Young people, ministers, and friends: It is a pleasure to address you this afternoon. It is a special pleasure to speak to you about the coming of our Lord. We turn today to the period of time that precedes Christ’s coming and that prepares us for it. We look to the signs which speak to the church that Christ comes quickly!
This morning it was a distinct privilege to take part in the discussions about the Kingdom of heaven. I found it a pleasure. The leaders found a sincere desire to study these matters, a sincere interest displayed by you, our covenant young people, in the heavenly things. A hope was revealed in these discussion groups — a hope that Christ comes quickly. You look for that new age of glory for which every child of God looks. Now as you look with the hope of the child of God to the day of Christ’s bodily return; you must do so with preparation. It is imperative that not only do we desire that day, but that also we prepare for it. I think it is probably in light of this fact that your committee has chosen for its theme of this speech: “The Churches Outlook on the Earthly Future.” Our hope is for the kingdom of heaven — When does it come? What must precede it? As we look forward to the coming of Christ we must necessarily face all that stands between us and His coming. What must we yet face? What takes place? Let us consider these questions under our theme as it is divided in the following 3-fold way:
- The Main Signs We See
- What Is Yet to be Faced.
- Facing It in Confidence
As we turn to our topic, we immediately are struck with the fact that there is a vast amount of material we could consider. It is my intention to emphasize the main line of the things we shall see before Christ comes in glory, and in this way, limit this speech. It would help in considering this material, if you were to open your Bibles to the book of Revelation.
Which are the main signs that precede the coming of our Lord? The main signs which the Lord gives to us? In the first place, let us consider the sign of the preaching of the gospel to all nations. This is the first sign or major earthly event, that telegraphs the swiftly approaching Christ, that I would point out. We are told in Scripture that the preaching of the gospel to all nations must precede the coming of anti-Christ. This was seen in Matthew 24 which was read to us, and also this is the teaching of the book of Revelation. Let us turn our attention to this book. In particular we shall consider the seals and more specifically the running of the white horse. I read from Revelation 6:1-2: “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him; and he went forth conquering and to conquer.” Of course we haven’t time in this speech to enter into all the details of these seals. So that, at this time I would like to remark that one is hard put to find better material on Eschatology than in H. Hoeksema’s book: “Behold He Cometh.” Study this book! You can understand it, for it is written in a form to enable you to understand. In this volume is excellent exposition of the Scriptural symbols of the book of Revelation. For many of the details of the various prophecies we consider today, I refer you to this book.
However, I will point out the more significant parts of the proper interpretation of the particular signs I choose to treat. First, then, the horses of the seals are representative of war and battle. We often read in Scripture of the strong horses of battle. These horses are depicted as having a rider. This rider as a symbol indicates direction and control. To this direction and control our speaker last night referred, He emphasized that Jesus is coming quickly and that the pace of coming steadily increases as we approach closer to the end. And when that time comes, all things will be fulfilled! And, beloved young people, it is Christ that fills them! He directs the horsemen of Revelation. He is coming today and He is fulfilling all things today!
Christ directs the white horse. This white horse is a stallion of victory. The symbolism plainly indicates this. The color white is the color of victory, the rider carries the bow of battle, but at the same time wears the garland of victory. The picture is that of a warrior going forth conquering and to conquer. A picture of a battle that is assured of victory. Now if you have read the book before mentioned, or if you have heard your minister speak about this horseman, you have heard that the complete picture of this white horseman pictures to us the triumphal progress of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of earth in this dispensation. And it represents the ingathering of the people of God throughout this whole dispensation, until the last child of God is safely called in. It is a triumphal progress of the kingdom of God that is brought to pass by the preaching of the Word under the operation of the Spirit of Christ. By this means God gathers His Church and leads her forward until the day when His Kingdom is complete. This preaching of the gospel to all nations must be complete before anti-Christ comes, and therefore before Christ comes bodily upon the clouds of glory. Thus, we read in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Mark 14:10 states the same truth — the gospel must first be published to all nations.
