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This is the third session in a series of four sessions on the theme “And Then The End Shall Come,” which is a kind of overview of the events that will lead up to the close of the present age. The first session was called “Ignore It At Your Peril,” and its theme was we desperately need the light of biblical prophecy. The apostle Peter calls it a light that shines in a dark place and he says we need to give heed to it. I think there are many problems in the church today which come because people have ignored that advice from Peter.
Then the second session was what I call “The Spine of Biblical Prophecy.” I explained briefly that putting the prophetic revelation together is like assembling a human body. In order to get the body rightly related in its parts you have to begin with the spine. I suggested to you that the spine is the great discourse of the greatest of all prophets, the Lord Jesus Christ, which He gave on the Mount of Olives just a few days before His passion. It’s recorded for us in three gospels—Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. And in the introduction to it in Matthew 24, Jesus is asked two questions. The two questions are what will be the sign of your coming and what will be the sign when the temple is about to be destroyed. We saw that the answer to the question when the temple is about to be destroyed is given in Luke 21 and the sign is when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies then the destruction of it is near—which was fulfilled historically in AD 70. The answer to the second question, what will be “the” sign of your coming is given in Matthew 24:14:
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the word as a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”
That’s a specific answer to a specific question.
In this talk now I want to deal with some features of the end time, certain trends that are being more and more manifested. I’ve called it “Watchman, What of the Night?” I’m going to start from the scripture where those words are found which is in Isaiah 21:11–12. I’m only going to read part of it.
“...he calls to me out of Seir, ‘Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?’”
The picture is of a watchman on duty, keeping watch at night while most people are sleeping. Then the watchman’s answer is:
“The morning comes, and also the night.”
That’s my theme. The morning comes, and also the night. Light is coming but also darkness. We cannot anticipate light only or darkness only, but the two in interrelationship. I think this really helps to resolve a lot of problems. I think Christians find it difficult to enlarge their minds enough to take in two opposite sides of one question. We tend to get committed to either one side or the other. Like, some of us believe in predestination, some of us believe in free will. The truth of the matter is is if you believe the Bible you have to believe both, because they’re both clearly stated there. But Christians tend to get set in one side. “Well, I believe in free will.” “I believe in predestination. You’re wrong, I’m right.” I have a feeling that where sincere, intelligent, Bible believing Christians disagree with one another about biblical issues, very often—not necessarily always—very often each party is partly right and partly wrong. The truth lies somewhere in combining the two.
You see, with regard to the end of the age, or the last days, they’re basically two different groups. There’s the pessimists and the optimists. The pessimists say everything is getting worse, and they’ve got a whole lot of scriptures to prove it. The optimists say we’re going to take over the world, and they’ve got a lot of scriptures. Personally, I believe neither is right and neither is wrong. The truth is in between, it’s a combination of both.
I remember years ago I was preaching in the United States on the importance of praying for your government. At that time American Christians were anti-government. I mean, they regarded the government as an enemy. One man actually said to me, “Well, that’s like asking us to pray for your enemies!” But at the end of one session a lady came up to me and she said, “Mr. Prince, doesn’t the Bible teach that everything is going to get worse?” So I said, “Well, no, I don’t think so. I think the Bible teaches some things are going to get worse and some things are going to get better.” I’m one of the things that’s going to get better!
So, this is my thought and I’m going to give you a number of different illustrations of this one principles from different passages in the Bible, but I want you to grasp what I’m trying to communicate. It’s not going to be all light, it’s not going to be all darkness, it’s not going to be all glory, nor is it going to be all misery. We’ve got to adjust our thinking and prepare ourselves for this, what I would call in a way, mixed up situation. It’s not that simple.
