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Dark Night Rising

By Pastor Hal Mayer

Dark Night Rising [1]

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Thank you for joining me again this month. Your prayers and encouraging support for Keep the Faith make a big difference to what we can do for the Lord. I pray that God’s spirit will rest on you and your family as we study together this month. I also hope that you are making time for Jesus every day. You need it now more than ever as the dark night of sin continues to strengthen.

We live in a world of endless tragedy. Everywhere you turn people are stressed out of their minds. Millions grope in darkness searching for something that gives them meaning and purpose. They live with a gaping hole in their hearts because they don’t know the true love of God. They try anything and everything to find peace, or distraction from the fear, anxiety and the emptiness that they have. If ever there was a time when people need the Lord it is now. You and I are no exception. Especially as this world comes nearer and nearer to the close of probation, we need Jesus to navigate the great and challenging times in which we live, let alone that which is coming in the near future.

Highwood Health Retreat is still providing wonderful opportunities to reach out to souls. I just want to tell you about a miracle. We have been praying that God would open the door for Keep the Faith Ministries Oceania to bring religious workers from overseas to help with direct soul-winning work at Highwood. We have many guests who need to have someone work with them and teach them about the love of God. We submitted our application to the government and prayed that God would open the doors. Just recently, the Australian government sent me a letter granting our request. That is a major hurdle. We are thrilled! We are praying that we can soon start an active Bible work program and see more souls won to the truth.

We are hoping that this December and January we will be able to remodel Highwood’s therapy department and a few other areas of the Health Retreat. If you received a letter included in this mailing please read the thrilling story of Wendy. It will warm your heart. I hope you will consider what you can do to help the project. If you would like to talk about the project, or if you would like to volunteer to help, please contact our office.

Don’t forget to renew your subscription to Keep the Faith Ministry’s free monthly sermons. You won’t want to miss a thing in the coming months. It is vital that you turn in your yellow card unless you have signed up since January of 2012. You can also renew by contacting us through our website. And thank you for your gifts and prayers for Keep the Faith Ministry. They are very important to us and we need them badly.

Lastly, be sure and let your friends know about Keep the Faith Ministry. Give them a pink sign-up card, and urge them to become subscribers. Also share your CDs. If you would like us to send you a bulk quantity to share with others each month, let us know. We can do that for you. We want to reach as many people as possible with our little CD preachers.

Now, let us pray. Our heavenly Father, we live in a violent and dangerous world. It seems that evil is everywhere and we cannot escape it. A dark night is rising upon this world, and it is painful to us, especially when we think of the beauty and light of heaven. Our dark night is getting even darker as the wickedness and violence increases. The sheer peace and tranquility of heaven inspires us and we long to be there. Because of that, we ask today that You will draw us very close to Jesus through Your Holy Spirit. We need to be under the protection, under the shadow of the Almighty. We know that with Jesus there is nothing to fear because the perfect love of Jesus casts out all fear. But today Lord, we are going to study a sobering, gut-wrenching topic. We pray that through it we will sense that this dark night will soon be over and that Your coming will be soon. Please send Your Holy Spirit to us today as we study this most relevant and prophetically significant subject. In Jesus holy name, amen.

The Bible reveals that there is coming a new world, a new society of peace and harmony. This is wonderful news and it all revolves around the soon return of Jesus. But the Bible also tells us that just before Jesus comes again, the world we live in will be very similar to the way it was in the days of Noah. Genesis 6:11 and 13 tells us, “The earth was also corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence… And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold I will destroy them with the earth.”

Here is a statement from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 101. “The picture which Inspiration has given of the antediluvian world represents too truly the condition to which modern society is fast hastening. Even now, in the present century, and in professedly Christian lands, there are crimes daily perpetrated as black and terrible as those for which the old-world sinners were destroyed.”

That statement gives us a very good picture of the state of things today in our world.

The time had come for 24-year-old James E. Holmes. It was July 20, 2012, the opening night screening of the latest episode in the violent Batman thriller series called The Dark Knight Rises. He had been planning and calculating this night for many months. Four months prior, Holmes told a classmate that he wanted to kill people. Over the next four months he purchased his new wardrobe of body armor, mostly on the Internet, four weapons from gun stores, and more than 6000 rounds of ammunition from online stores.