When we consider these signs I want to emphasize that by studying the events about us we may see the nearness of the coming of Christ! We may see that we are actually in the last minutes of God’s time clock. Christ is coming swiftly! Beloved young people, as you hope for that day, be aware that this day is soon upon us. We read that the preaching of the gospel must be before all nations. By the running of the white horseman, with its preaching to all nations the people of God will be gathered in; the battle will be won against the wicked one, the Kingdom will be completely realized. It is a sign! And my listeners, for all intents and purposes the preaching has spread to all nations: the white horseman has run his course. This is true at least according to its scope. The gospel in essence has been published to all nations in the world. The final work is not quite completed, the final ingathering remains. But even this final work is now being accomplished. Just think of this! And then shall the end come, says Christ! And as the seals belong together and to a certain extent are simultaneous in their revelation we must conclude that Christ’s return is very near.
In continuing to discuss the major signs of our Lord’s return let us turn our attention to another major sign—the sign of the great apostacy. Again I will state that I will bring a limited number of the signs in this speech. I will treat the ones that in my opinion are the major ones we must see for the purpose of this topic. In this light let us turn our attention to the great apostacy. We find this sign another significant marker of our day. In Matthew 24:11-12 we also find this sign as very closely related to Christ’s return, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” This is a definite sign. It is true that throughout the new dispensation there has been apostacy in the Church. And this has been manifest from time to time in greater degree. In the last minutes of God’s timepiece apostacy shall become the general rule. And a reason for this is the “iniquity’ shall abound.” Again there has always been a good deal of iniquity in the world since the fall of Adam. But the point is that open sin and iniquity shall abound, it shall be the characteristic of those latter days.
One look around you emphasizes that our world today must be characterized with the terms unrestrained sin and iniquity abounding. It is not necessary to illustrate this with many examples, I believe. You can see this easily enough for yourselves. Perhaps a look at the Democratic Convention just completed will serve our purpose here. A world characterized by iniquity and open wickedness was clearly displayed. I refer to the fact that on the floor of a major political convention we were able to see planks offered and debated on issues of: abortion with no restraint, supporting homosexuality, or to watch or hear the news that there were people on the streets before the hall smoking or taking drugs of several types freely and openly without reprisal. This world does not want God, it does not care for His law. This sin and wickedness performed in, and accepted by the world has led the so-called church to flee front God’s Word. And this leads to the great apostacy, beloved. The true preaching of the Word as you hear it, and as you see it applied by your ministers and elders and parents condemns sin. You know that! But those that would live in sin and iniquity cannot stand this preaching! So that the result is that God’s Word must be cast away. It must be diluted, gotten rid of. And in its place must be put man’s philosophy, man’s morality.
There is a publication, a Christian paper, that calls the Good News for Modem Man the devil’s masterpiece. This evaluation is very near to the truth. When man cannot stand God’s Word or hold to it, he must change it or paraphrase it. In this way he takes the power out of it. These paraphrases of today do just that. Do not put them in the place of God’s Word. This same principle lies behind the movement in the church world that involves extensive liturgy, emotionalism, tongue speaking or the relating of conversion experiences from the pulpit. They place all of this in the place of the preaching of God’s Word.
Yea, the church world apostacy is on the increase in our day. And this apostacy proceeds the immediate coming of Christ. The church gets smaller, the love of many waxes cold. Again I say apostacy has always been in the church, hut never as in our day. And today’s apostacy is distinct from any that preceded it. Today there is not the possibility that there shall be a new awakening. This is the distinguishing factor. In the time of the Reformation there was apostacy, but then a renewal, a turning back to God’s Word, followed even by an advance of the gospel into more of the world. But now the Word has spread throughout the World. And there is no new place for the Word to go, and apostacy now becomes absolute. Christ is coming! And I urge you young people to see the removal of the emphasis on the preaching as apostacy. Notice this! Sometimes you may think it would be nice to have shorter sermons on the Sabbath Day or much more liturgies in our services. The point, however, is that we must not remove nor subtract from the preaching of God’s Word. Rather love the Word and see apostacy as wicked, but also as a sign of Christ’s return. A sign we see today!
