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The great 'falling away' (II Thessalonians 2:3) is a necessary prophetic prelude to the grandest, and most grisly, exhibition of satanic power in the antichrist, as seen in this chapter. While the 'falling away' has been focused in terms of the eminent, evident ecclesiastical fall - not of all, but of much in the way of spiritual seeming churches, of much in truth, sincerity, in numbers amongst formerly stable, apparently sound bodies; and the greatness of it has been noted and will be pondered further: it is not exclusive to this.
In one sense, only the church would be in a position to fall, the rest being fallen already and not restored. However, the consequences of the church, of Christ's kingdom in many countries and places and organisations would tend to fall, with the loss of so substantial a part of the church visible. Political and social fallings away, derivative from the church in its visible aspect - from its numerical lapse in such a great degree, and the increasingly numerous fraudulent bodies - would be expected also to be great. This indeed it is, as has been and will be shown all too clearly.
The restraint (II Thessalonians 2:7), presumably that of the Holy Spirit in the empowering, purifying and blessing of the hearts of believers, both individually and in churches: this will be removed, says Paul. In the interim, the 'mystery of iniquity' works. It does, like a fever all over the world, in that sort of bubbling effervescence of intoxication which prepares the way for the heady and doomed days of the antichrist (Cf. Revelation 12:12.)
If these things, this degradation, this spoliation happens while the church is still here, what may be expected when, as Christ most explicitly teaches (Matthew 24:36 ff.), it is removed! That is summed up, in the end, by Revelation 19. Mercy never removed the truth, merely met it (Psalm 85:10); and when the day of mercy is past, then the truth rules and judges. ''Wrath without mixture'' comes (Revelation 14:10).
Here in Australia the internationalisation, often to Communist, relativist or antichristian (because relativist) ways, has gone so far that it is becoming difficult to distinguish in some fields, short of force, what more an antichrist would do ... except of course to make his 'personal' pronouncement (II Thessalonians 2:8), and to apply a far more pronounced disenabling program for the saints, so long as they remain (Revelation 13:16). Naturally, there are many vilenesses and violences left for the countries where restraint has been merely by social coercion and employment duress: at the moral, spiritual and theological levels.
The ingredients of the falling away are found in numerous references in this work, where its different dimensions come into view (see partial list at the end of this Extension). They involve for example, the national falling away from its Protestant basis of the Church of England. A hierarchical organisation, it has through several archbishops advocated alliance with Rome, at the national level, in one way or another: much seeming to revolve merely around what form of precedence Rome might take. (The full implications are exposed on such places as Daniel File, Extension 4, pp. 950-955 and Chapter 10, Section 2B, pp. 1042 ff. infra; cf. pp. 602, 749-750 this work).
Again, large consignments of Protestants (a fact examined in some detail on several occasions in this work, esp. Chapter 9 infra) are noted and notorious for keeping company with Rome; and they have increasing feelers for union or communion - or in other extravaganzas of doctrine directly. Even missions can be ensnared. Moral depravities with explicitly and confessedly perverted preachers (call it 'homosexuals'- but God did not create man as a gender-amender but with powers of procreation of the race, as Paul makes so clear in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6:9) are becoming more and more the 'in' thing. Yet this is merely one instalment. A diversified set of dealings with the doctrine of devils with dynamic, popularity and gusto is a birth-mark of the twentieth century (cf. pp. 353-374, 699 ff. supra, 866 ff. infra).
Broadly, there are rife such forms of devilish doctrine (to use Peter's term, found in his prediction in II Peter 2), as these: the denial of the personality of God, of the supernatural, of the bodily resurrection, of the deity of Christ... The bodily resurrection is turned from by many who prefer home-made religion, deeming that of Jesus Christ a dispensable doctrine: and that rejection is a doctrine that dispenses with the teachings of Paul, Christ, Peter and the prophets.
Neo-evangelical preachers like Schuller make it unimportant; but Jesus was careful to confront the physically minded Thomas with the physical evidence, summoning him to check it out (John 20), and making Thomas's realisation and conviction after this, a criterion for faith thereafter, on the part of those whose physical eyes did not see. (Cf. Daniel File, Extension 1, pp. 931-936 infra, and Chapter 6 supra; and note Acts 2:31 with Luke 24:39, where the physical realities of a resurrection of the one who made the body are quite experimentally expressed! God is keen on verification, as we have shown earlier. In fact, the God with power has evidence and power as a simple thing: it is unbelief which is complex, being volitional, vicious and irrational, in its last analysis.)
Paul too, makes it clear, as Machen showed so well, that the thing laid into the grave is the thing which was resurrected, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. This affirms not only the fact, but the other fact that not to believe this, is to have your faith in vain - 1 Corinthians 15:15-16; just as he proclaims that it is the raising up of Jesus Christ, here defined, which provides justification, authenticating and confirming the claims, without which no remission of sins would even be relevant (Romans 4:5)!
The Presbyterian Church of N.Z. for all that - despite the author's categorical Biblical challenge to its Assembly1 - relegated the doctrine to relativity, and would not have it bound in the church. My dissentient vote was to be recorded - the onlyone! It is then, part of the falling away that such basics are broadly denied in many churches formerly faithful, and this with increasing acceptance and aplomb.