Holmes parked his car in the back of the Century 16 multiplex theater in Aurora, Colorado, near an exit door to theater nine. He bought a ticket and sat down in the front row of the theater near the emergency exit. Twenty minutes after the film started, he went outside through the exit, propped the door open and went to his car. He quickly changed into protective gear including a gas mask, a tactical load-bearing assault vest (which is designed for carrying weapons, ammunition and other combat equipment), a ballistic helmet, bullet resistant leggings, throat and groin protectors, and tactical gloves. He was largely bullet proof, protected from head-to-toe.

Holmes was also heavily armed. His weapons were a 12-gauge Remington tactical shotgun, a Smith and Wesson semi-automatic rifle, which had been upgraded with a 100-round high-powered drum magazine that would allow him to fire 50-60 rounds of bullets a minute without having to re-load, and two Glock handguns. He also had a couple of tear gas canisters.

In Colorado, these weapons are as common as the average middle-aged male. Most people use these kinds of weapons for completely legal purposes, such as hunting, target practice, or even self-defense and personal protection. Holmes had purchased these weapons legally like tens of thousands of others.

Holmes also legally bought an arsenal of ammunition including 3000 rounds of handgun bullets, 3000 rounds for an assault rifle, and 350 rounds for a 12-gauge shotgun. It is easy for gun enthusiasts to blow through 400-500 rounds of ammo at target practice on a single vigorous day at the firing range. So, having 6000 rounds of ammunition around is not uncommon. In fact, many gun owners would consider 6000 rounds of ammunition to be rather low. It would be time to order more.

James Holmes, Aurora Shooting Suspect, Purchased 6,000 Rounds Of Ammunition Online [2]

Suspect Bought Large Stockpile of Rounds Online [3]

But Holmes had not purchased these for legal purposes. He had no police record of any felony, which would have prevented him from buying the weapons and ammunition, so he easily passed the required background checks. The UPS courier company, delivered 90 packages to his home, and authorities say he spent roughly $15,000 online to fortify his arsenal within the previous two months.

Holmes also bought a large amount of supplies to make explosives and to elaborately rig his entire apartment flat with a complex series of booby-trapped explosive devices and trip wires that took bomb squad experts days to dismantle. He had rigged jars filled with accelerants like gasoline to spread a fire quickly, chemicals that would explode if mixed together and “more than 30 improvised grenades.” His apartment flat was designed to kill the first person that entered, most likely a police officer, and perhaps more in the explosion and ensuing fire.

James Holmes built up Aurora arsenal of bullets, ballistic gear through unregulated online market [4]

Gunman’s Weapons Already Illegal? [5]

Holmes’ weapons skills were quite well developed though he had no military or police training. In fact, they were better than most police officers. He had apparently practiced handling his weapons to the point where he could easily transition from one to the other without difficulty. Considering the weapons he had on that fateful night, he would have had to practice the changeover moves repeatedly in advance in order to quickly deliver his deadly barrage on the unsuspecting crowded theater.

Holmes had also practiced shooting his weapons somewhere, though as of the time of preparing this sermon, authorities had not discovered where. When a target is standing still in front of you, like at a police firing range, officers can hit 90 plus percent of their targets. But on the street that ratio drops to between 20 and 25 percent. Holmes’ hit ratio was twice that, more than 50 percent. That represents considerable skill according to experts, especially when accounting for the darkness and confusion in the theater and his protective gear. Holmes was no novice. Experts say he could not have gained those skills without considerable practice and advance planning.

Miller: Aurora shooter must have practiced [6]

When Holmes returned to theater nine at 12:38 am on Friday morning dressed in black, and looking like a member of a SWAT team, the audience didn’t perceive him as a threat. It was as if he was wearing a costume just like many of the rest of them. After all, this was a Batman movie. Some believed that he was playing a prank. Others thought he was part of a special effects publicity stunt set up for the film’s premiere by the studio or theater management. But Holmes was no stunt act. Nor was he a prankster. He knew he would only have a few minutes to wreak havoc on the packed theater audience and kill as many as possible.

Wikipedia Article on 2012 Aurora shooting [7]

Holmes had dyed his hair orange, apparently like the “Joker,” Batman’s arch villain in the film, though it could not be seen due to his ballistic helmet. Holmes walked in through the emergency exit he had propped open near the stage. “I am the Joker,” he allegedly shouted. He threw canisters of tear gas into the crowd, which caused their eyes and throats to burn and obscured their vision. Then he savagely opened fire with the 12-gauge Remington and began rapidly shooting live bullets into the disbelieving crowd.

