Noah’s Boat, Part 3: “God Remembered Noah”
by Pastor Gene
Introduction & Text
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, 14 they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature. 15 They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in.
17 The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. 20 The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.
21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.
8:1 But God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained.”
In this series of messages, we’ve been looking at what the earth was like in the days of Noah because Jesus promised that even as “it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-27).
My prayer for these messages is threefold: (1) that they’ll equip us for the work of the ministry in these difficult days; (2) that they’ll convict us as to the urgency of the current hour, and; (3) that they’ll move us to serve Jesus with an unprecedented single-mindedness and an undistracted heart.
The past two sermons made the case that the days in which we live are indeed very much like the days of Noah. Today we’ll look at the ramifications of ungodliness in this world, and especially in this country – the United States of America. ‘Why is God allowing this to happen to us,’ some have asked. This morning, I’ll attempt to answer that question from the Scriptures.
As I’ve said from the beginning of this series, these messages will look at our own times up against the backdrop of God’s promises – promises of deliverance to the believer, but promises of judgment for those who reject His Son.
We’ve already seen a few things about what the “days of Noah” were like. They were days of heightened supernatural activity, days when evil reigned in the hearts of all, days that witnessed corruption on every level, and – as we saw last time, days of widespread violence. So, God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.”
Genesis 6:11 says that, in the days of Noah, “The earth was corrupt in the sight of God …”
Jesus said, “Just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.”
Genesis 13:13 tells us that “the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.”
Jesus said, “Just as it was in the days of Lot … so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”
Genesis 6:11 says that, in the days of Noah, “The earth was filled with violence.”
Jesus said, “Just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.”
1) Now, I’ve believed (and taught) for many years that our nation is in the midst of a moral and spiritual crisis. But now, because of the coronavirus, even many unbelievers are wondering just what’s going on. Many are afraid because of the pandemic that has visited us, and they’re right to be afraid – but not just because of the pandemic.
Very real civil liberty concerns have emerged – concerns that the government has overreached, forbidding Americans even to exercise their First Amendment right to assemble for worship – all for the common good. Many Americans have lost their jobs and their livelihood, their businesses and much of their retirement.
This crisis has exposed our many vulnerabilities. We were less prepared for 9/11 than anyone could have imagined and we were even more unprepared for this current pandemic. We’ve learned that we’re unimaginably dependent upon nations that hate us for things that are essential to our well-being. American’s were shocked to realize that we are 100% dependent upon China, our greatest rival for world dominance, for something as fundamental to our national health as penicillin.
And an NBC News report from last September – months before the coronavirus pandemic broke forth – warned that our Health Care system is in an extraordinarily precarious position because of it.
“Antibiotics, which turn life-threatening infections into minor nuisances, are considered the single biggest advance in modern medicine. But imagine if the supply of antibiotics to the United States was suddenly cut off. American national security officials are worrying about that scenario as they come to grips with this little understood fact: The vast majority of key ingredients for drugs that many Americans rely on are manufactured abroad, mostly in China.
As the U.S. defense establishment grows increasingly concerned about China’s potentially hostile ambitions, the pharmaceutical supply chain is receiving new scrutiny. “If China shut the door on exports of medicines and their key ingredients and raw material, U.S. hospitals and military hospitals and clinics would cease to function within months, if not days,” said Rosemary Gibson, author of a book on the subject, China Rx.”
In April, the United States, left without other options, purchased – and I’m quoting President Trump – “1.8 million face masks and gowns, 10.3 million gloves and many other things – millions and millions of different items” from the country which consigned thousands upon thousands around the world to their deaths by lying about the human-to-human transmission of the virus early on and allowing international flights to come and go while restricting travel within the country – effectively exporting the virus around the world in a matter of weeks.
When 9/11 happened, we couldn’t believe it. When the economy tanked in 2008, we couldn’t believe it. And now, in this unprecedented shut down of our country, with more than five times the number of 9/11 dead in NYC alone, we can’t believe it. (2,977 Americans died in the 9/11 attack; as of May 18, 2020, 15,786 have died of the coronavirus in NYC.)
