No one can say definitively who said it first. It has been attributed to Albert Einstein, but scholars can’t find any time when he uttered the words. The earliest we find the quote in print comes from Alcoholics Anonymous.
But whoever said it first, it is worth remembering. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.”
Over the last few decades, western civilization has become increasingly disdainful of God and His word. We have abandoned the principles that gave the most people the most opportunity and greatest prosperity in history. Godly principles broke down class and racial barriers. Today, our society has turned away from those good things.
And it’s not working. High percentages of people now suffer from mental disorders. More and more die from overdoses, overdrinking, or both. Suicide rates keep climbing. Corruption is growing in both the government and the private sector. Civility is becoming rarer. Violent outbursts happen with increasing regularity and in the strangest places. Children are less disciplined and less happy. I could list more, but you already know them.
We reap the whirlwind, then try to fix it by sowing more wind (Hosea 8:7). We sow deceit and reap pain. In response to the pain, we sow even more deceit. And the cycle continues. We try to solve problems by doing the same things that caused the problems, but each time in more extreme ways.
We’re making our problems worse by doubling down on the things that created those problems. We have become a violent and angry society. We need to seek God and repent.
With the Psalmist, we should humbly ask God, “Teach me the way in which I should walk” (Psalms 143:8 NASB). But instead, this society fills its mouth with cursing, deceit, and fraud (Psalm 10:7). It says to itself, “God has forgotten; He has hidden His face; He will never see it” (Psalm 10:11).
As nations and as individuals we must urgently and earnestly turn to God. Psalm 143:10-11 says it well. “Teach me to do Your will…. Let Your good Spirit lead me…. For the sake of Your name, O Lord, revive me. In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.”
Revelation – Part 10
There are a lot of honest disagreements when it comes to the Rapture. There are good men, good theologians who disagree on when it will take place. In part 10 of his line by line examination of the book of Revelation, Hal recounts how he and his very good friend Dr. Walter Martin would get into big arguments over which side of the Tribulation the Rapture would fall. Dr. Martin would say Jesus can’t come for the church until after the Tribulation and insist we’re going to go through it. Hal would then explain his views and the very definite Biblical reasons for why he says Jesus is going to come for the church before the awful seven years of Tribulation begins. They would have a big argument and then after which they’d say, let’s have dinner. And they would and they have remained friends.
He says, he who lives and believes in Me, shall never die. There are some people who would believe in Jesus, be alive and yet never die. Wrap your head around that for a second! Jesus says there’s some who live who will never die. What do you think that means? Hal likes to call it The Great Snatch. Theologians call this extraordinary event the Rapture, from the Latin word Rapturo. In the original Greek the word is Harpazo, which is a word for pickpockets; it means to snatch something with stealth. If you accepted the gift of pardon Jesus Christ died on the cross to give us, you’re going to be snatched out of the world instantaneously by stealth in a nanosecond. The world’s not going to know what happened. This important Bible study is available in its entirety at no charge in Hal’s video archive.
In times like these, every human institution feels insecure. Do you put your trust in government? Its failures mount by the day. We all depend on global supply lines. For instance, you or a loved one may depend on a certain medication. Is it made in China? Where will food prices go in the next few months or years? You have to eat. Where do you find peace in all that?
If you live on a fixed income and you drive a car, things may feel especially dicey right now. At the time of this writing, the average price for a gallon of gas in Los Angeles just rose to over $6 a gallon. What is the government’s answer? US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is an official representative of your government, and he has a simple answer. Buy an electric car.
His solution reminds me of something often attributed to Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before their Revolution. When told that the peasants were starving for lack of bread, she supposedly answered, “Let them eat cake.”
Well sure. If there’s not enough bread, eat cake. If gas prices are too high, go buy an electric car. The average price of an electric car is about $60,000. But so what? Okay, there is a shortage of both new and used cars, but you might find one if you are willing to pay far enough above list price. The US electric grid is not capable of supplying the power needed to charge millions of new electric vehicles. But at least, you wouldn’t be in line at the gas station.
Security cannot be found in our human institutions. Education has shifted away from teaching literacy and basic math skills. Now they teach young people that they are so mentally and emotionally handicapped that they can only succeed if the government grants them success. But, as we have seen, government is not doing too well.
Entertainment has become mired in bitterness, revenge, and self-loathing. Industry is no longer about innovation and optimism, but about staying politically correct. Survival for them no longer means building great products. It means making sure the elites don’t get mad at you. You can’t trust money because there’s no guarantee of its continued value. The same is true of precious metals like gold and silver.
And so it goes. Economic, military, medical, psychological, and educational upheavals are shaking the institutions of this world to their core. They hold no guarantee of security!
