SODOM; EGYPT; JERUSALEM
SODOM; EGYPT; JERUSALEM Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
As soon as God is satisfied that the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached for a witness to all nations He will permit Antichrist to make war against the saints. Some Christians will be defeated morally and their witness ruined. The godly remnant will be driven from the centers of civilization.
Although such a plan is difficult for us to understand, God will allow Antichrist to overcome the worldwide witness as part of the Divine wisdom in bringing forth a Church without spot or wrinkle. Deception rather than power will be the tool used to seek to lure the saints from the path of eternal life. Only the strongest will be able to overcome the deceiver, and they themselves will be purified by the battle.
The greatest danger for the saints in the last days is the hour of temptation, not the great tribulation. Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem portray the three temptations that face the sons of God: Sodom speaks of the lust of the flesh. Egypt represents the lust of the eyes. Jerusalem symbolizes the pride of life. Jesus met and overcame each of the three temptations while He was being tested in the wilderness.
The spirit of Antichrist, of lawlessness, always is engaged in tempting each of the saints in these three manners. Many have been defeated in our day.
SODOM; EGYPT; JERUSALEM
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. (Revelation 1:7,8)
It appears that during the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:27) there will take place the most powerful revival in the history of the world—the latter-rain revival, spoken of by Joel, Hosea, Zechariah, and James.
During the second half of Daniel’s seventieth week there will occur the darkest, most oppressive hour of world history—the reign of Antichrist and the resulting great tribulation.
Revelation, Chapter 11 reveals that a double portion of the Spirit of God (the two olive trees) will abide on Christ-filled saints (the two golden lampstands, symbolizing Christ—Head and Body) during the first half of the week (three and one-half years).
Then Antichrist will overcome the saints and take his seat in the Temple of God in Jerusalem, there to reign over "all kindreds, and tongues, and nations" (Revelation 13:7).
How will Antichrist be able to overcome the saints who bore witness of the Kingdom of God during the mightiest revival of world history? He cannot overcome them until "they shall have finished their testimony" (Revelation 11:7). As soon as God is satisfied that the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached for a witness to all nations He will permit Antichrist to make war against the saints, to overcome them and to kill them (Revelation 11:7; Daniel 12:7).
How will Antichrist overcome the saints? He will overcome them by Sodom, by Egypt, and by Jerusalem. Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem portray the spirit of the world—the spirit which is of Satan, of Antichrist, of the False Prophet. God will permit His saints to be overcome by the spirit of the world, as symbolized by "the street of the great city."
"Their dead bodies" (Revelation 11:9) are a picture of the Christian institutions, churches, and schools that have resulted from the latter-rain revival. Now they are devoid of the Life of the Spirit of God. They are dead.
Some may protest, how could this happen? How could Antichrist overcome the people of the Lord? If we will open our eyes and look about us we will begin to understand that the Lord’s people already have been overcome by the world. This is true of America and of other wealthy "Christian" nations. Many of the churches are spiritually dead. They have been overcome by Sodom, by Egypt, and by Jerusalem.
Sodom represents the lust of the flesh.
Egypt represents the lust of the eyes.
Jerusalem represents the pride of life.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (I John 2:15,16)
It is not possible to overcome God’s elect by means of force. The saints of the Lord are guarded by the angel of the Lord. In addition to being protected by holy angels of great strength, the saints have received from the Lord Jesus power over all the power and authority of Satan. Nothing can truly hurt them when they are abiding in Christ.
Also, God’s elect cannot be overcome by persecution. The saints always have been and always will be (until Jesus returns) persecuted, tortured, and killed (Romans 8:36).
But the true saints always overcome all these.
It is not brute force that will overcome the elect of the last days, it is sin. It is not the hour of tribulation that is the danger, it is the hour of temptation.
The fleshly churches preach that God will not permit His saints to experience tribulation. This is unscriptural. All of us are appointed to tribulation. It is tribulation that creates saints, that purifies the churches. The strongest Christians of today are those in countries that persecute them.
No, it is not the hour of tribulation the saints need to fear, it is the hour of temptation. It is impossible for Satan to overcome Christians by force because the Lord Jesus possesses greater power than Satan does. But Satan is very successful in overcoming the saints by temptation and sin.
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
"The hour of temptation"!
Christian teachers are maintaining that because of the tribulation soon to come, God will carry away the elect to Heaven so they cannot be harmed.
