Issue 73 Autumn 2004
|Greetings in the Lord.
With this issue we include details of our annual prophecy conference on
29 January, at which we shall be delighted to welcome Gerald Gotzen as
our principal speaker: Gerald is well known to many of our readers, and
has contributed to previous issues of Trumpet Sounds. He has an
international ministry, and has visited Ethiopia and Israel many times.
A World Filled with Violence
The War of the Kingdoms
Passing throught the valley of Baca
The Feast of Tabernacles
Jesus will return at any moment?
A world filled with violence. (KK)
We have recently like Macbeth "supped full of horrors" with the current atrocities as we go to press of the Beslan siege, the Sinai bombing, and the Kenneth Bigley capture and murder, reported in all its bestial and appalling detail. What comfort can Christians offer in the face of this mediaeval barbarity from which all civilised nations recoil? Can the love of God purge this sin-sick, disfigured, violent world?
On the face of it, the outlook is bleak, for after all "'twas ever thus". Every phase of human history has seen atrocities, though global communications now make us than ever more aware of the extent of human depravity. In Gen 6 we have a world "filled with violence" which God destroyed by water. Throughout the Old Testament violent scenes are presented. David writes in Psalm 55:9 of "violence and strife in the city": a similar situation grieves Jeremiah (6:7), and Ezekiel makes the same report (7:23). Amos 3:10 speaks of those who store up violence, and in Hab 1:2 the prophet sees violence. In 1 Sam 30:4 David and his men returning to find Ziklag sacked and burnt wept until they had no more power to weep, like the people of Beslan in these days.
Many ask the question "if there is a God, why did He not prevent it?". He could have, for He is all-powerful. Harry Greenwood used to define God's omnipotence as "God can't see anything He can't do". The angel gives the news of a son to the aged Sarah with "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen 18:14). Jeremiah, told to buy a field with the city about to fall, receives the comforting word "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" (32:27). At the annunciation, Mary is reassured by the angel "with God nothing will be impossible." Luke 1:37. Jesus tells His disciples " with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:37).
So why does God not intervene in horrific situations? The Archbishop of Canterbury, questioned aggressively by John Humphries on Radio 4 after the Beslan massacre, gave a clue: "God's respect for our free will". This may seem a weak response in the face of the facts, but it contains profound truth. God is love, and He made the world in love: but this means that free-will must also be built-in, because you cannot force anyone to love you. God offers us His love and leaves the response to us. To be made in the image of God means that we have free-will. Jesus says in John 6:38 "I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." At every point in His life He had to lay down His own will, even at the cost of His life. As Dr Johnson observed, "we know our will is free and there's an end on't". Some will inevitably use their free-will for unholy purposes.
Rom 15:4 speaks of the "comfort of the scriptures" through which we can have hope. But just as the scriptures do not shrink from the realities of a violent world, so they have a great deal to buttress our faith and comfort our spirits.
First, Psalms 93, 96, 97, 99 include the refrain "The Lord reigns". This is stated as an incontrovertible fact. An early Babylonian king, boasting of his achievements "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built?" (Dan 10:40) is struck with madness as earlier decreed (v 17) "in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men". A restored king acknowledges "no one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?"”
Secondly, scripture urges a sense of perspective by keeping our eyes on Jesus. With the media's obsession with violence and moral pollution, it is refreshing to take Paul's advice to the Philippians - "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, (a beautiful portrait of Jesus) if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things." A few days' fast from the media will do wonders for your spiritual life!
Thirdly, we know the end of the story! Isaiah speaks twice (11:9 and 65:25) of a renewed and restored earth: "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain" when the earth is "full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." Parallel passages in Micah (4:3) and Isaiah (2:4) prophesy a time when "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (One of the more frightening aspects of the present violence is that it is planned with meticulous care months in advance.) Some may recall the vivid Scottish paraphrase by Michael Bruce (1746-1767);
No longer hosts, encountering hosts,
shall crowds of slain deplore;
they hang the trumpet in the hall,
and study war no more.
We also note the "new heavens and a new earth" spoken of in Isaiah 65:17, 66:22, and 2 Peter 3:13. God has everything under control.