As Jeremiah put it in his climacteric day, for the Jewish people (5:31):
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and my people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end ?'Believe it ? Oh if you want to! But as a basic, never!' That is the way of this denial; and it is denial, if what God binds, you loose... Increasingly, man is saying of God, to man: 'Oh believe what you like, so long as you do not think that it is true!' Man is shouting at God, the God of the Bible; and it is that same God who so accurately predicted this dénouement in the form of a falling, where what had stood fails, through wilfulness, any more to be believed, or done.
What still stands is the Christian Church; what has fallen is much masonry which had surrounded it. Large and lavish national churches, prestigious churches, rich churches are increasingly finding faith, and indeed the faith either undesirable or at least unnecessary, wondering with almost inane seeming credulity ... what is up, as the world loses much of the light it had, and blunders with a blind and increasingly exasperated belligerence, in the dark. (Cf. Jeremiah 13:15-18!)
The deity of Christ is similarly denied by many using the name Christian, denied by J.W.'s and Christadelphians, who do not acknowledge the one God with His Redeemer, His everlasting co-partner (Isaiah 48:16 - see Trinity, Chapter 7, Section 4); as it is also by many Presbyterians and 'advanced' thinkers, such as those following the Theology of Liberation, and by many Masons indeed. In fact, in the last case, the clear teaching in the preface of the Holman Masonic Bible has been that there are many roads to God, and sacred 'scriptures' include the Koran.
In that case, a Mason is committed, in the end, to the view that Christ cannot be God, for one of the Masonic teachings is that the Koran is a wholly acceptable sacred scripture. If Christ be God, then this is blasphemy, and blasphemy is scarcely worship; yet they do not appear to desire to be called blasphemers, though explicitly acknowledging that a religion which explicitly2 denies the deity of Christ, is an authentic and proper thing to be followed. Indeed in one of the Masonic approaches, they reveal the JBO concept, Jehovah, Baal and Osiris, something leaving yet more depraved concepts of the deity, to supervene beyond 'mere' denial of the deity of Jesus Christ.
Some even would follow with the disciples of Bultmann, a blitz of the very personality of God. Now in all these things, you have large fractured fragments of what regards itself as portion of ... the church of God, or closely allied! The term 'falling away' seems inadequate by itself. Again the scripture is exact: it is "the falling away". Not merely is it a case of falling, it is the case of it, the climacteric pre-parousia epoch. This is the ... mature case, the vast undoing before Christ returns; and you recall that He questioned:
When the Son of man comes, will He really find faith on earth ?Meanwhile, there may be seen 'famous' riverlands of silted soil, in which every new thing that alas is as old as the dirt of the devil, is aroused, stirred and used. They range from the 'wholly other' god who is of course unknowable (colliding fascinatingly with the minimum condition of eternal life as defined by Jesus Christ in John 17:3), such as that of Barth; to the wholly interior New Age symbols, with their preludes in Schleiermacher or Kierkegaard.
(Luke 18:8, cf. Matthew 24:5,11-12).
Not only have theological students in many Protestant seminaries been mistaught, treated to a constant if variable diet of blasphemies, but disciplined for the logical exposure of the same, indeed "framed" or dismissed, something experienced by the author (cf. p. 1083 infra)... Perhaps 'mercy' of some species may be offered, if a man follows the apostasy by collapsing with his colleagues, instead of righteously resisting blasphemy! But such an offer is worse than worthless; for Christ as redeemer, and as the truth, is worth infinitely more than any merely human 'mercy', bogged in its own follies. What with Luther, and many before him, was a lead to the Reformation, in this day leads to an apostasy from which comparatively few escape. It is not total, to be sure. There may indeed be multitudes who escape, amid the hundreds of millions of professing Christians, enmeshed in the entanglements of theological nets; but their percentage, if one considers the doctrine and practice of churches cozily denying much, as many of them agree together ... may be small. (Cf. pp. 1088H; 726-729, 857-873 infra.)
The falling away is reaching quite a velocity of descent, and is a spectacle. This is illustrated by the famed Missouri Synod Lutheran Church split, at seminary level, with one seminary segment continuing its studies in the premises of the RomanCatholics (Missouri was noted for its evangelical tone!); and indeed, many Lutheran bodies co-operate more and more extensively with Rome. It is also well exemplified by the fact that Presbyterian and Baptist churches have likewise divided on the issue of the infallibility and divine authority of the Bible, instituting entirely new church bodies as a result.
There have indeed been more or less notable or even notorious cases, like that of the redoubtable Professor J. Gresham Machen. With others, he was removed from the ministry while fighting for the Bible, once taken as basic in the face of an inclusivistic approach: indeed so great was the estrangement on the one hand from the Bible and on the other from the 'church' which defiled it by addition and subtraction in effect, that a new Presbyterian missionary organisation was founded.
This was done for the very good reason that if one is preaching, it had better be the gospel that is preached! Amid blatant departure from the infallibility of the Bible, such as the author personally verified in a central committee in the Presbyterian Church of Canada (although it was formally required), there are niceties of rebellion, such as having women ministers and elders, with the provision that if after so many years, ministers who did not believe in women elders could not participate in sincerity in such things, they themselves would be removed from the ministry.