It is not tribulation that is the problem, it is temptation. It is not the hour of suffering of which we are to beware. Christians have suffered throughout the centuries and have drawn closer to God because of it. It is the hour of temptation, of abundance of sin, that is the danger to the believers.
As we have stated, the believers already are succumbing to the sin that is increasing in the democratic nations while they, with no scriptural backing whatever, are waiting to be delivered from tribulation by means of a "pre-tribulation rapture."
The word "temptation" employed in Revelation 3:10 appears also in Matthew 6:13: "lead us not into temptation." It is the same word in the Greek text. Again, in Luke 4:13: " And when the devil had ended all the temptation."
Revelation 3:10, which is one of the bases of the rapture myth, has nothing to do with deliverance from tribulation. Rather it is referring to the Lord’s promise to keep His patient, cross-carrying disciples from being overcome by sin.
Satan has managed to convince the believers of the wealthy nations of our day that God does not want them to suffer and therefore will remove them from the earth (contrary to Christ’s prayer—John 17:15). Meanwhile a multitude of the Christian people who are waiting to be raptured have already been overcome by Satan, who is employing the lust of their flesh, the lust of their eyes, and their pride of life. We see from this that Satan indeed is a crafty opponent.
Antichrist cannot overcome the saints by superior force but he will succeed in destroying the testimony of the elect by means of guile. He already has done so in many instances.
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace [ease; security] shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. (Daniel 8:24,25)
Antichrist will not conquer the saints, the holy people, the elect, by means of war but by means of "peace" (careless security; ease; prosperity). He already is accomplishing this in the wealthy nations. The ruinous, so-called "prosperity message" is an example of Satan’s tactics and also of the ease with which the saints can be overcome.
Samson, a type of God’s anointed witnesses, was not overcome by force but by "love."
"Love not the world!" God commands and warns us. But Satan is telling the elect today they can prosper in the world and still abide in Christ.
It is by cunning temptation and deception that God’s witnesses will be overcome.
It is very true that Antichrist and the babylonish (manmade, man-centered, man-directed) churches of the last days will use violence against the saints. But Christian saints throughout history have suffered every kind of persecution and torture and have emerged stronger than ever. It is not pain that is the danger, it is luxurious living.
One of the problems is that God’s sheep are confident they will be able to discern and resist the temptations of the last days. This is not true. The deception will be so demoniacally subtle it will not be possible to distinguish between what is of God and what is not of God. Only the Lord Jesus is able to develop in our personalities the knowledge of what is of God and what is not of God. The believers of today are vulnerable to deception and they do not understand this.
The Christians imagine Antichrist will be something like the Communists. The Communist doctrine obviously is ungodly in many aspects. It is hardly a deception. It is not Communism that is the danger to the saints, it is the blend of religious delusion and democracy that has the potential to bring forth the government of Antichrist.
The Christian people do not realize government based on the will of the people is more destructive of the Kingdom of God than government that is totalitarian and atheistic. The constitutions of democratic nations guarantee to people the right to sin and to be protected from punishment for their sin. Totalitarian nations, on the other hand, often make an attempt to enforce morality on their citizenry.
Any government that does not seek to enforce morality but by law protects immorality, as we see today in laws protecting pornography, homosexuality, sodomy, abortion, and so forth, is worthless in God’s sight and will be destroyed.
It is the business of government to define sin as crime and to punish the offenders. Morality must be enforced by government if God’s will is to be done in the earth.
One day the moral law will come forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Then God’s laws shall be enforced with a rod of iron. The future government of the world will not be a democracy. It will be a monarchy ruled by a righteous, compassionate, God-obeying King.
God’s people do not understand even this simple issue. They cannot discern the difference between democracy and the Kingdom of God. They are of the opinion that in some manner they will be able to blend the Gospel with democracy so the churches can govern the world in a godly manner and grant people the freedom to do as they please.
This is what Satan desires. Satan never fears what man can do. Satan fears God alone. There is nothing Satan enjoys more than an institution or government that is of people because then he can direct those people, bringing them into bondage to himself. The only human being Satan fears is the one who has died the death of the cross and now is living in the Life of Jesus.
The Christian believers of today think their mere acknowledgment of the atoning death and bodily resurrection of Jesus means they now are being saved and governed by Him. If this is the limit of their knowledge, how shall they be able to discern and resist Antichrist?
