June 2012 Yavoh

I am sure you have heard the expression “I have some good news and some bad news!” It is usually the introduction to explain a situation that may or may not be working to one’s favor. This is usually followed by “Which news do you want first?” I don’t know about the preference of others but I have always favored hearing the bad news first followed by the good news. Ending on a good note seems to keep hope alive despite the bad news.

With that said... Let’s have an honest review of the Great Tribulation that is coming. I am going to tell you the bad news first and then I will follow with the good news.

As I write this article we are in the middle of 2012. I am sure you have heard the hype about the end of the world. “The world as we know it” is supposed to end on December 21, 2012 according to the Mayan calendar. This prediction is more off-base than others we have heard in my generation. A car does not cease working because an odometer rolls over to zero nor does the world cease to be when an ancient calendar recycles.

Before we completely dismiss the idea of the world coming to an end or going through a major transition, let’s consider some other evidence—evidence, by the way, that is serious and very disturbing to all people around the world.

Economically, the world is not doing well, especially the western nations. The debt of the world is staggering and it is about to bury a number of specific nations. Currencies (money) are based on faith. Faith in a currency is based on the value it is “believed to have” but when a currency loses its value (it is not believed anymore) then it loses value. Here in the United States the price of fuel, food, and many products have increased significantly. The fuel and the food are the same value; it is our money that has lost value and it requires more money to buy the same fuel and food. Right now, the monies of the world are dramatically decreasing in value. At some point, the whole system will collapse and chaos ensue. In fact, there is great concern that Europe will set the whole mess off. A couple of European nations collapse financially and dominos start falling all the way to America. This is more than a theory; many are predicting this to happen in late 2012 but more likely in 2013. If I never listed another traumatic issue, this should scare you if you have saved for retirement or do not have an independent source for food and fuel.

Society around the world is also degrading at an alarming rate. The very definition of many national identities is being challenged. Nationalism is no longer held in high regard as it was in my youth; globalism is the trend. In addition, the Muslim world is literally invading the western nations. In Europe, the increased population of Muslims has begun to openly challenge the citizens of many nations. In fact, the reality of removing six million Jews in the holocaust in the last generation and replacing them with 20 million Muslims in this generation has not benefited Europe.

Instead of the creativity and talent the chosen people shared with their home countries in science, medicine, music and financial success, these nations have now discovered stupidity, ignorance, religious extremism, intolerance, crime, poverty, and unwillingness to work or contribute to the community from the Muslim immigrants. Instead of having neighbors who love peace and seek to understand their neighbors, they are faced with terrorist acts and fanatical hatred.

Europe has tried to prove their tolerance to mankind and shared their countries with those “less fortunate.” For their generosity, they have bomb blasts in their busy streets, on their trains, and in their subways resulting in mass murder and mayhem. They have lost their personal freedoms of traveling about their cities and neighborhoods without full surveillance by the authorities.

We Americans have not done any better. After the fall of the twin towers in New York and the attack on the Pentagon, we must be scanned and groped to board a plane flight. We have given our government vast new powers to invade our privacy and have lost many personal freedoms, all in the name of “security.” And in the name of “separation of church and state” we have refused to acknowledge the words of our enemies who are fighting for their god as a part of Islam. Instead, we randomly search children and grandmothers boarding planes to prove that we are a tolerant people honoring equal rights of all. Meanwhile, the Muslims are immigrating to cities and states, establishing closed communities, having large numbers of children, teaching their children that we are infidels, and bringing their own laws. Make no mistake about it, to them it is a religious war.