This is merely one practical evidence, for Paul (Acts 20:17, 28) made it plain that elders exercise authority over the church, while women (1 Timothy 2:9 ff.) may not do so; founding the teaching on historical considerations affecting all men, as ground, on facts which are not changeable, since they have happened. Indeed, it is specifically while dealing with the question of the relation of women in the church, that Paul quite explicitly notes, ''the things I write to you are the commandments of the Lord'' (I Corinthians 14:37), whether this might be the defining of opinions or the 'laying down of the law'.
In this case, it is the latter: categorical, historical and in fact, part of the divine specialisation which has been accorded man and woman. It is the loss of this sense, which lies behind much of the movement to make women do this particular specialised task; for Biblically, women may no more bear authority in the church, than men may bear children out of it, or anywhere. Counsel and consultation, however, is an entirely different realm.
From the sublime and the supernatural to the forms of government, it ranges like a fire, devouring now this, now that hamlet, this castle, that metropolis. After such fires, there is a certain ... falling!
Whether indeed, it be advancing acceptance of Rome with its fallen blasphemies; or of Protestant blasphemers, code-named in many cases 'theologians', freely elected scribal popes for many, as they can become; or the popular Pentecostal excesses so often found, often leading to claims that 'tongues' must precede conversion, or that they may be held in confusion or profusion wholly contrary to the master-builder's prescription (in I Corinthians 14:13-15,23,27 ff., cf. I Corinthians 3:10, pp. 348-349 supra). Innovation and subjectivism are rife. Nor alone in many churches of this kind does this occur: the failing, falling proceeds and spreads.
One result of theological and ecclesiastical
subjectivism that naturally proceeds is this, that it becomes one more
mode of not taking the Lordship of Christ seriously. It is seen freely,
this falling. It is observable in the defaulting of national churches like
the Church of England with its Red Deans, Durham doctrines and grossly
falling national percentage attendance. It is discernible
all too well in the U.S., with its growing 'power broking' devices, failing vision and in the name of the goddess of freedom (not quite explicitly perhaps), forcing of evil on the 'free', in the interests of 'non-discrimination', even in the field of employment, reaching
to the forced use of teachers whose morals are repugnant both to the Biblical form and to the paying parents' desires!
The U.N. Declaration on discrimination dwarfs even this. (See p. 749 infra.)
Nor is this 'merely' doctrinal; it may involve, with AIDS, death ... All this is one vast dynamic. Its movement is, Biblically defined, clearly, categorically and devastatingly down! Now since we are dealing with the Bible and its verification, this therefore is the sole criterion in view that is to the point. Biblically defined, there is a vast fall in progress: first this had to come to fulfil prophecy; and secondly, it occurs in a squadron of circumstances and developments likewise prophesied to alight ... like locusts, together. Subjectiviety defies God, disdains the evidence and defiles the victims.
Things have earlier been far more Biblical in scope, in Protestant purity, in national moral impact through some measure of assurance, some force of non-compromise in England, for example, where the Bible is the 'official', legally official Book! Assuredly they have, in past times, been vastly more... elevated in the U.S., where once evangelical things claimed headlines widely throughout the nation, and revivals were prime topics. Rome rises (as we see later, certainly, only to fall): while Bible based Protestantism, though measured in many millions, is increasingly finding wholly other doctrine taught in many of the churches. This has led, not only to a few cases, but to a far-reaching phenomenon of split, even in traditionally highly established and respected churches. Though evangelical churches in some parts grow, the vast social impact of the older, established churches when they freely fall, is a dynamic not lost on the nation; and indeed in nation after nation, the flow - in the company of plenteous popular church leaders, is downward.
Even many evangelical churches (see Schaeffer's The Great Evangelical Disaster) are tending to become neo-evangelical, sliding with their culture, their captains and acceptability criteria, beneath the emblems of orthodoxy. Many are using psychology (see Moody Monthly, May 1991) and diplomacy, statecraft and modern communication methodology increasingly. Many, it seems, are finding in degrees, that those who stand simply for the faith are intolerably inept, if not quaint, if not indeed destructive of their growth plans ... for the church. For such, 'treatment' may be needed.
In one denomination, a psychological 'expert' helped spread the news of seminars and psychological aids, people growing interested in their own potential, fulfilment, options, ways and byways. This soon was followed by the fascinating growth: one participating minister fled with a choir girl, leaving his wife, taking up the selling of cars. Such is fulfilment and one's duty to oneself, as psychology frequently teaches, harmonising nicely with other self-absorbed theologies, for which the concept of being 'crucified with Christ' (Galatians 2:20), lacks ... appeal.
The significance of such episodes as this one, for our purpose is not their occurrence - they have occurred before: it is the relation they bear to the new teaching which frequently loses sight of God, exploring instead, with quasi-religious zeal, the potential of one's soul, the fulfilments of one's dreams: God as a means for me; God my aid, my servant and my source of final indulgence. If good, He may be kept; and He had better be good: So preacher, comes the message, make it happen!
It is enough. The great falling away is an epidemic, like people falling from fever. It is predicted. It is fulfilled. It is superabundantly verified in the immersion of great segments of what calls itself the church in anti-Biblical morals, government, doctrines, practices and wedlock with the philosophies and psychologies of the world, both directly and via increasing communion with the this-worldly vanities of Rome (see Chapter 10, infra).
