Uncovering A Biblical Worldview

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The End is Coming!

A Sermon by Jefferis Kent Peterson
2
Peter 3:1-13

Luke 21: 5-36;

Rms. 11: 25-32 2

Thessalonians 2: 1-12;

Rev. 13: 11-18
Ebenezer
Pres. Church

Jefferis Kent Peterson

August 25, 1985

Sermon no. 49

Every generation wants
to know
when the King is coming back. When will the end be? There
are millions of forecasters making many, many millions of dollars
trying to foretell the future. Some are plainly not inspired by God:
the horoscopes, the occultists; they try and tell from one year to
the next, who will be mating with whom and who will be divorcing whom.
And some far out people predict the end of the world down to the day
and the hour. But we are not given the hour or the day, Jesus doesn't
know it; even the angels in heaven don't know it. God the Father alone
knows it. There are even Christian prophets who try and read from
the signs of the times the day the Lord will come again. The most
famous one is Hal Lindsey; he tries to read in the political events
of the day signs which prove that the Lord is returning soon. But
so many like him before have "proved" the Lord's return
is near only later to be shown in error.

But I want to tell you, the
end is coming! Perhaps sooner than you think! Hopefully, you will
be ready. We are all supposed to be ready every day, every minute,
every hour. Sometimes this readiness we are called to have leads people
to sell all they have and wait till the next week when their prophet
has said: " the Lord is coming August 17th at 12:00 noon." I don't
know if you have read it in the Sharon Herald recently, but there
have been notices that Jesus is returning August 17th. Well, it is
the 25th. God can make fools of us if we try and pin him down too
closely.

In ancient Israel, each city
had a watchtower. And they would send up into the watchtower a watchman
to keep an eye over the horizon to see and watch for danger approaching.
If the man fell asleep at his post, it was very dangerous, because
not only was putting his own life in danger, but he was putting in
danger the life of the community. He would look across the horizon
for dust, which would signal an army of approaching horses. And he
was to give the alarm when he saw the dust, before he knew whether
it was friend or foe, because if it were the enemy and the people
were not ready, then it would be too late.

Today I am looking at the horizon, and I see possible
danger approaching. And I want to tell you that the end is coming. I
am giving you warning.


Everyone is curious. What
will that day be like? Let us begin with the first reading from scripture:

"This is now the second
letter that I have written to you, beloved, and in both of them
I have aroused your sincere mind by way of reminder; that you should
remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment
of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all you must
understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing,
following their own passions and saying, "Where is the promise of
his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have
continued as they were from the beginning of creation." They deliberately
ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago,
and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, through
which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.
But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been
stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction
of ungodly men. But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with
the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as
one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness,
but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish,
but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will
come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud
noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth
and the works that are upon it will be burned up. Since all these
things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you
to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening
the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will
be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire!
But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth
in which righteousness dwells." 2 Peter 3:1-13, RSV.

Everyone is curious: what
will that day be like? Peter says it will come in with a bang! But
will there be any signs that let us know that it is about to take
place? Jesus said it will come like a thief in the night and take
us all by surprise. On the day of his coming, people will be getting
married, women will be buying in stores, and farmers will be milking.
There will be workers in factories and in fields. People will be visiting
their friends. It will be a day just any other day. It will be a day
just like today. And because these days go on and on, we are lulled
into a sense of peace and security. And we come to believe that the
world will not end; at least not in our lifetime. We all share the
illusion of the stability of life: that we will never grow old, we
will never die. No sudden accidents will come upon us. No disease
will suddenly take us. Life goes on as before and will go on forever.
And so we continue to do what we have always done; hopefully living
righteously; if not, we also blind ourselves to the need for repentance
because we continue to sin thinking that we will never be brought
to judgement.