I’ll give you a number of different ways of seeing this truth. First of all, Isaiah—I’m trying hard to say Isaiah but it took me years to learn to say Isaiah and it’s pretty discouraging to have to go back. In the prophet who’s spelled I-S-A-I-A-H, chapter 60, we have this glorious statement. In Hebrew there’s feminine and masculine in the verbs. This is feminine. It’s addressed to Zion, the city of God, the people of God. I believe Zion is the most all inclusive name in the Bible for all God’s covenant people. I believe it includes Israel, it includes the church. All of us from our different perspectives come under the label of Zion. It says:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come; and the glory of the Lord is 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 Gentiles [or the nations] shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
Here is a very clear presentation of both brilliant light and gross darkness. In the midst of the darkness the glory of God comes upon His covenant people and they become a source of light that attracts many to come out of the darkness. And the scripture says nations will come to your light, and their rulers to the brightness of your rising. I believe it’s going to be that way. I believe God is going to so visit His church with His glory and His power that whole nations are going to turn to God. I believe that’s good but it doesn’t alter the fact that it’s in the midst of dense darkness. And those who do not come to the light will be in ever deepening darkness. Both are true.
I quoted it the other day but I want to do it again, Genesis 15:5. I had a revelation of this. Sometimes, you know, preachers get revelations while they’re preaching. I was preaching in a church of which I was supposed to be the pastor in Seattle, Washington. I just tell you this little story because God has His way of doing things. My theme was “When the Enemy Comes in Like a Flood, the Spirit of the Lord Will Lift Up a Standard Against Him.” It was in the old days when they were just beginning to record preachers on reel to reel tape. I didn’t know it but somebody was recording me and that’s how I know what I said. I listened to it afterwards. I was saying no matter what the devil does, the Lord has the last word. I want to tell you, if you preach that you better be prepared to back it up. Then I got this revelation. I said Egypt had its magicians, God had His Moses. Baal had his prophets, God had His Elijah. And then I quoted this scripture in Genesis 15:5 and I’d never thought about it before:
“God took Abraham outside on a dark night and said, ‘Look now toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’”
In Galatians 3:29 Paul says:
“Through faith in Jesus, the seed of Abraham, we are descendants of Abraham.”
And the picture there is a situation in which there is no other source of light. The sun is not shining, the moon is not shining; it’s a velvet dark night—but the stars are there. The greater the darkness the brighter the stars. You see? That’s what we’re supposed to be. As the darkness gets deeper we should shine brighter against the darkness. And so I got to this point where I said that’s how it’s going to be at the end of the age. When all the other lights go out, the descendants of Abraham, the believers in Jesus the Messiah, are going to shine brighter than they’ve ever shone before.
Well, I can’t go into the details but I didn’t anticipate. I learned that there are certain messages that the devil doesn’t want preached and the number one on his list is what the church can do to him if the church realizes what it’s intended to be. The devil couldn’t stand this message any longer so the young lady who played the piano for the worship, who was sitting on the front seat on my left, threw a demonic fit right in front of my pulpit! I mean, it was not pretty. She was normally a very well behaved young lady, Pentecostal from youth upwards. She was there moaning, screaming and writhing in a very unladylike position right in front of my pulpit. I had just declared no matter what the devil does, God has the last word. So I knew clearly I had to either prove it or stop preaching it.
Well, that’s how I got thrust into public deliverance. I had no ambitions, no plans, but I was compelled to take a stand against that demon and together with my first wife and another couple we got that demon out of that girl. I tell you, looking at my congregation after that was really—I mean, their eyes were just big round circles! They’d never imagined that such things could happen.
I can’t tell you the rest of the story, there is a tape somewhere. It’s in my series on deliverance and demonology. I think it’s the first tape and you’ll hear the rest of the story.
What I’m trying to prove to you is that there’s going to be dense darkness. But in the midst of the darkness God’s people should shine brighter than they’ve ever shown before. And when the enemy does come in like a flood it really is true the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. The same word that means “lift up a standard” means “put him to flight.” I like to say both. The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard and put him to flight.
In Daniel 12 there’s a prophecy about the end time and the same principle is brought out. I hope you understand I’m taking a lot of different examples of this principle to show you that it runs all through the Bible. In Daniel 12:1–3, the prophetic word says:
“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince [or the great archangel] who stands over the sons of your people...”
