Do you remember the days when they used to rush out when you pulled into a gas station and they would check your oil and check the air pressure on your tires and wash your windshield and fill up the car for you?
Well, there was a pastor who was in line one of these places and he was waiting and waiting. It was a holiday weekend and finally it came his turn and the attendant said, what will you have sir? And he said, fill it up. Then the attendant said, you know, I'm sorry for your long wait, but the reason is because this is a holiday weekend and everybody waits til the last minute to get their gas. And the preacher said, well, I agree with you. It's the same in my business. Why do we do that? We need to be ready.
I would like to share some signs of the Lord's coming with you. Some of these you probably thought about and maybe some you haven't thought about.
I think if you are cognizant of the things that are going on in the world, you realize that the middle class is disappearing. There's the wealthy, the poor, and the middle class. The middle class is disappearing. You can look up site after site on the web about that. What is the reason? I'm going to zero in on this this morning. The disappearance of the middle class.
I think it's predicted the book of Revelation. Most people are either poor or rich today. Probably, you say, well I'm poor. Well there are some rich people too. We have two classes, basically, and this creates an economic storm. We see it in emerging Egypt and the revolution that is going on there. We see it in Libya. We see it in various parts of the world. Yemen. People are polarizing. The middle-class is melting away. In 2008, the stock market lost about half of its value, which is now being called the great recession. Not a depression yet. The government has been aggressively printing massive quantities of money. Paper currency. And this so-called money has no backing at all. The only thing backing it up is your faith in it. Now our national debt is over $14 trillion. There is almost a zero chance of ever paying it back. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The middle-class is vanishing. Some CEO bankers are getting million-dollar bonuses while the poor people are struggling with maybe two or three service jobs. Evicted people moving in with relatives and times are hard. You can't even buy a job. We're in a crisis.
Where is this widening gap between the rich and the poor mentioned in the Bible? Well I'd like you to turn to Revelation 6:6. It makes a statement here. It says this. I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures saying, a quart of wheat for a days wages and 3 quarts of barley for a days wages and do not damage the oil and the wine. This is in the third seal. So what does this mean? Maybe this is a Bible prophecy that was fulfilled at one point and has a second fulfillment. That is what a lot of people are thinking. Let's unpack the meaning of this verse a little bit.
In the NIV it doesn't say a measure of wheat for a penny. It says a quart of wheat. Would be enough for one person for one day approximately if that was all you had was wheat for breakfast, wheat for lunch, wheat for supper. And so it says three measures or 3 quarts of less nutritious and less valuable barley might be enough for a small family. So what this is meaning, these quantities are a bare minimum. Now compare the amount of food with the price of the food. One penny doesn't sound like much but in the NIV it says it was actually a whole day's wage. So in other words a man could go out to work and for his pay that he got for one days wages he would bring home the bare minimum amount of food for himself or if the family chose to eat barley then he could bring home enough food for his whole family, 3 quarts of barley for his days wages. Nothing would be left over for anything else and this shows a deep poverty. Obviously a severe famine or some other crisis because it had inflated the prices almost 10 times, because today, do you spend your whole day's wages for one day's food? No. We spend less than 10% so this is an inflation of 10 times that is predicted here.
Now contrast this with the last line in Revelation 6:6. It says see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. What does that mean? This verse has socio-economic ramifications. Why is that? Because only the rich could afford the oil and the wine. So you have the dichotomy between the two. In the first half of the verse, the poor, and in the last half you have the wealthy. And during hard times, only the wealthy in Palestine could dine on the supplies of oil and wine.
So in this prediction here in Revelation it shows that at some point there will be just two classes because it doesn't mention the middle-class. Only the very poor or the very rich. The rich hogging down the oil and the wine and the poor eating on the wheat and the barley. The middle-class is gone. It's not mentioned at all, and in the modern world we are nearing that point right now. We live in a time when the superrich are earning millions of dollars a year and the poor are holding down these poor little cheap jobs, and that sign predicts, I think, the last days. The bankers and the Bildergurgs are making a mint and the poor are almost starving. Now Qaddafi. He moved almost 5 billion dollars of personal money or surplus money while his citizens are starving over there in Libya. That is a shame. You have that dichotomy all over the world and you realize that these riots over there are riots because of hard times.
The middle class is disappearing. It's becoming obsolete because middle-class skills are becoming obsolete. Routine clerical work and assembly line work are now being done by robots. Even smarter machines are replacing customer service jobs and so you have machines replacing people. People are out of work. Machines can't do work like raking and groundskeeping and fast food restaurants so we still have people employed for that, otherwise there's unemployment. A lot of 30 and 40-year-old youth and young adults are now still tied to their parents financial apron strings because they can't get jobs. Their jobs are being outsourced. The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.
Now let's go to another sign of the Lord's coming. 2010 ended with some strange things going on. Listen to this. 7000 buffalo in Vietnam no longer roam. They're dead. They all died at the same time. Several hundred dead birds just fell from the sky in Texas. Dead. Thousands of birds fell from the sky in North Central Arkansas. Why is this? 500 birds fell from the sky in Louisiana about the same time. Hundreds more fell from the sky in New York and Kentucky. Thousands of fish are lining the shore along Chicago. Why? 5000 to 7000 fish have died from heavy rains in Australia. Can you imagine fish drowning? A hundred thousand fish are dead in Arkansas. 2 million fish have washed ashore in the Chesapeake Bay. You have 100 tons of fish dead in Argentina. You have 150 tons of fish in Vietnam on 41 different sites that have died.
