Does God hear all prayers?

I have to admit that I cringe a little when I hear people say that God hears everyone’s prayers because it simply isn’t true. The bible clearly states that there are times when people have become so wicked for so long that God runs out of patience with them. Ancient Israel is an example of this. After God had done so much for the Jewish people such as bringing them out of Egypt, they still rebelled against Him, by disobeying His laws, which among other things included worshiping Idols (Isaiah 1:2).

They apparently thought that God would continue accepting their sacrifices at the alter, observance of feast days, prayers, and other religious rituals as payment to cover their rebellion, no matter how much they sinned. But they were wrong. Instead of appeasing God, the practice of these things while living in sin was a burden to God.

When God had His fill of Israel’s disobedience, He spoke this through the prophet Isaiah:

When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.
Isaiah 1:15

But right after this warning, God gave the Israelites a way out. He gave them the option to obey His laws and reap the benefits of doing so. He immediately followed that promise by sternly warning what would happen if they didn’t humble themselves and obey. (Isaiah 1:18-20).

This wasn’t the only time this has happened either. When King David’s son Solomon became king of Israel, God made Solomon this promise:

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

But God also warned Solomon what would happen if Israel failed to obey His laws and statutes (2 Chronicles 7:19:20).

There’s a lesson is this for all of us

God hates hypocritical religion. He doesn’t want people who play church on Sunday and then willfully sin Monday through Saturday. We can’t expect God to bless us if we stubbornly live however we want to live while ignoring God’s will for our lives. If “do what feels right” or “do what feels good” is your motto, then you’re living as the world lives and not how God wants you to live. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, how about you?

Perhaps this is why Jesus said “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Certainly many people enter the wide gate because they haven’t accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior but I believe there are also many people who identify themselves as Christians who are not saved because then didn’t believe in their heart that Jesus is the Christ, which leads to becoming a new creation. Jesus called it born again.

Here’s some good news. There is hope even for even the most wicked sinners. No matter what you’ve done, as long as you’re alive it’s never too late to repent of your sins and get right with God. Do you have questions about how God expects you to live as a Christian? Just open His book, the holy bible. It’s all in there.

Related messages

Prayers that God says yes to

How to become more obedient to Christ

Four promised benefits of obedience

Five ways to fight the virus of sin

Will God forgive my worst sins?

Prayers that God says yes to

I’ve heard it said that God only gives one of three answers to our prayers: either yes, no, or wait. Let’s face it, no one wants their prayers to be declined, and in this age of instant gratification I think it’s safe to say that most of us find it painfully difficult to wait on the Lord’s timing.

We can’t really do anything when God tells us to wait for an answer except to go full steam ahead with our own plans anyway, like king Saul did when his patience ran out and decided to forge ahead against God’s plan (1 Samuel 13:7-14). This didn’t go well for Saul and pursuing our own plans without consulting and obeying the Lord usually doesn’t turn out very well for us either.

But here’s the good news: your prayers don’t have to go forth like a roll of the dice at a high stakes roulette table. There are some things you can do to increase your chances of having your prayers answered in the affirmative.

Live your life according to God’s will

The Lord’s prayer is a model for how to pray according to God’s will. In fact, the words “your will be done” in the Lord’s prayer make it perfectly clear that we’re expected to do His will (Matthew 6:10). And guess what? If we live in accordance with God’s will instead of living to fulfill our own fleshly desires and sinful nature, what we request from God in prayer will reflect that.

It’s important to point out that living God’s way and not our way requires that we practice righteousness instead of practicing sin. This means we do our best to follow God’s precepts and laws and repent and ask for forgiveness when we mess up. 1 Peter 3:12 says that God hears the prayers of the righteous and that’s an important step towards getting the answer we are hoping for in response to our prayers.

If we live according to God’s will, we bear fruit, which means that we naturally do good works out of our love for Him, and one result of this is answered prayer.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you.
John 15:16 (ESV)

We’re blessed and our prayers bless others when we live God’s way because the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16 NIV).

Ask in Jesus’ name

Jesus taught the disciples that when they petition God in prayer, they should ask it in His name (John 16:24). He promised not only once but twice in John 14:13-14 that whatever is asked in His name He would do it so that God would be glorified.

It’s perfectly fine to add “in Jesus’ name” to the end of your prayers, but please understand that it’s not some kind of magical invocation or incantation to get whatever you’re asking for. What the phrase “in Jesus’s name” actually means is that we’re acknowledging that we are asking God to answer our prayer for the purpose of furthering His kingdom, thereby glorifying God and not for our own selfish motives. Praying in Jesus’ name also means that we’re asking for our requests to be granted based on the Lord’s merit and not on our own.