That’s Israel. So there is one archangel who’s specifically assigned to watch over Israel. I think at the moment, if I may say so, he has his hands full but he’s doing his job. And I personally wouldn’t want to clash with the archangel Michael. No matter what my political view were, I just would not like to get on the wrong side of Michael. It says then:
“...there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation...”
This is what I believe is what we looked at last night in Matthew 24, the time of tribulation without parallel in previous human history. And it’s, first of all, Jacob’s trouble, then it’s a universal, worldwide tribulation. I pointed out last night, if you remember, that tribulation and anguish come on the Jew first and then on the Gentile. So as non Jews, of which I am an example, we need to be very perceptive of what’s happening to Israel because the next thing that’s going to happen is it’s going to happen to us.
You see, I’ll give an example. Terrorism really began in Israel. It was just an attack against Israel. Today the whole world is reeling under the impact of terrorism. So that’s the principle.
Anyhow, going on in this situation, verse 2:
“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. [verse 3] Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”
Notice again the same principle. The deeper the darkness the brighter God’s servants will be shining. Can you say amen to that? You see, that’s the darkness but it’s the light.
Then quite in a different context, in Matthew 13, which is the great chapter of parables, the seven parables. One of the parables is the parable of the wheat and the tares. Exactly the same principle is brought out in a different terminology. Jesus tells the parable, I’ll read it briefly. Verse 24:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept...”
And notice that. God’s people were not watchful. You see, while men were sleeping:
“...his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.”
I’m not an expert in agriculture by any means but we know what wheat is. Tares are a certain kind of weed that grows up looking like wheat but it doesn’t product fruit. It resembles wheat. It’s hard to distinguish between one and the other until the full corn comes in the ear.
“But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared among the wheat. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servant said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up, pull up the tares?’”
This is very important:
“But the owner said, ‘No; lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.’”
They’re sufficiently similar that they wouldn’t always be able to tell.
“Let both grow together until the harvest...”
Now here’s the principle. Wheat and tares growing together side by side in the kingdom of God until the harvest.
“...and at the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Then Jesus gives the interpretation.
“He who sows the good seed is the Son of man [the Lord Jesus], the field is the world...”
Always remember that, the field is the world. It’s our responsibility to plant the whole world with the seed of God’s word.
“...the good seed are the sons of the kingdom; but the tares are the sons of the wicked one [the devil]; the enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age...”
That’s very specific. So they’re both going to grow together until the end of the age.
“...and the reapers are the angels.”
Even God’s ministers cannot be trusted to do this job because it’s so delicate to distinguish between wheat and tares.
“Therefore, as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend and those who practice lawlessness...”
Now, out of His kingdom means out of those who profess to be His subjects. But among His professing subjects there will be those who are not wheat but tares. And they will be gathered out before the final consummation.
“...and they will be cast into the furnace of fire; there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
That phrase, wailing and gnashing of teeth, is used quite a number of times in the New Testament. I’ve noticed everywhere it’s used it’s used about people who had been right in the kingdom of God, right associated with the preaching but never committed their lives and hearts to it. It’s like they’re the people who are going to say after all these years of being so close, here I am cast out. Their bitterness is going to be greater than the bitterness of any other group that’s rejected because they had been so close.
We don’t need to read any further, but you see the principle there? Wheat and tares growing together side by side until the harvest. In other words, good and evil continuing side by side until the end of the age.
Another interesting thought is this. The same climatic conditions that ripen the wheat ripen the tares. So if you want the wheat ripened you’ve got to accept that the tares will be ripened. What are those climatic conditions interpreted? This is my answer. It’s the breaking down of laws and restrictions which is characterized the world since the end of World War II in a unique way. All sorts of restrictions and traditions that people have respected and obeyed for centuries, particularly I think in family life and in the church, have just been thrown aside. And everybody’s free to do his own thing. You see, that’s the climate that ripens things because people are not now inhibited as they used to be by fear of what the neighbors will say or by standards of conduct that are generally accepted. Everything’s going to ripen. The people whose hearts are toward God will ripen into holiness but the people who are lawless will ripen into lawlessness.
