For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.
Japanese People in Crisis
I have been deeply impressed with the images, videos, and descriptions of suffering occurring in the nation of Japan following the massive 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck the northern part of the nation on March 11. There is perhaps no more modern, prosperous and technological nation on earth than Japan. With a population of 127 million, it boasts the world’s third largest economy. Territorially, Japan is smaller than the state of California.
The material prosperity and technological prowess of Japan has caused people to view it as a very good place to live, yet in the space of two weeks global attitudes have shifted dramatically. The very technology that Japan has relied upon is now setting hearts trembling throughout the country and the world. With six crippled nuclear reactors spewing forth massive amounts of radiation, her water, air and food supply becoming toxic with radioactive cesium and iodine, those who are able are moving away from the source of destruction.
What has occurred to Japan appears to be a perfect storm. The magnitude 9.0 quake is the largest ever recorded in this island nation that is accustomed to earthquakes. The earthquake alone did damage estimated in the billions. The tsunami that followed did far worse damage. It is estimated that the cost of these combined disasters will top $300 billion dollars, making it the costliest disaster the world has experienced.
Yet, the damage is not over. The stricken nuclear facilities have the potential of unleashing a far more devastating toll. The prevailing winds have been carrying most of the airborne radiation out to sea, but on March 15th the wind shifted to the south, toward Tokyo, a mere 138 miles away. In that brief time, rainfall caused the airborne radiation to penetrate the ground and pollute Tokyo’s water system. The government reported that the level of radiation in the water rendered it unsafe for babies to drink.
Around the same time, tests revealed that food crops and milk produced in the region around the nuclear plants revealed elevated levels of radiation, rendering them unsafe for human consumption. One stroke after another has befallen the Japanese people, and they have not turned the corner yet. The nuclear plants are so severely radioactive that workers are unable to go in and make repairs. This morning it was reported that radiation levels found in water inside the facilities where workers needed to have access was found to be over ten million times above normal levels. One hour of exposure would exceed the government limits for workers there for an entire year. The workers were immediately withdrawn.
The complexities of the repair work that needs to go on inside these facilities is staggering. Yet even before today’s heightened radiation levels were found, workers were only permitted in for minutes at a time. This has rendered it nearly impossible to perform the work needed to stabilize the situation and bring the amount of radiation down. The Japanese government is reporting that it may be weeks, or even months, before a resolution can be attained. In the meantime, massive amounts of radiation are escaping into the atmosphere, as well as being released into the ocean. If the wind should shift again toward population centers, the effect could be catastrophic.
It is not hard to imagine the fear and anxiety plaguing the nation of Japan at this time. Those who can afford to relocate are moving temporarily to places like Hong Kong, Taipei, and even to America. They have not reckoned on the character of the days we have now entered into. The prophet Amos described these days in the following manner:
Alas, you who are longing for the day of Yahweh, for what purpose will the day of Yahweh be to you? It will be darkness and not light; As when a man flees from a lion and a bear meets him, or goes home, leans his hand against the wall and a snake bites him. Will not the day of Yahweh be darkness instead of light, even gloom with no brightness in it?
The news appears to be all gloom in Japan at this time. There is very little to encourage the citizens of the nation. They are estimating nearly 30,000 people perished in the earthquake and tsunami. Entire towns were washed away. Japan could hardly have been in a worse financial situation prior to these events, and the economic fall-out will be equally severe. Perhaps it is prophetic that much of the airborne radiation is being carried toward North America. The repercussions of the Japanese financial shaking will certainly be felt in America whose economy is linked to the Japanese in many ways.
Since the earthquake in Japan, there have been prophetic reports circulating that for many years God has been testifying that a great quake will strike America some time shortly after Japan experiences a major quake. One of these prophecies comes from David Wilkerson’s book “The Vision” which was published in 1974. Following is a quotation from that book.
Chapter 2 Drastic Weather Change and Earthquakes
Earthquakes coming to United States
The United States is going to experience in the not-too-distant future the most tragic earthquakes in its history. One day soon this nation will be reeling under the impact of the biggest news story of modern times. It will be coverage of the biggest most disastrous earthquake in history.
It will cause widespread panic and fear, Without a doubt, it will become one of the most completely reported earthquakes ever. Television networks will suspend all programming and carry all day coverage.
Another earthquake, possibly in Japan may precede the one that I see coming here. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind about this forthcoming massive earthquake in our continent.
