By John J. Blanchard
November 10, 2012
Good morning everybody. Last Wednesday morning half of the United States woke up depressed and sad. Half woke up happy, excited, and relieved. Politics is a very touchy subject, and sometimes we are overly careful to avoid talking about it in the Church. You have heard that with friends and coworkers, you don’t want to talk about politics or religion. Sometimes something happens in the worldly realm that is so significant that we really shouldn’t ignore it. What happened last Tuesday falls in that category.
What happened in the United States of America goes far beyond politics. It leaves us wondering some things. What is going on in America? What does it all mean? What is the impact? After this last election, all the pundits and the news people are saying this was a sea change for the United States. It is definitely a change for the nation, and it will affect the entire world. From the point of view of Christians and God’s Church, we also realized there are profound issues involved here. There are profound things to think about.
Before I start talking about the subject in detail, I want to say a few things. It is easy for us to get down and get caught up in the gloomy side of things, because it is, by and large, Christians and conservatives who are gloomy. They are even depressed. Some are even fearful.
THE BRIDE WILL BE READY
There are three things I want to establish from the outset. Revelation 19 is where I would like to turn to first. We are very familiar with this Scripture, but it helps at times like these to reread these Scriptures. Revelation 19, verse 6: “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.’”
We see far into the Bible toward the very end, when we put all the books together, that God says the bride will make herself ready.
AN INNUMERABLE MULTITUDE
The second thing I want to point out here, and it is linked to this Scripture, is back in Revelation chapter 7. Turn back a few pages to Revelation chapter 7. I want to start reading about the innumerable multitude in verse 9. We will read verses 9-10 and verse 15-17.
Revelation 7, verse 9: “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”
Dropping down to verse 15: “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
We see a promise of an innumerable multitude. It says they will have no need for tears anymore. God Himself and His fountains, which are His saints, will take care of them and help remove sadness. These people will have washed their robes white and been converted.
It is also spoken of in Isaiah chapter 2. If you want to flip to the Old Testament now, we will read a Scripture in Isaiah. Isaiah chapter 2, verse 2: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
It is speaking of the Millennium just ahead of us and how peaceful the world will be. It talks about how people will be able to hear the word of God and understand it in droves. That is the innumerable multitude we talked about in Revelation.
GOD’S TRUTH WILL COVER THE EARTH
The third thing I want to mention is that God’s truth will indeed cover the entire earth. Isaiah chapter 11 speaks to this. Isaiah chapter 11, verse 9: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain [taking off from the same sentiments we read in Isaiah 2], for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
The knowledge of God will be understood, so that people will put away weapons and hatred. They will get along, and the world will be a peaceful place to dwell in.
These are the things that we believe unshakably and without a doubt. This is something we have believed for a long time if we have been around the Church at all. We need to remember those things. We also need to remember our purpose here at the end of the age.
Turn to the gospel of Mark chapter 16. God gave instructions to His disciples back then. It was to be for all His disciples throughout all time—right up until the Millennium. Mark chapter 16, verse 14: “Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’”
We have been given a commission to preach the gospel all over the earth. That is good news! The gospel means “good news.” We do it through preaching and teaching, but we also do it by example. Turn back to the gospel of Matthew chapter 5.
After talking about the beatitudes, Christ went on to say here in Matthew chapter 5, verse 14: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
He says let them see your example and the things that you do with your life, so that they can find the truth and come close to the Father in heaven. These are our purposes, brethren. This is what we are here for.
Lastly, I want to turn to I Peter chapter 3. I want to start in verse 13: “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?”
We are supposed to let our light shine as followers of good.
Continuing in verse 14: “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’”
Obviously it is not easy to let your light shine, but look what He says here in verse 15: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
He says even if you are persecuted for letting your light shine, always be ready to share the hope that lies within us. That brings me to the point of this election.
If we don’t impart hope to the world, who will? If we don’t impart knowledge to the world, who will? If we don’t calm the sea, who will? We are told not to be fearful, even if we are persecuted for telling the truth and letting our light shine. We are told in other Scriptures be anxious for nothing. Do not have a spirit of fear.
What is going on in the world, and what is the big picture? What are we supposed to think about all these things? Revelation 12 tells us something from the start here. Now that we have established these foundational principles we believe in, we need to start examining what is going on in the world. Revelation 12 gives us a very strong indication in verse 12 and verse 17. It is speaking of Satan who had been thrust out of heaven.
Revelation 12, verse 12: “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
If Satan’s time was short 2000 years ago, what do you think it is now? He is getting cornered by the truth. Soon the truth will start covering the earth as the sea now does, and there will be no place for Satan to hide. Of course, at the end of the age, he pulls out all stops to discourage the world and if possible get the world to destroy itself. Also he wants to discourage God’s people.