But if you look at the lawlessness and the evil and say, “Well, I wish we didn’t have to endure that,” then you need to bear in mind that the climate that ripens the tares is also ripening the wheat. You see, in the church, basically most of the restrictions that used to be are no longer in force. In a certain sense, I mean, 50 years ago to clap your hands in church was almost a sin. Nowadays you can stand on your head and nobody really objects very much. A whole lot of religious taboos have been lifted. We’re free to do our own thing, to be ourselves—whether we’re good or whether we’re lawless. See that?
Then we’ll look at the two harvests of Revelation 14. I hope you understand I’m just taking different perspectives, all of which bring out the same principle. In Revelation 14, beginning at verse 14, we have, first of all, the harvest of grain and then we have the harvest of grapes. The harvest of grain is the harvest of salvation, the harvest of grapes is the harvest of judgment. In the climate of Israel it is actually correct that the grape harvest is basically the last harvest. First come barley, then wheat, then after a while the grapes. This is a harvest of God’s judgment. Let’s read now from verse 14. We’ll read the harvest of grain first.
“And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat one like the son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.”
I believe that’s Jesus as Lord of the harvest. The golden crown is not a crown of royalty. There are two kinds of crowns in the New Testament. One is a diadem which is the mark of royalty, the other is a laurel wreath which is the gold medal of the Olympic games in those days. It’s the mark of the victor. Jesus here, if it is Jesus, has on His head a gold laurel wreath. It’s the mark of the one who had conquered, He’s the victor. It says, you know, in Matthew 9:37–38:
“The harvest truly is plenty but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore that the Lord of the harvest, that He will thrust forth laborers into His harvest.”
That’s a very powerful word. It’s the same word that’s used of driving demons out of people. Ruth and I have come to realize that if you want to get workers into the harvest, they have to be thrust forth. Not a gentle little push because there’s a lot of us—selfishness and indifference—it takes a real thrust of the Holy Spirit to get people out in the harvest.
And here I think the angel that speaks now is talking to Jesus as the Lord of the harvest about the ingathering of the harvest.
“And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in your sickle and reap, for the time has come for you to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’”
But the Greek says the harvest of the earth is dry. It’s ripe to the point where if you don’t reap it you’re going to lose it. And so the scripture says:
“He who sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.”
I understand that to be the last great harvest of salvation. I picture in my mind this sickle swinging right in over the globe and reaping in millions and millions and millions of souls into the kingdom of God. I believe that in the near future when the harvest is really taking place, more souls will be saved in a year or two than have been saved in all the time since Jesus died and rose from the dead. This is the harvest hour.
And you know one thing the Bible says? A son who sleeps in harvest causes his father shame. So don’t you be a son or a daughter that’s asleep in the harvest hour.
So this harvest is reaped. Now we get to the next which is the harvest of judgment.
“Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar who had power over fire...”
It seems that fire may be the means of judgment.
“...and he cried with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’”
Now this harvest is also ripe. And this is a harvest of wrath and judgment as you’ll see.
“So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”
You know that in order to get the juice out of the grapes they carved out these stone winepresses. Then they would put the grapes in the winepress and then the people would jump up and down with bare feet, crushing the grapes so that the juice flowed out of them. So in order to deal with the grapes they had to be trampled. The trampling of the grapes is a picture of God’s judgment on the ungodly. In Revelation 19 it says Jesus is the one who treads the winepress of the wrath of God. Here’s the final verse:
“The winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for 1,600 furlongs [about 180 miles].”
Just let me ask you a simple question. Do you think that’s metaphorical blood? Or, is that real blood? I would say it’s real, red, human blood. It’s a frightening thought, blood spattered out of the horses’ bridles for 184 miles. I don’t have any more to say about that.