I am not at all convinced that this earthquake will take place in California. In fact, I believe it is going to take place where it is least expected. This terrible earthquake may happen in an area that not known as an earthquake belt. It will be so high on the Richter scale that it will trigger two other major earthquakes.
Rick Joyner at Morningstar Ministries has also been putting out Special Bulletins recently sharing similar warnings. Rick Joyner states that the prophet Bob Jones prophesied 22 years ago that a major quake will strike America soon after Japan experiences a major one. You can view the Special Bulletins at the following links:
Video “The Day the World Changed”:
From a moral perspective, I have much more respect for David Wilkerson and Times Square Church than for Bob Jones and Morningstar Ministries. I am very much concerned for the sensuality, immorality, and focus on materialism found at Morningstar. Last night I watched a music video from Morningstar’s campus at the former PTL headquarters. A young woman led those gathered in a song declaring that God is mercy and love, and He is not coming back to judge His people. Such a message is reprehensible at this hour.
In contrast, David Wilkerson emphasizes the holiness of God, and the need to walk in the fear of Him. Yet, the gifts and callings of God are without reproach. Even when men such as Bob Jones use the gifts of God in an impure way they may still prophesy truth. (Consider the story of the prophet Balaam found in Numbers chapter 22.)
The message coming out of Morningstar is very similar to that coming out of Christchurch, New Zealand following their recent devastating quake. The shaking in Christchurch was a profound spiritual sign of judgment coming to the earth, beginning at the house of God. A brother from Christchurch, Peter Boag, whom I have quoted before, wrote to me a couple days ago and shared the following:
Dear Brother Joseph,
I thought you might like to read this article that was in this morning's paper. It reveals how the major denominations are viewing the recent earthquakes and their aftermaths.
Letters to the paper by Christians also reveal their lack of understanding of the hand of God in these momentous events.
The damage really is just indescribable. The central business district has been in lockdown mode since the quake on the 22nd of February. Only now is the extent of the damage becoming discernable to Joe Citizen. Up till today, 138 buildings have so far been demolished in the CBD. TV news never did the reality justice, and authorities have obviously held things back. At a memorial service held in a park and attended by about a hundred thousand people last week, they showed film footage that had not been released before on the giant screens, and the silence whilst it was shown was complete.
Your blogs lately have been 'spot on,' to put it mildly. Thank you for your insights and your obedience in posting them. To Yahshua be the glory for ever!
Love and blessings,
Peter Boag, Christchurch, New Zealand
Peter appended an article from a New Zealand website, from which I will quote. I will start with a section of the article that speaks of the damage inflicted on area churches, then cite a section that reveals the attitudes of those affected.
Christchurch Earthquake: Act of God?
What attitude should the Anglican Church take to its own buildings? Besides the cathedral, there has been major damage to St Luke's on Kilmore St, St John's on Latimer Square, Holy Trinity in Avonside, Holy Trinity in Lyttelton, St John's in Okains Bay and St Cuthbert's in Governor's Bay. There has also been damage to suburban churches in Merivale, Riccarton, Shirley, Opawa, Mt Pleasant, New Brighton and Redcliffs. Minor damage to churches in Woolston, Linwood and Aranui means that they should be repaired reasonably soon.
Damage to Christchurch churches in the September 4 earthquake was estimated at $100 million. Ansvar Insurance, which insures many of the city's churches, expects the damage after February 22 to be much greater than that. Damage to the Christ Church Cathedral alone would be in the tens of millions, according to Ansvar Insurance New Zealand manager David Leather.
The likely rebuild of the cathedral is a symbolic act that has received a lot of attention in conversations about damaged buildings, but clearly some hard decisions will have to be made about Christchurch's other Anglican churches.
It might be too soon to have those discussions in public, but both Matthews and Patterson seem uncomfortable with the notion that this disaster could be an opportunity for the Anglican Church to rebuild for the smaller, more mobile congregations of the 21st century. As congregations are declining, do we need as many churches?
Matthews answers with a question: do they have too many churches or not enough people going to them? Patterson says that if you are building for the future, you don't want to build for a worst- case scenario.
Matthews has an anecdote from the Canadian city of Edmonton, where she served as bishop before Christchurch. Movie theatres had been in decline so someone bravely bucked the trend with a mega- cinema, which apparently included a dragon that breathed fire as you walked in: "The most absurd movie theatre you have ever seen. It was out of this world."
