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We are soon entering the time described in
Scripture as the worst in human history!
Millions will die! Millions will suffer.
These are the death throes of this age and
he birthpangs of the new age to come
(Jeremiah 30:6,7). You need to be prepared!
By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church"
It was one Sabbath morning in April 2002. As I was praying, a sort of heaviness or 'darkness' was impressed upon me. Like most revelations from God, words are not adequate to explain it. It was something He transmitted in the spirit. Then, also in the spirit, He conveyed what the darkness meant:
There is coming horrendous persecution!
This persecution will be directed primarily at God's people, against true Christians. It is going to be so bad that any who are not truly committed to Jesus will not survive in spiritual terms. There will be widespread misery and fear.
A time of fierce persecution is to come against us leading into the prophesied biblical Great Tribulation (Matt 24:21). That time is terrible indeed! Jesus said:
For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no-one would survive (Matt 24:21,22, NIV).
Can you imagine the horrors of such a time? I can only begin to picture what it will be like. No mental imagery is sufficient to convey the real horror people are going to suffer. Words do not do justice to the injustices suffered by the Jews in Nazi Europe in the forties, or to the tyranny of Pol Pot's Cambodia in the 1970s. Words can only create mental images, often incomplete. They are not felt – in searing pain, or emotional torment.
But, God assures us, the time is near when the atrocities of those times will be categorised as lesser evils! Can you believe that?! You'd better believe it... and prepare, spiritually!
This is why God spoke to me that Sabbath morning. He wants the Church to be prepared. He wants YOU to be prepared. He wants me to be prepared.
I know that I will face tremendous opposition for what I must do. A few months ago [this was in 2002], God spoke about me to David Isaac Ohuoba, a Nigerian evangelist. He wrote and told me that God said we must face immense opposition because of the truths of God which He has called us to promote.
I can believe it. We have had significant opposition already, just from proclaiming that Diana, and some other individuals who have been dead for some years, will be raised from the dead. And that resistance is from ministers who are genuinely promoting the gospel! Their antagonism is rooted in pride and prejudice. If such polarity is from the converted, think what spit and venom will come from the mouths of the unconverted!
Human nature can be vicious. And when corrupt men get hold of power, misguidedly they can exercise tremendous cruelty and oppression. Jesus suffered such gross injustice and brutality. But He knew worse things were to come:
If men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry? (Luke 23:31, NIV.)
His words were recorded for our day, upon whom the end of the age has come. Take note!
Persecuted For Righteousness
On 12th January 2002 I received this dream about opposition:
Two groups of people were facing each other. One group (ours) was coming down a river on a raft made of (believe it or not!) builders' trestles with scaffold boards on top [God employs imagery incorporating items which I used in my former job as a builder], on which soldiers were standing with swords. They had some asbestos sheets in front as a shield. Then, downstream another group was standing to oppose this 'army' coming towards them. They had guns and prepared to open fire. Seeing what they were about to do, I became very concerned. 'Our army' was no match for those with guns. Then the guns fired. But the bullets didn't kill any of our soldiers, they just ricocheted off the asbestos shield.
I believe the dream portrays the ferocity in the spirit against what God wants to promote through us. But, in this instance, we will win. Or, rather, God will win. Satan cannot prevent God's purpose being fulfilled. I know we will face set-backs. We have had some already. When God permits setbacks, even these are taken account of beforehand, in His immense foreknowledge.
Jesus was crucified at a time when the 'tree' was 'green'. Now the morality of this last generation is much worse. It is certainly the 'dry tree' of which He prophesied! Godless people, in league with the Antichrists of our time, will perpetrate injustices and atrocities to try and thwart the purposes of God in the lives of His people.
How awful are the scenes prophesied for these end times! There will be many martyrs (Rev 6:9-11), persecuted for righteousness' sake (Jn 15:21; Matt 5:10). I won't go further with that here. It is detailed more in Understanding The Book of Revelation.
What is pertinent to consider is our spiritual state and whether we are prepared for what is to come.
Persecuted By False Christians
The most tragic persecution is that which comes against God's faithful ones from others who have been called, but who are not faithful – false Christians. Of course, persecution doesn't have to come from so-called 'Christians'. Other religions can be a major source, as can the State and secular individuals. But, Jesus warned that in our time terrific persecution will be mounted against us for being loyal to His truth:
Churches will excommunicate you, and in fact, their prejudice and hatred against the truth will run so deep that anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God (Jn 16:2, paraphrased and amplified).
