As I write this, the whole world is frightened, perplexed and confused. Even the most devoted Christians are wondering about all the fast-moving events as they rapidly unfold. Are these things prophetic?
I hear from believers everywhere who ask a question I myself am wondering: “Are we in the very last years of human history?” I do not know — any thoughts on that subject are mere speculation. But one thing is sure: We have seen an acceleration of world events as never before.
The Great Depression of the 1930s has been considered the worst economic period ever. Today many economists believe we are on the brink of a depression that will surpass even our worst hard time. There is a sense of danger in the air. Many feel the world is on a course from which there is no turning back. There is talk of wars, race wars, holy wars. Is this the day Jesus predicted, when men’s hearts would fail from fear as they behold the frightening things coming on the earth?
Could it be we are the generation that will behold the coming of the Lord Jesus? Have we come to the point in history when it is said, “This generation shall not pass away till all these things come to pass”?
I believe we have arrived at that time — the awesome day of the Lord. I am convinced in my spirit we are about to witness the unfolding of great, fearful sufferings and tribulations.
The world will be turned upside down, with its very foundations shaken. “The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved…. (It) shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage…and it shall fall and not rise again” (Isaiah 24:19–20).
According to Isaiah, the earth is not headed for rejuvenation but for total ruin. The prophet was not spiritualizing any of this. He meant that laughter literally will cease, confusion will reign, houses will be shut up: “All joy is darkened, and mirth of the land is gone…and the foundations of the earth do shake” (Isaiah 24:11, 18).
When such times come, what will happen to true followers of Jesus? If the world grows steadily worse until Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled — if we are to go through some or all of these calamities — how is God going to take care of us?
Just as the Lord has warned us in detail about the troubles ahead, he will also reveal to us how he will protect us.
Our God has a definite plan. It is as simple but as absolute as the universe itself. His plan can be summed up in one sentence: He will protect us by the power of his predetermined word.
We are going to be preserved by the spoken word of God. It is a word of deliverance pronounced from the very foundation of the world. Indeed, this plan is something God determined before the world was.
Our God is never caught off guard — nothing surprises him. He had a plan to preserve us long before there were nations, armies, wars, depressions, plagues and violence: “(He) hath determined the times before appointed” (Acts 17:26). God foresaw all these things, and he spoke into existence a word of preservation that is as eternal and unshakable as his own character.
Let me put it this way: Hour by hour, day by day, God is going to preserve us in the same way he now preserves the sun, moon, stars, galaxies and the very forces of nature. He will do it by his predetermined, spoken word. His protective word is the same one that governs light, darkness, the tides, the seasons, the air we breathe.
In the beginning, God’s predetermined word was spoken: “Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). From that moment on, and throughout time and eternity, there was and is and always will be light: “the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” (1:16).
Suddenly, by the power of God’s predetermined word, a ball of intense fire appeared in the firmament. It was so majestic that only an eternal, all-knowing God could create it. And just as suddenly there appeared in the firmament a small planet, orbiting the earth and reflecting the light of the sun; this was the moon.
The sun, the moon, the billions of stars, the multitudinous galaxies all stay in their prescribed orbits in obedience to the spoken word of our Lord. His once-spoken word holds everything in place. Job said that by his word God “commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars” (Job 9:7).
The Lord doesn’t have to remind the planets to stay in their orbits. He doesn’t have to keep telling the seasons to change or warning the tides they mustn’t overflow the land. He spoke the word once — and it was, and always shall be, until he speaks again and creates a new heaven and a new earth. “By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth…but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment” (2 Peter 3:5, 7).
Until that time, Jesus Christ upholds all things by the power of his word. “Being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). “He is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17).
You see, Jesus spoke a sustaining word to all created things. When he came to earth as a man for thirty-three years, all created things were sustained by the eternal word he had spoken once at the beginning. Only at his command did these forces change and obey a new order. When Jesus’ disciples saw him calm the sea, they said, “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” (Matthew 8:27).
As surely as he created all things by the power of his word, the Lord has spoken into being an eternal word of preservation to keep all his children.
Since the beginning, God has promised to preserve all who trust in him. He spoke this eternal word to Abraham: “I am thy shield!” (Genesis 15:1). That word was for all eternity. And God extends it to all of Abraham’s seed, including us who have faith in Christ. He will be our shield through eternity. God spoke a word in the beginning, and since then every generation has proven — through all that Satan could throw at them — that the Lord is our shield.
For years I have wondered about the full meaning of the Lord’s words, “Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Now I know.
Moses spoke these words to the Israelites as he reminded them of God’s faithfulness. The meaning is this: “The Lord allowed you to experience hunger. He humbled you by bringing you to a place where all human ingenuity was in vain. If God had not taken care of you supernaturally, you would have died. The issue was not food, but rather trust in him. The Lord, who spoke the world into being, had a word of preservation for you. All his words were yours by faith.”
When Israel was in the desert, God did a new thing for them. He spoke the words, “Let there be manna. Let them wonder what it is.” He created something new.
