God’s Kingdom will rule on planet Earth. Jerusalem will be the capital of the world! Notice this inspiring prophecy: “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain’” (Zechariah 8:3). Faithful Christians will serve Jesus Christ as kings and priests here on Earth—not in heaven as many wrongly teach!
After the thousand years, Satan the devil will be released to deceive the nations. Those who follow that deceiver will be destroyed by fire from heaven (Revelation 20:9). Satan and his demons will be cast into the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41). Then the Book of Life will be opened for billions, for the first time, in the White Throne Judgment. This is the time of the second resurrection, the judgment period when many of your friends and relatives, who never had a real opportunity for salvation (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4), will be given that opportunity. After the White Throne Judgment, what will happen? “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14–15).
This is the real hellfire of your Bible. After the White Throne Judgment, all the unrepentant human beings who have ever lived will be destroyed in the lake of fire. All those who have obeyed Christ and accepted Him as Savior—as Lord and Master—will be glorified children of God, living forever in the immortalized family of God. The Apostle Peter writes that our planet will then be totally purged by fire: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
When Christ returns to planet Earth, He will conquer all His enemies. He will conquer the nations and their powerful armies that fight against Him at His coming. The Day of the Lord, including Armageddon, will bring God’s judgment on the nations. As we have seen, in one sense the Day of the Lord is the year preceding Christ’s return. In another sense, it continues on through the millennium and on out to eternity. Earth will be renewed, and so will the heavens. Then God’s heavenly throne will come to the purified Earth: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God’” (Revelation 21:3).
Notice that God not only gives Christians planet Earth (Matthew 5:5)—He also gives us “all things”—the entire universe: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:7; cf. Romans 8:32). God’s purpose is to prepare us to govern the universe. We will be able to travel instantly to far-off galaxies. We will not be limited by time and space. God wants us to liberate the creation from its decay and corruption. As Paul wrote, “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
Your Personal Future
Our world—with its rebellious, God-defying ways—is headed for Armageddon. Jesus Christ will judge the nations during the Day of the Lord and Armageddon. The Great Tribulation, leading up to that time, is a time of punishment on the descendants of Jacob—the United States and the British-descended nations, as well as nations of northwestern Europe, and also the Jewish people. It is the time of “Jacob’s trouble.” “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). For a more complete explanation of that judgment period, be sure to write for our free booklet, The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy.
Will you personally survive the dangerous times ahead? We need to understand that God promises to protect those who turn to Him through Jesus Christ. He will provide for His Church during the three-and-a-half years of the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, and Armageddon. “Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman [symbolic of the Church, c.f. Ephesians 5:22–32] was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (Revelation 12:13–14).
The Church is not raptured, but divinely protected in the wilderness—in “her place” on this earth—during the final conflagration before Christ’s return. What can you do? What action must you take? God tells us through the prophet Isaiah, “Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3). Yes, God will “hide” His people during the traumatic times ahead. But He expects us to be spiritually awake and watchful. Jesus warns us, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34–36).
You need to watch world events as they relate to Bible prophecy. And you need to pray that you will be able to stand before Christ at His coming. God gives us a choice: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). You need to choose life, and choose the salvation that God offers you through Jesus Christ! You need to repent and be baptized, as the Apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). If you have come to the place in your life where you have made a commitment to change your lifestyle and surrender to Jesus Christ, we urge you to counsel with one of our ministers. You may want to read our informative booklet, Christian Baptism: Its True Meaning. Just write to one of our regional offices listed at the end of this booklet.
God has a wonderful plan of salvation for all humanity. He wants you to be a part of His family for all eternity. Paul wrote: “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14–15).
One of the awesome activities Christians will experience, for all eternity, is fellowship in God’s loving family. It is a royal family (1 Peter 2:5, 9). Jesus Christ will come back as King of kings, and Lord of lords. Jesus Christ will “have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10). Yes, we will be kings and priests, serving under our Savior, Jesus Christ!
God has an awesome destiny in store for His faithful children. We will be active, fulfilled and gloriously happy for all eternity. Foretelling the coming of the Messiah, and His eternal kingdom, the prophet Isaiah wrote: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…” (Isaiah 9:6–7).
Do you want to be a part of the glorious future God has planned for you? Do you look forward to the day when God the Father’s throne of grace will come to planet Earth? Only then, finally, will there be no more pain, suffering and death. John writes of our inspiring ultimate destiny: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). This is the eternity God has planned for you. May God help you to understand His great love and purpose for you. Now is the time to change your way of living. Now is the time to prepare for the challenging days ahead and look to God for protection during the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord and Armageddon. May you look forward to God’s coming Kingdom, your potential future in the glorious family of God, and beyond into eternity!