Chaos and panic erupted as tear gas made it difficult for the theatergoers to see what was happening or where to flee. When the Remington was out of bullets, Holmes dropped the gun and transitioned to his high-powered semi-automatic rifle. After about 30 rounds, the drum magazine jammed and he threw it aside, smoothly pulled out one of the Glocks and started shooting with that. Had the rifle not jammed, perhaps there would be a lot more dead. When Holmes expended his ammunition, he calmly turned and walked back out the exit door to his car. When the melee was over 12 people were dead or mortally wounded. He had also wounded 58 other victims including some in the adjoining theater eight, which was showing the same film. Some of his bullets went through the wall and into the other crowded theater. This was the highest number of casualties ever in an American mass shooting.

By the time Holmes walked back out to the parking lot the police were already at the scene. They first thought Holmes was part of a SWAT team, because his protective gear was so complete. But at least one or two of them noticed that his gas mask was not a “regulation mask.” They quickly realized they had the shooter and immediately arrested him.

But the rampage in the theater was not the only damage Holmes had planned. He had also booby-trapped his home with an elaborate series of explosive devices. To achieve that level of sophistication, Holmes would have had to have some pretty good instructions and training, and a good deal of practice.

Around midnight, while Holmes was at the theater, loud music started blaring from his apartment flat, probably started by a timer. One woman came there and banged on the door to get him to turn off the music. Finding the front door unlocked she almost opened it and came in, but decided against it, no doubt narrowly averting a deadly explosion.

When police learned of the explosives after arresting Holmes, they evacuated five buildings surrounding his residence, climbed through a window and began the work of defusing the explosive devices while local hospitals tried to cope with the overload of wounded victims.

As news of the horror began to emerge, the question on most people’s minds was “why?” What would cause someone to do such a dark and evil deed? “An employee at the jail where [Holmes] was arraigned told a reporter, ‘He thinks he’s acting in a movie.’ Real life had become drama. His rampage was theatrical in every sense.”

Many people want to argue that there is no link between violence seen in a movie and actual violence on the street. For instance, only a few hours after the shooting, Indiewire proclaimed: ‘Don’t blame the movie,’ as if an army of cultural warriors was poised over the hill, ready to charge Warner Brothers.”
But Holmes’ actions ironically, were modeled after what he had seen in previous Batman movies. There is no escaping it. What we see with our eyes has a profound effect on us. It changes the inner workings of our minds. Holmes was a brilliant young man brimming with potential. He was a graduate student in the specialized area of neuroscience. While an undergraduate, he had mapped the neurons of zebra finches, and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds. He was on the road to success in the scientific field.

Holmes had also been a summer camp counselor for underprivileged kids. He was very nice, polite, and always had a ready smile. He kept to himself, excelled academically, and kept himself out of trouble. No one would have imagined that he would ever do such a thing.

Colorado shooting suspect’s writings offer insight as student, aspiring scientist [8]

Probe of shooting suspect James Holmes intensifies [9]

But Holmes was fascinated with the imaginary. He apparently lived in a fantasy world. His choice of the Batman film to stage a theatrical mass murder is in line with the principles portrayed in other Batman films. He had no doubt planned and choreographed his actions in advance, just as would be done by actors in the films.

Friends, you cannot expect that by repeatedly seeing evil impressions with your eye, that you will not be affected by it. You cannot expect that by repeatedly hearing evil things that you will not be gradually changed into an evil person. We copy what we see, if not consciously, it happens subconsciously. It is a law of the human mind that it eventually mimics what has been seen or heard. Others around us can often see the changes and even describe them, while the person doesn’t even recognize that he has changed.

Don’t Blame the Movie, but Don’t Ignore It Either [10]

Motive sought in deadly shooting rampage at Colorado theater [11]

The Aurora, Colorado mass murder has not been the only example of violence in modern times.

A couple of weeks later, on August 5, Wade Michael Page walked into a Sheik temple in Wisconsin and began shooting without saying a word. By the time that assault was over, he had killed six people, five men and one woman, and wounded four others before he turned his weapon on himself.