The Christian and non-Christian
alike are blind to the fact that life is balancing by a slender thread,
and that it takes only one unexpected slice of the knife to cut us
off from the living. There are car accidents, strokes, heart attacks,
even in the young, every day. Murders and terrorism plague the innocent.
Therefore, Jesus said everyday we should be prepared to meet him.
For we do not know the hour of his coming, nor do we know the hour
of our departure.
The Christian and non-Christian alike are blind,
but the non-Christian is especially blind to the prophets who say:
"the end is coming! For the Lord will return one day, and there will
be judgment."They say they've heard things like that before. "It's
foolish superstition. Religious zealots and fanatics always say things
like that."
They scoff at such a thing. "The earth lasts
forever. It has been here for four billion years, it will be here
for four billion more."

But Peter said that the Lord
is not slow as we consider slowness, for to him a thousand years is
as a day. By that account, it has only been two days since he has
been gone, but the world continues to be blind to the fact that the
Lord is coming. And we too are blind; we share that blindness. Everything
seems so firm and unshakeable. The ground is firm and solid. The earth
abides forever, as the Psalmist says. But we really don't realize
how fragile our earth is. If you lived in California, you might understand
it better. Or in Washington, near the volcano Mt. St. Helens, you
might know it also. Our solid earth that seems so solid and unchanging
is but a thin crust of shifting plates over a seething mantle of great
heat and raging fires under tremendous pressure ready to blow at the
least little fissure in the earth. The earth is but a ball of dirt
in space covered by a thin wisp of oxygen, near a boiling sun that
is ready to explode, ready to wipe us out in a flash of its heat.
It would not take but a second for Peter's prophecy to come true,
and for the earth to be dissolved.

We don't know when day that
will be. Even if God has not decided to destroy the earth through
the events of nature, there are dangers that are far more immediate
and are far more human. The finger of the president and the Soviet
premier are poised over a button that would unleash instruments of
death and consume us in a matter of 16 minutes. We are but seconds
away from eternal conflagration and complete destruction of our fragile
planet. Everything we know and trust and work for could be dissolved
in flames of fire by one mad man in the Kremlin. One mad man could
push it; or we could make one wrong move in the global chess match;
or even worse, a simple program error in a super fast computer is
all it would take to bring to fulfillment the prophecy of Saint Peter:
"God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water, the fire next time!"


Everyone wants to know: how
will that Day come? We are all interested. Peter says of that day,
"the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements
will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works upon it will
be burned up!"
Sounds like nuclear holocaust or an explosion in
the sun to me. But when will it come? That is not an answer that is
given to us. Jesus said it will come like a thief in the night, on
a day we do not expect. When women wash their clothes and men work
their fields. That day will be like any other day. Therefore, said
Jesus, "be prepared."


But there are signs, signs
of the times, for which our Lord said we should watch. All the prophets
put these signs in the future, for the day ahead. But I am about to
tell you that some of these signs have already come to pass, and what
we are waiting for could come sooner than we think, for nothing is
left that needs to take place in order for him to return. The second
reading: Luke: 21: 2-36.

"And he saw also a certain
poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth
I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they
all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings
of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she
had. And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly
stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold,
the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone
upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him,
saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will
there be when these things shall come to pass? And he said, Take
heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying,
I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after
them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified:
for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by
and by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation,
and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in divers
places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great
signs shall there be from heaven. But before all these, they shall
lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to
the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and
rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what
ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all
your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye
shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks,
and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall
not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your
souls. And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then
know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are
in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst
of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter
thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which
are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child,
and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great
distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall
fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into
all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles,
until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be
signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the
earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves
roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after
those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven
shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in
a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin
to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your
redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold
the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see
and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So
likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that
the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This
generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and
earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take
heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged
with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so
that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on
all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore,
and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these
things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."
Luke 21:2-36, KJV.

