The Revenge of the Birds
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Greetings to you in the Lord my friends. I am amazed at how quickly so many elements leading God’s people to the crisis are developing on seemingly every front. Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 are being fulfilled at a pace faster than anyone can imagine.
This month we are going to look at a very important part of this prophecy of Jesus concerning the end of the world, and the things that must happen before the close of human probation. These things were thought by many to be way out in the future, but they are happening now, or at least developing now! Our message will examine one of the most challenging health problems this world has faced. Governments and health organizations worldwide are working at a frantic pace to prepare for a looming crisis that is likely to kill millions of people if measures are not taken to prepare for it. Even then it seems that it is only a matter of time before this crisis attacks in a way for which medicine is unprepared.
But before we begin our study on this incredible disease, let us pray. Our Father in Heaven, it is with earnestness and sincerity that we pray for Your guidance as we study today. Please help us comprehend the tremendous changes that are coming upon this world in the near future, as Satan is preparing for the last great deception. He wants to cause death and disease everywhere, and then present himself as the great healer. We do not want to be deceived. We want to be ready in Jesus’ power to live in confidence in the last days. Now bless us as we study your word in light of amazing current events in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jesus told us what is coming on the world. Most of God’s people have not taken Jesus’ words seriously enough. We are in the midst of witnessing the exact fulfillment of Jesus’ words, and yet God’s people think that the things Jesus spoke about aren’t really going to happen until sometime way down in the future.
Listen to His words in Matt 24:7; “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” In recent months we have looked at some aspects of Jesus’ words in detail, such as wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters. This month we are going to study the conditions leading to great pestilence near the end of time. There are many pestilences such as HIV, SARS, Western Nile Virus, Ebola, etc. But these may pale into insignificance in comparison to the potential of the deadly avian flu virus now in the sights of health officials around the world.
When Kaptan Boonmanuj, a six year old boy in Thailand died in early 2004, he became the first known victim of Avian Flu in Thailand. Roongroj, Kaptan’s uncle, raised fighting cocks at his home nearby where Kaptan lived. When the birds became sick and began dying off in December of 2003, he recognized that something was wrong and began giving many of the remaining birds away to friends and neighbors. Kaptan however, enjoyed working with the birds. He would often visit his uncle’s home and handle the birds, sometimes holding them in such a way that their tail feathers would be in his face and their feces would drop on his arm and clothing.
Government officials visited the home of Roongroj when they learned that his birds were dying but they never told him what they suspected. Kaptan died of the potent Avian Bird Flu virus within a few days of his first symptoms. This strain of virus is quick and deadly.
Since 1996, when the virus strain was first found in a goose in China, Asia has been dealing with an outbreak of Avian Bird flu among bird farms. 150 Million birds, chickens, ducks and geese have been slaughtered for fear that there might be a human pandemic, creating enormous economic havoc across Asia. The SARS outbreak led to estimated losses of between $30 billion and $50 billion…” reported the International Herald Tribune October 26, 2005. “Preliminary estimates… suggest that even a mild pandemic could cost Asia up to $110 billion from lost consumption, investment and trade…” And that is just Asia. Think about the economic losses around the world if this should become a world-wide pandemic!
But as word of the flu epidemic among the birds spread throughout Thailand, people began to fear eating infected chicken. This threatened the poultry industry. Even as Kaptan was slipping in and out of a coma, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra appeared on national television eating a variety of spicy chicken dishes in an attempt to quell public fear.
“My son was sick,” says Chamnan, Kaptan’s father. But seeing the Prime Minister on Television reassured him. “I thought maybe it wasn’t Avian Flu,” he said. “I trusted and believed the government.” His parents wept over Kaptan’s little coffin, as chickens roamed around the yard. These were the same chickens that made Kaptan sick. “He shouldn’t have been on television,” Chamnan says. “If we would have known [the truth], Kaptan would still be here with us.” The Thai government compensated the family with the equivalent of $2700 U.S. dollars, and the Agriculture Ministry sent a large wreath.
Avian Flu Starts in China
The first case of Avian or Bird Flu virus was found in a goose in China in 1996. The first human case of Avian Flu occurred in 1997 in Hong Kong, when a three year old died of the disease. The deadly influenza virus known as H5N1, causes severe respiratory failure with great pain, and kills within days. More than sixty people have died so far, which is more than half of those infected. This is a very high percentage of mortality. Other cases have been reported in Asia, such as in Thailand and Vietnam. Already drug resistant strains of the virus are being found in Vietnam, according to the Washington Post, October 15, 2005. Like most viruses, the deadly H5N1 form of the bird virus mutates when it is co-mingled with a common viruses. The two forms of viruses then exchange genes very easily and create ever more deadly pathogens. The great fear is that the H5N1 virus will co-mingle with a common human virus and create a form of the virus that can pass easily from human to human, something that hasn’t happened yet at the time of this message. When that happens there is no telling how widespread the damage will be.