So what is the ecclesiastical equivalent of 3-D? Matthews' point is that people want an event.
"Churches, for all their spiritual meaning, have historically been an event. The High Mass, the choral singing, the pageantry. If we start tearing down the beauty and building mean little churches, then we'll be in trouble...”
The Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, Barry Jones, was on his way to Hokitika when the February 22 quake hit. He was out of mobile range until Arthur's Pass, where he turned round and came back. An unreal event: he didn't feel the shake but returned to a blitzed city.
With the heavy concrete dome of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament making the building still too unstable to approach, the diocese office next door on Barbadoes St has also been off- limits.
People are working from home on laptops; no-one can get in to retrieve files and computers. When we spoke, Jones was still waiting to hear if a crane would be able to lift the dome at a distance, allowing engineers to assess the cathedral. "It's so dangerous that no-one can actually get near it," he says. "If there was another earthquake like the one on February 22, the engineers think the dome would actually come down. It's a death trap."
It's tragic and maybe defeatist to use the past tense, but it was a stunning building.
Jones refers those who never got around to going inside - including this reporter - to a 360-degree tour on the diocese website, showing the cathedral's interior in all its splendour. In an ideal world, would Jones want it restored to its previous condition?
"If it was feasible. It's an absolute treasure. But I'm not even beginning to think like that. It's just too soon."
As with the Anglican cathedral, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is the high-profile casualty, but many other Catholic churches have also been damaged. A final prayer service has already been held at St Mary's in New Brighton, which is to be demolished. Historic churches in Sumner and Lyttelton have likewise been hit hard.
"I've heard people say that the Lyttelton one is so significant as a heritage building that it will have to be restored," Jones says. "That's not what the church has said but what I've heard heritage people say. But I don't think the Sumner one, Our Lady Star of the Sea, can be restored."
Parishioners who usually go to St Paul's in Dallington, St Joseph's in Papanui and Holy Family in Burwood are also attending Mass elsewhere. Jones seems to be more open than his Anglican counterparts to the idea that the earthquake and subsequent demolitions and closures might give his church a chance to redraw its map of Christchurch...
What would be the great symbol of earthquake damage to Christchurch's Presbyterians? Your first answer might be the Knox Church on Bealey Ave, where the wooden frame still stands but the brick skin has largely fallen off. That church is probably repairable, says Presbyterian moderator The Rev Martin Stewart, but the old, grand St Paul's Trinity Pacific on Cashel St, deep inside the cordon, is "gone".
A fire did damage first, then two earthquakes. A church in Linwood has also been demolished and one in St Albans will follow. Meanwhile, a New Brighton congregation is the one that has met on the beach. Stewart's own church, St Stephen's in Bryndwr, will be out of action for some time too. His congregation is making do with the church hall next door. All these ruined stones, bricks and steeples...
Stewart runs a weblog as "Mart the Rev" and talks up his fondness for the music of U2 and David Gilmour, meaning that he can seem like the archetypal hip priest: worldly, a little feisty and a little suspicious of the musty baggage of organised religion. He was aghast when he encountered German missionaries in Christchurch who were trying to push a line that the earthquake was a response to sinfulness. "How to kick people when they're down, but also, what kind of God are they talking about?" he says. "How dare they? We know that God is love. You turn God into an ogre when you promulgate the idea that He caused this as a judgment on us."
The idea that this was an act of God - "a shocker" of a phrase, he says - could only come from those with an undeveloped Sunday school faith.
Lynda Patterson heard the same kind of thing. She got emails asking if God was angry about the prostitutes in Latimer Square, the presence of the Wizard or even the floral carpet in the Cathedral.
"You can see people desperately struggling to understand," she says.
"There must be something we did wrong. I want to lose the idea of a God who slaps us with a big stick. We believe in a God who is in among the rubble suffering with us, not at a great distance pulling the strings."
"It's not judgment," Matthews adds. "The very flippant answer I give is, if this is God's judgment, what took Him so long?" If there is a lesson for believers, she says, it is simply that creation is more fragile than we care to admit...
"The question I've got is, will it change us for a while or permanently?" Matthews says. She admits to being a little more pessimistic, remembering that when she first came to New Zealand, we were in the depths of a recession.
"The theological question, and it is theological, is what will it take for us to change?" she asks.