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Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ,
Dr. Meredith is very busy this week, so he has asked me to write this month’s letter, to keep you up-to-date on the news of the Work and the condition of our world. He asks me to convey to you his deep appreciation for your prayers, and for your faithful and heartfelt support of God’s Work in this end-time! Without your support, the Tomorrow’s World telecast, magazine, Internet, and congregational outreach would suffer greatly. We thank you for the generosity of your dedication, commitment and financial support!
Although God has called us all to be good stewards, we see around us many examples of irresponsible stewardship, particularly in the governments of our nations. In the parable of “The Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant,” Jesus said: “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has” (Luke 12:42-44).
Has the U.S. Pentagon demonstrated good stewardship? This news headline seems almost unbelievable: “Audit: US cannot account for $8.7 billion in Iraqi funds” (Associated Press, July 27, 2010). Does the U.S. government just give money away without any accountability? The Baghdad-datelined article states: “A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for over 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation.… It’s cash that Iraq, which relies on volatile oil revenues to fuel its spending, can ill afford to lose…. ‘The breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss,’ the audit said.”
Can you imagine any successful organization conducting business in such a way that it cannot account for 95 percent of its spending? No! And if we do not as a nation repent of our poor stewardship, God will continue to allow the U.S. and other modern Israelite nations to self-destruct! As Dr. Meredith warns in his upcoming “Personal” in the September-October 2010 Tomorrow’s World magazine, “Another huge problem now looming just ahead is the financial crisis, which is affecting not only the U.S., but also much of the rest of the world. Yet it will affect America more dramatically than most other countries—for the U.S. has become the world’s ‘biggest debtor’—and is printing money like crazy—creating trillions of dollars of ‘monopoly money’ backed up by essentially nothing!” (p. 2).
This irresponsible fiscal approach assumes that U.S. productivity will continue to flourish, and that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will pay for our massive indebtedness. But on June 9, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned the House Budget Committee that the federal deficit is on an “unsustainable path.” Erskine Bowles, co-chair of a Presidential commission to reduce the federal deficit, told Parade magazine, “If we don’t solve the debt problem, we will be paying $1 trillion in interest in 2020. That’s money we can’t spend on Social Security, Medicare, education, infrastructure, or innovation to make sure America is competitive in a global economy. This debt is like a cancer [emphasis ours] growing within the country. To fix it, we’ve got to make decisions that are politically tough” (July 4, 2010, p. 8).
Will we be able to stop this deadly “cancer”? Can you even imagine paying $1 trillion dollars in interest? As I have emphasized in my Tomorrow’s World Special Presentations, there is a solution to the global financial crisis. If every nation—and particularly our Western nations—would choose to obey God, we would not only turn this crisis around, but we would abundantly prosper. Our nations need to repent of their godless ways, and to repent of stealing from God! Stealing from God? Notice what God says to us through the prophet Malachi: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:8-9)!
God condemns not just individuals for stealing from Him, but “even this whole nation”! If our peoples and governments would obey God by paying their tithes and giving their offerings, He would fulfill this promise: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it’” (Malachi 3:10).
Of course, the probability of national repentance is near zero, but God has given us the mission to warn our nations, and call them to repentance! Many of you have benefited from God’s blessings for your obedience and generosity. As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Be sure to read Dr. Meredith’s article, “Financial Security and Blessings,” in the May-June 2010 Tomorrow’s World magazine, if you have not already read it. The article is also available on our Tomorrow’s World Web site.
The Living Church of God takes very seriously its responsibility for stewardship. As many of you know, we published our 2009 annual audit in the July-August Living Church News. From that audit, you can see the emphasis we put on the Mission that Jesus Christ has given His people. In 2009, 47.16 percent of our expenses went toward “feeding the flock”—teaching those whom God has called. Another 44.95 percent went toward “preaching the Gospel”—the public outreach of Tomorrow’s World. Just 6.45 percent went toward administrative expenses, and another 1.44 percent was set aside as a surplus for assets. As our Director of Business Operations, Mr. J. Davy Crockett, III, wrote in that issue: “Our job is to be faithful in matters financial at every level and phase of the Work, using the resources that God provides in the most effective way possible to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). The independent audit is only one factor in our efforts to be certain that we are good stewards in carrying out the responsibilities we have been given at the headquarters of the Work” (“Audit 2009: ‘Prove Me Now Herewith…’,” p. 17).
