A Believer’s Dilemma

John J. Blanchard

January 8, 2011

The Bible is often referred to as “the Good Book.”  Both the Old Testament and the New Testament speak of “glad tidings” for mankind.  The gospel itself literally means “good news.”

It all sounds wonderful until one begins to contemplate the end of the world.  For sincere believers this brings about a dilemma.  There is a real problem in the mind to reconcile  how it can truly be “good news.”  Despite biblical references to good news, the end is not really good news for the majority of mankind.

The vast majority of Christendom believes that the end of the world will be a terrible cataclysmic time and that the only hope is a personal escape from the horrors taking place on earth.  Each sect and denomination tends to think they, or at least some of them, will be the ones worthy to escape all the trials and tribulations on the earth, but it leaves the believer with a dilemma.  If the gospel truly is good news, how come the end of the world is so terrible for so many people?  It leaves us in a conundrum.

What about our families?  What about our friends and neighbors?  What about the poor people around the world who have not had an opportunity to even own a Bible, let alone understand it?  What about the concept of loving thy neighbor as thyself?  It seems as if the concept of the end of the world engenders an attitude of “every man for himself.”  I have to save myself and maybe my immediate family!  Something does not seem right about this whole concept.  Could so many of us have it wrong?  Could so many of us be mistaken?

We have become conditioned to terrifying scenarios of the end of the world.  As a matter of fact, mankind has been looking forward to it with a sense of doom and gloom for a long time.  Today we have so many avenues for those scenarios to enter our minds and our thoughts.  Not only do we have theologians coming up with their own scenarios, but we have novelists who can print their books by the millions.  We have Hollywood movie moguls jumping on the bandwagon.  With their terrifying special effects, they can really sear our minds with images of horrible end time catastrophe.  But what if all of that was based on a false premise?

A FALSE PREMISE LEADS TO FALSE EXPECTATIONS

Misunderstanding of Scripture can lead to a false premise, and that leads to false expectations.  Certainly most of the Christian world, if not the whole world, is looking toward the end of the world with a sense of doom and tremendous anxiety because they expect terrible things to happen.  The vast majority of the world believes it is going to be terrible because it is “the end.”  But is that what Christ meant when He talked about the end?

Let’s turn to Matthew chapter 24.  We are going to read what Christ had to say about our expectations.  It may surprise you.  Matthew chapter 24, verse 44, where Jesus Christ is speaking here:  “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Dropping down to verse 50, speaking to the ministry He says, “…the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of…”

How can this be?  If Jesus Christ’s return is truly supposed to be accompanied by signs such as war, famine, disease, and all manner of natural disasters, as they would increase and increase, everyone would be looking for the same result:  the return of Christ.  Everyone would be expecting that hour to be imminent and looking for any sign that He was coming soon.  Obviously since the majority of mankind expects terrible cataclysm and death and destruction at the end of the age, and since Christ says, you do not expect Me at the right time, we can see there must be a tremendous error on the part of human beings.  It took a false premise in order to get there.  A false premise, as we said, leads to false expectations.  We need to examine where this error came from and what happened.

THE END OF THE WORLD

There is a critical error, and it goes back to the beginning of Matthew 24.  If you turn back to Matthew 24 to the very beginning of the chapter, you will see that indeed Matthew 24 is addressing “the end of the world.”  We are going to see what the apostles were asking Jesus Christ here in verse 3.

Verse 3 of Matthew 24:  “Now as He sat on theMount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be?  And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’”

That is the correct rendering as it should be in the New King James, but until recently most of mankind was using the King James Version.  I want to turn there, because that is where this misconception started.  I am reading from the King James Version in the same verse.

Matthew 24, verse 3:  “And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

You see a difference in translation here.  The King James, the older version, says, “end of the world.”  The New King James with a little better understanding renders that, “the end of the age.”  That is a better rendering because the term “end of the world” or “end of the age” comes from the Greek word aion.  That word means the end of a period of time, the end of an age.  So when Christ was answering their question, He was more appropriately answering a question that would go like this:  When will the times of this age end and a new age begin?