God speaks to His prophets to give forewarning of things that the Church as a whole needs to hear. It is not to scare you, but to help prepare you. Jesus does not want to lose you.
All this I have told you so that you will not go astray (John 16:1, NIV).
I believe that I was given that unusual experience to prompt this article, so that you and many others can begin to be prepared for what is to come. It's time to prepare!
Those who don't get ready, won't be ready when the troubles explode all around them. They will be caught napping, so that that day comes upon them unexpectedly, with tragic results:
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other (Matt 24:10, NIV).
In the affluent western nations, many have enjoyed unprecedented wealth, relative peace and a certainty or security of lifestyle that has been the envy of many other peoples. But such relative ease has not been without its drawbacks. In fact, prosperity can be a huge spiritual killer. Satan entraps more people through ease and luxury than through hardship and need.
Prosperity breeds complacency. This somnolence leads to spiritual laziness, laxity and carelessness. Spiritually-speaking, that's just where Satan wants you – lying on your back, sunning yourself, exposing your soft underbelly. At such a moment, when you least expect it, he can strike with devastating consequences.
There are plenty of warnings about it in the Bible!
While people are saying "Peace and safety", destruction will come on them suddenly... (1 Thes 5:3, NIV).
When they feel secure, he [Antichrist] will destroy many... (Dan 8:25, NIV).
There are other warnings, too.
Our decadent western civilisation, riddled with spiritual corruption and sin, is facing its Waterloo. Everything people have put their trust in, other than the true God, is going to disappear almost overnight. For those without God, what is to happen will strike dread into many hearts.
This time is not far away. From indications which God has given us through dreams and prophetic words, we are entering a two year revival, followed immediately on its heels by the Great Tribulation. This tribulation or period of great trial and hardship, lasting 3½ years, will be the most horrible and oppressive epoch in earth's history
As I said, it will fulfil Jesus' words:
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death (Matt 24:9, NIV).
Some Will Be Physically Shielded
But not every believer in Jesus will have to face martyrdom. God chooses each person who will pay that price. Through their individual trial and death, they testify to the supremacy and lordship of Christ. Conversely, God knows those for whom He has a different design: in their protection they witness for Him. For these souls, Jesus is right now preparing places of refuge where they will be covered and protected from the worst of the storms. However, everyone who wants to save his life should never forget the paradox in Jesus' words (Luke 9:24; 17:33). Only those who are prepared to lose their lives will save them. Many whom God safeguards in such a way may find their deliverance a trial in itself!
A prophetess who has been called to prepare a place of refuge for many believers was told by God that, because the Church in America is so unprepared for what is to come, those whom God appoints to escape their homeland (America will be completely over-run and cities destroyed) for physical safety will get out merely with the shirts on their backs!
[The Antichrist] will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people (Dan 8:24, NIV).
Those who do wickedly against the [holy] covenant he shall corrupt with flattery [falsity]; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits (Dan 11:32, NKJV).
Whatever God has designed for you is with that one purpose uppermost: your witness for Jesus (Luke 21:13). How you will witness then is how you determine to witness now.
We must all be living completely for Him now so that persecution yields its intended fruit. & Malcolm B Heap
A Dream From God About
I wrote the foregoing on 2nd May. That night (actually early the next morning) God gave me two dreams. One was about how we have been robbed of the financial support which this ministry deserves (we have debts), and the second dream was about opposition. God portrayed it this way:
We had a big top, a circus tent. It was huge. Inside this marquee were many exhibits. Much was being offered, and a great deal had been assembled for people to enjoy and gain from.
Then there was a massive downpour. Some of the rain came through the roof and, although I could not see what damage it had caused, I knew that it must have caused some destruction.
The dream portrays in symbol, this ministry in the near future, after expansion. What is on offer under this canopy are many publications that have been assembled over the past 12 or 13 years. Their positive impact and appeal seemed to be indicated in the dream.
But Satan is out to destroy the value of God's liberating truth. In symbol, the devil tries to harness the heavy rain as a destructive force. Similar imagery is employed in Revelation, where Satan (the serpent or snake) comes against the Church and the truth she purveys:
From his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent (Rev 12:15, NIV).
