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Do You Have a Sense of Urgency?

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Do You Have a Sense of Urgency?

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Do You Have a Sense of Urgency?

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We need to have a sense of urgency about preaching the gospel, about being zealous about our own spiritual state and our readiness for the return of Jesus Christ.

Transcript

I was talking to Lansing congregation–they’re trying to listen this afternoon–and we thought it was live and then it wasn’t live, so I just let them know that the first sermon was about to be posted. So, hopefully, they’re going to be listening. And I don’t know how my grandchildren are going to handle that. My wife’s got two of them with her this afternoon; and, you know, she hasn’t got me to help. One’s five and one’s four, so they can be quite a handful.

I don’t know what they’ll think when they hear me but I’m not there, because when I was catching up on Beyond Today after my recent sickness, I saw the episode that had an interview of myself for about five minutes–Darris McNeely conducted the interview–and the five-year-old, when she saw me on TV said, “Hey look! It’s Grandpa! Grandpa’s on television!” The four-year-old looked up and immediately said, “Grandpa, can we watch Spongebob?” So Mr. Eddington, you’ve clearly got a long way to go to…{laughter}

I’d like to thank you all for your prayers and for the cards and phone calls during my sickness. I’m a lot better now, and I do appreciate your concern. My grandchildren did, too, because they often opened the cards and, you know, tore up the envelopes, so {we have} no idea who they came from in some cases…but it was nice of them. They just wanted to help, and that was good.

Now, for those of you who are at the other end of the age spectrum, like Ed Smith, I was telling Ed before the service about our oldest man in Michigan who turned 106 and who was being interviewed on one of the local news channels; and the interviewer looked like she was about eighteen. The interviewer was a bit awkward, and she said, “Wow! You’re 106! Do you expect to make it to 107?” And he came right back with, “Sure! Research shows that very few people die aged 106!” It would be nice to think we could all have such alert minds when we get to that age, if we get to that age.

Talking of Lansing, the Lansing State Journal had a letter in the letter section a few days ago from somebody in an office blog who regularly sees in the dumpster outside in clear plastic bags discarded fetuses from an abortion clinic in the building. And he wrote this very moving letter about what an awful sight this was to see every weekday when he was working; and he also brought in, you know, what does God think about this? Very good question. The same newspaper has had a series of articles during the last few months on what they refer to as “disposable children.” Michigan, like most states, has a no-fault divorce law. In over 80 percent of cases, it is the father who files for divorce and without the consent of the wife. Usually only one is filing for divorce. Sometimes it’s the woman; but in most cases, it’s the man. And every year, 30,000 children in Michigan alone are left without a father, in the sense that they don’t live with their father as well as their mother.

There has also been an on-going court case in the newspaper which has appalled many, {involving} a lady with four children from four different fathers whose live-in boyfriend tortured the younger ones while she did nothing. Her defense lawyer explained to the jury, as if this is a legitimate defense, that she was addicted to cocaine, that this was the reason why she didn’t intervene, didn’t try to help the children while they were being tortured by their stepfather.

You know, I read these things and I wonder how long it’s going to be before God pulls the plug on us as a nation. A nation does not deserve to exist when it cannot look after its children, the most vulnerable members of our society.

I mentioned this in an article, so you might have already seen it, but I heard something on Al Jazeera, which is broadcasting Ghana every day; and when I’m over there sometimes I will look at it. They were talking about a warning from the United States to Lybia’s Col. Gaddafi on human rights; and one of the ladies on the panel discussing this warning exclaimed, “Who are the Americans to lecture us on human rights? The basic right of every child is to have two parents. Yet, in the United States half of all children don’t.” She was actually wrong. It’s not half. The Pew Research Center this week revealed that 29 percent of children are in that category, not 50 percent, so it’s not as bad as she said; but, of course, 29 percent is still awful for all of those children. It shouldn’t be this way.

In the book of Isaiah, if you’ll turn there with me, in chapter 58, we read the following words in the book of Isaiah, chapter 58, the chapter which many of you are familiar with because it does talk a great deal about fasting. In the beginning of the chapter, Isaiah writes these words:

Isaiah 58:1-2 Isaiah 58:1-2 1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
American King James Version×
Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways…a lot of people have this veneer of being religious and of worshiping God. Of course, many people do go to church. They seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God.

