A PROPHETIC WORD TO THE ARAB NATIONS Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1). According to the Scriptures, there are nine special gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-10). These special gifts are imparted according to the will of God. They are given to individual believers who are baptized in the Holy Spirit. One of these gifts is the gift of prophecy. The meaning of the word prophecy can be “foretelling” and “forth-telling,” or preaching an inspired Word from God and predicting events that will come in the future. Such was the case in the New Testament when Paul was warned he would be in danger if he went up to Jerusalem (Acts 21:10, 11). The same man who warned him, Agabus, also warned of a great famine that would strike the entire world (Acts 11:28). While some churches and denominations believe that this gift has ceased operating, the full gospel church not only believes in all nine gifts of the Spirit, but they believe these gifts are active in the church today. The Holy Spirit Knows Everything The Holy Spirit knows everything! He can also give us revelation of things that are coming to the earth: However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come (John 16:13). My father is 73 years of age and was filled with the Holy Spirit at age 17. God has given Dad an unusual gift to see events that are coming on the world scene. He has so many spiritual experiences that it would take pages to write them all down. It is what has happened recently, however, that I wish to share with you. Events in the Middle East In early January, 2004, Dad was in my office praying. He was praying in the Spirit. This is the prayer language of the Holy Spirit, or what the English Bible calls, “Speaking with other tongues” (see Acts 2:4; Acts 10:45; Acts 19:1-7). The Lord spoke through him and said, “Great darkness is coming out of Lebanon.” The nation of Lebanon had not been in the news for many years. A few weeks later, however, fanatics killed a pro-democracy leader in Lebanon, bombing an entire section of the beautiful downtown area. Thus the prediction was fulfilled. A few weeks later, Dad was praying in the Spirit, and said, “The Lord said that the Hamas and the Hezbolla terror groups are hindering His plan for the Middle East.” Dad heard the Holy Spirit say: God is sending Michael, the archangel, out of his place; and there will be confusion that will arise between these groups. They will engage in a power struggle and begin to turn on one another. About a year later, Hamas was elected to power by the Palestinians, and the opposing group began to fight against them. This internal fighting is actually occurring throughout the Middle East, as some groups say they will recognize Israel’s right to exist and other refuse to do it. There is a third thing I heard him say. About the time Hamas was elected, dad was again in deep prayer. He told me the Lord was telling him that members of Hamas would attempt to infiltrate the nation of Jordan and destabilize that country. There were people who did not like the King of Jordan and they felt if they could overthrow the king and cause confusion in the nation, they would get the upper hand. Dad actually wanted me to attempt to contact the King of Jordan and warn him of these secret plans by certain groups. I was shocked a few months later to read a report where the King of Jordan had said Hamas had smuggled weapons into Jordan! The Holy Spirit revealed this months before the report was printed in the paper. A Future Famine Dad has the reputation that when the Lord speaks to him, it happens. At times, what he sees may seem “far out” and even impossible to occur, but somehow what he sees comes to pass. In recent prayer the Lord told Dad, “There is coming a great famine to areas of the Middle East.” In this prayer the Lord was displeased with the treatment of Middle East nations toward Israel, and the fact that many of them were shedding the blood of innocent people. The Lord was provoked! He warned that if the leaders of certain countries did not set aside food in advance that there would be much suffering among their people. I asked Dad if he felt this famine was a result of wars, certain chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, or a famine resulting from a total lack of rain. I also commented, “A major earthquake in Iran, Syria, Iraq or other areas could create a famine.” He said, “I cannot add or take away from what the Spirit of the Lord has given me. I just know the Holy Spirit said a famine was coming.” Because I have a great love for the Arab people, who are some of my dearest friends, I want to give this warning to the nations in the Middle East. This is not the opinion of some preacher, but a warning from the Holy Spirit himself. You must begin to make progress and get along with your cousins, the Jews, who are living in Israel. They are not going anywhere. They are in the land to stay because God (not America or Britain) predicted they would return to that land (Jeremiah 29:14; Ezekiel 37:12; Zephaniah 3:20; Jeremiah 6:14-16). For this reason, any nation or leader who attempts to root them out from the land will himself experience the harsh disfavor of the Lord. I know that some people may be difficult to get along with, and at times arrogant and stubborn. However, we must learn to make peace as the human family that God has created. Secondly, you must cease from persecuting Christians in your nations. This includes allowing fanatical groups to kill, maim and murder innocent people. The shedding of innocent blood will bring destruction to the cities, just as ancient Jerusalem was destroyed centuries ago for shedding the blood of the prophets: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate (Matthew 23:37, 38). For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due (Revelation 16:6). If there is not repentance and