Countdown to the End of the World: Preparing for the Great Gospel Famine
by Steve Sterling 11/14/2011 / Prophecy
In His famous countdown of end-of-the-world events in the 24th chapter of the book of Matthew Jesus had underscored the pivotal role of the gospel proclamation in the last days. Amid the signs and wonders that is to foreshadow the Second Coming, the preaching of God's end-time message (Matt. 24:14) for this generation will be the most critical event since the eternal destiny of the inhabitants of planet earth will depend on how the gospel message is treated.
The eternal consequence of accepting or rejecting the 'Good News' of salvation is emphasized in Christ's exhortation to His disciples just before his ascension. He thus declared:
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mk 16:15, 16 (KJV)
The preaching of the word is consistently represented in the scriptures as a life and death matter; it is a duty that is exercised for the sole purpose of saving lost humanity from the power of sin and its natural consequences. Therefore, no man can be saved outside of an acceptance of the gospel.
If the work of the gospel is to save people from their sins, it means that there is something about sin that we need to stay away from; that in spite of its apparent harmlessness, it is a disease we must get rid of it lest we die. Since the word of God is the only means by which sin is expelled from one's life (Ps. 119:9-11), where the gospel ceased, sinners will remain sinful and without any hope of eternal salvation.
That there will be a time to come when the preaching of the word of God will come to an end is clearly taught in the scriptures. The most familiar prediction comes to us from the pen of the prophet Amos saying,
"Behold, the days come, saith the lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." Amos 8:11, 12 (KJV)
When the Lord brings an end to evangelistic activities in the world, sinners will then be left without a lifeline. There will be nothing of moral worth to restrain the evil passions of the sinful soul. Thus the sinful inhabitants of the earth will be left to the buffeting of Satan and his host. The world will then see what life on earth will be like when the hearts of men are destitute of the sweet restraining influence of the Holy Spirit.
It is to this condition that the prophet Daniel points when he speaks of "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation." (Dan. 12:1). There are several things that are going to happen in the last days as a consequence of a gospel drought:
1. The Spirit of God will no longer plead upon the hearts of men to repent
2. Evil, misery, and confusion will increase exponentially
3. Satan will have full control over sinful humanity to do as he will
It is hard to imagine the state of anarchy and disorder that the world will be in when the Spirit of God is withdrawn from those who have finally rejected the only means of their restoration (the gospel); when there is nothing to restrain the natural promptings of the flesh to do evil. If while the renewing power of the Holy Spirit is with us today men are still practicing wickedness on a daily basis, how much more evil will man be capable of when it is no longer available?
What sinful man will become just before the world comes to an end is a warning to us who are living in the end-time against the dangers of rejecting truth. The most fitting illustration of what the sinful heart of is capable of when unhampered by divine influence is found in the experience of the Jews after Christ's ascension. The evil pursuit of the Jewish nation leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem is a direct consequence of rejecting the Messiah and His message.
After Jesus went back to heaven, the Jews persecuted His followers from city to city in an effort to extinguish the light of the gospel and prevent its spread. Then as time went on the Jews became more and more hardened in sin to the point where the enmity became internal. Within the city of Jerusalem different warring factions were created. They were so malicious against each other that they attacked the food supply in the city out of jealousy and revenge, thus exposing themselves to the horrors of starvation.
During the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman army, the many evils that transpired in the city was a clear demonstration of a heart under the unrestrained influence of evil angels. The Jews were so unfortunate to be under siege at a time when their city was out of food. An account of what people resorted to in order to satisfy their hunger is graphically recorded in book of Lamentations:
"The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people." Lam. 4:10 (KJV)
Before this time no one among the Jews would have ever thought of something as horrifying as eating their own children, but because of they have long persisted in an evil course they have reached a place where they can no longer control the intensity of their sinful passions. Thus the people of Jerusalem suffered a double famine; a famine for food, and a famine for the word of God. The gospel famine was created by the Jews themselves because they not only reject the word of God, but they also attempted to hinder its cause by persecuting the messengers.
In the little remaining time of our probation on earth, we need to take a lesson from the experience of the Jewish people. What had happened to them leading up to their demise in AD70 is but a microcosm of what is prophesied to happen in our time as the end of the world draws near. Our only hope of escape is in accepting the truth and allow it to change our lives so that our own iniquity will not be our ruin (Ezek 18:30).