Fourthly we can offer to the world a Saviour who has suffered the indignity of a shameful and appalling death: no one will be able to say to God at judgement day "You don't know what it's like". He has been there in His Son - "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" (2 Cor 5:19). "For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted." (Heb 2:18). In Gethsemane and on the cross He suffered "more than any man": and when the sun went down at noon (in fulfilment of Amos 8:9) the world experienced the darkest hours in its history. But hallelujah, out of it came the glory of the resurrection. In times of darkness it is a comfort to remember that He has been there. He has known hunger and thirst, physical exhaustion, discouragement, extreme physical suffering, and beyond it all, the huge mental and spiritual burden of "the long foreknowledge of the deadly tree". Even when His agony on the cross was at its most acute he was able to pray "Father, forgive". By submitting to violence and refusing to react in the same way He neutralised its poison.
For non-Christians the future is threatening, and scripture reminds us that the last days will be "terrible times" (2 Tim 3:1). For the Christian there is the unshakeable assurance that Christ is with us always (Matt 28:20), that nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:39), and that always, as Moses promised to ancient Israel, "underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deut 33:47).
The War of the Kingdoms (FW)
The bible tells the story of this war from beginning to end. The future is contained in the remaining unfulfilled prophecies. There is the kingdom of the world which "lies under the sway of the wicked one", and into which all mankind is born. There is the kingdom of God into which we can only enter by being "born again". The king of that Kingdom is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The bible is the story of Redemption, the buying back of all that Satan has corrupted and taken into his dominion and slavery. It tells the story of the liberty and freedom of the sons of God and the blessing that redeemed man will be to this sin-sick world.
The bible records the warfare, not only between theses two kingdoms on earth, but also that being waged in the heavenly places. It is universal and far greater than most people imagine.On earth there is a very real line-up of the faithful who believe I the one true God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and of those who have committed their lives to serving self and Satan. In the "heavenlies", Satan leads a rebellion against God with a following of a third of the angels (Rev 12:4). These fallen angels are active on earth, promoting evil, destruction and false doctrine. This is Kingdom warfare and explains much of what is happening today.
The gospel according to Matthew proclaims Jesus as "King of the Jews", speaks\of "wise men from the east" seeking that King, gives a description of the Kingdom and its inhabitants in the "sermon on the mount", contains many parables about the kingdom and ends with Jesus being crucified as "King of the Jews". The children of Abraham were chosen to be God's Kingdom on earth and the ministry of Jesus was to call the nation to repentance and to the fulfilment of His purpose for them.
Jesus, when teaching on prayer, gave His disciples a Kingdom prayer "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name". God the Father, the centre of His teaching, Whose Name is sacred, and created this world as a heavenly home for "man".
"Your kingdom come". This is the very heart of the prayer and is extended in "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". The prayer is for earth once again to be "heaven on earth" as it was from creation. This may may not become fully possible because the majority of mankind is sinful and unbelieving but the Millenial kingdom under Christ will bring much of that blessing.
"Give us this day our daily bread". We need to pray this prayer not only for our own daily provision but a world afflicted by tragic famine. There will be no famine when Christ reigns.
"And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors". There will be no wars or strife on earth when Jesus is King, the arms industry will be abolished and forgiveness, not war, will be the character of man's relationships with one another.
"And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one". Would God ever lead us into sin? The answer is "No", but the devil is always working to that end, so we pray for deliverance from his evil purpose. We need to remember that though there will always be trouble, mistakes and accidents, whether from chance or Satan, God only works all things for our good: He may lead us\out but not into such experiences. Then follows the great ring of triumph
"For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever". FOR EVER, Hallelujah! This is a direct proclamation of the total defeat of all that is in rebellion against God. The harmony, joy and peace of heaven will be restored and all believers will enter into that glory by His amazing grace.
The opening words of both Jesus and John the Baptist was "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". These words should be the theme of today's message to the Church and the world. There is little time left before the Return of Jesus, and the world desperately needs to be warned.
Passing through the valley of Baca (KK)
Psalms 84 “Blessed is the man who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well.” Commentators differ in making this a real valley or a figurative place, but ancient authorities agree it is the “valley of weeping”. Tears are part of human experience, and can be joyful or sorrowful. For the latter, whether of grief, loss, disappointment, horrified reaction etc, I am indebted to a dear brother for pointing out that the road through such a valley of weeping has double yellow lines on it! We are to pass through such experiences looking for the blessing the Lord has stored up for us in them. It is always a temptation to set up camp there. However distressing the circumstances, we are encouraged to pass through them and learn from them (Psalm 4:1 AV).
