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Almost Midnight - Part 3

Scripture: Daniel 12:4, Luke 21:25-26, Revelation 11:18
There are many signs of Christ's soon return. Daniel speaks that men shall run to and fro. The speed with which mankind may travel as changed astronomically. Famine and starvation are rampant. The ability of nations to destroy the world many times over indicate these are sobering times that should encourage us to be ready for Jesus' return.
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One of the most dramatic fulfillments of prophecy clusters around the amazing development of rapid transit. In 1930 United Airlines proudly proclaimed it had carried 70,000 passengers in that single year. Today that same line, despite tremendously increased competition, carries more than that number every single day.

In Daniel 12:4 we read that "in the time of the end many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased." The revolutionary growth of science and industry is without parallel in world history. And how we have refined this business of running to and fro! The world has seemingly shrunk, making international travel commonplace. How different from the day in 1930 when flight crews on what is now Western Airlines were instructed through their Handbook for Pilots and Co-pilots, "It will be the duty of the pilot to see that his plane is provided with a sufficient amount of rags to keep the windshield clean during flight." And that was only 50 or 60 years ago.

Now we think of space flights instead of airplane travel. We measure speed in terms of sound waves instead of miles per hour. The ordinary citizen is almost terrified by the spectacular performance of astronauts and their space ships.

Well might we be frightened if we had no knowledge of God's Word. Only by the Bible do we know what is coming, and what these things mean. Jesus said in Luke 21:25-26, "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." I want you to notice a phrase here: "with perplexity." The word that Jesus used indicates an impasse. The world situation would become so intense that men would despair. There would seem to be no way out of the dilemma that the world would find itself in.

We need only to consider for a moment the complexity of our present situation. We see, for instance, such things as our national budget , an astronomical thing. We seem to be forced to greater spending by the complexity of international involvements. Greater and greater financial commitments are made at home and abroad. Yet, where is the money to pay for it all? We hear of "golden" missiles, actually worth their weight in gold. There is legislation pending at the present time for expenditures for which there is no present income, save yours and mine. Why am I telling these things? Simply to show that our national leaders are distressed, there is perplexity, there doesn't seem be any way out. We are merely mortgaging the next generation to pay for our debts.

Take the population explosion, for instance: every second 4 new babies are born around the world, but only 2 deaths occur in that second. So this means 8,000 new souls are added every hour to the world's population. This is like adding a new Canada or Mexico to the world each year. The world population is increasing at the rate of 70 million each year. Our sociologists tell us that in 35 years the population of the world will double itself. Instead of 3.5 billion there will be 7 billion. It is easy for us to pass it off and say, "What difference does it make? We have plenty to eat here." But listen, two-thirds of the world population will go to bed hungry tonight. Do you realize that? Here in America we are in a land of plenty, but two-thirds of the people of the world go to bed hungry every night. In just 35 years time there will be twice as many people to feed as there are now.

Listen to this prophecy in Revelation 11:18, one of the most climactic of all Scripture: "And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth." This prophecy indicates that we can know when the climax of world history is actually reached. For within this time period there will come a time when men will actually have in their hands the technical power to destroy the earth. It says that Jesus must come to wrest that power from their hands.

I know that we grow weary of hearing of the atom but I well remember how shocked and stunned I was on that August day in 1945 when I came home, picked up the newspaper and read that a city had been atomized. I couldn't believe it. I was utterly stunned. Just a teenager at the time, I was standing on the threshold of the atomic age. It was more than my mind could grasp, but now it has become common place, we take it in our stride.

They tell us the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima was just a toy along side of the weapons that have been developed since. In 1952 the hydrogen bomb was detonated. I remember reading the account of the sailors that stood on the decks of the ships several miles from Eniwetok atoll. They saw that great blast as a flame two miles wide shot 5 miles into the heavens forming a grotesque mushroom cloud. They swore in those first few moments that they had set the whole world ablaze. That little island of the sea began to burn, even the very sand itself. It burned for six hours. It seemed that a chain reaction had started that could never be stopped. Men stood in awe of the forces they had released.

The A bomb was just a model T in comparison but it packed the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT. It would have taken 4,000 bombers to carry that much TNT by conventional means. Just one airplane carried the A bomb. But now, our scientists tell us, we have one bomb that can be carried by one airplane which is the equivalent in TNT to the amount that would require 4,000,000 airplanes to carry!

This is the age of the shrug, we say, "So what?" and take another tranquilizer and go back to sleep. But do you realize, friend, that we live in a time when there are two men with two buttons, each capable of unleashing this fearful, devastating power? A press of the button and missiles and bombers hurtle on their way to world-wide destruction.