turning to God in mercy, I believe the warning of the Holy Spirit will come to pass and severe famine will occur. It is unclear HOW it will happen, but it will. It may be important for leaders to have certain reserves set aside, as Joseph did in Egypt, to assist during this time of famine. I am sharing this, knowing that everything I have heard the Holy Spirit reveal to Dad in prayer has come to pass, especially when he would receive warnings. May those in the Middle East take heed to this and avoid it by repenting and turning to God. The Bride of Christ What and who is the bride of Christ? I have been preaching on this topic all of my entire ministry, yet I often get letters and E-mails asking questions about who is the bride of Christ. There are many diverse ideas and theories on this subject. Some say Israel is the bride of Christ. They base their opinion on a verse in Isaiah: “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 54:5). Others say the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, is the bride of Christ. They base this theory on their interpretation of Revelation 21: Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:2-4). New Jerusalem was beautifully adorned as a bride, John said, because it will be the eternal home of Christ’s bride. But notice that while it was a prepared city and a beautiful city, it was never called the bride. The Bible teaches that the church is the bride of Christ. To better understand this teaching about the bride of Christ, let’s review the ancient Jewish wedding. Jewish Wedding Tradition The Jewish wedding process began in a public ceremony when the couple announced their intentions to get married. This rite was preceded by an agreement between the two fathers and initiated the betrothal period. The betrothal period lasted approximately a year, during which the groom returned to his father’ s house and began preparing a room for his new bride. Following completion of the room, a priest inspected the room to make sure it was better than the current living conditions of the bride. In the meantime, the bride prepared herself for the wedding ceremony, which would begin approximately a year later. The exact day and hour were unknown, but the bride and the wedding party had to be prepared for the announcement of the coming bridegroom. When the long-awaited day came, the wedding feast and ceremony started with one of the groomsmen leading the bridegroom through the streets, yelling, “ Behold, the bridegroom comes!” After a shofar sounded, the wedding party went to the bride’s house where the bridegroom claimed his bride, and took her to the wedding supper. The wedding feast would last seven days. A Vision of the Bride When John was exiled to the lonely isle of Patmos, he had plenty of time to worship and commune with God. He soon learned he was there by divine appointment because God began showing him visions, and revealing to him what to write in the last Book of the Bible. In the grand sweep of the panorama of end-time events, John described what he saw: Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel (Revelation 21:9-12). As verse nine says, the bride is the Lamb’s wife. It is obvious that the Son of God will not be marrying great, high walls with 12 gates; or streets of gold like transparent glass; or the other descriptions of the city John put in this book. Instead, the bride is the people of the city, those who have been raptured away by the Bridegroom and taken there for this occasion. When I say, “ Chicago honors him,” it is obviously not the physical city that honors him; it is the people of the city. New Jerusalem had the tabernacle of God peopled with redeemed saints who had overcome the world and the devil and had become the bride of Christ. This new city coming down from God out of heaven, is alluded to as both a city and a woman—just as the false bride, Mystery Babylon the Great, was both a city and a woman. A bride speaks of intimacy, and a city speaks of community. In that city, we will live in close intimacy, not only with the Lord himself, but with each other as well. John wrote in one of his letters: It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed,we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:2, 3). A Friend of the Bridegroom It was revealed to John the Baptist early in his ministry that Jesus, his first cousin, would be heaven’s divine Bridegroom sent to the earth. Knowing he was the final voice to Israel before the old era would be gone and the Kingdom preached, he knew he would not be a part of the bride of Christ. He told some Jews:You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, “I am not the Christ,” but, “I have been sent before Him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’ s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:28-30). Paul understood the church to be the bride of Christ, and wrote to a careless, carnal church at Corinth: I promised your hand in marriage to Christ, presented you as a pure virgin to herhusband. And now I'm afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2, 3, MSG). Christ and the Church The relationship Christ has with His church is a bridegroom relationship. He loved the church so much He was willing to die for it . . . and did! Why? So that just as the Jewish bridegroom would present his bride to himself, so Jesus may “present her toHimself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). He wants to present the pure church to Himself. Isn’t this what every bridegroom desires? During days of courtship she may go out with others; but when they are engaged, she is promised to be his alone. They both longingly await the day when this can be realized. When the wedding day comes, he is her’s and she is his for the enjoyment of each other. Christ’s Love for His Bride Understand that Christ has fallen head-over-heels in love with you. When Jesus said