If you pray in Jesus’ name and your prayer is in accordance with God’s will, you’ve got a splendid chance of having your request granted.

Ask with the right motive

And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to his will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.
1 John 5:14-15 (ESV)

If we pray with the right motive, and our prayer is in alignment with His will, then God grants our request. But how can we know what God’s will is? Let’s face it, we don’t always know God’s will in every single situation but we can know what His will is in general by reading His word, the holy bible and spending time with Him in prayer. If you spend time with the Lord in prayer, asking for His guidance and listen to His voice, you will often get insight into His desired outcome for a particular situation.

So, I’ll bet by now you can guess what happens if we go to God in prayer with the wrong motive. Yep, you guessed it.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
James 4:3

I know it’s tempting to ask God for things we want for ourselves but don’t really need like a luxury car, exotic vacation, winning the lottery and so on. But now we know better, don’t we? Instead, let’s practice righteousness instead of practicing sin and pray in accordance with God’s will so that our prayers will be powerful and effective.

Related messages

Keep asking, seeking, and knocking

15 biblically-based reasons to pray

How to become more obedient to Christ

13 benefits of knowing and meditating on God’s word

Will God forgive my worst sins?

Two kinds of sorrow

As I was listening to an audio bible on the way to work the other day, I was inspired by the Apostle Paul’s comparison of the two very different kinds of sorrow.

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
2 Corinthians 7:10

Paul drew a stark comparison between these two kinds of sorrow. The result of one is salvation while the result of the other is death. Let’s take a closer look at these two kinds of sorrow.

Examples of Godly Sorrow

One example of Godly sorrow is the sorrow that Peter felt after he realized he had denied the Lord three times, just as Jesus prophesied he would (Matthew 26:69-75). Peter’s immediate reaction when he realized that he had committed a grievous sin against the Lord was that he went out and wept bitterly.

This doesn’t mean that being sorrowful to the point of weeping is what differentiates Godly sorrow from worldly sorrow. The difference is that Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to obedience. True repentance cannot occur apart from one’s sorrow over their sin.

A good example of this kind of sorrow is found in the 2 Corinthians 7. In his previous letter, the apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthians for some of the sinful behavior that had been allowed to continue in the church. This rebuke, as you might imagine made the Corinthians sorrowful for a little while but thanks be to God, the Corinthians repented of their sin.

For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.
2 Corinthians 7:11

Godly sorrow can only be produced in a person who’s indwelt by the Holy Spirit because it’s the Holy Spirit who produces Godly sorrow in us. Even though we’re saved and therefore indwelt by the Holy Spirit our sinful nature will urge us to sin again. But the result of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit is that we eagerly and aggressively pursue righteousness and are no longer complacent to sin. This is a vital key to living a righteous life because those who pursue righteousness and aren’t complacent to sin will do everything they can to avoid sin.

Worldly sorrow

Now let’s take a look at worldly sorrow.

One example of this is the sorrow that Judas felt when he realized his betrayal was leading to the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:3-4). But instead of the sting of his sin resulting in repentance, it led to his suicide (Matthew 27:5).

Bringing it closer to home, worldly sorrow is the remorse that people feel when they’ve been caught in a sinful act. For example, when they’re caught in a lie, caught stealing, caught in an adulterous affair, or some other shameful act. Being caught in the act of sin causes their pride to be wounded and instead of being sorrowful for committing the sin, they’re instead sorrowful that their lust for that sin will now go unfulfilled.

The guilt they feel, often leads to shame, despair, depression, self-pity, hopelessness, and can even lead to death.

People who continue to practice sin and who never feel convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent from their sin are in danger of being eternally separated from God. Jesus taught about the eternal result of unrepentant sin when He said “And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell” (Mark 9:47). He wasn’t teaching self-mutilation but rather was speaking figuratively to emphasize the seriousness of sin.

Parting thoughts

Whether you’re flirting with sin or neck-deep in it, it’s time for you to get serious about turning your life fully over to Jesus as the Lord of your life. I believe that time is short. We don’t know when we’ll draw our last breath and we don’t know when the Lord will return for his church.

If you’re battling addictions or find yourself in a cycle of repeating your favorite sin, ask God to help you break free and get some help from someone you trust. Jesus made it crystal clear that this is a serious matter of the highest importance.

May God shine His face upon you,
Daniel

Signs of the End: Famine

There are many accounts of famines in the bible. The most well-known one was the famine in Egypt, which was recorded for us in the book of Genesis. Famines have been with us all throughout recorded history and millions of people have died because of them. For example, since 800 AD, there have been 31 famines, each of which have claimed a million or more lives. China suffered the loss of 45 million people to starvation during the famines of the 1800s.

