Out of the Blue!

by Doug Batchelor


An Amazing Fact: Wind shear is a sudden change in the speed or the direction of the wind over a very short distance that can create a hazard to flying aircraft. The strong downward winds associated with wind shear abruptly push down on an aircraft, reducing both it's speed and the lift generated by the wings. A pilot encountering wind shear must make quick adjustments to compensate for the loss of lift.

Many airports have installed wind-shear alert systems to warn air traffic controllers of dangerous conditions. But now, experimental aircraft equipped with laser, microwave, and infrared systems are being developed that can "look" ahead of an aircraft into the atmosphere and see dangerous air turbulence changes.

In the Bible prophecies, God has also equipped His church with an advance turbulence warning system.

Please indulge me as I share a few personal observations regarding some of the possible prophetic significance of this recent crisis springing from the terrorist attacks.

Remembering New York City
I was born in California but I grew up in New York City. (I still maintain dual citizenship.) My Mom took me up to the top of the Empire State building when I was about eight, but until I returned in 1999 for our NET New York '99 program, I had never been to the World Trade Center. When I finally made it to this global landmark, I was so impressed, I made a total of three trips. On one of these trips I brought the whole team of Amazing Facts evangelists. We gathered on the roof (the observation deck) to pray for "the Big Apple" in preparation for the NET '99 meetings. That was a spectacular and memorable day two years ago.

I still find it very bizarre that on Tuesday, September 11, I was looking at those very pictures when I received a call from my secretary, "Turn on the news, they have just crashed a plane into the World Trade Center."

Now there is a horrific crater in lower Manhattan right where we gathered to pray two years ago. I am so thankful that God held back the winds of strife and that we were able to complete that series. I am also grateful the influence from the NET '99 messages and tapes still endures. If the Lord tarries, I hope to return to New York City someday. I have never been to the Statue of Liberty.

Not Special Effects
As I sat transfixed, watching these global landmarks imploding, I had to remind myself that these horrific apocalyptic images were not some make-believe computer-generated special effects from Hollywood. I do not want to diminish what happened to the Pentagon or the crash in Pennsylvania, but most will admit the images of the attack on New York were among the most vivid. Thousands of real people were dying before my eyes. It then occurred to me that many other people would never be able to comprehend the awful and ghastly reality of what was happening.

Here is one primary reason. Every year the movie industry produces a parade of graphic films packed with imaginary images of devastation. In fact, just in the last few years the movie industry has specifically ravaged New York City with aliens, tidal waves, asteroids, and a rampaging giant dinosaur.

I don't think we should be morbid, but I pray that the reality of this disaster is not blurred by the fictitious and sensational scenes pouring from video and theater. Even Paul hinted that one of the dangers that faced his generation was that the Greek and Roman preoccupation with entertainment had numbed their senses to the exceeding sinfulness of sin (Romans 7:13).

Could it be that one of the devil's most effective tools to deaden and sear the conscience of the world in the last days will be to anesthetize them to the shocking influence of real catastrophes by over-stimulating their minds through the fantasies of Hollywood?

Dictators Follow Financial Panic
Prophecy clearly teaches that the world powers in the last days will utilize government authority to enact religious laws to compel people regarding when, how, and whom to worship. They will then use economic sanctions of buying and selling to enforce those laws.

History has taught us that every dictatorship has come into power on the heels of some monetary crisis. It was through the economic collapse of the French revolution that Napoleon Bonaparte came into power. Financial disaster in Germany opened the way for the German people to embrace Adolph Hitler as the ultimate dictator. Could it again be an economic crisis that will pave the way for a loss of freedom in our nation?

With the recent devastation to the New York City financial district, who knows how far-reaching the effects could be? I am trying not to be unnecessarily sensational but I have honestly wondered, "Could this catastrophe in some way be the catalyst for the final countdown?" Only God knows, but we did witness the largest drop in the stock market in one week since the Great Depression. We also know that economic sanctions will be a part of the reprisals against the nations that harbor or endorse the terrorist attacks.

This fact reminds me that the second beast in Revelation 13 (the USA) uses economic pressure to compel the nations of the world to worship a certain way.

"And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Revelation 13:17).

Suddenly!
Skeptics have often wondered how the final events of prophecy can transpire without long years of political lobbying and gradual modifications. This issue is addressed in 2 Peter 3:3, 4, "There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. "

One valuable lesson we have had to learn from the stinging suddenness of these ruthless "Tuesday of Terror" attacks is the truth that things can quickly change. In less than two hours we witnessed four domestic planes hijacked and, with their kidnapped human cargo, converted into a kamikaze arsenal, causing the collapse of the entire World Trade Center complex-and mangling the Pentagon.