Again, we appreciate the dedicated support from all of you in helping to fulfill the Great Commission! We also appreciate your generous response to Dr. Meredith’s recent co-worker letter in support of Living University. Fall Semester classes began just yesterday, August 16. More than 150 students around the world will study and learn true values and inspiring biblical truths in their own homes through distance learning. For more information, go to the Living University Web page: www.livinguniv.com.
Our Church Administration office recently reported that in July, compared to last year, attendance at our Sabbath services around the world has increased by an encouraging 10.2 percent overall—and in the U.S. by 12.0 percent! A significant amount of that increase is due to our Tomorrow’s World Special Presentations [TWSPs]. We appreciate those of you in central Texas who attended Dr. Meredith’s inspiring presentation in Dallas on July 10. So far in 2010, our telecast presenters and area pastors have given presentations in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa; Kingston, Jamaica; London, England; Port of Spain, Trinidad-Tobago; and 13 cities in Canada including Toronto, Winnipeg, Prince George, and Dartmouth. By the time you receive this letter, Evangelist Gerald Weston will have given presentations in London, Windsor, and Chatham, ON (August 17-19). In the U.S., so far this year, others of you attended presentations in Brooklyn, NY; Glendale, CA; Atlanta, GA; and Knoxville, TN. Evangelist Dr. Douglas Winnail just gave presentations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, OK this past weekend. In addition, other ministers gave presentations in cities too numerous to list here. Be sure to monitor the Tomorrow’s World Web site for upcoming scheduled TWSPs!
As long-time supporters of Tomorrow’s World, many of you have read our booklet The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan. You know that Jesus, the Apostles, and the New Testament Church of God observed the weekly seventh-day Sabbath and the seven “annual Sabbaths”—the festival days that God commanded. They did not observe pagan holidays disguised with counterfeit Christian ideas. If you have not already read Dr. Meredith’s eye-opening booklet, Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity, be sure to order your free copy or read it on-line at our Tomorrow’s World Web site. Jesus told His brothers to go up to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. Later, Jesus went up to Feast, and on “the last day, that great day of the feast” He proclaimed, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). The Apostle John comments: “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (v. 39).
One way in which the Living Church of God strives to follow the example of Christ and the Apostles is by observing the biblically commanded annual Feast of Tabernacles. The eight-day festival begins this year on Wednesday evening, September 22, and will be attended by thousands of our Church members. Even if you have never attended before, Dr. Meredith has asked me to encourage you co-workers to attend one of our festival sites—even for just a day or two, if you are able—so you can experience for yourself some of the blessings of living God’s Way. Right now, festival coordinators are preparing for our meetings at nine sites across the U.S., three in Canada, and another 24 around the globe. If you are interested in attending, just go to our www.cogl.org Web site and click on “Feast of Tabernacles” at the left of the screen, then select “New visitor?” in the “Feast Site Registration Information” box on the next screen. There, you will find information that will help you plan your visit. Or, if you are already in contact with a Living Church of God minister, please contact him to let him know that you are a co-worker interested in attending one of our Feast sites.
This is a most exciting time of the year for God’s people, as we come together to rejoice in obedience to our Father in heaven and our Lord Jesus Christ. We look forward to the time when all nations around the world will learn to observe the Feast of Tabernacles and send representatives to Jerusalem to worship the King, Jesus Christ. “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).
April 13, 2010
Dear Brethren and Co-Workers with Christ,
Warm greetings to you all from Charlotte, NC! Our Presiding Evangelist, Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, is maintaining a very active and productive workload, in spite of his health challenges. As you may recall from Dr. Meredith’s January letter, he has asked me to write to you co-workers on occasion while he continues to fulfill his many other responsibilities.
In addition to writing articles for each Tomorrow’s World magazine and our Church news magazine, The Living Church News, Dr. Meredith is taping dynamic Tomorrow’s World telecasts and keeping very active in overseeing operations of the Church around the world, as well as the day-to-day activities here in our Charlotte international headquarters building. He has continued to preach frequent sermons here in Charlotte and in various congregations around the nation. And he is doing all this with great power and effectiveness, despite having experienced a stroke a year and a half ago. Dr. Meredith will turn 80 years of age in June, and I tell him that since Moses anciently began his main ministry at age 80, we can rightly pray that his work is just beginning. He knows that his life is in God’s hands, and he appreciates your prayers and support for him—and for the Work he is leading under our Savior, Jesus Christ, with the same faithfulness and dedication that has inspired me ever since I first met him nearly 49 years ago, at the Church’s fall festival, the Feast of Tabernacles, in Big Sandy, Texas.