Sharia law (Muslim law) is being introduced in a multitude of nations. Individual American states are passing laws and amendments to their state constitutions to ensure that their courts do not come under Sharia rule or standard. The voters of Oklahoma passed such an amendment to its constitution only to be sued in federal court for being discriminatory against Muslims. So much for the democratic majority of voters having a say in their state, a single federal judge blocked the democratic will of the people and to date has been backed by a federal appeals court. The fascinating part of these decisions is the blatant bias of these judges. They are more interested in opposing Christian opinion than preserving Constitutional freedoms. They have replaced the entire Constitution with the phrase “equal rights” out of the 14th amendment. It is well known that Muslim law does not afford “equal rights” to others. Muslim law does not grant “equal rights” to women, Christians, or Jews. Did I mention that Muslims slaughter homosexuals on sight? Even Christians don’t believe that their religion has the right to overrule the Constitution. Instead, we have “separation of church and state.” But Sharia law says that their law is superior to the Constitution (or any law of the land they want to overtake) and that secular courts must defer to their laws. How is it possible for “progressive” judges to think that they must defend Islam in America?

Here is a different issue “progressive” judges have taken on. Take the case of California voters who voted on state-wide Proposition 8 (a referendum to define marriage in the traditional way). The referendum effectively blocked the state from recognizing homosexual marriage. Despite the democratic will of the people, that referendum was overturned by a single judge as well, who was a progressive homosexual. Doesn’t anyone understand the consequences to a democratic country when the democratic will of the majority is thrown to the ground and trampled? Doesn’t anyone remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Most people think that was a story about sexual perversion and homosexuality. That was part of the story, but Torah teachers will tell you that the primary issue was corrupt judges! Justice was perverted. The outcry of Sodom is about strangers and travelers being harmed by judges who did harm to innocents.

Even Homeland Security is getting concerned about all of this, because the majority of the conservative people in this country are starting to voice their concerns about runaway government and judges through the “tea party.” The tea party is based on the historical protest group that helped bring about the American Revolution. Even the current President referred to these folks in a particularly negative fashion during his first campaign saying that they “cling to their guns and Bibles.” The President and his administration are progressives and don’t want traditional values to be the rule of the land anymore. They want to change and modify the Constitution, they prefer social justice to simply doing the right thing, their definition of equal rights is applied to the most bizarre behaviors, and they want everyone living in the country to receive their needs from the government.

It is now clear that the United States Homeland Security is preparing for open sedition and civil warfare against the Federal government. Let me say that again... The federal government is now preparing to have open and armed conflict with its own citizens. Many citizens cannot believe that the Federal government is also preparing to detain and re-educate its own citizens in detention camps. I can only imagine what the rest of my fellow citizens will do when Homeland Security federalizes all police departments and begins mass arrests of U.S. citizens. Some have even predicted that this coming conflict will produce a break-up of the United States similar to the former Soviet Union.

All of these elements fall within the Messiah’s description of the beginning of sorrows: kingdom against kingdom, wars and rumors of wars, the love of many growing cold, and people hating one another. These are the starting elements of the Great Tribulation; however, this is not the Great Tribulation yet. These are things that concern many of us, but the Great Tribulation is much worse than what we see happening right now.

The Bible defines the “bad news” of the Great Tribulation this way.

Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; DAN 12:1a

The Great Tribulation is a time of distress. It is to be the worst time in the history of mankind and the world. Before we go any further, let us define that element a little deeper.

Will the Great Tribulation be worse than the two World Wars the world suffered through in the previous century? Will the Great Tribulation be worse than the worldwide epidemics such influenza and the plague the world experienced before? Will the Great Tribulation result in death from starvation with famines? Will traumatic events such as asteroid strikes and solar flares affect the earth and harm mankind? The answer to all of these questions and others similar to them is an emphatic YES ...and it all happens in a concise period of 3½ years.

How will the warfare be worse than ever before? Weapons of war from conventional arms such as troops, ships and airplanes are far more deadly and accurate than ever before. Add to them the widespread use of chemical and biological warheads and a whole range of nuclear arms. Death comes suddenly and without any advance knowledge of an enemy nearby from a predator drone miles away.

