The Unique Times We Are Entering
It is an understatement to say we are living in unusual times. Whether they will ever get back to “normal” is a question everyone seems to be asking.
We all have a sense that what we hear on the news is not quite the whole story, but the many “expert” reports about what is really behind all of this often conflict with one another: “It’s only a political ploy; it was all planned by conspirators.” “It’s really all about money.” “It’s a globalist/Marxist takeover!” “It’s just those white supremacists again.” “Justice is finally coming to those who deserve it!” “The remedy they are concocting is actually designed to reduce world population and dumb us down so we’ll go along with whatever we’re told to do.” “It’s a coverup to divert attention from the asteroids that the government knows are about to hit the earth and flood all the coastlines!” “They’re going to send us all to emergency-management camps that will turn into re-educational concentration camps!”
It’s hard to fit the pieces together and therefore even harder to plan. Almost everyone has the sense that it’s only going to get worse.
So what DO we know for sure? What sources CAN we trust?
Well, whatever is actually coming up cannot conflict with what YHWH has so mercifully revealed in advance through His prophets. So start from Scripture. It may seem very strange to those who have not thought of things in those terms before, and I’ve held off on writing about prophecy for a long time because it gets so controversial and at times divisive. But it seems the days are rapidly approaching, and I will limit my interpretations and stick mostly to what the text actually says. We have been warned ahead of time so that we can prepare in some fashion. And we do find many of the elements listed above present in one form or another in the predictions that YHWH gave us. It will not be a walk in the park. Yeshua said a time is coming when there will be more trouble than ever before seen in the history of the world. (Mat. 24:21)
The only precedent is that it would be “as it was in the days of Noah” (Luke 17:26) – which were extremely perilous because of some major factors we are not used to after centuries of mostly-stable geological processes and general safety based on reasonably-stable systems of justice. But our current capacity for genetic mutation, artificial intelligence, and germ cocktails, as well as the recent penchant for mistrust of the preservers of law and order may indeed be setting us up for conditions that more closely approximate the bizarre things that went on then. (Genesis 6; Yasher 4; 1 Hanokh/Enoch 15)
“There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity, the roaring sound and agitated surging of the sea, people fainting from alarm and apprehensive anticipation of the impending [catastrophes] that are coming upon the earth, because the forces of the skies will be disturbed.” (Luke 21:25-26)
It will not be a fun time for anyone, even those who think they have enough power to be immune. As one prophet’s scribe was told before the first destruction of Jerusalem, “This is what YHWH says: ‘As I have built up, I am tearing down, and what I have planted, I am uprooting. Indeed, the earth itself belongs to Me. And you—are you asking for better things for yourself? Don’t ask for them, because indeed I am bringing calamity on all flesh,’ declares YHWH.” (Jeremiah 45:4-5) We should not expect to escape it completely. Yeshua even said, “unless those days were shortened, no mortal being would survive.” (Matithyahu 24:22)
“If the foundations are broken down, what are the righteous to do?” (Psalm 11:3) The answer follows immediately: “YHWH is in a temple of His holiness--YHWH, whose throne is in the heaven. His eyes watch, His eyelids examine the sons of Adam. YHWH does scrutinize the righteous, but the wicked—the one who loves violence—His soul detests. On the wicked He will rain coals of fire and sulfur; a burning wind [is] the share of their cup, because YHWH is righteous. He loves righteousness; the upright [one] experiences His presence.” (11:4-7)
For those “called according to His purposes”, it can all work out for good. (Romans 8:28) The bigger picture the Bible provides can help us get a handle on both how to stay calm in the face of many disasters, what to spend our energies on, and what will be a futile waste of time.
Yeshua told us much more in the above-quoted Matithyahu 24 about how to get on the right side of the coming “wave”, so we can ride it instead of being overwhelmed by it, so let’s look at some of it:
"Make sure no one leads you astray…You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars, but—pay attention—do not be disturbed by this, since all of these things must take place, but it's not the end yet. For nation will be rise against nation…, and there will be famines and plagues and earthquakes in irregular places…” (24:4-7) I.e., there will be factors causing unusual geological effects we don’t usually see.