You might say that famines are nothing new on the face of the earth, and you’d be right. But every famine that’s ever come before will not even come close to the severity of the ones that will occur during the seven-year tribulation.

The Third Seal Judgment announces famine

The third seal introduces the rider on the black horse, who brings famine upon the earth.

When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.”
Revelation 6:5-6

The color black represents famine (Lamentations 5:10 KJV) and the pair of scales that the rider of the black horse holds represent the rationing that will result from famine.

The famines of the last days will cost the inhabitants of earth dearly, just to survive. The Roman denarius was a silver coin that was the amount of money an average worker made in a day. A quart of wheat provides just enough nutrition and calories for one person to survive for one day. So, if a worker chooses to buy wheat, he will have to work all day long just to make enough money to feed himself. He won’t have money left over for anything else. If he chooses to buy three quarts of barley with his day’s wages, he can feed his family as well. But barley has a much lower nutritional value than wheat, so neither the worker or his family will be getting the nutrition they need to stay healthy.

But not everyone will be on the edge of starvation during the tribulation. There will be merchants and kings who prosper while doing commerce with Babylon the Great, which will be the capitol of the Antichrist’s one world government. They will prosper, that is, until Babylon is utterly destroyed (Revelation 18:8).

Right on the heels of the black horse comes the fourth seal judgment that kills one fourth of mankind (Revelation 6:7-8). At today’s population, that would well exceed a billion people. This judgment will involve many things that bring death, including more famine. The outpouring of the fourth seal judgment will be an obvious indication that the earth is experiencing the great tribulation, which is the final 3 ½ years before Christ returns to rule the earth.

How God will bring famine

Famine is a natural aftermath of the wars that will occur in the last days but the famines of the tribulation period will also be caused by several individual judgments from God. The trumpet judgments bring an outpouring of famine and death but as you will see later, it gets even more severe as the final judgments, called the bowl judgments are poured out upon the earth.

The trumpet judgments

The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
Revelation 8:7

Can you imagine the devastation that will be caused to the food supply when a third of the earth is burned up? The hail and fire mixed with blood might indicate that this catastrophe is due to volcanic eruptions that are triggered by earthquakes. The steam and water that would be spewed into the sky could easily cause the hail and the gases and dust that would be thrown into the air could cause the hail to appear to be blood red.

Whatever it is that causes a third of the earth to be burned up, it will be a disaster of epic proportions that no one can miss. But God is not finished pouring out His wrath.

The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
Revelation 8:8

This huge mountain is most likely a meteor which is set ablaze as it enters the earth’s atmosphere. A meteor of this size that hits the sea would cause a tidal wave like mankind has never seen and will bring swift destruction to both ships and sea life. We don’t know if the sea turning to blood will be actual blood or a red tide. What we can know for sure is that losing a third of the worlds sea life and the worlds ships will be devastating to the worlds food supply.

This judgment will certainly affect the nations the most who depend on the sea for the bulk of their food. Also, the loss of a third of the worlds ships will have a major impact on many countries who import much of their food from other places around the globe.

This loss of shipping will also slow down the movement of oil around the globe which is vital for heating our homes, running farming machinery, and getting to and from work. Some have said that the U.S. economy runs on cheap oil. This will have a huge impact on the economies every country who depend on imported oil.

The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.
Revelation 8:10-11

The third trumpet judgment is similar to the second trumpet except that the cause of the devastation is referred to as “a great star that’s blazing like a torch”. This is a clue that it’s probably referring to a comet. This comet apparently disintegrates as it enters the earth’s atmosphere because it falls on one third of the waters. These waters don’t refer to the sea, like the previous judgment, but rather it refers to fresh water such as rivers, and streams.

Revelation 8:11 is the only verse in the New Testament where Wormwood is mentioned. Wormwood, which is a bitter, poisonous desert plant that causes drunkenness and eventual death, is used seven times in the Old Testament to represent sorrow and bitter judgment.

Because this star, called Wormwood, poisons a third of the fresh water worldwide, many people will die from drinking it. I can only imagine what affect this poisonous water will have on crops and there’s no doubt that many animals and livestock that drink this bitter water will also die, adding to the severity of the famine.

The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.
Revelation 8:12

With the fourth trumpet judgment, God supernaturally reduces the amount of celestial light by one third. This could mean that the sun won’t shine for a third of the day and the moon and stars won’t shine for a third of the night or it could mean that the intensity of the light coming from these celestial bodies will be reduced throughout the whole day and night by one third. Whichever it is, this will be a sign from God that the world cannot miss because this has never happened before.

Those who know prophecy, will know that this judgment came from God because He warned us beforehand that it would happen, so that when it does happen those who witness it might believe that God is who He has always claimed to be saved.

