Someone asked me why natural forces seem to be battering our Christian lands. And they pointed to such catastrophes as oil disasters, massive flooding, drought, earthquakes, fires, landslides, volcanic eruptions and cyclones or hurricanes. Of course, natural disasters are also prevalent in other nations, like the earthquake/tsunami in Japan or the flooding in China. Yet, we Christian nations are receiving more than ever before and there must be an answer. Many think we are simply reaping the whirlwind of the curses of Deuteronomy 28. I do too, and for a very important reason.
Because, as one well known Christian writer wrote, “the people of the once great western nations are guilty of apostasy.”
The people of the once great western nations are guilty of apostasy.
America, particularly, is being beset by monstrous natural events and many in America are saying, “why is this happening to us?” Well, only a blind man could miss the change since the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville, who began a study of America in 1831 and subsequently published his “Democracy in America.” Here are just three passages of his writing.
“Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequence resulting from this new state of things.”
“I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors ….; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.”
“… they willfully and deliberately reject God, the authority of His Word, and the way to repentance.”
“Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good.”
Then, Tocqueville added one final statement which, when looking back, has to be considered prophetic. He wrote, but, “If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” I respectively ask you, particularly Americans, “look at America today in its current role in world events and its relationship to the Almighty God and ask ‘Is America still good?’” You see, as the Christian writer noted, “When a people apostatize, they willfully and deliberately reject God, the authority of His Word, and the way to repentance. This deliberate rejection and mocking of God can only mean that judgment is inevitable.” If we don’t now realize this, we certainly should sense it. One thing is certain, we have passed the point of no return, and now our destiny is no longer in our hands.
Fortunately, all the signs Jesus shared in Matthew 24 and all the utterances of the Old Testament prophets demonstrate that we are at the time just before the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a condition that we must meet to bring about His Second Coming, but it will be fulfilled. Here it is from 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, [Christian] shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation…”
You might ask, “Is there any other evidence to demonstrate this?” You know, God made a statement in Hosea 5:15 about returning to heaven and staying there until we earnestly seek him. The response in Chapter 6:1-2, is about all the evidence we need, “Come and let us return unto the Lord, for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” This much we do know, (1) we are now in the third day of His First Advent [see 2 Peter 3:8 – a day to the Lord is a thousand years] and (2) we are now solely in the grip of the Satanic kingdom, there is not much room to fall further.
Most certainly there is ample other evidence that Christians are going to be okay in the end, because God will indeed save us. Still, the remaining months or years will not be a pleasant time to pass through. Yet, true Christians should be comforted by the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
I often reflect on the seven church ages depicted in Revelation 2&3 and the sad state of the period in which we find ourselves, that is, the Laodicean age, where Jesus explained that we live with our wealth and don’t realize we are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. Still, it wasn’t always this way because the period preceding Laodicea was the Philadelphia Church period, a time when Jesus Christ was the focal point of our lives. The true Christian today, who still has Jesus Christ as the focal point in his or her life, is still drawing from the Philadelphian era, as Christians did in Tocqueville’s time. Our comfort comes through Jesus’ words, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10)
“…Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven…”
It is important to emphasize that Christianity was in great danger during the early years of the faith. This is why so many of the messages had to be hidden through events that had taken place and through symbology. The Book of Revelation, in particular, was penned by the Apostle John [approximately 95AD] when the Christian faith was entering a time of great persecution. Perhaps this is why, of John’s five books, it is the most difficult to understand, because of its symbology. By contrast, in the Gospel of John, the Apostle took stories and events and wove them around hidden messages that were meant to be understood in the very last days before the return of Jesus Christ. The prophet Daniel asked the Lord when certain things that were prophesied would come to pass and was told to go his way because the words were closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Interestingly, all the prophecies have been revealing themselves one by one over the past fifty/seventy-five years and so, we should be assured that the very end is close.
Of course, Jesus Himself spoke in parables, so the underlying messages would only be understood by disciples, again at the appointed time. So, if the parables are understood by today’s Bible scholars, then that appointed time is now. Jesus said to the disciples, “….. Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given …… Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matthew 13:11,13) He then told them the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:18-23) and to demonstrate there is a hidden meaning, he explained what it meant in terms of what would happen at the end of the age. (Matthew 13:37-43)
Well, of all the disciples, the Apostle John was best at interweaving hidden messages into his recording of stories and events. In his Gospel of John, his hidden messages didn’t have the same degree of secrecy because the persecution wasn’t as severe and because the hidden messages were basically meant for the very last days, when they would be revealed to Bible seeking students. By comparison, the vision of Revelation was an unfolding of history from the Resurrection to the end of the Millennium and so, great care had to be exercised to protect the true Christian body of believers. Well, we are in the last days now and through the Gospel of John, in fact, from all the gospels, we can learn so much of what is to happen in the next months and perhaps years.
“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Through His parables, Jesus related hidden messages of the Kingdom and He described it in many ways, so as Daniel said, “the wise shall understand,” (Dan. 12:10) “wise” simply meaning enlightened students. Of course, Jesus also disclosed the location of the Kingdom; in the Lord’s Prayer, we are told, “Thy Kingdom Come, on earth as it is in heaven.” So, notwithstanding the teachings of today’s churches, Jesus is coming back to reign in the Millennium Kingdom here on earth. And in so many on his hidden messages, John gave us this message of hope.
Let’s look at just one of these stories, a beautiful one recorded in John 6: 15-21. It is a Kingdom story as well; you can call it a parable because “parable” means “story.” But, if you need soothing as a Christian, or reassurance that He will return, then be blessed by understanding this beautiful Kingdom story, as it is one with a magnificent ending, a very blessed one for all of those who walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s first read these verses.