Hal Lindsey and a lot of contemporary
interpreters are waiting for a great conflict over Jerusalem when
armies are gathered from the north and the south. They see the Soviet
Union marching down through Iran and Iraq and taking over Jerusalem,
and then we will know that the end is about to take place. But Jesus
says when Jerusalem falls; the end is not yet. Wars, famines, earthquakes,
but the end is not yet. These are but the labor pains. Persecution
must take place, and that is happening now in other countries, and
it will happen here. But Jerusalem has already fallen once, and it
doesn't need to fall again for him to return. Because if you remember,
Jesus said that Jerusalem would be destroyed because it rejected God's
purposes for itself in rejecting Jesus. That was the first sign.
And it was destroyed for its disobedience in 70 AD And then Jesus
said, "Jerusalem must trodden underfoot by the Gentiles, until
the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled!"
The time of
the Gentiles is fulfilled!
Israel is reestablished, and Jerusalem
is no longer under trampled under by Gentiles and Gentile armies.
It belongs to Israel! Therefore be ready! Be watchful. No more wars
are necessary! Jerusalem was destroyed once: it need not be again.
He can come any day!

The third reading: Romans
11: 25-32.

"For I would not, brethren,
that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise
in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel,
until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel
shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the
Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this
is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As
concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching
the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts
and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past
have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their
unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through
your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them
all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." Romans
11:25-32, KJV.

The second sign of the
times,
according to Paul was
that the Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah, God's anointed savior, so
that the light might go out from Israel unto all the world and all
the nations through Abraham be blessed by him -- according to the
definite purpose and foreknowledge of God. "But," Paul says,
"this hardening has come upon Israel only until the full number of
Gentiles come in, and then all Israel will be saved."
Jews are
being converted to Christianity by the thousands, both here in the
US and in Israel itself, and in other parts of the world not since
the time of Christ has such a conversion been in evidence. The second
sign of Christ's coming again is already being fulfilled! All Israel
is being saved! There is dust on the horizon!


When Paul taught his congregations
that the day of the Lord would come like a thief in the night, they
were distressed. And some of them sold all their possessions and waited
for that day, and became idle. And so he said, "I have stirred you
up for something good, but we are not to be idle while we wait for
that day, and I don't want you to be confused or to be driven into
fear or into a panic thinking that the day of the Lord has already
come. For it has not yet come." There yet remains to be fulfilled
two major prophecies, each of which could be fulfilled in the next
fifty years.

Fourth reading: 2 Thess. 2:
1-12: "Let no one deceive you, for that day will not come unless
the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed…"

You and I, right now, are
going to look into the future a bit, and see if we can see in the
signs of the times, the signs of our Lord's approaching. The major
prophecies have already been fulfilled, yet there await a few conditions.
"Let no one deceive you, for that day will not come unless the
rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed…"

The rebellion which Paul describes, is the general decay of law and
order in society, which we can see is already taking place in Europe
and the east with terrorism and is soon to take place here, especially
with nuclear terrorists planting bombs in our cities. And this is
something that the FBI and the CIA are already trying to protect us
from, having caught people bringing in nuclear devices into our country.
Alas, the collapse of law and order in our society will be part of
the rebellion of which Paul takes about.

And the man of lawlessness,
we shall discuss in a moment. But first let us take a look at Revelation.
13: 11-18, the fifth reading. The book of Revelation is highly symbolic
and it is hard to take things from it literally. It has to do with
many of the things that were taking place in John's own day. But there
are few sections that have not yet taken place and have yet come to
pass in ours. As a matter of fact, they could not have taken place
in John's day, but now all that is necessary for the prophecies to
be fulfilled is ready.

"And no one can buy or
sell unless he has the mark, that is the name of the beast or the
number of its name… that number being 666."

Let us project into the future
what the book envisions: The book of Revelation envisions a world
economic order wherein every individual's bank accounts and spending
power is held under the control of one organization; under one person's
authority or under one international organization's control.

How could it come about? How
long would it take to happen? We are almost there? First of all, major
international corporations are hastening the day when we will become
a "cashless society." AT&T, when it introduced its telephone credit
card system, was proud to announce it was moving us towards the future
when we shall be a cashless society. All transactions are carried
out not by dollars, which anyone can carry; but by numbers; and only
one number can be assigned to any person so as not to confuse the
computer. Already, computers tell you whether you can make your purchase
with your credit card or not. The merchant calls up a central authority
to validate your credit. Therefore the power to buy and sell is increasingly
coming under one, central control system - one computer system. And
as long as people can carry cash or gold or trade, this centralization
of power and control over finances is not possible.