Some, indeed many, still stand; but the falling is vast in the dimensions of ecclesiastical units, national units, plagues of multiplying false doctrines, spurious alliances, harmonisings, compromises; in invasions of seminaries by the same, escalating invasions, and morals so deplorable that even the Presbyterian Church U.S. is finding itself exposed in Moody Monthly (April 1991, p. 66).
This was for its all but incredible initial committee commendation of practices in sex so squalid, that it is far better to indicate that the Biblical conditions for this gift of God seem more to be honoured in the breach than in the observance. Now it is crucial to note that this is not a mere practice of some failing individual; this is the recommendation of a church committee about what to do in principle. Not only so, the minority report was not permitted publication, and the words spoken indicate that there is a passion and a sense of call, a sense indeed of mission or of commission to bring this ... new liberty, this love with justice, as it is unjustly conceived of, into the church.
True, it did not this time succeed; but the power to make it do so was fearlessly deployed; and such erosions may be expected to continue from the permitted power base of unbelief so long, and so foolishly tolerated. Indeed, it was precisely the tolerance of explicit rejection of basics of the Bible which led to the initial overwhelming of the Presbyterian Church U.S., in the days of Dr Machen. It was many decades ago that the breach was urged on by the failure to make the Bible the sole doctrinal source, making instead the sort of cocktail religion which some find so intoxicating.
Love with justice, then ?
The justice appears to be just this, that if your heart tells you that some mate is for you, your body does well to co-operate. Indulgence in amours of fornication, however, in any sexual relationship, are neither Biblically tolerated nor other than wholly condemned (e.g. Ephesians 5, I Corinthians 6, Romans 1). Paul is rather eloquent in talking of not attaching yourself, as in the body of Christ, to a harlot, for example (I Corinthians 6:15 ff.). This he uses as illustration of the intrinsic horror of any fornication, or loose, non-marital, uncommissioned, unchartered sexual liberties with fellow humans. Quite simply a life embracing fornication or perversion is an alternative to a destiny in heaven (I Corinthians 6:9).
It might be added that Paul applies such figures, in rebutting any blind and unspiritual desire, to be allied, affianced, yoked to - unbelievers in communion or spiritual co-operation indeed (II Corinthians 6:14-18); and such as these, in biblical terms, do rule many 'churches'. But no! this is proscribed, and indeed: "All uncleanness" including covetousness, Paul would have rot, if unyieldingly chronic, alone (Ephesians 5:3,6-7; cf. pp. 705, 950, 954, 568-569, 663, 744, 770, 1064, 1174D infra). Returning to the Presbyterian Church U.S. Committee finding, we find nonetheless that youth must not be victimised. Properly speaking, that should be obvious, but here... what does it mean! The young and the youth, we find, must not be so treated. How is this result to be obtained ?
Is there then some stirring of protection of the young from the wallowings of emotion-fed sex ? Not at all. They too must be liberated, and in no way circumscribed, but given licence just as their wide-ranging seniors desire it for themselves. Was ever 'justice' so inequitable, that broken morals should be put in the hands of the young, pre-formed, that they might have it! Worst of all, this authoritative licensing for the growing young is provided with something like passion, promulgated like liberation of slaves! Was ever there a more blighted case of calling evil good and good evil!
Hear Isaiah (5:20-21):
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.In such a case, one is reminded that justice and judgment are words not far apart; and current statistics on the young, suggest that many parents, whatever the decision of this or that church, do little to develop any moral feeling in their young. This little development of 'justice', securing the earlier demolition of their misled lives, this however is a novelty! at least for serious regard by what could be called 'churches', as distinct perhaps from sects.
Adult licence becomes a mouthing of mis-morals to the young. It is consistency certainly; but not glorious consistency... It seems that shame becomes a psychological oddity, an opponent of ecclesiastical passion; that is a church-based passion, for a new look at physiology and morals; and one is reminded of Isaiah's words in 59:14 - "Truth is fallen in the streets."
Corrupting themselves, as the Bible rates corruption, they appear to want to apply the canons of consistency to their Biblical inconsistency, with results for the young alone, which make one wonder if the current world epidemic of AIDS (far more dangerous, according to Dr A.E. Wilder Smith, than disinformation often allows - see his work, AIDS, pp. 3 ff., 6 ff.)... has been theologically as well as politically muted. And this ? even while it kills the young, whom numbers of 'kind' church people would now further aid in 'liberation'.
Indeed, will the church now Biblically purge itself of the esoteric views such as earlier brought the fall of much of the structure: or will it allow whatever happens to be voted in, to arrive when it will, so long as it is not too 'judgmental'! Will it change its ways ? The Bible has long, and for many churches, been a point of departure, the degree of fall being calculable by the height of Biblical subscription formerly reached! The psychological, sociological, the cultural and even political captivity of the 'church', that is of the part too fallen to notice its bonds, is a matter of grief, as Jeremiah felt it; but alas, it is also a matter of fact.