Let’s go on to Revelation 22, just three verses. This is the last chapter of the New Testament. Verses 10–12:
“And he said to me [that’s the angel that gave the revelation], ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.’”
The time of the culmination of everything. This is an amazing statement from the Bible, in my opinion.
“He who is unrighteous, let him be unrighteous still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”
One translation says he who is filthy, let him be still more filthy; he who is holy, let him be still more holy. You see what it is? It’s the parting of the ways. Those that are righteous need to become more righteous, and those who are wicked will become more wicked. It’s as if the Lord says to the wicked, “Live it up. Show us your full wickedness because you don’t have much longer.”
And then the next verse is Jesus:
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every one according to his work.”
So this condition is immediately before the Lord’s return and it’s a condition in which the righteous are getting more righteous and the wicked are getting more wicked. Isn’t that very clearly what it teaches? So, in these examples I’ve tried to show you that all through the scripture its revelation teaches that up to the close of the age the wicked will get more wicked, the righteous will get more righteous. The light will get brighter but the darkness will get deeper. It’s a mistake to talk only about the darkness and say everything’s going to get dark. But it’s just as much of a mistake to talk only about the light and say everything’s going to be light and everything’s going to be fine, we’ll have the whole situation under control. No sir! There’s only one person who can get the whole situation under control and His name is Jesus, that’s right. We’re going to need Him badly, brothers and sisters.
One of my friends, a fellow minister of mine said, “The attitude of the church today about the coming of the Lord is almost like if He comes they’ll say, ‘Nice to have you back!’” Brothers and sisters, we’re going to need Him desperately when He comes. And if we have the heart of the bride, we’ll be longing for Him with a passion that cannot be expressed. Anybody who’s indifferent about the coming of the Lord really hardly qualifies to be part of the bride. If you’re just a little bit lukewarm right now let me encourage you. Things are going to happen that will cause you to wish ardently for the coming of the Lord. All right? So when they happen, just realize you needed it. I hope you understand me.
God has His ways of getting us to the place where we see we need Him. Is that right? How many of you could put up a hand and say that’s true? All right. See, personally I don’t believe in being a hero beyond what the Bible indicates. I mean, as I understand it—this is my personal understanding—Jesus is going to deal with the antichrist. I’m quite happy to let Him do it, you know. Come Lord Jesus, we need you!
That’s only the beginning. I mean, there’s a lot more going to happen before we realize how intensely we need Him.
Let me go a little further and this is a little more elaborate. I want to talk about what I call the two Pentecosts. The Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the satanic Pentecost which is an outpouring of demonic power. Again, I see them taking place side by side. Let me first give a glance at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which is specifically predicted for the last days. If we turn to Acts 2 and read the beginning of Peter’s sermon there on the Day of Pentecost, the end of his quotation from Joel. I think it’s very clear that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit, are to continue right up to the coming of the Lord. There’s not the faintest suggesting that they will be withdraw but rather that they will become more and more manifest. Let me read now what Peter said in Acts 2, beginning at verse 16.
“...but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS IN THE LAST DAYS,’ SAYS GOD, ‘THAT I WILL POUR OUT MY SPIRIT ON ALL FLESH; YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS...’”
How many of you know that’s happening? It’s happening right now right around the earth.
“...AND ON MY MENSERVANTS AND ON MY MAIDSERVANTS I WILL POUR OUT MY SPIRIT IN THOSE DAYS and they will prophesy. I WILL SHOW WONDERS IN HEAVEN ABOVE, AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BENEATH, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE.”
That never happened on the day of Pentecost. Peter is looking right ahead to the close of the age.
“THE SUN SHALL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS, AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE COMING OF THE GREAT AND NOTABLE DAY OF THE LORD. AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS THAT WHOEVER CALLS UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.”
So Peter there in interpreting Joel depicts an outpouring of the Holy Spirit which commenced on the Day of Pentecost but which is apparently going to come to a tremendous climax at the close of the age immediately prior to the great and notable day of the Lord.