How will disease and epidemics affect us? Each epidemic begins with one person who infects another, then another. With the way we travel and move about the earth today, by the time the first patient displays serious symptoms or dies, the number of infected can be in numerous nations and the ability to quarantine the infected lost. Comparing World War I (1914-1918) with the death of 9 million combatants, the flu epidemic of 1918-1920 killed an estimated 50-130 million people worldwide. World War II including the holocaust is credited with the death of 50 - 70 million people. The flu of 1918 to 1920 was believed to be swine flu H1N1 that we have heard of in the news recently. This is deadly serious when you consider the new strains of this particular flu.

How will starvation and the lack of food affect us? We have already seen starvation in various nations of the world recently. This is with aid agencies and major nations contributing shiploads of food. But what would happen if there were no aid agencies or ships taking food to those locations. What if food did exist but you couldn’t afford to buy it and no one was willing to give it to you?

What about asteroid strikes and solar flares? An asteroid strike can vary from a glancing blow that makes a fireball display in the sky to a high velocity strike a thousand times greater than our biggest nuclear bomb. It all depends on how big the asteroid is and its closing velocity (how fast it is coming) to the earth. It comes down to a simple math problem of mass times velocity equals how much of a problem is the earth going to have. A deep impact scenario of an asteroid striking land is actually better for us on earth; it is far better than a world-wide tsunami from an asteroid striking an ocean.

The bad part of solar flares is how the energy is dissipated in the earth. If the flare overwhelms the earth’s magnetic shield (the natural defense of the earth), then it must dissipate through railroad tracks or power transmission lines. When it goes through power lines it usually blows up relay stations and explodes all the big transformers. These transformers take a few years to build and we don’t have extras standing around. That means that commercial electrical power will go off and people won’t have commercial power for months and years. Life in the city stops and many start looting and destroying businesses in the first hour of no power.

Now imagine all of these items happening at the same time... and one more item to add insult to injury: your fellow citizens, the government, and members of your family want to kill you because you believe in God.

This is also part of the Great Tribulation – The world will blame God and all of God’s people for their troubles. Consider these verses:

I kept looking, and that horn [the antimessiah] was waging war with the saints and overpowering them... He [the antimessiah] will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. DAN 7:21,25

It was also given to him [the antimessiah] to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. REV 13:7

The antimessiah is a major character in the events of the 3½ year Great Tribulation (a time, times, and half a time). He will come to power and use the governing process to oppress God’s people.

Yeshua warned that people would hate us because they hate God.

Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. MAT 24:9

This hatred will include betrayal by members of our own physical families and by members of our own spiritual family.

At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. MAT 24:10, 12

Another key prophecy about the antimessiah is the mark of the beast. Apparently, the control of the antimessiah and the resulting oppression of the saints are accomplished by the mark of the beast system to control buying and selling. I believe the mark of the beast is most likely to be an implant chip marketed to the public as a sure-proof identification system that contains your medical records, your credit cards, your bank account, and your GPS location. It will be sold to the world as an aid to medical services, stopping fraud and personal identity theft, and a way to stop child abduction (kidnapping). The problem with this system for believers is two-fold: first, a severe sore or medical problem will develop from receiving it; and two, the Scripture forbids receiving it coupled with bowing down to worship the beast (antimessiah). Many people in the world have already heard of this prophecy.

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 should 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

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

Accepting the mark of the beast for identification purposes and to buy and sell is endorsing the antimessiah over the true Messiah, bringing permanent separation from God and certain eternal judgment. The prophecy says that many will fall away from the faith in the Great Tribulation. Accepting the mark of the beast is definitely one of the ways to fall away from the faith at that time.

Many saints will die or be killed in the Great Tribulation. The Scripture speaks of three destinies for the saints: sword, captivity, or escape. The first two end in death.

If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints. REV 13:10

I will speak of the third destiny when we speak of the “good news.” Let us review now the first two.