With that concept in mind, we have a better premise for building an understanding of Matthew 24 and also the idea of what is going to happen at the end of the age.

Many believe that Christ is a wonderful, compassionate being full of mercy and forgiveness.  They believe in a Millennium that is about to start that would be a time of peace, prosperity, and plenty.  But we have that problem in the back of our minds that God is also a very harsh God and that His return is going to be accompanied by things that He sends to let us know that He is on the way:  war, disease, disaster, famine, and pestilence.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Let’s read a few other Scriptures in Matthew 24.  With the proper premise that we are talking about a changing of times, we can see why Jesus Christ addressed their question by first telling them what not to look for.

WHAT THE SIGNS ARE NOT

Matthew 24, verse 4:  “And Jesus answered and said to them:  ‘Take heed that no one deceives you.’”  He says, first of all I do not want you tricked.

Verse 5:  “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”  How is it that they will deceive many?  He goes on to say in verse 6.

Verse 6:  “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars.  See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.”

Christ says, do not be deceived by people who come preaching about wars, rumors of wars, famines, disease, earthquakes, and pestilence as signs of My coming.  After all, haven’t we had those for as long as time existed?  Mankind has always been dealing with these problems.  Christ said, do not point to them as signs of My return.  I indeed am bringing a time of peace, prosperity, and plenty.

When we expect something wrong to happen, we can certainly be taken by surprise by Jesus Christ’s return.  We need to understand what we should be looking for and what we should be expecting.  Do not be deceived by a false premise and the false expectations that arise from it.

Already with that concept in our minds, we have begun to resolve the believer’s dilemma because the believer has that dilemma in the back of their mind.  How can a loving and compassionate God destroy His creation and much of mankind along with it?

THE CORRECT PREMISE AND A SOLID PROMISE

The correct premise requires a solid promise.  I want to look at an irrevocable promise from God that we can count on and build a premise with confidence.  Then we will go on to understand more about the end of the age.

Turn, if you would, to Genesis chapter 8.  We are going to go back to the very beginning of the Bible because God uttered a promise here.  God does not break His promises.  In Genesis chapter 8 this is right after Noah’s flood.  Genesis 8, verse 20:  “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma.  Then the Lord said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.  While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not case.’”

That is an irrevocable promise from God.  We can bank on it.  We can be assured that He will keep His word.  We can be assured that this promise will last beyond the year 2012, the year that so many people are afraid of.

The Bible teaches us that a Millennium of peace is about to come to this earth.  That is a thousand year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth when there will be peace and plenty for all.  But how can you have that if the world has been destroyed?  How can God keep His promise of seedtime and harvest in a Millennium yet to come and then time beyond that?  We have to have winter and summer and seedtime and harvest for human beings to exist.

There will be no nuclear devastation.  There will be no physical stars slamming into the earth, extinguishing all life on the planet.  Nor will there be any other strange scenario that mankind can come up with and no movie that can portray the actual fact of what God has in store for the human race.  It is truly beautiful beyond our understanding.

It is incumbent upon us to make sure that the premise that we build on is built on a sound promise.  We cannot have a more sound promise and a more solid foundation than God’s promises.  That is how we can come to believe the truth of God.  We can make sure that our beliefs, our doctrines, and what we teach falls within the parameters of God’s promise.

To confirm that in the New Testament, I want to go to Luke chapter 9.  This is an interesting incident.  Starting in Luke chapter 9, verse 51:  “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem…”  Christ knew He was going to get crucified, and He had set in His mind that He would go through with this.  He was on His way to Jerusalem, and He knew that’s what was going to take place there.

Verse 52 of Luke 9:  “…and sent messengers before His face.  And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him.  But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.”

They were offended that He would not stay with them, so they would not receive Him at all.  In verse 54 the disciples were very upset about this.

Verse 54:  “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’  But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’  And they went to another village.”