You might be wondering what this judgment has to do with famine.

The loss of solar heat will suddenly cause severe but temporary changes in the weather, which will harm crops and probably damage dwellings as well. I’m not a farmer, but it seems logical that the reduced sunlight will also affect the optimal growth cycles of vegetation, causing loss of crops.

As you have seen, the trumpet judgments will be severe and will cause much death. But the worst is yet to come.

The bowl judgments

God has been patient in His desire for people to repent and turn to Him, which is why He increases the frequency and intensity of the judgments. At this point, though, as it’s nearing the day of the Lord’s return, He pours out the bowl judgments to complete His wrath against those who’ve had numerous opportunities to repent but still refuse to turn from their evil ways.

The bowl judgments will be vastly more severe than anything that has come upon the earth before. The good news is that once God has finished pouring out these final judgments, God’s wrath will finally be complete.

Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.
Revelation 16:3

This is similar to the second trumpet judgment that killed a third of the sea life, except that this one will kill everything that lives in the sea. There will be no more Maine Lobster, clam chowder, or fish and chips.

As two thirds of the earth is covered by ocean and sea, this judgment will be a tremendous catastrophe that has affects for the whole world. If you’re a fisherman, you’ll be out of work and if you were depending on any kind of food from the sea, you’ll be out of luck.

The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
Revelation 16:4

Between the third trumpet judgment poisoning a third of the waters and the two witnesses calling for drought whenever they want, the worlds fresh water will already be in short supply. The rivers and springs of water turning to blood will bring even greater thirst to earth’s inhabitants. Not to mention that they won’t have adequate fresh water to grow crops or to keep livestock from dying of thirst.

Revelation 16:5-6 tells us that the reason for the severity of this judgment is because “they have shed the blood of saints and prophets”.

Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
Revelation 16:8-9

In the fourth bowl judgment, the sun becomes a deadly killer. With little fresh water to drink, mankind will suffer severe thirst and agony as they are being scorched by extreme heat from the sun. But instead of repenting, they will blaspheme God.

In addition to the sun scorching men with extreme heat and fire, this judgment will have other devastating effects. Consider for a moment what effect this kind of heat will have on any plants and animals that remain.

On top of that, the extreme heat will cause dramatic climate change. We can expect that the melting of the polar icecaps will dramatically increase, which could cause the oceans to rise above the level of the sea ports, making it difficult to distribute whatever food and fresh water remain.

Food for thought

Jesus gave us these signs so that when we see these things happening, we would wake from our spiritual slumber and be saved. Better still is to turn your life over to Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life before you miss the rapture of the church and have to endure these judgments.

Resources

  • WikiPedia: List of famines
  • Book: Because the time is near, by John Macarthur
  • Book: The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck
  • Book: The MacArthur Bible Commentary

Signs of the End: Earthquakes

God has used earthquakes many times in the past for His divine purposes.

  • He used an earthquake, among other signs, to demonstrate His power to the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-12).
  • There was an earthquake, among other signs, proceeding Jesus’ death on the cross (Matthew 27:50-52).
  • There was a great earthquake when an angel rolled away the stone from the tomb where Jesus had been laid (Matthew 28:2).
  • God used an earthquake to free Paul and Silas from prison (Acts 16:25-26).

Just as He has done in the past, God will use earthquakes for His divine purposes in the last days. In the Olivet discourse, Jesus said earthquakes would be one of the signs of the end of the age and He also said that they would come like birth pangs, which as any mother can tell you, increase in both frequency and intensity until the time of delivery.

The earthquakes that will occur during the tribulation will definitely get people’s attention. You don’t want to be here when the one that’s part of God’s final judgement hits.

A look at earthquakes in recent decades

It’s undeniable that the frequency of earthquakes that have been detected worldwide have increased dramatically over the past 30 years. Some argue it’s because we’re better equipped in more recent years to detect the smaller quakes. I agree that we are better at detecting smaller earthquakes than we were decades ago but haven’t you noticed a lot more reports about earthquakes around the world recently?

Let’s take a quick look at the number of earthquakes that have occurred over a 152 year span. We’ll just look at the earthquakes that registered at least 7.0 or higher on the Richter scale. This is an interesting measurement because we’ve been good at detecting earthquakes of this magnitude for a long time.

Earthquakes that registered 7.0 and above on the Richter scale

Years Number of occurrences Average # per year
1863 to 1900 12 .3
1901 to 1938 53 1.4
1939 to 2014 71 1.9
1977 to 2014 165 4.5

As you can see, the average number of big earthquakes have increased dramatically. Already, in 2016 alone, there have been 9 earthquakes registered at 7.0 or higher, as well as a few more at 6.9. And that’s just from January to August.

