August 2013 Yavoh

Jacob's Trouble

One of the many reasons why I believe we are the final generation is how the Bible defines the coming travail and judgments in the last days. The prophets of Israel have said that the end-times world will be in time of distress as it has never seen before. Daniel gave this definition.

...And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time;... DAN 12:1b

Jeremiah defined it this way.

Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob's distress,... JER 30:7

You may have heard the more popular expression “Jacob’s trouble” as a part of other end-time teachings.

There have been other traumatic times for the world in the past. History is filled with events, such as the “black plague” and various genocides; we know about world wars and the Holocaust; but Scripture is declarative about its comparison. The end times will be worse than previous bad times in the world’s history.

Our world is on the brink of the worst disasters and events in the history of the world. The Scriptures have warned us as to what we can expect in the end times. We are now are at the edge of those very prophecies. We can now see how they will soon be upon us as a result of our advanced technology and understanding of the Earth and Space. In terms of world events, most analysts and experts agree that this world is on the brink of collapse from social, economic, and militaristic factors now present in all nations. Like never before, nations are rising up against other nations, kingdoms are against other kingdoms, diseases are rampant, and earthquakes are increasing. Asteroids and comets are zipping by our planet. Sin and debauchery are now celebrated in the public arena and excused by our courts. The hatred of God is now the prevailing mood while believers are accused of all past national sins and criminality.

It is bad and getting worse, but the same Scriptures warning us of this future “doom and gloom” also declare that God’s people will be delivered and saved from it. Let me repeat the statements that follow the two previous quotations.

...and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. DAN 12:1

…but he will be saved from it. JER 30:7

Why does God tell us about the bad times to come at the end and why do they have to happen? The answer is obvious for those who believe; God’s forewarning causes us to draw nearer to God and to seek His deliverance. Bad times are the final struggle before our Messiah comes to set up His kingdom. Yeshua said it this way.

...21for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 25Behold, I have told you in advance. ... 33so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. MAT 24:21-22, 25, 33-34

Yeshua is essentially repeating the prophecies of Daniel and Jeremiah, but He refers to their words as the great tribulation. He wants us to understand what will happen so that we will believe in God and have faith in His return. Yeshua recognized the trauma the world would suffer and the impact it would have on His brethren; therefore, He has called for us to remain faithful (full of faith) and prepare for His return.

I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? LUK 18:8

The faith that Yeshua referred to concerned His promise of salvation and deliverance for His people. He was not referring to a doctrinal statement from a church such as deity of the Messiah or the authority of the New Testament. The question of our faith has to do with escaping, surviving, and enduring the distress that will be on the world just before His return. Will we still trust the Lord and look for His return when we are oppressed and hated by the world?

For many Christian groups and churches, the subject of the end times or the great tribulation is not a popular subject. In fact, many groups ban the topic from being taught or discussed. Their fear of the topic has overwhelmed them and they want everyone around them to be mute on the subject. They believe that the subject is too distressful and disturbs too many people. They further justify the lack of teaching because, in their opinion, it causes division. I have heard many leaders turn away from the prophetic teaching saying, “We are going to stay focused on the Gospel and saving people.” Or, as some have argued against any teaching of the end times, “No one knows what is supposed to happen or when it is to happen. Only the Lord knows.”

There is no question that many believers in the past have had expectations raised only to be disappointed. Some have become so discouraged they have walked away from fellowship and their relationship with the Lord. I know of a few who are actually angry with God because He has not already come. Still others appear to continue in the faith but want nothing to do with Bible prophecy.

Then there are the Christians who want God’s reward before the recompense (they want His return before the great tribulation even occurs). Despite the Scriptures’ instruction that the judgment comes first then the reward, they tailor the end-time scenario and teaching to fit their desires. Yeshua was very clear about the end-time scenario. Having introduced the great tribulation, He then says what would happen immediately after.

But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. MAT 24:29-31

For us to have an honest discussion about the end times, Jacob’s distress, and the great tribulation, we have to first believe that we will be here for it. The Lord’s salvation comes as a result of and after the days of the tribulation, instead of before it all happens. Quite honestly, if we are not going to go through the great tribulation, then what God said about it is meaningless.  But this is not the case. God has told us these things (the distress, the judgments, and the great tribulation) in advance so that we might believe and have faith on the day He returns.

Turning back to the definition of the distress the world is going to experience, let us put some specific items on the table for examination. I have grouped them into four categories of danger: things from the heavens, from the earth, from other people, and from our own brethren. Let’s examine each and see how it will cause distress as the world has not seen before. But even more important to us, are these things soon to occur?