We are beginning to see attempts by Charismatic people to enter government positions. This could be a good thing were it not for the fact these believers are not being ruled by Jesus but by their religious deception, misunderstanding, and zeal. They intend to govern "by faith," to employ supernatural power in Jesus’ name in order to exercise dominion over the peoples of the earth.
Here is a great danger—the misguided Christian who is seeking spiritual power in order to accomplish what he imagines God wants him to do. This is the formula for the False Prophet.
The Lord Jesus will not permit a true saint to govern the world today, that is, to govern in the Kingdom of God sense. There is nothing wrong with a government leader being a Christian. But he is not to rule as a "Christian." Rather, he is to govern as a citizen of his state, as an experienced, disciplined individual having integrity and uprightness of character (which is not true of numerous believers). He is not to rule in a mystical sense as a "Christian." The hour of the rule of the saints over the earth is in the future. Our kingdom is not of this world.
The task of the believers in the present hour is to bear witness to all nations of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God and to teach the nations the moral laws of God. It is the responsibility of all national governments to embrace the moral principles of God’s Word and to realize they are holding their positions of leadership as a sacred trust until He comes whose right it is to govern the nations.
It is the responsibility of national governments to legislate and enforce morality so their citizens are not allowed to murder, to rob, to lie, to commit acts of sexual perversion, to spend their days in drunkenness and laziness, but rather are commanded to fear God, to honor the government, and to work diligently at their tasks. There never can be any such abomination as a separation between God and the state without the state crumbling into chaos.
We have made the preceding comments about the nature of government in order to reveal that Christian people already are deceived concerning the entrance of Antichrist into the world. The believers are expecting some kind of monster to appear and threaten them, at which point the Lord Jesus will carry them off to a glorified Sunday school picnic in Heaven.
The current danger is the infiltration of humanistic (man-centered) concepts into Christian thinking, the spread of the idea that people ought to be governing the government, and the attempt to gain power through the use of Jesus’ name apart from cross-carrying obedience to the Lord.
The pleasure-loving, man-centered preaching of our day has made the believers careless in prayer, in consecration, in service. The Charismatic people are ready to believe that all miracles seeming to be associated with Jesus’ name are from Heaven. They do not insist on testing the spirits and they are being deceived as a result.
The lords of darkness have had thousands of years to perfect their plans and devices. Only the most consecrated, the most devout of the Lord’s people will be able to resist the wiles of Antichrist during the dark spiritual days ahead.
The end of the present age will come as soon as Antichrist, through his cunning, has succeeded in shattering and scattering the power of the saints (Daniel 12:7). We notice in Revelation, Chapter 11 that as soon as the witnesses have been conquered, Antichrist will extend his power over the earth. The end of the present age will follow soon thereafter (Revelation 11:15-18).
First, the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached "in all the world for a witness unto all nations" (Matthew 24:14). Then there will be a period of spiritual carelessness. Sin will increase rapidly and the majority of believers will grow cold. God will give Antichrist authority over the nations of the earth. Finally, the Lord will return and set up His Kingdom on the earth.
Paul mentions the great "falling away," which is the defection caused by the period of lawlessness following the latter-rain revival. Worldwide sin will follow the latter-rain revival because many people will profess Christ, producing the childish, silly, adulterous, spiritually ignorant environment often seen today in churches and other Christian institutions.
There is a gap of lawlessness into which many people fall when they become Christians. They tend to lose their adamic strength of character, their normal sense of right and wrong—probably because grace is overemphasized in today’s preaching. It may be many years (if indeed it ever happens) before some of them come under the discipline of the Holy Spirit. They live in a gap of lawlessness, married neither to Moses nor Christ, trusting that God is overlooking their foolishness and sin. This undisciplined environment abounds in Charismatic and other Christian churches.
People are put off guard when they experience the forgiveness of their sins. This defenselessness of character will prevail throughout the world, as we understand it, as a direct result of the enormous power and effectiveness of the latter-rain revival. The widespread "Christian" environment will provide the fertile soil in which the blend of Christianity and democracy can come to maturity.
The result of the blend of Christianity and democracy will be a man who perceives his destiny to be the bringing of peace to the world. If he is careful how he expresses himself, and assists the churches, he will be able to deceive the believers quite easily—especially at first.
The same outpouring of heavenly "rain" that brings the wheat, the Body of Christ, to maturity will also bring the tares to maturity.