But already, our government
wants to stop printing paper and minting coins because of the exorbitant
costs of making money; and there is a problem with counterfeiting.
Credit cards would be so much more convenient.

Secondly, as businesses strive
to eliminate waste and fraud, they will seek tighter and tighter controls
over the use of these credit cards. Already they have introduced cards
with personalized computer chips that identify the carrier by a special
code that keeps track of that individual's bank balances. Not really
a credit card, it is a debit card: you can spend only what you have
in the bank. If you use these teller machines and have your own code,
you get the idea of what is taking place. (I want to caution you that
none of this is bad in itself. It is just technology. But I want you
to see that technology may provide the stage for the fulfillment of
prophecy.)

Ultimately, however, in order
to reduce fraud, it is a short step to introduce under the skin, an
infrared-type bar code with name, numbers, and credit balance. They
already use a laser chip or hologram, on your credit card. It is getting
more and more complicated and harder to duplicate.

And this is interesting: third,
there is already in Belgium, a computer, six city blocks by six city
blocks, and it has the capacity to keep track of the finances of every
individual on the face of the earth. This computer has a nickname
given to it by those who work for it. It is affectionately called
"the beast." The technology is already here! All it takes is the reason
to implement it. (Note: 1992 - I have recently heard that this computer
uses not the traditional 14 to 16 numbers {4 groups of 4 numbers}
that is common on most credit cards today, but it uses 18 numbers
in three sets of 6 numbers, i.e., 6 6 6. Also, I have heard that a
worldwide prefix for this worldwide financial tracking service begins
with its identification code of 666.) (Note 2008: For the possibility that the mark is spiritual rather than physical, see here.)


Fourthly, our economic system:
some of you remember the depression: Do you remember that "it couldn't
happen here?" It couldn't happen! We couldn't have an economic collapse!
Our economic system is based on trust. We have the illusion of stability
and order - that it cannot collapse. But even more fragile than the
earth is our economic system. Already in our own nation, our major
banks are in debt over their heads to Third World countries, so much
so that if the Third World stopped paying back on their loans, our
own banking system would collapse. We think that it can never happen
here, and bankers tell us it will never happen here, or at least it
will never happen again. And yet, many economists say we are on the
brink of collapse, and already, many third world countries are contemplating
not paying back their debts because the debts are crippling their
countries. Castro just last month encouraged them to default on their
US Bank debts as a form of protest. And the countries really don't
have much choice, because if they enforce the measures that will satisfy
the World Bank, it will drive their nation into such a depression
that there will be a revolt and it will drive the government out of
power. So they have the choice of revolution or default, and that
really is not much of a choice.

That doesn't count the US
trade deficit or the national debt, which is growing so fast that
one economist friend of mine said that by the year 2025, our interest
alone on the national debt will exceed our gross national product.
Which means that no matter how much money we make, we will not be
able to pay off the debt. That doesn't count the regular spending
on defense or Social Security. The interest on the debt alone will
be greater that our other income. Which means that in order to pay
off our debt we will have 100% inflation per year like Israel and
other Third World nations, or we will collapse entirely. And forget
Social Security; the government may pay it, but the paper they pay
it with will be worthless.

The stage is already set,
all we need are the actors. So let us assume or contemplate the possibility
of a world economic collapse, and see what would happen. It will not
be like 1930's. The collapse and the debt will be worldwide. There
will be starvation, poverty, and unemployment worldwide. There will
be no way to climb out. There will be wars in the major cities of
our own country, like Miami, N. Y., Washington, and Pittsburgh. In
the Depression, one thing that distinguished our nation from today
was that there was a set of common values among our people, one of
which was that you must work for what you want to get. When anyone
suffered, they went to a neighbor and asked if they could work for
a meal. And there was a sense that we were all Americans and all in
it together. But for the vast number of Americans who have become
dependent upon a welfare state, from farmers who are subsidized to
unwed mothers who live on welfare checks, they have come to believe
that the government owes them a living. We have lost the sense of
values in work; our ability to suffer through a depression will not
be great. This is especially true in places like Miami, where many
of the recent immigrants were criminals sent by Castro who did not
come to the land of opportunity to find freedom, but who came to find
a new place to exploit and steal; these have little appreciation for
the value of our American system of government. If there were a world
economic collapse, there would be far less reason to maintain discipline.
There would be war in the cities. There would be no food, and the
children would be crying. They would be hungry and the government
would not be providing. Mobs and mobsters would be able to control
the cities. And people everywhere would be hungry.