Page had been an army vet who was dishonorably discharged for misbehavior. He joined the white supremacist and Neo-Nazi movement and played in a number of white power music bands, one of them called “Definite Hate.” He spoke of an “impending racial holy war.” His motives are unclear, but it was obvious that he had serious proclivities to violence and a racial philosophy to go with it.

Wikipedia Article on Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting [12]

The gruesome theater massacre and the deranged killing in Wisconsin illustrate the prophetic times in which we live. We cannot escape it. Violence, my friends, is a permanent feature of human society. We even get used to it and quickly brush it off if it isn’t happening to us. And it comes right down to us from the fall.

Here is another part of that prophetic statement I read from the book Patriarchs and Prophets, page 101. “The issues of the press teem with records of murder—crimes so cold-blooded and causeless that it seems as though every instinct of humanity were blotted out. And these atrocities have become of so common occurrence that they hardly elicit a comment or awaken surprise. The spirit of anarchy is permeating all nations, and the outbreaks that from time to time excite the horror of the world are but indications of the pent-up fires of passion and lawlessness that, having once escaped control, will fill the earth with woe and desolation.”

So, let us put this together. The violence we see in the theaters or DVDs from Hollywood, we soon see in real life. And the violence we see in real life is only a small indication of what is coming upon the world when the Restraining Hand that controls the pent up passions of man will be let loose. We are in for some shocking things, my friends.

We live in a terrible world, and God has now given us a glimpse of what is coming on a much larger scale. Everywhere we turn, we see the signs of the end in extreme wickedness, violence and immorality. Senseless brutality shocks us and makes us long for our heavenly home. Oh how we ache for the souls that are lost and in need of salvation.

Genesis six tells us that the world before the flood was filled with violence. It was not something that was an occasional occurrence. It was everywhere. Life that God had created was not at all respected. Men delighted in violence and committed it with impunity. They had lost their respect for God, and when that happens, men lose respect for their fellow human beings and other creatures. They were deluged with violence, so God sent them a violent deluge to end it all.

Listen to this statement from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 99. “Polygamy had been early introduced, contrary to the divine arrangement at the beginning. The Lord gave to Adam one wife, showing His order in that respect. But after the Fall, men chose to follow their own sinful desires; and as the result, crime and wretchedness rapidly increased. Neither the marriage relation nor the rights of property were respected. Whoever coveted the wives or the possessions of his neighbor, took them by force, and men exulted in their deeds of violence. They delighted in destroying the life of animals; and the use of flesh for food rendered them still more cruel and bloodthirsty, until they came to regard human life with astonishing indifference.”

Here is another statement from the same book, page 157. “In Sodom there was mirth and revelry, feasting and drunkenness. The vilest and most brutal passions were unrestrained. The people openly defied God and His law and delighted in deeds of violence. Though they had before them the example of the antediluvian world, and knew how the wrath of God had been manifested in their destruction, yet they followed the same course of wickedness.”

Today, violence is again everywhere. The cities are full of it. The nations are full of it as they continually talk of war. There are terrorist explosions every day or two in some places. There are bombs that go off. There are violent demonstrations and riots in the streets of Greece, Portugal, Spain, and as we saw in London and other cities in England not long ago. There is genocide, assassinations, rape, extra-judicial killings, road rage, air rage, drug violence, gang violence and hate crimes. Ten thousand people have been killed in Mexico in the last few years over drug wars. There are beatings, beheadings, stabbings, violent flashmobs, robbery, murder and bloodshed. The list goes on and on.

As Hollywood venerates violence through film, children play with toys that glorify shooting and killing. Youth play violent Internet games and compete with each other in cyberspace. Families are breaking up with fighting and domestic abuse. The newspapers are full of the story of corruption, evil, hostility and aggression.

There are socially acceptable forms of violence too, like the various forms of competitive sports. Yes, many sports are a form of violence. But it is more than that; competitive sport is violent in principle because the object of the game is to win by taking advantage of the weaknesses of the opponent.

Another form of socially acceptable violence in many countries is abortion. Mostly, people are not willing to curb their sexual desire and end up aborting the unwanted pregnancy. Abortion solves the so-called “problem.”

