A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”
So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.” I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. (Rev. 10:9-10)
For years now Christian commentators have warned that the USA is due for judgment. We’ve pointed to the redefining of homosexuality as merely an alternative lifestyle and the murder of 50 million pre-born children in the name of responsible family planning as major indicators that Americans are in the final stages of rebellion against God. Even Billy Graham, who is not noted for inflammatory rhetoric has been quoted as saying, “If God doesn’t judge America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
We who study prophecy have regularly warned that the US stands in the way of the fulfillment of a major End Times sign, the ascendancy of a Super State to world dominance. Whether it’s seen as a form of the European Union or an Islamic caliphate, everyone agrees something has to happen to get the US out of the way before it can take center stage.
Lately the combination of social, economic, and political woes in the US make it seem like our time of judgment is arriving, as a growing number of experts are predicting even darker days ahead for America. There’s a feeling that our government isn’t being exactly honest with us about things like unemployment rates, borrowing costs, the declining dollar, etc. and the “man in the street” is beginning to wonder if the situation is worse than we’ve been led to believe.
What’s That Got To Do With Me?
Pre-trib scholars often teach that the church will be snatched away before any serious judgment happens. But the millions who can’t find full time work and have lost their homes or seen their savings wiped out can tell you it seems to be getting pretty serious already. (And let’s not forget believers in other parts of the world who are facing even worse conditions, with hundreds being martyred for their faith every day.) Nowhere does the Bible ever promise that we’ll disappear quietly from the lap of Earth’s luxury into the eternal bliss that awaits us without ever suffering a moment’s discomfort. On the contrary, Jesus said we’d have trouble in this world (John 16:33).
We all know the US is officially in open rebellion against God. There are many areas of our national life that don’t pass muster. I mentioned abortion and homosexuality above, but the list also includes dozens of other things like governmental corruption, sexual depravity as entertainment, a broken judicial system, etc. And how about our appeasement strategy toward Islam? It’s nothing short of the kind of flirtation the Jews conducted with Greek philosophy and religion during the reign of the Selucids 2200 years ago. It led to complete subjugation by the Greeks. Do you think ours will turn out any differently? Islamists have already publicly stated their goal is subjugation as well.
As long as the coming judgment remained out in some undefined future, it was easy to agree with those who say it’s what we deserve. But as news reports and Bible prophecy converge, telling us that the time for judgment might be a lot closer than we thought, it becomes a different matter. Suddenly it’s not so exciting any more, and that’s what John meant by saying the scroll was sweet as honey in his mouth but turned his stomach sour. He knew that the judgment he was told to prophesy about was just and righteous (sweet as honey) but watching it take place made him sick to his stomach.
We all love the idea of being the generation that sees the Lord’s return, and it is the most exciting time in all of human history. But it’s also a very unsettling time to be around, one that places us way out of our comfort zone and requires the kind of faith most of us have never had to muster up before.
So What Can We Do?
I’m not a financial adviser so I won’t offer any advice in that department. The kind of advice I can give you is spiritual, and that’s good because this is a spiritual matter. If you haven’t already done so, study the promises of God, especially Matt. 6:24-34. I don’t mean just read them. Really study them.
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
To help make these promises come true for you, seek to honor God in all that you do. Take care to avoid behavior that will disappoint, embarrass, or offend Him. Sure you’re saved by grace, but that doesn’t give you a license to sin. Show the gratitude you feel in your heart by the behavior you manifest in your life. When you sin, confess early and often, confident that you’ll be forgiven. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38) Give generously with a grateful heart. Through your generosity on Earth, which is your temporary home, you’re storing up treasure in Heaven, which is your permanent home (Matt. 6:19-21, 2 Cor. 4:18). Would you rather be well off for a little while longer here, or well off forever there?
In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold (Ephes. 4:26-27). Don’t let your anger over some offense, no matter how justified, put you out of fellowship with God. It’s not worth it. Forgive those who’ve wronged you and seek forgiveness from those you’ve wronged. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). When our ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even our enemies live at peace with us (Proverbs 16:7).
Maintain an attitude of gratitude. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(Phil. 4:6-7) Worry about nothing, pray about everything, be thankful for anything. It’s true, Jesus said we’d have trouble in this world. But He also said, “Take Heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Because He has, we will too. Keep things in their proper perspective. In just a little while this will be all over and we’ll be embarking on the adventure of a lifetime.
This is just a beginning, but it’s a good one. Assuming that the course has already been set, and powerful nations will be reluctant to change their strategies, we can expect things to become more and more unsettled. A growing number of experts from across the spectrum are predicting that life will likely become noticeably more difficult very soon.
And for those of you who’ve already written this article off as just more religious fluff when what you need is some real world advice, I’ll say this. The fact that you think you can survive whatever is coming in your own strength just shows how far you have to go in rebuilding your faith in the only One who can see you through. Following the advice of Matt. 6:24-34 is the one sure way to keep your bearings in the days ahead. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and let Him take care of the rest, like He said He would. Selah 07-02-11