Drop down to Revelation 12, verse 17: “And the dragon was enraged with the woman [that is the Church], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Satan is enraged with the Church, brethren, because we are the ones who share the gospel—the good news. We are the ones whose light the world needs to see, and we are the ones who need to share the hope that lies within. That’s why we are not afraid, anxious, or disturbed—or at least should not be—by the events that are taking place in the world.
Satan has very little time to discourage us and get us to give up. He is trying desperately to get us to give up. He is making the world such a dark place and such a confused placed that it seems as if we should put our light under a basket and curl up in bed and wait! We cannot do that. We were charged with sharing the gospel with everyone.
A NEW DAWN
Our recent Feast of Tabernacle’s theme was A New Dawn is Coming. I want you to consider a couple of things. First of all, it is the darkest before the dawn, so don’t be surprised that it looks very bleak just before the dawn. It is also true that the darker it is the brighter a little light shows up. If things are going well and there are many points of light, they get lost. But when it is extremely dark out and you have one little candle or one little flashlight or one little city on a hill, it will become very apparent who those people are. Their message will get heard.
We need to have the faith that God does have everything under control. He will win. Ultimately the bride will be made ready. Jesus Christ will return, and there will be a wonderful Millennium. We are on the verge of an innumerable multitude getting converted to God’s truth. This past election it would seem the other way if we are not careful. If we are just looking at physical evidence, it looks like things are getting very bleak.
CRYING FOR HELP
We need to listen to what happened here. Millions and millions of people voted. They poured their hearts, their thoughts, and their minds into an election. I want to look at it from a different angle than the pundits and the politicians. We want to look at it as people crying out from both sides for help, because that’s what it literally was. Conservatives and liberals alike, Republicans and Democrats, red and blue are all crying out for help. Let me explain that a little bit.
The conservatives were crying out, help us reign in the debt. Help us avoid the fiscal cliff. Help us create jobs. Help us preserve the foundational values (as we have talked about in our five sermon set of sermons on the foundational values of industry, honesty, religiosity, marriage and family). We hear this cry to help preserve these things. Help us to make things better. Vote for our side!
Then we hear the liberals side cry out, help us attain the American dream. Help us get educated. Help us feed our families. Help us have a home. Help us not to have to live in a ghetto. Help us to become accepted as Americans. We hear other aspects of that like, accept our lifestyle. Accept our rights. For example, I am talking about the things we heard in the campaign: reproductive rights, same-sex marriage, and legal drugs in some cases.
We have these two sides that seem totally irreconcilable. It seems the country is split almost exactly down the middle 50:50, and never the twain shall meet. Therefore, for those of us with Christian values, it looks so bleak. It looks like this will never get solved, but we just read the Scriptures. We know this gets solved. It is up to us to understand how this will come about and then help things move in that direction.
We could take these two sides and take the extremes out of it. There is the extreme conservative position. We don’t have to go through the various groups that are full of hatred toward liberals, minorities, and foreigners. On the liberal side we don’t have to talk about the people who are extreme on that side. There are those for same-sex marriage. I was astounded that just a couple of weeks ago in the USA Today they had done the most extensive poll on this lifestyle issue of gays, lesbians, transgender, etc. We don’t want to get into that, but it turns out they are only 3 to 4 percent of the population. The way you would hear it or view things on television or in the entertainment industry they are almost a majority! They are actually a very tiny percentage.
On both sides you have the extremes. We want to talk to the middle—to the vast majority of Americans who just want a better life or to those who want to just preserve what we have that was good from the past.
A CHANGING NATION
Demographics are pointing out that what we call the minorities is a fast-growing segment of American society. Hispanics are growing in number. Asians and the black community—people of color as they say—are growing where the traditional Caucasian American is dwindling as a percentage of the population.
There is a cultural shift going on, and it is very impactful on people’s thinking: humanism. They say that today 20 percent of Americans have no religious affiliation at all. It is a record number. Secondly, under this cultural shift point, liberal values are replacing our foundational values. Those are the ones I just read: industry, honesty, religiosity, marriage. More and more people are moving in a direction of different lifestyles and different liberal values. We can just look at the television. Those of us who are old enough can compare the programming of the 1950’s and 60’s to what is today. What’s on television today would have multitudes of people from Hollywood arrested! Now it is perfectly okay. In summary, it is the shifting values.
