The main question on the lips of multitudes worldwide is, “What is going on? There is fear and panic everywhere. Economies are being shaken all over the globe. What will our future look like?”
As followers of Jesus, we know the only reliable answers are in God’s Word. The world’s experts — economists, government leaders, academics — all admit they are confused. Nobody can tell us why bubbles are bursting or how we went from a booming economy to sudden crashes.
Let me share with you what the Bible says is coming. God has spoken very clearly in Scripture about what to expect, now and in the future. Yes, frightening things are happening, but they all have been prophesied in God’s Word. These prophecies are not meant to scare us but to build a foundation of trust. Our Lord’s Word for us is the same yesterday, today and forever, and he sits even now as King over the present flood.
We must start by examining what God said would happen to people and nations that turn away from him. In Leviticus 26, God describes the destinies of nations that either obey or ignore his Word. He says, in essence:
“You are to trust the Lord God, to honor my Word and obey my commandments. If you do, I will bless and prosper you, bringing rain to your crops. You won’t face debt; in fact, you will lend to others. And you will be kept safe from your enemies. You won’t be terrorized or face wars; your country will enjoy peace. No one will be able to make you afraid.
“But if you, your people and your nation, refuse to honor me — if you despise my commandments — here is what you will reap: I, the Lord, will humble you and break your pride. You’ll waste and squander your strength, and I will remove your power and prestige. Your enemies will prevail over you, robbing you of your wealth and prosperity. You will be debtors, not lenders. And suddenly you will know terror and sorrow.”
“For behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from (you)…the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water” (Isaiah 3:1).
All of this was prophesied first to Israel, and it happened just as God warned — yet it still stands as a warning to every generation. In Europe, an entire continent has blotted out God’s name. They boast, “The European Union is secular. We have no God.” Now America is taking a similar path. God is being shut out of schools, courts and legislative bodies. Prayer has been forbidden in some places. Now the wave of hard times is hitting America, as our financial system quakes with no end in sight.
You may ask, “Why do we need to be reminded of all this bad news?” We need to hear it because God’s people have to wake up! The party is over. Our concern can no longer be having the newest cell phone or the latest computer. As a pastor I don’t want anyone to be shocked or confused when their world is suddenly turned upside down.
The truth is, all of the Lord’s judgments are redemptive. He is like a husband whose alcoholic wife is about to pass out from a binge. He taps on her shoulder, saying, “Wake up.” When she doesn’t respond, he pats her cheek, shouting, “Please, wake up. I love you.” When that doesn’t help — when it looks impossible for her to come out of her stupor — he shakes her shoulders, crying, “Wake up! If you don’t, you’ll die in this fog.”
Right now, God is shaking the human race that his Son died to save. Yet God never does this out of anger but out of love. He says, “I have sent watchmen to warn you. I have sent prophets to cut through your fog with clear truth. But you have rejected my Word at every turn. Now I have to shake you, to wake you from this stupor that leads to destruction.”
Here is the good news.
There are two tracks on which humanity is heading today. The first track is that of the devil, involving sexual deviations, greed, materialism, the mindless numbing of the soul.
Yet there is another track moving simultaneously to this one — and it is growing in momentum, outpacing Satan’s. The Bible clearly prophesies that in the midst of chaos and fear — in the very hour of bursting bubbles and collapse — God will pour out his Spirit. The Holy Spirit was first poured out 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, at Pentecost, and he has been at work in the world ever since, glorifying Jesus through the centuries. And he is faithful to come upon this generation as well.
I am convinced the Lord will not give up our young people to the devil. I remember his Spirit being poured out on the Woodstock generation. At that time, hundreds of thousands of young people attended outdoor rock concerts. Acid, LSD, heroin, all the drugs of the day were in rampant use. I went to concerts with 100,000 in attendance, to offer Jesus. I remember seeing kids by the dozens collapsing from drugs, and I thought, “Lord, is there any hope for them?”