Indonesia first tried to keep its avian flu crisis a secret, reported the Washington Post, October 20, 2005, hoping that the nation, and the world would not find out about it, which would result in great damage its economy. But the nature of the disease is such that it becomes public very quickly. Similarly China is keeping its plan to deal with the disease secret, raising questions about the status of China’s avian flu crisis. Now with migratory birds from China infecting eastern and western Europe and Turkey, it is clear that China’s crisis is growing and it is now affecting other nations.
Health officials believe that it is only a matter of time until the virus will pass around the world killing perhaps millions of people in a world-wide pandemic. Listen to the words of the principle medical officer for emergency preparedness at the Hong Kong Health Department. “We know that a pandemic will come,” he said, “and in a global way we cannot stop it. We can only try to minimize morbidity and mortality so as to buy time for vaccine development.” That ominous quote was in an article in the International Herald Tribune of October 16, 2005.
What is a Pandemic
What is a pandemic? A pandemic is different from an epidemic. An influenza epidemic is a seasonal outbreak of the flu which is limited in is geography and is comparatively mild in its effect. But a pandemic is a world-wide outbreak of disease which causes serious illness and even death of large numbers of people.
No wonder Jesus said that there would be pestilences in the last days! Now we are beginning to understand what he meant. He meant what He said. The development of superbugs has been brewing for a long time. But little did we realize the magnitude of meaning in Jesus’ words. Man has cultivated the flesh pots of chicken and other birds for so long, that now the time has come for their revenge.
Listen to this quote from Ellen White. It is found in Great Controversy, pg. 589. “While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. “The earth mourneth and fadeth away,” “The haughty people . . . do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” Isaiah 24:4, 5.
Notice the words “He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence.” Both man and beast are affected. Flu viruses of almost all types are mostly transmitted through the air from one living organism to another, or from a living organism to the food of another. While pigs and horses and other animals have viruses, they don’t generally migrate to humans. But birds on the other hand are hosts for all types of influenza viruses and can easily spread them to other types of hosts according to the Center for Disease Control in the United States. By close contact, living things, whether birds, horses, pigs, or humans, exchange air and can easily exchange pestilence contained in the air, tainted by Satan himself. No doubt Satan is a master scientist that understands viruses far better than human scientists.
Here is another interesting point. Without frightful diseases, Satan would not be able to become the great healer. He is positioning himself to deceive the world into worshipping him. When he comes to them as if he were Christ himself, healing the people, deceiving them and then tells them that these things are happening because of man’s transgression of the law of God, the people will believe him. Then he will tell them that they need to get the nations of the world back to God and enforce Sunday laws so that everyone will worship him on his false day of worship. The world will be so scared because of so many devastating natural disasters, among other frightful events, that the people will be ready to believe him. He can be a dictator without any opposition, particularly if he presents himself as the “son of man” having come back the second time to usher in the great millennium. This will lead to the severe persecution of those that oppose him and uphold God’s holy Sabbath day because it is in God’s holy law. These pestilences are crucial to placing Satan in the position where he can especially deceive the masses.
Migratory Birds Spread Disease
The problem doesn’t just involve chicken, duck and geese farms where birds are concentrated and wallow in each other’s feces and breathe each other’s air. It involves the common every day human family. The ubiquitous chicken is the most common bird in the world and the easiest to transmit disease. The chicken is the most popular fowl for food everywhere in the world. Throughout Asia, Central and South America, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North America millions upon countless millions of birds are slaughtered each year to feed huge populations. Many families grow and slaughter their own. The birds in most countries wander freely feeding on scraps and foliage and other things they find on the ground, and in some places, in the open sewers. Unsanitary conditions exist in many countries. Even in Europe and America there are thousands of small and large farmers that raise large amounts of birds for human food in rather unsanitary conditions. It is easy to see how that once an pandemic among birds begins, it can easily spread from one farm to another through wild bird populations who travel at random and feed in close proximity to these domestic birds. Thus disease can travel from home to home through its back yard birds.
Add in the compounding effect of migratory birds that stop along their migration route to feed. They sometimes end up being contaminated by eating the droppings of other birds, or they eat other contaminated food that they find around bird farms. They then become infected and carry the virus elsewhere. The disease spreads then to other farms in other places along their migratory route.
The deadly form of the bird virus is beginning to show up in many places. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there have been cases in China, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Balkans, Turkey, Romania, Germany and Moldova. Africa is full of countries mostly unprepared for this crisis. In poor countries, people mingle freely with animals and birds, and provides a “dangerous crucible for the mixing of the bird and human viruses,” reported the International Herald Tribune, October 20, 2005. It is likely to be in such unprepared countries where viruses can mutate and spread easily.