There is a shrinking middle class. We have an ever-increasing number, it appears, of millionaires and billionaires. We have an ever-increasing number of people in poverty. The statistics were astounding in this last election of how many people had fallen into poverty in the United States. They are on food stamps and government assistance. The middle class is shrinking.
The last thing we have is this tremendous breakdown of the traditional family, so that families are very dysfunctional. With divorce and broken families comes poverty. It’s just a given. It has been proven, and the statistics don’t lie. A broken home is one of the quickest ways to poverty.
The future looks dismal, dark, and discouraging, but is it? We just read the Scriptures, and they are to the contrary. We are supposed to understand, so that we can tell others why we are hopeful that a Millennium is on the way. Prosperity is on the way. Peace is on the way. If we walk around full of doom and gloom, that is putting our light under a basket. Then the people of the world can’t find any hope, and it indeed looks terrible.
We started the sermon with the biblical perspective that an innumerable multitude will arise. Out of this very morass that you are seeing, an innumerable multitude will arise! That’s a fact! That is a prophetic fact. It is as if it has already happened as far as God is concerned! We need to have full confidence that this is going to work.
We also need to ask what can we do to help? What is our role at the end of the age? Christ said, preach the gospel to everyone. Let your light shine. Do good works. Preach the truth. Love each other to show it is done. We need to be able to look at both sides of this great divide and give them the answers that lie within God’s word and that dwell in our hearts. Tell them why we have hope. We need to show them that the Ten Commandments work. To the degree that you keep them, you will be successful and have a better life. We need to teach them that with the foundational values that we have been talking about which were biblical values—industry, honesty, religiosity, marriage and family—your life will be better.
It does not help to tell people you all deserve to die! You are all sinners. You are all evil. God is about to destroy the whole nation and the world! You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! With the evil that is out there, don’t you see that these two storms that we just had on the East Coast is the hand of God? You’re doomed! That kind of talk does not help anybody. It only discourages. It leads to the fringe on both sides yelling louder and louder and perhaps taking very negative actions that have very negative consequences.
THE SOLUTION: WORK TOGETHER
The solutions should be getting more and more obvious as the world gets darker. We need to bring both sides together. We need them to listen to each other, because indeed they need each other. The rich are not going to pull the United States out of its problems and save them from catastrophe. The poor are not going to save them from catastrophe. The red states aren’t going to save us from catastrophe. The blue states aren’t going to save us from catastrophe. The Republicans aren’t going to save us, and the Democrats aren’t going to save us. It is going to take all of Americans working together.
We have a huge national debt. We are facing a fiscal cliff, and we need to tell both sides to wait a minute. We are all in this boat together. The right is not going to solve it, and the left is not going to solve it. We all need to grab the oars and get this boat rowing together. We all need to work together. We are going to have to come together with the intent of getting God’s blessings, which means we need to listen to the word of God.
We need to get hope from the word of God and His plan. We need to understand how real it is, and it is our responsibility to change. The Church is to give upbeat suggestions for a brighter future. We are not to run around hang dog, depressed, worried, fearful, and anxious. That is putting our lamp under a bushel. We need to tell the successful conservatives that they need to teach the poverty stricken how it is done and how to get educated. They need to read, analyze, get married before having children, and get busy being industrious.
RESPECT EACH OTHER
We need to look at the examples of the wealthy and see how they did it. I am not talking about the Bernie Madoffs and the crooked businessmen. There are plenty of them. But there are a lot more who did it by hard work, rolling up their sleeves, and going to work every morning. They provided for their families. They stayed married to their original spouse till death. They provided for their kids and made sure that they got educated, so that they could be successful. The successful conservatives need to teach those who have lost their way in these things, and show them how it is done. The liberals need to listen to the conservatives on those issues.
The less well-off also need to be heard. They need to be respected by the successful. They are no less a human being. A poor person is no less a human being than a rich person. A person who works with their hands is no less valuable than a person who works with their mind behind a desk. I am not saying that working with your hands, you leave your mind at the door.
Look at these beautiful buildings in the United States, as well as the bridges and roads. Tell me it does not take intelligence to build those things. It takes intelligence to run huge machines and make things work. It is not shameful to do things with your hands. It requires your mind working with our hands. Those who work with their hands need to be respected, and those who are less well-off need to be respected.