We live in that era! No one else has ever lived in a time when that prophecy could be fulfilled. Only now do we know how close we came to world destruction during those suspenseful six days of the Cuban crises between October 22 and 28, 1962. When we discovered the missile build up on that little island just 90 miles off the coast of Florida, the Strategic Air Command went on full war footing, which meant that the bombers and the tankers were on full air-borne alert with one-third of the airplanes in the air all of the time for 20 days. There were nuclear warheads in those bombbays, normally on any air base of the Strategic Air Command the bombers stand with their bombbays open to symbolize to the people of America that they are not loaded with nuclear warheads. But during those critical days the doors were closed and it spoke just one thing: those bombers had in their bays nuclear warheads. SAC was on full war footing for 20 days. They flew 20,000,000 miles waiting only for the signal. We had poised during those critical days the equivalent of 30 billion tons of TNT.

For the sake of illustration today, to help us to get some kind of concept of what this means, imagine filling great diesel freight trucks with TNT. Now, how devastating is the power of TNT? In the little town of Roseburg, Oregon, a few years ago a small truck loaded with TNT pulled into town. The driver parked the truck by a lumber yard and went to a restaurant to get something to eat. A fire broke out in the lumber yard, and before the driver could get back to the truck it exploded. It devastated a city block. Just one small truck loaded with TNT. But we are talking in terms of 30 billion tons of TNT, put them bumper to bumper. How long do you suppose the line of trucks would be? Do you suppose it would reach fromWashington, D.C. to Detroit? As far as New York City? Ah yes, and much, much more. Put them bumper to bumper and they would reach completely around the world, not just once or twice or three times or a hundred times or five hundred times, but they would make 800 circles around this globe! We had that kind of power poised, ready to hurl at the Soviet Union, during those critical days. Ready at the press of a button to take the top three inches off the Soviet Union. Russia backed down on the 28th, just two days before the deadline that had been set by our President. Now that happened back in 1962. Just imagine how many billion tons of TNT power we have stored in our modern arsenal.

I believe in the second coming of Christ because I believe in Bible prophecy. I believe that the scripture cannot be broken. And friends, I haven't told half the Bible prophecies that spell out the shortness of time for our generation. There is today an awful urgency in our world , an urgency for us individually. You say, Brother Joe, , this sounds rather pessimistic. I don't want to end on a pessimistic note. I wouldn't frighten anyone for anything in the world, but, I say that this is a time for sobriety , a time for us to think seriously about the condition of our times. These great prophecies were not meant to frighten us. They are the warning of a loving Christ to tell us of an approaching God. Back again to Luke 21:27, 28, right after the prophecy telling of world perplexity we read these encouraging words, "Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." This is a time of joy for the true Christian, for the one who understands the Word of God, for the Christian who understands the prophecies, for the one who has surrendered his heart and life to Jesus Christ. We can look up friends, and know that our redemption draweth nigh for Jesus Christ is coming soon. Rescue is on the way! Christ is the answer!

The Bible tells us that there will be just two classes of people when Jesus comes riding out of the clouds of heaven. The first class is mentioned in Revelation 6:12-17, (this class meets Jesus in awful fear and anguish) "And I beheld, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" The second coming of Jesus is going to be a very climactic experience for this world. Why do these people meet Jesus in fear? Why do they cry out for the rocks and mountains to fall on them? They want to get away. They don't want to see Jesus when he comes riding in the clouds of heaven to bring rescue to this world. Why are they in this condition of awful fear and anguish? It is because of sin in their lives. These people are those who have broken the commandments of God. They are those who have rejected the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. They are the ones who said, "We are going to live just the way we want to live. We will live as we please. We are not going to follow the Bible way." They are the ones who didn't commit themselves without reserve to the Lord Jesus Christ. They didn't prepare and they are not ready. They were ashamed of Jesus in this life and now they are afraid to meet Him. It's an awful picture, isn't it?

I am so thankful for that faithful group who meet Jesus in love. We read about them in Isaiah 25:9, "And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation." Why are they so happy? Friends, they have been looking for Jesus to come. They have broken the commandments of God, too, but they have confessed their sins. They have accepted the sacrifice of Jesus. They have searched the counsels of the Word and have discovered what God expects of them so that they might be ready and waiting when He comes. They do not fear to meet Jesus, they look forward to it. They love the sound of an approaching God. They have been earnestly watching, listening and longing for Him to come.

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