However, the committee requested that this speech should cover more than that which is clearly revealed now. We are to look even more to the future. Doing this I would like to call attention to the book of Revelation again. This time we will turn to the revelation of the trumpets. Make yourselves familiar with this Book, with the seals, the trumpets and with the vials that bring the end of time. Let us now direct our attention to the trumpets. You may ask what happened to the rest of the seals? I would point out that it is my belief that throughout the whole new dispensation these seals have been on the foreground. But now they are being replaced by the trumpets. By this I mean that the trumpets more and more become the prevailing characteristic of the world today. The emphasis begins to fall upon the revelation in time of the trumpets. As the day of Christ ever draws nearer the trumpets are on the foreground, And as it is my belief that the while horseman’s course draws near to its close, and because the seals are to a great extent simultaneously revealed, the seals, I believe, now give way to the seventh seal — the revelation of the trumpets.
So let us draw our attention to the seventh seal and the revelation of the trumpets. You may ask what is the relationship between the seals and the trumpets? I will say to you again, it is wise to study the book, Behold He Cometh, for a more extensive study of this relationship. For now we must limit our study. The seals are the white horseman, the red horseman of war, the black horseman of conflict between economic and social classes, and the green horse of death, the prayer of the saints for Christ’s quick return, and the shaking up of the physical universe. The trumpets also refer to many of these same types of acts only in a more intensified form. The seals concerned one-fourth of men. The result of their opening was that a fourth of man was affected and died, etc. It is our belief that this represents the normal rate of death and trouble in the New Dispensation. However, the revelation of the trumpets show an increased intensification of the judgments of God upon man. And this is represented by the new fraction 1/3. As the new dispensation draws nearer to the close more intensified judgment characterizes the world. I believe we move into this time period now! Therefore, I wish to look forward with you to that which shall become more fully revealed.
We read of the trumpets in Revelation 8. They are divided into two main groups. The first four concern the physical universe. The first trumpet consists of hail and fire mingled with blood cast upon earth destroying 1/3 part of the trees and grass. The second is the great burning mass as a mountain cast into the sea, turning 1/3 of the sea into blood with 1/3 of the creatures and ships destroyed. The third trumpet — a great star called worm wood falls from heaven poisoning 1/3 of the inland waters and rivers which affects man of which many die. The fourth trumpet affects the heavenly luminaries 1/3 of which are darkened.
What do these signify? In each case we see the fraction one third. The seals were accompanied by the fraction one fourth. We find an increase in death and destruction as the trumpets are revealed. Understand the fraction only increases a small amount. However, it is enough increase to make man worry, to cause alarm in the world. And it adds enough alarm in the world to enhance universal peace and unity. Secondly, notice what is affected by these judgments: the land, the sea, the inland waters and rivers, and the air. Upon each man is dependent for food, water and life! The plagues are such that the waters are poisoned, the sky darkened and the land affected so the death is the result. These trumpets of the book of Revelation, beloved, immediately precede the outpouring of the vials of absolute destruction. So close does Christ come!
For I believe, beloved young people, we see the era today that is characterized by this increased measure under the trumpets. I call these first four trumpets, the trumpets of ecology. I do not say that the only way we will see these trumpets revealed is in the form of the ecological crisis of today, yet I do maintain that in the ecological crisis we see the trumpets characterize the age of the world today. We have the beginning of this era now! The third part of the water, land, and air is affected and there is an increase in death. Do we not see what is here symbolized, today’? Can we not see this increase of judgment? Is not this world in a state of alarm because of all the pollution? The air is so polluted that we cannot even see clearly. Especially are the delegates of Redlands, Chicago, and other areas near large cities able to attest to this fact. But also this is true elsewhere. I drove to a small city of about 90,000 population and could clearly see the haze of pollution hanging over it. And pilots tell us that this haze extends for miles and miles from the cities, to such an extent that the air is polluted to a great degree over all the lands of this world. In the ocean trash extends from shore to shore and more and more the sea is dying. The insecticides, fertilizers, and waste continue to take an ever increasing toll on the inland waters and land. And man is afraid, he is scared! They say we must do something or we shall pollute ourselves to death. Hence, the world cries for peace and unity to stave off this cursed plague.