But as you carry on, reading the chapter, you see that there’s a great deal of hypocrisy because people really are not keeping the laws of God. In fact, one thing I’ve always felt about the religious right is you never hear them stand up and condemn divorce. They never talk about broken families, which is a much bigger problem than some of the other things that they regularly get up and condemn. Of course, the reason why they don’t condemn divorce is because so many of their supporters are divorced and remarried.

Cal Thomas wrote an article some years ago. He’s a conservative religious Christian columnist. I’m not sure what denomination he’s a member of, but he wrote an article some years ago about how conservative Christians have a higher divorce rate than non-Christians do, which was interesting.

Isaiah preached from approximately 740 to 680 B.C. That’s a very long ministry, even longer than Mr. Luker’s 54 years. In the first 39 chapters of the book (that correspond to the 39 books of the Old Testament), he gives a strong message of impending judgment upon Judah for the nation’s sins. And the last 27 chapters (that correspond to the 27 books of the New Testament), he gives an encouraging message of salvation, of mercy and forgiveness. Throughout, there is a great sense of urgency, even though the fall of Judah was still a few decades away. In fact, I don’t know exactly when Isaiah died, but his ministry ended around 680 B.C., so it was still going to be 75, 76 years before Judah itself fell. You wouldn’t know that from reading Isaiah’s words because there is an incredible sense of urgency in everything he wrote down in this book and everything he said and did in calling upon the nation to repent, to change its ways, to start keeping the laws of God. Isaiah had a sense of urgency, and so did many of the other prophets. You can see the same sense of urgency in other prophetic books.

Jesus Christ also had a sense of urgency. Look at Mark, chapter 1. You see that in these words here, Mark, chapter 1, and verses 14-15.

Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
American King James Version×
- Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, the good news of the coming Kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Again, you get this sense of urgency from these words. And yet, Jesus Christ must have known that there was going to be a couple of thousand years before He would return. But, of course, people living at the time needed to have a sense of urgency. None of us knows when we’re going to die. As Mr. Luker said, we don’t know how things are going to be next Sabbath. We don’t know if we’ll be around next Sabbath. Richard Kennebeck is taking me to the airport tomorrow. I may not survive, you know. I mean, our lives could end at any time. That’s the reality of the way that we live.

Mr. Armstrong used to say that you should plan your life as if you’re going to die of a ripe old age–he said 85, but maybe we should make it 106 now–but he also said you should live each day spiritually as if this is going to be your last day. And that’s very good, sound advice. Plan physically as if you’re going to live to be really old but plan spiritually as if this could be your last day, so live that perfect day. Live as Jesus Christ lived His days.

Of course, people back in the time of Jesus Christ, many did not live very long because of all the diseases that they had. Even today, you know, people don’t live, on average, to three score years and ten, when you take the world as a whole. I mean, we were just in Zimbabwe for the Feast, and the life expectancy is 37 years for men and 34 for women. That’s all. That’s all! Ghana is 45 or 47. That’s why I left before I turned 40! You know, it gets a bit close…but we should have a sense of urgency. We need a sense of urgency for other reasons, too, and I’ll come to that in a few moments.

Let’s look at Acts, chapter 2. Again, you see a sense of urgency here in Acts, chapter 2, with the apostles, in verse 38. This is at the end of Peter’s great sermon here in Acts, chapter 2, on the Day of Pentecost, the day that the church was born. And in verse 38:

Acts 2:38-41 Acts 2:38-41 38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.
American King James Version×
- Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

You know, they didn’t wait. There was a sense of urgency in Peter’s message. There was a sense of urgency in that when people came to understand the truth, they wanted to be baptized right away. I think all of you who are baptized can identify with that. When it all finally clicked, when God called you, when He called me, it took a while before I really understood everything…not everything, but, you know, it was a while before I could put all those jigsaw puzzle pieces together and had an understanding that this is the truth, this is God’s church. And I wanted to be baptized; and when I wanted to be baptized, I wanted to be baptized right away. That still happens today. I get letters from people in Africa. They want to be baptized. I have to write back and say, “Well, I won’t be in Ghana until January, but I can see you then and we can talk about your baptism,” and they write back all frustrated, “Do I have to wait that long? January’s two months away!” But they have a sense of urgency, a desire to be baptized as soon as possible. They don’t want to miss out on the Kingdom, and they don’t know what’s going to happen to them in the next couple of months.