I have also been inspired by the example of faithful evangelist Mr. Dibar Apartian, nearing age 94, who has for years directed French-speaking areas of God’s Work and continues to administer international projects for Church Administration. In spite of failing eyesight, Mr. Apartian insists on arriving for work at the office every morning at 8:30 AM. What dedication! Mr. Herbert Armstrong, the founder of this end-time Work, set us all an example working until he died at age 93 and one-half. Mr. Apartian has already lived beyond that age and is still serving Jesus Christ diligently.
Jesus Christ actively continues to lead His Church. We need to humble ourselves and look to Him for the resources and spiritual power to fulfill the mission He gave His Church: to preach the gospel of the Kingdom in all the world; to warn our Western nations (the lost ten tribes of Israel) to repent before the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22); and to feed the flock spiritually (John 21:15-19). That is one reason Dr. Meredith, with the advice and support of the Council of Elders, proclaimed a Church-wide fast for the Sabbath of March 6. Since that time just over six weeks ago, the living Christ has opened exciting media doors for preaching the gospel (see Colossians 4:3; Revelation 3:8). Dr. Meredith will announce those new developments later on. Frankly, one challenge is the high cost of broadcasting on the larger television networks; we sometimes must make the painful decision to wait until more resources become available. We thank our brethren and co-workers for their faithful support in making possible the effective broadcasting and publishing of the true Gospel. Please continue to pray that God will add more co-workers, donors and laborers to accomplish His Work (Matthew 9:37-38).
I remember the encouragement and inspiration I felt when, back in 1961, I received a letter from Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong accepting me as a new co-worker with Christ. The Apostle Paul described those who were “fellow workers for your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24), and “my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life” (Philippians 4:3). The Apostle John urged his readers to “become fellow workers for the truth” (3 John 8). Let us all rejoice in the calling God has given us in working together for the greatest mission in the world: preaching the gospel of the Kingdom to all nations (Matthew 24:14).
God has called His ministry and people to be “watchmen.” We must warn our peoples of their sins and of the consequences that will follow unless they repent. God told the prophet Ezekiel, “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me” (Ezekiel 33:7). God commissioned the prophet Isaiah, “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1). Tomorrow’s World and the Living Church of God are striving to powerfully warn millions that they may be spared from the Great Tribulation soon to come (Matthew 24:21-22).
How sinful are our Western nations? BBC Focus magazine recently analyzed the world’s nations according to the classic “seven deadly sins”—lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. What nation was measured as most sinful? Australia! The United States and Canada followed at numbers two and three (“The Most Sinful Nation on Earth,” February 2010, p. 30).
Our Western nations are criminal in many other ways. For example, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1.37 million abortions—3,700 per day—are performed annually in the U.S.! The Institute reports that more than 49 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. since 1973! Worldwide, approximately 42 million abortions are performed yearly, or 115,000 per day. Yet the sixth commandment states: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13)! God will judge our nations with great punishment for these abominations, unless we nationally and individually repent! Be sure to read “Abortion: A Modern Holocaust?” by Douglas S. Winnail, on our Web site, www.tomorrowsworld.org.
The Economist magazine recently featured a shocking cover article: “GENDERCIDE, What happened to 100 million baby girls?” (March 6-12, 2010). Historically, many evil nations have committed genocide—but, as horrible as those mass murders have been, no single murderous nation has come close to this number, or has singled out its youngest women for such barbaric assault. In addition to the horrific practice of “selective abortion”—in which the mother aborts her female babies, waiting for a male—there are increasing cases of female babies being murdered after birth, or dying from willful neglect. The Economist reports, “It is no exaggeration to call this gendercide. Women are missing in their millions—aborted, killed, neglected to death. In 1990 an Indian economist, Amartya Sen, put the number at 100m; the toll is higher now” (p. 13). Why are mothers choosing to murder their daughters? “In fact the destruction of baby girls is a product of three forces: the ancient preference for sons; a modern desire for smaller families; and ultrasound scanning and other technologies that identify the sex of a fetus” (ibid.). In its companion article, “The worldwide war on baby girls,” The Economist presents evidence of the crimes against baby girls in China, India and other countries (pp. 77-80). We are nearing the level of global wickedness described before Noah’s flood: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). My friends, do you pray “Your Kingdom come!”? Jesus Christ, the King of kings, will soon stop this global evil!