Dangers from the Heavens

The Universe is a very big place. Our own galaxy is almost beyond our comprehension and our solar system is only now in early exploration. In this generation, we have learned a lot about the heavens. Discoveries in astronomy have expanded our understanding from our efforts that put men on the moon, space landers and probes on our sister planets, and with space-based telescopes and sensors. We have now discovered galaxies at what we believe to be close to the edge of Universe and other planets around other suns.

We have also discovered something else: asteroids and comets flying in our solar system passing near us. We have also learned about our sun’s violent activity. Asteroids and comets striking our planet would be devastating with untold and incomprehensible consequences. The sun’s outbursts, if aimed correctly, could wreck our electrical grid and destroy our telecommunications networks. The loss of electrical power could put out the lights of nations for months on end.

This is how the prophecy speaks of the last days.

There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. LUK 21:25-26

This prophecy takes a top down view of the distress that will come upon the earth. Do we presently see the powers of the heavens shaking, and are people fearing things coming upon the world? The answer is Yes.

First is the concern with the sun. The radiation of the sun has increased and may get worse. The prophecy speaks to this very matter and says the following:

And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given to it to scorch men with fire. REV 16:8

If the radiation of the sun gets this bad, it will also destroy crops and dry out vegetation. The consequences of this much radiation would impact basic health (advanced aging and cancer). It would also affect the supply of food for the world leading to famine and starvation for many nations.

Here is another danger coming from space. The United States and other nations are using their best astronomical resources to try and see other objects (such as comets and asteroids) in space that may be on a trajectory towards our planet. What are they going to do if they find an asteroid tracking for us? They don’t know yet; they are trying to figure out how to design a method of deflection or destruction before it impacts Earth. This is a very serious matter for the world and the scientists watching for them. As they have said collectively, “It is not a question of if we will be hit or not; it is a question of when we will be hit.”

The prophecy of the end times says the same thing. We will be hit by comets or asteroids in the future. Actually, they could fly by and just skip off our atmosphere or actually strike us. Scientists believe that an asteroid going through our atmosphere would be very bad. Some scientists have suggested that it would likely produce hydrocyanic acid. This would then precipitate down as rain and literally poison our fresh water sources. This is exactly what the end-time prophecy says will happen.

The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters. The name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood; and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter. REV 8:10-11

At first, it would only affect the surface water, but as it soaks into the earth to the underground sources, then eventually all fresh water on the earth would be contaminated. The prophecy says that will happen as well.

Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood. REV 16:4

The comet or asteroid strike that would be most devastating would be a deep impact event, actually striking the earth. If it strikes the ocean then it would produce a super tsunami with worldwide consequences. But if it strikes a land mass, it could open the depths of the earth and blow debris and smoke into the upper atmosphere causing darkness to come over the earth. It is this latter type of deep impact scenario described in the prophecy of the end times.

Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. REV 9:1

The darkness won’t come all at once. First a portion will be darkened then it will spread to the whole world.

The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way. REV 8:12

Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast; and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, REV 16:10

If the sun scorching us and an asteroid strike would be all that happened in the end times, then the world would be in enough distress to exceed anything mankind has seen before, but there is more to this danger. All that debris that went into the atmosphere eventually would be precipitated back to the earth. Moisture in the atmosphere will collect on the airborne debris and, because of the frigid temperatures in the upper atmosphere, form hailstones. They will be very big hailstones because of the amount of debris frozen together. The prophecy speaks directly of this matter.

And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe. REV 16:21

The scientific community has detailed out the “deep impact” scenario including the hail stones. They theoretically believe that this amount of smoke and debris would be suspended in the atmosphere for approximately four months. Interestingly, God has said in His prophecy the darkness in the atmosphere will be five months before it falls as hailstones.

Dangers here on the Earth

The Earth is a big ball hanging in space orbiting around the sun. Orbiting around the Earth is our moon. Everything seems to have a regular order to it, but here on Earth things are getting disorderly. Our magnetic poles are moving. The crust of the Earth—the tectonic plates we ride on—are rocking and moving. As a result, earthquakes and volcanoes are popping like a big bag of popcorn in the microwave. I remember the days in my youth when a volcano was a rare occurrence and earthquakes were always reported by the news media. But now events are increasing. I have been watching the increase since the 1970's. Today, there are multiple volcanoes active and more than two dozen damaging earthquakes each day. Actually, there are hundreds of earthquakes daily but I only mentioned the larger damaging quakes. If they are in the oceans, they produce even more devastation – tsunamis.

They are still increasing!