There is much that is symbolic in these words. Churches have become death traps. Ministers speak of the need to rebuild with the mindset that churches need to be “an event,” something to entertain and draw people in. How appropriate that the minister illustrated this point by speaking of a movie theater with a large fire breathing dragon.
Yet the appalling thing is that despite the ruin of their churches, the loss of life, and the magnitude of events in Christchurch, there is absolutely no mention of sin, judgment, or repentance. Instead, the ministers do all they can to dismiss such ideas. There is no room in their theology for the words of the apostle Peter:
I Peter 4:17-18
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?
The last question posed by one of the ministers resounds with an import they have obviously not considered:
"The theological question, and it is theological, is what will it take for us to change?"
People of God, no matter how unlikely it may seem that America could ever experience the same level of devastation as Christchurch, or Japan, there is good reason to anticipate that even worse things are coming to this nation. America has had unfettered access to the word of God. She has known freedom of religion since her founding. She has had many godly men to proclaim a message of holiness and righteousness and truth. Yet, in this hour, the words of the apostle Paul have been fulfilled.
II Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Forsaking the message of holiness and the disciple’s cross, America has turned her churches into event venues. Entertainment has replaced sound doctrine. The narrow gate and afflicted path have been replaced with the wide gate and the broad highway. Truly, America’s churches have become death traps, and those who remain in them will be greatly injured when they fall.
The recent posts to this blog have been longer than I normally like to make them, but there has been such an acceleration of signs, and of a profound witness from the Father, that I feel I must share at greater length those things I am perceiving. I began this post by speaking of the terrible situation in Japan. I believe similar conditions will soon be seen in America.
If you have watched the videos from that area, and have seen the pictures, you know that thousands of cars have been destroyed, and many people are walking for hours to get to their destination, or riding bicycles. You will also have noted the preponderance of people who wear masks over their faces. This has been common in Japanese society even before the catastrophes, for it is considered rude behavior for anyone who is sick to spread germs to others. With the nuclear radiation, the mass of dead bodies, broken sewer lines, and other contaminants fouling the air, even more Japanese are wearing these masks. There is good reason for precaution. After last year’s earthquake in Haiti there was a cholera outbreak and thousands have died.
I share these details to mention a witness I have been recently receiving from the Father. A couple days after the Japanese quake I went to the dentist to have some teeth extracted. One of the dental assistants told me they needed new x-rays of my mouth. I asked her if that was necessary, for I had x-rays done previously. She told me that my x-rays were more than 3 years old, and their policy was to take new ones after a 3 year period.
I relented, joking with the young lady that I was concerned that the radiation would make my hair fall out. Strangely, the x-rays the young woman took got mixed up with someone else’s so the dentist asked her to take yet another set. I thought of the radiation exposure in Japan as all this was happening.
Some days later I began experiencing the symptoms of hay fever and pollen allergies that afflict me every year in the Spring. I wanted to avoid taking allergy pills, and considered what else I might do. The thought came to me to purchase some breathing masks to reduce the amount of pollen I was breathing in. I did so, and afterwards considered how this related to the Japanese people.
The final witness relating to the experiences of Japan coming to America that I received was when my van broke down. As I mentioned previously, I was on a trip to the bank to deposit a check when this occurred. I was not able that day to withdraw money, for I had little in my account. I could only deposit the check. As I returned home, my van acted like it was starving for fuel. This may well signify a coming financial collapse and an inability to get money from the banks. The van starving for gas could signify a lack of available gasoline. Both of these things have been reported as some of the major difficulties Japanese citizens have been facing.
With my van not running well, I have been relying more on my bicycle, even riding it to the grocery store to get milk, or other supplies. As I was experiencing these things I was also reading reports of individual’s experiences in Japan. They were giving testimony of the difficulty of life without their cars, many of which had been destroyed. Those who had cars were carefully weighing their usage, for gasoline is very hard to obtain in affected areas.
As I pondered the similarities to my experiences, and that of the people in Japan, I considered that the Father must surely have a message in all these things. What is being observed in Japan is soon coming to America. The Father continues to use my life as a pattern of those things coming to many others among His people. He has appointed me as a forerunner and pioneer in these things. The people of God need to be prepared. The greatest preparation is not in the physical realm, but in the spiritual. Many simply do not have the faith in God, or the intimacy of relationship with Him, to hear His voice and trust and obey His leading. There is no time to waste if this describes your life. I will be writing more of the manner in which the saints are to prepare in following posts.
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