We are living in the days of final preparation. In heaven, in hell and on earth, tremendous activity is erupting as all of creation anticipates the culmination of man’s history.
If the Holy Spirit were to pull the scales from our eyes, we believers would be both joyful and horrified at what we'd see. We'd cry out, "What is going on? Why is everyone rushing about so determined, so intense? What are all these elaborate, mind-boggling preparations about? What's in the wind? What is about to happen?"
Right now the heavens are ablaze with anticipation! Angelic beings must be awestruck as they prepare to usher judgments upon the earth with destructive force that is unspeakable. No, angels do not know the day and hour of Christ’s return — but as they are called into a state of readiness, they do know the end is near.
Without question, a final conflict is coming — a time when every enemy will be put under our Lord's feet. Let's examine the great and final plans taking place in all three realms of the conflict.
If the veil separating the physical and spiritual could be lifted for a moment, what a sight we would behold! Everywhere we looked, we'd see preparations taking place. We often are mistaken in thinking God is merely waiting for the last soul to be saved before He speaks a word and the final judgment begins.
No! God is busily preparing! During the creation God worked for six days. And now, at the close of this age, He is at work diligently preparing the last things.
These preparations can be seen only as we are allowed glimpses into the eternal. And, without speculating, we can see what God has revealed in His Word about this final preparation taking place in heaven.
Revelation 6 says the Lamb breaks one seal, "and there was a noise of thunder." But following this is one of the most mind-boggling statements in all of God’s Word. It says: "There was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour" (Revelation 8:1).
No angelic being cries, "Holy, holy," no choirs sing — not a single sound is heard in all of God's eternal kingdom! The heavens literally shook with a holy thunder; but now God is silent. Christ and His Holy Spirit are silent. Why this silence? And why half an hour?
The prophet Zechariah provides a clue: "And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation" (Zechariah 2:12-13).
Here we see God ready to claim His inheritance. All things have been put into place. Seven judgment-angels stand before Him, waiting to be given assignments to go forth and smite the earth. The time that was appointed from the foundation of the world has now come.
The words used in Scripture here speak of a holy hush, a great calm before the storm. And this silence is too holy, too incomprehensible for human minds. We can't even speculate as to why, in this period just prior to the final judgment, God in His heaven is silent.
We do know, however, that the hush ended and the judgment-angels "which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound" (Revelation 8:6). They made ready and were poised — standing by to act at His command!
The Apostle John was allowed through a vision to behold all this heavenly activity. And what he saw was a revelation of Jesus and His final preparation, a prophecy of end-time things!
When Jesus appeared to John in this vision, His eyes were on fire. There was no more time for lukewarm love! All must return to Him and repent, He says, or "I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place" (Revelation 2:1-5).
Beloved, it’s time to deal with Jezebel spirits, lukewarmness, false teachings, fornication — time to remove all stumblingblocks. For John was told that what he would see "must shortly be done" (Revelation 22:6).
The apostle saw incredible movements, comings and goings, great and shattering commands, just as if he were seated in the war council of the High Command. Here is the scene:
Angels are coming out of the temple of God, having in their power the last seven plagues. They are "girded" for action (Revelation 15:6-8). Another angel is flying in the midst of heaven with the everlasting Gospel to preach to every nation. That angel cries with a loud voice, "for the hour of his judgment is come." Another cries, "Babylon is fallen" (Revelation 14:6-8).
Yet another angel is coming out of the temple with a sickle in his hand, and a loud voice commands him, "Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe" (Revelation 14:15). Another reaping angel is told, "Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe" (Revelation 14:18).
Right on schedule, one angel after another will blow a trumpet and set off unthinkable wrath! Hail, mingled with blood, will burn up a third of all greenery. The seas will be polluted. A great star, a meteorite, will hit the earth burning like a torch and will poison rivers, lakes and streams.
The sun, moon and stars will be darkened. And an angel will appear suddenly in the skies, crying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!" (Revelation 8:13). On earth there will be such torment that "men shall seek death, and shall not find it" (Revelation 9:6).
The sixth angel will loose upon the earth four demonic powers. Some 200 million horsemen will come forth to destroy one-third of mankind with "fire and smoke and brimstone" (Revelation 9:14-19). It is written that they "were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand [200 million]" (Revelation 9:15-16).
