How to Understand Prophecies Concerning the End Times
Message by Pastor Eric Chang, January 27, 2002
Today is a beautiful day; it is like spring outside. I wonder what happened to winter this year. Well, we do not mind if the winter does not come. Moreover, winter is almost over; we are at the end of January. But we do not know what will happen in February. Some people say that the winter we did not get will come back with full force in February. We never know what the future holds, do we?
Many People May Not Care About the Coming of Jesus
Well, some brothers and sisters in the church have asked me to talk about the future. We are always, to some extent, curious about the future. But for me, speaking on a subject like this, we need to have more than curiosity. Is it really important for us? I only like to talk about important things. But some subjects are not important to us only because we do not feel the need. I mean, if you have a very good life - your income is good, your work is satisfying - then you have things to look forward to in this life. Some people are looking forward to marriage. Some people are looking forward to having a baby before too long. Some are going to get their diploma soon for whatever degree they are going to get. And if Jesus comes, it will ruin all your nice plans, wouldn’t it? At least, that is what you worry about. I mean, can you imagine - if you get raptured to meet the Lord (1Thess.4.17), then what about your baby? If the Lord Jesus comes, what happens to your wedding? And all this wonderful life ahead of you will suddenly vanish into thin air---literally. You were just going to get your doctoral diploma, and boom! You are gone. What happens to your doctoral diploma? And nobody is going to call you ‘Doctor’ this or that any more because it does not matter anymore. So who wants to talk about the coming of Jesus? Let us forget it!
You see, this message, as it was in the New Testament, speaks to people who were in very different circumstances. Likewise, for many people in China, this message will certainly speak to their hearts. If you have just been sentenced to 20 years’ hard labor, you have something to look forward to with the Lord’s coming. Or, if you walked into the doctor’s office and he said, “I am sorry to tell you: You have got 2 years to live. Your cancer is terminal,” you have got something to look forward to with the Lord’s coming. If you live a life in which you do not know whether you are going to have another meal or how soon that meal will be, when you live in hunger and thirst literally, physically, you have got something to look forward to. So you see what I am getting at? The coming of Jesus is something that people look forward to if they are in need.
Now we in Canada, who needs Jesus to come again? You have got everything you want. I mean you just bought a nice new house and Jesus comes - when are you going to enjoy your house? It is gone! You ordered your new car. You are driving, sitting behind that wheel. Wow, it is so beautiful in there - air-conditioning, everything - it is so lovely! And then Jesus comes! What did you spend $30,000 for? Everything gone! Do you see what I am getting at? The coming of Jesus speaks to some; while others don’t really want to hear it. In fact, in China it was even illegal to talk about the coming of Jesus because if Jesus comes, what happens to the dreams of the present state? What is going to happen to this government in power? They will lose all their power. Everything is gone. And what happens to the ‘San Xia’ (三峡), the great Three Gorges electric power project? Everything gone! All this work there. We visited the place just about a year ago. Of course, for those poor people who lose their homes because of this project, they could be quite happy about Jesus coming. They do not know where they are supposed to go now. Over 1,000,000 people will be displaced by the rising water. Generations lived in the homes which will soon vanish below the water line. It may not be much, but it is their home. Now the government gives them money, and says, “Go find yourselves somewhere else to live. Otherwise, you move up in the mountain to that block of concrete houses up there.” So, many of them not wanting to live in those buildings, go wandering around China. Some go to Beijing, some to Guangzhou looking for jobs, and looking for somewhere to live. Whether that hydro-electric project is good for the region and for the country is much debated by the experts, but I will not get into that. We are just considering what are the possible effects which the coming of Jesus will have on the world as a whole and on each one of us in particular.
What about you? Do you really want to know about Jesus’ coming? Right now, no. To be honest, no. What is the need for His coming, as far as you are concerned? You are doing nicely right now, are you not? In this wonderful life in Canada, we do not need Jesus to come. No, thank you very much. At least, if Jesus has to come, give me another 30 years. What you mean is, “When I am old and ready to go, then You come.” So this message in the New Testament about Jesus’ coming again speaks to the suffering, the persecuted and to the people who are weary of sin, but hardly to the well-to-do or the people who are comfortable in this world.