On August 15, 2005, CompuServe News reported that “Russia had cordoned off roads and slaughtered hundreds of birds on Monday to contain the advance of a bird flu epidemic toward western Europe.
“The country’s top state epidemiologist warned that the bird flu outbreak in Siberia also could spread through Russia’s key agricultural areas in the south and then on to the Middle East and then on to Mediterranean countries.
“’An analysis of bird migration routes has shown that in autumn 2005… the H5N1 virus may be spread from Western Siberia to the Caspian sea and the Black Sea,’ Gennady Onishchenko said in a letter to Russian regional health officials.
“’Apart from Russia’s south, migrating birds may spread the virus to nearby countries (Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Ukraine, Mediterranean countries) because bird migration routes from Siberia also go through those regions,’ he said in the letter.
“The outbreak, previously confined to five remote areas of Siberia has now struck a major industrial region — Chelyabinsk in the Ural mountains which separate Asia from Europe.” It is clear to health authorities in Europe and Russia that it is the migratory birds that are the main source of spreading infection.
And sure enough, On October 10, 2005, the International Herald Tribune reported that avian flu continued it’s westward march by infecting birds in Romania. There are many types of bird flu. But while it wasn’t certain at first that the flu in Romania was the deadly H5N1 virus, officials weren’t taking any chances. They slaughtered any bird flocks that were infected.
The Australian Sun-Herald however reported that the powerful H5N1 virus had also been confirmed in Turkey the previous week leading to great concern that the virus in Romania was the same. The European Union took it so seriously, that on Friday, October 14, there was an emergency meeting in Brussels, as EU and national government officials attempted to hammer out new rules for dealing with avian flu in “high risk” areas, the Sun-Herald reported. “European farmers have been told to keep poultry flocks away from migratory birds in all areas considered “high risk” for possible infection with bird flu under stringent new European guidelines,” the Sun-Herald article said. “Affected farms include those that are close to wetlands, ponds or other areas visited by migratory birds that might carry the H5N1 avian influenza virus into Western Europe. Some farms will have to move flocks indoors.”
According to the International Herald Tribune article both Romania and Turkey had followed “UN recommendations about heightened surveillance and controlling the spread of the disease.” It is obvious, that even the precautions taken were not enough to prevent the bird flu from entering the domestic flocks. Further, Romania vaccinated local residents with regular flu vaccine in an attempt to prevent them from getting regular flu and thereby increasing the chance of a mutation a form of the deadly virus that can jump from human to human.
The French government confirmed that French farmers had been told not to feed their flocks outside. German officials ordered flocks indoors in October. Dutch flocks were ordered indoors last August. Even with all this, Britain admitted a higher risk of the spread of the virus, but downplayed it saying that the risk was still “low.” The British Veterinary Association President Dr. Freda Scott-Park said “the disease has only affected 119 people resulting in 60 deaths.” It is amazing that a flu strain with the potential to kill more than 50% of those infected is treated so lightly in Britain.
The United States, in contrast, is bracing for a bird flu epidemic. Recently the Senate voted to add $4 billion to a defense-spending bill to prepare for a bird-flu epidemic, reported Time Magazine October 10, 2005. Did you hear that my friends? $4 billion. But the companies that make flu vaccines are in a dilemma. “Makers of flu vaccines can’t simultaneously produce both bird-flu and regular-flu varieties in sufficient quantity,” said Time. “Shift [production] too early (to produce a vaccine for the avian flu), and it could be a false alarm, and millions of Americans who get the normal flu vaccine every year would have to go without, probably resulting in thousands of preventable deaths. Shift [production] too late, and there would be not time to produce enough vaccine before the bird flu hit, potentially killing millions.”
Presently the United States has 4.3 million 10-dose courses of treatment stockpiled (of a vaccine that is thought might work), but that is only enough for less than two percent of its population, reported the Washington Post, Oct. 8, 2005. European nations have placed orders to cover 20-40 percent of their populations. But the vaccine companies apparently don’t have the capacity for that much production. It may take them a year to produce enough just for those countries alone. Think of all the poor countries that have little or no stockpile vaccine. Who is going to produce vaccines for them once the pandemic gets started.
But there is yet a further complicating problem. If the virus mutates to a new strain in humans, the vaccine companies, who are now developing vaccines for the current strains of the H5N1 virus, will have vaccines that may be of no use, millions upon millions of doses. They are doing it anyway because there is a chance that a human virus would actually respond to such a vaccine. But it is also very possible that a virus could mutate to another form that would be unresponsive, and those millions of doses would be have to be discarded. The vaccine companies would have to start all over again which would require precious, precious time to develop the vaccine, and then produce it in sufficient quantities so that a world-wide pandemic could be stopped. In the mean time, probably millions would die of the disease, since it would be quick acting and very potent.