What an account will have to be rendered in the final reckoning! Human nature is plagued with the proclivity to solve its problems with violence. What happened in Colorado was merely a gross development of the evil embedded in human nature from the very beginning of sin. People who fill their minds with violence will carry it out in one form or another. People resort to violence when they believe they have no other option.

Why is human nature that way? Where did violence come from? To understand it, to find out and discover the cause, we have to go to the Bible.

In Ezekiel 28:14-17 we read what really happened in heaven. Speaking of Lucifer the covering cherub, God said; “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.”

It is pride, a heart lifted up that causes sin. Pride causes a created being to turn from loyalty to his creator. And the consequence of sin is violence. The reason is this. Sin and righteousness cannot coexist. Truth and error cannot abide together. They are two different cultures. And they clash. So, it is sin that causes violence. And violence is the natural result of turning away from God and going in your own way. You will inevitably become violent if you turn from God. It is the self-protection mechanism.

Originally, there was a violent war in heaven, says Revelation 12:7. Even Christ, whose name is Michael, had to get involved. Satan and Michael fought and the angels of each fought a violent war, which ended with Lucifer and the rebellious angels being cast out of heaven.

The physical violence in heaven was but a natural and literal development of the violence that Lucifer did in the minds of one third of the angels of God by alienating them from Christ their creator. Violence usually starts subtly in the mind. Lucifer started by insinuating negative things about God. He raised questions in the minds of the unfallen angels about God’s justice, mercy and love. He kept at it until it matured. He thought he had a coalition of angels that could join with him to overthrow the heavenly government of God. He was planning a coup de tat. God had to intervene and limit Satan’s power and access. But he gave all the angels a choice. They could choose to be loyal or they could choose to disobey.

Sometimes violence is very subtle and unnoticeable at first. Often it is through insinuation, or by suggestion or implication that evil thoughts are implanted in the mind, similar to what Lucifer did in the Garden of Eden. One person is alienated from another by gossip, evil surmising and intimation. This is a form of violence that is often used when someone has a hidden agenda. In some “Christian” circles this kind of thing is piously excused as if it is necessary in the service of God.

Others have an anger management problem and it flares up in violent language or acts. The root of an anger management problem is pride. When their authority is challenged, they get angry very quickly and lash out at those perceived to question their authority. Their lack of self-management causes them to feel like they have to establish their power and authority. But it always backfires. People may fear them, but they don’t love them. Anger is a form of violence, and it manifests itself in many ways, such as taking God’s name in vain by cursing and swearing, hostile behavior, cutting off communication, and abusive language and behavior. Anger is also demanding and self-centered. It argues to the death, and leaves no room for other opinions. The classic example of unresolved anger is often publically displayed in supermarkets when children act up and mother loses her temper as her authority is challenged. She then mercilessly yells and beats her child into submission. Of course, there are many other ways in which anger manifests itself that are too numerous to list. They are not hard to pick out. You can see them all around you.

Genesis teaches us something about why we were created. In the Garden of Eden everything was at peace. There was no violence, not even among the animals and birds. All was in harmony. There was utter security and utter peace. The garden was a beautiful home for Adam and Eve. Man was made in the image of God. God created them with capacities that were fantastic and that would reveal God’s glory.

Listen to this tremendous idea from the devotional book, Sons and Daughters of God, page 7. “All heaven took a deep and joyful interest in the creation of the world and of man. Human beings were a new and distinct order. They were made “in the image of God,” and it was the Creator’s design that they should populate the earth. They were to live in close communion with heaven, receiving power from the Source of all power. Upheld by God, they were to live sinless lives.”

So God’s purpose in creating man was to establish a distinct race of beings that were created in the image of God, both in body and in intellectual characteristics. They could commune in a way that no other being could. They had intimate fellowship. Incidentally, the Genesis record tells us that creating man was a deliberate act. It was not something that happened by some cosmic accident. It is important to understand this because this is what gives us human’s identity in the grand scheme of the universe. It gives us a purpose and destiny.

And nothing would disturb the peace, unless man accepted the falsehoods of Satan and disobeyed God. And that would bring chaos. Once the deceiver’s lies were accepted and acted upon, Adam and Eve started on the downward path that leads to self-destruction and death.