Revelation Speaks of Awful Things Happening on a Global Scale - September 11th a Foretaste
But let me tell you something else about Biblical prophecy as it affects us. From it we know that things are going to change in Canada. All these good times will suddenly disappear. Oh yes, things change in the world. And a foretaste of that we already got on September 11th of what can happen. Two planes hit the two buildings in New York and one hit the Pentagon. As a result, over the past four months the stock markets cannot get back to normal. So if you invested your money in stocks or shares, I am sure you looked at them and said, “When is it going to get back to where it was before?” I mean, only two planes hit two buildings, why does the whole economy come tumbling down?
Now think of something happening on a bigger scale than that and your stocks and shares will be in real trouble. The whole standard of living comes down. As you can see, it does not take very much to bring this whole system down. Moreover, as you know, one of the planes was aiming for the White House with the intention, of course, of killing the President. Try to imagine this a little more. What if they succeeded? What if they killed the President and destroyed the White House? Can you imagine that? I do not think most people stopped to think of it. What would have happened then? Do you remember how much trouble it was to elect President Bush? Wow, that was a big problem, wasn’t it? And now he is killed and we are going to start this process all over again. It boggles the mind what will happen then. Of course, the Vice-President steps in with his heart trouble. Maybe the very fact he suddenly becomes the President will finish him off as well. Anyway, we cannot imagine what would have happened. Only four planes! Do you know how many planes went to bomb Europe in the Second World War from the United Kingdom? In one single mission alone there were hundreds of planes. Yet here we have four planes that could bring this kind of chaos to a nation, with far-reaching effects for the whole world. And the four planes were not even armed; they were passenger planes.
So, my dear ones, you do not think you need Jesus to come now? Who needs Jesus to come now? Your health is good. Your future is bright. Who needs Jesus? For that matter, who needs salvation? You are to be saved from what? As for sin, well, you are a decent guy. I mean, you did not kill anyone, you do not rob anybody. Who needs Jesus to save me from what sin? In any case, I am much nicer than that Christian who works with me in the office. I agree that Christians need to be saved, but not me. Well, let me say it again, the Bible tells us that the whole situation is going to change. The economy will see horrible things happening to it. When you look at the book of Revelation, it speaks of awful things happening on a global scale. The problem is, if you wait until then, it may be too late. Do we so soon forget those few thousand people who went to work on that sunny September morning in New York not knowing that it would be their last?
In Prophecy, the Prophet is Describing the Indescribable
So now, I will just try briefly, because we have only a short time, to talk about some of these things. I want to first mention two principles about prophecy so that we can understand how prophecy works. The first thing we need to understand about prophecy is that the prophet is describing the indescribable. What do I mean by this? The prophet is looking at something in the far future, which he cannot even understand. So he does not know what he is looking at and then he has to describe the indescribable to somebody who does not have clue what he is talking about. Now if you want to understand what I am saying, just look at the book of Revelation and see if you understand two sentences of its prophecies. You open the book of Revelation and you say, “What is he talking about?”
So that is the first principle of prophecy. The prophet, when speaking of the future, is trying to describe the indescribable. Let me give you an example from present life. Suppose you go into the jungle and you meet some savages who live at the Stone Age level. And you say to them, “You know, there is a thing that flies in the air, a metal box, very hard and heavy. It flies in the air and carries 300 people and flies halfway around the world.” He looks at you, and thinks, “This guy is crazy. I mean, if I climb on the tree and try to fly - I jump down, I break my neck, right?” So they say, “Let’s be reasonable. Don’t talk nonsense, okay? No metal can ever fly in the air. And now you are telling me 300 people sit in this thing and fly halfway around the world. I can’t even get across the river and you want to get half way across the world. Talk some sense, all right. Come down to earth for a change.”