"Then they will deliver you up to be treated severely, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My sake. At that time many will be tripped up, and will turn each other over to the corrupt authorities, and will hate each other. And many false prophets will be raised up, and will cause many to wander away. And because lawlessness will be multiplied, many people's love will grow cold. But whoever makes it to the goal will be delivered.” (24:9-13)
Most of us have thought of persecution as a thing of the past or something that only takes place in Communist or Muslim countries, and even there it’s getting less and less frequent, isn’t it? But there are red flags everywhere that soon it may be our turn. Others have gone through it, and are now both respected and rewarded. But it doesn’t seem possible to both be martyred and make it all the way to the goal—or is it? More on that later.
"And immediately after the affliction of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, and the stars will fall down, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (24:29)
So yes, there may possibly be some meteors or asteroids hitting the earth (see also Revelation 8:8-11) and possibly disruptions to the magnetic field and even a pole shift, adding to the chaos since even GPS signals would not work—and how many people have become so dependent on those that they can no longer even read a map? But that would be the least of their worries. There will be pandemics that kill millions and other afflictions that will make people want to die, but apparently because of the nature of the poison, they will be unable to. (Revelation 9:3-6) Their source is some beings that had been imprisoned before the Flood of Noah, to be released only this once for a short time. (See 1 Enoch 10-15 for the fuller back story, which is only sketched in broad strokes in Genesis 6.)
These are not things that any human being can control. We certainly can’t escape all of them because circumstances will be very unpredictable. No matter how much preparing you do, you won’t be able to stay in one place, so you will only be able to keep as much as you can carry—maybe with a vehicle, maybe not. So “survival”—self-preservation—may not be within your control, so stockpiling should not be one’s primary focus. It will probably make you even more of a target, anyway.
But does the fact that they are predicted mean we should just let these things happen, not opposing tyranny, injustice, oppression, and lawlessness? No, we should do whatever we can to withstand them and reverse the trends toward things YHWH considers repulsive. But at some point, this is a stage that has to take place before the Kingdom can come, and we do want the Kingdom to come! But we don’t know when it will be, so we should not count on being rescued this time and just stand and watch, but we need so to focus on the most effective and far-reaching solutions, not just reactionary mop-up.
So what should our focus be?
First of all, get your sustenance from the right source.
David said of YHWH, “Your word have I hidden (stored up) in my heart so that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11) It can be stored up for other reasons than just to avoid sinning, though. We also need it for direction, encouragement, strength, and comfort.
That is one thing that will prove immovable in all of these vicissitudes. In his role as prophet, Yeshua speaks for YHWH: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Mat. 24:35)
But what should we do with that stored-up word? Hoard it? Keep it hidden? Yeshua continues his instructions in Matithyahu 24, by way of a parable:
”Be prepared, because you do not know at what hour the Son of Adam will come. Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant whom a master can set over the sons of his household, who will provide food for them in season? That servant whom the master finds doing just that when he arrives home will be promoted.… In fact, he will put him in charge of all of his possessions.” (24:44-47)
Whatever we have has been given to us to sustain other people who will be needing those strengthening words, so teaching them is what we should be doing intensely as those days when there may be a “famine of the words of YHWH” (Amos 8:11) quickly approach.
“But if such a servant wickedly says in his heart, ‘My master is late in coming’, and begins to beat the servants who are with him, and eats and drinks with the drunken, then that servant’s master will come on a day when he is not expecting and at an hour of which he is not aware, and will burst in on him and assign his share with hypocrites.” (24:48-51)
Michael Rood interprets the oil by which the five wise bridesmaids lasted through the night (Matithyahu 25:1-13) as this storing up of His word in our hearts while we still have it to be able to memorize—and thus to carry out.
“If you prepare your hearts, so as to sow in them the fruits of the Torah, it shall protect you in that time in which El Elohim is to shake the whole creation…[then] renew His creation.” (2 Baruch 32:1, 6)
As in the parable, the other five bridesmaids expected the bridegroom to arrive sooner than he actually did, and did not have enough oil to keep their lights burning as long as they needed.
