Letter to the Brethren – December 16, 2011
Dear Members, Co-Workers and Friends,
Tumultuous events of unparalleled importance are on the horizon. And while many attempt to escape reality by trying to experience warm and cozy feelings during Christmas celebrations, mankind is getting closer to the brink of utter destruction.
In a series of sermons, we have begun addressing the seven seals in the book of Revelation, and we have commenced with publishing several installments on the same topic in our weekly Updates. We are also addressing the topic in our new radio programs, which will begin broadcasting in January.
We should all know that the first four seals picture the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, representing false religion, war, famine and disease pandemics. We read in Revelation 6:8 that these four horsemen will kill one-fourth of mankind.
Let’s pause and reflect on this. Can we really grasp the utter destruction which we are about to face?
According to current estimates, there are about 7 billion people alive today. Scripture tells us that one-fourth will die—that is, 1.75 billion—when the four horsemen begin their terrible ride. These people will die because of religious persecution, war, famine and disease pandemics.
Many times, wars are fought because of religious propaganda and misguided zeal—the crusades are prime examples, but by far not the only ones. Estimates suggest that nearly one billion people may have died in religious wars—far more than in strictly political or “godless” wars. Three of the most costly wars in terms of human life have been waged in the 20th century. 60 to 70 million people died in World War II, 20 million died in World War I, and 5 to 9 million died in the Russian Civil War (1917-1922).
And then, we are told that in the 20th century alone, 70 million people died from famine. An estimated 100 million died within six months during the great influenza or Spanish flu (1918-1919), and in the 12th and 13th centuries, the “Black Death” killed as many as 34 million people in Europe (nearly one-third of Europe’s population at that time), and many more died in India and China.
We see that terrible death tolls have occurred in the past, caused by religious and political wars, famines and diseases, and the Bible tells us that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse will repeat, if not top, those figures during the time of their comparatively short ride.
In addition, Christ warns us that during and subsequent to that time, there will be increased earthquake activity. In the future, an earthquake will strike which will be larger than any earthquake which has occurred since the creation of man (Revelation 16:18). So far, the biggest recorded earthquake had a magnitude of 9.5 on the Richter scale. It occurred in Chile in 1960 (The largest recorded earthquake in the USA struck Alaska in 1964 with a magnitude of 9.2; and the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, with an estimated magnitude of 9.0, is perceived to be the largest European earthquake).
Christ tells us that following the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, the fifth seal will be opened. It describes the beginning of the Great Tribulation, which will be the most devastating time in the history of man (Daniel 12:1; Mark 13:19). It will be such a terrible time that no human being would survive if Christ was not to return and shorten those days (Matthew 24:22). Undoubtedly, many millions of people will die during that horrible time.
After the beginning of the Great Tribulation, there will be terrible signs in the heavens, followed by the great and awesome Day of the Lord (Joel 2:30-31; Revelation 6:12-17), when God’s wrath will be poured out on unrepentant and rebellious man. During that time, further insane wars will be fought. One of those wars alone will kill “a third of mankind” of those who will still be alive at that time (Revelation 9:15).
We could go on with describing other prophesied nightmare scenarios, but this should suffice to show us the unparalleled calamities that will befall mankind. Contrary to the mindless Christmas mentality of “peace on earth for all men” now, the Bible paints quite a different picture. Man, in his idle and selfish, God-defying and Satan-heeding attempts to rule himself, will bring all of us to the brink of utter destruction (Revelation 11:18).
That is the bad news. But there is good news. Christ said that He will shorten the days, for the elect’s sake, so that some will survive. There will be those who are worthy to be spared from and to escape this terrible time of trial or tribulation which will come upon the entire earth (Luke 21:36; Revelation 3:10).
Christ prophesied that before the end of this civilization comes, His gospel of the Kingdom of God will be preached in all the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14). He said that His Church will carry on with the Elijah commission to preach the only true gospel of the Kingdom of God, including repentance (Malachi 4:5-6), and that some will respond, believe and repent (Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47), so that God will not have to come to strike the earth with a curse or utter destruction (compare again Malachi 4:6).
In light of the incredible devastation which will engulf this planet, what a great responsibility God has placed on our shoulders to help ensure that there will be survivors. We had better not take this responsibility lightly.
With Christian love,