Year 2000 - Mayhem, Ministry, or Both?

by Doug Batchelor


The fall of 1999 promises to reveal a kaleidoscope of human behavior. Millions of people are apprehensive regarding the Y2K, or "Millennial Bug," situation. Most people already know that because of a serious date programming problem, many computer experts are anticipating varying degrees of computer system freezes and malfunctions between Sept. 9, 1999, and Feb. 28, 2000.

Some sensational speakers predict that this will trigger a global chain reaction shutting down critical systems of power, water, and communications, leading to an accelerating vortex of panic. Some are selling bushels of books and tapes recommending the stockpiling of dried foods, water, gas, generators, and even guns and ammunition. Anticipating a bank run, others are suggesting that before Sept. 9, people should withdraw enough cash to last at least a couple of months (because the date 9/9/99 may trigger a shutdown code for some older computers.) To prepare for the possible demand, Federal Reserve System Chairman Alan Greenspan has ordered the Fed to print an additional 50 billion dollars in cash.

The approaching new millennium also brings a hypersensitivity to the origin and future of the human race. With the tremendous exponential changes of the last century, people cannot even imagine what the next decade will bring. Everyone seems more aware of the volatility of the age. The increasing number of natural disasters and financial, political, and religious instability is compounded by a culture that appears to be drifting like a ship without sail, rudder, or anchor and is in dire need of a moral compass. Jesus foretold a time when men's hearts would be failing them for fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth (Luke 21:26).

Right Time and Tools
Because of the confluence of all these dynamics, interest in Bible prophecy has reached an unprecedented apex. One of the most fertile evangelistic opportunities to reach people in our own communities and around the world will be in the fall of 1999.

In spite of political volatility, doors are open to the gospel wider now than ever before! Countries including India, Russia, China, and even Cuba, which once outlawed public evangelism, are now lowering their barriers.

Modern tools of technology including the Internet, satellite and cable television, radio, high speed printing, and audio and video tapes have made the global broadcast of the gospel an attainable goal. This in itself is a thrilling fact, for Jesus promised, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matthew 24:14).

An Illusion of Peace
As in the story of Joseph, times of plenty are often followed by times of famine. Enthusiasm on the mountain is often followed by monotony in the valley.

I do believe there will be an element of panic and varying degrees of millennial mayhem this fall. We are already seeing evidence of that. However, I am more concerned with the paralyzing apathy that may come after the year 2000 when the crisis evaporates and everyone joins in chanting the mantra of "peace, peace."

"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape" (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

Remember that all the virgins were sleeping when the bridegroom came (Matthew 25:1-13). Also remember that the day before the flood of Noah and the fire of Lot, the sun was shining upon the people engaged in eating, drinking, weddings, and construction.

What we fail to do now during these times of great opportunity we will struggle to accomplish later in a time of paralyzing apathy and indifference. "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4).

That's why we should do everything possible to capitalize on the wide-open window of evangelistic opportunity this fall.

Seizing the Opportunity
Christians should guard against fanning the flames of millennial frenzy. However, God's people must seize every opportunity to preach Christ, and the coming months before 2000 provide an unprecedented opening for the Holy Spirit's power. Paul said, "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22). In other words, he reached out to people where they were, used tools that met their needs, and employed methods that touched their hearts.

The apostle demonstrated this principle while visiting Athens. He used one of the Athenians' idols as a springboard to proclaim the true God to the people. "For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you" (Acts 17:23).

Doing evangelism is somewhat like farming; timing and weather are very important. Often the seasons and weather will dictate the schedule of a farmer. Likewise, God's people must be prepared to seize fertile opportunities for soul winning. "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season" (2 Timothy 4:2).

Jesus said: "When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" (Matthew 16:2, 3).

God Calls Doers
The power of the Spirit is given not only for witnessing but also to witnesses. God always seems to call people of activity. Moses was tending sheep, Elijah was farming, and Peter was fishing. Gideon was threshing wheat by the winepress and Ruth was gleaning barley. Saul was searching for his father's lost beasts. Nehemiah was working as a royal butler. Those God calls He qualifies-those He qualifies He uses. God calls men and women when they are busy; and Satan calls them when they are idle. David fell for Bathsheba during a time of leisure at the palace when he should have been out with his soldiers on the field of battle.

The Promise of Power
God designed people for productive activity, and the best occupation is helping our fellow humans. This was Jesus' creed, and the Father endorsed His ministry with spiritual power for doing it.

"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him" (Acts 10:38).

It's safe to conclude that as He empowered Christ, so will He empower His followers for ministry. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you" (John 20:21). Notice how many times in Scripture the promise for supernatural power is directly connected with active ministry.

"And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. … And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:1, 7, 8).

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:18, 19).

"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Those God appoints He anoints.

Ministry Instigates Miracles
There is no question about it. God regards the ministry of saving others as the most noble enterprise.

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs 11:30).