Israel could have called together their princes and leaders to plan and strategize how God might feed and care for them. But none would ever have conceived that God would cover the ground with small, white, round seeds — a new kind of food that human — kind had never seen or tasted before. It was angels’ food!
Do you want to know how God is going to preserve you in all your hard times? He will do it by speaking a new word, if necessary — by creating all you need by the power of his word. All God had to do was speak the word “manna,” and an entire generation of Israelites was preserved.
Jesus used this same word when Satan tempted him to turn stone into bread in order to ease his hunger pangs. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Jesus knew he was the seed of Abraham. And he knew that God’s eternal word of preservation was spoken to him: “I am thy shield [protector]” (Genesis 15:1). Christ could face a situation that was hopeless by man’s standards and yet rest in God’s word: “I am your protector.”
As he faced hunger and thirst in the wilderness, his heart was at rest, for he knew the Father had spoken the word that he was safe. His mission had been spoken from the foundation of the world, and no weapon formed against that mission could prosper. He trusted in his Father to preserve him in God’s own way: by the power of his word.
At the end of forty days, Jesus also was eating angels’ food. He had meat that no man knew anything about: “Angels came and ministered unto him” (Matthew 4:11).
Today many Christians are trying to figure out how God will take care of his people when the world’s ruin comes in full force.
Some plan to isolate themselves in the mountains or desert. But Jesus tells us to “take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink?” (Matthew 6:31).
Our heavenly Father knows what we need, and he has spoken this eternal word: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (6:33).
Do you hear Jesus’ promise here? All you need! Christ’s predetermined word about us was settled in heaven long before any of us were born. Our Creator spoke this word of finality: “In every generation I will protect, keep, feed and preserve all those who seek me first.” That word is as firm as the word that keeps the planets in place.
I believe God has a certain desire toward his people in these troubled times. It is to bestow on us an unshakable conviction that he is going to keep us from the power of the wicked one. God is desperately trying to fill us with consolation and peace. He has sworn that his word is enduring, eternal and for us:
“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail” (Hebrews 6:17–19).
Is your soul anchored in hope? Do you enjoy a strong consolation based on knowing that God cannot lie and that his Word has gone forth to preserve you in evil times? Take time to read and digest all of Psalm 91. You will find the eternal word of God delivered once and for all. It is given by a God who cannot lie. Though it was spoken to David, it holds true for every generation since then — and especially for us.
As the body of Christ, we have a stronger, better hope than Job, David or any other Old Testament believer.
We are bone of our Lord’s bone, flesh of his flesh. “We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Ephesians 5:30). Indeed, we are his household. And God’s Word says, “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).
Think about what Paul is saying here. Do you entertain the thought that the Head of our house will not provide for us? To do so is to accuse him of denying himself and to call him an infidel. It is impossible for Christ to neglect his own body! “No man ever yet hated his own flesh: but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” (Ephesians 5:29). The Lord would have to hate his own flesh to neglect you or me in a time of trouble.
Don’t try to figure out how he will go about preserving you. You can’t figure it out any more than you could have guessed how he would open the Red Sea…how he would keep the Hebrew children alive in a fiery furnace…how he would shut the mouths of hungry lions all night long as Daniel sat among them…how he would bring water out of a rock and bread from the sky…how he would feed 5,000 people with just a few loaves and fishes.
We could never figure any of that out. He alone has the words of eternity — and he alone is going to sustain us throughout eternity. In glory we won’t need any other means of support but the Son of God. We will be sustained by his very presence. Moreover, the same word that will keep us then is the word that is sustaining us now. It will continue to keep us no matter how desolate or ruined this world becomes.
A doctrinal argument has been going on for years: Will true believers go through the Great Tribulation? Will we who love Jesus live to see all those awful sights? Some say Jesus will come to take away his bride before the suffering. Others say he will come in the middle of the tribulation. Still others say we will have to endure it all.
Let me put your mind at ease with this passage: “After this I beheld…a great multitude, which no man could number…and one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? …And he said to me, these are they which came out of great tribulation” (Revelation 7:9, 13–14).
These believers came out — and they were a great multitude. Beloved, here is the point: They went in, but they came out. Not only did they survive great sufferings, but they came out shouting with a very special testimony: “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever” (Revelation 7:12).
These people did not “just survive.” They sang of the One who brought them out. God had proved himself to them in every way. They had learned to “serve him night and day” — meaning, through their darkest times as well as their most blessed times.
God isn’t interested in simply preserving us physically with food, water and shelter. That is no great victory in his eyes. The overcomers described in Revelation 7 triumphed in the worst of times because the whole Word of God came alive to them. They had his strong arm and his glory and wisdom to the end. Every word out of his mouth became real — and they praised him with great thanksgiving.
Imagine no despair, no cowering, no surrender to satanic threats. Those overcomers came out washed, dressed in white and victorious. And so will his people today. Therefore, be encouraged — his predetermined Word says no matter what we are going through, we are coming out. Hallelujah!