Now let us suppose we are talking about a prophet 2000 years ago. And he is shown, in a vision, this huge box in the air with 300 people in it. He looks at it and asks, “What is this?” Now you know what an airplane is, but the prophet has never had a clue what an airplane is. Now supposing the savage who heard you talk about this thing flying in the air, and also doesn’t have a clue what that might be, goes to the other savages and says, “You know, there is something out there, a huge metal box, that flies in the air.” Can you imagine what they will think of this savage? What he says does not make any kind of sense to them, does it? Or you tell them that somebody can pick up this little thing here (a mobile phone), which has no wires, and talk to another person on the other side of the world (For that matter, the savage also does not know what the ‘world’ means). The savage will say, “Come on, talk some sense. This is ridiculous.” Now for those of us who do it regularly, it is nothing remarkable. But for a man who has never seen this before, supposing you try to describe it to him, will he not think you are out of your mind? Little wonder that prophets were often regarded as somewhat abnormal or even crazy, speaking or writing very strange things.
So, there you are. When you look at the book of Revelation, you see a prophet trying to describe something in the future that frankly he himself does not understand and his hearers understand even less. This principle of prophecy means we must be very careful how we interpret prophecy. When we look at a prophecy, there is only one way to know whether what is said is true. It is when you actually see it, then you can identify it. “Ah, this is it!” You see, this savage could never be convinced until he actually is brought to an airport and he looks at this thing taking off into the air, and says, “Oh, that is what the man was talking about. Now I understand.” Not until it actually happens - that you see it - then you know this is what he was talking about. This is the nature of prophecy. But before that, any attempt to identify the prophecy is going to be liable to error. I shall give an example of that in a moment.
The Principle of Indeterminacy in Prophecy
But there is a second principle about prophecy we must understand in order to avoid error. There is what we can call the principle of indeterminacy or uncertainty. When I speak of the principle of uncertainty, those of you who know some physics will know that I am using a term from physics. This principle derives from quantum mechanics back when Heisenberg in 1927 defined that principle. He discovered in physics that there is a principle, which he called simply the principle of uncertainty. There are certain things at that level of physics that you cannot determine or predict with precision how it is going to work out. It is very disturbing to scientists when they cannot predict with certainty the outcome of something. And in more recent time, you have what is called the idea of ‘chaos’ in physics. Again, this refers to the fact that there are many things which cannot be predicted with certainty because they will not repeat again in the same way as before. But the God who created the world and its physics is the same God who gives us prophecy. That means that it is a mistake which many people make to try to predict, for example, the date when Jesus will return, as though it is fixed or certain. In fact, at this moment we cannot even predict it within an accuracy of 2 or 3 years. We cannot say, for example, the Lord is certainly going to come in the year 2005, 3 years from now. All we can do at this time is to suggest that the possibility of His coming at a particular point in the future is likely (e.g. 2005), and give the Scriptural reasons for saying so. The hearers must then evaluate the Biblical evidence for themselves.
In the Bible, you will find that this principle of indeterminacy is very clearly seen, just as in physics. It is like what the Lord Jesus spoke about in Mt. 23:32. Here He says, “Fill up the measure of sin” or “Fill up the measure”. There is a measure of sin or wickedness. God’s judgment comes when that measure of sin or wickedness has reached a certain level, then comes the judgment. So you can see the level of sin rising, and rising, and it is coming to the point where the judgment is going to come. It is like boiling water. When it reaches boiling point, the water will boil. And if it is kept under pressure, it will explode. But now, if it is about to reach the boiling point, and somebody turns down the fire, then what happens? The temperature drops, boiling point is not reached.
So again, for example in Gen. 15:16, it speaks about the sin of the Amorites. God is going to judge the Amorites, but not yet. He waits until the measure has been reached, the boiling point is reached, then will be the judgment. Later on, we do find the Scriptures saying that the judgment of the Amorites has come. In other words, they have by that time reached the level of ‘boiling point’ and the judgment comes. Here we have an important principle by which we know that judgment comes when ‘boiling point’ is reached. But as we said, the temperature can go up or you could cause it to drop, and many factors can influence the rising or falling of the ‘temperature’. Consequently, the ‘boiling point’ of judgment could be reached sooner or it could be reached later.
A very well known example, of course, is the case of Jonah’s mission to Nineveh. God’s judgment was about to come upon that city, but what happened? The Ninevites repented in dust and ashes when they heard Jonah’s warning message. The boiling point was about to be reached for judgment. What happened? They turned off the fire. But Jonah got so very upset, do you remember? Why? Because he wanted to see judgment come upon them, for they were the enemies of his people. But what do the Ninevites do? They go and repent, of all things, and spoil his prophecy!