According to the end-time prophecy, the world is to be rocked by a worldwide earthquake that will significantly alter the geological surface structure of the earth. But before that final event, there is a very disturbing prophecy about a particular volcano and an earthquake that is to happen. It is to be an island volcano or a volcano near the sea that breaks away and falls into the sea. As result, a giant tsunami hits the surrounding nations and the sea area is adversely affected.

The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood; and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed. REV 8:8-9

If you think this is too fantastic to believe, consider this. They have already discovered the island volcano that will most likely the one described in the prophecy. It is off the western coast of Africa and is called La Palma and it is part of the Canary Islands. La Palma rises about 7,000 feet above sea level while the sea depth is about 13,000 feet surrounding it. If the volcano erupts (it is predicted to do so soon), the resulting earthquakes could loosen the already cracked structure causing the entire western side of the mountain to suffer a huge landslide into the Atlantic ocean. This would cause an incredible amount of water displacement in a very rapid time frame causing the tsunami. Predictions vary but the flood of water could be sent 20 miles inland along the eastern seaboard of the United States, and it would include South America, the Caribbean, as well as West Africa. The tsunami in the Indian Ocean a few years ago is much smaller than this projected one.

The Scriptures also go further on this destruction. The rest of the other oceans are also to suffer destruction. At the moment we can only speculate; the scope of this destruction is truly mind-boggling.

The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died. REV 16:3

The most direct impact we will see concerning this is what man will primarily do to man. When nations are cut off from the essentials they need, such as food, fuel, and water, you can expect every nation and people to revert to hostile actions such as uprisings and warfare. The prophecy says that the variety of destructions will lead to the hatred of God and God’s people.

Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake.” LUK 21:10-12

If this was all that would happen on Earth, then it would qualify the description of distress beyond anything the world has seen before, but there is more. The Scriptures say that we will also suffer from wild fires and forest fires.

The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. REV 8:7

When we reviewed the dangers that will come from the heavens and looked at the prophecy of a deep impact asteroid or comet, we talked about the abyss of the earth being opened and debris being blown into the atmosphere.  But I didn’t mention that something comes out of the abyss that will terrorize mankind. It will be demons, real demons which are as big as horses that fly and work together in attacking men. Here is where the prophecy speaks of them coming with the five months of the darkness.

Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. REV 9:1-3

And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die and death flees from them. The appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads appeared to be crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle. They have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months. They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon. REV 9:6-11

This is probably one of the most interesting judgment prophecies in the end-time scenario – visible hoards of demons attacking people. It sounds more like a horror movie than a real event, but the prophecy says it will happen right along with earthquakes and asteroid strikes.

We tend to forget that the judgments the world will face are directly connected with the gods men like to worship. This was the pattern of judgments in the Egyptian exodus. Whatever the Egyptians worshiped, God used that item as a judgment upon them. So why then will the world face real demons? Obviously, because many men worship them. God will give them what they have been worshiping.

The final destruction of the earth will be a highly disturbed atmosphere and a giant worldwide earthquake, and this earthquake will move continents around and alter the structure of mountain ranges and the coastlines.

18And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. 20And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. REV 16:18,20

Dangers from Other People

Pogo, a cartoon character created by Walt Kelly, is famous for saying, “We have found the enemy and it is us.” Yeshua said that the love of many would grow cold. The world of people is already making its way toward ungodliness and open hatred of one another. Every nation will not have nice people in them. Believers will have to assemble only among themselves because the world is moving toward “dog eat dog.” Here is how the Apostle Paul describes the end of the ages and the people in it.

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these. 2TIM 3:1-5

Many citizens in many nations are losing any remaining confidence they have in their governments and governmental leaders. The courts are increasingly corrupt and politicized. Even when a righteous decision is rendered, verdicts are being rejected, punishments are out of proportion, and judges are not impartial anymore.

Many of you are familiar with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Most of the story seems to be about a society with rampant sexual perversion. The Biblical account supports that, but Scripture states another reason for the judgment that fell upon them. It was corrupt judges. Sexual perversion is just a symptom of corrupt judges. Look at our own nation. Homosexuals have not secured their victories through the electoral process. They did not get a majority of citizens to agree with them and then change the laws. Rather, they went to court and got a judge to agree with them, overruling the majority of the citizens in this democratic society. They have championed their cause under the banner of equal justice and equal rights. These judges have ruled in their favor dismissing anything to do with righteousness. Righteousness in this case is simply “doing the right thing.” It is as Isaiah said of the future: The righteous are now judged as guilty, and the guilty are called the righteous. The world has been turned on its head. They don’t realize that the very foundations of civil behavior are shifting and beginning to collapse.