Receiving Christ without proper grounding in the Word and admonition of the Lord sometimes tends to destroy character rather than build character. The individual discards his natural sense of right and wrong. His conscience is overwhelmed by his new "religion."
He is saved by grace, according to his teachers, and the concept is conveyed to him that God automatically and perpetually is forgiving his misconduct. Such an individual can be drawn into satanic behavior, into lust and self-centered spiritual pride in which he imagines himself to be above the limitations imposed by conscience, the laws of his country, and the laws and wisdom of the Scriptures.
The kingdom of Antichrist is not a Communist prison, it is people in a manmade paradise attempting to use the name of Jesus apart from union with Jesus.
Jesus Himself mentioned that the love of the majority will grow cold before He returns (Matthew 24:12). This will happen because "iniquity (wickedness) shall abound" and people who were at one time hot or warm in their love for Jesus will lose their desire to walk with God.
Paul speaks of the "falling away" (II Thessalonians 2:3) and associates the falling away with the revelation of Antichrist. Antichrist cannot be revealed until the restraining power is removed from his path. The restraining power is the Holy Spirit—the Power to bear witness which abides within and upon the saints.
The restraining power will be removed from the path of Antichrist because of two factors: (1) God will lift the extraordinary power of the latter-rain testimony so sin can come to maturity; (2) numerous Christians will be deceived by sin and will fall away from their love of Jesus. The stars of God will fall from the heaven, as it were. It is the falling away from the faith, the end-time apostasy, that will open the way for the full revelation of the man of sin.
There are three temptations with which the sons of God are faced. Jesus met and overcame each one of the three while He was being tested in the wilderness. The three temptations are as follows: (1) Sodom—the lust of the flesh; (2) Egypt—the lust of the eyes; and (3) Jerusalem—the pride of life. The spirit of the world includes fleshly appetites and lusts, covetousness, and pride, rebellion, and presumption.
The spirit of Antichrist, of lawlessness and wickedness, always is engaged in tempting each of the saints in these three manners. Many have been overcome in our day.
The Book of Jude is the introduction to the Book of Revelation. The Book of Jude describes the falling away of the last days, while Revelation is the portrayal of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The Book of Jude speaks of Cain, whose murderous rage against his brother symbolizes Sodom—the lust of the flesh resulting in rage and murder; Balaam, who symbolizes Egypt—the lust of the eyes resulting in covetousness; and Core (Korah), who symbolizes Jerusalem—the pride of life resulting in envy and rebellion.
Jude brings to our remembrance the fact that people were saved out of Egypt and then later were destroyed (verse 5). He is speaking of sinners in the congregation of the Lord.
This puts Jude in mind of Sodom:
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7)
There are many lustful, covetous, rebellious, proud, haughty, presumptuous people in the congregation of the Lord today. They have been taught (contrary to Jude) that once they are "saved" they cannot be lost. They are "saved by grace," therefore their behavior is not critical to their salvation. They are turning the grace of God into immorality.
The modern teaching of grace is contrary to the teaching of Jesus and His Apostles, not to mention the Hebrew Prophets. It is evident from the writings of the New Testament that the sign of salvation is a transformed personality (II Corinthians 5:17).
Because of false teaching among Christians, sin abounds in the churches. The testimony of Jesus has been destroyed. The "lampstand has been removed from its place." There is immorality in the ministry and among the people in many instances. "Jezebel" is teaching and has numerous followers and supporters.
A belief held commonly among Christians maintains that as long as we are living in the world we are debtors to our flesh. We must sin. We must serve our flesh until we die. It does not seem to bother such "believers" that the Scriptures teach the opposite.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:12,13)
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
The righteousness, holiness, and godly obedience of the believers have been destroyed out of the churches because of false teaching, such as the definition of grace as the Divine apology for our sins, the excessive emphasis on the love of God without a balancing statement concerning the terror of the Lord, the mischievous doctrine of the "pre-tribulation rapture," and the using of "faith" to get what we want. There is an abundance of "ministry" but the witness of God’s Person, Word, and eternal purpose has been extinguished.
What Antichrist never could accomplish by means of the gun and bayonet he achieves easily by overcoming the Lord’s people with the appetites of their flesh. Satan’s main weapon has been the distorting of Paul’s doctrine concerning "righteousness by faith" to mean thorough repentance and godly behavior are not integral parts of the salvation offered through the new covenant.