World Health Organization Warning
“The World Health Organization declared in September, once again, that as far as an influenza pandemic is concerned, the question is not if but when,” reported Time Magazine, “not whether millions would die, but how many millions.” President Bush said on October 4, 2005 that he might use the military to enforce quarantines on areas of the country affected by a human version of the bird flu virus. But that only works if it is localized in a relatively small area. A quarantine has little chance of being effective even then, because the disease would have already spread to others before a person carrying the disease begins to show symptoms. If one person infects two or three, then they each infect two or three others, how quickly do you think a virus like that would spread beyond a local community? In this day and age of travel mobility, the disease would likely have spread well beyond an area that could be quarantined. It might be relatively easy to quarantine small town, or even a small city, but the more likely scenario is that the deadly disease would arrive in a very large city. Even if the President used the military to quarantine a whole city, such as Chicago or New York, what effect would that have in preventing the spread to other places? It seems that it would not be very effective at all. Pretty soon other large cities would also have outbreaks, and they too would be locked down. Then another and another, until potentially much of the country would grind to a halt. Think of the devastating effect on the economy of the nation, not to mention the liberties of the people living in those areas. Do you remember what Great Controversy said about Satan bringing in disease and disaster until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. This problem can easily spread once a human-to-human virus exists to many very populous cities all over the world and cause death in enormous numbers.
The International Herald Tribune reported on October 21, 2005 that “New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development said Friday that if the H5N1 strain began spreading from person to person abroad, the country’s ‘first line of defense’ would be to seal its borders.” You can be sure that this will happen in many countries and travel will be very restricted and perhaps permitted only with governmental permission if the situation gets really bad. This world is about to change my friends. It is only a matter of time. Brace yourself.
As far back as April (2005) the President signed an executive order “authorizing the addition of pandemic influenza to a federal list of diseases that can lead to quarantine,” reported CIDRAP, a publication of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. This means that the U.S. Immigration Department has the authority to detain and isolate a person coming into the country to prevent the spread of infectious influenza.
President Bush also recommended that people read John Barry’s book on the 1918 pandemic that killed more than 50 million people worldwide and that serves as a reminder of the kind of threat that the world could face.
The 1918 Virus Resurrected
The 1918 virus, was amazingly reconstructed recently and reported in many scientific journals. In 1995 Jeffery Taubenberger, Chief of the molecular pathology department at the armed forces institute of Pathology got an idea. He wanted to know what the 1918 virus looked like. He recalled that President Abraham Lincoln had ordered that any military doctor who takes a tissue sample must store it in the military pathology warehouse. Viruses had not been discovered yet, but tissue from soldiers who died of the 1918 flu virus were still in the warehouse. The virus was in the tissue, though somewhat degenerated. Then he got a sample from a woman who had died of the disease in Alaska. She was one of 72 out of 77 adults that had died of the disease in her village. They were buried in a mass grave under the permafrost. A friend of Taubenberger, a retired pathologist went to Alaska, dug up the grave and took samples of the still frozen tissue back to Taubenberger. For the last decade they have been working on piecing together the deadly 1918 strain of the virus. Just recently their findings were published in the journal Nature. Guess what? It was a strain of the Avian Flu. The hope is that they will be able to gather information concerning how viruses mutate into deadly human forms. While this is promising, it is a race against time. The spread of the disease and the ever more deadly mutant forms could cross the human-to-human barriers before an effective treatment can be organized.
My friends, it is only a matter of time before a human-to-human mutant variety of this dangerous flu, H5N1, will surface. No one knows when, and no one knows where. Once it does, however, the race will be on like never before, to develop and produce enough vaccine to quell the disease.
Without the special intervention of God, pandemics would have wiped out human population long ago. Here is another statement from the pen of inspiration. Counsels on Stewardship pg. 17. “[God] loads us with His benefits. We are indebted to Him for the food we eat, the water we drink, the clothes we wear, the air we breathe. Without His special providence, the air would be filled with pestilence and poison. He is a bountiful benefactor and preserver.”
The sad part of this is that man does not recognize God’s powerful intervening love and mercy. Listen to this from Desire of Ages, pg. 348. “The Lord works continually to benefit mankind. He is ever imparting His bounties. He raises up the sick from beds of languishing, He delivers men from peril which they do not see, He commissions heavenly angels to save them from calamity, to guard them from “the pestilence that walketh in darkness” and “the destruction that wasteth at noonday” (Ps. 91:6); but their hearts are unimpressed. He has given all the riches of heaven to redeem them, and yet they are unmindful of His great love. By their ingratitude they close their hearts against the grace of God.” Satan takes advantage of this blindness and uses it to deceive them.
