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10  If We Let HIM Down

"How can the spirit of the earth like the White man? ...
Everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore."
- a Wintu (Native American woman)

Sue Greig, Graham Pike and David Selby, Earthrights (1)


A polluted Earth, and empty houses of worship, are both part of the same pattern - a world that has, in large measure, turned its back on the Lord God. What happens if we continue on down this road is, to this writer, almost unthinkable.

Because throughout the Bible, when people rebelled against God, they were corrected. What is different about today? Only that the rebellion is widespread, affecting much of the world, instead of just an isolated nation. Does this mean the problem is too large for our God? Not very likely! So if we do not change course, we can expect trouble.

Where is the trouble going to come from? Is God going to curse us with any of the multitude of things that should not be in today's world? The obvious threat is that of nuclear annihilation. People tend to think about this threat in terms of it being a Curse from God. Are they right?

In chapter 8 the view was expressed that the Great Tribulation is not to be feared, being largely over and done with. And anyway God is not out to destroy the world! We see this most clearly through the Gospels. There, the Life of Jesus is shown to us in all its Goodness. And we see that even under heavy temptation God does not take those destructive steps that we might fall into taking.

For example, when hanging on the Cross, Jesus would have had every right to feel angry. After all, He had done nothing to His accusers that in any way justified the death penalty. When we are unfairly treated, we feel anger as a normal human reaction, don't we? Except that the Man we are considering here was the Anointed One. Whatever anger He felt, He was able to keep it inside. Remember, He could have zapped His persecutors with a curse - as had been demonstrated just a few days before. (Please see Mark 11:12-14 and 20-21, where we read about the unhappy lot of the fig tree that had no fruit.)

Instead, Jesus put aside the burning pain of the nails and offered a Prayer of Forgiveness - that the breach between failing humans and God would be healed.

^   The Flood

The Old Testament sometimes gives an impression which is quite unlike the Gospels. So let's look at the Biblical Flood to see if this conveys the same idea of God's Nature as the Gospel does. (The Flood was a real event, not a myth. Modern-day sightings of the Ark high up on Mount Ararat in Turkey should be enough to convince us of this[2].) Shining through the Story of the Flood is God's Generosity once again. You don't agree? Then please consider the following five points:
1.  The Situation: Morally, things had reached a pretty sorry state. Violent crime was widespread (somewhat like today). The normal boundaries of decent behavior were being completely ignored.

2.  God's Patience: Instead of being provoked into a hasty reaction, our Lord gave us 120 years to repent (Genesis 6:3).

3.  Things Went from Bad to Worse:
When the Lord God saw the extent of human wickedness, and that the trend and direction of men's lives were only towards evil, he was sorry he had made them. It broke his heart.
Genesis 6:5-6 (TLB)
4.  A Measured Response: Eventually God judged the time was right to correct the situation. Despite our stubborn refusal to change our sinful ways, God continued to be Lenient. Accordingly (in the writer's opinion) the Flood was limited to a region - it was not a global Flood.

Admittedly, this claim is a controversial one, because it seems to contradict the Bible. For example, this verse appears to leave little room for a regional Flood:

The LORD wiped out every living thing on earth: man and cattle, the creeping things and the birds of the air; all were wiped out from the earth.
Genesis 7:23 (NAB)

But in what sense is the word "earth" used here? For this word can refer either to the whole world, or as you have probably noticed, in the Bible "earth" can also mean that part of the Earth which the people of those days knew about. As an example, Nebuchadnezzar wrote an open letter, which begins:

NEBUCHADNEZZAR the king, to all people, nations, and languages that dwell on all the earth ...
Daniel 4:1 (Amp.)

Do we expect this letter to have been seen in Australia? No, "all the earth" here plainly means a region, doesn't it?

^  A related confirmation of this reading of the Bible comes about as a result of our growth in knowledge since the time of Genesis. As the people of that time believed that the Earth was flat, they would have viewed the following statement quite differently to us:

And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air ...
Genesis 6:7 (KJV)

On a flat Earth, the "face" of it would be the whole of it. But once it was discovered that the Earth was a globe, we could then picture our planet as a "head," and the "face" of this head just a part of it. This then harmonizes with the following words of Balak, king of Moab, when he became afraid at the sheer number of the Israelites:

... Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt:
behold, they cover the face of the earth ...
Numbers 22:5 (KJV)

According to Balak, this "pre-nation" of about 2 million people is enough to cover the "face of the earth"! Clearly, exaggeration is at work here, but it does make the point that a reference to Earth's face can mean a lot less than the whole globe!