In the epistle of James we have another statement which is the same in principle. James 5:7–8:
“Therefore, be patient brethren, until the coming of the Lord.”
Now, I spoke about the word there, that’s parousia, the standard Greek word for the return of the Lord in glory.
“Be patient brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it, until he receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient, establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord [parousia] is at hand.”
So it’s very clear that the age is going to end as Jesus indicated, with a great harvest. The farmer in Israel waits patiently, his aim is to gather in the harvest but before the harvest can come there has to be a double outpouring of rain. First of all, the former rain which comes at the beginning of winter. And then the latter rain which comes at the end of winter. Each of them are essential for the harvest. The former rain softens the earth after months without rain. Because, it never rains in the summer in Israel at all. From April to October, normally no rain falls at all. Sometimes it will fall in September. The earth becomes parched and hard, you couldn’t begin the processes of agriculture until the former rain softens the earth. Then throughout the months of the winter, rain continues to fall but somewhat sporadically—some here and some there—until the latter rain which is at the end of the winter just before the harvest—and then this is the greatest outpouring of rain of the whole year, the latter rain, which again is a universal rain that falls over the whole country and causes the seeds to germinate. So, you have to have the former and the latter rain for the harvest.
And all through the Bible from Deuteronomy 11 onwards you find this principle, the rain is given for the sake of the harvest. James takes this and applies it spiritually. He says God is longing for the harvest just like the farmer longs for his harvest. But, the harvest cannot be gathered in until, first of all, the former rain and then the latter rain have fallen. He ties this right in with the coming of the Lord. In other words, the latter rain will facilitate the harvest which is the end of the age which will culminate with the coming of the Lord.
I find this very clearly carried out in church history. I am not expert on church history but as I see it, the former rain fell on the New Testament church. It was, as far as the church was concerned, a universal outpouring. All the Christians came into the fullness of the Holy Spirit. They didn’t know any other kind of Christianity except that fullness of the Spirit. Then the former rain dried up and through long centuries there were sporadic outpourings of rain—some here, some there. There’s probably never been a century in the history of the church from then till now without some sovereign, supernatural visitation of God’s Spirit somewhere. But it wasn’t the latter rain.
And then—and giving dates is dangerous but I would say on the first day of the 20th century the latter rain began to fall. I say that because in Topeka, Kansas, there was a Bible school run by a man named Pyram. On the first day of this century one of the young ladies in the Bible school went to the faculty and said, “I want you to lay hands on me that I may receive the Holy Spirit as they did in the book of Acts.” The faculty didn’t believe in it but to satisfy her they did it and when they laid hands on her she began to speak with tongues. So, if you want a precise pinpoint, out of that developed the Pentecostal movement. Out of that came the move in Azuza Street, Los Angeles, which eventually became worldwide. So this latter rain is a worldwide outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe we’ve by any means seen the whole of it because God said He would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.
Ruth and I have become deeply concerned about the Middle East and North Africa. There are many nations there in the Middle East and right across North Africa that have never known the latter rain, there’s never been a drop fallen on any of them. The age cannot end until the latter rain has fallen on them. I believe it it’s near at hand.
I would like to give you also another scripture which is a favorite of mine. Jeremiah 5:23–24. This is speaking about the people of Israel in Jeremiah’s day. It says:
“This people has a defiant and rebellious heart; they have revolted and departed. They do not say in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season; he reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.”
See, one mark of a stubborn and rebellious heart is people don’t realize that God gives the latter rain. And there are a lot of stubborn, rebellious people amongst God’s people still today. And they demonstrate it by their refusal to recognize the outpouring of the latter rain.
But then Jeremiah goes on to say God gives the rain, the former and the later, each in its season. And then he says He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest. What is the rain given for in one word? Harvest, that’s right. And this is such a blessed thought to me because have you ever walked into a restaurant and wanted to sit at a nice table near the window? Maybe you don’t do these things. And you walk up to it and there’s a little sign on the table and it says what? Reserved, that’s right, and you know you can’t sit there. Well, God has put reserved across certain weeks which are reserved for the harvest.