Paul, the teacher of the doctrine of salvation by grace, warns us repeatedly: "Put to death through the Spirit the lusts of your flesh. If you do not, you will forfeit your citizenship in the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21); you will by negligence lose your resurrection life, as did the five foolish virgins (Romans 8:13; Matthew 25:8)."
When the prophets are in sin there is no authority or power in their testimony. They have been conquered by the world. Their dead bodies lie in the street of Sodom, in the way of the lust of the flesh.
Jude speaks of those in the churches who run "greedily after the error of Balaam for reward." Of the sins mentioned in the Scriptures, none is denounced by statement and example more strongly than covetousness, the love of money, the lust of the eyes. This is "Egypt," the love of the world.
Antichrist is conquering in many areas today. He already, in certain nations, has nearly destroyed the Christian testimony. He has achieved this with the tool of affluence. The prophets love "give ye." The people enjoy having it so. The testimony of the Lord Jesus perishes from the churches as a result.
We think of the destruction of Balaam, a powerful mystic. We remember the leprosy of Naaman cleaving to Gehazi. The forces of Hell overcame one of the Twelve, and Jesus referred to the conquered one as "the son of perdition [destruction]," saying it had been good for him if he never had been born. And for thirty pieces of silver!
Ananias and Sapphira traded their eternal inheritance for money, becoming an example of those who lie to the Holy Spirit. Demas loved this present world and now his bones are rotting alongside his possessions—leaving his name as a reminder to Christians of what not to do.
Of all the heathen gods of His day, the Lord Jesus warned us concerning only one—mammon (money).
Paul declared that the love of money is the root of all evil.
In spite of all this there are ministers of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, supposedly believers in the Scriptures, who are proclaiming that material wealth is highly desirable and the sign of God’s blessing.
Such preachers have convinced the "saints" of the wealthy nations that God wants them to be rich in material goods—in the same goods that already have caused the steel of their consecration to turn to jelly. We have the confusing scene of people professing Christ, speaking in tongues, prophesying, healing the sick, and announcing that God wishes the Christian people to be wealthy and successful in this world.
One must acknowledge Antichrist as a master deceiver!
God has chosen the poor of this world. It is those who are poor in this world but rich in faith and love for Him whom God has chosen to be heirs of His Kingdom. God sends away empty the rich of this world. The rich are commanded to "weep and howl" (James 5:1).
It is nearly impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. The prostitutes and thieves find it much easier to enter. Yet, the "prophets" in the wealthy nations are teaching that the believers should be wealthier than they are now. Are they deliberately attempting to make it impossible for their hearers to enter the Kingdom of God?
Paul shows us that "Sodom" and "Egypt" have no place in the Kingdom of God:
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)
The "street of Sodom" and the "street of Egypt" are lined with the bodies of God’s former witnesses. One can go to large cities and behold cathedrals and other Christian institutions that at one time played a role in the Gospel of the Kingdom but now are sepulchers. Such "dead bodies" will be found throughout the major cities of the world during the period that follows the latter-rain revival.
Now we come to the third city (although the three are one "great city"—the world) in which the Lord always is crucified, which always seeks to slay the prophets of God. That city is "Jerusalem," the symbol of spiritual envy, of religious pride, of rebellion against God.
We are not speaking of literal Jerusalem, or literal Egypt, or literal Sodom. These are figures the Spirit uses in the eleventh chapter of Revelation. We are referring to the spirit of Jerusalem, of Egypt, of Sodom.
"Jerusalem" is so wicked, so stubbornly set in its ways, it will cry for the execution of its own Christ even when the world sees the injustice of the charge and seeks to release Him.
Jude uses strong language to condemn the presumptuous of the churches—a condemnation that reaches out to denounce the pride and self-centeredness of the Lord’s congregations of our own time:
Likewise also these filthy dreamers [partakers of the Christian love feasts] defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. (Jude 1:8)
We see this today as both secular society and Christian society seek to pull down their leaders to a level where everyone is on a first name basis. "All the Lord’s people are holy." The leaders are no different from anyone else (it is maintained) and are to be followed only when it pleases the group to do so. What appears to be so "democratic," so good for people, actually is satanic.
Rulership comes from God. When the civil or religious rulers are wicked, confusion and sin abound. God-fearing people cannot always determine when the government has become so evil its laws must be resisted. Resistance to authority is a matter of the utmost seriousness.