While truth in the city seems fallen in the streets, then, it remains true that the Lord who predicted these things, whose predictions are herewith verified at this point, is the God of power (Ephesians 1:19): not only to pronounce and predict, but to overthrow death as surely as the AIDS of man overthrows life, in divine judgment on the race. The life of God remains as unchanged as in the days of the apostles, lived and experienced now as then; the word of God is not revised, but implemented. On all sides, and in every condition, it is fulfilled; in devastation, in deliverance, in breach of death and in breach of life; in mercy and in judgment; and... in detail.
Protestant 'theologians': 455 ff., Chapter 9, Section 4B, Idolatry Wing; Chapter 10 Section 1. See general Index - Protestantism. See also:The Protestant Revolt (Murch) and BAAL OR GOD (Otten).
Has Karl Barth Become Orthodox ? (Van Til); see also general Index.
US and Eastern culture :Chapter 10, Section 1.
New Age acceleration of 'The Process': 842-884, 993-1002, 1008-1111, 1024-1026.
Rome and Common Market Expansions and Developments: Daniel File, Part B. Spaak's pronouncement - See Spaak, General Index.
Evolutionary impacts:Ch.'s 2 and 3 - esp. Ch. 2, *14; Extensions C and E, 145-159 and 179 ff.; cf. Chapter 7, 560-569, 615. See also 844-5,877-879.
National or State contributions to falling: 867 ff., *9 on 880-881; 837-884; 368 ff.; 353-374, 386-396; 648-687. For - Communism's contribution, both collecting, concentrating and dispensing unbelief, despite its logical disgrace and later financial one: see General Index - Communism, Marxism.
Commandment 'bashing': 109-111, 208, 275-277, 308, 578-580, 601-616, (see Spock, 616), 623 ff., 660-674 (see Leary, 667), 684-690, 696-697, 702-706 supra, 727-730, 993-994, 1081-1082 infra.U.S. and Liberty: 327, 353-374; and 842-884.
Mutant Mysticism:See Euromysticism; general Index, 'New Age' - above; also 264-311, 1074-1080. A complex of volatile vapours, unstable, combustible and acrid, with a delusive quasi-spirituality.W.C.C. : See General Index.
Euromysticism : see General
Index: as also for Separation, Christ - False.
These advances in technology, in fact, fit into another prophecy - that of Daniel (12:4): that knowledge(1) would increase, while international travel(2) (*20) would boom.
These too were to be signals for Christ's return. That is startlingly fulfilled in executives - and others - flitting across the skies and earth and seas, in tourist travel (Queen Elizabeth II suite with butler, some 90 days, was cited at some $400,000 to secure); and in the explosion of knowledge which now occurs at a rate quite unprecedented. Computers are of course heavily involved in the knowledge explosion, and in turn form part of it. Just as the acceleration of the atomic cyclotron equipment moves particles and helps power for war, virtually deified in the Communist use of political and social conflict as the very means and essence of their 'dialectical process'... so computers accelerate the accumulation of knowledge.
The former point - the near deification of war (3) for many decades by one of the super-powers, which it has set forth quite systematically as a very means of 'life' in theory and in practice, as an essential principle of its very existence - this itself fulfils another prophecy: though we seemed merely to stumble on it, in considering the computer as an aid to the predicted Knowledge Boom! The Russian missionaries have long sold the doctrine of their warfare throughout the globe, almost an ultimate in incitation to arms by aims, whilst the mother country has profited in vast technical enrichments through stolen secrets and sequestered talents. And despite such theft, in its atheistic folly, it now wallows...
How ignominious is this current position of the State which told God to get out, bag and baggage! Satan however may yet ignite the residues, while Russia is fed for the time, from international aid. Communism, in this phase, is close and intimate with the Darwinian 'survival of the fittest' cult ... so irrelevant to creation; for it has to explain arrival (see Macbeth: Darwin Re-tried, a lawyer's analysis of the term and its connotation).
The intriguing aspect before us, however, is this: the communist doctrine of striving, warfare and programmed forces accurately fulfils the prediction of Daniel 11:38-39, in terms of the coming antichrist. As E.J. Young interprets this scripture in his commentary on Daniel, concerning the 'god' the coming evil power will worship: 'He is a god who is characterized by fortresses or strongholds. In other words, he is the personification of war... For religion, he will substitute war, and war he will support with all that he has...' In knowledge and the gentle art of this so developmental war ... the stage is being set. So the trio, knowledge, travel and war philosophy stridently stride the earth, clamorously calling for their synthesis of destruction. Perverted purity becomes a prop for destruction; for virtue and vigour, investigation and interest become in evil perspective, a calamitous company. And the ''god of fortresses''?
As far as the former U.S.S.R. is concerned, the Red Army is reported (January 16, 1992), in the Adelaide Advertiser as greatly concerned at the prospective division of armed forces in the new Commonwealth of Independent States, seeks nuclear power for itself alone and is holding a meeting of many army officers to examine the situation, while putting much pressure on President Yeltsin to secure for them a monopoly on nuclear arms, citing the danger of their division among the other (satellite, independent, subsidiary ?) States. Some days earlier, an Army Major declared that Gorbachev should be put on trial, evidently for treason, while characterising the failed putsch leaders as heroic rather than seditious.