As we come to the great crisis that will take God’s people through the deepest experience that they will ever face, the contrast between the wicked and the righteous will be tremendous. Listen to this statement from the book Great Controversy, pg. 629. “The people of God will not be free from suffering; but while persecuted and distressed, while they endure privation and suffer for want of food they will not be left to perish. That God who cared for Elijah will not pass by one of His self-sacrificing children. He who numbers the hairs of their head will care for them, and in time of famine they shall be satisfied. While the wicked are dying from hunger and pestilence, angels will shield the righteous and supply their wants. To him that “walketh righteously” is the promise: “Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.” “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.” Isaiah 33:15, 16; 41:17.
Notice that even though God’s people will not be free from suffering, they will be shielded from the power of the enemy and the calamities that befall the earth. Notice the conditions to the promise of bread and water, however. It is to “him that walketh righteously.” Are you walking righteously? We must all examine ourselves to see if we are walking righteously. That is how we come under the safety net, under the shadow of the almighty.
Getting Under the Shadow of the Almighty
Let us review what the psalmist has to say. “The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul.” That’s from Psalm 121:5-7.
Now from Psalm 91. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high, shall abide under the shadow of the almighty. I will say of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.” What kind of pestilence? The noisome pestilence. What does that mean? A noisome pestilence is one that is offensive to the smell and it is very unwholesome according to the dictionary. So we can understand this psalm as a prophecy. Do you think that there will be noisome pestilences from which God’s people will need to be delivered? Of course there will, otherwise the scripture would not have give us this promise. At the end of time, there will be great pestilences according to Jesus. So we should make sure that we are under His protection.
Let us read on: “He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” Notice that Jesus illustrates His care as being covered with His feathers and under His wings. What a fitting illustration of the protection from avian flu!
The Secret Place of the Most High
If you wish to avoid the plague and the pestilence, get under the shadow of the almighty. How do we do that? We must dwell in the secret place of the Most High. Where is the secret place of the Most High? Turn in your bibles to Psalm 27:5. “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” What rock is in the tabernacle? Why that is the ten commandments upon which God wrote His law with His own finger. And where is that rock? It is in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle. In other words, when you are having a Most Holy Place experience, when you enter in with Jesus into the Most Holy Place, and put away your sins though His power, and live a righteous life, then you are under the shadow of the almighty because you are living by His law and having your sins cleansed during the investigative judgment.
Listen to this statement from In Heavenly Places, pg. 348. “Now is the time when we are to confess and forsake our sins that they may go beforehand to judgment and be blotted out. Now is the time to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” It is dangerous to delay this work. Satan is even now seeking by disasters upon sea and land to seal the fate of as many as possible. What is the defense of the people of God at this time? It is a living connection with heaven. If we would dwell in safety from the noisome pestilence, if we would be preserved from dangers seen and unseen, we must hide in God; we must secure the protecting care of Jesus and holy angels.”
Notice that we are to not only confess but forsake our sins. When you live God’s law; not just give it lip service, and perhaps attend church service and warm the pew each Sabbath; when you are serious enough to put away all sin out of your life, and forsake it completely, you will then be hidden in the secret place of His tabernacle on the solid rock of His law. Then He can protect you and you will abide under the shadow of the almighty. Isn’t that wonderful. Now think about your own experience for a minute. Has that been your experience. You can do it, you know. You can come into that Most Holy Place experience for sure. Jesus is calling you and He will enable you by giving you a special measure of His grace.
And notice what happens when you live this way! Look at vs. 6 “And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.
When you live in the Most Holy Place experience, you will have great joy; so much joy in fact that you can’t hold it in. You will sing praises unto the Lord. Even when all around you there is pestilence, war, famine, earthquakes and persecution especially, you will be able to sing praises to the Lord.
Proverbs 3:32 says that Lord’s “secret [is] with the righteous.” You see, only those that keep God’s law can enter into that secret relationship with Christ in the Most Holy Place. What does that word secret mean in this context? It means that the righteous will be able to find a place that no one else can find. The wicked, and those that are compromising will not find the secret. They can’t understand how to enter into a relationship of cleansing of sin. It is a mystery to them. It is a dark secret. They can’t accept that Jesus actually has the power to keep you from wallowing in sin. They teach that Jesus forgives us, but they teach a weak Jesus, One that cannot help you overcome.
Common Teaching that Jesus Doesn’t have the Power
This is the problem today. So much of what is touted as the gospel is really a weak and emaciated gospel. It is insipid and lifeless. According to false teachers, we can sin an live. We can sin over and over again, and never have to overcome because Jesus just covers all our sins past, present and future. There is nothing more to the gospel than the cross.
But the cross is represented by the alter of burnt sacrifice. It was only in the outer court. There is much more to the plan of salvation than the cross. There is the laver, which represents cleansing beyond forgiveness, the holy place ministry, representing our daily relationship to Christ, and the Most Holy Place ministry, representing the judgment before the close of probation. The atonement didn’t end at the cross. Only the sacrificial atonement ended at the cross.
