Seven Minutes With The International Director Aug/Sep 1978
Dear Friend and Heir of Glory:
Mankind is racing madly, unconsciously and unalterably toward ARMAGEDDON. Political paralysis, moral excess, economic chaos and spiritual deadness – these are not ominous clouds on tomorrow’s horizon, but today’s present realities.
Increasingly, voices are being raised suggesting that the evangelical movement is turning the tide of human events. Don’t you believe it! Today, there is more religion without reality and more “Christianity” without Christ. Biblical truth is being subordinated to human experience. “I think,” “I feel,” “He’s so sincere” – these have replaced “Thus saith the Lord” as the only and final authority for the believer. Visions, speaking in tongues, an erroneous emphasis on the Holy Spirit’s ministry and circus-like healing services – these unscriptural practices have become the badge and identification card of a large segment of so-called evangelicalism, and truth is being sacrificed on the altar of unity and love. Daily, millions of Americans watch, listen and support religious broadcasts. Many of them are filled full with theological absurdity and heresy, and tragically many of God’s redeemed children are not discerning enough to realize it.
If much of the error can be traced to the so-called charismatics and new pentecostalism, and I believe it can, part of the blame must be placed at the feet of orthodox Bible-believing Christians. A frothy, external evangelism, in part based on Madison Avenue promotion techniques, has too often replaced an in depth genuinely Holy Spirit-produced response to the Gospel. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the glory of God? How many articles have you read recently on the wondrous attributes of the self-existent Creator and Sustainer of the universe?
The God of the Bible is so holy that He is a consuming fire. The prophets of old held Him in awe and majesty. (Today He is often a ‘buddy’.) in His presence men could not help but fall prone on their faces and acknowledge their sinfulness. It was in the Garden of Eden that sin separated man from a holy God; it is sin that brought death, cancer, pollution, rust, weed, heartache, sorrow, crime and greed; but the exceeding sinfulness of sin is only superficially proclaimed from most pulpits today. No man is ever interested in appropriating God’s righteousness until he realizes he has none of his own.
No, the world is not getting better and brighter. Evangelicalism is not turning the tide of human history. Recent polls may suggest that more than fifty million Americans are “born againers”, but if one accepts God’s criterion that, “by their fruits ye shall know them”, that figure is dramatically reduced. Through all of human history God has always had a remnant – a small number who would “not bow the knee to Baal”. It was true in the Old Testament; it was true in the New Testament; it has been true for the past nineteen hundred years; and it will remain true as we approach the end of the age. Bible-believing Christians in the midst of a growing ecumenical age will increasingly be seen as narrow, divisive and troublemakers. It can be anticipated that there will be increased polarization within Christendom and persecution of the remnant of true believers who uncompromisingly hold fast to the truths of God’s Word. That Word tells us of the events which will lead up to Armageddon.
One day soon believers are going to take an exciting trip – they are going to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17). This event will signal the end of the Church age. Shortly thereafter a political leader ruling over a confederation of ten western nations will make a seven-year pact with Israel (Dan. 9:27). Its purpose will be to bring order to the Middle East and peace and security to Israel. Called interchangeably in the Bible, “The Tribulation Period”, “The Seventieth Week of Daniel”, and “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble” – the treaty which initiates this period will fail.
Those even remotely aware of the present Middle East situation realize that peace talks between Egypt and Israel have all but ceased. As a precondition, Egypt wants Israel to withdraw from the Sinai and West Bank. For Israel to comply would be to court national suicide, for it would leave her with indefensible borders. To break this deadlock, President Carter and other high ranking officials have talked of a treaty with Israel to protect her borders. With past promises from America broken and Israel’s existence at stake, she will insist that a confederation of ten western nations ratify the treaty.
Before the seven-year treaty reaches the halfway mark, Egypt (the king of the south, Dan. 11:40a) and Syria (king of the north, Dan. 11:40b) will launch a surprise attack against Israel. This will evidently be a preplanned attack in alliance with Russia. The Antichrist, leader of the Western Confederation of Nations (Dan. 11:36), to uphold the treaty made with Israel will lead an army into the Middle East to destroy Syria and Egypt (Dan. 11:41-43). But while the army of the Antichrist is in the south (North Africa), tidings out of the north (Russia) and east (probably Iraq, and the surrounding area) will trouble him (Dan.11:44). Maneuvering his troops, the Antichrist will now move rapidly north to meet the new danger (Dan. 11:44b). The details of this phase of the battle are presented in Ezekiel 38 and 39. The major antagonist will be Russia coming as she does from the far north of Israel (Ezek. 38:15; 39:2) and further identified by the terms Magog, the ancient Scythians; Meshech, probably modern-day Moscow; and Tubal, probably modern-day Tobolsk (Ezek 38:2). All fall within the boundaries of the present-day Soviet Union. Further, the phrase “chief prince” (Ezek 38:2) would better be transliterated “Prince of Rosh” and should be understood to be the ancestral name of present day Russia. Allied with her will be Persia, whose name was changed in 1935 to Iraq; Cush and Put, modern-day Ethiopia and Libya in North Africa and identified in TIME MAGAZINE (August 22,1977) as being under Russian influence (Ezek. 38:5). Additional allies will include Gomer, the Germanic peoples; and Togarmah, modern-day Turkey (Ezek. 38:6). It should be noted that East Germany is already in the Russian fold, and at the time of this writing debate is going on in Washington concerning the lifting of the arms embargo to Turkey. NATO has expressed concern that Turkey is a weak link in the NATO defense line. According to the Bible, Turkey will shift its allegiance to Russia.