And I understand why unbelievers are so surprised. What I can’t understand is why believers are! I guess it’s just a psychological monument to another kind of epidemic: the epidemic of biblical illiteracy among Christians. All those years of listening to teachers who’ve tickled our ears is now bearing its rotten fruit. Mark it down, folks, there are hard times ahead.
2) America is at a crossroad in her history, and has been for some time. The dictionary defines a crossroad as, “A crisis situation or point in time when a critical decision must be made.” But, despite what most of our fellow citizens believe, the nation’s greatest problems are not medical, nor political, nor economic – they’re spiritual.
Americans – and I know them well because I am one of them – are fiercely independent and usually feel invincible. That’s why 9/11 was such a shock: the idea of an enemy attack upon our own soil was unimaginable. ‘We are America and we shall never fall!’ But 9/11 and the Wall Street crisis didn’t make us less vulnerable. We moved past them both, and then forgot all over again.
The truth is, we have always been vulnerable and completely dependent upon the grace of God for our protection, our prosperity and even our very bread. Our national arrogance and independent spirit has often masked just how dependent we really are. Nations come and nations go, but one thing is for sure: every great power in history always thought they had more time than they actually did.
3) I’m always reminded of Shelly’s great poem Ozymandias when I think of this principle.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
You know who Ozymandias is, right? No, you don’t – and that’s just the point. This boastful and self-proclaimed “King of Kings” is long gone, washed from the pages of history. But the sands still remain, the tides come, and the tides go out. Nations come and nations go, but one thing is sure: every great world power in history has thought itself invincible. And they all – every single one without exception, fell.
1) National blessing and/or national discipline come from the Sovereign God.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
2) As I’ve already mentioned, every great world power has always thought they had more time than they actually had.
Belshazzar was the ruler of Babylon who was killed at the time of its capture in 539 B.C. He was the son of Nabonidus, king of Babylon, who reigned from 556-539. Daniel 5 records how the destruction of Babylon came when they least expected it.
Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. 2 While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3 Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.
5 In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
6 Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. 7 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers.
The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 8 Now all the king’s wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. 9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished …
The Writing on the Wall Explained
13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing. 16 And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”
17 Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. 19 And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. 20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. 21 Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.
22 “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. 23 And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. 24 Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.
25 “And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of each word. Mene: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; 27 Tekel: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; 28 Peres: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
The Babylonians thought they had all the time in the world, but they were wrong.
“Mene” – God had numbered the kingdom, and finished it;
“Tekel” – God had weighed them in the balances, and found them wanting; and
“Peres” – their kingdom had been divided and given over by God to another (Daniel 5:26-28).
Their disrespect for God was evidenced in their casual handling of sacred things. They very tellingly used sacred things for a profane purpose (in this case, the vessels of the Temple). They lived for pleasure and finery and had not, as Daniel said, “humbled” their hearts. They’d lifted themselves “up against the Lord of heaven.”
And they were weighed as all nations are weighed by the Lord – the very Lord who has set the boundaries and times of every nation. Who, as Paul said, “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26).
3) We learn from the Scriptures that nations are allowed to continue until their iniquity is complete. We see this principle in Genesis 15:15-16, where God prophesied to Abram that in the future his offspring would be sojourners in a land that was not theirs and would be slaves there, and would be afflicted for four hundred years – this is a reference to their enslavement in Egypt. He promised that, eventually, they would return to Abram’s land. But what’s telling here is that God said that He would not judge the nation of the Amorites who would be occupying the land until that time because “the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). But when a nation’s iniquity is complete, mark it down, judgment comes just as surely as it came upon Noah’s world!
1) As goes the believer in this Church Age, so goes the client nation to God. Since the beginning of the Church Age and up until the time of Jesus’ return, all client nations will be Gentile nations. That’s why the Bible calls this the Times of the Gentiles. In Luke 21:24, Jesus said that the Jewish people would “fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
A client nation is a dependent nation that is the recipient of God’s special favor. It is THAT nation in any given period of Church Age history through which God is primarily working. They are the custodians of God’s Word, they dispatch missionaries into the world, they are established upon the principles found in sacred Scripture.
