There is a storm about to break loose upon this world and God wants to prepare you to meet it. The recent events that took place on September 11, 2001, shattered our dreams of continual earthly peace and prosperity and showed us that this storm has already begun. Many people fear another major attack will take place, and many fear that anthrax, smallpox, or some other deadly disease will come close to home and strike their friends, family, or even themselves. Many people are seeking for answers to how they can protect themselves.
Jesus, in His love and mercy, has warned us about the events that would take place just prior to His second coming, and He has given us instructions on how to be prepared for this crisis. In the 24th chapter of Matthew He said,
“Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences [diseases], and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:6-14)
My friends, Jesus knew what was coming upon this world and His words are being fulfilled right before our eyes. We are still at the beginning of these things; for Jesus said, this is “the beginning of sorrows.” We are hearing of wars and rumors of wars. We are beginning to see nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There are famines, diseases and earthquakes which are rapidly increasing in number. Jesus commanded us to “be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Very soon the remaining words of Jesus will be fulfilled to the letter. He said, “then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”
The Hatred of the World
One thing that amazed me after September 11 was how rapidly the world’s hatred can be turned against one class of people. At first the hatred was against Muslims in general. Several mosques were vandalized, and some Muslims were beaten. Afterward, the hatred has been directed more towards a smaller fanatical fringe of the Muslim religion. However, this will not be the last shift of the world’s hatred. Jesus warned us that His true followers “shall be hated of all nations.” Yet how can this be? Today it almost sounds absurd to say that the world will turn its hatred toward God’s faithful people, but that is exactly what Jesus said would happen.
We have all heard about the mark of the beast and the antichrist, but many of us have been unwilling to think about this subject for long. We seem to think it will happen sometime in the future so that we do not have to be concerned about it. Well, my friends, by the looks of things, this trying time will come upon us very soon. What are we going to do?
God has warned us, “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.”(Revelation 14:9) That is a stern warning, yet at the same time God gives us the remedy. He says, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:7) To be safe through the coming crisis we must fear, worship, and give glory to the true God of heaven.
The Protection We Need
The 91st Psalm was written especially for you and me at this time in earth’s history. It says,
“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… 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. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways… Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” (Psalms 91:1-16)
It is the privilege of every Christian to know this Psalm by memory, to help us be victorious through the times ahead. I want you to notice specifically a few things in this Psalm. It says that we will be safe if we dwell “in the secret place of the Most High,” if we make “his truth” our “shield and buckler,” if we trust in His protection, and if we set our love upon Him. This is the only way we will be safe in the coming crisis.
What does it mean to dwell in the secret place of the Most High? Are we to find some secluded secret cave and dwell there? No! We are to dwell in the secret place of a close, personal relationship with Him. We are also to set our love upon Him and fortify our minds with His truth. In order to have a close, personal relationship with the Most High, and have our love and affections set upon Him, we must first know Him in truth. We must know who the Most High is, and we must know what He is like. Does He love you? Is He interested in your well being? Before we can ever love God we must first see His love for us. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
The Love of God
“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) When Jesus said God “so loved the world” He was saying, “This is how much God loves you, He loves you so much that He did something for you.” This is how the Most High God demonstrated His love for you—He gave up His most precious possession, His only begotten Son.
If God had loved the world so much that He gave a goat, you and I would seriously question God’s love for us, because a goat would be an almost meaningless gift for God to give up, since it is something He created. If God had loved the world so much that He gave a human, what would we think then? Well, that is a little better than a goat, but it is still a small gift, because humans were also created. What if God had loved the world so much that He gave an angel? That is a better gift than a human, but it still falls far short of demonstrating how much God loves us. You see, our understanding of God’s love depends upon the value of the gift He gave up for us. The more valuable the gift He gave, the more we can see His love for us.
God gave His only begotten Son for us. He has other sons, but He only has one begotten Son. We can be “sons of God” by adoption (Romans 8:14), angels are “sons of God” by creation (Job 1:6; 2:1), but Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. What sets Jesus Christ apart from everyone else in the universe, and by which we know God’s love for us, is the fact that He wasbegotten.
God, the Father, knows, from firsthand experience, the most valuable possession a person can have. He knows that nothing is more valuable to a person than a child whom they love. This is precisely where God tested Abraham’s love and loyalty when He asked him to offer his beloved son, Isaac, for a sacrifice. Abraham’s obedience to God’s command proved that he loved God with all his heart. It proved that he would be willing to give up every possession he had for God.
The same thing is true with God. When He gave up His only begotten Son it proved that He is willing to give up every possession, suffer any amount of pain, and endure any hardship in order to save those whom He loves. This is what Paul meant when he said, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”(Romans 8:32)
God truly loves us, yet this love can only be comprehended by understanding that God gave His only begotten Son. Therefore it is Satan’s determined goal to destroy, obliterate, and completely eliminate this truth from the minds of men. Satan knows that the only ones who will be able to overcome and endure unto the end through this upcoming crisis are those who believe that Jesus is thebegotten Son of God. John wrote, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5)
Believing that Jesus is the begotten Son of God enables us to overcome the world by elevating our perception of God’s love and enabling us to love Him with all our hearts in return, thus abiding in the secret place of the Most High.
What did Jesus mean when He said He was begotten? Jesus, speaking of Himself, said, “When there were no depths, I was brought forth [born]; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth [born]… Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” (Proverbs 8:24, 25, 30)
According to the Bible, Jesus Christ was begotten, which literally means born, before anything was created—long before God sent Him into the world. (See Hebrews 1:1-9; Colossians 1:15; John 3:16, 17; 18:37; and 1 John 4:9.) How He was begotten is not for us to know, but God wants us to realize that the Father and His Son have a close, genuine, father-son relationship that is not just a role or an act.
However, Satan is not pleased with us having this knowledge, therefore he has sought, and is seeking, to destroy this truth from this world. Satan is so dedicated to eradicating the wonderful truth that God really gave up His only begotten Son that he has convinced the translators of most of the new translations, including the NIV, RSV, NASB, etc., to delete the word begotten from John 3:16. Check it out for yourselves!
My friends, God really means what He says. He says that He gave His only begotten Son. If Jesus Christ was not the begotten Son of God before God sent Him into the world, then what did the Father give up? Many sincere Christians believe that Jesus Christ is an exactly equal, same-aged companion of the Father. If this were true, then all the Father gave up was a friend; a companion! If this were true, then the One who loves us the most is Christ, because He is the One who willingly died for us.
It is true that Jesus Christ loves us very much, and we praise and thank Him for that love. However, the Bible teaches that God the Father suffered tremendously when His Son was suffering under the weight of our sins. (Compare Psalm 18:4-11 with Matthew 27:45-51) In Abraham and Isaac’s story it was obviously the father, Abraham, who suffered more than Isaac when he gave up his beloved son. Jesus said, “the Father himself loveth you.” (John 16:27) John wrote, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.” (1 John 3:1) We cannot behold the love of the Father if we do not know what He gave up for us. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9) God the Father has an only begotten Son whom He willingly gave up so that you could be forgiven of your sins and live for eternity. Praise God for such wonderful love!
My friends, I pray that you will be ready to stand in the final crisis that will come upon this world and that you will receive the seal of God instead of the mark of the beast. Remain faithful to God, dwell in the secret place of the Most High and make “His truth” your “shield and buckler.” I pray that you will come to know “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of God’s love in giving up His only begotten Son. (Ephesians 3:18) “Prepare to meet thy God.” (Amos 4:12)