But God remains. He does not change. He rules in love. He always keeps His promises. He never fails. Even your body will one day fail. But He will not. And if you are in Him, you stand eternally secure.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, a blind woman named Frances Jane Crosby Alstyne shook the world with her pen. Better known as Fanny Crosby, she wrote well over 8,000 hymns and gospel songs. They include many favorites. But one stands out. The first line begins with the hymn’s two-word title, then adds three more words. “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.” How could she say so much in five simple words?
Every generation faces uncertainties. But what the world now faces is unique in a hundred different ways. More than ever, we need to remember the blessed assurance found in Jesus. He is our Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4), our Redeemer (Isaiah 41:14, Titus 2:14), and our Creator (John 1:3). He is the Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11), the Way (John 14:6), and the Door (John 10:9). He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8). He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 41:14). He is Lord of lords and King of kings (Revelation 17:14).
And in Him, you can have perfect peace no matter how great the storm. In all that you face, remember Him, His faithfulness, and His love. And then you will say with Fanny Crosby, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!”
My Heart, His Kingdom
Wars are always packed with tragedy and pain. But these days we see these things in a unique way. According to the CIA Factbook, Ukraine has almost as many cell phones per capita as the United States. Cell phones double as motion picture cameras and audio recorders. Those mechanical eyes and ears connect to the internet.
All wars are tragic, but this time we can see war’s tragedies in a more personal way than at any other time in history. And what we see—the sights and sounds from those Ukrainian cell phones—breaks our hearts.
We see the cruelty, the anguish, the fear, and the pain. There may have been times when you were so overwhelmed that you had to stop watching. I understand. It doesn’t mean you’re hardhearted. Just the opposite. It means you are able to empathize, and sometimes that becomes too much to bear.
Sadly, Ukraine is not the only place of cruelty and pain on planet earth just now. Many Christians in Africa, for instance, face unspeakable brutality. The Uyghurs in China are experiencing a level of persecution that some say approaches genocide. And don’t forget the “little” atrocities committed against vulnerable people even in affluent circumstances. All over the world, people suffer the aftereffects of their own and other people’s sin.
As the days pass, more Christians find themselves praying with John in Revelation 22:20, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” We long for the millennium, for a world made right by the rule of God the Son, the Prince of Peace. Those of us who know Him, know that we can trust His will. And where He reigns, His will prevails.
But the Bible doesn’t just speak of a future kingdom of God. It also speaks of God’s kingdom in the present tense. Mark 1:15 reveals the message with which Jesus began His preaching ministry. “The kingdom of God is at hand.”
Colossians 1:12-14 says, “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
When we come to Christ, God transfers us into His kingdom. If you are in Christ, you are part of His kingdom right now! That means He’s your King. He reigns in you. Where He reigns, His will prevails. And where His will prevails, His power flows!
We need that power now. We need to speak His words with His authority. We need the confidence that comes from knowing we stand safely in the center of His will. May we be circumspect in our thoughts, disciplined in our actions, diligent in our work, and faithful to learn His will by studying His word and going to Him in prayer. In times like these, may we consistently behave as commissioned representatives of His Kingdom—for our loved ones and for a desperate world.
Revelation — Part 9
You’re blind. He said truly I say to you, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the things of the Kingdom of God. Unless you’ve been born spiritually, you can’t understand the things of the Spirit of God. Jesus says the church of the last age, the last stage of the church age, would basically be spiritually blind. You’re naked too. Self righteousness does not clothe a person before God, only the righteousness that comes from Him. The moment we believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and receive the gift of pardon, that He died to give us, He clothes us with His righteousness. The only thing that clothes our nakedness before God is the imputed righteousness that He gives us. He gives us Jesus Christ’s righteousness when we believe in Him. And none of us will ever be able to stand before God, except in white garment of Christ’s righteousness. Jesus says I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed. And that’s worth more than the finest clothes that we could ever buy.
Hal reveals in part nine of his line by line examination of the book of Revelation, there’s a SOP, standard operating procedure manual, for Christians. Step #1: In everything, give thanks; for this, whatever is happening, is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. There’s power in praise because praise is the greatest way of showing your faith and trust in God. Step #2: If you know there’s something in your life that’s wrong, you go to God in prayer and confess it. He says if we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Now, all means all. You confess, He forgives, then the Holy Spirit will give you the power to move away from it, turn from it. Step #3: Claim that we know that God causes all things to work together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. You just claim that, that our faith, though it may be tried by fire, will be found under the praise and honor and glory of God. This important Bible study is available in its entirety at no charge in Hal’s video archive.
A Prayer Request
If you want to see what the early stages of a World War look like, just turn on the TV news or look at a news website. Events today eerily mirror those that led to the first two World Wars. Nations align. A big country attacks a smaller one. The rest of the world struggles to know what to do. Both sides keep ratcheting up the provocations.
