Individual tribulation is one thing, but the trials of groups are another. When God allows or causes a single person to endure any struggle, there are individual lessons to be learned that are intended to develop a healthy fear of God and a genuine faith in Him. The consequences upon that individual are determined by their response to God’s call to draw nigh unto Him.
That communication is best deciphered and translated through the servants and children who are in an obedient relationship with Him. As His messengers in the earth, faithful believers in Jesus are positioned as a city on a hill and the light of the world to declare the word of the Lord.
Matthew 5:14-16 King James Version (KJV) 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Before, we were called the light of the world, Jesus was the only light to the world, being the only one with knowledge of how to obtain salvation. So He preached and demonstrated the manner in which vessels of God are to declare the desires of the Lord, and we are to follow His lead.
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
As the time appointed for the current state of affairs draws to a close, the trials and tribulation that affect the entire earth will increase in occurrence and strength. Jesus has revealed that these are the beginning of sorrows, and He has demonstrated that the light of the world should be vessels of direction during such times. Just as the consequences of individuals are determined by their response to God’s call to repentance, all of mankind is currently making choices that are as consequential as the size of the group affected. How we are informed and motivated to make decisions will ultimately mean the difference between eternal life and eternal death, and only those who find the Light of the World will live.
Preparation for the Saints
The 5th chapter of James is one several scriptures acknowledging the end times, and it admonishes saints in how they should prepare to endure trial. But it begins by serving as a warning to those who trust in earthly treasures for their salvation and protection. Remember that all of scripture has been lovingly written that children of God may reach their eternal destination, and passages like these are written with the endurance of the saints in mind. In times of tribulation, the revelation of scripture becomes much clearer because they can be directly understood and applied. Take note of how applicable the content of James 5 is when read in light of current events.
James 5 Misuse of Riches 1Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. 4Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. 5Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. 6Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.
God has orchestrated the tribulation of the last days to test the faith of men. If your trust lies in earthly riches, they will fail, and you will be exposed as a result. However, those who maintain their focus on the kingdom will endure with patience to the end. This should be our portion.
*James 5 continued… Patience in Suffering 7Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. 10Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. 12But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
Now is the time to prepare for tribulation. It always has been. Many who procrastinate in their preparation will fail to be ready when trouble actually arrives. Obedience is a lifestyle to which believers are honored to commit well before the dangers of disobedience are obvious. The game of life is not who can prepare when the end comes, but who was ready beforehand. Look no further than the parable of the foolish and wise virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).
Now notice how the rest of James 5 provides instruction for handling certain challenges that present themselves during times of extended tribulation. When place in context of the entire chapter, verses which are often quoted half-heartedly become powerful and encouraging keys to reaching eternity with Christ.
*James 5 continued… The Prayer of Faith 13Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Restoring a Sinner 19Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.*
Now is the time to put the instruction of this passage to practice. Without faith and the loving encouragement of fellow believers, we are increasingly susceptible to the same fear that plagues the rest of the world when it is caused or allowed to endure stress.
The Danger of Fear
Revelation 21:1-8 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
1 John 4:15-18 15Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Fear is the absence of faith in Jesus, and it causes all spiritual clarity and understanding to become cloudy. It is worsened by a lack of familiarity with Jesus, but the knowledge of Christ, His purpose and His promise is a keeping power under the worst of tribulation.
With increasing regularity, false prophets, false teachers and antichrists are rising up to take advantage of the fears of men. It is wise to be aware of the false doctrines that surround us, but it is impossible to know them all. The greatest security against the deception of antichrist is in how well you know Christ, Jesus. If you know His heart, you are better able to recognize what isn’t His nature. In many of the intimate moments leading up to the His betrayal, Jesus encouraged his faithful disciples.
John 14:1-6, 15-17 1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. …. 15If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
Obedience is key, and the way back to the Father is simple; It is Jesus. His message and His life were examples and revelations of His purpose and promise. Anything that deviates from the glory of the Lord and the path He took to receive it is a lie and a deception.
At the core of every false doctrine is the inclusion or combination of any of these three things: Who Jesus is, how Jesus lived and why Jesus came (what He promised)….
BE WARNED AGAINST BELIEVING IN CONSPIRACIES. In the period before the Assyrian invasion, God instructed Israel not to follow or trust in those captivated by conspiracies.
“Be broken, O peoples, and be [h]shattered; And give ear, all remote places of the earth. Gird yourselves, yet be [i]shattered; Gird yourselves, yet be [j]shattered. 10 “Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; State a [k]proposal, but it will not stand, For [l]God is with us.”11 For thus the Lord spoke to me [m]with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying,12 “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear [n]what they fear or be in dread of it. 13 “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. 14 “Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 “Many will stumble over them, Then they will fall and be broken; They will even be snared and caught.”*
The Key to Recognizing deception is Knowing Jesus: The Person, Purpose and Promise of Jesus
The New Covenant reveals Jesus as the One true Savior, and answers the mystery of God’s Old covenant dealings with the Jews. By virtue of His arrival and His fulfillment of the prophesies of promise, the exclusivity of Israel’s access to Yahweh (which was really no exclusivity at all) was openly and blatantly removed to reveal access for all men to the throne of God.
Ephesians 3:1-13 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. 13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
Galatians 3:24-29 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Scripture clearly establishes Jesus as the way, truth and life. He is the point of life and the way to eternal life. The law was only given to show us how much we need Christ. For those who receive Him, our mission is to preach the gospel and remain prepared for His return ourselves.
Before Christ left, enduring the most brutal death a man could experience, particularly by the juxtapostion of his innonence to the extrementy of the punishment, Jesus left the disciples and us very specific and details instructions on the progression of the end times and how to endure them.
*Matthew 24:1-14 1And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6And 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. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Witnessing to All Nations 9Then 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. 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.*
Powerful revelation about animalistic inclinations in humans:
When God created man, He created something unique and special (Hebrews 6). Day 6 was the day that Father, Son and Holy Spirit said, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” granting them unique and “peculiar” qualities unlike anything else in creation. With these qualities came a distinction of both behavior and eternal fate.
Our Father, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, made mankind separate from animals on purpose and for a purpose.
Throughout history, mankind has chosen to worship created beings above the Creator of all things, starting with man and including birds and beasts. This choice stands as an open declaration of denial and an indication to God that we don’t desire His plan for us, and that is why you often see animals used or referred to in forms of divine correction and judgment.
Hosea 4:1-3 Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. 3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.
Biblical examples include:
- Jonah and the whale
- God’s mention of animals to Job
- Balaam and the Donkey (Num. 22:21-33)
- Nebuchadnezzar and the beasts of the field
Yet, somehow mankind defiantly idolizes beasts above a God who designed us to be like Him. It manifests several ways, being seen in eastern religions, philosophies of evolution, horoscopes, spirit animals and even movies and entertainment. In the bible, the ultimate slap in the face of God was His own children crafting beasts of earthly materials to worship instead of Him.
Romans 1:21-25 21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
The Promise: We Are a Peculiar People
Isaiah 51:1-8 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. 2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. 3 For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. 4 Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. 5 My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust. 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. 7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. 8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.