I don't know if this army is human or demonic, but one thing is certain: It is even now in its final preparation for the very year, month, day and hour of battle.
What awesome revelations of things to come! John saw them all. But he also witnessed the grand preparation for the marriage supper of the Lamb! He saw the books being opened in preparation for judgment day — and he was instructed to give this vision to the Church.
Let mankind go on eating, drinking, making merry. Let everyone say, "Where is the promise of his coming? for...all things continue as they were from the beginning" (2 Peter 3:4). Still God prepares! Still heaven moves on toward the final judgment!
"Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Revelation 12:12).
John saw a bottomless pit being opened, and out of it spewed an army of demonic locusts "like unto horses prepared unto battle...faces of men" (Revelation 9:7). "They had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon [Satan]" (Revelation 9:11).
Listen with your spirit to these words: Satan knows his time is short, for he has "come down" to the earth. This planet is the final battleground! He has prepared his forces, and his strategy is underway. All of hell is one big, satanic operations network!
Beloved, Satan's main object is the elect of God. It is not the backslidden, apostate nation of Israel, nor a lukewarm, self-satisfied Church — it is the spotless bride of Christ! An elect, holy people consisting of blood-bought Jews and Gentiles — the true Church!
Satan is going to so thoroughly deceive the wicked that they will not repent even under the most severe judgment of God. "Spirits of devils, working miracles...to gather them to the battle of...God Almighty" (Revelation 16:14). They will not turn back to the Lord even if hell stares them in the eye. Only a people who are totally deceived could blaspheme God under a scorching sun that consumes!
Principalities and powers of darkness are at work now around the clock, with no rest or relaxing. They are raging throughout the whole earth, preparing to set up their own kingdom with their own economic system, their own messiah, their own religion. Their drive to kill and destroy is being directed by the devil himself.
Have you ever considered what's behind the explosion of the New Age movement, the revival of Aquarius in the occult, the renewed interest in Santaria, psychics, eastern religions, gurus, transcendental meditation? Why are even the families of U.S. presidents consulting with stargazers and astrologers? Why have multitudes of our youth turned to actual devil worship?
Did all these things just happen? Are evil men growing worse simply by nature? Did New Age religions simply appear from nowhere? Is Satan worship just a passing fad? Are we going to wake up one day and see that everything is back to normal?
No! It is all part of the preparation — all an operation being masterminded by a high intelligence. Satan is setting up his power bases, and angels of light and deception are in training.
In the kingdom of darkness there is not a lazy, unemployed demon. They all have intensity and devotion to their cause. All their powers and abilities are given to overthrowing the kingdom of Christ. Satan's army is not asleep or lukewarm to their master! Scripture describes Satan as one who "walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). He and his hordes possess people — and they do not rest from their toil night or day!
John saw this last great preparation in hell as well. He saw the devil poised to flood the Church in an attempt to destroy it and to carry it away with evil.
What do you think is the major topic in hell, the main message being sounded at this moment? It is a sober, life-and-death call to war: "Time is short, work while you can!" There are no prophets of peace and security in hell. It is doomsday there, the final call!
The whole point of my message is this: While all heaven and hell have been put on alert, and everywhere in the spiritual realm the preparations are furious for the final hour, millions of Christians are fast asleep! This last-days spiritual sloth and sleepy unconcern have to be a source of bewilderment to both angels and demons!
The disciples slept through the Lord's agony in the garden, and not much has changed today. Those followers were not prepared. They slept, then they forsook the Lord and fled.
John the Baptist went before Jesus "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17). The Apostle John saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, consisting of a people "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2). Beloved, the Word is crystal-clear: We are to be prepared!
1. God’s people are digging into the world rather than letting go.
I want to talk about "things." The Word says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" (1 John 2:15). Jesus warned, "Beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15).
Things — our possessions — can tie us down to this world. While heaven and hell prepare for war, we go shopping. Eternal values are at stake, the end of all we know is near — and we're busy playing with our toys!
We're clothes hogs. Our wallets are out of control. We wallow in our possessions. We say God can have it all at any time, but then we race off to find things that are bigger and better. We spend more time at the shopping mall than in the prayer closet with God!