The fifth and sixth trumpets also are closely connected with this same theme. They, too, affect one third part of men. The fifth trumpet is the loosing of the locusts out of the bottomless pit, and from their description it is evident they represent a special number of evil spirits that ply upon the hearts of the wicked, reprobate man. They are given the power to disrupt and torment wicked men for a particular period of time. The sixth trumpet is composed of four angels based in the river Euphrates which are released with monsters of destruction, which kill a third part of man universally. Here, I believe, is found an intensification of what we saw represented by the plagues of the horsemen. In this instance one third of men dies.
As we look ahead to what we must yet face we shall take a closer look at these trumpets. As the fifth and sixth trumpet are fulfilled we are told of an ever increasing wanton sinfulness which characterizes the world. Under the description of the effect of the fifth trumpet we find that God gives the wicked world over to its own lusts in ever increasing measure. Thus the spirit of this world becomes that of ambitious power grabbing, worldliness, false wisdom, false philosophy unrestrained lusts, anarchy, sensuality, etc. The locusts prey upon the passions of man. And so great is the effect that man in his sin wants to die, but cannot! Can we see anything of this trumpet? A trumpet that stands extremely dose to the end of time and the opening of the fatal vials. I believe we can. To a great degree we see man tormented by sinfulness to the point he would like to die, but often does not. Take for example the man on dope who fills his veins with that vile stuff. He becomes so held by the habit that he goes out and steals and even kills. He can’t stand himself, yet he must have the dope. He would like to die when he conies off a trip, yet he doesn’t have the courage to die. We can see the same thing with the gutter drunk. And is not this a character of our world. The world flocks to the psychiatrist and psychologist for this very reason. Man doesn’t know what to do! The world can’t stand to live with itself. This is a result of the unrestrained sin which surrounds us today.
We find this same idea in connection with the sixth trumpet. The world under the influence of the sixth trumpet is characterized in the following way. The people were adulterers, murderers, sorcerers, fornicators, and thieves. And so great is their sin that even after the increase of death from one- fourth to one-third they still will not repent. In Matthew 24 we read that before the end the days will become as the days of Noah. Is this not that which we already begin to witness in our day? There is no thought given to murder through abortion, a world serving false prophets, christs, and gods. And it is for this cause that the preaching is corrupted. Remember when a minister says from the pulpit that one must do something in order to be saved, he preaches a false christ! However, remember young people, we do not see the final revelation of these trumpets, but rather the beginning of their revelation as the characterization of the final age. Christ is filling up the measure of iniquity, now! And He does so in ever increasing measure.
All of these things and all the other signs I have not touched upon today lead to anti-Christ. When we face the age of anti-Christ, what must we be prepared for? You realize that if I were to extensively go into what Scripture says of anti-Christ we would be here another hour. So briefly, I will point out some very specific ideas that we obtain from Scripture concerning anti-Christ. Anti-Christ is he that opposes Christ. He tries to take the place of Christ. In Revelation 13 and 17 we find the main revelation of anti-Christ. Read these chapters, as well as, Daniel 7, I Thessalonians 2:3-10, II John 2. Anti-Christ is the beast rising out of the sea of nations. His general appearance is pictured as that of the leopard, with the feet of a bear, the mouth of a lion with seven heads and ten horns. The over-all picture is that of a great political power who has control over all nations. A power which shall unite all together under one government and head. He will be one whom the world will admire, follow, and under whom they will unite. Why? You know that our world is presently filled with the sign of peace. Beloved, I hope you don’t use this peace symbol. It is a peace of a wicked world which is represented. It is the peace of anti-Christ. Why or how can the world attain peace coming under one power? After all, we see war, strife and strikes! Nevertheless, we see this uniting process taking place already! Rev. Kuiper mentioned we already can see the beginning of the development of anti-Christ. We certainly do! Why? Because of all the signs we see about us. The world hates the true gospel — this unites. The world looks at pollution and says we must get together or die! The world looks at war and says we must stop or none shall live. And we could go on. This is happening today, young people. The world strives to get together. So that presidents journey to one another’s lands, scientists combine their efforts and trade begins to flow between all nations. The world powers know they must get together or perish. And soon it shall be accomplished!