God originally intended man to rule over all of creation in partnership with Himself. Let us look at what God said in Genesis 1:26. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

But delegating rulership to Adam and Eve implied that they would be loyal to God, who had entrusted them to look after His creation. By placing a test in the garden (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), God intended to establish the loyalty of His very special human creation. He wanted them to understand loyalty by experience, not just by telling them. Failing the test meant that Adam and Eve were no longer trustworthy because they were not loyal. At the point when Adam and Eve sinned their circumstances changed, and God had to implement the plan of salvation to save man from destruction, and to restore him to a position of honor and rulership. That’s what the “sorrow” and the “sweat of thy brow,” and the multiplied conception in childbirth was all about.

The problem with disobedience is that it represents a decision to go on without God. It tells God that you don’t need Him nor want Him to guide your life. This is what Adam and Eve were saying when they ate of the tree. They were going their own way. They wanted to acquire knowledge of their own instead of depending on the all-knowing God for knowledge. They were the prototypes of evolutionary scientists and others today, who choose to pursue knowledge without God.

Disobedience in the Garden of Eden required immediate and decisive action to prevent the perpetuation of evil. If they had eaten of the tree of life after eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, this would have created a serious problem for the whole universe. Sin would have become eternal. So, they were immediately barred from the tree of life. Not because God was being cruel to them, but because the issues in the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan required that sin, though permitted for a time, would eventually be destroyed when all have made the choice. The universe would again be secure.

Their decision to leave God and go their own way meant that Adam and Eve set in motion a series of developments in human nature that would cause great sorrow, stress and fear, and especially violence. It is cause and effect consequences to our choices.

Adam’s first response in Genesis 3:10 was fear. “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid,” Adam said when God called for him.

Why was Adam afraid? He knew he had done something wrong and was afraid that God would do something violent. He distrusted God. Distrust of God also motivated the Babelites as they built their tower.

Down through the dark centuries, even down to our own time, false religion has been successful because it has preyed on human fear of violence. The mythological gods of the polytheistic religions portrayed the gods as violent against each other, and against human subjects.

Even the Jews taught that God was violent by causing some who sinned to have severe handicaps, crises or disasters. Those with handicapped children were said to be under the judgment of God.

Roman Catholicism “Christianized” pagan gods and made them saints, but they pictured God as violent by burning people in hell for eternity, for instance. They claimed to be the representatives of God on earth, but tortured heretics in dungeons or burned them at the stake. Imagine what that said about God. It certainly wasn’t one of a loving God, but a rather violent one. Penance, pilgrimage, indulgences, paying money to the church, and many other forms of atonement, were necessary to purify sin from the soul. Catholic doctrine obscures the true principles of Christ’s atonement.

Though God rarely meets out violent judgments, He is not moved by human passions or sinful principles when He does. He always has the long-term security of the universe in mind, and the salvation of souls.

Adam revealed the key principle underlying sinful human nature. Self-centeredness always leads to competing self-interests with others. When something goes wrong we naturally blame others like Adam blamed Eve and we make accusations, another form of violence. Why do trade unions sometimes get violent? It is because there are competing interests between labor and capital. Why do politics become unsavory and each party accuses the other, again a form of violence? There are competing self-interests at stake. Each party tries to discredit the other to gain votes. Why do church members become upset with one another? They have competing self-centered interests.

When man sinned, the world changed. Adam and Eve were now in a different relationship to God and to creation. Now even the animals and birds feared them. No longer was there peace and tranquility. The war in heaven had now become war on earth.

Now there is no peace in this world. Even people living in the most peaceful places have worries and fears. Even in small towns now there is violence. Places that were once a haven of shelter from the evil of the world have now been invaded by satellite TV, Internet and other things. Violence has become a permanent feature of human society. It is one of the long-lasting results of disobedience.

It wasn’t long after Adam and Eve had their first two children that the first murder occurred. Abel had obeyed God and his sacrifice was accepted. But Cain chose his own worship style and was not accepted. He became so angry with his brother Abel that he killed him. Here is how the apostle John describes it. “We should love one another, not as Cain who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” 1 John 3:11 and 12

Note that Cain was of “that wicked one.” That’s Satan. Cain’s parents were the same ones as Abel’s, but when Cain decided to go his own way, and leave God’s plan, he came under the power of Satan, that wicked one, and it led to the murder of his brother. You see, my friends, love is the only way to have peace. Love is the only way to stem the violence. If you learn to have love in your heart, the hostility and aggression will disappear.