More importantly, we have the evidence of today. We can see the rich and wonderful variety of races which God has developed upon the Earth. Different skin colors, different bone structures, blood group distributions, and strengths. Does it seem likely to you that only 5-6,000 years ago, the human stock should be down to one family of eight people only? And that from this one Middle Eastern family should be descended every Zulu, Indian, European, Chinese and every other ethnic strand? Is it not incredible that all this would happen in such a short time?

^  5.  God's Protection: The evidence strongly suggests then, that the Flood was partial and not worldwide. But the Promise of Protection that God gave after the Flood - was it limited to just a part of the Earth?

Then God told Noah and his sons, "I solemnly promise you and your children and the animals you brought with you—all these birds and cattle and wild animals—that I will never again send another flood to destroy the earth."
Genesis 9:8-11 (TLB)

Now we can see that a promise just to protect one region from flood is not worth a lot, while floods are allowed to continue to devastate other regions. So God must have been giving a Guarantee to the whole Earth. Furthermore, the Lord God had said to Himself (Genesis 8:21-22 [TLB]) that He would not curse the "earth" - bringing about her destruction (by flood or any other means).

This is all the Assurance we need that God will not pronounce any curse against Earth or her inhabitants.

Our Own Destructive Potential

We have reminded ourselves that God's Very Nature is against wasting Life. But are there other ways in which Earth could be doomed? Today there certainly are. We could make a pretty good job of wreaking havoc on the Earth ourselves, simply by pressing the nuclear Button. Does the above Divine Guarantee cover this risk?

No. There's nothing in the verses above concerning the human potential for self-destruction. If we let God down badly enough, and keep on doing so, isn't it right that we should take the consequences? Or put it another way: should our God employ endless measures to shield us from our own folly? (While we continue by and large to be unthankful?)

So if we don't respond in love to God's Invitation to share in the Life that Jesus offers, ought we to be surprised if that Divine Shield of Protection goes? And if that happens, how long before we unleash our terrible weapons upon ourselves? Not long, this writer suggests.

Wouldn't the cynics be proved right in that case, because they say, "He said he would come back ('soon'), but he hasn't and he won't"?

But what the cynics are doing here surely, is using an old device called: shifting the blame. They're saying, "God let us down," when actually we humans let God down. And besides, if the worst happened, and WWIII were the outcome, God would still be fulfilling the Promises made in the Bible.

You see, in the Scriptures God has actually allowed for both scenarios: one in which humans are responsive and accept the Help that is being offered, and the other in which we keep on obstinately sinning. In the first case Jesus comes earlier, in the second, very regrettably, He comes later.

The writer thinks you will probably want to examine this reading of the Word of God very carefully. What is being suggested here is that God is placing a crucial choice before us. Depending on the decision we make, Jesus can come in the next few years, or 1,000 years from now and keep faithfully to Bible Prophecy as He does so.

To explain, you may recall that in chapter 7 we looked at the mystery about how many days elapsed between the Cross and Jesus' Rising. We said that although this period was two days, as foretold in the Bible, there were other prophecies which required a three day period:

"Jonah was in the sea-monster's belly for three days and three nights, and in the same way the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the bowels of the earth."
Matthew 12:40 (NEB)
^  In chapter 7 we could be joyful over the two days, realizing that Jesus should come back very soon. This hopefulness follows from the timescale: one "God-Day" is equal to 1,000 years (Psalms 90:4). However in this chapter we have to face up to a grim reality. If the full period of waiting for Jesus' Rising was set at three days, then the full period of waiting for His Return is three "Days" or 3,000 years.

A Deserving Son of God was blessed by having a day deducted from His waiting period. Does this mean that the not-so-righteous sons of men and women will be given the same Divine Favor?

The choice is ours: Wise up and turn to the right way of living - the Way of God - and humankind will be saved from the folly of nuclear weapons, etc. Or, remain unbending toward the One Who wants to save us, and we'll suddenly find that our sins have caught up with us: we've given ourselves 1,000 years of hell on Earth!

"COME, LET US return to the Lord ....
In just a couple of days, or three at the most,
he will set us on our feet again, to live in his kindness!"
Hosea 6:1-2 (TLB)

Are there any other references in Scripture to this time of decision? In the above quote the Word of God is giving us a Divine Hint, this writer suggests.

Here is a second example:

And he made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim ... And it was a hand-breadth thick; and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, like the flower of a lily; it held two thousand baths.
I Kings 7:23-26 (JPS)
This is a description of the huge vessel made by Hiram, at the direction of Solomon the king, to stand in the Temple. There is a parallel passage in II Chronicles, which reads as follows:
Also he made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim ... And it was a hand-breadth thick; and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, like the flower of a lily: it received and held three thousand baths.
II Chronicles 4:2-5 (JPS)
Same vessel - its description being duplicated almost word for word, but with a big difference. Its capacity is either 2,000 baths or 3,000! In recording these details, apparently somebody got it badly wrong.

