In Part 8, we looked at several Scriptures describing the days that Jesus warned would come. Several verses in Matthew 24 speak of war. As we look back at world history, it is plain to see that man’s history is filled with war. So what was Jesus speaking of that is different than what man’s miserable history already shows?
As quoted earlier, Gene Williams, author of “Nuclear War, Nuclear Winter”, said just one H-bomb is the equivalent of bundling up all the explosive power of five World War 2’s and setting it off within one second! According to an old study by the World Health Organization in 1979, it was reported that a large-scale nuclear war would kill between two and three billion people. That study was completed before anything was factored in allowing for the catastrophic effects of a nuclear winter!
The disastrous effects of modern day warfare just could not possibly have been fulfilled back at the time it was prophesied in Matthew 24 and Revelation 6. In fact, it could not have been fulfilled at any time before the generation we are living in today. It is impossible to even imagine the horror, not only of a true thermonuclear war, but of chemical or biological warfare. The type of confrontations Jesus was speaking of go way beyond any war mankind has seen up to this point. Revelation 6:4 tells us that the Rider of the Apocalyptic Red Horse was given a “Great” sword. This tells us that the number of dead will be catastrophic. As this horse and rider are circling the earth, conflict after conflict is being ignited so that before it is all over, the whole world will be involved in a series of horrific wars of hellish proportions. Jesus told us that the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. During the Great Tribulation, he will be given permission to do it almost without limits.
In Daniel 11 we find one of the most fascinating chapters in the Bible with detail after detail describing the conflicts between Assyria and Egypt. Each conflict however also involved Israel and Judah because they were situated between these two great enemies. This chapter has so many specific details that have already been fulfilled that skeptics charge that much of it must have been written several hundred years after Daniel died. But this 11th chapter of Daniel not only provides us considerable history of already fulfilled prophetic events, but it also reaches millennia into the future to the 70th week of Daniel; the Great Tribulation; or The Day of the Lord.
In the Book of Revelation, or “The Apocalypse”, we find several entities called a “beast”. One of these is the colossal empire or kingdom that comes into power during the reign of the person the Bible calls the “antichrist”–which is also called “the beast”. It is important to do careful study of God’s Word to determine the identity of these “beasts” because there are more than just the two I just mentioned and confusing them leads to wrong interpretation of the Scriptures.
Daniel 11 describes a beast that wins his wars by a blitzkrieg type of assault. He moves so fast that his enemies are not prepared for his attack. It says this:
…he shall come like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon…But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make (or take) away many.
Again, the person being described here is the same one called “the eleventh horn or ‘other’ horn” of Daniel 9:20. He is also called “the man of lawlessness”, “man of sin”, or son of perdition in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Who is he and when does he come on the world scene? Scripture does make it clear that he will not be made known until the “Restrainer” has been removed. One Scripture that speaks to this is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7:
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
Here we find that the “mystery of lawlessness” is already at work–or another way of putting it, “the spirit of antichrist” is already in the world. This however does not mean that the Antichrist himself has been revealed. He cannot be, according to this Scripture, until the “Restrainer” has been removed.
My belief is that the “Restrainer” is the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through the true Church. The Holy Spirit does not leave the earth during the Tribulation because the Word of God says He does not. The true Church however does. One evidence of this is found in Revelation 3:10 where Jesus Christ speaks to the Church of Philadelphia and says:
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown…
I would add this: Just because the true Church is removed, does not mean that there is no further harvest of souls. God is going to continue reaching people throughout the events of the Great Tribulation. For example, we find this passage in Revelation 7:
Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from? And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (verses 13-17 NKJV)
Although it is a study of its own, I would like to make a quick comment here addressing the great harvest of souls God has in mind. The Bible tells us that God’s Word will be spread all over the world before He returns to set up His Kingdom. Most peoples of the earth have heard the news of the Gospel of Jesus, and as a result, there is a great harvest of souls which will be removed from this earth–and I believe this will happen just before the beginning of the Great Tribulation. I believe that there is a representation of this harvest found in Revelation 5:11 through the end of the chapter. This multitude of people before the throne is not the same as the one that John the Apostle was asked about in chapter 7. John is specifically told that the multitude he was asked about came out of the Tribulation. In fact, a curious phrase is added saying this group of people had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Also, the fact that they were now before the throne in chapter 7 instead of on the earth means that they may have been reached by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists that were sealed and turned loose to do the work of evangelists in the middle of a dying world. The 144,000 are later found in Heaven, but this multitude likely was martyred for becoming believers in Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation gives evidence that the Spirit of God continues reaching people right on through the 7 years of horror. Other than those who have taken the “mark of the beast” as the Bible calls it, anyone can still turn to God in repentance and He will forgive and their destiny will be in Heaven instead of hell.