He loved us enough to die for us, He meant it literally. It had to be love that led Jesus to spread out His hands for nails to be driven through them. It had to be love for Him to allow a crown of thorns to be pummeled into His brow with a rod, when all the time ten million angels would have rescued Him. Jesus could have ended the drama of His crucifixion at any time, but He loved you so much He couldn’t bear to spend eternity without you. So with His blood he paid theprice for a royal wedding. Isaiah 61:10 says: I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Just as the process of preparing for a Jewish wedding was as crucial as the ceremony and the feast, so it is just as important for us to spend our time preparing for His presence in our lives on a daily basis. We must focus on our relationship with Christ. Being the bride of Christ is more than standing at the altar in a white dress,it is the supreme act of knowing personal, intimate communion with Him. Look past the whole gender thing. God is talking about the most intimate relationship Christ could have with His people. The marriage relationship, properly perceived and appreciated, is the most intimate relationship two people could ever have. So the Bible uses the imagery of a bride and marriage to describe His relationship with His church. He wants us to recognize how deeply He loves us, and how intimately He wants to relate to us. Eternity’s Crowning Event In Revelation, New Jerusalem is described as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Everyone loves weddings. When the bride comes down the aisle, beautifully dressed for her husband, every eye is on her because she has prepared herself for her groom. And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God” (Revelation 19:7-9). All of heaven’s hosts rejoiced on the occasion of the Lamb’s wedding. The bride was already with the bridegroom at the Wedding Supper. The bride had made herself ready. The wedding gown she wore was “the righteousness of the saints.” Those who were called to the marriage supper of the Lamb were also blessed. All the details of this story are accurate; they are the “true sayings of God. The devil thought he was playing a joke on God when he crucified the Son of God. Because of the indescribable wickedness of sin, a high price had to be paid. So the devil, who had the power of death then (see Hebrews 2:14, 15), bargained. Jesus can have His bride if He will pay the bride price, Satan thought, but then He’ll be dead! What Satan didn’t count on was the Resurrection! When we stand before the Bridegroom and gaze in rapturous love on the One who died for us, we will not be thinking of anything or anyone but Him! As Samuel Rutherford wrote in the 18th century: The Bride eyes not her garments, But her dear Bridegroom’s face. And I will not gaze at glory, But on my King of Grace. Not at the crown he giveth, But on his pierced hands, The Lamb is all the glory Of Emmanuel’s land The Prophecy of the 153 Fish Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn (John 21:11). After 28 years of reading and studying the Scriptures, I am convinced that every word, phrase and number in the Bible is divinely positioned. At times a prophetic clue is hidden within the Scriptures, and must be researched by comparing verse with verse. Such an example is John 21. In this narrative, Christ had risen from the dead and was with His disciples on the shores of Galilee. The disciples had caught a huge number of fish in a net. They were amazed that the net did not break . . . as had happened on other occasions (see Luke 5:6). Nowhere in Scripture do we find that fish were counted, except on this occasion. Could a prophetic meaning be hidden within this event, a meaning that could speak to us today? The Net and the Fish When searching for Biblical insight, we must always allow the Scriptures to interpret themselves. Jesus told His disciples He would make them “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). In Scripture, the net and the sea can represent the nations of the world. This truth is alluded to in the parable of Matthew 13:47-49: Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous (Matthew 13:47-49). In this parable, the net and the fish represent the nations of the world that will be separated, the good from the bad, at the end of the age. Saint Jerome, in his commentary on Ezekiel 47, stated that there were 153 different species of fish. He assumed that the 153 fish in John 21 referred to going into the entire world and preaching the gospel to all nations. On the other hand, Augustine said that 153 is the sum of the numbers 1 through 17. Seventeen is 10 plus 7. There were 10 sayings that created the world. There were 10 generations from Adam to Noah. There were 10 generations from Noah to Abraham. Further, by taking 153 and breaking down its three primary numbers, we have: 100 (which alludes to the fullness of the Gentiles) 50 (which alludes to the fullness of Israel’s rest) 3 (which alludes to the fullness of the Trinity) As you can see, 153 is a number that alludes to completeness, or fullness! Hebrew Gematria One of the laws of hermeneutics (interpreting the Scripture) among Jewish rabbis is called gematria. It is the root word from which we get the word geometry. Using Hebrew gematria, the letters of the Hebrew alphabet have a numerical value. The alphabet can be interchanged for numbers, and the numbers can be interchanged for the alphabet. This is also true of the Greek alphabet. In the early church, the fish became a symbol of Christianity. In fact, the fish was probably used long before the Roman emblem of a cross. This fish emblem was called the ICHTHUS. These letters form an acrostic for the words, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. The abbreviation is IXO, and has a numerical value of 153! With this knowledge, we can see that Jesus