The book of Revelation also conveys a tremendous sense of urgency. So we see this sense of urgency throughout the scriptures. We see the prophets in the Old Testament had a sense of urgency. We see Jesus Christ had a sense of urgency. We see the apostles had a sense of urgency. Look at I Thessalonians, for example, where the apostle Paul talks constantly in each chapter about the coming resurrection from the dead and eternal life; and now, here in Revelation we also see this tremendous sense of urgency. Revelation, chapter 1, verses 1-8:

Revelation 1:1-8 Revelation 1:1-8 1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John: 2 Who bore record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. 4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be to you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, said the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
American King James Version×
- The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—-things which must shortly take place. This is really written for the benefit of those at the time of the end because the book centers on end-time events, apocalyptic events…things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. Again, that sense of urgency. John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father…a reminder of our ultimate potential, of our role in the Kingdom of God, to be kings and priests…to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

There’s this tremendous sense of urgency.
Verse 19 - “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”

It’s very inspiring to read some of these chapters. These men all had a sense of urgency. My question is, do we have a sense of urgency? Do you have a sense of urgency?

Look at chapter 2, verse 5:

Revelation 2:5 Revelation 2:5Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent.
American King James Version×
- “Remember therefore from where you have fallen…” Again, you know, do it now; repent now! “Remember therefore from where you have fallen…” Remember how zealous you were when you first came into a knowledge and understanding of the truth. “…repent and do the first works…” Get back to that same zeal that you had at the beginning of your conversion. “…or else I will come to you quickly,” urgency again, “and remove your lampstand from its place—-unless you repent.”

So Jesus Christ would remove Himself from the church or from our lives unless we repent. Go down to verse 16 here in this chapter.

Revelation 2:16 Revelation 2:16Repent; or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
American King James Version×
- “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”

So, again, “I will come to you quickly,” a sense of urgency. “Be you ready,” spiritually. Don’t delay, don’t hold back; but make sure that spiritually you are prepared for Christ’s return, or you’re prepared for your death, which, again, could happen at any time.

Verses 25-26 - “But hold fast what you have till I come.” Hold tight to what you have. Don’t let go; don’t let go of your salvation. “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations…”

A reminder, again, of the fact that we’re going to be ruling in the world tomorrow, going to have those kinds of positions of responsibility. Look at Revelation, chapter 3, and verse 3:

Revelation 3:3 Revelation 3:3Remember therefore how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come on you.
American King James Version×
-“Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”

A thief does come in the middle of the night, when you’re least expecting it. The first house we lived in in Ghana, we lived in this house for two and a half years; and we had our house broken into on six occasions in that two and a half years. Every single one of our wedding presents was stolen except one thing which we kept in the bedroom; and, you know, they came in the middle of the night on every single occasion. It was so bad that eventually I asked our office clerk if his two boys, who were like twenty-something at the time, would sleep downstairs, as I thought that that would discourage anybody who was breaking into the house. I told them to sleep right where all the electrical equipment was, which they did; and, then, the next morning I came downstairs and the electrical equipment was all gone–all the sound equipment, I should say, was all gone. There was nothing there. And on top of the sound equipment, I had left a stack of letters that I had to answer, personal correspondence letters; and they had actually taken those off the stereo and they had put it next to one of the guys’ heads, just to taunt him, I suppose; but they slept through the whole thing. Ghanaians make a lot of noise and I guess they learn to sleep through it all. Usually there is a large family in a small space, so they’ve learned how to sleep through everything.

So that didn’t work either. How do you deal with a thief who comes in the middle of the night? The next thing I thought, you know, most of the break-ins were on Friday nights. We had a night watchman, somebody who patrolled around the house every night; but I gave him the Sabbath off, and most of our break-ins were on a Friday night. So I started sitting in the kitchen on a Friday night so that I would be able to hear them when they broke in; but then the next break-in came on a Saturday night, so, you know, you can’t win. I mean, you just don’t know when a thief is going to come. He doesn’t give you advance warning, and Jesus Christ was pointing this out here.

Verse 3 - “I will come upon you as a thief,” when you’re least expecting it, “and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”

So it’s a warning to us. It was a warning to the church in Sardis; and it’s a warning to us as well, that we need to be prepared for Christ’s return at any time.