Turn to Job 12:7. The answer is, ask the animals. They will teach you. The birds of the air and they will tell you. Or speak to the Earth and it will teach you. Let the fish of the sea inform you. Are the animals, the fish and the birds informing us of something? They might be.
Seventy bats went crazy and died in Tucson Arizona all in one pile. What's the matter here? Tens of thousands of dead birds fell to the ground in Manitoba Canada. January 6, 40,000 velvet crabs washed ashore in the United Kingdom. It's all over the world. Masses of dead penguins lie on North New Zealand's beaches. Did they somehow sense that this earthquake was coming. Dead fish line the shore as far as the eye can see in northern New Zealand before the earthquake. The hundred tons of sardines dying in Brazil. 10,000 antelope in Russia dying. These 10,000 represent one fourth of the total population of that animal in the world. Hundreds of starfish are on the beach in Charleston, South Carolina. Dead. 8000 turtledoves fell from the skies in Italy. In Sweden 100 Jack Dall crows fell bed. Why is this happening?
Look at Hosea 4:1. It says, the Lord has this against you who live in the land. The people who are not true. Not loyal to God nor do those who live in the land even know him. Cursing, lying, killing, stealing, adultery are everywhere. One murder follows another. And then look at verse three. Because of this the land mourns and all who live in it waste away. The beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying because of the sins.
I think we need to ponder this. Some people say it's a magnetic shift. It could be a sign of the times. Could God be trying to tell us something? Luke 21:28. Your redemption draws nigh.
Here's another sign of the Lord's coming. Let's focus for a minute on the timing. Have you ever heard of the year 2012, which is next year. It's coming. My wife and I went to Panama to hold a series of evangelistic meetings with Share Him. While we were down there at my site I had a translator. Her name was Nelda Brown and I got fairly well acquainted with her because of our proximity to working together and one day she felt confident enough to tell me something. She said, you know pastor I had a dream. Maybe it was a vision, she said. I'm not sure. She said, in this vision or in this dream I saw the coming of Jesus and it was wonderful. She described it. What a dream. And then she said at the end of the dream the Angel said, I want to tell you the date of when Jesus is coming. Very clearly in that dream she was told the date and she told me the date and you know what the date was. 2012. This was about three or four years ago. I thought, interesting.
At that time neither she nor I were aware of a similar date that is being heavily promoted in the religious world. 2012. Some are claiming May 21, some are claiming December 21, 2012 that the end of the world will take place. The great transition, because the Mayan calendar runs out the Hopi calendar and others say, well no, it's going to come October 21, 2011 and other people are predicting well it's going to come on 11/11/11. November 11 of this year. Nobody knows.
We have a person by the name of Charles Wheeling. Have you ever heard of Charles Wheeling? He has predicted and set dates for the sunday law. Other people have set dates for meteoric shower or an asteroid disaster. One man in the Day Star said asteroids will fall before 1993 ends. Didn't happen. This same person said the global earthquake of Revelation 8 verse 2 to 5 would happen in October of 1992. Can we set dates? We don't know.
Look at Matthew 24. We cannot set dates. The Seventh-day Adventist church does not set dates. And why not? Well Jesus clearly says, no. Matthew 24:36. No one knows the day nor the hour, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son but only the father. We don't know the day of Jesus' coming.
Look over here in Acts 1:7. He said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the date that the father has set by his own authority. The truth is that the date of Jesus' coming is flexible. It's not cast in concrete. I read somewhere in a book called The Mount of Blessing that we can hasten the Lord's coming by are witnessing and by our preaching and I read that the Lord should have come maybe 100 years ago, even. How can we set a date for a flexible event. We can't do that. God knows when it's going to be because he knows how the future is going to work out but only fanatics attempt to do that.
And I think I know how they do it. They take a whole pile of dates like 1260 years, or 1290 years, 1335 years, 2300 years. Or they take 40 years or a hundred and 20 years and put that into a blender with a bunch of jubilees and run it on high for 10 minutes and then turn it off and pour it out on the counter. There, that's the date. That is no way to prepare for the end of the world. The way for you to prepare for the second coming of Jesus is to read the Bible. To get to know Jesus. The most critical thing is not to know the date of Jesus' coming, but to know Jesus. Amen?
Let's go to another sign of the Lord's coming. Turn to Matthew 24:7. It says that nation will rise against nation. That's a sign. It says kingdom against kingdom and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. Famines and earthquakes. I want to focus just a little bit on famines.