Jesus actually proposes to give you the power to overcome your sins so that you don’t have to do them any more. Isn’t that wonderful! Let me read it to you. Jude 24 “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” Imagine this my friends. Jesus is able to keep you from falling into sin. And that is what He longs to do. He doesn’t want to just keep forgiving you, though He does that abundantly. But He wants to give you power – for He is able, to keep you from falling altogether. That is what the scripture says. Do you believe the scriptures as they read?
Some might say, Oh that doesn’t mean that. Jesus will present you faultless because His blood covers your sins, but he can’t mean the other part about keeping you from falling. Here is the trouble with many. They shortchange Jesus. They only accept that which they want to accept, because they want to continue in their sins. They like their sins. They love their sins. But you have to accept all of scripture and live by it if you are going to be under the shadow of the almighty in the last days.
Many are going to miss out on heaven because they have believed the lie that Jesus is my substitute alone. He is not my example. But if Jesus could overcome by the power of His father, we can overcome by the power of Christ. It is the same kind of relationship. Those that teach that Jesus is only our substitute fall into a fatal deception. They believe that Jesus is their substitute everything. He is their substitute sacrifice, therefore they don’t have to sacrifice for His cause. He is their substitute tithe and offerings, so they don’t have to return tithe and offerings. He is their substitute obedience, so they don’t have to obey God’s law. But this is not what scripture teaches. Jesus can keep you from falling into sin. He can help you control your temper. He can help you overcome lust. He can help you overcome covetousness and pride and envy… He is willing to give you the power.
The Sabbath and the Most Holy Place Experience
That is the beauty of truly keeping the Sabbath. God’s law says that the “seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Not the sixth day. Not the third day. Not the first day. But the seventh day. When we live by God’s law in the Most Holy Place, we keep the Sabbath day, not because it is Jewish. Not because we earn our way to heaven, but because we love Jesus and want to live for Him. He then can bring us into the Most Holy Place spiritually and place us on the solid rock of His law. We keep the law because it is His kingdom-principle. The Sabbath is a special sign between the true follower of Christ and Himself. It is a distinctive mark.
But that Sabbath is not the only thing about the law that we keep when we love Jesus that much. We keep all of His laws out of love to Him. That’s not legalism as is so often claimed, that is genuine righteousness by faith, faith in God’s power to really make His child righteous, so righteous in fact that he, like Job, doesn’t even sin with his thoughts or his lips.
And now in closing let me read from Great Controversy, pg. 654. “The world see the very class whom they have mocked and derided, and desired to exterminate, pass unharmed through pestilence, tempest, and earthquake. He who is to the transgressors of His law a devouring fire, is to His people a safe pavilion.”
My friends, let us come to Jesus, really. Let us enter into the Most Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary by faith in His power and promises to keep us from falling into sin. Then we can be under the shadow of the almighty. When Avian flu attacks your community, you will be spared. When terrorism attacks the cities near where you live, you will be spared. When earthquake and famine attacks near you, you will be spared. Why? Because you are in the secret place of the Most High. May God help us each one to take the steps we need to take to get under the shadow of the almighty.
Let us pray. Our father, we see the fearful things that are coming upon this world. The scriptures tell us these things are coming. Avian Flu is only one of them, but it is a terrible curse. We see the principalities and powers working to bring great desolation upon the people of this earth in so many ways, and it is too much to comprehend. But we know that if we are in the secret place of the Most High we will abide under the shadow of the almighty. Help us to find that experience so that we can be protected from the Revenge of the Birds as promised in the Psalms. Thank your for the promises to your faithful people. We claim your promises to keep us from falling and now we ask that you will carry out that great principle in our lives by your power. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
For those of you receiving the CD version of this message, the following is a current events update of interest to those that love the appearing of Jesus Christ and are watching the fulfilling prophecies. This part of the program is only available on CD and on our website. We can see the signs of the times telling us that we are nearing the world’s great crisis. May the Lord find us faithful.
Australia’s Draconian Legislation
Our first item this month involves new draconian legislation in Australia.
John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister is attempting to get legislation through Parliament before Christmas that will dramatically affect the rights of its citizens and dramatically expand the power of government.
The new law was kept secret by the Howard Government until the Labor Chief Minister of the ACT (that’s the Australia Capital Territory) Jon Stanhope posted the confidential draft legislation on his website. The government, according to The Age, a major Australian newspaper, put him under a lot of pressure to remove the legislation from the web, but he refused, saying, “It is appalling that the Howard Government apparently believes that the people of Australia have no right to see this draft legislation, or to have any input whatsoever into its formulation.” The Government’s attempt to keep it secret no doubt was because of the draconian nature of the bill. Here are the key points in the legislation.
