An Invitation to Armageddon

An Invitation to Armageddon

Revisited

Robert Wurtz II

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. (Matthew 24:7 NKJV)

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (Matthew 24:9-12)

Matthew 24 is typically viewed as a passage about end-time events, or what theologians call eschatology (from the Greek eskhatos meaning “last things”). The idea is that the closer we are to the end of the age the more evil and godless society is going to be. The sobering thing is that many end-time things were prophesied over 2000 years ago and are as real today as if they were just penned. In fact, when Jesus said that nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom nation is the Greek ethnos from which we get our English word ethnic. We could read this, “Ethnic group shall rise against ethnic group…” On the very date of this publication, a simple internet news search yielded this headline as the number two search result, The Latest: Threat of ethnic violence looms in Nairobi slum.” We are seeing it in America increasing over the last several years. What is happening?

It is simple, the further people get from God’s word and His influence, the more wicked and evil they become. It is axiomatic. They can do no other. As men dismiss God and His rule from their minds; when they no longer have God’s word as the primary variable under which they make decisions; unbridled evil is always the result. (Jeremiah 6:28-30, Romans 1:26-30) By way of analogy, the influence of God is waning in the world like the battery that runs down on a cell phone. If the phone is used more than it’s charged the battery will get weaker and weaker until it finally switches off. In the case of this present world, as God’s influence becomes less and less — it won’t switch off — it will blow up. It will come front and center into what we read about in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation. The only thing that can turn the tide of this progress is for God and His word to be more of an influence and not less. 

   

If the people who hate God could have their way and He be purged from society — they would not like the world they would be living in. We have had a couple of great awakenings in America and many revivals. These have kept the lid on things (so to speak). Yet in the 1960s rebellion against God reached a fever pitch and we have been on a slide (like no other) ever since.


Abraham Lincoln once said that “the philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” So it has been in the West. Multitudes of God-hating professors and teachers have taught children against God in unconscionable ways. They grew up and brought forth another fresh crop of God-haters. They probably thought they were winning, but now, in the 21st century, the world is sitting on top of an apocalyptic powder keg. The world will self-destruct without the influence of God.


The “seismic activity” (as it were) that we read in the news every day is indicative of an eruption that seems inevitable. Like a volcano with hot pools of lava swelling under the surface — society is readying itself to explode at any time. If God were to take His hand completely off of this world, we would be plunged into fire and blood in ways unknown in human history. The warfare bloodbaths of the early 20th century, that witnessed the deaths of some 100,000,000 people worldwide, would be mere skirmishes compared to the bloodshed the 21st century will experience without God’s restraining hand. 

God’s Restraining Influences

God declared in Genesis 6:3 that He would not always strive with man, but that His days (of striving) would be 120 years. God’s striving is like a tether — restraining the full expression of evil that fallen men are capable of (Galatians 5:19-21). The Hebrew word for strive in Genesis 6:3 carries the meaning of sailing straight. God works to thwart the expression of man’s evil thoughts and intentions. In fact, God is striving with the very nature of Satan himself, who is working to a greater or lesser degree in all unregenerate people (Ephesians 2:2). 


Satan has been a murderer since the beginning (John 8:44). He enjoys bloodshed. As people resist God and yield more to Satan, they become more like him. They are his children and manifest his nature. Indeed, men become Satan’s slaves to an increasing degree as they resist God. We can see plainly that people are becoming more and more murderous and hateful as society drifts away from God. God is love. Satan is a murderer. Men determine (by who they yield themselves to) who they will ultimately reflect and become like. 

The Holy Spirit Strives With Man

God strives with man to limit his or her iniquity. The word iniquity simply means lawlessness. This does not mean lawless towards man’s law — but God’s natural Law. First, the masses are rebelling against the very law that God has written upon all men’s hearts increasingly by the day. They reject the light of conscience. Their hearts are hardened and in many cases, they are past feeling (they are numb to their conscience) This is where the Church (comprised of the regenerate) must step in. With confusion rife, God has called Christians to be salt and light. In other words, we know that iniquity is going to spread like gangrene though this present evil world, but God has established the Church to be a light in the darkness and salt to help slow the festering wound. The Church should be a serious impediment to the spread of evil. Otherwise, we are worthless for the task and are nothing more than impotent dust that the world treads under their feet. Light is anathema to a person who loves darkness and salt is painful to an open wound. However, we are called to a task and God expects us to do it.

We are on the Road towards Genesis 6. People love their lawless ways but they have no idea about what the consequences are going to be — not just in this world but in the world to come. There is a great effort to rewrite right and wrong on all levels. Satan is doing everything he can to corrupt mankind with all kinds of sexually related sins. Drugs that used to be illegal are slowly being legalized until the day may come when people can buy Opiates at the same liquor store that sells booze and cigarettes. It seems insane now — but so did same-sex marriage thirty years ago. No telling what diabolical wickedness we will face next. God’s word forbids certain behaviors (in one sense) because of the destruction they cause. Do we really want to live in a world where it’s legal to get bombed out of your mind with drugs as people do with alcohol? 

God’s law can be summed up by one word: love. Men are to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength and their neighbor as themselves (Luke 10:27). Take away God’s law and you strip away love. To evict God from our society is to risk being unable to love anything but sin. Paul describes this condition in the closing days of his life when he writes to young Timothy:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

The words “without natural affection” is the Greek word astorgos. This is the natural love that a mother and father ought to have for their young; it is familial love (family love). How could that happen? Think of the fatherless children in the world as one example. When men refuse to take care of their own family and children there are serious consequences. Men who willing do this are worse than infidels no matter what their profession of faith (1 Timothy 5:8). It creates a cycle of bitterness and misconceptions in the hearts of the children. As Mac Davis penned some 50 years ago… “… He’s going to be an angry young man some day! Take a look at you and me… are we too blind to see. Do we simply turn our heads and look the other way? As the world turns.” This is but a single example of a consequence of disregarding God’s word. There are as many examples are there are people who reject God’s word. There is no escaping it. Reject God’s word and there will be a serious consequence.