The philosophy of war is not about to commit suicide... It has long been pampered not only in Russia but in other Communist States, being part of the underlying ideology of that corrosive system of hate. Nor is it the only exemplar of strident force, amorally mouthing its cadaverous cunning.
The principle of war and the practice of war alike seem to sear the globe (*21). It is not at all a mere matter of legitimate defence of a people, assaulted from without, but of tyranny; of war as a fever, a festering in the minds of the race, and in particular, of its philosophic and ultimately spiritual drive and dynamic: indeed the quasi-religious furore of its folly. As to knowledge, that explosion is so vast and famous an event that the very phrase 'knowledge explosion' - has come to be part of our language! Its misapplication is a scene in the scenario of 'being as gods'; for the restraints of God become the complaints of the flesh (Genesis 3:8, II Thess. 2:4).
All this, then, fulfils the prophetic scenario in breath-taking fashion. With knowledge and travel has come increased aspiration too, to invade space, in turn helped by computers. Here is travel in the truly 'grand manner' - grandly fulfilling the predictions of the prophet Daniel for man's roving mandate over the planet, in the frenzied pursuit of all things, even the territories not provided for his rule (Psalm 115:16). In multitudes not knowing God, man uses might and main to explore and exploit knowledge with all the lust that might animate a deprived child: except that, in this case, it is self-deprivation.
That is what the program was about: the smoke-smog-darkening-cooling effect of a major international nuclear exchange. This topic was examined by American, and at one phase, Russian scientists. Once both nationalities appeared together on American soil, when one Russian scientist was invited to the U.S. to participate in research findings, later to extend his own approach back in Russia, after this exposure.
The vast intrusions of smoke particles into space was the theme considered both in computer models and in terms of known effects from the past, where very large volcanic eruptions such as Krakatoa and Mount St Helens had yielded carefully noted data. Remarkable degrees of correspondence were seen between the predictions based on analysis and subjected to computer programmes on the one hand, and the evidence of the past in the harrying and harrowing episodes of history on the other.
Whether the temperature, for example, of much of Europe would be lowered below freezing point in mid-Summer, following such a nuclear interchange; or whether a vast twilight would dominate the Summer skies; or perhaps considerably greater darkness would follow: these were questions of degree. The plight of man and the blight of the earth were seen as twin topics, in which the destiny of the earth at that stage was like the motion of a drunken man, reeling in delirium. This is just, as a matter of fact, as Isaiah much earlier predicted it would in fact come to be:
The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is thoroughly dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a booth; and its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall and not rise again... The moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed ... Isaiah 24:19-23.What, however, especially interests us here is Christ's prediction of the period of the coming holocaust or its era. Such a prediction has nestled calmly in Scripture for thousands of years, in all its detail, drawn form the lips of Christ. More specific than Luke 21:11, and parallel to the signs of Luke 21:25, we find:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light ... and the powers of the heavens will be shaken ... Matthew 24:29.The timing for this event is precise - after the tribulation of those days - and the wording is so exact in its depiction, that as so often it would seem rather like the work of a journalist on the spot, summing up his part of the findings of the recent scientific conference and research noted. Not merely is it topical: it is precise. The darkening of the earth is predicted, like a shroud for a funeral.
These words of Christ are reminiscent of several in the prophets, but Jeremiah 4:23, read in the light of Isaiah 24 as quoted earlier, is noted; for here is what might be called the 'second darkness', in which the world, through wickedness, grows closer to the darkness upon the face of the earth at the beginning, on day one of the creation!
I beheld the mountains, and lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and lo, no man, and all the birds of the heaven were fled ... For this will the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: for I have spoken and I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither I turn back from it.This reference from Jeremiah is cited to provide the sense of mourning as correlative to blackness, darkness, judgment, in a sort of initial step of dis-assembling the earth; and with Isaiah 24, we gain more:
The earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard ... Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed.Already, we have a foretaste in the realm of darkening. Time magazine in this era of the 'l00 hour war' on Iraq for its seizure of Kuwait, and Hussein's 'retribution' for imagined injuries in the form of hundreds of blazing infernos of wasted oil, has seen the use of phrases like -
Darkness at noon, and now
Getting blacker every day,
(the latter, May 27,1991).
With a picture showing various shades of darkness, like an exercise in black, it declares:
The Kuwait oil-fallout could be worse than expected: it may affect hundreds of millions of people from Africa to the Indian subcontinent... ( p. 62 )."Researchers," it says," still have little information about the size of the giant black cloud of oil, gases, soot and smoke being pumped into the atmosphere hour after hour, day after day. But they now fear that what happens to this noxious mass during the next few weeks may affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people."
(Stop Press: In hindsight, one wonders what effects this may now be having meteorologically, in exacerbating the work of industry, from the industrial revolution on, to its present high-tech pinnacle, with consumers adding to producers in one massive assault on environment. Now in 1998, the environment seems not highly amused. Indeed, the judgments of God, as predicted in the book of Revelation, while His own and directly appointed, use whatever means or lack of apparent means, He chooses. In the use of humanly mediated means, there is a certain ... lurid unloveliness, which is part of that racism, human racism, which seems set on its ways, and will be, until it reaches its appointed end, apart from redeemed export emigrants at the rapture of Christ, His return. In that case, what remains and awaits the predicted divine judgments, seems to include a certain self-specification for man, as well as a divine rebuke and exposure.)