International businesses,
in order to reestablish an economic base and rebuild a world market
for trade will see that past barriers to trade and national economic
systems as outdated barriers to world order. To establish a world
order where we will not need or want to go to war - a world order
that will protect the interests of international investments against
national conflicts would be seen as necessary. World leaders will
see a security in intertwining our economic destiny. There will be
one currency. One world economic system. One system of monitoring.
One system of control.

The problem with this world
order as God sees it is that it is a human instrument and invention
that seeks to find peace and security not in morality, not in trust
in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, but in economic and political
stability. It is a false God, a beast, an idol, like the Tower of
Babble raised anew in the twenty-first century. "We don't need you
God, all we need is our resources, and our ability to organize."

The people around the world
will be so hungry for jobs and money they will do anything to get
it. They will even sell their souls if they have to. And they will.
Yes, give us these identity cards; yes give us this one world
economic system. And let us all have one language and one currency.
And let us organize and rebuild this tower of progress that has fallen
to the earth. Let us raise it anew to the heavens, so that we will
never have to fear these economic uncertainties again.

All these technological advances
are not evil in themselves, but they become evil as people sacrifice
their morality for economic security. In Revelation, the beast is
not really a man, but a false god, an idol. This whore which defiles
the world is Mammon — Money. It represents our desire to entrust
ourselves to material riches instead of to God. And it is in this
world system that this ultimate choice is given to us: God or economic
security?

All these technological advances
are not evil in themselves, but once we have brought all international
finance under one control, we have set the stage for a man, or a group
of businessmen, to step in and take control of the world's economic
system. One Hitler may step in and promise world peace and prosperity
and enforce his rule through the use of this economic beast, this
computer that will let you buy and sell. The bible says the man's
name or number is 666. It is easy to see that number on your credit
cards or tattooed on your skin. Now in Revelation the number 666 is
a symbolic number. If you take a person's name and assign every letter
in the alphabet a value; a being 1, b being 2, etc., if you add up
all the letters, you come out with a number that is equal to a name.
When this book was written, there was a Caesar named Nero, who was
bloodthirsty. He murdered his own mother and put Christians in the
arena. He persecuted the Christians so badly, that they thought he
was evil incarnate. And though he was killed, they thought he would
rise again. Sort of an anti-Christ. An evil, anti-type of Christ,
rising again. Now if you take his name, Nero Caesar, and put it into
Hebrew and add the characters together, the number comes out to be
666. But the number identified the spirit of a man, more than the
individual. And all you need to think about to understand what John
was saying is if you think of Hitler, the most evil man of our generation,
being raised from the dead to rule Germany, you would see what the
Christians were fearing: a man with a mortal wound rising again. The
Nazi party rising again would fulfill all those things that John was
foreseeing. It is important not to try and identify which party or
which man it will be, for then we will get caught up in circumstance.
But if we fear the rise of a new Hitler, we share the same fear they
had when they feared a new Nero. Yet, if the prophecy is literally
true, there is some marking or number that we will all have to receive
in order to buy or to sell which will be equal to 666 or equal to
the name of the man. And if you receive the mark of the beast, you
are taken out of the book of life.