Although God promised Noah that He would not again destroy the earth with a flood (Genesis 9:11), He will use “natural disasters” to wake our peoples and nations to the signs of the times in which we are living. The United States Geological Survey includes in its list of “significant earthquakes” the 7.2 magnitude April 4 temblor in Baja California, Mexico, and the 4.4 magnitude March 16 earthquake in Los Angeles, California. Those of us who have experienced major earthquakes when living in California know how frightening they can be. As Dr. Meredith quoted in his March 16, 2010 letter to brethren and co-workers:
Most news commentators scoff at the idea that the Creator may be starting to intervene in a special way to “shake” people to their senses. But the inspired Word of God tells us that the Creator—whose voice and actions shook His people at Mount Sinai—has promised, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven” (Hebrews 12:26). And Jesus Christ Himself directly predicted that at this time of the end, “There will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11).
At least 17 earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or greater have struck our globe in the first four months of 2010! Scientists are calling the 8.8 magnitude quake that struck Chile on February 27 one of the seven or eight most powerful temblors ever recorded! The January 12 quake in Haiti, though “merely” a 7.0, was one of the five or six deadliest in recorded history, causing more than 230,000 deaths and several hundred thousand serious injuries. From Chile to China, from Haiti to Japan, earthquakes have reminded us of our fragile existence on planet Earth. Even the central U.S.—far from the Pacific “Ring of Fire”—has been startled by unusual earthquake activity in the first months of 2010, with a 4.0 in Oklahoma on January 15 and a 3.8 in Illinois on February 10. It has been nearly 200 years since the New Madrid Fault buckled in December 1811 and January 1812. Is the American Midwest ready for the next big temblor?
We are very thankful that our brethren and co-workers are striving to fulfill the mission Christ has given us, and are remaining alert to prophetic trends. One way this Work is helping people stay alert is through special personal appearances by our evangelists and other ministers. Over the years, Dr. Meredith and others have presented dozens of evangelistic campaigns. Evangelist Dr. Douglas S. Winnail, our Director of Church Administration, has recently been coordinating a major renewal of this important strategy for preaching the Gospel, with excellent results. In fact, just last weekend, Dr. Winnail gave his most recent Tomorrow’s World Special Presentation to subscribers in the Providence, Rhode Island area. Our Canadian Regional Director, Evangelist Gerald Weston, and his fellow ministers have just completed ten Tomorrow’s World special presentations throughout Canada, the latest in Scarborough, Ontario, on April 10. On April 3, Dr. Meredith spoke to an audience of 234 in his hometown of Joplin, Missouri, where he dedicated a new building for Church services and announced that the Tomorrow’s World telecast would soon air on a local television station.
My wife Kathryn and I traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, earlier this year, where I preached to our congregation there and spoke to 158 Tomorrow’s World subscribers on February 7. I also spoke to 120 subscribers in Atlanta, Georgia on February 27. I hope that those of you in the New York City area will plan to attend my Manhattan presentation on May 8, and that those of you in the Los Angeles area will come to my Glendale presentation on May 15.
God willing, Dr. Meredith plans to speak in London, England on May 29, and in Dallas, Texas on July 10. I urge all you brethren and co-workers in those areas to attend his presentations, if you can. By the end of June, we will have held 60 Tomorrow’s World Special Presentations in the U.S., Canada, South Africa, the U.K. and the Caribbean, with many more scheduled through the remainder of 2010. Be sure to check our www.tomorrowsworld.org Web site for the locations and dates of future presentations in your area! Jesus said, “You will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 10:23). We are following our Lord’s guidance, striving to powerfully witness to as many cities as we can.
Brethren, God’s way is the way of give. As Jesus told His disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). In the version of this letter being sent to co-workers, we are offering them a free subscription to The Living Church News, so they may more deeply come to understand the Way of life Jesus Christ taught. Please join with me in praying that many will accept our offer, and that God may call them into a closer relationship with Him and His Church. I pray that all of you members are regularly reading the LCN, so you can stay abreast of Dr. Meredith’s latest guidance and insights, and can learn from the many helpful and inspiring articles. No, the LCN is not a substitute for your Bible study—which you should maintain faithfully, along with your prayer, meditation and occasional fasting. But it should be a valuable tool to complement and enrich your study of God’s word and His Way.
Thank you all for your continuing support in preaching the true gospel of the soon-coming Kingdom of God! May God bless you as you follow the Way of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Your servant in Christ,
Richard F. Ames