Derek begins this message by giving an understanding of contradictions between the two sides of prophecy; what is true and what is distorted by darkness. Using Scripture he brings out that in the end times the light will get lighter and brighter in believers, while deep darkness will cover the earth.
The theme that I’m going to be dealing with in my teaching tonight, both in this first and in the second session, is the last days. That is, the period at the close of the present age, immediately prior to the coming back of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible has a great deal to say about the last days. I would say there are relatively few books in the Bible that do not refer to the last days in one way or another. And it’s a subject about which we need to know all that the Bible has to tell us, because the Bible indicates very clearly that we are going to be exposed to extraordinary pressures and we’re going to be challenged with extraordinary opportunities. And, if we’re to take advantage of the opportunities and survive the pressures, we need to have the knowledge that the Word of God offers us.
People have problems about prophecy because there are some strange people who distort prophecy and abuse it and overemphasize it and come up with strange interpretations and exact dates and all sorts of things. In fact, you probably know that in 1988 there was a, quote, prophet in the United States who declared very specifically that the Lord Jesus was coming back on a certain date in September. I suppose you realize He didn’t come back! It didn’t surprise me. It would have surprised me if He had. Then he said he’d made a miscalculation and he was coming back a year later. But still, He didn’t come.
Unfortunately, that kind of thing creates a prejudice in some people’s minds against prophecy. But that’s a mistake. You see, there’s hardly anything in the Bible that hasn’t been perverted or distorted by somebody. Even the message of the gospel has been twisted and perverted. So that’s no reason for refusing the truth because some people have perverted it. I believe myself that it’s urgently necessary that the church know what needs to be known and what can be known about the last days.
Another important principle in this respect is stated by Moses in Deuteronomy 29:29 where he says:
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children, that we may do them.”
So there are two kinds of things: secret things that God doesn’t reveal and things that God has revealed that we may act on them. And the problem with the distorted versions of prophecy is usually this, they’re trying to discover the secret things and they’re not obeying the revealed things. And that’s one of Satan’s tricks—to get us so interested in the things that we can’t know that we don’t obey the things we ought to know.
As we view what the Bible has to say about this period, there are certain apparent contradictions because there are two sides to this time. There is the good side and the bad side. Like most things at present in the world, they’re partly good and partly bad. What happens is that somehow Christians can’t enlarge their minds enough to see both sides of a truth, so they tend to focus on one and ignore the other. And there are the people who only see the good side.
Now let’s turn to a scripture that brings out this contrast in Isaiah 60:1–3. This is addressed to Zion. And bear in mind Zion is primarily Jerusalem and the Jewish people. But I believe Zion is also used in Scripture to denote all God’s covenant people and includes the believing church of Jesus Christ. And it says here:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples, but the Lord will arise over you and His glory will be seen upon you. The nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
There you see a very clear contrast between light and darkness. Deep darkness is covering the peoples of the earth. And that I believe is true and going to become truer and truer. But in the midst of that deep darkness an ever increasing light and glory is going to shine upon the people of God so that the contrast between God’s people and the people of this world is going to become more and more pointed and decisive as time goes on.
This is not the first time in history that there’s been this contrast of light and darkness. For instance, in the ninth plague that God brought on Egypt described in Exodus 10:21–23, we find that God sent darkness on the Egyptians but at the same time Israel, who were dwelling in Egypt, had complete light. Exodus 10:21–23:
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt—darkness which may even be felt.’”
Can you imagine darkness so deep that you can feel it?
“So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another nor did anyone rise from his place [for three days]. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”
So God can do that. He can plunge the world in darkness and at the same time have a brilliant light where His people are.
And also there’s a promise that God gave to Abraham in Genesis 15:5 which, I think, also throws light on this. It says in Genesis 15:5:
“The Lord brought Abraham outside into the open [obviously at night] and said, ‘Look now toward heaven and count the stars—if you are able to number them.’ And then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘So shall your seed [or your descendants] be.’”
So there was a promise that Abraham’s seed or descendants would be like the stars—in number but also in another respect.
And then in Galatians 3, Paul, writing to Gentile Christians says:
“You are the seed of Abraham through faith in Jesus Christ.”
So that promise applies to all true believers. And God showed me some years ago, which resulted in a very dramatic confrontation that I wasn’t anticipating—in fact, I was teaching in the last church that I attempted to pastor, which was in Seattle, Washington. I’m really not called to be a pastor, I came to realize that. I think my congregation probably realized it before I did! I was speaking in this, quote, worship service and in those days really very few of us knew what worship was. We just sang hymns and praised the Lord and called it worship. We had no idea what real worship was. But the Spirit of God came on me and it was in the days when they were just making tape recordings with reel-to-reel recorders. There was a recording made so that’s how I know what I said because I heard it afterwards. My theme was no matter what the devil does, God has got the last word. And I realized at a certain moment I got out of myself. I could recognize something came on me and I became very bold. And I said, “It doesn’t matter what the devil does, God has the last word.” And then a flood of illustrations came to my mind. I said, “Egypt had its magicians but God had His Moses. Baal had his prophets but God had His Elijah.” And then I said, “And when God wanted to show Abraham what his descendants would be like, He took him out on dark night and showed him the stars and said, ‘So shall your descendants be.’” And I said, “When all the other lights are shining you don’t even see the stars. But when every other light has gone out, the stars shine most brilliantly in the deepest darkness.” And I said, “That’s how God’s people are going to be at the close of this age!”
Well, I learned then that there are certain messages that the devil doesn’t want preached and that was probably number one on his list. I can’t go into the details of this story but if you want to get my series of tapes on deliverance and demonology, it’s recorded there. At that point the young lady who played the piano for the morning worship service who sat by herself on a bench in front on my left threw a violent, demonic fit, let out a piercing scream, slumped to the floor right in front of the pulpit and lay there writhing in a very unladylike way. And there I was confronted by it. I knew immediately I either had to prove what I was preaching or stop preaching it. And thank God, with the help of my dear first wife, we proved it. We cast the demon out of that lady in front of everybody. And they are a good Pentecostal congregation. I mean, I’ve never seen people with such wide open eyes in my life! I can’t go into the details because I’ve got another message to preach, but I never think about that truth about Abraham’s descendants without my mind going back to that incident. It was a turning point in my whole ministry.