And Satan would like to cancel those weeks. He’d like to move in and take things over but God says reserved. Until the harvest has been gathered, Satan, you can’t do what you want to do.
There are a vast number of incredibly wicked and powerful forces at work in the world right now that would love to blot out the people of God. But God says reserved. I’m giving the latter rain and it’s going to serve to gather in the harvest.
I say to those of you who receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit, don’t mess around with it. Why did you receive it? For the sake of what? The harvest. Are you in the harvest? Are you concerned about the harvest? See, there are two kinds of people, whether you call them Pentecostals or Charismatics. They’re the ones who realize why God has given them the Holy Spirit and they’re the ones who don’t. The ones who don’t form little bless me clubs that meet on Sunday morning, listen to the word, pray some nice prayers, and as they break up they say, “God bless you, brother, see you next Sunday.” That’s not the purpose of God.
And there are other people, perhaps less gifted, less talented, but they’ve understood what it was given for. And they’re out reaping the harvest and turning the world upside down. And basically, all Pentecostals and Charismatics are going to have to make up their minds do they understand the purpose of God in giving the rain? The rain is given for the sake of the harvest. If you are not in some way involved in the harvest but you’ve received the rain, you’re missing the purpose of God.
Now let’s look at the end purpose of this rain in Revelation 19:7–8. God’s end purpose is to produce a bride for His Son. This is described in Revelation 19:7–8:
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife had made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
We’ll return to that perhaps a little later. But you’ll notice here is what I call the outcome, the product of the latter rain. It’s a church beautified, glorified and ready for the bridegroom.
Now let us very quickly just glance at the other pentecost, the satanic pentecost. I use the word pentecost metaphorically, you understand. Let’s look in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–4:
“Now brethren, concerning the coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled either by spirit or by word or by letter as if from us, as though the day of the Lord had come.”
So some people were teaching even then that the day of the Lord had already come. He said that couldn’t be. I’ll explain why, and he goes on to say:
“Let no one deceive you by any means, for that day will not come unless the falling away come first, and the man of sin [or lawlessness] is revealed [the son of perdition], who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called god, or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
So Paul says very clearly there the end of the age cannot come until the man if manifested whom we call the antichrist, the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition, the wild beast. He’s got about four titles. Let me give you them again. The man of lawlessness, the son of perdition, the antichrist, the wild beast. But, he cannot be manifested until there is a falling away. The word that’s translated “falling away” is the Greek word which gives us apostasy. How many of you know what the word apostasy means? It means the deliberate rejection of revealed truth. So, as long as the church remains faithful to the truth committed, the church is a barrier through which antichrist cannot break. The first thing he has to do is break down the resistance to the church and that will open the way. And the breaking down of the resistance to the church comes in apostasy.
That word is only used in one other place, it’s in Acts 21:21 where James says to Paul people are saying about you that you’re teaching apostasy against the law of Moses. So its context is always religious. There has to be an apostasy, a deliberate rejection of revealed truth within the church before the antichrist can be revealed.
I want to suggest to you we are living in the time of that apostasy. All through church history there have been wicked priests and popes and clergymen. Sensuous, immoral, covetous, many kinds of wickedness. But basically they have never denied the great basic truths of the church. Because really, those truths are what gave them their power. They’ve never denied the virgin birth of Jesus, the deity of Jesus, His physical resurrection, His ascension into heaven. But in this century, beginning right at the end of the last century in Germany, there has come a systematic denial of all the great basic truths of the Christian faith. Which has spread basically throughout the earth and has infected every section of the church.
Personally, I believe that the breakdown of biblical faith in the church in Germany opened the way for Adolf Hitler. On a larger scale, the breakdown of biblical faith in the church, apostasy in the church, will open the way for someone who will be infinitely worse than Adolf Hitler. That’s the antichrist.
