Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, 5/22/05
"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you'" (II Chron. 20:17).
When I finished writing, "The Last Days" (Link at End), I sensed there would be a continuation of this theme, entitled, "Gog and Magog." I found that interesting because it reminded me of a book I read over 30 years ago now, called The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. Until then, my years of Bible study had not yielded much information about Magog other than he was a son of Japheth, a grandson of Noah (Gen. 10:2; I Chron 1:5). Lindsey took passages from the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Zechariah, and wove them together with passages from Revelation. He interpreted everything literally, rather than symbolically, and came up with a horrific end time scenario which scared me spitless. I remember running all his references, and concluding from them, "This guy must know what he's talking about. It's all here in the Bible." Of course, like the author, I was trying to figure everything out with my natural mind, which is a short ride to confusion and fear.
Because I read the book during the 70s, when Russia was the great threat, it seemed logical to me that Lindsey was right: Magog stood for Russia, and their many nuclear missiles added fuel to my fears. The NIV Study Bible indicates that Magog is "unlikely Russia," but rather unknown peoples and territories to the north of Israel. When Lindsey's timeline for the return of Christ and the end of the world as we know it failed to materialize, not once but twice, I decided he was either a nut or a false prophet, who didn't know what he was talking about (Deut. 18:22). Amazingly, he continued to write end time prophecies, and though none of them has come to pass, his failure to get it right never stopped his readers' from buying his books. The "rapture theory," so beloved by Evangelicals and others sweetens the pot, as Tim LaHaye knows very well from the sale of his many Left Behind books. I would never read his books because they are blasphemous to the purpose and power of Almighty God, but I know the topic well, having been seduced into this belief for a brief time. I remember praying that the rapture wouldn't come during rush hour, when so many people would be yanked up out of their cars, leaving their unmanned vehicles to crash and burn on the LA freeways, among other places, killing millions of people.
We had an e-mail from a brother in Canada regarding this topic. He wrote, "Did you know that 35% of the US population now believes in hellfire and damnation and that they will be spared the 'tribulation' by means of the rapture? They also believe that most of the world's population will go to hell immediately upon death. All people in the world who are not born again Christians (and then only a certain type of born again Christian), plus people of all other religions, including the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindu's, etc., will go to hell. Not only that, but even if someone, like an aborigine in remote Australia, had never heard of Jesus, well, he goes to hell too.
"I have been pestered by a guy from Boston who says I am going to hell if I don't get myself saved properly. I am trying to get him to read your journals, but he refuses to. He is absolutely convinced he is going to be raptured and he is so obsessed with hell, I suspect he dreams about it." End Quote.
This brother has seen through a great lie being propagated today by well meaning Christians, who have believed those who are prophesying out of the delusions of their own minds, as Jeremiah would put it (Jer. 23:26). In that way the Spirit has of bringing truth to us, in spite of what we hear and see and read from the mind of man, He brought me up short about the rapture in two ways: 1) The word "rapture" cannot be found anywhere in the Bible, but rather comes from various passages which speak of being caught up in Spirit (I Thess. 4:17). One day, the Holy Spirit shined His Light of Truth on the passage in Rev. 12, where it speaks of the man child being "snatched up to God and to His throne" (Vs. 5). I realized then, that rather than speaking of one time when the faithful will be sucked up in a giant spiritual vacuum cleaner while God wreaks havoc on the wicked on earth, He was referring to those special times which come upon me regularly, when I am caught up to the Throne of God, and allowed to see as He sees about whatever worrisome issue I had been struggling with. Lenny has those times almost daily when he walks outside, enjoying the sweet, sweet presence of the Lord. When he enters the Throne Room and fellowships with his Father, the Father of all, he reports that when this happens, all his pain is completely gone!
2) One day, it came to me suddenly, that the rapture theory, which boasts that the faithful will be yanked up into the air, while the wicked get their just desserts down below, is the absolute antithesis of who Jesus was while He was on earth. He did not hang out with the religious folk, and turn up his nose at sinners, as most Christians are proud to tell you they do today. He fellowshipped with "publicans and sinners" (KJV). He "hung out" with them, as the kids say; He ate with them. One of the twelve disciples, Matthew was a despised tax collector before Jesus called him. Here's the account: "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick" (Matt: 9:10-12). Mark's gospel adds, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (2:17). In the twinkling of an eye, I saw that if Jesus did not hesitate to be with sinners, and we are to be as He was in this world, He would never take us away from those who really need to hear the unconditional love of God. Zealous types think they do not need God's unconditional love; the wicked certainly do!
Like the Pharisees of old, religious leaders today deny the purpose of God, substituting instead their own craftily invented tales, of which the rapture theory is one of the worst. To these religious rule makers, Jesus jeered, "For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."' But wisdom is proved right by all her children" (Luke 7:33-35).