2 Timothy 3:1 says, “In the last days, perilous times shall come.” We’re there. These are those times.
The anger in western nations has reached a boiling point. It was bad enough for Vladimir Putin to start a war with his peaceful neighbor. But in that war, he has shown boundless cruelty. Imagine calling a ceasefire in a town, then relentlessly bombing a huge children’s hospital there. Imagine promising refugees that they can safely evacuate a city, then slaughtering them as they make the attempt. He has shown no qualms about bombing hospitals, schools, civilian apartment buildings, and a host of other nonmilitary targets.
His actions have enraged nations and individuals the world over. As a result, pundits and diplomats are advocating things that would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago. Politicians seem intent on proving their mettle by thinking of new, more devastating ways to “punish” Russia.
I get it. Vladimir Putin deserves to be punished. Innocent blood cries out for vengeance. But should vengeance be our goal? Remember Romans 12:19: “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” In these circumstances, if we choose to steal from God that which He says belongs to Him, we endanger the whole world.
Western governments are right to pressure Putin and arm Ukraine. But as we ratchet up the tension, we must do so with an endgame in mind. For the moment, I’m not hearing much about how to bring peace. The talk is about further cornering Putin. Do we really want to push him into a position where he sees expanding the war as his only recourse?
I am not for appeasement. In fact, coddling and appeasing Putin put us in this present danger. Since the beginning of this century, he has gotten away with every outrageous thing he tried. So, when the United States and Europe told him that the invasion of Ukraine was a red line he could not cross, he didn’t believe them. He had crossed red lines before, never paying more than a token price for his actions. Nothing in his experience as the leader of Russia prepared him for the global backlash he now faces.
I am not for appeasement, but I am for finding an offramp. We must stand up to Putin, but we must do so in a way that will end the war on Ukraine without creating World War III. This is not 1941. This is the era of thermonuclear weapons and ICBMs.
The Bible gives uncannily accurate descriptions of both regional and global nuclear war. As a student of Bible prophecy, I know these things are coming. But in the meantime, we should heed the words of our Lord when He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Remember Romans 12:18: “So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” That does not mean “peace at all costs,” but it should give us an impetus to find ways to make peace where we reasonably can.
1 Timothy 2:2 instructs us to pray “for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” So, consider this a prayer request—an urgent and vital prayer request.
Gog, Magog, and Ukraine
In a recent column entitled, “Rumors of War,” I explained why the Russian-led invasion of Israel detailed in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will include Ukraine. These passages give the leader of this coalition the symbolic name, “Gog.” Could Putin be Gog? He sure could. Is he? We simply don’t know.
Some believe that he is, and that the choice to go into Ukraine was not really his at all. They say God is “compelling” him. Ezekiel 38:4 speaks of God putting hooks in Gog’s jaws to draw him into a war against Israel. But Ukraine is not Israel. God did not put hooks in Putin’s jaws, forcing him to attack Ukraine.
Still, the prophetic significance of Russia’s move into Ukraine cannot be denied. And it does not end with the fact that Ukraine will join Russia as a part of the Ezekiel 38 coalition. The war is also impelling Europe to arm itself. In recent years, at the urging of the United States, Europe’s NATO nations made token increases in their defense budgets. But they clearly preferred for US taxpayers to shoulder the cost of their defense.
Putin changed that. Today, Europe is looking to arm itself. Previously neutral countries are suddenly hoping to join NATO. During the Cold War, Finland and Sweden were famously nonaligned. Soviet atrocities were not enough to get them to stand with other western nations against the Soviet Union. But now, they see Putin as willing to attack any nonaligned, nonnuclear power. By joining NATO, they would instantly put themselves under the protection of American, French, and British nukes.
Putin’s action in Ukraine also puts pressure on the European Union to arm itself. The EU has always been an economic and political entity. For years, several key leaders have wanted to also make it a military power. Now, with Putin’s help, that idea has new momentum. A central command and control over all the armies of Europe would, in an instant, make the EU a global military power. The Bible says that such power will one day be handed over to Antichrist.
Despite “green new deal” politics, the real world still depends on fossil fuel. That fact looms large over Putin’s war. In recent years, we learned that Israel has an abundance of natural gas. The Israel-to-Europe gas pipeline is scheduled for completion by the end of 2025. At that point, Israel becomes a major threat to Russia’s natural gas monopoly in Europe. That gives “Gog” a major incentive to one day attack Israel.
Bible prophecy also speaks of economic instability (especially inflation) and a general atmosphere of chaos and fear in the last days. Those things were already happening, but they have been made dramatically worse by Putin’s war.
We need to have compassion on those who are suffering. And we need to know that this war will almost certainly have a negative impact on the rest of us. But we also need to trust God with our lives. When we escape the fear that threatens to engulf us, it will give us space to see with awe the God who told us about these things thousands of years in advance. He told us about technology that would not be invented or even imagined until our generation. He told us about national alliances before the nations involved had even been founded.
And He told us that in all these things, to rest in Him (Psalm 37:7).