What lessons can we glean from this? If God is hinting to us, what do we receive? That we have a capacity for error, certainly. That when we err, depending on the seriousness of it, we may have to "take a real bath" to overcome the problem we have created?

^  One little example: This week (written in 1993) the writer made a mistake at work, deleting from the computer's hard disk technical data that had taken some 3 hours to key in. Took only 5 seconds to get rid of the work! But 2 hours to reproduce it, restoring it to the same state it had been in the previous day. No one said, "You don't have to do that, Patrick," and there was no miracle cure. Just 2 hours of feeling foolish and duplicating previous efforts!

It's the same thing in the above texts - duplication; and with the duplication, an extra 1,000 baths are added. In the same way, taking the period that has elapsed since the Crucifixion - almost 2,000 years - another 1,000 years could be added. With the consequence that we could wait until the year 3033 before our Lord returns. Must we have those extra 1,000 years? No, it's a duplication of the waiting time already spent. But if we are found to need those additional years, that too will be because of our tendency to go for duplication.

What kind of duplication? Well, duplication like, getting involved with both God and Mammon. Can we really do this? (In fact, didn't Jesus say we can't worship both?) Duplication like, do we have to have the Real Security that God gives, and the "security" that the nuclear deterrent provides? We don't. And again, can we have both?

About now we start to think, this can't be true. Things are bad enough already. Surely God's not going to let it get any worse? God knows we're weak. Isn't it God's job to stop us from going too badly wrong?

Besides, we think, "We aren't so bad. There have always been wars. There's always been immorality. Look at the Romans, or look at the Middle Ages - life was really cheap then."

But Scripture said people would use that argument now, to try and get out of doing the right thing. (Please see II Peter 3:3-7.)

The truth is, we have sinned, and to a disgusting extent. And we deserve and need correction. Jesus is not a woolly-minded "pushover," or a super-sentimental, heavenly "soft touch"! He won't continue to bail us out regardless of what we do. In the same Gospel passage in which He indicates His Willingness to prevent the nuclear holocaust, He also points out that it is up to us to elect Him; that is our responsibility, and ours alone. The Gospel verse again:

... except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
Matthew 24:22 (KJV)
It's a Beautiful Promise, isn't it? But it's also conditional - no elect, no shortening. How many elect does it take for the world to be spared from WWIII? Ah. How many indeed? But if we all accept God's Plan of Salvation (and we do all have a built-in potential to receive the Spirit of Jesus), then we don't have anything to worry about, do we?

^  Drawing 10-1. God Dealing with the Nuclear Mess.

God rescuing us from the nuclear threat
When God Deals With

The Nuclear Threat

Is This How It Will Be?

However, if we are stubborn, and fall short of electing Him (with a "sufficient majority"), Scripture confirms that we will have chosen the path of Trouble. Just seven verses on from the above comforting Words we have the verse (quoted from previously):

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken ...
Matthew 24:29 (KJV)
It sounds like WWIII to this writer. The sure sign being the Hint that God will suffer ("the powers of the heavens shall be shaken"). For if the Goodness of God is anything like what we imagine, do you think God's going to shrink from doing the right thing just because it will hurt? Did Jesus?

There is a further Word of Warning in Scripture - one that we do well to take to heart at this time. Because what's missing today is reinforcement from others. You don't find people at your place of work saying this sort of thing: "If we don't get serious about God, we could be letting ourselves in for 1,000 years of hell!" It just doesn't happen! And yet we rely, perhaps more than we realize, on the feedback we get from other people to check out our ideas.

And that's precisely what we're being warned about. Most people are not expecting anything so drastic to happen to them, but these are the exact conditions God foresaw as applying if and when nuclear war should strike us!

... the Day of the Lord will come as a thief comes at night.
When people say, "Everything is quiet and safe,"
then suddenly destruction will hit them!
They will not escape—it will be like the pains
that come upon a woman who is about to give birth.
I Thessalonians 5:2-3 (TEV)
(One of the effects of radiation - as suffered by the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - is severe gastro-intestinal cramps. Scripture aptly compares these with labor pains.)

This sudden onset of disaster contrasts with the long period during which Satan has stealthily worked for Earth's destruction. We have already seen (in chapter 7) that the Enemy would be bound up for 1,000 years after Jesus' Crucifixion at Jerusalem, and that there must be a sequel to this. So for "a short time," Satan would have to be unbound. We saw that this period was actually another 1,000 years; namely, 1033-2033 CE (Revelation 20:2-3).