The true saint, the believer who has been taught of the Lord, is ready to obey authority. He knows that in doing so he is obeying Christ and showing proper reverence toward God. This is not to say we are to disobey the laws of God when wicked rulers command us to do so, as confused, nominal Christians in Germany did in cooperation with Adolf Hitler. But it is to say we are to honor all government, as much as possible, as being established by the Lord for the execution of His purposes in the earth.
The doctrine that people should be free to do as they please has been developing over the past few hundred years. This doctrine will lead directly to Antichrist, to the lawless one. God always works in terms of government, of law, of order. The person who resists those who have the rule over him (except in the unusual situations we mentioned previously) is resisting God (Romans 13:2).
The Catholic Church historically has kept its members under obedience. As the pendulum has swung (in Protestantism) away from ecclesiastical authority there has arisen a disregard and, in some instances, a contempt for spiritual authority. This is true not only in secular society but also among the believers. It appears today each believer (especially in many Christian assemblies) feels free to do what is right in his own eyes. There is little fear of God or His leaders.
Because of the presumption in the churches of his day (and in ours), Jude reminds us of the manner in which God dealt with Korah:
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. (Jude 1:11)
"The gainsaying of Core (Korah)"!
Korah was a Kohathite Levite, the branch of the Levites from which the priests were taken. So it is that those who are the closest to the Lord need to be careful they do not become presumptuous in the things of God. If they do, God will bring them down in humiliation. Those who are exalted in spiritual matters always are in danger of resisting the Lord’s will, of "crucifying" the Lord as did the Pharisees.
Satan could not conquer the Pharisees through the lusts of the flesh, and perhaps not through covetousness (although the Scripture testifies that the Pharisees were covetous—Luke 16:14). But through the pride of life, through envy, Satan was able to deceive the religious leaders into murdering their Christ.
The secular Pilate understood that their motive was envy (Mark 15:10). We of the churches need to realize the world is able to discern our impure motives. We are deceiving no one except ourselves.
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, distinguished leaders of Israel, were tempted to act presumptuously against Moses and Aaron:
And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? (Numbers 16:3)
Notice the "democratic" emphasis here: "all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them." The "sin" of Moses and Aaron, according to the rebels, was that they lifted themselves "above the congregation of the Lord."
The emphasis on "human rights" is increasing in our time. One of the great errors of today is that of not exerting necessary rulership. Leaders in many fields of endeavor are becoming less willing to take charge in an authoritative manner. They are being forced to gain the approval of the group before they can act. This can be observed in the armed forces of the United States where the commands of the officers are often obeyed in a less than diligent manner—a far cry from what used to be the case.
It may be noticed that as the governments of the democratic nations yield increasingly to the pressure coming from various interest groups of the population, other strong forces, such as the media, are rushing in to fill the power vacuum. This always will happen. If the appointed leaders are not strong enough to govern, another power group will step in and manipulate the people according to their own desires. Because of the spiritual pressure that hovers over the earth it is impossible for a power vacuum to continue.
We can observe the Christian ministers as they preach in a manner calculated to gain the approval of their listeners. The successful pastor or teacher is the one who gains the largest following. The emphasis is on "positive" preaching—preaching that minimizes the sins and disobediences of the believers. Some corporations are selling seminars for pastors which teach them how to use modern managerial techniques to build their churches.
Such efforts are less than worthless in the Kingdom of God. Those who engage in them are failing God and man. In their efforts to court the good opinion of their hearers they are neglecting to present the whole counsel of God. They are anxious to please people but not anxious to please God. They are not true and faithful witnesses.
When leaders become afraid of those whom they are supposed to be ruling, when they lose the courage a ruler must have, they lead their followers astray. God removes the wisdom of the rulers from them. Destruction soon follows.
God did not choose Moses and Aaron to be moved by the whims and appetites of the Israelites but to govern and lead them according to the will of God. Those who were resisting Moses and Aaron were resisting God Himself.
When Aaron feared the people he led them into sin.
God demonstrated His opinion of the democratic emphasis of Korah:
And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. (Numbers 16:32,33)
God has not changed. He still will bring destruction on every individual who despises authority.
Jude speaks of those who "despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities."
God’s people always resist God’s Spirit and the prophets through whom the Spirit speaks. It is true today. People are the same in every generation.
We can observe already the spirit that will be prevalent in the period following the latter-rain revival. It is a lawlessness, a lack of moral restraint, an unwillingness to obey authority. We see this in the Christian school movement when parents support their children in their rebellion against the school dress code. The believers go from church to church as their fancy moves them. They will not accept the authority of the eldership. They return to their houses and prophesy to themselves concerning the Lord’s will for their own lives.