Jesus said, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44). It is going to be a surprise. It is going to happen rapidly, very suddenly. I looked up the word sudden. It means "very quickly," "abrupt," "unexpectedly," "characterized by rapidity." The coming of Christ is going to surprise most people.

It is a fatal concept to believe that we will have plenty of visible warning in advance of the close of probation and the end of the world. Jesus said that even as it was in the days of Lot and Noah, so the final events would happen suddenly. Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:28-30.

United We Stand?
It has been truly moving to see how people pull together during a crisis to volunteer service, make first aid contributions, and donate blood. I have never witnessed such heartwarming patriotic fervor-Democrats and Republicans holding hands! Scores of top notch movie stars and platinum recording artists have come together to perform and donate their funds and services. On Sunday, September 22, we saw poignant images of Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist, and Catholic leaders embracing each other at national prayer vigils. It appears that the civilized world is pulling together as never before. Statesmen and leaders from all over the globe have pledged their support to the USA. But, if anyone has ever doubted or wondered how the world could ever unite against a common enemy, . . . we have now seen"Exhibit A!"

Revelation 13:12 says "And he . . . causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed."

A Religious War
On September 24, Fox News reported that a fax was sent from Osama bin Laden to rally Pakistani Muslims, encouraging them to "give everything they own" to combat what he called "a Christian-Jewish crusade (against Islam) led by the big crusader Bush under the flag of the cross.''

Please do not miss this important point that has been played down by most of the news reports. This attack on America was a religious attack. The intense final events portrayed in Revelation are based on religious fanaticism. "Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (John 16:2). These diabolical terrorists killed in the name of their god. This calamity helps us realize the reality of those prophecies that someday there will be a death decree connected with when, how, and whom we worship.

A Loss Of Freedom
I think most elementary Bible students know that in order for the Beast power to dictate the buying, selling, and worship of a nation, a series of stringent regulations and controls must be in place to govern those areas. (See Revelation 13:15-17). Some have wondered how liberty loving Americans could ever come to the place where they would tolerate those kinds of personal intrusions and infringements on their freedom. We have seen in the last several weeks how ready and willing a dazed and frightened nation is to trade certain freedoms for the illusion of safety. There seems to be a shift in government from apprehending known criminals to preventing crime and terrorism by supervising and snooping on what everyone is doing. This will, no doubt, include carefully noting their religious activities. The FBI is now considering modifying software originally developed for intercepting Internet pedophiles to now monitor the communications of religious fanatics. These groups could include anyone from Christian militia radicals to potential Islamic terrorists.

"If ever there was a time when they [Americans] might be receptive to trimming their accustomed freedoms, that time is now. Whether they are receptive or not, the changes have already begun" (TIME, September 24, 2001).

Real freedom is dangerous, but I would rather be a soaring eagle in the wild and take my risks.

Judgments Make a Poor Preacher
Everyone is asking, "Were these catastrophes a judgment of God or disasters from the devil?"

Perhaps a bit of both. The book of Job teaches us that the devil brought a series of calamities upon Job, but only to the extent God allowed it. The book of Job also teaches that good things come to bad people and bad things can happen to good people. A person can go crazy trying to judge a boxing match taking place under a parachute. Sometimes it is hard for us to interpret the blows in the great controversy through a dark glass. But beyond this, judgments and plagues have never proven to be a good catalyst for lasting revival. We wonder how, after nine divine plagues had blasted Egypt, the Egyptian armies could be stubborn and foolish enough to charge into the bowels of the Red Sea in pursuit of the Israelites. Judgments rarely spawn genuine conversions.

On September 11, the world witnessed a cataclysm that, if nothing else, was a microcosm of the final tribulation. If we are not shaken to total concentration by this, then it is not likely that any future seismic eschatological event will ever do it. We need a stable relationship with Jesus based on love and commitment. Not on fear.

Keep Your Belt On!
A pilot once described flying as "cycles of incessant monotony punctuated with unexpected bouts of terror." Our nation has endured many episodes of rough air and each generation seems to experience the turbulence of war, but the recent terrorist attacks on America amounted to nothing less than a deadly encounter with wind sheer. As a pilot I am not easily troubled by a little turbulence. In fact, I can generally relax when others are fearfully clutching their armrests with white knuckles from the occasional bumps and bounces associated with flying. But even though I am relaxed about normal turbulence I still keep my seatbelt on when seated because I know it is the sudden, unexpected jolt that causes the most damage.

Friends, now is the time to stay calm and maximize our prospects for evangelism. Otherwise, the church could miss one of the most unprecedented opportunities in history to preach the truth! Never have people been more open and hungry to understand what the Bible prophecies signify than now! This is an especially precious time for us to study the emergency landing procedure. We know the Captain of our craft will never lose control, so let's fasten our belts and keep the faith.

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