Franklin Graham is a highly spiritual and politically connected man of God. More so than his father, Franklin has brought his political concerns to the church, leading the call to mobilize the church to prayer for our country. This past week he was asked about recent developments. He said, “The storm is coming. You are going to see Christians attacked. You’re going to see churches closed. And you’re going to see a real hatred expressed toward people of faith.” [A week ago, in Portland, an Antifa rioter stalked and killed a man who was identified among the Patriot Prayers, a group of Christians trying to stop the violence.]
Proof of how what he said is impacting Graham personally came from a petition being circulated by a left-leaning Christian group called Faithful America. The petition is entitled: Tell Samaritan's Purse: Franklin Graham's Hateful, Pro-Trump Politics Are Ruining Your Credibility. It demands Samaritan's Purse remove him from his positions as President and CEO because he prayed at the Republican Nation Convention last week. To date over 14,000 have signed the petition.
He said that socialism will shut down the church by telling it what it can and can’t do. We say, “No way. Read the First Amendment.” And look at how they are restricting churches during Covid.
The Governor of Nevada announced this past week that restaurants and bars could reopen and gave new restrictions to do so. He said they could have up to 50% capacity unless they are having religious services. Then they could only have 50 people.
A recent article estimates that 1 out of 5 churches will not survive their state’s Covid restrictions. That’s twenty percent of churches closing because they can no longer afford to remain open.
Until recently, I’ve never been highly inspired to spend much time speaking about the End times nor the Lord’s return. Partly because it didn’t seem pressing. Things I felt needed to happen hadn’t. Until now. Things have started pushing my buttons.
At the first of this year, before Covid, we worked through a series on End Times where it became obvious these are the Times of the great falling away. Then March came and the world as we knew it nearly collapsed. A virus impacted us in ways we’d never seen before, and as a result, bits of Hell began breaking loose. Organized and financed riots started up, bent on destruction. And the church came under attack.
Back when the nations of Israel and Judah were crumbling under the attack from the Assyrians and the Babylonians, God designated men to warn the people. All of the prophetic books of the OT were written before or during those two exiles. The closer they got to being taken captive, God intensified the warnings of what was coming.
I’m hearing prophecies today from pastors who are having dreams and visions saying, “Brace yourself. Worse things are on the way. Things are going to get worse before they can get better.”
I’ve never placed much stock in dreams and visions, but several prophecies having the same message has caught my ear. I do remember Corrie Ten Boom back in the 80s saying she had a dream in which she was told she’d live to see the Lord’s return. It didn’t happen. I thought if anyone would get it right Corrie would. So, my stock in dreams as God’s final communication device went down.
But there is a Bible prophecy related what’s going on: Joel 2:28-31 It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.
Now, Peter connected that prophecy with Pentecost. Acts 2:14-16 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:
But not all that Peter quoted from Joel was fulfilled that day. This was the beginning of a work of the Lord that had multiple applications. The one we’re most familiar with would carry the Church through to the End. This being what Joel said, according to Peter, was the beginning of the New Covenant and the remarkable indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This New Covenant would define the era of the Gentiles being saved.
Rom 11:25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
A partial hardening meant some Jews would embrace Jesus as their Savior/Messiah but not in large numbers. That will come later.
Rom 11:12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!
There yet remains a great fulfillment anticipated for the Jews after the door closes for the Gentiles.
According to Joel, what began this new work of God, as seen at Pentecost, has more to be fulfilled. That could be what’s going on.
Many of these dreams and visions point to November being a crisis time in America. We are already engaged in a limited-scale civil war with groups of paid anarchists destroying certain cities with the government of those cities looking the other way.
Then there is the Presidential election November 3rd. Hillary Clinton has told Joe Biden publicly not to concede the election under any circumstances. She said “This is going to drag out, and eventually, I do believe [Biden] will win, if we don't give an inch and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is." "We've got to have a massive legal operation, and I know the Biden campaign is working on that."
Which means they anticipate losing but have already decided not to accept the vote and challenge it in court in an attempt to drag the second term of the Trump presidency down as they did the first, smearing it as illegitimate. That’s what’s behind the mail-in ballots. A NYT op-ed article said that an all-out war will begin unless Biden wins by a landslide. I’m not sure if that was insider information, a hope so by the author, a scare-tactic to influence voters or a warning of things to come.
Why am I telling you this? When we were in Galveston, my granddaughter got hit by a wave and said, “I didn’t see that one coming.” We’re standing in the gulf. Waves are coming in one after another. Why would you not expect a wave to hit you?” If we read our Bibles, we cannot say, “I didn’t see any of this coming.” It’s clear things must get worse before they can get better, so, today starts a series of warnings. Not that the Lord will return any minute (though that is possible) but that things are drawing to an end. It’s on the way. Whether it’s this November or November four years from now or twenty years from now, it’s on the way.
Now, associated with His return are the spiritual battles where Satan and his minions ramp up their evil work. They will come like waves on the beach, one after another. It is the Church’s job to stand in the gap, praying our nation through these dangerous scenarios until the Lord returns.
So, with these being the End Times, how does the Lord’s Second Coming factor in?
2Thess 2:1-6 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.
The End Times is the time preceding the Lord’s return. The Lord’s return has been described as both terrible and glorious. Depends on which side of the equation we’re on. For those who don’t know the Lord it will be terrible. For those who know Him, glorious.
Paul said this man of lawlessness, an undefined embodiment of evil, is being restrained until the end and will be revealed at that time. Many believe what restrains him is the church. That as long as the church remains on the earth there is a spiritual force holding back this evil one who is coming (and in my opinion is already here, just not revealed yet).
John joins the discussion: 1John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.
The last hour started at the beginning of the church. Since then there have been and always will be those who manifest the spirit of the antichrist against the church. Any attempt to remove God from life and reject Jesus is antichrist. Even the religiously liberal attempts to downplay the necessity of the Lord fit into this category. 1John 2:22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
But Paul’s next statement makes us believe there is also someone or something that stands in the way.
2Thess 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.
The He who now restrains could be the Holy Spirit and the he who is taken out of the way could be the church or perhaps a person or an angel that is standing in the way of Satan’s ultimate attack. But when whatever or whoever is removed, all of Hell will then break loose.
Daniel pulled back the curtain to show us what goes on in that spiritual realm. Dan 10:12-13 Then [Gabriel] said to me, "Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.
There is a realm of activity we cannot see affecting things we can see. But God has a network of forces to resist the power of evil. Whatever that force is, it is resisting the man of lawlessness and standing in Satan’s way. When God takes away what holds him back, the evil one will be revealed. Why is He holding it back? Though we’re in the End Times, it isn’t time for the end yet.
Paul said “Remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now.”
I wish he would have told them again so we’d have that information. It would be helpful to better be aware. But, again, this will remain one of those mysteries God knows we can’t handle. That’s why the Revelation is such a difficult book to understand. God has kept certain specifics guarded. Why? Because it changes our focus from the goodness of God to His wrath. Our hope isn’t built on God’s wrath but His goodness.
- Things are never as bad as they can get.
- We cannot judge the goodness of God by what we see.
- We count on the goodness of God in spite of what we see.
- Never judge the moment by taking one slice of time; keep it all in context.
- Trust in the God who works His plans from eternity to take care of today.