They were talking about physical destruction here, and God said it is not His purpose to destroy men’s lives but to save them.  Eventually He wants to bring about a beautiful Millennium at His return.  That starts this dilemma in our minds of what God is having in store for us.  By building on a true promise from God and building a solid premise on that, we can be rest assured in our minds that the rest of the Bible backs that up in some way fashion or form.  We just have to understand how it does that.  God is not going to break His promise anywhere in the Bible, and He is not going to confuse us or trick us.

He is just not that way.  He is perfect. He intends to bring about not only salvation for a few, but salvation for the many and peace and prosperity for the whole earth.

THE SOURCE OF EVIL

Who is the real enemy of God and man?  Of course, it is Satan.  And what has he done?  He has helped cause the deception that Jesus Christ is coming with signs that are terrible and horrible, because Satan is a destroyer.  Jesus Christ and God the Father are builders.  That is what They want to do.  They want to build a beautiful earth for mankind and have a Millennium of peace for us.  Satan wants to destroy the earth and mankind and stop God in His tracks.  Satan is both the enemy of God and man, and that is the one that Jesus Christ wants to stop.  He wants to stop His enemy and the evil influence that Satan uses.

It is Satan’s evil influence that causes the wars, the rumors of wars, and the famines that result from them and the disease that results from them.  He causes the breaking of God’s laws that makes us so miserable.  That is our enemy, and that is the enemy that Jesus Christ wants to defeat.

Turn to Ephesians chapter 6.  We are going to read about this enemy and how he has his kingdom arranged over the earth.  Ephesians 6, verse 10:  “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

What are these spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places?  “Heavenly places” is literally talking about the atmosphere that surrounds the earth and the demons who inhabit it.  Over each geographic location there are demons specifically given the responsibility of making those people in that area fall short of God’s glory.  They cause people to hate each other, destroy each other, and cause misery for those people in any way that they can.  How can we prove that?

We know of a principality on a map.  You have towns, villages, counties, and shires in certain countries however they design it.  Then you have states or regions, and then you have countries.  Those are principalities.  So in heavenly places above them, you have demons whose responsibility it is to make the people in those principalities miserable.  They cause sin, and they cause people to fall short of God’s glory.  I want to glimpse into that spiritual realm using God’s word.

Turn back to the Old Testament in Daniel chapter 10 because there is a great example of what it is like surrounding the earth.  It is a very enlightening chapter.  It gives us an idea of what is really going on around the earth and where these influences dwell.  We will read verses 1-3 and then drop down to verse 10.

Daniel chapter 10, verse 1:  “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar.  The message was true, but the appointed time was long, and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.  In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”

Daniel is basically fasting and praying for three full weeks.  Here is what happened in verse 10 of Daniel 10:  “Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands.”

An angel speaks to Daniel in verse 11:  “And he said to me, ‘O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.’  While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.  Then he said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.’”

The angel said, I was sent from the moment you started praying.  I was on the way to answer your request to talk to you.

Verse 13 of Daniel 10:  “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.”

We see this angel bringing the message to Daniel was three weeks in getting there because he had to fight through some bad angels (demons).  Michael the great archangel came to help him get through.

Continue reading Daniel 10:14-21.

He says to Daniel, I have come to bring you this message; and when I leave you, I have to fight my way back through these evil princes (these demons).  Eventually these demons will be replaced by demons over Greece.  If you were to go back and review history, you would find that the Persian empire was followed by the Greek empire.  What this angel is saying is each empire has demons assigned over it to prevent God from getting messages to His people and to make the people who dwell in those empires miserable.  They are to make them have all kinds of influences come into their minds and hearts to cause them to do evil.  That is what we are seeing here.

We are getting a glimpse of what it is like in the spirit realm, so that we can understand what we are fighting as well.  We can really see who God’s enemies are.  It is not the human race deceived and duped and living in ignorance here on the earth.  It is these demons who do cause the influence.  That is what Jesus Christ is fighting, and that is what He is going to stop.  He is going to bring about a vindication for the people on the earth and redeem the earth from being underneath this horrible tyrannical government.  It is a terrible influence that is headed by Satan the devil.