was letting them know that He was God’s Son! The 153 Nations If we compare Scripture with Scripture, the sea is the world and the fish can allude to the nations of the world. In the parable, a net is cast and the fish are caught. Soon, a separation occurs as the good is separated from the bad. Could it be that there will be a total of 153 nations at the very end of the age? It is true that the number of nations fluctuate with political movements and as a result of wars. At the conclusion of World War I, the world began to divide into various nations as Russia annexed surrounding countries under the control of the Soviet Union. At that time there were just over 100 nations in the world. After the conclusion of World War II, divisions among the nations continued. In the late 1980s, Robert Vandermaten contacted someone at the United Nations in order to pinpoint exactly how many nations existed at the time. Imagine his amazement when he discovered there were 153 nations recognized in the world! Presently, there are well over that number. The United Nations currently recognizes 191 nations. Again, political shifts and amalgamations affect the number. For example, Yugoslavia was once a single nation. Since the fall of Communism in Yugoslavia, the country has been divided into five nations recognized by the U.N.: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It is important to remember that during the Tribulation, nations will fall under the control of the Antichrist. This will create another shakeup among the nations of the world. It could be that the 153 fish were a hidden clue, revealing that 153 nations would exist at the end of the age. This seems possible, considering the fact that the primary numbers composing 153 (100, 50, and 3) can allude to Gentile fullness, Israel’s fullness and spiritual fullness. This is an interesting idea to consider. The Bird Flu and the Judgment of God Over the past few months, it has been impossible to watch TV or read a newspaper without encountering dire reports about an outbreak of bird flu and the possibility of a pandemic. (Epidemic: something that affects a large number of individuals within a population, community or region at the same time. Pandemic: a worldwide outbreak.) In 1918, an influenza pandemic killed millions of people around the world. To illustrate how deadly that flu was, World War I killed 16 million troops and civilians from 1914 to 1918; but in 1918 alone, more than 40 million died all over the world from the flu. That same year over 600,000 in the U.S.—the same death toll as the entire Civil War—died from the flu. The type of flu we are hearing about now is slightly different from the 1918 variety. Both are avian flu’s (carried by birds), and both are caused by a Type A virus—the only virus that can cause a pandemic. Scientists have identified the 1918 virus by the label H5N2, and the current flu virus is identified as H5N1. Virus A(H5N1) H5N1 has been a source of concern since it was first detected in 1997. All avian viruses, or bird flu, have a tendency to mutate into a form that is highly transmissible among humans, and this is what could set off a pandemic. The world’s scientists worry that the bird flu virus will join the human flu virus, change its genetic code and emerge as a new and deadly flu that can spread through the air from human to human. Right now, H5N1, a type of avian influenza virus, has confined itself mostly to birds. It can be transmitted from bird to human but only by direct contact with the droppings and excretions of infected birds. However, bird flu has started showing up in humans in more and more places worldwide. On average, a pandemic occurs at 40- to 50-year intervals. The 1918 outbreak of the flu was followed by the 1957-1958 outbreak of the Asian Flu. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences reports, “Another influenza pandemic is possibly inevitable, and even overdue.” A Worldwide Plague Bird flu outbreaks have occurred in many countries, although the United States has not had a single case yet. Since February 1, 2006, infections have been reported in Iraq, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Iran, Austria, Germany, Egypt, India, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Niger, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro, Pakistan, Albania, Poland, Georgia, Cameroon, Myanmar (Burma), Sweden, Denmark, Israel, Afghanistan, and Jordan. First discovered in 1997, H5N1 can be deadly when it gets into people. It has killed more than half of its known human victims. Equally alarming is that many who died were healthy, not the frail or sickly types of patients usually thought to be at risk of death from influenza. The disease usually starts with a fever, fatigue, headache and aches and pains, like a typical case of the flu. But within a few days it can turn into pneumonia, and the patients' lungs are damaged and fill with fluid. In a few cases, children infected with A(H5N1) died of encephalitis, apparently because the virus attacked the brain. A number of people have also had severe diarrhea—not usually a flu symptom—meaning that this virus may attack the intestines as well. Studies . . . suggest that in mammals the virus attacks other organs, too, including the heart, liver and adrenal glands. The early stages of the illness in people are the same as those of ordinary flu: fever, headache, fatigue, aches and pains. But within a few days, people with bird flu often start getting worse instead of better. Difficulty with breathing takes many to the hospital before they know they have it. People with flu-like symptoms that turn severe or involve breathing trouble are in urgent need of medical care. Two Possibilities Fortunately, the virus has not reached the Americas, but it seems only a matter of time before it turns up here. Dr. Roger Glass, a director