Sunday, August 1, 2021

Survival Tips

No one can successfully challenge the fact that our nation—and our world—seems to be accelerating toward something that will cause great trouble, if not outright catastrophe. Recent political brinksmanship shows that the risk of a major economic collapse, even to the point of a new Great Depression, is very real. The natural world is running out of critical resources. And natural disasters can be demonstrated to be increasing in frequency and destructiveness. Over all of this looms the darkening cloud of terrorism and a renewed post–Cold War nuclear threat.

I am among those who believe in becoming prepared for whatever is coming on this world. I may not be huddled in fear and paranoia in a backwoods bunker somewhere guarding my stash of gold bullion with an AK-47 across my lap, but I think that taking steps toward preparedness is the only common-sense course I can take, given the warning signs that this world is headed for unprecedented trouble. Cutting down possessions, becoming self-sufficient, assembling some emergency supplies, getting finances in order—these things I believe we should all be doing.

My own personal “prepping” isn’t motivated just by the daily headlines I hear and read. Far more, it’s based on the four predictions featured on this website, which are set to occur not long from now:

“And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.”—Daniel 12:1.

A time of trouble such as never was before! Yes, that time IS coming—and soon. And if we think for a moment that things in our world are in bad shape now, we haven’t seen anything yet!

The urgent question, then, is what can we do to prepare? How can we be ready? Revelation chapter 16 presents seven last great plagues that will fall on this earth. Let’s consider just the first one for a moment: a “noisome and grievous sore.” Whatever that is, it’s going to be painful. Listen to this:

“And they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores”—Revelation 16:10, 11.

How can any of us find protection from this first horrific plague? The answer is in the text itself. Notice:

“And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.—Revelation 16:1, 2, emphasis supplied.

There’s only one way to avoid this first plague and the six that follow and that is to not receive the mark of the beast or worship his image. In fact, making sure we don’t receive this mark is so important that God sent three angels with three messages of warning, and if we heed these three messages, we will not receive this mark of the beast. Here is the third angel’s message that warns against this mark:

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”—Revelation 14:9-12.

Survivalists, let me speak to you for a moment. Are you serious about preparing for the future? Your stocked-to the-hilt country bunkers and AK-47s are not going to cut it when it comes to the wrath of God. Your only protection will be found in what Revelation 14:12 says:

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

Saintly patience

Keeping God’s commandments

Having the faith of Jesus

Those who do this are not going to receive the mark of the beast. What is this mark? Who is this beast? Good questions that do have answers from the Bible (see The Mark – Episode 10 for more information on the beast and his mark). But even if you couldn’t figure out the answers, don’t worry, you will not receive this dreaded mark if you are a patient saint keeping the commandments of God and living out the faith of Jesus.

So let’s be patient saints. Yes, easier said than done, right? Let me share something intensely personal with you.

In earlier years, patience was not my hallmark. I had a hair-trigger temper and could not control my anger. I also had addictions that I couldn’t kick. I couldn’t keep the commandments of God if my life depended on it. I was “accustomed to do evil,” and there was nothing I could do to change that. The prophet Jeremiah summed it up well, when he wrote:

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil?”—Jeremiah 13:23.

But I truly wanted to be patient. I wanted to do good. I wanted to keep the commandments of God. However, for me this would be as impossible to do as it would be for the leopard to change his spots. Paul described my condition perfectly:

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”—Romans 7: 18, 19.

To my great relief, God had a remedy for my situation, and I found it in that little phrase at the very end of the third angel’s message—“the faith of Jesus”.

I have discovered by experience that when I keep the faith of Jesus, God works a miracle of grace in my life, giving me a new heart and writing His law within this heart, as He promised to do in Ezekiel and Jeremiah:

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”—Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”—Jeremiah 31:33.

I could see that this would work! If God’s law could be written in my mind, and if He would cause me to walk in obedience to His commandments, then obedience would be completely a work of His divine grace. If He didn’t do it, it wasn’t going to happen.

And this all came to me as a complete gift. I couldn’t do anything to earn or merit this miracle of a changed life—yet to take possession of this free gift, it cost me everything I had.