Back to the Apocalyptic Red Horse and Rider. There are events that will happen during the Great Tribulation that mankind cannot even imagine, although Hollywood filmmakers have certainly tried to depict some of them. In fact, I think some of the movies probably do a pretty good job of warning the human race ahead of time what really is coming. Several of the “fright” movies show some of the most bizarre demonic entities coming down to the world of man in order to torture, harass, and kill. Think of “World War Z”. Of course, we have many versions of zombies! We also have creatures that are depictions of genetic engineering like “Splice”, etc. How about Tolkien’s trilogy, “Lord of the Rings”? Could it be that the “orc”, are a fictitious version of something quite real which is some type of genetic aberration created just to attack the human race? I could go on with the genetic weirdness and twisted creations originating from the minds of Hollywood writers but it would eventually just get redundant.
The fact is, we have a supernatural enemy that hates man, the creation of the Almighty GOD. This enemy will do whatever it takes to destroy what GOD has created and make it useless–if he can. In the end, he will not succeed.
In light of Jesus’ warnings to our generation and Hollywood’s movies of late, let’s look at Revelation 9:1-11:
Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle,. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.
One thing to remember is that the Apostle John was trying to describe things in the first century that were not to happen for 2,000 years. Can you imagine seeing what John saw? There are several ways of looking at what he penned. It is not much of a stretch of the imagination to see a description of Black Hawk helicopters in this description. But, there is another way of understanding this passage–and it is probably less comfortable than seeing Black Hawk helicopters being described. I have always been a staunch believer in taking as much of the Bible in as literal a way as possible. In order to avoid many of the mistakes that have been made over the centuries when explaining difficult Scriptures, it is a rule of thumb we must follow, to always look at any Scripture as “literal”, unless the context itself makes it clear that symbolism is being used. Obviously there is a considerable amount of symbolism used in the Holy Scriptures, but maybe not nearly as much as many theologians would like us to think! When giving meanings or explanations to Scripture, it is always easy to give an “allegorical” explanation; the inherent problem however being that one can make the Scripture say almost anything we want it to. We must be careful with our explanation of Scripture so that we don’t fall into a trap the devil sets by convincing us we need to give symbols where no symbols were intended. This will naturally lead to undue “theorizing” what a Scripture is saying rather than accepting the Author’s obvious intention!
My reason for pointing this out is to say that it is highly likely that what comes out of the bottomless pit is a genetic chaos created by the evil one himself in order to bring about the most pain, chaos, and destruction possible when he is given his time to do so. We know he has always desired the worship that only Almighty God deserves. He has also attempted to counterfeit everything God does. Given the enormous number of accounts by people who claim to have been abducted by “aliens,” my premise about the identity of these hordes coming out of the abyss might just be correct.
There are those who might ask why we even need to know any of this. One obvious answer is that God made a point of putting it in the Bible–much of which we might not be comfortable with. It is there and God intends us to search His Scriptures and learn everything we possibly can. Prophetic Scripture that might not have meant so much to earlier generations are now in play. This provides us another important reason to understand Scriptures that earlier generations paid little attention to. We now must give answers to folks that question today’s events and their meaning. Many people have also had encounters with the supernatural. Often these supernatural encounters have been from the demonic realm. If the Church of Jesus Christ will not or cannot help these folks, who else will?
All of the warnings Jesus gave us in Matthew 24 are happening in concert today. The Four Horses of the Apocalypse have already been released and are preparing a rebellious planet for an unleashing of evil and catastrophic events unlike anything the human race has ever experienced. The Bible tells us that it will be worse than what happened during Noah’s flood! It should give us pause because the judgment of God in the form of Noah’s flood was the most devastating event in the history of mankind. How could anything be worse?
Just as it was in Noah’s time, the warnings are going out–and for the most part, the human race either laughs them off or pays no attention. Noah was thought to be a half-baked crazy man with a message that just could not have any connection to reality–until it actually happened! Then he was believed, but it was too late. The Bible tells us that most of the world will do the same in our day, yet we are to reach out as best we can. God’s love will accept anyone who humbles himself before His Creator and repents. God will wipe their slate clean and their eternal destiny is changed. As the Bible says in the 4th chapter of Hebrews: “Today is the day of salvation, don’t harden your hearts.”
To Be Continued in Part 10 in which we will look at the identity of the wars the Bible foretells to happen between now and the return of Jesus Christ to set up His Kingdom on Planet Earth. These wars, although seemingly slow in building up before our very eyes, will likely explode in great fury, “Suddenly!”