Verse 11 - “Behold, I am coming quickly!” This is a part of the message to the church of Philadelphia. “Behold, I am coming quickly!” And notice what else is added to this verse: “Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”

I find it interesting, looking back at my 40 years in the church, to see how often people have followed a man out of the church; or, in some cases, they have allowed a man to become a stumbling block to them remaining in the church. They might be upset with somebody or disillusioned with somebody and, so, they leave. But it’s interesting that this is written to us. This message is applicable to us. “Hold fast what you have,” hold tight to what you’ve got, your salvation, “that no one may take your crown” of eternal life, and the crown of ruling in the world tomorrow. Don’t let a man come between you and God, but people do that all the time. You know, peoples’ loyalty to their friends is often greater than their loyalty to Jesus Christ. And, yet, Jesus Christ described us all as His friends, described His disciples as His friends, so our loyalty should be to Him and not to other people.

Go down to verse 14. This passage seems to fit more in our age:

Revelation 3:14-18 Revelation 3:14-18 14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things said the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot. 16 So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. 17 Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
American King James Version×
– “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” So we’ve got to be really careful about being lukewarm. “Because you say, ‘I am rich…’” We are, probably, the wealthiest people ever in the history of mankind… “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ —-and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—- I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”

Laodicea was famous for it’s eye salve, its ointment, that was sold all throughout the Roman Empire. And, you know, this verse is saying, go through the trials. Go through the tests that God wants us to go through to prove our loyalty to Him, to show our commitment to Him and His ways. And, of course, we’ve had many of those trials and tests throughout our lives. I certainly have in the last 40 years; and, you know, I count it all joy because I know that God is still working me, working through me, or working with me, you know, when I go through those things, because He told us that we would {go through trials}.

Revelation 3:19-22 Revelation 3:19-22 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches.
American King James Version×
- “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Here, again, is that sense of urgency. “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” When somebody knocks at the door, you have a sense of urgency. You want to get there quick, before they leave. You don’t wait until the next day to answer the door. That would be pointless. “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

There’s a warning here, that it’s time to get our act together, to realize what’s most important, to do the right thing, to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×
- “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Don’t worry about the physical things. Of course, a lot of people do and spend a great deal of time thinking about physical things and worrying about things, finances and so on. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Let’s go to Matthew, chapter 24, a great chapter of Bible prophecy. There are some sobering words in the passage that we’re going to look at, beginning in verse 36 and reading right through to the end of the chapter:

Matthew 24:36-41 Matthew 24:36-41 36 But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
American King James Version×
- “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” So, you know, for many people, life will just continue as normal. For most people, it will. And, yet, suddenly, everything will come to an end–the world that they’ve known, the life that they’ve known, will come very suddenly to an end, just as in the days of Noah. “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.” This seems to be talking about the church, because one will be taken, one will be left, one will go to a place of safety, which is promised in the scriptures, one will be left. “Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.” It can’t be talking about society as a whole because, you know, it’s not going to be 50/50 there because most people don’t understand God’s truth, so it’s talking, really, about the church here. And it shows clearly a division taking place at this time.

But, then, in verse 42, it says, “Watch therefore.” Jesus Christ says, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”

What’s He telling us to watch here? Watch, therefore? Well, first of all, we need to watch our spiritual state. Are we ready at any time for the return of Jesus Christ? Or for us to meet Jesus Christ if we die, because in the next moment of our consciousness, we would be resurrected. And then we would meet Jesus Christ. Are we prepared at any time to meet Jesus Christ? That’s one thing we need to examine ourselves on. Are we ready? Are we spiritually prepared because that’s extremely important; but there’s an implication here, also, with this whole chapter, which is talking so much about what’s going to be happening in the world at the time of Christ’s return, that we should also watch what is happening in the world, and we should be aware of the seriousness of the times in which we live. So we watch our own spiritual state and also what’s happening in the world.

You know, Mr. Armstrong’s three main areas of focus, when it came to geopolitics, were the Middle East, which is the very center of Bible prophecy; secondly, the rise of the European nations, the coming together of the European nations to form the final resurrection of the Roman Empire, which we sometimes refer to as the beast power; and, also, the decline of the English speaking nations. I remember hearing some of the radio programs 40 or more years ago where this was a central focus of the program; and it really hasn’t changed, because if you use those three things as your guideline when you look into what’s happening in the world, you see clearly all these things happening–the continuing decline of the English speaking nations; the fact that our nations–the United States, Britain, and other countries that are of Israelite descent–are going broke, which is going to change everything.