Killing with the sword refers to taking up offensive arms and attempting to relieve one’s self from the oppression. Killing with the sword includes joining others to defend their constitutional rights. I love my country and took an oath to defend the Constitution. My oath did not end when I separated from active duty. But once the Great Tribulation comes, it is not about the government of the United States anymore because the government is no longer a representative of the people. I am not advocating being in this group. It is about the King of the Universe coming back to restore what is His, and He does not need or want me to protect an acre or two of the planet. He needs me to survive and see His return in Glory!

Killing with the sword also includes armed force to forage for food and essential needs. I once heard a man say that he did not need to prepare for the days ahead. “With my gun I can get anything I need.” This is a man who will kill for his needs and be killed for doing so. I am reminded of this small wisdom: There are more people in the world than you. If you start shooting at the world, the world will probably start shooting back.

Being taken captive and dying in captivity will be the predominant way saints will die in the Great Tribulation. First, many of the saints will simply not escape nor wish to take up any weapon against anyone. There is a reason why we are called the sheep in God’s flock. We tend to behave like sheep in a group. Have you ever heard the expression “sheep to the slaughter?” It refers to their non-resistance in the face of danger. The prophecy specifically refers to some saints facing this very prospect.

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. REV 2:10

For what it is worth, this verse does not say that tribulation saints starve to death after being taken captive. Instead, it speaks of a short period of time (ten days) during which their faith will be tested. There is another specific prophecy that speaks of the saints dying in the Great Tribulation. This prophecy is specific to those in the land of Israel.

When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. REV 6:9-11

This is a prophecy about saints in Israel because they are underneath the altar. Traditional Hebrew teaching is that any person buried in Israel is said to be buried beneath the altar. It also says that there are a finite number of those saints who are martyred in the Great Tribulation.

Let us quickly review the bad news of the Great Tribulation.

All the ominous things we see in the world today will become more pervasive together with the judgments poured out during the Great Tribulation. War zones will be numerous. This will lead to loss of homes and communities. Nations will be destroyed. Lack of food and disease will be rampant. People will be hostile and death will be common. Whatever custom and culture of the land that enriched the people will be gone. Every man is out for himself and viciousness will replace human courtesy. As the world attempts to find equilibrium and maintain an order to live, government rules and regulations will replace personal freedoms. Law will be used to control the people; not to stop wrongdoers.

In the last half year of the 3½ year tribulation something horrendous will happen...

An asteroid or comet will impact the earth. It will be a deep impact scenario boring deep into a land element. An abyss will be opened into the earth. The explosion will blow debris and smoke into the upper atmosphere darkening the sun, moon, and stars. The earth will be plunged into five months of darkness. All of this material in the atmosphere will produce spectacular lightening storms. And there is more...

It almost sounds like a horror story, but it is what the Bible says. A group of demons will be released from the abyss of the earth and they will proceed to move about the earth tormenting mankind. These demons are big—the size of horses—and men will wish they were dead.

Here is the specific prophecy:

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

The locusts are demons trapped underground from the beginning since creation. Apparently, God will release them as judgment upon men who worship demons.

And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die and death flees from them. REV 9:5-6

The five months of darkness will give way to the days immediately after the Great Tribulation. The clouds will scroll back, allowing the world to see the brightness of the Messiah’s return on the clouds of heaven. All of that atmospheric debris will be frozen into huge hail stones precipitating down on the earth as the Lord returns on the Day of the Lord!

Is that enough bad news? Actually there is much more in the prophecy, but I think you get the picture. Let’s talk about the good news for you and me.

Do you remember that verse describing a time of distress? It ends with the good news.

Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. DAN 12:1 (Emphasis mine)

Many of God’s people will be rescued. Yes, some saints will take up the sword and die, some will be taken captive, but the final group will escape, survive, and endure to the end.

The prophet Joel describes them this way.

And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls. JOEL 2:32

Ezekiel describes them this way.