Revelation's account is given to encourage true believers to face with courage and resolve the trials that confront them. God allows Satan to buffet them, so that spiritual qualities of resilience, endurance and resolve to do right are developed. Facing satanic onslaught is unavoidable, but the outcome is eventually good.
The earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth (Rev 12:16).
This depicts God's miraculous deliverance of His faithful ones. And, more importantly, it depicts the preservation of His Work which conveys His truth. The promotion of God's truth is more important than the preservation of temporal life. Because, the faithful have a wonderful reward awaiting them in heaven, in God's presence! So, you don't need to fear the devil's fiercest revenge:
The dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring – those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus (12:17, NIV).
Physical death may be the price many pay for adherence to God's truth. But, spiritual life will result. Nothing is more important than that!
Other Dreams From God About
In Ethiopia, Kassahun Ayele has been given many dreams from God about opposition. These are only a few of them:
14th December 2001
I was in a house with believers. While we were worshipping God, mobs began to surround the house. As I quickly ran out of the house, I heard cursing and worldly music. The Spirit said to me, "Don't return to that place."
This warning dream for Kassahun's personal benefit, and for other believers with him, is to help him avoid tragedy. God gives forewarning so that we can avoid situations which could seriously jeopardise the work He is doing through us. If we dismiss and forget such warnings, we do so at our own peril, and that of God's Work.
If Joseph had not heeded the warning dream he was given to take the baby Jesus and Mary with him to Egypt, you and I would not have had a Saviour! He would have been killed in Herod's massacre! (Matt 2:13-18.) Of course, God knew beforehand, that Joseph would obey.
Some other dreams God gave Kassahun:
Nov. 7/01. Attacked by gunman.
We gathered in a house to study God's truths. A gunman threatened us and wanted to kill us. But I said with boldness of the Spirit that God's truth is greater than any bullet. He aims at my head, when I lifted up the Bible, and pulled the trigger. But the bullet hit the Bible. I was not harmed. He began to shake and repent in front of us.
Nov. 21/01. Attacked.
I was attending a meeting. The meeting was decisive. Before it began I asked the attendants to surrender their weapons. Most of them gave me their weapons but one of the attendants shot me in my thigh.
Nov. 23/01. Others are attacked.
I was pouring a bucket of water on their house which has been set on fire. The fire was ignited by a man. He was laughing about what he had done. Some are helping me to extinguish the fire. Foreigners were living in that house. I managed to save them with their two children.
Nov. 26/01. Scorpions.
My house was surrounded by scorpions and I began to destroy them.
Feb. 2/02. Gunmen.
I was running from gunmen. They fired at me again and again, but they couldn't hit me.
I threw down a huge snake from the top of a house. Another scorpion came and I threw it down.
I believe the imagery in the above dreams is figurative. However, the November 7th dream may be literal. Kassahun will know as things progress. They all depict fierce opposition coming, and are to prepare us.
Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also (Jn 15:20, NIV).
Those who are in the frontline of service, doing God's will, come under fiercest attack!
You Don't Have To Capitulate, You Too Can
Face Your Adversaries!
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you (1 Peter 4:12). ...the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is (1 Cor 3:13). Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth (Rev 3:10).
In The Triumphant Church, John Piper writes:
"For almost 300 years Christianity grew in soil that was wet with the blood of the martyrs. In his History of Christian Missions, Stephen Neil mentions the sufferings of the early Christians as one of the six main reasons the church grew so rapidly:
" 'Because of their dangerous situation vis-a-vis the law, Christians were almost bound to meet in secret... Every Christian knew that sooner or later he might have to testify to his faith at the cost of his life... When persecution did break out, martyrdom could be attended by the utmost possible publicity. The Roman public was hard and cruel, but it was not altogether without compassion; and there is no doubt that the attitude of the martyrs, and particularly of the young women who suffered along with the men, made a deep impression... In the earlier records what we find is calm, dignified, decorous behaviour; cool courage in the face of torment, courtesy towards enemies, and a joyful acceptance of suffering as the way appointed by the Lord to lead to his heavenly kingdom. There are a number of well- authenticated cases of conversion of pagans in the very moment of witnessing the condem- nation and death of Christians; there must have been far more who received impressions that in the course of time would be turned into a living faith.' (A History of Christian Missions, Stephen Neil, pp 43,44.)