Since 1902, there have been 17 earthquakes that have registered 8.5 or higher on the Richter scale. Of those, 5 have been greater than 9.0 and all 5 of them have occurred since 1952.

I’d say there’s substantial evidence that both the frequency and intensity of earthquakes is increasing, wouldn’t you?

Earthquakes of the seven-year tribulation

As bad as things have been and appear to be trending in a more fearful direction, it’s going to get a lot worse in the last days. The sixth seal judgement warns of a great earthquake that will turn the sun black and make the moon appear red (Revelation 6:12).

The earthquake described in Revelation 6:12 is not a typical earthquake but a great one. The sun becoming black and the moon becoming like blood indicate that this earthquake is so severe that it will put so much smoke and ash into the atmosphere that it will block the sun’s rays from reaching the face of the earth.

It’s likely that this earthquake will cause one or more volcanoes to erupt putting large amounts of smoke and ash in the atmosphere. In 1980, Mount St. Helens, in Washington USA erupted and put ash so high into the atmosphere that the ash traveled all the way around the globe. It made daytime in the surrounding area appear to be night with extremely low visibility. Not only was it difficult to breathe, but many vehicles were disabled because their carbonators became clogged with the fine volcanic ash.

I’m a resident of Washington State, but I was out of state, serving in the Navy at the time of the eruption. Months after the eruption had happened, I remember visiting the area where most of the ash had settled and there were still piles of ash all along the streets.

This prophecy doesn’t tell us how long the sun will be blotted out, but even if it lasted only a few days it could have devastating effects on vegetation, in the short term.

The seventh seal judgement reveals yet another earthquake along with thunder and lightning but it’s just a prelude to what will soon follow.

Seventh bowl judgement: The great and final shaking

The final earthquake of the tribulation will be the greatest of all time. No earthquake that’s ever occurred will even come even close to the severity of this one. It will affect the whole earth, with the possible exception of Israel (Revelation 16:17-20).

If you’re an inhabitant of the earth when this thing hits, you won’t be able to miss it.

  • The great city, Babylon will be divided into three parts. Some scholars believe this city to be Rome while others believe it to be the rebuilt city of Babylon. In the last days, we’ll know for sure because it will be the center of world government.
  • All the cities of the Gentile nations will be turned to rubble.
  • Every island will disappear from the face of the earth.
  • Every mountain on earth will be leveled.

Talk about a sign from God that no one can miss!

But God’s not finished pouring out His wrath just yet. This earthquake will be followed by a great hailstorm. The largest hail recorded has been about two pounds, but the hail that God will rain down in this judgement will weigh about 75 to 100 pounds (34 to 45 kilograms). This hail storm will take down any structures that it hits that is still standing after this terrible earthquake. Imagine what it will do to anyone standing nearby.

God brings this judgement, not only because a holy loving God must bring wrath upon evildoers with the desire that they should repent of their sins and turn to Him. Sadly, many who have survived up to this point are so hard of heart that they won’t repent, even after experiencing this terrible hail. Revelation 16:21 tells us that men who survive this judgement from God will blaspheme His holy name.

References

Related messages

The beginning of sorrows
The beginning of sorrows - Thumbnail

Not one stone
Not one stone - Thumbnail

 

 

The beginning of sorrows

In my previous message, Not one stone, I wrote about Jesus’ prophesy that the temple would be torn down so completely that not one stone would be left upon another. This statement from Jesus led to His following discussion with His disciples.

The Olivet Discourse and the Seal judgments

Jesus sat down on the Mount of Olives and the disciples came to Him privately and said “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”(Matthew 24:3)

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Matthew 24:4-8

As you’ll see in a moment, the sequence in which Jesus mentions these events corresponds with the sequence of the first six Seal judgments of Revelation. The seals are the first of a three-part series of judgments that will be poured out upon the Earth during the tribulation, which is why Jesus calls them “the beginning of sorrows”. In this context, the word sorrows means birth pangs. This informs us that each judgement will be more intense than the last and they will become more frequent as the end of the tribulation comes to a close.

Let’s take a look at the sequence of events now. I’ll cover the judgments of Revelation in greater detail in a later message.

Matthew 24:5 and the First Seal

Jesus warned that there will be many who claim to be the Christ and many people will be deceived by them.

For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
Matthew 24:5

This corresponds somewhat with the First Seal judgement which introduces the arrival of the ultimate deceiver, known as the Antichrist.

Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
Revelation 6:1-2

The identity of the final Antichrist will be revealed at the midpoint of the tribulation, when he will sit in the temple of God and claim to be God. John MacArthur wrote “the white horse represents a time of world peace – a false peace that is short lived. This peace will be ushered in by a series of false messiahs, culminating with the Antichrist”. The bow in the Antichrist’s hand (with the absence of bows) represents a bloodless coup in which the Antichrist will become the ruler of the one world government. You can learn more about the Antichrist in my earlier message, Twelve ways to identify the Antichrist.