The stage is set; it could
happen within 50 years. Businessmen, in the guise of bringing order
and stability to a troubled world will go along with this powerful
tool of obedience. Seeking security in a human government and human
economics, they will establish an interdependent, international organization
or world system of government of laws and economics. But INTERNATIONAL
Business, because of its need for profits and its system of greed,
will always choose order and stability over morality and righteousness.
Just as the Krupps arms manufacturers in Germany did not care who
was in power, as long as a profit was being made, and JUST AS TEXACO
SOLD oil to Germany while we were at war with them, so that just in
case Hitler did win, those business executives would still be able
to exercise control over their company.

Greed - the desire for money,
is idolatry, and when John talks about the beast, he is identifying
the beast with idolatry. - and especially with materialism, in which
people choose to worship material security and feed their material
needs before they will worship Jesus Christ. So when John talks about
the beast, he says we are being given a choice, a choice between allegiance
to a beast that gives us all the material possessions we desire or
allegiance to Christ where we must suffer and be denied the necessities
of life. Jesus said that persecution will come. And John says it will
come with the mark of the beast. And the system, the technology is
already here. All that waits is the reason to put the system in place.
Perhaps it will come with an economic collapse. But perhaps not. Maybe
it will just take international businesses and governments getting
together, like the European Economic Community, joining their currencies
together and forming Eurodollars. Only it would happen worldwide.

And if it comes to pass that
all the forces of law and government and all economics are tied into
one central organization. Watch Out! For the time of the prophecy
will be fulfilled. Christians and Jews will be seen as troublemakers
simply for opposing this world order. And the beast will enforce obedience
by giving to those who are loyal by politics and religion a mark on
their hands or heads, a mark of obedience, either a man's name or
a number; the number is 666.

As I said, all this could
come to pass within your lifetime. An economic collapse may be only
a few years away. And then, the tribulation begins. There will be
war in the streets of our major cities. Food shortages will be everywhere.
The banks will foreclose on all your loans, because you will not have
any income to repay your debts. There will be no money anywhere. Then
we will all be tempted to receive this beast.

A word of practical advice.
Since we may lose everything for being Christian and be persecuted
for not receiving the mark: Be prepared for suffering and struggle.
That is what the watchman on the tower says: "the enemy is approaching."
Get out of debt
. Do not have personal property tied up in business
loans. Separate your personal finances from your business, if that
is possible. Don't go over your head in debt, because if there is
an economic collapse, it doesn't take much for the banks to foreclose.
You who lived through the Depression know what that is like. And plenty
of farmers out west right now can tell you that is happening.

If all this takes place, should
we have a spirit of fear! No. For if the persecution and the tribulation
comes, God will give us power to face these days - power beyond our
wildest dreams and expectations. God will make great manifestations
of his power to combat evil, to save and deliver, and to prove to
the world the truth of Jesus Christ. For he will be drawing all men
to himself. Even the children will lay hands on the sick, and they
will recover. Every one of you will be performing miracles, because
the persecution will be so great. He will need every one of you to
give his testimony.

And when conflict arises,
His Spirit is far more present. I have read that in Nicaragua there
are murders and terrorist attacks going on down there. Christians
are meeting in the midst of all that chaos. Once, they were having
a prayer meeting, and in walked two soldiers, arms ready, wanting
to know "What is going on here; what is this worship?" And
two men, standing beside them turned and laid hands on them and both
soldiers fell down and received the Holy Spirit right there. Both
went out, came back, laid down their weapons and began to worship
with the others who were there. When great persecution arises, God
increases his Spirit as we need it to give a true witness to bring
people back to him. So when the persecution comes and you lose your
houses, that is the time to rejoice; because God's power is going
to be manifest among you in a way that is greater than anything you
can imagine. For though we suffer and are made to suffer, we will
also be able to REJOICE, for the battle is already over, the battle
already won! For when all these things begin to take place, our salvation
draweth nigh! Our Lord shall return, and bring to an end this corrupt
and decaying world. And then the lawless one will be revealed,
and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and
destroy him simply by his appearing and his coming!!! The Lord will
return to establish his righteous reign upon the earth. No battle
needs to take place. No world conflict needs to take place. Those
signs have already come to pass. Be ready. He could come tomorrow;
he could come today.

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