Satan's purpose, recounted in the following verses, is to deceive the nations, create more and more aggressive potential, and finally - groom the nuclear powers for WWIII!

And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his place of confinement, And he will go forth to deceive and seduce and lead astray the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to muster them for war;* their number is as the sand of the sea.
Revelation 20:7-8 (Amp.)

(* NAS - "for the war")

^  This is unpopular stuff. No sane person likes to think in terms of WWIII and its devastation. We feel we have enough problems with terrorism, crime, drugs, other problems of society. We don't even want to imagine the ultimate war that humans have the capability of bringing upon themselves. We like to consider that we're doing all we can to help bridge the divisions in our world. We strive, most of us, to be peacemakers. And we should - such loving actions are of God. But if we fail, and fall back into enmity and distrust, and ungodliness ....

The Bible says Satan has been working on this for a millennium. He's not going to be easily cheated of his goal. If he could yet back the USA and the former USSR into separate corners (see "four quarters," above), then he would have it made. He'll settle for nothing short of total destruction: Notice in the text above that it's "war," singular. In other words, WWI and WWII have not satisfied his bloodlust.

Once again, Jesus will not bring WWIII upon us; instead He will suffer with us, if a nuclear Holocaust is what we have to undergo. Thousands of years ago the prophet Elijah witnessed a frightening scene:

"Go out and stand before me on the mountain," the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain; it was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
I Kings 19:11-12 (TLB)
Wind, "earthquake," fire - the same elements make up a nuclear blast. Notice that although the Lord was there, He was not the one doing the damage. The Lord was supporting Elijah, and after it was all over, He was the One in the "gentle whisper."

Three times the statement is made: "the Lord was not in" it. Our Lord is the Prince of Peace.

However, let us look again carefully at how this Prince was treated.

People say, "It must be your day!" when something good happens to us. When you get a special blessing then, it's "your day." Again, each week "the Lord's day" is a day on which God can enjoy the fact that there are those who worship the Lord.

Yet God's Vision is so Clear that when Jesus had a terrible day it was called "the Day of the Lord"! Why? Because our Father knew that it was His Son's Endurance of the horrible day which would enable good days to follow.

The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.
Joel 2:31 (Amp.)
St. Peter apparently believed that there had been a fulfillment of this Prophecy, because he quotes from the Joel verses, in Acts 2:16-20. The Crucifixion Day did bring darkness from midday until 3pm, but what about the blood-red moon? We are indebted to two astronomers - C.J. Humphreys and W.G. Waddington - who have pointed out that a red-looking moon is a feature of a lunar eclipse. They calculated that such an eclipse would indeed have taken place on Friday, April 3, 33 CE(3). (By this means they lead us to the exact date of the Crucifixion. Please see Appendix E for more detail of their findings, and compare with chapter 5 - Great Pyramid portion.)

^  Satan would very much like to bring about another "great and terrible day" - the day when the nuclear stockpile is let loose. Such a day would fulfill these words from earlier in the Joel Prophecy:

And I will show signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.
Joel 2:30 (Amp.)
It's up to us to foil Satan's plan, by our love. If we trust God enough we can live as positively as these inspired words state that we can:
While you wait and earnestly long for — expecting and hastening — the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire.
II Peter 3:12 (Amp.)

Summary

The next "Day of the Lord" can be vile or wonderful. Collectively, the choice is ours. We can be sure of God's Reliability; what about our own? A reminder (from earlier verses in the above chapter) that God won't be the one to let us down:
But there is one thing, my friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord, "a day" can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not being slow to carry out his promises, as anybody else might be called slow; but he is being patient with you all, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change his ways.
II Peter 3:8-9 (Jer.)

Repentance then, is the key. If we can approach God with humble hearts, asking for Jesus' Saving Grace, the "Day of the Lord" will be something to look forward to. There is no need for it to be disaster!


Chapter 10 Notes

^  1. Sue Greig, Graham Pike and David Selby, Earthrights
(London: WWF & Kogan Page, 1987).
^  2. For a book that summarizes the facts about sightings of the Ark see:
Dave Balsiger and Charles E. Sellier, Jr., In search of Noah's Ark
(Los Angeles: Sun Classic Books, 1976)
^  3. Colin J. Humphreys and W.G. Waddington, Dating the Crucifixion
in Nature Vol. 306, 22/29 December, 1983 (London: Macmillan Magazines Ltd.)
pgs. 743-746.

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