Matthew 24:6-7 and the next five Seals

In just two verses, Jesus summarizes the remaining judgments that complete the beginning of sorrows.

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
Matthew 24:6-7

Wars and rumors of wars

There have been wars and rumors of wars for thousands of years. The past 100 years has brought two world wars in addition to many others. It seems that the world has constantly been at war, but all the death and carnage that the world has seen will pale in comparison to the wars that will come in the last days.

Matthew 24, verse 6 and the first part of verse 7 correspond to the first part of the second seal judgement.

When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.
Revelation 6:3-4

In stark contrast to the rider on the white horse who has a bow without any arrows, the rider of the red horse carries a large sword which empowers him to enact war worldwide. As horrible as this judgement is, this is only the beginning of sorrows. War and slaughter will become much worse before the end comes.

Famines

The next part of Matthew 24:7 mentions famines. This corresponds to the third seal which introduces the rider on the black horse.

When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.”
Revelation 6:5-6

The Roman denarius was a silver coin that is the amount of money that an average worker makes in a day. A quart of wheat or three quarts of barley provide just enough food to survive for one day. So, this is saying that the famine in the last days will be so great that an average worker will have to work all day long just to make enough money to eat. He won’t have any money left over to spend on anything else.

Pestilences

The next part of Matthew 24:7 mentions pestilences, a word which most is commonly associated with infectious diseases but can also mean anything that causes destruction, or great harm. This corresponds to the fourth seal.

When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.
Revelation 6:7-8

The color of the rider’s horse is interesting because the original Greek word that was translated as pale is chloros, which literally means green or yellowish pale. Some bible scholars take this to mean that the rider of this horse represents Islam. I don’t know if this is a correct interpretation or not but it does line up with what we see happening in the middle east and all around the world.

As a side note, the riders described in the first four seal judgments are commonly referred to as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Earthquakes

The last part of Matthew 24:7 mentions earthquakes which corresponds to the sixth and seventh seals.

I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.
Revelation 6:12

The earthquake described in this verse is not a typical earthquake but a great one. The sun becoming black and the moon becoming like blood indicate that this earthquake is so severe that it put so much smoke and ash in the atmosphere that it blocked the sun. Most likely this earthquake triggered one or more volcanoes to erupt. Having large amounts of smoke and ash in the atmosphere could block all of the light rays that reflect off of the moon at night, except for the red spectrum, which would make the moon appear blood red.

Seventh Seal
Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.
Revelation 8:5

The sixth and seventh seals are not even the worst of the earthquakes that the inhabitants of the earth will endure in the last days. It gets much worse.

Why is all of this important?

We’ve all experienced or heard about wars, famines, and earth quakes during our lifetime. They’re nothing new but here’s the point. They will intensify in magnitude and become more frequent in the last days. So much so, that at some point everyone will recognize they are experiencing judgments from God (Revelation 16:9).

Jesus gave us these signs so we could be ready for His return. You’ll want to be ready so that you don’t miss the rapture because if you do, you’ll be here on earth instead of in heaven when God pours out His wrath on the Earth.

If these judgments come to pass in the order they were mentioned in the Olivet discourse and the seal judgments, that would be a clue for the people who are still on the Earth during that time that they are living in the very last days before the return of Christ. God wants His people to be ready for His Son’s return. I pray that you’ll be ready when the Lord returns for His church and that you’ll help others to get ready too.

I look forward to seeing you face-to-face in heaven,
Daniel

Related messages

Not one stone

One day, as Jesus was teaching in the temple, He declared that the temple would become desolate (Matthew 23:37-38). After Jesus left the temple and was walking toward Bethany, by way of the Mount of Olives, some of the Lord’s disciples came to Him to call his attention to the temple buildings.

At the time of Jesus’ ministry, the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was one of the most magnificent structures on Earth. It was built with massive hewn stone that was expertly quarried to fit perfectly together. The walls of the buildings were adorned with gold in a gaudy manner. The gold plates on the eastern side of the main structure reflected the morning sun so that the temple could be seen from miles away.

No doubt, the disciples wanted to know how such an impressive temple could become desolate. Here was the Lord’s response:

And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”
Matthew 24:2

Jesus’ prophetic words were fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Roman general, Titus destroyed the temple. Because the walls of the structures were inlayed with gold, Titus burned the temple structures with such intense heat that the stones crumbled so the gold could be sifted from the rubble. This literally fulfilled Jesus’ words that “not one stone here will be left upon another”.