I was in England just a few weeks ago, and every day they were talking on the news about how the British government was having to cut billions of pounds out of its budget because they simply do not have the money; and one of the things they’re cutting is defense, so the country will not be able to defend itself if it’s attacked. In fact, adding to their problems, they’ve worked out an arrangement with France where they share military equipment, including aircraft carriers. France is the country they’ve fought the most in history, and the French are notoriously unreliable; but they’re going to be cooperating on defense matters with France. You know, it would be better if they chose Liechtenstein.
And then I come back here, and I read in publications that America’s debt problems are proportionately just as bad as those in Britain. And if you heard a few days ago, the commission that was set up to make recommendations as to how we as a nation can balance the budget, also said we need to cut defense. I think they recommended {cutting} a hundred billion out of the defense bill. But, you know, it’s inevitable.

Sometimes I hear people say, “Well, you know, it doesn’t look like much is happening right now. We must be at least twenty years away from any fulfillment of prophecy, end-time prophecies.” Maybe we are, but maybe we’re not! And if you know your history, you realize how quickly things can change.

I read a book some time ago called Picking Up the Reins by Norman Moss. I believe I mentioned it when I spoke at the GCE. I’m not sure, but it’s a very good book. It’s about how power passed from Britain to America after World War II. Roosevelt, before the end of World War II, told Churchill that after the war he wanted all American troops out of Europe within two years; and as far as he was concerned, he was quite happy to go back to the arrangement where the British Empire was the policeman of the world. The “international policeman” is the term that was used. And Roosevelt was happy to let Britain continue in its traditional role, which had gone back for about 200 years.

But, then, after World War II, Britain started to have some serious financial problems. There came a day in February, 1947, which was less than two years after the end of the war, when Britain could not afford to continue to fight the Communists in Greece; and it notified the United States by telegram that they were pulling out of Greece. The message said something like, “If you want to take over, go ahead.” And somebody who obviously had a deeper understanding and greater perception than most, somebody in the State Department when he received this telegram, made the comment–and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember the exact words–but he made the comment, “In the last hour, the role of international policeman has passed from London to Washington, with all its power, all its glory, and all its burdens.” So somebody perceived that power was passing from Britain to America at that moment, on that day.

It was in February, 1947. And, of course, that’s exactly what happened. It took about ten years for most of the rest of the world to realize what a significant change had taken place, but this one person realized it right away. And we’re going to come to a time as well where that happens with the United States, and it will be for exactly the same reason that it was for Britain–they were broke, and we are broke. You cannot be the world’s number one power when you’re broke. You cannot be. You might be able to do it for a while, but there will come a point where you have to face reality, and that point is coming for us as a nation, too. And it could happen quickly.

So when people say, “We could have 20, 50 years left.” Yeah, we could. That’s true. And I’m not saying we don’t; but, you know, it could easily come to an end quickly. You go back a hundred years, for example. A hundred years ago was 1910. If I move forward a little bit, to 1913, in 1913 in Russia the Romanov Dynasty was celebrating 300 years on the throne. And in 1913 the country was doing so well economically and the people rejoiced so much over the fact that the Czar and Czarina were on the throne and the country was stable. Lenin wrote to his wife in Switzerland and said, “The Revolution will never happen in my lifetime.” Five years later he was in power.

In 1914 there were great celebrations in Germany. The Kaiser was quite popular, especially with the military; and, again, everybody thought Germany would go on forever under the Kaiser. The country was growing very fast economically. In 1914 Britain was still the greatest investor in the world. I read in The Economist this week, 50 percent of all international investment came out of London as recently as 1914. But, then, suddenly everything changed. The most significant day of the 20th century is June 28, 1914, the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, a place that most people had never heard of. When that assassination took place, within five weeks the whole world was at war. Well, the United States wasn’t for a while, but just about the whole world was at war because of that assassination; and that war changed everything. In fact, you know, at the height of the success of globalization…globalization was all the rage right up until 1914. People thought it would go on forever. And then, after the assassination, I can’t remember exactly when, but a few weeks afterwards, all the stock markets closed down and they remained closed until the end of the year. Who could have foreseen that that assassination would change everything? The guy who actually pulled the trigger and shot the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife died in prison four years later of tuberculosis. You know, he was just an obscure individual; and yet, he changed the whole course of history.