Israel was God’s client nation throughout most of the Old Testament – and that is a fantastic blessing: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” declares the Psalmist in Psalm 33:12.
2) Well, for the first 300+ years of its history, the United States of America was God’s client nation. In 1611, a boatload of Calvinists arrived in Massachusetts aboard a small ship called the Mayflower. They were fleeing godless religious persecution. They envisioned their new settlement as a “light on a hill” – a place where God would be honored and where His people would bear Him a glorious testimony.
“[T]heirs was a religious, not a political, agenda; moral and theological principles were involved, and from their perspective, there could be no compromise. For them 2 Corinthians 6:17 made it clear: Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord.”[T]hey removed [themselves] from the Anglican Church in order to reestablish it as they believed it truly should be. This of course meant leaving [England], and they left for Holland in 1608.”
Eventually, 102 Pilgrims set out for America. William Bradford himself, governor of the Plymouth colony, told us why they came. Among the reasons: First, their children [were] being “drawn away by evil examples into extravagance and dangerous courses”; And second, for “the ‘great hope,’ for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world.” They came not only because they wanted “to be left alone and live [their] own pure and righteous way,” but they also had a missionary zeal.
They were compelled by the “fear of the breakdown of individual families” and the “dissolution of the larger community.” From their point of view, they were ‘agents’ of God’s Providence. Scott Eric Atkins writes that, “Bradford strives to make clear throughout … his “narrative of their actions” that all that happens to them are the “works of God.”
So, from the onset, America was a client nation to God. But a client nation is a dependent nation and a dependent nation is blessed. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” declares the Psalmist in Psalm 33:12.
1) But when the number of true believers within a client nation diminishes, discipline is right around the corner. As goes the believer, so goes the nation. When many mature followers of Jesus live within a nation, that nation will be blessed because of them. But when the number of true disciples diminishes, that nation will experience national discipline or chastisement.
That’s what Jesus meant by calling us “salt” – salt was primarily a preservative, and believers, by their very devotion to Christ, preserve their nation.
This principle of believers sustaining their nation is found in Genesis 18:22-33 where Abraham dialogues with God about the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.
As the two terminating angels left Abraham and headed “toward Sodom” to destroy it, Abraham “stood before the Lord.”
He asked the Lord, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? … And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
- Notice it, 50 righteous people in Sodom would have preserved their entire city!
Then Abraham took a second pass at it: “Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And the Lord answered: “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
- Notice it, 45 righteous people in Sodom would have preserved the entire city!
Then he asked, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.”
- Notice it, 40 righteous people in Sodom would have preserved that wicked city!
And again, “Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.”
- Notice it, 30 righteous people in Sodom would have preserved that unrepentant and untoward city!
And again! “Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.”
- Notice it, 20 righteous people in Sodom would have preserved that vile and obscene city!
Finally, Abraham said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry … Suppose ten are found there.” And the Lord answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”
And verse 33 says, “And the Lord went His way …”
But here’s the thing: God DID destroy it! So, why was it destroyed? Two reasons: (1) its iniquity was complete, and (2) there were not enough believers in Sodom to preserve the city.
But, don’t miss this: God had a plan for the few believers who did live in Sodom – He hastened them out the city before the fire and brimstone rained upon it.
But I find it ironic that when Lot’s wife disobeyed the Lord and ‘looked back’ at Sodom as it was being destroyed, she was turned into a pillar of what? Salt! The very thing Sodom needed to save it from destruction.
So, question: How many true followers of Jesus are required to preserve our nation? Answer: I don’t know. Ten would have been enough for the population of Sodom, but America? I don’t know. But here’s the thing that we all must know: there is a number. And, friends, I fear that we’ve slipped below that threshold years ago.
2) Now consider the greatness of these three men:
Noah – we’ve been talking quite a lot about Noah lately. Noah was a preacher of righteousness for 120 years and only he along with his family were spared from the universal judgment of the flood. He trusted God even when everything his eyes observed seemed contrary to what God was saying.