Suspects can be held in secret “preventive” detention without charge for up to 90 days. That is expanded from the current 28 days. What is “preventive detention?” That is so that the suspect cannot carry out anything illegal that he might have planned. Of course this is without charge and without proving or convicting him or her of any crime.
Suspects being held without charge cannot reveal that they are in custody or detention. They are only permitted to tell their family that they are safe, according to the legislation. The penalty for telling someone you are in this type of custody is a five year prison sentence.
A five year jail sentence if a relative of a person held in custody, finds out and tells someone else that the detained is in custody. Imagine that! Even if you find out and you tell someone else that your relative is being held in custody, you can end up in prison for five years.
Police would have the “right to kill” a person when attempting to take them into custody, even though police are often in plain clothes and would not be readily understood to be police.
Contacts between detainees and lawyers would be monitored by police, a serious breach of human rights.
Electronic tagging of suspects so that they can be tracked wherever they go.
Seven years in prison for “encouraging the overthrow of the government,” “encouraging someone to fight for the enemy,” or “promoting feelings of ‘ill will’ or hostility between different groups that would threaten peace. These clauses in the new laws include religion along with race, nationality or political opinion. In other words, the time may come when this law could be amended or expanded to make it an offence to teach Bible truth concerning the Papacy or other religions. Though that is not the case now, it could eventually include such people.
It will be a crime, punishable by life imprisonment, to give money to a terrorist organization either directly or indirectly, even if you don’t know it is a terrorist organization and had no intention of supporting terrorism. The donor is held responsible if the organization uses the funds to support terror under a “recklessness” clause.
The new law, like many such laws in Britain, the United States and other nations, uses words and phrases that are poorly defined and open for wide interpretation. For example, one of the Sun-Herald articles pointed out that there is a “wide definition of what it means for an organization to ‘advocate’ the committing of a terrorist act.” What does “advocate” mean. Without a legal definition, it could become almost anything.
Or, for example, there is a seven year prison penalty for giving of assistance ‘by any means whatever’ to an organization or country that the Australian Defense Force’ is fighting. The wording does not define the phrase ‘any means whatever.’ This leaves the law open to the government to determine what sort of behavior is acceptable and what is not. It also leaves it open to being expanded to include target groups not originally intended in the legislation. Even though the legislation has an exemption for ‘political debate or humanitarian assistance’ there is still a lot of subjectivity involved, stated the article.
The proposed laws, according to a letter from an advocacy group of legal and civil organizations, only “selectively” provides for “very limited judicial review.” Judicial review refers to the process of establishing whether actions against suspects are legal. In other words, not everything that is done in the name of the law can be questioned by the detainee or his attorney.
The letter also states that “The Commonwealth has comprehensively failed to deliver effective judicial oversight” within the proposed legislation, especially concerning the actions of key individuals involved in enforcing the law. For example, the actions of the Federal Attorney General in consenting to detention of an individual are not subject to Judicial oversight. In other words, their decisions cannot be questioned by anyone. They are above the law.
Further the letter stated that it gave “excessive instances of executive power” to detain without evidence of wrongdoing. If you would like to read the draft legislation, or if you would like to read documents related to it, you may go to our Keep The Faith website, find the text of this sermon and at the end of the sermon you will find a link to the website of the Chief Minister Jon Stanhope. From there you can read all the details of this secretive legislation.
The bill violates even some of Australia’s own laws and perhaps its Constitution. It remains to be seen what will happen to it as it progresses through the legal system there.
John Howard condemned minister Stanhope for putting this detail on his website, as “irresponsible.” Imagine that! Keeping this kind of dramatic legislation secret until after it is passed so that the people have no say, and then branding someone in government as irresponsible who believes that it is important for the people to have some input into the new laws. These are tactics of a dictatorship, not a free country.
Even before the proposed legislation was posted on the website, Prime Minister John Howard had already received the support and agreement from all the Premiers and Chief Ministers throughout Australia.
It doesn’t take much thought to see how these very laws, once established and in force, could easily be expanded to include those that might actually be teaching the last day message of truth. For example, the provision making it illegal to promote “feelings of ill will,” could easily be construed to make it illegal for you to teach the Bible truth about the antichrist some day in Australia. Rome loves this kind of legislation.
Mr. Howard used control of the Senate majority to limit the time for examination of these proposed laws to one week, said the Sydney Sun-Herald, October 16, 2005. This is hardly enough time to consider the complex detail and the major implications to human rights and other issues that are at the center of this intrusive legislation that will effect every single person in Australia.
The council for Civil Liberties (for New South Wales) President Cameron Murphy said he was “shocked at the powers to be given to police,” reported the Sun-Herald. “He said they would let the Government take action against anyone who simply opposed it on issues such as the war in Iraq.”