Note also that Cain’s works were evil. The wicked have always been jealous of the righteous. Why is there so much envy against the righteous? It is because they set an example that the wicked do not want to follow. In fact, they hate righteousness and do not want the restraining moral influence of those who obey God.

Cain wanted God to accept him just as he was. He wanted God to overlook his disobedience. If Cain was a modern preacher, he would probably be telling his congregation that their sins have all been forgiven, past, present and future, and they don’t have to worry. They are saved no matter what they do or do not do. He would tell them that God doesn’t worry about their obedience. After all, we’ll be sinning until Jesus comes. God loves us too much to let a little thing like the Ten Commandments get in the way of salvation. He would tell his church members that they don’t need to really be careful about Sabbath keeping. “The seventh day is not all that important,” he would say. You can keep one day in seven, that’s the principle. He would probably try to bring in new worship styles so the people can have a good sensory experience at church. He might even suggest that reading the mystics and using the spiritual exercises of Loyola would be worthwhile. Oh, and if there would be those who would object to his teachings he would preach against legalism and say that those who advocate obedience are trying to earn their way to heaven.

And one day soon many of the pastors who teach these things will become so angry at those who insist on following all of God’s Ten Commandments that they will do things that are presently unthinkable. Do you think that what Cain did to righteous Abel will be done to some faithful souls near the close of probation?

Cain had developed a sense of inferiority, which made him envy his brother Abel. God saw that Cain was angry. So the Lord asked Cain, “Why art thou wroth?” And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” Genesis 4:6-7

God was pointing out that Cain’s anger at Abel had no basis. He should have been angry with himself for not doing what God had said to do. He was not obeying God; therefore God could not bless him. His anger was misdirected. God even pointed out that “sin lieth at the door.” He knew what Cain was thinking of doing. He knew that anger and resentment would cause violence. And today it still does.

The apostle Jude in verse 11 declares that those who speak evil of the things they know not go “in the way of Cain.” The way of Cain is to disobey God. The way of Cain is the way of sin. It is also the way of violence. Cain thought he should have the favor of God like Abel, but he didn’t want to comply with the conditions. Finally, he yielded to the temptation to kill him to get rid of the moral barrier of his rival.

And by the way, violence can take many forms. Bullying can be a form of violence. Biting criticism is a form of violence. The assassination of someone’s reputation is a form of violence. One-sided judgment, meanness, mistreatment, or even misrepresenting someone are forms of violence. Anything that is not of the fruits of the spirit is a form of violence or leads to violence.

God said to Cain, “And now art thou cursed from the earth… When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.” Genesis 4:11, 12

Cain had brought the fruit of the ground for sacrifice, but now God said the ground would not yield its strength. It would not produce as much fruit as before. He had wandered away from God, so God said that Cain would be a wandering fugitive and a vagabond. The violence in his heart had led to real violence in the field. Cain could no longer be trusted to treat others with respect, so he had to be separated from God’s people. In the end, people who are violent have to be separated from society to restore order and security.

Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and built the first city recorded in scripture. It was called Enoch after his firstborn son. Building a city was Cain’s way of compensating for the curse on the ground. He also needed companionship, so he built a city that would accommodate all those who were of like mind and of like character, kindred spirits in wickedness, if you will, partners in crime. City life, which symbolizes separation from God’s presence in Eden, is a life that is surrounded by evil, wickedness and violence.

Cain was not only the founder of city life, but he was also the founder of murder as a means of settling disputes. After this, violence only increased in the land.

Cain’s descendant Lamech also bragged that he had murdered a young man (Genesis 4:23). Incidentally, Lamech was also the world’s first polygamist. He married two wives. Cain’s descendants were determined in their rebellion and they did not care about God’s law.

By the time of the flood God said “violence filled the earth” Genesis 6:11. Depraved evil, immorality and violence had become the norm of society. And it came to a climax at the time of Noah. Rebellion and sin were everywhere. The intellect of those people was so great that they could develop all manner of technology to advance their wickedness including genetic engineering and amalgamations. The thoughts and imaginations of their hearts were “only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

God told Noah in Genesis 6:13 that “The end of all flesh has come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

God had to arrest the progress of sin, or man would destroy himself and there would be no representatives of God’s truth in the land. That is the way Satan wants it. He wants to remove every vestige of the law of God. He is determined to do everything he can to force compliance with his laws and disobedience to God’s laws if he can.