Daniel – we’ve just seen Daniel’s amazing testimony before Belshazzar. He’s one of the few heroes of the Bible of whom there is no moral failure recorded. He exhibited great faith, even in the presence of hungry lions and a psychotic, sleep-deprived king. God laid the plan of human history from the time of Babylon’s flourishing to Christ’s Millennial Reign before Daniel in intricate detail.
And Job – who’s book is the oldest book in the Bible. He took the witness stand, was cross-examined by the devil as to the faithfulness of God, and was found blameless, even in the midst of incredible undeserved suffering.
So, Noah, Daniel and Job: three men of astonishing faith before God. And yet Ezekiel 14:14 says that, “Even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,” declares the Lord God.” In other words, these three men alone, great as they were, would not be enough to have preserved the nation of Israel in Ezekiel’s time.
3) We all know the great promise of 2 Chronicles 7:13-14:
Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him … When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
And that promise is certainly true. However, there is a ‘point of no return’ for a nation. For instance, in three different occasions, God commanded Jeremiah to stop praying for Israel! Why? Because they’d crossed the point of no return, God’s judgment was imminent.
Jeremiah 11:14: “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster” (cf. Jeremiah 7:16, 14:11).
And the Lord was not vague about what would happen to a client nation who turned against Him, not vague in the least. In fact, He told Moses precisely what that discipline would look like. It would come in Five Cycles; we call these the Five Cycles of National Chastisement.
The Five Cycles of National Chastisement are documented in Leviticus 26.
1) The First Cycle is found in Leviticus 26:14-17.
God warned the nation, “If you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that shall waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up. And I will set My face against you so that you shall be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when no one is pursuing you.”
So, in this cycle, God warns:
- I will appoint over you a sudden terror.
(Have we witnessed any terrorism in this country? Sure we have – 9/11 was the great turning point here.)
- Consumption and fever that shall waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away.
(This promises the rise of diseases and national discouragement because of it. Don’t forget, while we’re dealing with a pandemic right now, the CDC tells us that in the 2018-2019 season an estimated 34,200 people died in the United States from influenza. That’s one year – last year – and that WITH a vaccine!)
- God also warned, you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up.
(This is a reference to a nation’s increasing inability to compete in foreign markets.)
- And I will set My face against you so that you shall be struck down before your enemies.
(These are preliminary military defeats – engaging in endless war, war after war without any real victory).
- And those who hate you shall rule over you.
(This means that instead of a nation profiting from its own hard work, others would prosper from it.)
- And you shall flee when no one is pursuing you.
(This means that cowardice would become a national trait.)
2) The Second Cycle is found in Leviticus 26:18-20.
In it, God warned the nation, “If also after these things, you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent uselessly, for your land shall not yield its produce and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.”
So, in this cycle, God warns:
- I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
(The first cycle will be perfectly intensified – i.e., seven as the number of divine perfection or completeness.)
- And I will also break down your pride of power.
(That is, the nation’s confidence in its ability to solve its own problems will wane. The distrust of the nations’ leaders will grow. Human solutions will be confounded.)
- I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze.
(This refers to the onset of agricultural disaster.)
- And your strength shall be spent uselessly, for your land shall not yield its produce and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.
(The land and nature will not cooperate with your labor; a maximum effort will only yield a minimal return.)
3) The Third Cycle is found in Leviticus 26:21-22.
In it, God warned the nation, “If then, you act with hostility against Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increase the plague on you seven times according to your sins. And I will let loose among you the beasts of the field, which shall bereave you of your children and destroy your cattle and reduce your number so that your roads lie deserted.
So, in this cycle, God warns:
- I will increase the plague on you seven times according to your sins.
(The first and second cycles will be perfectly intensified.)
- And I will let loose among you the beasts of the field.
(This may refer to unrestrained criminality or aberrations in nature. As a result of the coronavirus, FOX News reports that – get this – more than 16,000 criminals have been released from prison. Also, with respect to “the beasts of the field, remember that most of the diseases that plague humankind have come from animals – including COVID-19, the bubonic plague, influenza, HIV/AIDS, bird flu, SARS, Ebola, Lyme disease, swine flu, on and on it goes.)