Those with less education need to be respected. We don’t all have to go to an Ivy League institution to be worth something as a human being or to be a contributor to society. Those in successful positions high up in business who are the captains of industry need to pay a fair wage, so that the people who are less well-off have a chance to move up. Very very few people who receive government assistance want to stay that way. There are a few, but very few. They do not want to receive food stamps for their whole life or their children or grandchildren to be on food stamps. They are just asking for a leg up. It is tough out there! It is a tough economy, and there is no shame to need government help for a little while. The shame is if that is your design for the rest of your life. The conservatives who are wealthy enough need to say, you can get out of this. Lots of us were in your shoes, too, and that is the truth. Lots of them have gone bankrupt. You have to remember that. They need to pay a fair wage and respect those who work with their hands.
We have to realize the vast majority of people on both sides want a better life for their children. That is what they want. If we start with our common ground that we want life to be better for the next generation, then we can start to solve some of these problems. As long as we point fingers at each other and accuse each other, we are going nowhere. The boat will sink, and we will all sink together. Do not disdain the working class. I am going to give you a couple examples.
If you are fortunate enough in life to own a BMW, which is a nice fancy car, and you are on a lonely deserted road somewhere, then you ditch that thing! What do you want to happen? Do you want a Harvard MBA to show up, or do you want a guy with a 4 x 4 and a tow strap? All of a sudden he becomes the most important man in the world to you. He might come up with a rusty 4 x 4 and stop, wearing a hat and chewing tobacco. But he has a tow strap and says, I can get your car out, sir.
When Hurricane Sandy hit and fancy million dollar homes in the Northeast were upside down with trees on them and also blocking the road and sand blocking the highway with no power, do you want a bunch of people in suits and ties to show up? Or do you want some guys with muscles, chain saws, chains, and guys who could operate front-end loaders and backhoes? What do you want? Do you want lineman who can go up the poles and hook the wires back up in a snowstorm, or do you want lawyers and doctors and politicians? I am not putting them down, but I am showing you we all need each other. We all need each other.
To the successful I say, don’t replace every good paying job with a robot or a computer. Find a way to keep human beings working, and pay them a fair wage. To the working class I say, don’t make your boss so miserable that he wants to have robots around. Show up for work. Show up sober. Work hard, and earn your pay.
God’s way is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We all need to value human life, human dignity, and human aspirations, which is so wonderful about countries like the United States, Canada, England, and Australia. A person could be born in humble circumstances, have aspirations, and do much better for themselves and their children. We need to keep that hope alive.
ADOPT GOD’S WAYS
The nation will turn around as fast as it adopts God’s ways of life. We can renege on the truth and accept the things that God says are wrong or sinful. We can replace honesty with deceit and quick riches and replace hard work with laziness. If we want to twist it all around like that, we are never going to get out of this situation. We will indeed suffer the consequences of the fiscal cliff and far worse. That’s not what seems to be written in the Bible. There will be peace and prosperity, so I know the vast majority of people—we call them the innumerable multitude—will answer the call! They will change, and everybody will pull together. They will grab a hold of the oar, put their shoulder to the grindstone, and take their hands out of other people’s pockets. If we can do that, we will get out of this situation. That includes being obedient to God’s law—the Ten Commandments. That means give versus get—a willingness to share. It means hard work instead of laziness. Push ourselves and drive ourselves.
We need to accept God’s definitions of family, of righteousness, and of what love is. Things will clarify themselves, and life will get better for everyone. As God’s people, His Church, it is our job to share these timeless truths with both sides. Tell them about the hope that lies within us.
I want to close with three quotes. The first one I take from the November 2nd issue of the USA Today. It is a full page ad taken out by Billy Graham. Everybody knows Billy Graham. It says here at the top “Vote Biblical Values Tuesday, November 6th.” It did not say vote red, vote blue, Republican, or Democrat. He said, “Vote Biblical Values Tuesday, November 6th.” He goes on to say here “The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6th, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.” Signed Billy Graham.
Then I want to quote another man who lived to be 94 and that is Herbert W. Armstrong. He said we need to live God’s way of give versus Satan’s way of get. That says it all. If we all care about each other, the nation will be just fine.
The last quote I want to read is from God’s word because there is a time on this earth, and I believe we’re there, that all people are going to need to decide whether they are going to listen to God or not. I want to turn to Deuteronomy chapter 30 because Israel was faced with a decision to make that God put before them. Now that decision is going to be placed before the entire human race. Turn to Deuteronomy chapter 30. You can read the whole chapter on your own later if you would like.
Deuteronomy chapter 30, verse 19 where God is speaking here: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
The land I am talking about today is the whole world. God says, you will have a Millennium. It will be a peaceful time of prosperity across the whole earth, and you will be part of it if you choose My way of life, He says. It is up to us, as we read in Revelation 7, to tell the innumerable multitude how to make the right choice and why. It is up to us to tell them how wonderful it is to follow the gospel—the good news of Jesus Christ.