There’s no way that Jesus or anyone else could have known this would happen unless God the Father told Him. You see, God tells us what will happen before it happens so that we might believe. This is why about one third of the holy bible is God’s prophetic word, passed down to us through the prophets.

God bless,
Daniel

Related messages

What would sports be like in heaven?

This is a curious thought that just popped into my head today and I think it’s an interesting one to ponder because it got me thinking about how we should live in the here and now.

If you’re like me, you enjoy playing at least one or two sports. My favorites are basketball and flag football. Not that I’ve ever been very good at either of them but when played with people who aren’t trying to hurt you, they can be a lot of fun. These sports involve a lot of running, which I don’t particularly enjoy. Isn’t it amazing how adding a ball to the mix can make something you don’t like to do suddenly something that’s fun?

I don’t know if people will ever play sports in heaven, but if they did, and particularly if they played contact sports like football, basketball, or hockey, here’s how I envision it would be like.

There will be no pain or injuries.  You know a sport must be fun when you twist an ankle, jam a finger, break a bone, or worse and you still want to play that sport. It seems that everyone who plays sports regularly gets injured at one time or another. Well, at least I have on several occasions.

Well the good news is, there will be no pain in heaven and therefore I think it’s safe to assume that there won’t be any injuries either.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

At my age, I hobble around with inflamed joints for at least a few days after playing basketball. It’s especially painful first thing in the morning when I’m trying to get down the stairs. I’m so glad that there will be no more pain when we get to heaven, aren’t you?

Because there will be no sin in heaven…

No one will ever get fouled… at least not on purpose. How many times have you seen players foul each other on purpose? Especially during the playoffs and championship games. They’ll do something that’s blatantly against the rules in order to gain an unfair advantage or to try to keep their opponent from scoring. Because we’ll no longer be burdened with our sinful nature when we get to heaven, there won’t be any foul play.

No one will lose their temper. On this side of eternity, even the most God-fearing athletes sometimes lose their cool. But it won’t be that way in heaven. Everyone will love everyone else just as much as they love themselves. Everyone will treat each other just as they would want to be treated.

Referees will always call games fairly. If there’s even be a need for referees to call games in heaven, they wouldn’t ever be partial to one team or player over another. Every call will be fair. They wouldn’t have to fear backlash from the fans for not supporting their home team, and they’ll never take bribes.

Food for thought
When you consider what it will be like when we get to heaven, it reminds us how we’re supposed to live right now.

May God bless you as you live for Him, and I hope to see you in heaven,
Daniel

Four promised benefits of obedience

In my previous two messages, I described the characteristics of a Christ follower and how to become more obedient to Christ. In this message, we’ll explore the benefits that you can receive in this life when you’re obedient to God’s word.

You’ll get a Joy fill-up

Jesus demonstrated what perfect obedience to God looks like, and because of that obedience, He benefited from the love of His father in heaven. In the same way, we can abide in Christ’s love and as a result be filled with joy.

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
John 15:10-11

Notice that it says that your joy will be full. You won’t just have a little joy or a moderate amount of joy. If you keep God’s commandments, you’ll have more joy that you can possibly imagine.

You’ll become a friend of Jesus

Jesus promised that He would be a friend to those who obey all of His commands. Notice that it doesn’t say if you do some of the things I command you. His friendship requires complete obedience.

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
John 15:14

Verse 15 goes on to explain the benefit of friendship with Jesus.

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
John 15:15

Jesus shares the wisdom and the plans of His father with everyone who He calls friend. I want to be a friend of Jesus. How about you?

You’ll receive good things from God

God wants to give His children good things. Jesus said “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11).

The apostle John said that we can receive anything we ask for as long as we keep God’s commandments.

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
1 John 3:22

Before you shoot off a prayer asking God for a luxury car, a dream home, or to win the lottery, just keep in mind that your request has to be in alignment with God’s will. If it’s not His will for you to become an instant millionaire, then your prayer will not be answered. In contrast, if your prayer is aligned with God’s will, you will receive whatever you ask for.

You’ll enter the kingdom of heaven

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter”.

This gets into a tricky area of theology because most pastors these days teach that all you have to do to be saved is to believe that Jesus is the son of God and that He died for your sins and rose again on the third day. It’s true that those are requirements for salvation, but if that’s all that’s required for you to be saved, then why does Jesus say we won’t enter heaven unless we do God’s will?

Some make the argument that if you believe in your heart that Christ is who He said He was, instead of just having a superficial belief, then your love for what Christ did for you will result in an obedient life. Others say that obeying God’s word is a requirement to be saved in the first place which implies that you have to clean up your life before you can come to God.

Putting the finer points of theology aside, the end result is that if we want to enter heaven, we must obey God’s word. God willing, I’ll write about this in more depth in a future message.