Another major blow to the demise of civilization will be economic. The prophecy speaks of a new technology that will affect the economics of the world. Money is how the world really works. Just like the worldly golden rule says, “He who has the gold, rules.” The prophecy speaks of an identification system that will be directly connected to the ability to buy and sell.

And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. REV 13:16-17

The present day implant chip is the technology of this system. We are now waiting for the world government to standardize personal identification and tie it to economics. Some international travel businesses have already moved to the chip being installed on credit cards, and industry experts are calling for governments to agree on a standard for everyone. As the economic system demands this, governments will follow, even if the citizens refuse it. It is inevitable.

Sadly, if the citizens accept the implant chips spoken of in this prophecy they will be physically harmed by it.

So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore upon the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image. REV 16:2

Governments are going to become desperate and collapse. What once seemed impossible—“We are too big to collapse”—is happening right before our eyes in the United States. Remember the expression, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall?” We can all sense it coming. Scripture describes many nations collapsing and losing their freedoms. This will have multiple levels ranging from the regional to national levels.

“For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of the land,” declares the Lord; “but behold, I will cause the men to fall, each into another’s power and into the power of his king; and they will strike the land, and I will not deliver them from their power.” ZEC 11:6

Everyone will essentially be enslaved within their own country. This is what happened to Egypt with Joseph. The famine was so severe that the people expended all their money the first year; in the second year, they sold their livestock; in the third year, they sold their land. At that moment they were all slaves to Pharaoh. Economic collapse leads to enslavement.

Ultimately, the leaders of nations will have to give themselves and their nations over to a future world leader. He is called the antimessiah (antichrist). The prophecy has much to say about him. He is called the “son of perdition,” a title which means that he will kill more people than any other man in history. In fact, Scripture even describes his pronouncement and method of killing.

Then I said, “I will not pasture you. What is to die, let it die, and what is to be annihilated, let it be annihilated; and let those who are left eat one another's flesh.” ZEC 11:9

As worldwide food shortages begin, this leader will control who does and who does not receive what food is available. The prophecy goes on to say that the antimessiah will care only about himself. He will not care for the people he has authority over. This is very believable already. Our own present day leaders make decisions based on what is best for themselves instead of what is best of others.

For behold, I am going to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for the perishing, seek the scattered, heal the broken, or sustain the one standing, but will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hoofs. ZEC 11:16

Dangers from Our Own Brethren

We have spoken of dangers coming from the heavens, things on the earth, and other people of the earth affected by those disasters. Now we need to speak of the great danger that will come from other “believers.”

If you carefully examine the Biblical examples of when real harm has come to God’s people, it is directly related to believers disobeying the Lord and walking away from faith in Him. Israel has demonstrated this multiple times. Walking out from under His protection or angering the Lord to judgment is what causes bad things to happen.

God’s people have been tested by their fears many times, and they have not done well in those tests. Consider the spies’ report of the promised land with the word that the cities were strong, the enemy was bigger than us, and they will kill our wives and children. The people’s hearts melted with fear and they quit trusting the Lord. As a result, they were judged to die in the wilderness before their children entered the land.

The same will surely happen to us at the end of the ages. We will be on the brink of the kingdom facing a great tribulation of 3 ½ years. Many will give up. The oppression and challenge will be too great for them. Here is some of what the prophecy says about our fellow brethren at that time.

But you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. LUK 21:16-17

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 2TH 2:3

We are already beginning to see the apostasy (the falling from faith) occurring in churches and communities today. It is becoming increasingly dangerous to be a believer, and many will not remain faithful, and we will become outside the law.

What is even more disturbing to me are the Christians who will still remain but essentially be impotent in their faith. They actually are playing the role of the wall flower at the dance. They are too afraid to get on the dance floor but they don’t want to leave either. Instead, they hang around and appear to be having fun. Actually, they are lonely and miserable. They won’t take a definitive position or even try to walk out the faith. They are stagnant in their faith. The end-time judgment speaks directly to this.

It will come about at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good or evil!” ZEP 1:12

The prophecy is specific and dramatic in describing what will come upon the whole world in the end times. Mankind will not do well. In fact, no other generation has ever seen this level of destruction that will come. It will be a time of great distress and great tribulation.

The only good news is that the Lord will save and deliver His people. It will be the greatest salvation every to occur in the history of the world. God has been very long-suffering, giving us the Messiah nearly 2,000 years ago. But there is a day of reconciliation coming. The Master is going to come back.  He will punish His enemies; He will deliver and reward His servants.

Let us keep watch as the world prepares for destruction. But let us look up to also see our redemption appearing.

We have no choice but to trust the Lord.