And what happened after September 11th? After that event, the churches were full. Everybody goes and prays to the Lord. Suddenly, there is an outpouring of repentance. So, in such a case, if God’s judgment was about to reach the boiling point, then the temperature would come down. And if you are a prophet, or just someone hoping for the Lord’s coming, you may get a little frustrated. When is the Lord going to come at this rate if they keep repenting? Someone might even get frustrated enough to say, “Please stop repenting so that Jesus will come!”
You see, here is where the servant of God is caught between two extremes, or two possibilities. On the one hand, he hopes that Jesus will come soon. He loves that slogan, ‘Maranatha’ - “Our Lord, come.” But on the other hand, he also wants people to repent. But these two are going to affect each other in such a way that it could delay the Lord’s coming. And that means those of us who said, “You know, Jesus may be coming next year or in two years’ time,” are going to be proved wrong, just like Jonah was wrong in that the predicted judgment did not come. Now you know why Jonah ran away when the Lord said, “Go and tell Nineveh to repent.” He said, “I don’t want them to repent. I want them to perish. I am going off in the other direction.” You may say, “What kind of a prophet is this? He has no love.” Don’t forget, Nineveh was the nation that persecuted Israel almost to extinction. He wanted to see justice done to the enemies of God’s people. But the problem, so far as Jonah was concerned, is that God is always too merciful. He will delay His judgment as far as possible.
How September 11th Helps Us to Identify Events in the Last Days
Example 1: The Mark Mentioned in Revelation
Now let me come quickly to the matter of identification, identifying the events. We have time to discuss only 3 points. The first of these is how the September 11th event helps us to understand better things that we did not understand before. In other words, in relation to prophecy, September 11th is a very important event, as you might expect. Let me give you the first example of this. In the book of Revelation, it says that in the last days before the Lord returns, everybody will receive a mark, either in the forehead or in the hand. But that did not make a lot of sense in the past. We could perhaps imagine some circumstance where the placing of a mark might take place, but it is very hard to imagine such a circumstance. After September 11th, the picture now becomes quite easy to understand.
Why is this the case? Well, because now there is a war against terrorism. And now there is also a realization that you need only a small handful of terrorists to cause worldwide chaos. Exactly how are you going to identify a terrorist? What way can you find to do it? There is only one effective way: absolute identification of every individual, because a terrorist can only function if his identify is disguised, then he can slip through the security net. So they change their faces. They may use plastic surgery, for example, to change their appearance. As you know, most of them have false identifications. A small group of people can hold the whole nation, indeed the whole world, to ransom. So the only way is the precise identification of every person of a kind that cannot be changed. That is where the mark comes in. For the sake of your security, you will be told you need to have such an identification. Not just an identification on a piece of paper because a piece of paper can be stolen, taken by somebody else and used, as so often is the case, as false passports, false identifications. But if the identification is a mark on you, that is, a small microchip inserted in your skin, and every detail about you is in that microchip. It can be implanted in the skin in just a fraction of a second. It does not hurt. Nobody can see it. It is not going to spoil your face. And then, they can see your ID as you walk past a scanning device - they do not even have to stop you - they can see exactly who you are. Do not be surprised if one of these days you go into the United States, they are going to require you to have a microchip put in your skin so that you will not change your ID when you get into the US.
As a matter of fact, every first world country will probably use this technology because it already exists. It is just waiting to be implemented. In fact, in the long term, it will be very convenient because you do not even have to carry a credit card. It is already in the microchip. So, no danger! You do not have to be afraid that your American Express or whatever card will be stolen, because when you go to the shop to buy something, they will just take all your credit card information from your microchip. It is simply scanned, in much the same way as when you buy something in any supermarket today, the cashier runs the bar-code of the product over the scanner. So, the microchip has many benefits. Another example, if you are a diabetic, you have to hang a label around your neck. That is inconvenient. But with the ‘mark’, the implanted microchip, if you go into hospital, they know right away all your past medical history recorded there. When you travel, you do not need a passport, you do not need any documentation. It’s all in the ‘mark’.
But that is also the way you will be controlled. It sounds very convenient, and that is its selling point, its attraction. But now on that little microchip can be put information about where you stand politically, for example. If you spent some years in prison or in labor camp, it will all be on the microchip. If you are right‑wing, left-wing, whatever you are, it’s all there.