There’s another, in a way, if you could go further in apostasy I think the feminist movement which is so active in the church today will not call God Father, will not call Jesus Son. I mean, there is nothing left of the great central truths to the Bible they will recognize. I don’t get all upset about this because to me it’s one evidence the Bible is true. The Bible said it would happen, it’s happening. I mean, I don’t spend my time wringing my hands over apostasy but I try to be realistic, what is the significance of it? What does it tell us? What’s going to happen? The answer is the antichrist is just about to be manifested. That’s my personal opinion.
You see, the word anti—let me explain. Antichrist, antimessiah. All right? Christ is the Greek form for Messiah. Anti in Greek has two meanings. First of all, against. Secondly, in place of. So the spirit of antichrist works in two stages. First of all, to remove the true Christ from His church. But that’s not the end. Secondly, to replace Him with a false christ. That’s the full outworking. So where we see Jesus being systematically rejected in His own church and dishonored, brothers and sisters, that’s not the end. That’s just number one. Move two is to replace Him by another called the antichrist.
I have said, because I’m so involved with the Middle East and my background is from Europe, there’s really only one thing that would prevent Judaism, Islam and Christianity from forming a world religion. And that’s Jesus. If we could just remove that awkward historical character, Jesus, they would come together. In Jerusalem, in Israel, they talk about the three great world monotheistic religions. Believe me, there are many, many forces at work busily removing Jesus.
We had some friends in a Methodist church in the United States. It could have been any church, it’s not an attack on Methodists. They said to us in our church you can talk about Buddha, Plato or Martin Luther King and no one gets upset. But if you talk about Jesus, everybody gets upset. What’s that spirit? Antichrist, that’s right.
We have to go on quickly. It says in 1 John 2:19 about the antichrists:
“They went out from us but they were not of us; for if they had been of us they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that none of them were of us.”
So, antichrist begins in association with the church. He’s called son of perdition. There’s only one other person in the New Testament called son of perdition. Who was that? Judas. He was a false apostle, you see? All right, an apostate apostle.
So, it’s very clear in essence what we can look for.
Let’s look at two other scriptures about what I call this satanic pentecost. 1 Timothy 4. It’s specifically related to the last days. 1 Timothy 4:1:
“Now the Spirit [the Holy Spirit] expressly says that in latter times [the last days] some will depart from the faith...”
Which faith? The Christian faith. You can’t depart from the faith if you’ve never been in it.
“...some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”
There’s going to be a horde of deceiving spirits and demons let loose on the church to turn us away from the faith.
And then in 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul says:
“This know that in the last days perilous times will come...”
And going on about the last days he says in verse 13 of that 3rd chapter:
“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Now, where it says impostors, the Greek says enchanters. I have checked this very carefully with three different Greek dictionaries. An enchanter is a magician. He’s a practitioner of the occult. They used enchantment, as they still do today, to cast spells. So, the occult and the manifestly satanic is going to increase toward the close of the age.
Now, what’s going to be the outcome? It’s very closely parallel to the outpouring of God’s Spirit. The outcome is going to be a harlot church. Just as the true Spirit of God produces the bride, the satanic forces produce the harlot. I don’t know how much time we have to read but Revelation 17:
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters... so he carried me away in the Spirit in the wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, which was full of names of blasphemy... the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication, and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, ‘BABYLON THE GREAT...’’”
So she is Babylon reappearing in the spiritual dimension. Babylon was the great center of two things, idolatry and witchcraft. There are many scriptures.
So what we are facing is a false church that is empowered by witchcraft, if full of idolatry. And listen to this last statement, brothers and sisters, because we need to know this. In Revelation 17:6:
“I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.”
My personal conviction is the greatest single enemy of the true church will be the false church. I think we should be wise enough to be like Elijah because Elijah had no doubts about what Jezebel would do to him if she could get him. I think we need to anticipate and see that we have an enemy that would dearly love to see us totally destroyed. And it’s emerging out of the true church, it’s the false church and it’s the bride, in a sense, of antichrist.