at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), likened the prophesied pandemic to waiting for an earthquake along the San Andreas fault: it’s only a matter of time. “You know it’s going to occur but you can’t tell if it’s going to occur this year or next year or the year after,” he said, “but it’s clearly going to happen, and the only way you can prepare is to build your houses with structure.” He meant that we should be prepared. Can we rule out the possibility that bird flu is being used as an agent of destruction? Unfortunately, no. With the technology revolution of the past ten years, and with bio-scientists manipulating genes in everything from micro-organisms to humans, it seems likely that virologists could have developed all kinds of unrevealed scenarios. What better way to eliminate an enemy, or an entire human population, than via the global migratory-bird thruways? There is no way to know for sure. Can we rule out the possibility that it is the judgment of God? Again, unfortunately, no. Archeological discoveries in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria continue to confirm the Biblical record of the history of Israel, as well as many of the practices of ancient Mideast civilizations. Unwittingly, secular scientists are confirming the Biblical record of idolatry and fertility cults that institutionalized male and female prostitution, child sacrifice and many other practices. In uncovering the countless artifacts and relics that mark the march of history, they are also uncovering timeless records of many of the diseases and epidemics that plagued those civilizations of long ago. They constantly confirm the Biblical revelation of the dark side of human nature. Since the social sciences are continuing to confirm the Bible, let’s go to the original source and see what the Bible has to say about epidemics and diseases in connection with His judgment. God’s Judgment on Sin Some conveniently forget that God is a God of judgment as well as a God of mercy. God’s love has been the main theme in preaching for many years now, and it should be. But the Bible balances His love and mercy is with accounts of His judgment. Sin is always punished. Sin carries of seeds of destruction within itself, but when men sin openly and blatantly, God’s wrath is often poured out. God’s Word gives many examples. 23,000 people died in one day from God’s judgment on premarital sex. The New Testament warns us: “Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell” (1 Corinthians 10:8). 70,000 people died from a “pestilence” because of God’s judgment on Israel for disobedience. “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He struck Israel. So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell” ( 1 Chronicles 21:1, 4, 14). 14,950 people died when Korah agitated the people to question falsely, the leadership of Moses and Aaron: “Now those who died in the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those [250] who died in the Korah incident” (Numbers 16:49). 24,000 people died when the children of Israel began to openly commit adultery. “The people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand” (Numbers 25:1, 6, 9). At least two whole cities were destroyed by God’s judgment because of the people’s open, public homosexual activities. “Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground” (Genesis 19:24, 25). 185,000 threatening enemy soldiers were slain after they taunted, ridiculed and abused God’s people. “Then the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead” (Isaiah 37:36). Can the Hand of God Ever Be Stayed? God not only sent judgment, however; He provided a cure and He also provided a prevention. For example, when Moses was about to die, God accurately predicted what Israel would do after he was gone. More importantly, He predicted the judgment their disobedience would bring on them: And the Lord said to Moses: “Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land . . . and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them” (Deuteronomy 31:16, 17). I believe that God is giving the same message to America that He gave to Israel long ago: If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book . . . then the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues—great and prolonged plagues—and serious and prolonged sicknesses. Moreover He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. Also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in this Book of the Law, will the Lord bring upon you until you are destroyed. You shall be left few in number . . . because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 28:58-62). America’s Toxic Culture We live in a culture that has become open and blatant in its sinfulness. People today practice sinning without any shame whatsoever. They do wrong daily and indulge in devilish behavior regularly. The primordial stew of our toxic culture is enough to make God sick to His stomach! On the other hand, America has many righteous people who honestly and earnestly endeavor to serve God. I believe their prayers and their good deeds have held back the greater judgment God has promised to nations that disobey Him. America is the target of terrorists because we are still a Christian nation and the devil hates us. The very thing that causes some to hate America is what causes men and women from every nation to acknowledge the God of the Christians—just as Rahab believed in the God of Israel long ago: We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt. . . . And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath (Joshua 2:10, 11). The Bible declares: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 13:34). God’s people must continue to lead the way in righteousness. Hear the word of the Lord: If My people who are called by My name will 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 (2 Chronicles 7:14).