Legislation like this is ominous and makes it clear that Satan is doing his best to create an environment so that God’s people will have no chance to give the final warning without peril to their lives and liberties.
Our next item concerns the nation of Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s Tsunami.
Man’s inhumanity to man continues apace in Zimbabwe. According to World Magazine for August 6, 2005 “Operation Murambatsvina — literally ‘drive out the trash’ — has been in full swing across Zimbabwe’s cities since May 19. The ostensible justification is to clear away ‘illegal’ trading and settlements.” According to a UN report, government sponsored raids have left 700,000 Zimbabweans homeless, jobless, or both. Called the “Mugabe Tsunami,” that action against Zimbabwe’s poorest of the poor will take several years before the people and society can recover.
The locals say that the Mugabe government is zeroing in on the poor because they supported the country’s opposition party in elections last March. The actions include forced relocation to famine racked areas of the country without food or water or shelter.
Churches who helped them were attacked at night by government forces in the middle of the night and refugees were herded into trucks and driven out in to the country where they were left to fend for themselves. “The raids mean Zimbabwean churches have less and less room for dissent — even in the simple form of aiding the weakest,” said World Magazine.
U.S. Supreme Court
Now let us turn our attention to the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States. It happens that John Roberts is the fourth Roman Catholic on the court now. And he is a devout one.
“There is a misconception that so-called activist judges who “legislate from the bench” are invariably liberal,” said Adam Cohen in an editorial for the New York Times on August 27. “In fact, conservative judges can be even more eager to overrule decisions made by elected officials… Despite all the attacks on liberal activist judges,” the paper said, “conservative judges are arguably even more activist… Conservatives have long complained that activist liberal judges interpret the Constitution to “create” rights, like the right to privacy. But there are a growing number of activist conservative judges who are intent on using new readings of the Constitution to take away rights. Of the two varieties of activist judges, that is by far the more dangerous kind.”
It is important to watch what Judge Roberts will do. As a devout Roman Catholic, he will no doubt have a bent toward supporting those things that the church advocates such as restricting abortion, stem cell research, etc. But more importantly, he may well add to the weight of influence that will one day remove the religious protections that we enjoy in the Constitution.
By the time you receive this message, there may well be another confirmed member of the court. It remains to be seen what will be their religious affiliation. However, it really doesn’t matter that much what religious persuasion that person will be. Most judges are weak in their understanding of the true principles of separation of church and state and the importance of protecting the inalienable rights of religious minorities. They will likely side with the majority of conservative judges that have religious persuasions and convictions that are increasingly in harmony with the principles of Romanism. With the erosion of those protections in recent years, it is becoming more clear that with four Roman Catholics on the Court and several others of religious affiliations with ecumenical churches, there will be no problem when the time comes for God’s people to find their rights proscribed by the highest courts in the land.
President Bush is most likely to nominate another strong conservative with a lot of court experience, perhaps another Roman Catholic or at least someone with ecumenical Protestant views that will increase the presence of conservative judges on the bench and also increase the potential for Sunday laws.
Sunday Laws in Tennessee
Speaking of Sunday laws, let us turn now to Tennessee. This is from the Tennessean, Monday October 17, 2005. “Spring Hill Aldermen (those are town council members) are facing a decision over whether to go after do-it-yourself enthusiasts who violate an ordinance banning construction work on Sundays. According to city code in this Nashville suburb, no construction work of any kind can be done on Sundays. Spring Hill aldermen are now debating just how strict that ordinance is.
“‘The ordinance reads, no building operations, including erection, excavation, demolition, alteration or repair of any building in any residential area of the city, can be done on Sundays,’ Codes and Inspections Director Ferrell White said.
“The ordinance came up for debate last week after Codes Enforcement Officer Beau Herring ordered some contractors to stop working on a Sunday, only to find a family doing similar work on their home nearby.
‘City Administrator Ken York said he needs direction from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on whether it is illegal for residents to paint or do other home improvement projects on Sunday.
“’Can we specify no commercial work on Sundays?’ Alderman Miles Johnson said.
“’What about Seventh-day Adventists?’ Alderman Charles Raines said. ‘They go to church on Saturday.’
“’What about stating that anything that requires a permit can’t be done on Sundays?’ Alderman Brandon McCulloch said. ‘That would take care of larger jobs.’
“Not necessarily so, according to White.
“’Permits are required for most stuff,’ White said. ‘Fences, decks, patios. But right now, if a homeowner wanted to build an arbor or a patio or a deck, he could not do that on a Sunday.’
The aldermen instructed City Attorney Tim Underwood to research the matter and return to them with suggestions.”
It will be very interesting to see how this little dilemma will be resolved. It is just such “little dilemmas” as this that agitates the issue of Sunday Laws and points out the distinction between those that serve God and those that do not.
Well that is all we have time for this month. God bless and keep you.