"One example of such a powerful witness through suffering was the martyrdom of Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna who died in AD 155. His student Irenaeus said that Polycarp had been the student of the apostle John. We know he was very old when he died because, when the Proconsul commanded him to recant and curse Christ, he said, 'Eighty and six years have I served him and he hath done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?' (Quoted in The Martyrdom of Polycarp, in Documents of the Christian Church, by Henry Bettenson, p 10.)
"During one season of persecution a frenzied crowd in Smyrna cried out for a search to be made for Polycarp. He had moved to a town just outside the city, and three days before his death he had a dream from which he concluded, 'I must needs be burned alive.' So when the search was finally made, instead of fleeing, he said, 'The will of God be done.' The ancient account of the martyrdom gives the following record:
" 'So, hearing of their arrival, he came down and talked with them, while all that were present marvelled at his age and constancy, and that there was so much ado about the arrest of such an old man. Then he ordered that something should be served for them to eat and drink, at that late hour, as much as they wanted. And he besought them that they should grant him an hour that he might pray freely. They gave him leave [permission], and he stood and prayed, being so filled with the grace of God that for two hours he could not hold his peace, while they that heard were amazed, and the men repented that they had come after so venerable an old man.' (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, pp 9,10).
"When he was finally taken away and condemned to burning, they tried to nail his hands to the stake, but he pled against it and said, 'Let me be as I am. He that granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the pyre unmoved without being secured with nails.' (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, p 11). When his body seemed not to be consumed by the fire, an executioner drove a dagger into his body. The ancient account concludes, 'All the multitude marvelled at the great difference between the unbelievers and the elect.' (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, p 12). In large measure this is what explains the triumph of Christianity in the early centuries. They triumphed by their suffering. It did not just accompany their witness, it was the capstone of their witness. 'They overcame [Satan] because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death' (Revelation 12:11)." (John Piper, Suffering: The Sacrifice of Christian Hedonism, in The Triumphant Church, pp 58-59.)1
"There are countless examples in our own day of choosing to suffer for the purpose of Colossians 1:24 – to complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions by presenting them to others through suffering. As I was writing this chapter in late 1995, a missionary letter describing such suffering came to my attention. I quickly e-mailed the missionary in Africa to confirm the facts. He spoke personally with Dansa, the man in question, and got his permission for me to quote this story in Dansa's words from the letter.
" 'Around 1980 there was a time of severe persecution from the local officials of the communist government in my area of Wolayta. At the time, I was working in a government office, but I was also serving as the leader of the Christian youth association for all the churches in my area. The communist officials repeatedly came to me to ask for my help in teaching the doctrines of the revolution among the youth. Many other Christians were giving in because the pressure was very great, but I could only say no.
" 'At first, their approach was positive: they offered me promotions and pay increases. But then the imprisonments began. The first two were fairly short. The third time lasted an entire year. During this time communist cadres would regularly come to brainwash the nine of us believers (six men and three women – one of whom would later become my wife) who were being held together. But when one of the cadres converted to Christ, we were beaten and forced to haul water from long distances and carry heavy stones to clear farm land.
" 'The worst time came during a two-week period in which the prison official would wake us early while it was still dark when no one could see, and force us to walk on our bare knees over a distance of up to 1.5 kilometres on the gravel road of the town. It would take us about three hours. After the first day, the blood flowed from our wounds like a fountain, but we felt nothing.
" 'On another occasion one particularly brutal prison official forced us to lie on our backs under the blazing sun for six straight hours. I don't know why I said it [it was a prophetic word, inspired by the Spirit], but when we finished I told him, You caused the sun's rays to strike us, but God will strike you. A short time later, the official contracted severe diabetes and died.
" 'When the communist government fell several years later, the head official invited us back to preach in the jail. At that time, 12 prisoners being held for murder received Christ. We have continued to minister in the prison, and there are now 170 believers. Most of the prison officials have also believed'." (Ibid pp 61,62.)
Suffering and persecution have their place in witnessing for Christ, and martyrdom is a calling from above (Rev 13:10). If it falls your lot, be like Paul who said "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13).
Further Reading: Help In Trials, Enduring To The End in Articles of Faith, Vol 3. (F3)
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