And, of course, that’s happened a number of times. It happened fairly recently. September 11, 2001. On September 10 who in this country was expecting what was going to happen the next day? Of course, 19 people were, the 19 perpetrators of the events of that day; but I don’t think anybody else was. You see, suddenly it all changed. Suddenly everything can change. Suddenly it can all change for the United States, and the United States may not be the world’s greatest power the next day. Things can happen very, very quickly.

I’ve had a sense of urgency for, well, hopefully, all of my life since I came into the church; but I’ve certainly had one the last few years while I’ve been the senior pastor in Ghana because, you know, I’ve realized that we have a job to do there and we may not have all that much time to do it. For two reasons–one reason is terrorism. The area has a major problem with Al Quaeda, the whole of west Africa; and I wonder how long it’s going to be before it’s just not safe to go there. But another reason is because the American dollar loses value all the time, and I wonder how long we’re going to be able to help countries like Ghana and other nations around the world.

This work in this modern era has depended very much on the success of the American economy and the value of the American dollar. We are the only country that can finance other nations when it comes to the church. And yet, the dollar is in a very precarious state, very {precarious}. If fact, if you saw the G20 summit, some of the news items from that, which was less than two weeks ago, you’ll know that all the other countries that were present there were in step. We were out of step. Whereas all the other nations are practicing austerity, the administration here in the United States decided to print 600 billion more dollars and maybe as many as 1.2 trillion dollars, which will, of course, bring down the value of the dollar internationally. And other nations realize the consequences of that. First of all, it gives the U.S. an unfair trading advantage, so it’s very similar to what the Smoot-Hawley Act did in 1930, which triggered the great depression. But also, the dollar is the world’s reserve currency. Most things, not everything, but most things are priced in dollars; and if the dollar goes down in value, that’s going to affect its status as the world’s reserve currency. So there were calls from China, Germany, and Japan to stop this from happening, telling the United States it was being irresponsible. The German Finance Minister used a word–I’ve forgotten what he said–but he used a very strong word, and it was really nasty.

How long is it going to be before the dollar is worth nothing? It’s being talked about. I get e-mails from different financial newsletters that people send me and magazines warning that the dollar’s going to be worthless soon. If it is, that’s the end of the work, the end of the work that God is doing, at least as we’ve known it. So, again, there’s a need for a sense of urgency to realize we may not have much time to be able to do a work in some of these countries around the world. And, of course, if the United States economy collapses, then everything in the world is going to change because we will no longer be the dominant nation; and other nations will then try to take over in the areas where we are no longer able to do what we have been doing for the past 60 or 70 years. So it’s a very serious matter.

Mr. Armstrong would talk about the decline of the English speaking nations; but he also talked about the rise of Europe, the coming together of the nations in Europe. Europe is in a precarious state, too; but it’s interesting to me how Germany has become suddenly very successful. Somebody sent me an article recently just asking the question, “Why is Germany suddenly so successful financially, economically?” When I was over there in June, I think it was, one newspaper article said that orders to German industry were up by like 39 percent over the previous year. The country is booming! We always thought that Germany would lead the European nations in that final resurrection of the beast power. The Germans are disillusioned with the European Union because some countries have been irresponsible financially. I’m surprised that they are surprised that Ireland and Greece and Portugal and Italy {and Spain} have been irresponsible. These countries are called the PIIGS because that’s what the countries’ initials are. But you see again Europe on the verge of change.

Somebody sent me an article today about how racist Germany is becoming. Again, just like the 1930s, Angela Merkel recently just spoke out about and just said multiculturalism doesn’t work. I mean, I agree with her. I don’t think it does work, but I can’t imagine an American leader ever getting up and saying multiculturalism doesn’t work. But the German Chancellor did. It’s not working. There are increasing concerns about Islamic terrorism in Germany; and if that happens, how are they going to react?

You know, it’s interesting when you look at what is happening in Europe. And the Middle East, of course, which is the third major area of his {Mr. Armstrong’s} focus, is always a caldron waiting to explode.

Let’s just carry on here, then, with chapter 24.

Matthew 24:42-46 Matthew 24:42-46 42 Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come. 43 But know this, that if the manager of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes. 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing.
American King James Version×
- “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.”