Without a doubt, if we are honest with ourselves, we feel the effects of this heavenly host of wickedness in heavenly places, because we all are tempted by evil. We all have influences coming into our minds and hearts that we know are not right.  Some people really succumb to them.  You can look at history.  The pages of history are replete with the wars that were caused by false beliefs, by wrong ideas and ideologies, and by hatreds.  These are the influences that come into someone’s head, and it inspires them to write an ideology.  They come up with Fascism, Communism, or some sort of “ism” that is full of hatred for the human race, and then they go and act upon it.  It causes terrible suffering on the planet.

THE FOUR HORSEMEN

Now we can look in Revelation chapter 6 and get another glimpse into this spirit realm.  We can see how it is divided from the top.  Go to Revelation chapter 6, and we will begin in verse 1.  These are the dreaded four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and this is why Jesus Christ said do not be deceived by wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes and pestilences.  It is these demons that we are going to read about that are behind it.

Revelation 6, beginning in verse 1:  “Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, ‘Come and see.’  And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”

There is a second seal in verse 3:  “When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’  Another horse, fiery red, went out.  And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.”

There is a third seal in verse 5 of Revelation 6:  “When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’  So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.  And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.’”

The last of the four horsemen is in verse 7:  “When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a pale horse.  And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him.  And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”

These are the dreaded four horsemen.  These are the angelic demonic beings that have influence over the earth.  They are really in charge of the principalities that we are reading about in Ephesians 6.  They tell them what to do in Satan’s name to influence people to do what is wrong.  They are behind the source of evil.  They have been running amuck on the human race and on this earth for 6,000 years.  Their time is almost up!  It is almost over.

Jesus Christ was saying that if you are looking for signs that come from these four horsemen, you are going to be taken by surprise by His coming because He comes with healing in His wings.  He comes with peace.  He comes to bring a Millennium of joy and wonderment for the human race.  It will be a time of peace and plenty, as we said, when all mankind will know the truth and understand what their God expects of them.  Mankind will know how to worship Them and how to take care of each other.  It will be a wonderful time.  It will not be a time following terrible death and destruction in which the earth has very little left of it, if anything at all.  That never did make sense.  Christ said, when you believe that, essentially you are going to be deceived, because it is a false premise that you have built upon.  You did not understand My promise.  I promised I would deliver the world.  I promised I would deliver the human race.  I will keep My promise.  With that assurance, we can solve the believer’s dilemma that is in the back of our mind of what kind of God we really have.

GOOD NEWS

You can see that the gospel really is good news, and the Bible really is the Good Book.  I want to use one more Scripture in closing, and that is in Romans chapter 8.  Go back to Romans chapter 8.  The world has been suffering for a long time.  Step by step God has gotten us to the point where we are about to be liberated.  Romans 8 speaks of this.

Romans 8, beginning in verse 18:  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”

These sons of God (these people) are the ones who are going to replace the demonic tyrannical empire of Satan’s demons over the earth.  We are eventually going to be set free from them and have God’s government installed over the earth.

Verse 20 of Romans 8:  “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”

The whole earth has been groaning and suffering from humanity right down through the animal kingdom.  God says, I will deliver them.  The Son of God (Jesus Christ) and His saints will be sent to this earth at the time of His second coming and bring about a beautiful Millennium.  They are not going to be accompanied by death, destruction, and the ruination of this beautiful planet that God said was good when He created it.  They are going to restore it to the way it should have been in the first place.  That is what we have to look forward to.  That is the promise we can count on.  That is the premise we should have in our mind.

We must not let misunderstanding of Scripture obscure God’s promise or His true premise of what He intends to do.  May God lead you in the study of His word, so that you may have the peace that surpasses all understanding.

We have just scratched the surface in the understanding of God’s word that would give us the hope and the assurance that God will indeed win in the end and all will be well.  To continue to learn more, go to our website:  www.GLCG.net or www.TheBeautifulThoughtsOfGod.com  Until the next time, this is John Blanchard saying, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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