Have you been to the grocery store lately? My wife sent me to get some tomatoes. What a shock of my life. I found a nice big pretty tomato. It was like three dollars and something a pound, and this tomato weighed a pound. And I thought, wow, I can't afford to spend that much money on one tomato. They don't taste much better than flavored cardboard in the wintertime anyway. They pick them six months ago it seems like. Anyway, food is getting scarcer and prices are going up. That's what's happening. Rising prices are leading to rioting. Demonstrations and political instability, and a major reason for the meltdown in Egypt that you have been watching on your news this week and in Libya and in other countries are, that people in those countries are hungry. That's why we have this turmoil. In fact, Forbes said in January 2011, the world is treading on dangerous ground. Market forces are in place for a global food crisis. The world, including America, is on the verge of a major crisis. Governments are collapsing. Food is expensive.
Do you know that since last June, June of 2010, corn prices are up 94%. Soybeans are up 51%. Wheat is up 80% since June of 2010, and Time magazine in the February 28, 2011 edition says this. Rising grocery bills are causing unrest. The average American, it says, spend 7% of their money on food. Do you know how much Egyptians spend on food? 36%. That's why they're rioting. In Pakistan they spend 46% of their income on food. We're seeing riots. Revolution in the hungry parts of the world. The truth is that food is in shorter and shorter supply.
Did you know that in America we burn one out of every three ears of corn. We burn them up. While the hungry are starving we burn food as ethanol in our gas guzzling cars. That's where we burn it. A huge amount of the world's farmland is being used to feed engines and not to feed people. So you can see the reason for the crisis.
Jesus was right. In the last days there will be famines and from the way I read it these famines are just beginning. Last day famines. There are at least five more reasons other than the two that I just gave you for last day famines. A major reason is that there are more people to feed. The population is still increasing. It's still growing. Also, honeybees and bumble bees are dying, and we need them to pollinate certain crops. Also, another reason is that extreme last day weather makes food shortages much more critical. Another reason is the price of oil. Oil is almost $100 a barrel now. The price of oil makes food too expensive for billions of the world's poor people because high fuel cost raises the cost of plowing and planting and fertilizing and pesticides and harvesting and hauling and processing and delivery to your grocery store. Another reason for shortages in Jesus' fulfillment of this famine prediction is because fresh water for growing crops in a dryer world is very limited, and so we face water wars. Persistent drought and hard freezes are negatively impacting the world food supplies.
Your knowledge of all these things ought to be clicking in your mind and telling you the Lord is coming. These signs are fulfilling. We're nearing the end of the world. And I think we are.
Here's another reason there were food shortages. In many of these third world countries a lot of the adults are getting AIDS. The adults are dying and when the adults die there are fewer people left to plant and harvest the crops. Also, worse yet, as the adult community is dying off, the knowledge needed for growing food for survival is not passed on to the new generation, the younger generation, and consequently society is losing its ability in these countries to produce food. They're running out of food.
Did you know that in six of the past seven years, the human race has consumed more grain than it grew, and therefore our American wheat stock pile has dwindled from 147,000,000 bushels down to 2.7 million bushels. That's all we have left. And that's to feed 370 million people. So in other words, 1/6 of a pound per person if you want to divide that. That's 4 or 5 slices of bread per person. In other words, we're out of food. We're living from hand to mouth. If that's true in the government then our food reserves are gone. Our strategic food reserves.
So Matthew 24:33 makes an interesting statement. It says, even so when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Right at the door. Then look at the next verse. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have been fulfilled. Have happened. The generation that sees all these signs that Jesus is talking about will not pass away until Jesus comes. We are seeing these signs. Therefore, I think we're living in the toenails of time. It's all happening.
So what should we do to prepare? Is your church going to help you with that information? Well there are a lot of books that have been written about it. We are having an interesting thing happen every Wednesday night. We have what is called Wednesday night out. Have you been coming to that? It's exciting. They've invited me to give a course on preparing for the last days, so I'm going to do that. I have about 100 and some pages of materials that I have prepared for this and it's on last day events. I hope you will come. That will be on Wednesday nights beginning March 9.
We're trying to prepare for what we see and sense is something that's happening, because you realize that the Seventh-day Adventist church has two unique things. We all love Jesus like any Christian church would. We all preach from the Bible like any Christian church ought to, but we have two very unique things here in the Seventh-day Adventist church. We keep the seventh day. That's one thing that's different. Not because we're Jews. Because we see that Jesus kept the seventh day.
The second thing that makes us very unique is we have an emphasis on the second coming of Jesus Christ. You would expect to hear a sermon on the end of time in our church, and we do have those occasionally. So we want you to be ready.
I want to conclude by reading Matthew 24:44. It says, therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as you think not the Son of Man cometh. When is he coming. At a time when you don't think he's coming. So obviously we need to be ready at all times. Correct? Because we don't know when he's coming. So I urge you as a Christian pastor, get into your Bible. Study this book. Read it. Pray to the author of this book. Pray to God. Pray to Jesus and the Holy Spirit and get some knowledge. Get some power and get some preparation, because we are living in the last days. We are living in a grand and awful time. It's grand because Jesus is coming soon. So this is good news, isn't it? We're near the kingdom. Nearer than we've ever been. So let's be ready.
Hymn of Praise: #21, Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise Scripture: John 14:1-3 Hymn of Response: #617, We Are Living, We are Dwelling Sermon Notes: Sermon notes available as PDF
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 03/18/11