Now you can see what the potential for such a thing is. And yet it will be inevitable because there is no other effective way to control terrorism. Only in this way, not one enemy can get through the border without having been checked by means of his microchip. And, if by some means he managed to climb, swim, or tunnel across the border, scanning devices at the entrance to public buildings, banks, supermarkets, etc., would quickly discover the intruder and alert security personnel.
The present technology will become redundant. The newest identification technology will soon be out-of-date. One of the newest technologies recently put to use, is photographic identification by computer. When you enter the airport, you do not know that you are already photographed and the computer is checking your picture with those of known terrorists. The disadvantage of this method is, of course, that they need to have a database of all the pictures of known terrorists. But there are many terrorists who are not yet known, as well as newly recruited terrorists. None of these will be on the presently existing database. But with a microchip on every person, this problem can be dealt with more effectively. Because, as soon as a person is born, the details about his life will be recorded. For example, where he went to school, where he travelled to, who were the people he associated with, etc. That material is recorded and updated all the time. If the microchip is implanted in adults their past history and other details can, of course, also be recorded there.
Revelation 13:16-17 speaks about ‘the mark’. The mark is mentioned seven times in Revelation. It has taken 2,000 years for us even to understand what the mark is about. It is amazing that the prophet 2,000 years ago said the day is coming when that will happen. Now try to think back 2,000 years to the time of the apostle John. In his time, the way in which it could be implemented would have been hard to see. For example, the Roman empire even at the height of its power, controlled only a portion of the known world. And even within the area it controlled, there were large areas it had only limited control over. Therefore, any kind of mark it could place on its people would have had only limited effect. But now, especially after September 11th, we not only know that it is possible, because the technology already exists for quite a few years, but now we begin to see why it might need to be done. Also, we can see that within all the first world countries, where the threat of terrorism is the greatest, the use of the identifying mark could be almost totally effective. Of course we cannot yet say for certain that terrorism will be the only reason for implementing the application of the mark, some other reasons may yet arise to make its implementation expedient to the point that it will not be further delayed. At the moment, though its implementation would undeniably be effective for security reasons, but the political climate in North America, Europe, and elsewhere may not yet be ready to accept it. So, some other events would need to occur first before its general implementation could become a reality. No doubt those events will be directly connected to the advent of the antichrist.
Example 2: The Plagues Mentioned in Revelation
Let us take another example. The book of Revelation says a lot of things about plagues killing a lot of people, sometimes one third of mankind. Some people want to say that the prophecy is so vague that you can interpret it any way you like. Not so! John is very specific. Now, strangely enough, all of this again would be very hard to understand until the September 11 event. You will remember that soon after that event the anthrax scare came up. Some people died of it. But anthrax is not the most dangerous of biological agents available today. What we now understand is that the war of terrorism will involve biological warfare, which will use plagues - exactly this word used in the Revelation - plagues to kill people, to kill those they consider their enemies. And the chief target of all these things will be where? North America! You and me living here, if we are still here, will become the object of this kind of attacks. So we now see that Revelation has long ago prophesied biological disasters of this kind. Life can become pretty unbearable when that happens. In a number of the prophesies in the Revelation it is said that one third of the people will die. Perhaps that refers to 1/3 of the people in the affected areas of the world. We are talking about huge numbers of people. The chief target will quite certainly be North America.
Now do you still think I was exaggerating when I said earlier that everything is going to change? You do not want this nice lifestyle to change, but there are those who want to change it for you! And how it will change! With an attack of this kind, and who knows what kind of biological or chemical weapons are going to be used, the consequences are unimaginable. Anthrax can be treated with certain antibiotics. But the kind that they would be using is not going to be that easy to deal with. And when hundreds of thousands of people are affected by these chemical and biological agents, the whole health care system will collapse. There is no way to deal with it. The result is people cannot go to work. Whole companies and businesses will collapse. Did you notice how many airlines went bankrupt after September 11th? Just one event and the airlines collapsed. But prophecy tells us that things like September 11th are just small early indicators of what is yet to come.