Kefa, one of Yeshua’s inner circle, explained how some will use that delay as an excuse:
“In the latter days, scoffers will come, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is this promised coming of his? Because ever since the patriarchs fell asleep, everything has stayed the same as [it had been] since the beginning of creation!’ Because they are willingly ignorant of this: that…[in parallel with the flood of Noah]… the heavens and earth that now [exist] … are reserved for fire, saved up for a day of judgment and utter destruction of irreverent human beings. Elohim is not slack concerning his promise… but is patient toward us, not wanting anyone to perish, but [wanting] to leave room for all to change their ways. But the Day of YHWH will come [upon them] just like a thief in the night, in which the skies will pass away with a loud [rushing] sound and the elements will dissolve with fervent heat. The earth also, with all the works in it will be consumed by fire.” (2 Peter 3:3-10)
Kefa then tells us what the outcome of this knowledge should be:
“Since all these [things] will be dissolved, what kind [of people] should you be, with holy behavior and reverent conduct, expecting and hastening the arrival of the Day of YHWH…? according to His promise, we wait with expectation of a new sky and a new earth, in which integrity is at home. On account [of this], beloved, since you expect such things, be diligent to be found by Him [to be] complete, spotless, and unworthy of blame. And consider YHWH’s slowness-to-wrath to be [your] deliverance…” (3:11-15)
Any delay is so that more people can turn around and respond to the call that the door to the ark of safety is about to be shut. And that is another big part of where our focus should be:
“The Accuser of our brothers has been cast down… They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony, and [because] they did not love their own lives, even to the point of death.” (Rev. 12:10-11)
Part of that testimony is, to go back to Matithyahu 24, that “this Glad News of the kingdom shall be proclaimed everywhere in the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (24:14)
That will still be the priority of Messiah’s followers, as it has been all along—only more intensely as the door begins to close. So don’t waste your time on things that won’t outlast the major changes that are coming. Of course we will need to take an occasional breather, but make every moment count, for there are not many left. Don’t invest in things that are going to go down with the ship.
The final outcome is much more than worth all the chaos in the meantime. It is chaotic to us, but not to YHWH, who is orchestrating all of these things to reshape the world into one much more amenable to His Kingdom, which will follow hard on the heels of these plagues, just like at the Exodus. They are meant to bring people to the end of their rebellion, but do not expect everyone to listen, for again, just like Pharaoh, the refrain is heard over and over: “Still they refused to repent…” (Rev. 9:20; 16:9, 11)
Why would they be so stubborn? Because they think they have a better way to “save the world”. One of the biggest things to know in advance is that a major counterfeit “kingdom” (figuratively called Babylon, which will encompass all nations) will come just before the real Kingdom, and we have to avoid being part of it at all costs:
“At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look! Here is the Messiah! or 'He's over here!', don't believe it! Because counterfeit messiahs and counterfeit prophets will arise, and will demonstrate great signs and wonders, in an attempt to lead astray, if possible, even the ones Elohim has selected. Notice that I'm telling you this ahead of time!” (Mat. 24:23-25)
This counterfeit kingdom will have a “membership card” implanted right into people’s bodies. He warns us partly to be sure we don’t receive this. It is not something you can change your mind about later. It will be irreversible. It will apparently make one cease to be fully human, but a hybrid cyborg, hence the description “beast” that is apparently shared with those who align with it and participate in its influence through this mind-changing “inoculation”, probably billed as the next stage in human “evolution”. But it will backfire in a major way:
“There came to be a harmful and annoying sore [that discharges pus] on the people who had the brand of the beast and those who had worshipped his image.” (Rev. 16:2)
This is a key to finding the “second wind” we need to “hang in there” all the way to the finish line:
“If anyone worships the Beast and its image, and receives a brand on his forehead or his hand, he will also drink of the wine of the passionate rage of Elohim, which has been mixed, undiluted, in the cup of His wrath, and he will be tormented in fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy messengers and of the Lamb…This is the [key to the] endurance of the holy ones—those who guard the commandments of Elohim and [exercise] the faithfulness of Yeshua.” (Rev. 14:9-12)
Knowing of their final end should be enough—though it will mean great privation at first—to keep us from putting our eggs into that basket!