The Lord will pour His power on, and work His wonders for, those who endeavor to do this great work. Notice this simple but profound pattern: the majority of God's miracles are connected with ministry. In Acts 8:39, Philip was giving a Bible study and baptizing an Ethiopian eunuch when the Holy Spirit beamed him from Gaza to Caesarea. Paul was preaching when he raised Eutychus, blinded the sorcerer, and delivered a girl from demons. God miraculously delivered Peter, Paul, Silas, and the 12 apostles from prison when they were actively preaching and teaching the truth. Most of the miracles in the Old Testament were seen in men on the battlefield, including Samson, David, Gideon, and Jonathan.

Likewise, if we are willing to don the armor of God and fight His battles, we too will experience the marvelous workings of His Spirit. It's when we are engaged in feeding the multitude with the bread of life that He will multiply the bread. Some are so fearful they might do something wrong in witnessing that they do nothing at all. But I have consistently observed that those who humbly commit their gifts to God and step out in faith will win great victories.

Part of the Saving Process
Some have thought they would gladly work for God but they don't feel "holy" enough. While it's true that dirt clings to a rusty shovel making work more difficult, the best way to clean a shovel is to dig with it.

Ministry is also a part of the sanctification process. After three and a half years of following Jesus, the apostles were still not completely converted or sanctified. Jesus confirmed this when He said to Peter, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32). In one 24-hour period before the cross, the apostles demonstrated abundant room for progress. They argued among themselves and vied for the highest position, acted bewildered and confused by Christ's teaching, slept when Jesus said they should be praying, and forsook Jesus when the mob came. Then Peter went a step further and denied Jesus with swearing and cursing.

Yet, only a few months before this, Jesus sent the twelve out (and later the seventy) to preach-with outstanding results. "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name" (Luke 10:17). Active ministry is part of the conversion process as surely as exercise is part of a child's growing process.

The Cure for Ailing Congregations
This dynamic holds true not only for individuals, but also for churches. Those congregations that exist as an exclusive society, gazing, hypnotized by their own reflection, eventually atrophy and die. In fact, one of the best chicken soup remedies for most ills a church may experience is to do evangelism. Short on funds? Do evangelism! When Peter needed money, Jesus sent him fishing (Matthew 17:27).

Are the members lacking in zeal and enthusiasm? Do evangelism! A good evangelistic series will not only attract new souls, but it is also the best way to awaken and revitalize the existing sheep.

Is the church bogged down in a quagmire of doctrinal confusion? Do evangelism! A sound series of evangelistic lectures will work wonders to harvest new wheat into the garner and help the existing members recalibrate their compass of truth.

Mechanical equipment that sits idle quickly deteriorates and requires maintenance. It is nearly impossible to stay upright on a motionless bicycle or turn a sailboat on a windless sea. Likewise, churches that neglect the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and lose their evangelistic momentum are often quickly consumed by internal problems.

Putting It to the Test
Obviously, Christians should not feed the millennial madness, but it doesn't take a spiritual meteorologist to see that the window before 2000 will be a prime time for sowing the gospel seed and harvesting souls.

Even so, we are faced once again with the age-old problem: "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest" (Luke 10:2). Will you be a labourer for Him? Try asking God to lead you into a witnessing opportunity today, then stand back and watch what He does! He has never failed to answer that prayer for me.

About 25 years ago, shortly after becoming a Christian, I was living like a hermit in a cave high in the remote desert mountains. One day I began to pray that God would use me as a witness for His kingdom. I had no idea how He would accomplish that feat for such an isolated recluse, but God didn't delay for a moment! Within a week a helicopter with an NBC news crew flew up to my cave. I was able to share a brief testimony on national news three times in one day!

God is watching and waiting for opportunities to activate His power and commission angels on behalf of those who will do His bidding. One of my favorite scriptures promises, "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Right now, start praying, "Here am I, send me" and just watch what He does!

Spiritual Supplies
Hundreds of people have contacted Amazing Facts wondering, "What should I do to prepare for Y2K and the coming millennium?" They often wonder if they should sell their homes, move to the country, and begin to stockpile food, gasoline, and other necessities.

We must guard against the temptation of thinking we can save ourselves by virtue of having the pantry packed with provisions. The foundation of all false religion is trusting in our own works for salvation. If we make spiritual preparation the priority, God has proven that He can supply all our temporal needs, even if it necessitates a miracle.

There is certainly no sin in making a practical provision for potential lean times. God told Noah to store away sufficient resources for his sequestered cruise. And Solomon reminds us; "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished" (Proverbs 22:3).

Our ultimate trust, though, must be in God. Otherwise we are prone to repeat the mistake of the stingy fool who put his trust in his well-stocked barns. "But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" (Luke 12:20).

Remember when the children of Israel stored away manna at the wrong time? It always bred worms and stank (Exodus 16:20).

How should we prepare? With weapons and ammo? Yes! "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13).

Gold, clothing, and medical supplies? Yes! "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see" (Revelation 3:18).

Food and water? Yes! "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness" (Isaiah 55:1, 2).

Should we withdraw cash in case the ATM fails? Maybe, but all earthly currency is subject to devaluation and theft. Ultimately we must be sure we have that pearl of great price in the safety deposit box of our souls.

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

If we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, these spiritual supplies will survive any degree of convenience or chaos (Matthew 6:33).

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