In emphasizing the authority of the Christian eldership we are not advocating the excesses of the "discipleship" movement of the last few years. The believer always must go to the Lord Jesus for the decisions of his life. It is well to seek the council of the elders, but the elders must never bring the believer into bondage to themselves. There only is one Shepherd of the flock of God, and His name is Jesus. No minister of the Gospel, no matter how highly placed he may be in the sight of men, is anything more than a helper of his fellow Christians.
The Christian ministry has yielded to pressure from the believers. The pastor and evangelists give the people what they want and are paid for their service.
Aaron listened to the people. The golden calf, naked dancing, and the "breaking" of the Ten Commandments were the result (Exodus 32:19).
The spirit of lawlessness and man-centeredness will fill the earth during the days of Antichrist. The conduct of the believers of the present hour is demonstrating the behavior of the future.
Presumption, like covetousness, is a deceiver. We have the spectacle of the Lord’s people running here and there, prophesying, praying for the sick, teaching the Scriptures, professing great professions, claiming "The Lord said this and the Lord said. You don’t have to be sick, or suffer, or be poor, or wait for the Lord, or be denied anything you desire. If you don’t get just what you want when you want it, it’s your own fault. You don’t have faith."
This is not faith in Christ, it is presumption (Psalms 19:13; Luke 4:12).
We have been so filled with spiritual pride it will be difficult for us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and accept the rulership of those whom God places over us in the Kingdom of God. Satan will whisper in our ear, "All the Lord’s people are holy. You do not have to obey anyone. Christ has set you free. You are a prophet (or prophetess) and God will speak to you personally."
Our "dead body" then will "lie in the street of Jerusalem." We have been overcome by spiritual pride and have, therefore, lost our power to bear witness of the Lord Jesus and to resist the flatteries of Antichrist.
Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem—these are the murderers of the Lord’s witnesses, of the prophets of God.
The fleshly, self-seeking preachers of today are telling us we do not have to prepare ourselves for the great tribulation because God loves us so much He will not allow us to suffer (unlike most of the Christians of past and present eras). The preachers are saying this so people will come to their churches and put more money in the offering. Their god is their belly.
The truth is, tribulation is a necessary part of the Christian experience. We enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation. We are not to fear tribulation but we are to fear temptation. The extraordinary peril of the last days is not the great tribulation but the "hour of temptation" (Revelation 3:10).
Jesus did not advise us to pray that God would deliver us from tribulation but from temptation.
It is the hour of temptation we are to fear. It is the abounding of immorality, not tribulation, that will cause the love of the majority of the believers to grow cold.
Lawlessness, which is the spirit of Antichrist, is already filling the world and the Christian churches. God’s people already are being overcome by the sins of the flesh, by the love of money, and by spiritual rebellion and pride. They are being overcome by sin while they are waiting to be delivered from tribulation.
Tribulation often is desirable to shape our character. Temptation and sin never are desirable and we are to pray to be delivered from them. Tribulation is the result, not the cause, of sin.
Many times God sends tribulation on us in order to deliver us from temptation. Before we are afflicted we go astray, but after we suffer we cease our sinning (Psalms 119:67: I Peter 4:1,2). Afflictions are the constant companions of the righteous, but after a season the Lord removes those companions. He removes them because the necessary transformation of character has been wrought in us.
God will permit Antichrist to deceive numerous believers. The true witnesses of the Lord will be driven from the cities of the earth. All opposition will be removed from the path of the man of sin.
Antichrist will subsidize the Christian churches and schools leaving their "dead bodies in the street of Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem." The Holy Spirit will not be in those institutions. The voice of the Bridegroom and the Bride will not be in them. "Peace and safety" will appear to fill the land. The tormentors, the Lord’s witnesses, have been overcome by temptation or else have been driven by force from the centers of civilization.
Suddenly the Lord will fill the living and dead saints with the incorruptible resurrection Life of the Spirit of God. They will stand on their feet on the earth. Antichrist and his followers will behold them with fear.
Many of the nations of the earth will believe in Christ and come to the Presence of God in the saints.
We now are entering "seven fat years" of abundance of God’s Word and spiritual blessing. Let us be diligent in laying up "corn" for ourselves and for those around us. The darkness is at hand in which no man can work. The morning is coming but also the night.