The spiritual head of anti-Christ is the second beast of the book of Revelation. He arises out of the earth with horns of a lamb, but speaks like a dragon, He forms a unity with the first beast. The purpose of the second beast is to maintain the world’s obedience unto the power of the first beast. He attempts to convince all to believe in the political head. And this second beast commands a tremendous power to convince all to seek anti-Christ. It is the power of false prophets, philosophers, scientists, doctors and preachers. He has the power to make miracles. Miracles which will deceive man through science, medicine, etc. This beast has the most learned, proficient philosophers and orators. It is a power according to the book of Revelation which causes man to worship anti-Christ and to receive the mark of the beast — the number 666. He works hand in hand with the first beast and has an almost unbelievable power.
This power with its many means will attempt to tear apart the church, you and me. It will try to lead you away from the walk of faith. Comprehend this power, beloved young people, that you may oppose it and stand against it in all of your life. To do so means we must stand absolutely antithetically! Do this or come under the influence of anti-Christ. The best the world offers is in anti-Christ’s service. Take heed of the power of anti-Christ from another point of view. We read that he has the power to create an image that can keep track of every man; an image that can tell the beast who has worshipped anti-Christ and who has not. He will make an image which will cause us to worship and serve anti-Christ or die! Beloved that power is already in the hands of man! It is in the world. Right now the computers of man to a large extent keep track of every one of you. Most of you know that we had twins born to us about two years ago. In less than a month after their birth we received a catalog from a company in Milwaukee, Wisc, with a letter attached. (We lived in Isabel, So. Dakota at the time.) The letter congratulated us on the birth of twins and urged us to order our baby needs from them. In less than one month this took place! Now surely if a private company can keep such good track of its customers, the government can watch us continually to see how we worship, etc. It is possible today; that is how near the time is!
This means, beloved young people, in a very real sense we face the great affliction of which we read in Matthew 24. I don’t think we can fully understand this great affliction. For we read that an affliction such as this has never been seen before in the history of man. And when we think of the martyrs that have died on the burning post, or think upon other great persecutions against Christians standing in faith, and then read that this persecution shall be greater than all, we begin to see its severity. When we look to the day of anti-Christ we see a day that will be terrible from the view point of the flesh and earthly misery and death. Don’t ever believe that day does not come. It comes! And we must face it! Maybe ourselves or maybe our children will live in this time. In that day will you be able to stand in faith? We read in Matthew 24:15-22 the following: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child and give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Yea, this day comes and we must face its reality. We must be prepared for these things. Rev. Decker will speak about this tomorrow for us. Do not be mislead by pre-millennial ideas that Christ will come and take His Church away from earth before the final affliction; nor the post-millennial idea that this world progresses until heaven is found on earth. Don’t be led astray! Be prepared, be watchful, be prayerful, and be ready to stand in faith even in the face of outright persecution.
Yet do so, beloved young people with confidence. God’s children do not have to be afraid of those coming days. Oh, as we look forward to the days preceding the coming of Christ it does not appear easy, rather very difficult. Already the antichristian plys of temptation come upon us. And difficult it is to stand faithful. Our parents see this too, and it gives them apprehension when they see their John or Mary go away from home. Already the walk of God’s children becomes more difficult and we may face the great affliction itself. But do not fear! Of course if you were to set your hopes and goals of life in this present sphere, then one would have to be afraid. For standing for the cause of Christ, we stand to lose all. But beloved I believe you are God’s children and hence have nothing to fear. You may face the future with optimism, because our Lord testifies in His Word that those tried shall receive all they stand in need of. And at no time in the history of this world shall God’s children live closer to their God, than under the great affliction. They that live then shall receive the richest measure of grace. Our fellowship with God then will be the most intimate possible on earth. Hence, we can look forward to that day! The more we shall be placed under the rule of antichrist, the more we will grow in faith! By grace, beloved, face those days knowledgably, with an awareness that they bring Christ. Face them with confidence knowing they proclaim Jesus is very swiftly coming!