Does this all sound a bit confusing? Sure it does, but hang tight; you’ll see in a moment what I’m talking about. Jesus gave His disciples the following illustration:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”—Matthew 13:44.

So the treasure is free but we can’t have it unless we first purchase the field. And that field will cost us absolutely everything we’ve got.

The incredible thing about this is that everyone has exactly what it takes to buy this field. We have the right currency required to make this purchase. And what is this currency? A sin-polluted heart—my hot temper, my lustful and selfish thoughts, my carnal entertainment choices, my foul language, my dishonest conduct—I will spare you the rest of my list. We all have our list of besetting sins—some we don’t like and some we cherish.

I had just enough “money” to buy the field if I gave all—my sin-polluted heart with its commandment-breaking ways. This is what repentance is all about—surrendering “all that he hath”.  If I had decided to hold on to even one small vice, I wouldn’t have had enough “money” to buy the field and without having title to the field I couldn’t have taken possession of this amazing gift of grace, the treasure of Christ Jesus Himself.

Paul summed it up in his letter to the Ephesians:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”—Ephesians 2:8-10.

And this grace came to me by faith—by the faith of Jesus; by faith in Jesus! And it can come to you too. I don’t care if you are a Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, or Protestant; you must have this same grace that comes through the faith of Jesus if you want to be a transformed person who will be a patient saint, keeping the commandments of God.

Remember, these are the only ones who will not receive the mark of the beast and thus be sheltered from the seven last plagues.

Untold millions have accepted this free gift of grace and have found shelter for the coming storm, no matter how fiercely it may rage. I urge you, reader, please—while you have time and things are still comparatively peaceful—take this gift that was purchased by the Son of God upon the Cross of Calvary.

Listen to the appeal Jesus Himself made:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”—John 3:16, 17.

Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior and in doing so, placing yourself under His protection, is the only safe shelter for the time of trouble that is about to strike our planet as an overwhelming surprise.

When the whole world is in chaos and filled with great danger, you can be safe—the Bible says you will be safe—if you choose Jesus as your Protector. Notice what He promises:

“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”—Psalms 27:5.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”—Psalms 91:1-10.

There you have it – a pavilion, a bunker, a refuge that will provide complete protection for what’s coming. The wrath of God that will be poured out on the rebellious through the seven last plagues will not touch you, because you will have the seal of God rather than the mark of the beast.

Before the seven plagues are poured out, before the close of probation, a final invitation is given to the world to enter the “ark” of safety, so to speak. In the days of Noah, when the animals went into the ark, this supernatural event should have caught the attention of the antediluvians. The “animals climbing aboard the ark” for these last days will be seen in the amazing, unexpected fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel 11:45 and the universal Sunday law that follows. When these events take place, the entire world will be brought to a final test. Will we obey the law of God—or the law of man? This will be a test of loyalty similar to the test that Adam and Eve were given at the very beginning of this earth’s history.

The fourth commandment, unlike the other commandments, may appear to us as somewhat arbitrary. Why shouldn’t God be just as happy if we decide to choose a different day to keep holy? Could it be that the seventh-day Sabbath is a test of loyalty? Does God have the authority to write the rules? God told Adam and Eve to not eat from one particular tree. That may have seemed somewhat arbitrary, but that is what made it such a good test of loyalty. If someone came along and told them that all trees were alike before the Lord—that they could eat from any tree in the garden just as long as they left one tree of their own choosing alone—they would know that he was God’s enemy. We don’t have a tree from which we are told not to eat. Instead, we have a specific day that we are commanded to remember to keep holy. Why? Because God said to—and if we love and respect our Creator, that alone ought to be reason enough.

Reader, you don’t have to wait until “the animals go into the ark.” God wants you to respond to Him today. He is calling you to come out of Babylon—those religious systems that pervert the Word of God, that deny the sacrifice of the Son of God, and that belittle God’s seventh-day Sabbath. He is calling you to unite with those patient saints who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

God doesn’t just call His people out of Babylon; He also calls them to unite with His fold:

“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”—John 10:16.