Revelation TV (PW)
About 18 months ago I was looking at what the various Christian TV channels, broadcasting on Sky, had to offer. Most Christian TV is not very edifying. It relies on easy and cheap to make recordings of sermons. The programmes are mainly produced by the health and prosperity section of the church. These ministries have the funds due to the constant pressurising of the congregation to part with their money in order to gain God’s blessing.
Looking through the run of the mill talks my attention was arrested by one channel, which was broadcasting an interview with David Dolan. The programme engaged in a serious discussion of the issues surrounding the conflict in the Middle East. I turned to the same channel another night and was delighted to watch an interview with John McKay, who is a very able speaker on Creation verses Evolution. The channel is Revelation TV. It was their first week of broadcasting. At the time I was convicted to send a gift to encourage them in the work.
A tiny seed
About four or five weeks later I received a completely unexpected cheque for a tax refund from the Inland Revenue. Immediately I sensed the Lord saying to me ‘send it to Revelation TV’. I hesitated, telling myself that I should think about it. As soon as I hesitated a picture came into my mind. I saw a tiny seedling pushing its first two leaves through the soil and opening them to the sun. The Lord said to me very clearly, it is now that a seedling is most vulnerable, send the money now.
Not only did that vision prompt me to send the cheque, but it also convinced me that this work was special to the Lord. Revelation TV is far from perfect. It relies heavily on selling airtime to other ministries, some of whom I would question. But having met Howard Conder, the founder of Revelation TV, I know that he has a real vision for what Christian broadcasting could become. I have felt it right to enter into regular financial support and prayer for the channel that the vision may be realised. Revelation can be received by tuning in to channel 676 on Sky. There are plans to make it available via the Internet.
The Feast of Tabernacles (PW)
Last November my wife thought that we should visit Israel this year. I felt that if we went it should be for the Feast of Tabernacles. We did not find a suitable trip at the time and therefore left it with the Lord. Then in July we heard that Revelation TV was organising a trip and immediately knew that it was the right one to go on. We went expecting that the Lord had something special to show us. We were not disappointed.
Assembling a Gatwick Airport, I will confess to thinking what a motley group of people we were, even to wondering if we had made the right decision. After 10 days in Israel they had become one of the most special groups I have ever been privileged to spend time with. Drawn from a wide range of nationalities and ethnic backgrounds we enjoyed a harmony and presence of our Lord beyond anything normally experienced. Many others testified to the wonderful peace that existed in such a large group (330 people were on the tour ). Israel is a very special place. It is also a place that needs more visitors. Tourism has collapsed over the last four years, leaving its economy in tatters.
On our tour we visited many of the biblical sites. At each place we read, prayed and sang. The openness to worshipping the Lord was refreshing. The Lord worked among us, bringing healing and release.
Other memories include wandering through the streets of West Jerusalem, at the beginning of the last day of Sukkot ( Tabernacles ), as the men led their families to the Synagogue and seeing such happiness on the faces of the children as they went as families to worship. The next morning, in the Old City, the Jews were dancing and singing in the streets as they paraded the scrolls of the Torah. Once again it was the men who took the lead.
The Feast of Tabernacles is a prophetic feast. It looks forward to the time when Jesus will reign on earth from Jerusalem, a period which starts with a wedding feast and ends when this present world makes way for the eternal Kingdom of God in the New Jerusalem.
A foretaste of the kingdom
On our trip the Lord gave us a glimpse of tabernacles as it will be celebrated in His kingdom, a time when people from every tribe and nation, language group and ethnic background will enjoy perfect harmony united by their love for Christ. The diversity of the Kingdom is one of its great blessings. This was the special thing that the Lord wanted to show us. Having tasted, I can truly say that I can’t wait to be part of the fulfilment. It would be wonderful if before you read this article our Lord had come to gather us up to be part of His kingdom. But that moves us on to the next article.