Yet, behold, survivors will be left in it who will be brought out, both sons and daughters. Behold, they are going to come forth to you and you will see their conduct and actions; then you will be comforted for the calamity which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought upon it. EZE 14:22

Escaping, surviving, and enduring are not terms of convenience and comfort, but when you are living in a world full of chaos and trauma, they are the difference between life and death. The Bible tells us a great story of deliverance and salvation. Consider the story of escape, survival, and endurance for the children of Israel when they left Egypt.

To this day, we remember the story of the Exodus by keeping the Passover. We eat unleavened bread (Matzah) to remember the “bread of haste” when Israel escaped from Egypt. We keep the Feast of Tabernacles, living in sukkot (temporary shelters), to remember how Israel survived in the wilderness. We commemorate God giving of the Torah to Israel at the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) to be able to endure life. Remember, man does not live by bread alone; man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

How is God going to deliver us from the Great Tribulation? The answer is found in the ancient story of the Exodus. God has already told us how and when we will escape. He has told us how we will survive. He has told us how we will endure.

The key of escaping is to not leave too early nor leave too late. Let me make this simple statement. I’m not positive of the year, but we will escape at a future Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. The only question is whether we believe that God has planned our escape.

The key to surviving the Great Tribulation is whether we have escaped to begin with and joined other brethren dwelling in tents, tabernacles, and huts in the wilderness. If you have never kept the Feast of Tabernacles before, then you have no idea what I am referring to. You probably don’t know that the Lord has promised “springs of water” like the water from the Rock and manna (bread from heaven) that is “hidden.” You probably don’t know that God’s deliverance with death all around is dwelling in a tent.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not approach you. You will only look on with your eyes, and see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made the Lord, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. PSA 91:5-10

The key to enduring the Great Tribulation is to “wait on the Lord” and not take your eyes off of His promised return and kingdom.

The good news of the Great Tribulation is that God has a plan of deliverance and salvation for us, and it doesn’t stop there. God has also promised to pour out His Spirit upon us and to provide others anointed to help us.

It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. JOEL 2:28-31

One particular group of people anointed by God to give aid to the tribulation saints are the 144,000 described in Revelation 7 and 14. They are sealed to guarantee their protection for the entire 3½ years to enable them to await the Messiah’s return to Jerusalem.

And I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. REV 14:1-3

You may be wondering how does a group of 144,000 anointed of God provide aid to the tribulation saints. First, they are guaranteed to make it through the entire 3½ years. Hanging out with them improves your odds of survival dramatically. Secondly, they are part of the leadership of God in those days. They will be the heroes and champions of the faith. Following them will result in your being in the will of God. This would be very good for you since God is returning to the earth to deal with everyone who is not following His will. Finally, they offer a very special protection by taking refuge in them. The prophet Micah describes their level of protection for the tribulation saints.

Then the remnant of Jacob [the 144,000 in the Great Tribulation] will be among many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on vegetation which do not wait for man or delay for the sons of men. The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, among many peoples like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which, if he passes through, tramples down and tears, and there is none to rescue. Your hand will be lifted up against your adversaries, and all your enemies will be cut off. MIC 5:7-9

The 144,000 will be scattered in all of the nations in various camps of the brethren. How many of them will be in your camp we do not know, but 144,000 pretty much guarantees that there will be sufficient numbers for the needs of the tribulation saints.

Bad news and good news are really relative terms. For those who do not know nor believe in the prophecies of the Great Tribulation, the events of the Great Tribulation will be devastating and appear to have no hope. Life for them will be ending in disaster. The imminent escape of a rapture of the church will not materialize. Instead, the disappointment will lead to many falling away from the faith. As one pastor said to me, “I do not want to believe in any God that would cause me and my family to go through the Great Tribulation.”

For us who know the Lord and have been attentive to what He has explained, the Great Tribulation will be the Word of God happening in the world. When we see the bad news taking shape, we can be assured that we still have the good news following.

Be strong and courageous, my friends. We are about to leave Egypt and journey to the Promised Land!