But those who fear the Lord recognize the great promise of 2 Samuel 22:3 “The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.”
Wickedness and violence go together. Listen to these verses:

Psalm 11:5 says “The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.”

Proverbs 10:11 “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”

Proverbs 13:2 “A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.”

Speaking of Christ, Isaiah 53:9 says, “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” In other words, Christ was sinless and therefore he could save even the wicked and the violent if they will repent. Note also that deceit is a form of violence.

As we near the close of human probation, we again see violence as a key sign of the times. Christ told us that this will happen. He said that the enemies of God’s people will kill His faithful servants all the while thinking that they do God a good service. That’s from John 16:2.

In fact, the prophet Ezekiel referred to God’s church when he said “Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness…” In other words, the church persecutes its own members. That’s Ezekiel 7:11.

When a church turns its back on God it does violence to those who oppose it. A classic example of this was the established church in the dark ages. The rack, the thumbscrew, and the stake were the lot of those who disobeyed the instructions of the mother church. Human nature is no different than it was back then. It is probably even worse. So, do you think that there is coming a time when the same violent practices that were seen in the dark ages will be repeated again?

Listen to this prophetic statement. “[Rome] is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike.” That’s Great Controversy, page 581.

So, you see, there is a time coming when God’s true people will again be in a situation where they will face violence for righteousness sake. As violence becomes more and more common, and as wickedness increases, the respect for human life will be swept away, and torture, abuse and death will be the lot of those who live pure lives for Jesus.

The dark night is rising. Satan the archenemy of Christ is seeking to keep you from eternal life. The great controversy is reaching the end stages. Soon we will see the end of all the evil, violence, aggression and bloodshed that this world knows so well. God calls us to be examples of peace and tranquility in the midst of a world of violence. No matter what chaos happens around us, we can have His peace in our hearts. That perfect love and peace casts out all fear and violence.

Oh, my friends, let us remember that we are pilgrims and strangers in this spiritually barren and polluted land. We need to be freed from the evil in our own hearts so that we will not yield to Satan’s power and temptations. Many have gone before us. The apostle Paul tells us of those whom God sustained through many forms of violence. Hebrews 11:32-40 says, “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”

You see, my friends, the story of Cain and Abel is a story that has prophetic application all the way down to our own time. There is just as much enmity toward those who love God and His word as there was in Cain’s heart toward Abel. It will be a deadly hatred when the restraining hand of God is withdrawn from the wicked.

But in the end, all the violent powers of the earth, which have set the example for the common man and who have reined them up to violence against the righteous will be violently thrown down. Listen to what Revelation 18:21 says, “And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no
more at all.”

Friends, I want to be among the number that is with the lamb of God, King Jesus who is victor in the battle with Satan.

Jesus says that in the new earth the creation will be at peace. All violence will end. Listen to this from Isaiah 11:6-9. “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

Ironically, violence is one way that God gets us ready for the sheer tranquil peace of heaven. It makes us long for it, hunger for it, and live for it. Violence causes us to turn our backs on this earth and let go of its transient joys, and put our hand in the hand of God, placing our confident hope in the earth made new.

I want to be in the great land of peace, don’t you? And the only way that I can be there is if I have Jesus’ peace in my heart today. Then, whatever happens in this world, will be ordained of God for the good of His cause, and for my eternal good. I hope you want that too.

Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, we long for the peace and tranquility of heaven. We long for this long dark night of sin to pass away, and for Jesus to come and take us home. We know that there is a lot to go through before He comes again in the clouds of heaven. The darkest part of the night is indeed rising. Violence has penetrated almost everywhere. It is even inside of us. But we pray that you will keep us close to your side. Purge us of all violence. We must take time to study your word daily. We must take time to learn of Jesus so that His peace will replace the fear and violence in our own hearts. We would do the same thing as James Holmes did in Colorado if it wasn’t for the restraining spirit of God that has kept us from that kind of senseless violence. But sometimes we see ugly things inside our hearts that we know Jesus doesn’t want us to have. I pray that He will take them and change us into His image so that we only behold the love of God for us and for those around us. May we be ready to receive the latter rain, is my prayer. In Jesus’ holy and precious name, I pray. Amen.