- But whether this refers to crime or disease that jumps species, the result is clear: They shall bereave you of your children and destroy your cattle.
(They will result in the loss of loved ones and/or property/wealth.)
- They shall reduce your number so that your roads lie deserted.
(How poignantly this speaks to our current situation! Have you had any traffic problems lately? No. The streets are deserted because of fear for one’s safety, just as God’s promised).
4) The Fourth Cycle is found in Leviticus 26:23-26.
In it, God warned the nation, “And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me, then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins.
‘I will also bring upon you a sword which will execute vengeance for the covenant; and when you gather together into your cities, I will send pestilence among you, so that you shall be delivered into enemy hands. ‘When I break your staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back your bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied.
So, in this cycle, God warns:
- I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins
(The first, second and third cycles will be perfectly intensified.)
- I will also bring upon you a sword which will execute vengeance for the covenant; and when you gather together into your cities, I will send pestilence among you, so that you shall be delivered into enemy hands.
(The sharp rise in the potency and virility of disease and the weakness that will result from it, especially in city centers.)
- When I break your staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back your bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied.
(Have you had any trouble getting food lately? This judgement is promising rationed amounts of food, often insufficient amounts. The imagery here is that 10 women bake in one oven because there’s only enough food to employ one oven!)
5) And finally, the Fifth Cycle is found in Leviticus 26:27-39 and Deuteronomy 28:49-67:
It is too severe for me to even read it to you this morning, I will not do so. I can only say that as you read it remember that every one of the things listed in the Fifth Cycle occurred in Israel’s history and is documented by the First Century historian Josephus in The Jewish Wars – all of it. (It’s available online in printed and audio form for free.)
In the Fifth Cycle, God pronounces horrific judgments upon the client nation in time which include:
- The perfect intensification of the first, second, third and fourth cycles;
- The destruction of cities and places of (worship is now rejected);
- The handing over of the nation to a foreign power that despises it; and
- A national cowardice that is almost unimaginable (“the sound of a driven leaf will chase them and even when no one is pursuing, they will flee as though from the sword, and they will fall”).
It is a picture of the total subjugation of a nation: emotionally, politically, financially, spiritually and psychologically. God promises: “you will perish among the nations, and your enemies’ land will consume you.”
They would be forgotten as the Hittites have been forgotten, and the Assyrians, and the Babylonian, and the Medes and Persians – all nations which arrogantly assumed their reigns would never end. Adolf Hitler’s vaunted Thousand Year Reich lasted a whooping twelve years, four months, and eight days. Its legacy? More than twenty-five million dead.
What’s especially troubling about the times in which we’re living is the fact that in Scripture America is not seen as playing any role at all in end-time events. The Bible clearly identifies the four spheres of power that will be operating during the Tribulation:
- The King of the North – which consistency demands must be Syria;
- The King of the South – Egypt, no doubt with the pan-Arab bloc;
- The King of the West – which is defined as the Antichrist-led league of 10 European nations, which theologians refer to as the Revived Roman Empire; and
- The Kings of the East – the plural here is interesting.
The Greek actually says, τῶν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου – literally, “from the rising of the sun.” In the Bible, the “east” refers to the region of Mesopotamia. So, it certainly includes modern-day Iraq (which is ancient Babylon), and the region of modern-day Northern Iraq and Southeastern Turkey (Ancient Assyria).
But, in Isaiah 46:11, Cyrus of Persia was called “a bird of prey from the east,” and the Magi, most likely Persian, came “from the east” in Matthew 2:1. So, I think this group includes Iran (ancient Persia) too.
But my point is there is no room for America in any of these groups! As a client nation to God, America is subject to the Five Cycles of National Chastisement, and, as we’re all aware, she continues her romance with evil.
But the implication is obvious: Since America plays no part in the coming end-time scenario, something will have to happen to reduce the world’s greatest super-power to second-world status almost overnight. I believe we’re living through this diminishment right now.