- Verse 15 – When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
- Verse 16 – And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,
- Verse 17 – And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.
- Verse 18 – And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
- Verse 19 – So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
- Verse 20 – But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.
- Verse 21 -Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
I suppose to really do this article justice, the entire chapter should be read because it forms part of the prophecy, but I shall try to zero in on these seven verses. Now, it is a wonderful little story by itself and if I am allowed to paraphrase, Jesus Christ has gone up into a mountain, and that evening, the disciples decided to go to Capernaum. By the time they left it was dark and Jesus had not come. Perhaps they expected him. But once at sea the wind started to blow furiously. Then, when they were 25 or 30 furlongs along they saw Jesus walking on the water and as He got closer, they were afraid. Perhaps they did not recognize him. But he reassured them by saying, “It is I; be not afraid.” Then they invited Him aboard and as soon as they did, the ship was at Capernaum.
Now, let’s briefly try to uncover the hidden message. To do so, there are clues injected into the story by John that, when related to today, helps us understand what he was revealing. To begin, instead of Jesus being on a mountain, think of Him as being in Heaven. Recall that after the Resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven (see Acts 1) but before he did, the disciples asked, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel.” Paraphrasing, they were told it was not for them to be acquainted and know what time brings. Yet, a promise was given that He would come again. (Acts 1:11)
Verse 16 contains only thirteen words but I believe it is a power-packed statement. Three words in particular set the stage for the underlying message, these being “even”, “disciples” and “sea”. Jesus told us Himself in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Well, consider how Jesus is being perceived in our satanically leaning world today and you will understand that the light of the world has dipped below the horizon and in the darkness without Him, there is no guidance. We think of the original disciples as being the twelve apostles but the word “disciples” means “followers of Christ” and despite the “even” there are still millions who embrace Him. Think of the “sea” as being the hordes of people, some who have embraced Christ, but the “most” are just letting themselves be led and moulded by the one-worlders, whose aim is to eliminate the blessed name of Jesus Christ.
Verse 17 does much to add to John’s message, certain aspects are very heartening and some disheartening. The key words are “ship”, “Capernaum” and “dark.” I believe “ship” represents the body of true believers set apart from the masses or hordes of people who have no direction. These true Christians, those of us who are alive and those that died in Christ are heading for Capernaum, which means, incidentally, “Village of Comfort.” I see this as relating to the Kingdom of God that all true believers are journeying toward. But it is “dark” at this moment in time, we can’t see what’s coming, our churches have lost their way, and are blinded to the truth. Evil has become so entrenched in our Israel nations today, as non-Christians swarm in by the millions, gathering one-time Christians to their cause and creating such confusion that the thought of Jesus returning is blurred. It’s very dark these days and yet, even staunch Christians are paying little attention to the return of Jesus, and while they may believe in His ultimate return, they don’t see it as any time soon.
“It is I, be not afraid”
Verse 18 – The Amplified version translates this verse as “Meanwhile the sea was getting rough and rising high because of a great and violent wind that was blowing.” In this Laodicean period when we are not connected to God as we should be, the trials and tribulations are progressively becoming worse. So, in this verse, “sea arising by reason of the great wind” depicts the turbulence in which we live, the increased intensity of the evil as we draw closer to the end, and where the Christian body that was once content to be led by his presence find ourselves in bondage, out of control as the hordes around us demand we change our allegiance. Still as Hebrews 10:22 points out, there is a healing power of water as well and as Hosea 5:15 reveals, “in their affliction they will seek me early.”
Now comes the excitement of Verse 19 and the words and numbers to consider are “rowed”, “five and twenty”, or “25”, 30, ”Jesus walking”, “drawing nigh to the ship” and “they were afraid.” Now, let’s equate rowing to our daily journey through the maze of living, trying to continue to steer in the right direction but veering off course on occasion because of the confusion in our world. But God has given us the entrance pass to Capernaum, and John employs numbers 25 & 30 to demonstrate this. Ed Vallowe, Bible scholar and author of the book, “Biblical Mathematics,” in significant depth, writes that the number “25”represents forgiveness of sins and “30” is the number of “The Blood of Christ.” Pretty revealing! To those who want to go further and know the meaning of 5 & 20, Vallowe demonstrates “5” stands for “Grace or God’s Goodness” and “20” stands for “Redemption.” The disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea, so He is above the water. So, in the hidden message, He is not part of the hordes of people, but above the multitudes, walking where they can’t go. Yet, we, the Christian body, despite looking toward His Return, will obviously not be aware it is Jesus coming closer and closer to us. As a result, we will be afraid.
He soothes our apprehension by saying (Verse 20) “It is I, be not afraid.” And Verse 21 demonstrates that we will willingly invite Him in our midst and instantly, we will be in Capernaum, or, His blessed Kingdom. What joy we will experience on that day.
Now, it’s sad that space does not enable me to discuss the entire chapter but perhaps we can come back to it another time. Still, we should feel great exhilaration that the countdown to that joyous day is almost complete. Will it happen soon? I think so, but as Acts 1:7 says, we don’t know the date. Nevertheless, Jesus Himself described the seasons and only a blind man can miss those signs in today’s landscape. We can take heart that we are now in the seventh day, now in the third day from His First Advent and near the end of the Esau Dominion and the Laodicean church period. So, fellow believers, this is the time to re-ignite your personal ministries, whether through your personal contact, participation in conferences, your letters and articles or your financial help to get the message to brethren. Above all, it is the time to get our own lives in order and continue to run the good race described by the Apostle Paul. God bless.
(Many thanks to the Bible Study group and Bible scholar Douglas Nesbit)