It was during that chaotic, indulgent time the Jesus movement was born. A deep hunger for God fell on that generation, and virtually overnight hundreds of thousands of stoned-out youth turned to Jesus. I preached at the Los Angeles Convention Center to meetings of 10,000 kids at a time, with nurses on hand to help those on drugs. Back then I wrote a book called The Jesus Person’s Manual, and young people by the thousands grabbed copies and gave their lives to the Lord.
We are on the verge of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will bring Jesus back to the headlines.
Chuck Smith started the Calvary Chapel ministry in southern California, attracting hundreds of hippies, beach kids and others in the youth culture. A talented music group called Love Song grew out of that ministry and spoke to spiritually hungry kids in the language of song. I remember seeing thousands of young men and women lined up on the beaches of the Pacific to be baptized.
As powerful as those movements were, I believe what is coming will be much greater than anything in my lifetime. And it is going to take place worldwide. We are on the verge of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will bring Jesus back to the headlines. “It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17, my italics).
When God says he will pour out his Spirit “on all flesh,” he doesn’t mean just the church. The Spirit makes himself known to all, even atheists, Communists, everyone who has resisted God. What happens when the Holy Spirit falls on all flesh? He creates stirrings in hearts and minds. Suddenly, there is an awful sense of emptiness that nothing can satisfy. Greed, casual sex, partying — all of these lead to deeper dissatisfaction. It is a desperation of soul that stirs many to realize, “Something supernatural is at work.”
Events in nature point to such a supernatural shaking. Tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes – all are producing an awakening. Jesus refers to this time: “There shall be…upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).
There is already a great stirring of hearts by the Holy Spirit.
All over the world there is a great outcry for change. This cry is about more than politics. It is a cry for something real, something that meets the soul’s deep thirst for peace and satisfaction. And no person or thing on earth can meet that need. Every political leader will fail at trying to provide this satisfaction. Only Jesus can answer our deepest cry.
We have already read that those who turn to the Lord with all their hearts “shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17). The word “prophesy” here doesn’t mean to preach or foretell the future. Rather, it speaks of a holy boldness for Jesus. Consider the scene at Pentecost, when this prophecy was fulfilled in that generation: “When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (4:31).
The Holy Ghost is a spirit of boldness who lifts Jesus higher. When he is poured out, he always glorifies Christ. As I look around today, I see multitudes of Christians who once loved Jesus but who no longer mention his name. At one time they weren’t ashamed to be known for following him. But over time their faith has grown cold.
Very soon it will become obvious to these lukewarm believers that God means business. Every kind of calamity is growing in intensity, with the very environment groaning. Nature is crying out, “Wake up! God is calling to you, ‘Come back to me.’”
The Holy Spirit promises to come upon all who ask to be filled. Right now, mission-based ministries are getting reports of this happening worldwide. In Muslim countries, especially, people are having dreams and visions of Jesus. Soon we will see similar stirrings here as well. Your friends, neighbors and co-workers will come to you asking, “Tell me, why is all this happening? I know you’re a Christian. Tell me what will happen next.”
God is going to have a devoted number of sons and daughters who are ready with the answer: “Jesus is coming. The only safe place is in him.” That is the prophecy we all are to fix upon right now: Jesus is coming soon! Indeed, God is already pouring out a baptism of boldness among his people. He is pouring out his Holy Ghost fire on his people, moving them to take a stand at any cost.
Have you said to anyone lately, “That is my Lord you’re mocking”? You have a right to do so! I’m not talking about an in-your-face confrontation, but a defense of our loving, saving God when he is being slandered. “Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11).
Dear saint, make this your prayer, as I have made it mine: “Lord, I’m asking for a fresh baptism of your Holy Spirit. No more being ashamed of Jesus. My friends, my neighbors, my co-workers all have to know, and I will prophesy to them boldly: ‘Jesus is Lord. And he is coming soon!’”