Using fear to control the flock only works with Christians who still identify themselves as sheep. Yes, Jesus did say, "My sheep know my voice" (John 10:4,27). He also called his followers "servants," until came the day when He said to them, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other" (John 15:15-17). We are no longer servants, but sons of God: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And THAT IS WHAT WE ARE! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him" (I John 3:1). Can't you see that only sons of God, flowing in Spirit, can keep Jesus' commandment: LOVE EACH OTHER! Servants and sheep cannot do more than lay rules on each other.
You show me someone who insists on eternal hellfire to punish the wicked, which according to their theology means that 99% of God's creation will burn in hell, and I will show you a sheep, or a servant, who has never personally felt God's unconditional love. A servant, Jesus said, does not know His master's business. A servant does what he's told, even if it means wounding God's children. Do you have any idea how much damage the concept of hellfire has done to people? It has made some nearly crazy, and has driven countless millions of others away from God and His church. To add insult to injury, these religious folk say, "God is going to burn you in hell eternally for your sins, but you must Love Him, for He is just." Yes, He is just, and more than that, He is responsible for everything, good and bad! Consider these passages: "See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand" (Deut. 32:39). "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things" (Isa. 45:7).
Unlike Christians, who blame everything on the devil, the writers of the Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit, knew the truth, that everything flows from God, from the beginning to the end. God is the ONLY one with whom we have to do. Speaking of God's election of Jacob over Esau, Paul quotes the Lord's statement to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy" (Rom. 9:15-16). If you have not read it in a while, let me encourage you to read Romans, chapters nine through eleven again. In these golden verses, Paul lays out the Gospel in its brilliance and simplicity. Everything comes from God, who always had a plan, which was never deterred by the lies of false prophets, the delusions of men, the self seeking majesty of rulers, and the wiles of the devil. God has always worked through a remnant, a few, the elect. Why? So that His power and glory can shine forth.
He saved the whole world by one man, Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17), the pattern of the elect. God delivered Israel from the mud pits and whips of Egypt by the hand of one man, Moses. Remember Gideon? He was the elect in that hour whom God chose to deliver Israel from the Midianites. The Lord culled the thousands of fighting men who reported for duty down to a mere 300, saying, "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her" (Judges 7:2). He spread the gospel of the kingdom to the lost sheep of the house of Israel through twelve men (Matt. 10:1-16) and He turned the gentile world upside down through the ministry of one man, Paul the Apostle (Rom. 11:13). Paul speaks of God hardening Israel's heart, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day" (Rom. 11:8). It was my impression that this is still the case in Israel today, but I do not despair, because Paul assures us that "ALL Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:26). This is an all inclusive statement, and though those who insist the Bible is true, every word, usually spit up at the thought that those wicked Jews who disobeyed God in the Old Testament as well as those who crucified His son in the New will be saved, nevertheless, it's what the Apostle of grace said, not Jan.
We often get e-mail from people who have left the church because they cannot abide the rantings of the ETers (Eternal Torment). Inevitably, when they have tried to share the good news with them, i.e., that Christ paid the price for everyone (Rom 11:32), they are verbally stoned. When they whine to us, we remind them what Jesus said: "Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you" (Matt. 7:6). We also share Paul's statement that God Himself hardens people's hearts, and prevents them from seeing the truth (Rom. 11:8). If God tells you to share the Good News, then do it knowing He has prepared the way, but if He does not, you risk abuse and injury by running ahead of the Spirit.
Sheep and servants follow orders, but sons of God know the Father and His plan of the ages: "For God has consigned ALL men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon ALL" (Rom. 11:32, RSV). When God reveals this glorious truth to us by the Spirit, we know that our Father has everything under control. Future events do not terrify us. People cannot scam us into fearing that we won't qualify for the rapture, that when Gog and Magog come against the people of God, we won't win. When we KNOW the Father, who is from the beginning, we see that whatever battle we have been struggling with has already been won! We don't even have to fight. We only have to stand still and see the victory of our God. As for Gog and Magog, "..fire came down from heaven and devoured them" (Rev. 20:8), a symbolic way to say that God, "a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29), will have the ultimate victory over all who stand against Him.
God said through Hosea, "Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them, not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the LORD their God" (Hos. 1:7). Judah is symbolic of the elect, and this verse declares that God is the only one who will save us. We cannot save, purify, or make ourselves holy, no matter how hard we try, but Paul assures us that, "He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves" (Eph. 1:4-6). Hallelujah!
Father, we thank You that when we rest in You, there are no battles to fight, no salvation to earn, no judgments to make. We are Your sons who will bear Your Holy name throughout the ages to come. We worship You for Your grace, Your mercy, and Your unconditional love by which all creation will be restored to You in Your time and in Your way. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
The Kingdoms of This World
The Last Days
Heaven, Fact or Fable?
The Day of the Lord
That Beastly Bug
The Beast and the Elder Brother
A Mark of the Beast
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 05/18/05
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/13/08.