There is more information in John’s vision about how to make it through that very rough time:
“If anyone leads [others] into captivity, into captivity he will go; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. This is how the set-apart ones endure and remain steadfastly confident.” (13:10)
In other words, justice will ultimately come to those who force these privations on the ones who refuse to join their system, so let that give you hope even when it looks like you have lost the battle. Stay on the right side, no matter how hard it gets. Most importantly, get your heart right with YHWH, who will judge the whole world--through Yeshua. Don’t anger the Son—the king He has set in place. (Psalm 2)
Of course, Yeshua got his information—at least the seeds of it—from the prophets. So if you don’t respect his words (though you will need to if you want to get through this unscathed), then at least look at theirs; they say the same things anyway:
“Get out of Babylon… and be like the rams [who go] before the flocks [to prepare the way]! Because I am inciting…against Babylon an alliance of large nations from a land in the north, and… she will be captured. Their arrows, like [those] of a mighty expert, will not return empty [handed].” (Jeremiah 50:8-9)
In the words of respected Torah teacher Mikell Clayton, we cannot focus on salvaging the world as we now know it; we have to “set our sights on Zion”.
“’At that time,’ declares YHWH, ‘the descendants of Israel will come, they and the descendants of Yehudah together, walking and weeping as they go, and YHWH their Elohim they will seek. They will ask the way to Zion, [with] their faces [looking] there: ‘Come, let’s join ourselves to YHWH—an everlasting covenant [that] will not be forgotten!’” (Jeremiah 50:4-5) This is often called the “second and greater exodus”. (See Jeremiah 16:14-16 for why.)
Baruch, the scribe who was told not to expect to escape trouble completely, was later given more detail about these latter troubles that we may not completely evade: “Whatever will then occur will befall the entire earth, so all who are alive will experience them, because at that time I will protect only those who are found in those same days in this land [Israel]. Then when all has been accomplished…the Messiah will begin to be revealed.” (2 Baruch 29:2-3)
Israel, too, will have its stressful times—to the point of being described as “birthpangs” that seem to be failing to bring the baby into the world. (Isaiah 37:3) “Alas! For that day is great; there is none that compares to it. Indeed, it is a time of trouble for Yaaqov—but He will save him out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7)—just as He did for the original Yaaqov, our ancestor, when he was confronted by Esau. YHWH reassures us, “Shall I bring to the point of breaking forth, but not bring about the birth? … Will I beget a child yet hold it back [from being born]?” (Isaiah 66:9) As in Psalm 23, He will set a table for us while we are still in the presence of our enemies:
“A thousand will fall by your side, and 10,000 at your right hand—but it will not come near you. Only with your eyes will you behold and watch the reward of the wicked.” (Psalm 91:7-8)
“In that Day… you will be gathered one by one, O descendants of Israel… A great shofar will be blown, and those about to perish in…Assyria [which exiled the Northern Kingdom] will come with those who [were] outcasts in Egypt and worship YHWH on the Holy Mountain in Jerusalem!” (Isaiah 27:12-13)
We may even get to camp in the wilderness as at the first Exodus. (Ezekiel 20:35-36) But there will be provision as there was then: “The treasury of manna will again descend from on high, and they will eat of it those years, because these are they who have come to the consummation of time.” (2 Baruch 29:8)
It will be a time of suspense and tension, but that is what makes for the best adventure and the most exciting story plot as well. We can remain calm in the midst of it, knowing that even if we lose our lives in the process, that only frees us from sin and takes us to “the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23) all the more quickly. And still, ultimately, “not a hair of your heads will be lost.” (Luke 21:16-18)
So, “when these things begin to come about, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is [quickly] approaching!” (Luke 21:28)
“For thus says YHWH, Master of Armies: ‘Yet once more--in a little while--I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, then the one desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory’, says YHWH, [Master] of Armies.” (Haggai 2:6-7)
The Renewed Covenant comments on this: ”This signifies the removal of the things that are shaken, as of things that are [man-]made, so the things that cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:26-27)
The current shaking up of our routines can help us begin to make the transition to THIS “new normal”, where goodness and peace will be at home (Isaiah 11:1-10)—which will be so much better than going back to the old “normal” (which was only the norm since Adam’s disobedience, not the way it was intended to be).
“Since we are receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us take hold of the empowering by which we can serve YHWH acceptably…” (12:28) I.e., we can make it! Since our own final end is taken care of, we don’t have to focus on surviving, and so are freed to help one another get through these tough times, and thus to NOT be among those whose love grows cold just because lawlessness has increased.