Example 3: The Army of 200 Million
Let me come quickly to the last point, the last example. In Rev. 9:16 it reads: “And the number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.” Here it speaks about an invasion from the east. Also the next verse: “And this is how I saw in the vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone” (NASB). Here comes a very strange and huge army from the east - an invasion of 200 million so‑called ‘horsemen’. But you look at these horses and they do not look like normal horses at all. What kind of horses have lion’s heads? Now you see what I told you. The prophet is trying to describe something indescribable. He does not know how to describe what he is looking at. So it sounds ridiculous. It does not make any sense. What kind of horse is this? All we can say is that a horse with a lion’s head must look very frightening. It must be very fierce and dangerous. No horse is going to devour you, but a lion will. But a horse is a symbol of strength and speed. He is saying, therefore, that from the east will come an attack of enormous proportions, with great speed and ferocity. That much we can gather. But until that event actually happens, we have no way to say for certain what it is.
Here we must be careful to avoid error of identification. I have a little booklet in my hand, as you can see, with a star on it and the title, “China and Prophecy”, written by a certain Dr. Tatford. Now this was printed in 1968, some 33 years ago. When I first read it a long time ago, I thought, “This is ridiculous!” because what it identified here - again I stress the danger of wrong identification - is that these 200 million horsemen are from China. He said this because only China had the number of people that could produce an army of 200 million. What logic! Brilliant! Presumably you will see China breeding 200 million horses now. So, everywhere you go in China you will see horses! We are in the 21st century, and they will be riding horses across the world. Moreover, if the size of the population is all that matters for this identification (why couldn’t the 200 million be drawn from a combination of different nations?), then let it be noted that India today has a population of 1 billion, more than the population of China 33 years ago.
But what I particularly disliked about this suggestion is not only its political, but also racial implications, that China, of all people, would have some kind of interest to ride across the world on horseback. And, in this booklet, do you know where he says, the Chinese people would be going to? They will be going to Africa! Now, think of that. You might be one of the 200 million Chinese going to Africa! You might want to ask this gentleman, Dr. Tatford, why 200 million Chinese people want to go to Africa, because that is not the place any of us particularly want to go. I do not think very many of you will be interested, except perhaps for a holiday by some beautiful seashore or on a safari. As you well know, there are also very few people in China who would be interested to go to Africa. Well, his astonishing answer is that the Chinese people will go to Africa to find food. It seems to be a fact that there is a lot more food in China than in Africa, and this situation does not appear likely to change in the foreseeable future. Moreover, which part of Africa has the vast tracts of arable land need to feed another 200 million people (and their horses?) on top of the needs of the population of Africa itself?
But here is a respected gentleman, who actually has a doctorate, who is writing this kind of thing. I am sorry to be so rude to this honorable gentleman here. I do not intend to be rude, but I just want to show you that by making an identification of this kind, you could really make a fool of yourself. And if you are a teacher of the Bible, you bring credit neither to God nor to His Word. Can you picture for yourself 200 million Chinese, riding on horses going to Africa, and in the process, again according to this gentleman, they will invade Israel. Why would China want to invade Israel? I have no idea. Of course, strange things happen in the world, and maybe he will surprise us one day that he might be right. So, maybe one of these days, when you go back or when we visit China, let us look to see if there are lots of horses around, and whether these horses have lion’s heads. Because if they do not have lion’s heads, they do not fit the prophecy anyway. In fact if we had understood this principle, namely, that the prophet is trying to describe the indescribable, and that in this case he is evidently not talking about actual horses at all, then we would not fall into this kind of misinterpretation. I apologize again for being somewhat rude in regard to this gentleman’s interpretation, or misinterpretation, of prophecy. But I want to show you that the kind of interpretation he put forward degrades, in my view, the prophecy in the Revelation, and indeed prophetic revelation generally.
But September 11th gives us a much better clue. What kind of clue? Two hundred million Muslims invade, coming westward. That is more like a possibility. You see, from then on we realize, as Mr. bin Laden declared, it is a war of Muslims against Christians. Could the Muslims raise 200 million people? I do not see any problem there. They have a huge number. They have over 1½ billion people, so 200 million is not a problem. Young people, middle-aged people, and even older people - no problem. This time, we do have a motive because the conflict between Islam and Christianity, of course, goes back a long way - all the way back to the Crusades, over 800 years ago. The Christians came from the west; the Muslims came from the east; they met in the middle there in what is today Israel and fought it out in many, many battles. The bitterness remains to this day as can be seen in the recent events in Serbia, and the even more recent report of the persecution of Christians in Turkey and the killing of Christians in a church in Pakistan. Then, of course, for the Muslims, Israel is another hated foe. So there is a lot of hostility to motivate a mammoth attack of this kind.