America was once a bright light for the Lord, but its lampstand is tottering violently. I wish it were otherwise, but this pandemic is not the beginning of our troubles, nor is it the end. In the days ahead our arrogance will be shattered and our vulnerabilities will be painfully exposed.
This generation of believers in America is certainly not immune to the sufferings which believers around the world have had to endure for the sake of Christ since the first century – and only arrogance would argue otherwise. Christians have suffered for the sins of the nations in which they’ve lived since the earliest ages, but they’ve always been encouraged to have a divine, rather than earthly, perspective about it.
No Christian is entitled to good health, or wealth, or a happy life, or immunity from persecution, or a life free from the troubles which are visited upon all men. But Peter gave us the perfect word through which to interpret the tribulations we encounter in 1 Peter 4:12-19. Writing then to the early Christians, and now to us, he said:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
To which we say, ‘Amen and amen!’
1) Now, in closing, one of the great promises of the Bible is found in John 16:33:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Let’s think once more about Noah. It had been raining for many, many days and he and the rest of his gang were adrift on an open sea. For month after dreary month they’d been cooped up in the ark with no word from God. It must have seemed like an eternity!
I wonder if Noah wondered if God had forgotten him as he floated along on that barge? He sent out the raven, and then the dove, and they returned empty-beaked, and I wonder if Noah might have thought: ‘Hey God, it’s me Noah. I’m here! Have you forgotten me?’
But God did remember Noah. Now, did God suddenly wake up and yell, “Oh my . . . Self! I can’t believe it — I completely spaced out Noah! I forgot all about him!” No. Obviously not. God hadn’t forgotten about Noah for a nanosecond. But from Noah’s perspective, it may have seemed that way!
2) Have you ever been there? I certainly have! Ever feel like you’re on a tiny raft in a vast ocean and all the rescue teams had been withdrawn?
When times are difficult, as they are now and will increasingly become, the Devil loves to whisper in our ear: “God has forgotten you, hasn’t He? John 8 tells us that that the devil is a liar and he has been a liar since the beginning. He loves to steal away our faith and impugn the character of God!
The truth is this: Jesus has promised to never to forget the children whom He purchased with His own blood. He’s engraved us on his hands and written our names on his heart. He never slumbers nor sleeps as he watches over us. He knows our rising up and our lying down, our going out and coming in. He never leaves us or forsakes us. If we fly to the sunrise or sink in the sea, he’s there. He can’t forget us because we’re joined to Him! When the Father looks at us He sees His Son! Oh, mark it down, God remembers us!
But we can’t deny the fact that God sometimes allows His servants to endure some very difficult trials. In fact, on the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus told His disciples:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Indeed, He has, and He is with in every difficulty we’ll encounter. And it’s only in embracing that truth, that we’ll have peace in the coming storm.
Again, Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
 Dilanian, Ken and Brenda Breslauer, ‘U.S. officials worried about Chinese control of American drug supply,’ NBC News, September 12, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-care/u-s-officials-worried-about-chinese-control-american-drug-supply-n1052376
 Northam, Jackie, ‘U.S. Buys Masks from China While Criticizing It For COVID-19,’ NPR, April 1, 2020.
 According to the Nabonidus Chronicle, his father ‘entrusted the army and the kingship’ to him c.556 bc, while Nabonidus campaigned in central Arabia, where he eventually remained for 10 years. Belshazzar ruled in Babylonia itself. It is possible that Daniel dated events by the years of this co-regency.
 The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Da 5:1–31.
 Quotations from the remainder of this point from Scott Eric Atkins, ‘Reformation Puritans and Pilgrims,’ University of Virginia, cited in James M. Anderson’s Daily Life During the Reformation, Greenwood, 2010.
 Wheelwright, 7-8
 The statements presented in parenthesis reflect my interpretive comments.
 http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2850 and https://librivox.org/search?title=The+Wars+of+the+Jews&author=Josephus&reader=&keywords=&genre_id=0&status=all&project_type=either&recorded_language=&sort_order=catalog_date&search_page=1&search_form=advanced.
 Persico, Joseph E., ‘The Last Days of the Third Reich’ in American Heritage, Vol. 36, Issue 3, 1985.
May 31, 2020