The darkness at noon having already been experienced, the spreading phenomena will not merely intensify the greenhouse effect, but there may follow meteorological disturbances and pollution, such as Revelation denotes not a little in its cumulative account of folly of man and wrath from God (e.g. Revelation 6:8,12, 8:8, 9:17, 16:3,10). At the least, it will be a very good forerunner, foretaste... and warning to the race. It is occurring within previously prescribed predictive outcomes, of a cumulative seeming character.
This year's storms could suck up soot from the oil fires and unusually large amounts of dirt loosened by explosions and the movement of armies during the war. Intensified by heat from the fires, the storms could spread a mist of soot and oil across a belt of countries, ranging from Saudi Arabia to India. Apart from posing a health threat to the people closest to ground zero, the pollution is likely to harm wildlife, agriculture and fisheries. At worst, fallout from the oil fires may disrupt the region's annual monsoon rains.The cumulative consequences, as with sin, mount: the one surge of industrial gases leads to the ozone problem, releasing harmful rays, while the greenhouse effect makes its longer term impact felt; and lust, spiritual madness and greed lead on to high-technology consequences at the military level, where passions promote more madness, this in turn aggravating the earlier issues. As to physical consequences, this may promote storms, reducing rain in given areas, augmenting drought in others as the greenhouse is predicted to do, through change, dislocation, disruption; while famine, like the death notice served as shown in Revelation as above, stalks with increasing assurance. This in fact it does.
Meanwhile, the specific forecast of a darkening of the earth proceeds on its grisly path: yet, as Revelation 9:17-21 predicts for such a time:
But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons ... and they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.As we gain previews of ever-increasing nearness to the things of the end, man seems certainly more worried, as indeed also forecast; but not noticeably more repentant.
Also of great interest in this vein, the forecast of grand scale in Matthew 24:29, is the impact of the prediction: "The powers of the heavens will be shaken". If the A-bomb, H-bomb, space satellite, star war program - if the whole Einsteinian mass-to-energy conversion invasion of the stability of the solar system means anything, it means this: that 'the powers of the heavens will be shaken'. Substance is evacuated of its rigidity, while energy is driven out from the bounds of its emplacement, shattering more structures and substances in its way.
God having given man freedom, has already chartered his course before him. Even a cursory reading of the book of Revelation - for example, 6:12,17, 8:8-11, 9:20-21, 16:8-9,21, 21:7-8, 21:22-22:5 - reveals the scope of the destruction and the contrast of the glory of God to come. Small wonder it is that this should be so. Destroying - as far as judicial murder permitted - the Son of God in His incarnate form at the Cross; unrepentant at His resurrection from the grave; endlessly provoking God the Creator; contemptuous of the salvation Christ so freely confers, wallowing in sin, practising perversions of heart, mind, spirit and body, as though failing death, life must be abused to be of any use: man marches to his appointment with destiny.
As to that destiny, it is not one anyone who reveres God would covet; and it must come, for God has said it.
As for man, he sows and has sown the wind, and reaps, and will reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7 states the principle). As for Christ, as long predicted, in timely fashion He will come for His own - and small wonder, since He bought them, in deeds far more dynamic and constructive than those of any bomb (Galatians 6:14, Matthew 20:28) - and that, willingly (Psalm 40:7-8), freely (1 Peter 1:18-21), fully (Hebrews 9:13) and finally (Hebrews 9:25-27, Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 12-14).
As the whirlwind of retribution reaches its fatal force and course, the play is nearly over and Christ's work is already with Him (Matthew 24:27, 30-31, cf. John 14:3 ff. Acts 1:7). The madness of sin creates the problem and despises the solution.
As to the witness of whirlwinds: Joel's prophecy is noted by Peter in Acts 2, as we saw supra, under "Signs in the Heavens". The actual prophecy has this:
I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke .These pillars or columns of smoke or vapour are an astonishing geometrical prophecy, in view of the fact the column is the sign of this Age since 1945: indeed Peter in his reference to Joel states: ''I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath, blood, fire and vapour of smoke'' (Acts 2:19 ... to this we shall return, in Chapter 9, infra.)
It is a devastating, massive blood claiming sign (in death and related radiogenic skin cancer) of this, our Age. It is predicted as is the 'blood' of multiplied millions of this increasingly densely populated earth, meeting both political and military horror, as it writhes and contorts before maddened philosophies, driving maddened men.
So it was said; and so it is. As always, the Bible is right.
With Special Reference to Christ's General Testimony on the Undeterrable Force of God's Word.We are focussing in this chapter especially on the predictions of Jesus Christ; but it is He who in Matthew 5:17-19 made such powerful testimony to the absolute force of God's word. "Do not think I have come," He said, "to destroy the law or theprophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil." He came not to abrogate, but to activate. Indeed, no slightest part of it would fail, He indicated, till all was fulfilled. In fact, Christ repeated the negation of "to destroy" in this very declaration. For an exposition of this, see Appendix D, Volume 3 (pp. 1165-1186).
Meanwhile, we will summarise some points in which history has already expounded this claim of Christ, just as it continues to do so.