Final thoughts

If you’re already living your life in obedience to God’s word, I hope that this message motivates you to remain diligent in your walk with Christ. If you’re not living the blessed life of obedience, I pray that what you’ve just read will motivate you to get on the right path.

I’ve listed my earlier two messages in this series below. If you missed them, I hope you’ll check them out.

May you receive all the blessings that God has promised as you walk in obedience to His word,
Daniel

Related messages

Characteristics of a follower of Christ
Characteristics of a Christ follower - Thumbnail

How to become more obedient to Christ
How to become more obedient to Christ - Thumbnail

How to become more obedient to Christ

Let’s face it, we all mess up and fail to live up to God’s will for our lives at one time or another. Some of us make bigger messes than others and some people mess up more frequently. But there’s no sense in comparing ourselves to other people in this regard because God doesn’t grade on the curve. He doesn’t compare us to each other to determine if our obedience meets His standard. He compares our lives to His perfect standard which was demonstrated in the life of Jesus.

Because we have a sinful nature, we all fail to live up to God’s perfect standard. As we become more mature in our Christian walk, we should be able to recognize as soon as we’ve messed up, and then confess it, repent of it, and move on. We should be able to stop repeating the same sins over and over again. Like everything else in life, we need to learn from our mistakes. After all, as Christians, we’re a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Whether our sins are large or small we need to stay vigilant in our pursuit of righteous living if we want to please God and fully benefit from his blessings. Our goal should be to break the habits of our sinful nature. After all, if we live in a continual cycle of committing the same mistakes and sins over and over again, then we’re not being obedient to God’s word, which means we’re not being obedient to God. When we live like this, we don’t grow in our Christian walk and we don’t become more like Christ.

If we truly desire to be obedient to God’s word then we need to do something different, right? Here are some things you can start doing right now to help you increase your obedience towards Christ.

Stay focused on heavenly things and not on the things of the world

If our desire is to live an obedient life, then we need to keep our mind focused on heavenly things.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Colossians 3:1-2

It helps to have the mindset that this world is not our home. We are only passing through this world until we arrive in our true home in heaven. If our focus is constantly on the things of this world, which are temporary, then we miss out on what’s really important, which is doing God’s will for our life.

Keep a tight reign on your thought life

We naturally focus our attention on what’s most important or pleasurable to us. When these thoughts don’t glorify God, or even worse when we have sinful thoughts, like thoughts of greed, covetousness, or lust, then we’re not operating according to God’s will.

So, what do we do?

I’ve learned that an effective way to tackle a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. When it comes to our thought life, this means having thoughts that please God.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

The apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthians to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This means that every thought that isn’t aligned with God’s will needs to be locked out of your mind. Ask God to help you with this. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Once the thought is taken into captivity, remember to practice Philippians 4:8.

Read God’s word daily

Before I made a decision to be obedient to Christ, to make Him the Lord of my life, it was easy to sin. When I made the commitment to follow Christ, I started to read the bible every day. And you know what? It’s hard to sin when every time you have a sinful thought you remember a half dozen bible verses that tell you why you shouldn’t do the thing you’re thinking about.

The key takeaway here is that the more you know God’s word, the easier it is to be obedient. So make a commitment to read scripture daily. I recommend setting aside a specific time every day for this. I like to read the bible just before I go to sleep each night. That way, I can meditate on God’s word as I fall asleep but others like to do it first thing in the morning. The important thing is that you do it every day.

But someone will say “I’m just too busy. I don’t have time for anything else”. Really? My friend, you can find the time to do whatever you make a priority. You might have to cut back on something less important in order to fit it in. I stopped playing video games, which are designed to be addictive. I regretted how much time I wasted playing them that I quit them cold-turkey. Now I have plenty of time to study the bible and share what I learn with others.

Pray about it

I’ve heard stories from people who were instantly released from a drug addiction or another type of sinful addiction as soon as they were saved. That doesn’t always happen that way for all of us. If you’ve been trying to be obedient to God’s word but just can’t shake a particular bad habit, (pornography is a common one in this generation, even among the Christian community) then you need to ask God for help. And don’t stop asking Him until you finally break free from whatever is causing you to sin. Also, find an accountability partner and have them pray for you as well.

May God bless you richly as you stay on the narrow path that leads to life,
Daniel

Related messages

Characteristics of a follower of Christ
Characteristics of a Christ follower - Thumbnail

Five ways to fight the virus of sin
5 ways to fight the virus of sin - Thumbnail

How to resist temptation
How to resist temptation - Thumbnail

You can break free from a porn addiction
You can break free from a porn addiction - Thumbnail

The battle for your soul
The battle for your soul - Thumbnail