Israel is described as an “unwalled village . . . having neither bars nor gates” (Ezek. 38:11). In the day in which the prophet wrote, walls were a city’s main line of defense. An unwalled city was easy prey for any army so inclined to attack. Today, Israel is an armed camp. A disproportionately high percentage of her budget goes toward defense. But after the Antichrist makes a covenant to protect her, arms expenditures will be redirected to improve the standard of living, and she will become an “unwalled village”.
Two reasons for the attack are given: first, to take a spoil (Ezek. 38:12) – mineral wealth of the Dead Sea, Middle East oil, agricultural capability and military and geographic importance – these may be part of the spoils referred to; the second reason given for the attack is to deliberately harm the land of Israel and its people (Ezek. 38:12b). Godless, atheistic communism takes no pleasure in the Jewish people through whom Christ and the Bible were given to the world.
The invasion by Russia and her allies will not succeed. Fully five-sixths of the invading army will be destroyed by God on the mountains of Israel (Ezek. 39:2-4). So complete will be the slaughter that it will take the people of Israel seven months to bury the dead and cleanse the land (Ezek. 39:12).
The Antichrist who had moved to intercept the invading armies will take credit for the victory which God himself had wrought. He will establish his headquarters “between the seas in the glorious holy mountain”, that is, in Jerusalem between the Mediterranean and Dead seas (Dan. 11:45). All of this will occur before the middle of the Tribulation Period. Firmly entrenched in Israel, the Antichrist will erect an image in the Temple in Jerusalem and demand that the Jewish people bow down and worship (2 Thess. 2:4). This is the abomination of desolation to which the Lord Jesus referred in Matthew 24:15. The Jews will refuse to bow down and then will begin the second half of the Tribulation. The Lord had this period in mind when He prophetically warned His brethren to flee “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21).
Toward the close of the Tribulation all of the armies of the world are drawn magnetically to the Middle East and the land of Israel. The Bible simply says, “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Rev. 16:16). The word Armageddon comes from the Hebrew “Har Megiddo” and means “Mount Megiddo”. It is there, situated in the north central part of Israel on the southern rim of the Plain of Esdraelon fifteen miles inland from the Mediterranean seacoast and ten miles south of Nazareth, that the final climactic battle of human history will take place. Napoleon called the Plain of Esdraelon the world’s greatest natural battlefield. It was there that Deborah and Barak defeated the Canaanites (Jud. 4 and 5); there that Gideon triumphed over the Midianites (Jud. 7); there that King Saul was slain in the battle with the Philistines (1 Sam. 31:8); there that Ahaziah was slain by Jehu (2 Ki. 9:27); and there Josiah was slain during an invasion by the Egyptians (2 Ki. 23:29, 30).
Armageddon has been a chosen place for encampment in every major battle carried on in Israel through the centuries. Jews, Persians, Druzes, Turks and Arabs have pitched their tents on the Plain of Esdraelon to do battle. So strategic was Megiddo that King Solomon fortified and stabled horses and chariots there to literally “cut off at the pass” any invading army moving toward Israel from the north or east.
The Prophet Zechariah described the events of Armageddon this way:
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all peoples; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the earth be gathered together against it (Zech. 12: 2, 3).
Armageddon will be the final judgment of the nations because of their persecution of Israel (Joel 3:2), their sinfulness (Rev. 19:15) and their godlessness (Rev. 16:9). Neither individuals nor nations can reject God without an ultimate day of reckoning.
Following the judgment of the nations at Christ’s coming (Rev. 19:17-19), the words of James at the council at Jerusalem will be realized,
After this (the Church age) I will return, and build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again its ruins, and I will set it up; That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the nations, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the age (Acts 15:16-18).
David’s Greater Son, Jesus Christ, will rule as King over restored and repentant Israel and over the world as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will rule for a thousand years.
And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his waist. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them (Isa. 11:5, 6).
Jesus Christ does not respond to unanticipated human events, He superintends them. He has not abdicated and gone off to the far reaches of the universe. He has a program, a chronology, and is bringing it to pass in every detail and right on schedule.
How exciting to be alive in Christ at this strategic moment in history when the pieces of the prophetic program, which other sages could only look into, are coming to pass. As a diamond shines brightest with a dark velvet background, so the darker the night the more radiant is the glorious Gospel of the soon-returning Lord of glory.
Keep looking up – He is always looking down,