God: Just Cut Us Loose? 

We are moving towards Armageddon as fast as the unlocked wheels of time will take us. What happens as the collective mind seeks independence from God’s influence and comes completely under Satan’s? Notice our text again. The love of many shall wax cold. Greek scholar Marvin Vincent reminds us that it is not the love of many people only that shall be chilled, but of “the many,” “the majority,” “the great body.” This is the consequence of man wanting God to “cut the tether” that restrains them from sinning. 

Many want freedom from God and their conscience — freedom to sin without restraint. What happens? If Genesis 6 is any indicator; if the current trajectory of things continues; people will become bloodthirsty savages — slaves of hate, and lovers of violence. It can be no other. It is all that will be left once God, and His word are gone from the peoples’ minds and hearts. 

Symptoms of Hard-Heartedness

Symptoms of Hard-Heartedness

Robert Wurtz II

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek. (Romans 2:5–9 NKJV)

There are many occasions in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit will inspire the writer to use a word found only once in the rest of the New Testament. The technical term for this is a hapax legomena. However, Romans 2:5 contains several hapax legomena — suggesting that God is being particularly expressive when warning us about hardness of heart. Our opening sentence gives God’s diagnosis, But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart (…).” Our Greek word for hardness comes from the root skleras and it is found many times in the LXX (Greek Old Testament). It is often used to describe an insensitive, cruel and harsh person. A person who is sklerotes is moving in a selfish disregard of others. This can only happen if a person has hardened themselves against the word of God when it speaks concerning our behavior towards one another.


What is more striking is that Paul turns a statement that was commonly known at the time in order to reveal the fact that the reader is oblivious to their own hardness of heart. He writes you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. In ancient times there was a concept that people who were in covenant with God actually had a personal treasury (with their name on it) that God was building up based on the person’s good works. This “personal treasury” would pay out at the final judgment. Jesus spoke of this when He stated, Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19–20 NKJV) Yet Paul informs the people that instead of laying up treasures they are actually storing up wrath for the day of wrath. 


Imagine how shocking that would be to hear. On the one hand, you believe you are storing up good works in heaven to be paid out when you die. Instead, you find out that you are storing up God’s wrath. How could this be? Clearly, Paul is demonstrating to the people that their heart is so hardened that it no longer “smites them” when they do wrong. You will recall that David’s heart smote him when he cut Saul’s robe (1 Samuel 24:5) and when he numbered Israel (2 Samuel 24:10). Unlike David, the people Paul is referring to can see other peoples sins clearly (Romans 2:1), but cannot see or feel their own. In the words of Paul to the Ephesians, “they are past feeling.” (Ephesians 4:19) Their conscience is seared with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:2)


People who fit Paul’s description in Romans 2:1-9 are in need of radical repentance. The person must first repent of the attitude that John the Baptist confronted when he preached radical repentance. You will recall that the Jews had a tendency to evoke “Abraham as our father” as if that birthright was the solution to everything. It was not. No matter what family you are born into (Jew or Gentile) you are expected to walk in line with God’s revealed will. In fact, the Jews had an even greater obligation to live righteously because to them were entrusted the oracles of God. (Amos 3:2) If we have ears to hear we will see that Paul is preaching repentance in these verses. He is challenging the same attitude that John the Baptist challenged.


The second area of repentance is to identify areas of our life where we know that we have flagrantly disregarded God’s word. These are areas where we may have sinned and felt convicted in the past, but now we behave a certain way and it doesn’t bother us at all. This is a symptom of hardness of heart. No matter how many sermons we hear on that topic it will never do any good. One way God illustrates hardness of heart to us is by using the analogy of hard (untilled) ground and seed. This is perfect because many people have tried to plant seeds on hard dirt only to discover that it doesn’t work. Our heart, if hardened, is similar to hard and dry ground. What happens? The heart is hard and beaten down in an area and the seed of God’s word cannot penetrate or take root. It happened as the people resisted and then rejected God’s word. They would hear it and like seed on scorched earth, it bore no fruit. So God told Israel,“Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12b NKJV) 


In the summer of 1980, the Midwestern United States suffered one of the worst heat waves and droughts on record. This natural disaster claimed some 1,700 lives and farmers lost an estimated $20 billion in crops ($60 Billion in 2017 dollars). In those days our family lived out in the country and we witnessed first-hand the destruction of that heat and drought. I recall the day my uncle came to plow up our half-acre garden. As the farm tractor attempted to make its first pass, the ground was so hard that the front wheels came up on the tractor and it rode a wheelie for about fifty yards. This happened each time he cut a new row. I had seen many fields plowed by this time, but as a young boy watching that tractor ride wheelies was very exciting to me. In retrospect, it’s a wonder he didn’t destroy his equipment. Needless to say, 1980 was a disaster for gardeners.

God forbid that our hearts would be as hard and dry as that soil in 1980. Yet if it is, repentance is the only solution. Without it, our lives will be as barren as our garden was that year. The solution for a hardened heart? When need to come before the Lord with an open heart and really let Him speak to us. Nothing is off limits. No excuses. We have to make that first step because God wants to plant the seed of His word on that hardened ground. “Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12b NKJV)

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