Jesus will return at any moment (PW)
It is strange that a doctrine, which is widely held today, did not form any part of the teaching of the Church for its first 1800 years. The return of Jesus at any moment is so widely held that to state that the teaching is contrary to scripture places one in the heretic category in the minds of many.
My interest in scriptural prophecy stretches back about 40 years to my mid teens. I must confess that, despite my father’s teaching, for the first 20 years I was confused over what the Bible taught with regard to the end times. About 20 years ago I set myself to pray and study in order to resolve one issue which was not clear. Was Our Lord returning for his Church before or after the great tribulation and reign of the Antichrist?
At that time the Lord directed me to two books. The first was “The Rapture Question” by John Valvoord. I understand this to be recognised as one of the classic defences of the pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church. It is an impressive work that should not be dismissed lightly. However after studying his arguments I remained unconvinced. Then I discovered “The Blessed Hope” by George Eldon Ladd. This book put forward the historic view of the Christian Church that the rapture and return of our Lord to this earth was one event, which followed the tribulation. The arguments for this point of view were simple, straightforward and for me convincing.
I have found that coming to this view has greatly simplified the interpretation of the prophetic scriptures. It also adds considerably to the importance of correctly understanding the foretold events that lead up to the return of Christ. Both the Old and New Testaments make reference to the reign of the Antichrist, providing a great deal of information regarding the events of his reign. This information is given for the purpose of equipping us to stand firm in that day.
Oswald J Smith
In the middle of the twentieth century Oswald J Smith set down his own testimony to his conversion to the view that the rapture and the return of Christ were one event which will occur after the tribulation. In his early books on prophecy he had taught that the coming of Jesus for His church was separated by a period of time from His physical return to the earth. He later came to realise that this view could not be supported by scripture. The following is a quote from his testimony:
“Recently I got hold of that remarkable book “Tribulation to Glory” by H.A.Baker. in which he wrote: “For eighteen centuries the fundamental principle of tribulation to glory was the universal belief of the truly born again members of the Church”, and then he goes on to show that the new pre-tribulation rapture teaching was first proclaimed as a direct revelation by a woman in Edward Irving’s church and then taken up by John Nelson Darby (and the Scofield Reference Bible) in direct contradiction to the teaching of the Church for eighteen hundred years.
“Beginning with the Irvingite woman, then propagated by John N Darby about 1830, this new ‘spirit-inspired’ doctrine during the last century has come down to us until it has become popular. George Muller opposed it, so did Benjamin Wills Newton, so did Dr. S.P.Tregelles and other Brethren, but all in vain.” But now, thank God large numbers of our leading Bible Teachers are coming back to the original position”.
Of Practical Importance?
Despite many authoritative Bible Teachers voicing support for the single event, the separate rapture remains popular. This is not surprising as none of us look forward to facing suffering and rejection. In the past one’s personal view on this matter was not of great significance, a topic for an interesting discussion but not of immediate practical relevance.
Today it is a subject of the utmost importance, for we are living in the prelude to the culmination of our present age. To encourage Christians to place their trust in a false hope is to leave them unprepared for a time that will, according to Jesus, be more terrible than any other which has come upon this earth. It will be a time when many will fall away from the faith.
The above may be discouraging: it need not be so. For the person who keeps their eyes firmly fixed on Jesus these closing years of this age will be the precious years. We will be isolated, despised, rejected but Jesus will be more real and ever present. This will be the time for us to rejoice as we know that Jesus is soon to return. It will be a time when the Holy Spirit works among those who keep their trust in Jesus in greater power than ever before. The Holy Spirit will supply all that the world seeks to deprive us of. We will not be able to witness openly in these years but it will be a time when the gospel is preached to all the earth in a way that no one can deny. By our willingness to face prison or death the whole world will recognise that our faith is real and many will be added to our number.
Great will be the rewards in heaven for those who overcome, by remaining faithful to the end. In His strength and power none need fear. If we trust Jesus, He will carry us through.
For more teaching on the post tribulation rapture of the Church, Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony, 1 Donald Way, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 9JB publish a number of books on this theme.
Tribulation or Rapture – Which? By Oswald J.Smith
Reasons why the Great Tribulation Must precede the Church’s Translation
by J.Kyle Paisley
both publications are priced at 20p
Another good source of articles and information is from Provident Baptist Ministries available on the web at www.pbministries.org