“Doing” the work that we’ve been doing for decades and focusing on the things that we’ve always focused on, and prophecy is just one of them. I’m very interested in prophecy, but I don’t think it’s the most important thing. The apostle Paul showed that love is far more important than prophecy. If you’ve got a church that is based on prophecy and there is no love, then Jesus Christ is not working with that church. But at least 25 percent of the Bible is prophecy, and most of those prophecies are still to be fulfilled in the future at the end time. So prophecy is important. Not as important as love, but it is still important; and it does help us to have a sense of urgency when we watch and pray about what is happening in the world.

Matthew 24:46-51 Matthew 24:46-51 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing. 47 Truly I say to you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delays his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
American King James Version×
– “Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’” or, in the old King James, “ ‘My Lord delays His coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

That’s very serious, what it says there. If we let down, if we say in our hearts that Christ is not returning for 40 or 50 years and then we slacken off spiritually and we start bickering and accusing one another, attacking one another, and then eat and drink with the drunkards, which ties in with Laodicea–rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing–where the physical becomes more important than the spiritual–if we fall into that trap, then we could lose out on our eternal life.

Finally, just look at chapter 25.

Matthew 25:1-13 Matthew 25:1-13 1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go you rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Truly I say to you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.
American King James Version×
- “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” We’re looking here at the time when Jesus Christ returns and the marriage takes place, when Christ marries the church. “Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” Again, here’s this division in the church itself. You see these are people who are followers of Jesus Christ, five have been wise, five were foolish. “Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.” Again, midnight, you see, in the middle of the night, coming as a thief in the night. “Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’” This just emphasizes the fact that everybody is responsible for their own salvation, and those that have not remained close to Jesus Christ and have not remained zealous for the work and had a sense of urgency, those are going to miss out. And they {the five wise virgins} can’t do anything to take the others into the Kingdom, those who have slackened off and have let down in some way. The wise answered and said, “No, we can’t do anything for you,” basically. “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore,” again, that same terminology, “Watch…for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

Mr. Armstrong used to say that you are converted to the extent that your heart is in the work. The more zealous you are for preaching the gospel around the world, the more converted you are, in other words. There’s a lot of truth in what he said, and we haven’t been as zealous as we should have been in preaching the gospel. We haven’t had that sense of urgency that we should have had. I mean, some have had it; but not everybody’s had it. There needs to be a sense of urgency because the work which we’ve done in the past over 80 years now–since Mr. Armstrong first was used by God–the work which has been done was done, especially after World War II, with the prosperity that the United States had. It was done with the money that was given by people here in the United States. And other parts of the world benefitted from it, whether they were in England where I grew up or Africa where we lived for many years when we were married. The money came from the United States, and still does, for many areas of the world. So we need to focus again on the need to be zealous in doing the work and to have a sense of urgency, a realization that we have a job to do; and that job may suddenly come to an end because of the American economy and because of the fact that our economy could collapse. The dollar could collapse, become totally worthless. That’s happened.

I was in Zimbabwe for the Feast. The Zimbabwe dollar had collapsed. The money was totally worthless. Every day we went to church, boys would come up trying to sell us Zimbabwe money, which is no longer in circulation. And they had notes that said $50 trillion, and you could buy them for like 20 cents. And, you know, it would be impressive to bring one home and pull out your wallet and say, “I’ve got $50 trillion in my wallet.” But it’s not even worth a cent. When we lived there, bread was 5 cents a loaf. Before they got rid of their money, it was $50 trillion for the same loaf of bread. And you know why that happened? Because the government printed too much money. Oh, it couldn’t happen to us, could it? Of course it could. It happened to Germany. It happened to Russia. It happened to a lot of countries, and it could easily happen to us. As The Economist magazine has pointed out on more than one occasion, the great lesson of history is that paper money always, eventually, fails–always. And the dollar is not an exception. The British pound is not an exception. It will happen to us all, just as it has to other nations as well.

So we certainly should have a sense of urgency for many reasons. But we need to have that sense of urgency about preaching the gospel, about being zealous about our own spiritual state and our readiness for the return of Jesus Christ, or for our own death, whichever comes first. We need to be ready, we need to be prepared spiritually, and we need to be zealous, focused upon the Kingdom of God and focused upon the need to preach the good news, the gospel of the coming Kingdom to this world. As it says in Matthew 24, verse 14, “and then the end will come.”