But before September 11th, we never even thought of that scenario. It never crossed my mind. Now you say, “But only a relatively small group of extremists are presently involved.” That is right. But extremism can rise for many reasons, just as in the time of the Crusades. Watch the future and see the possibility of Muslims gradually becoming more and more radical or extreme than they are now, especially under a charismatic leader, like bin Laden, for example, who are able to stir the people up. Do you remember Hitler? You never imagined that Germans could behave the way they did in the Second World War. Surely, it was not possible that they could behave like that. It could never happen. They are such nice, cultured, polite people. But when a Hitler appeared on the scene to stir the whole nation up, then they went crazy. When I talk to Germans today, especially my dear German friends, they feel very embarrassed about the whole thing. And if you go to Germany today, and you look around, you will say, “These are nice people. I don’t understand how these people could be the same people who went to fight at Stalingrad, who went to attack Moscow, who attacked England, France, and many other countries, and did a lot of things which are painful to talk about. Are these the same people?” So, I say, you need only one charismatic leader to change the whole situation.
Right now, there are many nice Muslim people, just like the nice Germans. But human nature is such that it takes very little to change them. I do not want to say anything against our Muslim friends. I do not want to stir up feelings of an anti-religious kind. Unfortunately, we look at the facts and what can we say? Is it not the truth that every major terrorist act in the last 20 years or so were performed by Muslims? The bombing of Pan Am in Scotland, killing the whole planeload of people. Even the Pope, they tried to assassinate him - shot him with 3 bullets right through his stomach. Who did it? A Muslim! Just look at every incident and look who did it. And, of course, most recently, the September 11th event. These are extremists. We call them extremists. Rightly so! All I am saying is watch out because everyone can become extremists under certain circumstances, including you and me. We should watch ourselves.
If there were a massive invasion to attack Christians and there was a call to arms to resist them, would you rise? Would you take up weapons and say, “No, no! We can’t let them walk over us and destroy us. We’ll stop them!”? I would not be surprised if millions of Christians will take up their M16s and go out and fight. And what will we have? We will have a world war. There you can see that religion is a very powerful and dangerous thing. It is very frightening! The power of religion is very frightening. And the Communist Party in China is well aware of that. Communism as an ideology has collapsed, but religion gets stronger and stronger. It will wipe out Communism, as it has already done in the West. You see, there is the power of religion. It can be a very dangerous thing.
A Living Relationship with God Is What Matters
So, whether it is Islam or Christianity, I myself am not interested in religion. I only want to know Jesus. The only thing that matters is a living relationship with God. But if you are carried away with religion, one of these days, you will take up an M16 and go to fight the Muslims with their AK47s, maybe. And the whole world will be torn apart by religion. Hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions will die. The Muslims talk about jihad, ‘holy war’. They talk about it all the time. And they have been indoctrinated with the idea that to die as a martyr is glorious. Well, as it happens, Christianity also believes in martyrdom as a way of glory. Now you have 2 religions that both believe in absolute readiness to die. For a Christian, to die as a martyr is also glorious. Now you have the clash of 2 religions that both believe in martyrdom. Can you imagine what will be the outcome of that? I say to you, I believe in Jesus. I do not fight for a religion. You say, in that case Christianity will be defeated. I believe in a God who saves His people, and defeats forces of any magnitude as He carries out His eternal plans for mankind. Do you?
Our time is gone. We have to stop here. I just pray that this message will cause you to ponder carefully what kind of a person we ought to be in these last days, and that you realize that God’s Word never fails. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away. My words will never pass away.” I have studied the Bible most of my life, and the more I study, the more amazed I am, because I see that it is indeed true that His Word never fails. Things we could never understand before, as the time of His return gets nearer, we now begin to understand. Are we ready to meet with Him?
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church