Scripture says of Noah's day, "They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark" (Matthew 24:38). And of Lot's day, "They bought, they sold, they planted, they builded" (Luke 17:28).
Now this activity wasn't evil in and of itself. I'm sure Noah himself had to buy and sell. After all, he was building for 120 years! But the key here is that the people did all these things even up to the day of judgment — no one was heeding, listening, preparing. They were digging in. No one was letting go of the spirit of bondage to material pleasures!
A missionary friend recently wrote from Hong Kong that he had 18 Chinese students sleeping in his tiny apartment. The students were fleeing Communism. These people had no money and possessed only the clothes they were wearing.
The Christians among them are an example to us of people who have "let go." They weren't escaping their country because they want Western materialism. Rather, they simply wanted to be set free! They wanted to live in a country where the soul is free to worship!
By contrast, the Church is not escaping but digging in — to its TVs, its VCRs, its conveniences, its "good life." No prophet nor watchman will ever convict them. There is little desperation among them for God and for discipline.
Ringing in my soul are those awesome words that Jesus gave to His servants, whom He entrusted with His blessings and authority: "Give account!"
Jesus said that for every idle word "they shall give account" (Matthew 12:36). If we must give account of every word, will we not be called to account for idle time and wasted money as well? "Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead" (1 Peter 4:5).
A certain steward was accused of wasting his goods. The master called him in and said, "Give an account of thy stewardship" (Luke 16:2). Now, believer — explain how you would justify your waste — your time, your money, your deeds. Give your reasons!
We all are going to stand before the Lord and give account. So we'd better ask ourselves now: What are our reasons? Why are we so ill-prepared? Why so selfish? Why so wasteful?
2. God’s people are becoming less and less excited about the coming of Jesus.
The new gospel being preached today says that Jesus comes only to the heart — and that His Second Coming is a special revelation to the mind! He appears only to the inner man!
New Agers advertise that their Christ will appear on TV worldwide. All the would will see His coming simultaneously. As they view this event, they will receive an inner revelation to their minds — a "knowing."
To many Christians today, this world is not a sinking ship, not a world reserved for fire. It is an international capitol building overrun with undesirables, whom these believers plan to kick out. They will then take their places, to renovate and govern it all themselves. Such thinking is symptomatic of a dying love for Jesus and a clinging to this world!
"Beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness" (2 Peter 3:17). No one can be more spiritually blind than to say, "My Lord delayeth His coming."
In the days to come, you are going to hear incredible messages about loving Jesus that sound holy and Christlike, but they'll be tainted with an error that will rob the saints of the very thing that produces steadfastness. These messages will lack an urgency for preparation or a longing for His coming! Their preachers will chop away at the glorious truth of this event and get you to look for an earthly kingdom. And if you look eagerly to His coming, you will be labeled an escapist!
Jude said, "Enoch...prophesied...Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment" (Jude 14-15). Paul said, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
This is not an escapist message. It is a message of comfort — and I comfort you with it even now!
3. Don’t get stuck in Babylon at midnight!
Babylon is falling. That merchandising world of greed and self is collapsing. "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Revelation 18:4).
We have so spiritualized Babylon that we have missed a simple, fundamental truth. It is spoken of in Revelation 18 and includes "delicious living" and "making merchants rich."
There is nothing wrong with merchants becoming rich. But Babylon represents a spirit of greed — a spirit so powerful, so evil and so driving that it says, "people don’t count." All that counts is the bottom line on the balance sheet!
Merchants will weep in that day of terror — not for the multitudes who are burning in a holocaust, but because their money machine is gone. Wall Street has been called the nation's "greed capital," but this spirit isn't limited to location. It is sweeping society in general — even the Church!
The Holy Spirit is saying, "Don't let your greed make the merchants richer. Don't get carried away with the spending and the debt. Curb your appetites. Enough is enough! Get off the Babylonian greed-mill. Shake off the spirit that lusts for riches and more and more things! Do not partake of the sin of Babylon, which is merchandising with a spirit of greed."
What an awesome preparation: Jesus wants me with Him! Since the day He left this earth, He has been preparing for my coming to meet Him in heaven.
Thank God for one more great preparation! Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you...I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2-3).
I am deeply strengthened by such love. He is preparing for me — and I, in turn, desire to prepare for Him!