If you seek for God and His truth, He will lead you to His fold. Just look for those people who are honoring the seventh-day Sabbath and who are looking for the Second Coming of Jesus, while giving the three angel’s messages of Revelation 14 throughout the world.

We sense that something truly earth-shaking and earth-changing is about to happen—and we know that in at least some ways, the preppers are right—we simply must get ready for whatever is coming.

But while preparing physically and financially is important, the only preparation that can truly see us through what lies ahead is to prepare ourselves spiritually. That means investing intensely in getting to know Jesus Christ—in spending time in His Word and in daily, even hourly communication with Him through prayer.

Those who do this will have His faith—and will have faith in Him. They will be safe under His protection, no matter the strength of the hurricane-force winds of trouble that may blow furiously all around them. They will be peaceful on the inside, filled with anticipation of the nearness of that moment when they will see their Savior and Lord face to face as He descends in unimaginable glory at His Second Coming.

My reading friend, I want—and plan—to be among those who spend eternity with Jesus on a new and sin-free earth, with its capital city, the New Jerusalem, in present-day Palestine. Our lives will be lived in perfect happiness and peace, forever and ever.

We don’t have much time left to make our choice for Jesus and against all the false “religions” of this world. Have you brought your sins to Jesus yet for Him to forgive? Have you invited Him to come in and live His life in you every day and hour? If not, why not now?

Yes. Why not now? Jesus is waiting with open arms to welcome you!

Fireproof – pre-advent Lake of Fire

“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Revelation 18:1-4

Her plagues include the pre-advent lake of fire. This lake of fire is clearly brought out in the third angel’s message:

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation [seven last plagues]; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:9-12

What is the fire and brimstone in this third message taking about? Is it the fires of hell at the end of the 1,000 years (Revelation 20)? Or is it the seventh plague of the pre-advent lake of fire (Revelation 19)?

It is speaking present tense, about “who worship the beast and his image.” If it was the fire at the end of the 1,000 years, it would be at a time when the beast was no longer being worshiped.

So, this third angel’s message is dealing with the pre-advent lake of fire and not the post-advent lake of fire that takes place 1,000 years later.

This is the very fire of which Peter writes:

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night [this phrase “thief in the night” identifies the close of human probation which initiates the beginning of the day of the Lord];  in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved [burnt up], what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness. [Notice right here what Peter is saying: Seeing then that a firestorm will be engulfing the world, we need to be holy. Why?  Because that is the only way we can become fireproof as were Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego] Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” 2 Peter 3:9-12

Peter is talking about a lake of fire that comes into play in the day of the Lord that the righteous will pass through unharmed just like Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego.

Zephaniah, too, speaks of this great day of the Lord:

“I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD…. The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly… Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them.” Zephaniah 1:2, 3, 14, 18

Under the seventh plague it says: “…and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.”  Revelation 16:19

And in Revelation 19 it describes this wrath of God: “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Revelation 19:20

Revelation 18:8 “Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.”

The most important aspect of the third angel’s message is, then, the knowledge of how to become fireproof, which is brought out in Revelation 14:12. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12

If we have the patience of the saints and keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, we will be fireproof as promised in Isaiah:

“But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:1, 2

“And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire. Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;” Isaiah 33:12-15

It was because of the choices that the three Hebrew worthies made in the first chapter of Daniel that they were persevered in the fiery furnace. They chose to obey God in every detail of life, even down to what they ate. And it was an obedient, godly lifestyle that helped to keep their minds clear and in tune with the Holy Spirit.

Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who shall dwell with everlasting burnings? In other words, who among us will be fireproof? He that walketh righteously as did Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego.

To give this message in latter rain power, God’s people need to be cleansed from their iniquities by a fire that burns within. The prophet Isaiah had declared that the Lord would cleanse His people from their iniquities “by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” The word of the Lord to Israel was, “I will turn My hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin.” Isaiah 4:4; 1:25. To sin, wherever found, “our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29. In all who submit to His power the Spirit of God will consume sin. But if men cling to sin, they become identified with it. Then the glory of God, which destroys sin, must destroy them.

John Witcombe

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