As the work of dissolution proceeds according to prediction on the whole Gentile era (that in which the Jews, having stumbled, are temporarily "cast aside" - Romans 11:11-17), it is fruitful to consider former predicted ends of former civilisations, though in these earlier cases it was this or that empire (or nation), not the entire Gentile world that was in view... The scope is increasing before the finale; the cadenza is boosted!
Babylon as an empire was devastatingly condemned to utter destruction, without recovery of her place and power. This is seen in passages such as those of Isaiah 13 and Jeremiah chapters 50-51 (esp. 51:34-63). It was to go, to fall, as Jeremiah showed, as a stone falls into a river. It fell, it was a desert. Hussein began some reconstruction in a tourist sense; he fell, is blasted, his income in ... arrears, his capital in bonds of poverty, deprivation, his wealth in tatters. The word of God ... applied, and his nuclear resource site to be in Babylon, is disenabled. Prophecy deployed 'Desert Storm'!
Indeed, his own capital, Baghdad was subjected to the ignominy of selective bombing. This has befallen the new Nebuchadnezzar; but nothing has 'befallen' the word of God. It is simply carried out: verifying the divine claims of Isaiah 55:10-11, Joel 2:11, Isaiah 45:1-7, 44:25-26 - of the One who spoke His word through His servants. the prophets (Jeremiah 7:25, 25:4-7, 13; 15), as God calls them. Similarly Nineveh was condemned to desolation (Nahum 1:8-9, 14). It became a desolation.3 Says Davis, of Nineveh, in his Dictionary of the Bible: "So complete was the desolation that in classic times the departed Nineveh became like a myth. Yet all the while part of the city lay buried under mounds of apparent rubbish."
Tyre was condemned by the prophet Ezekiel in chapters 26:3-5,7,12,14,16 - her walls to be broken down while she was to become "like the top of a rock". Alexander the Great completed the task begun by Nebuchadnezzar4, using city ruins and scrapings of soil to build a causeway to the island to which the people had earlier retreated, fulfilling the word of God to the letter. It also serves to remind the world not to misjudge the mercy and longsuffering of God, as if it were laxity or indulgence. What mercy defers, sin may cry to judgment to complete.
As Peter Stoner points out (p. 75, Science Speaks), it is, just as Ezekiel predicted, indeed today a popular place for fishermen, and here they spread, as specified for the devastated site, their nets (Ezekiel 26:14). Despite massive freshwater springs, still flowing to the sea (the rate relatively recently measured at around 10,000,000 gallons daily), and its scope for a modern city development: for 2500 years, it has never been rebuilt. This is again, just as prophetically indicated (Ezekiel 26:19-20). Its glory was to depart, its destruction desolatory, its restoration precluded: no more would the city of glory be found, it being dead with those formerly ruined. Thus it has happened. Now these ... these cities, they were seats of Empire!
At the nearer level to the Jews, the prophecies of Obadiah and Isaiah (34) are fulfilled in a way which is also awesome in its atmosphere and detail. The city of Petra, featuring recesses in rocky cliff faces, and redoubtable Edom territory, reveals a startling coincidence between the Biblical scenario of its abandonment and its actual, contemporary scenario - for its desolation was predicted to endure.
Abandoned ? Yes, to the very wild beast population prophesied, in the absence of human occupants! To read the prediction, just this, gives an almost eerie thrill of desolation. How like the thing itself, when visited now!
The treachery of Arabs against Edom and the Jewish inhabiting of the South (Negev), following Edom's treachery against Israel would be followd by Edom's eviction by Arabs, leading at last to a grand inhabiting of the South - Negev - by Israel (Obadiah 7-14, 17-21). And this ? Predicted, it is now famous civically for military feat and in irrigation (esp. since 1967). There was to be a disestablishment of Edom and an occupation by Israel, in view of the divine judgment on Edom, for its earlier infamy against Israel. These movements are fulfilled before our eyes as is the Isaianic detail (34:11 ff.). Here the divine emphasis is both inexorability and detail. Apart from the feelings evoked, there is the fact provoked, and duly come to pass. This twin application of truth is in perfect parallel with the words, already noted, of Jesus Christ, in Matthew 5:17-19.
Indeed, the reflection given at the place of this prophecy in Isaiah 34:16-17 is itself both a declamation and a challenge:
Search from the book of the Lord, and read: Not one of these shall fail. Not one shall lack her mate. For my mouth has commanded it, and His spirit has gathered them.This shows, as does Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:17-19, 24:35 that when God chooses to speak to man, He means every word of it. Perhaps it is moral devastation sweeping the earth, which makes so many people seem to find this hard to grasp. Perhaps some are surprised a little, that even some men make their word a matter of honour. When the Almighty speaks, it happens. He is not divided into warring factions, as we saw in Chapter l! nor is His power limited. As the prophet Joel says, strong is the Lord who "executes His word" (2:11). This He is, and this He does.
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1. Some months before leaving that denomination, by faith.
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2. Koran, Surahs 5:70-78, 4:171-173, 2:135-140.
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3. Such maintained judgments following their predictions are one divine trademark (Isaiah 25:2).
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4. For his work on Tyre, God paid Nebuchadnezzar with Egypt (Ezekiel 29:18-19).
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