Light for the Last Days

Is Jesus in the Boat with you?

Matthew 8.23-27

FULL SERMON VIDEO

Now when He (Jesus) got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 So the men marvelled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Matthew 8.23-27

 

The Eve of Destruction

Back in the 1960s there was a famous protest song ‘The Eve of Destruction, sung by Barry Maguire.  Its chorus said:

You tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
How you don’t believe
We’re on the eve of destruction.

That was nearly 60 years ago and we have managed to survive (just about) until now. But now it seems we really could be on the eve of destruction.

Israel

At the time of writing the Israel – Gaza war threatens to bring a conflagration in the Middle East, even a world war.  Horrific attack launched by Hamas on October 7th. Responsible for suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians.  Israel is poised to go into Gaza with a ground offensive. If they do it is most likely that Hezbollah will open a second front and the West Bank could erupt in violence. Second front threatens to open at any time.

US has sent in its warships and warned Iran and its proxies not to enter the war. Iran has warned of imminent ‘pre-emptive action’ against Israel if Israel sends in ground troops to Gaza. Iraqi militias loyal to Iran have said they will join the war. Iran’s proxies in Yemen, the Houthis, have fired missiles at Israel, intercepted by US warships. Israel has said it will destroy Damascus if Syria and Hezbollah launch a full scale attack.  Russia blames Israel and the US for the crisis and warns America to back off.

There is huge unrest across the Middle East as demonstrations against Israel and America rock the Muslim world. Also here in London. From the River to the Sea Palestine will be free = end of Israel. Anti-Semitism / anti-Zionism. Fear in Jewish community.

Ukraine

The Ukraine war grinds on with little progress for either side.  Russia is angry at NATO for supplying weapons to Ukraine.  Some western countries are backing off their support for Ukraine, which may ultimately give Russia the edge in the war. Meanwhile warnings of nuclear war have come from Moscow. 

On October 8th Putin ordered Russia’s first nationwide nuclear attack exercise across 11 time zones in preparation for potential nuclear war. The one-day nuclear attack exercise will include preparation for the destruction of up to 70% of Russian housing stock and life support facilities. Does this mean Russia is planning to launch a nuclear war itself?

Taiwan

China is continuously massing forces at its coastal military bases facing Taiwan. Taiwan’s Defence Ministry issued a report on the expansion of Chinese airfields and military activity on Taiwan’s doorstep, saying China has begun probing Taiwan’s territory on a near-daily basis. 

If the Chinese decide to pull the trigger on an invasion of Taiwan, it will instantly become the biggest news story in the entire world.  Because the moment that an invasion of Taiwan begins, the United States and China will be at war and nothing will ever be the same again. 

Alternative World Order

Russia and China are getting together with an alternative world order programme confronting the west, bringing in other bad actors of the world,

the Iranian Islamic regime, North Korea and increasing influence in the ‘global south’ – Africa, South America, and countries which have a grudge against the USA.

Hunger, poverty, and drugs

Africa is plagued with wars and military coups along with poverty and bad governance, radical Islamists terrorising Christians, while in central and south America drug gangs are killing and destabilising countries bringing misery to millions. 828 million people – or 10% of the world’s population – find themselves in a state of chronic hunger.

Desperate people are seeking refuge through illegal migration into the developed world, mainly in the USA or Europe.  But these countries cannot absorb them and they are also facing economic and social crises leading to their own potential collapse. 

Debt

Global debt hit a record US$307 trillion in the second quarter of the year.  US debt has hit $33 trillion and rising by around $1 trillion every 6 months. If the US government cannot resolve the funding crisis to raise the debt ceiling due to the problem of the speaker in the House of Representatives next month, it will not be able to pay its employees. This is not sustainable and sooner or later will lead to an economic crisis which will make the events of 2008 look like a picnic. Banks and businesses across the US are already closing and the crisis is only just beginning. Contagion will affect world economy. 

China too is in deep trouble economically as the collapse of its housing market has left debt everywhere in its economic system with local governments unable to pay their pensions or civil servants. In the UK and much of Europe the cost of living crisis is causing hardship and leading to social unrest. Potential economic crisis in Europe.

Natural disasters and Net Zero

Strange weather and natural disasters are raising the demand from the UN and global bodies for measures to be put in place to save the world from catastrophic climate change. 

There are legitimate questions to be asked about the science behind the ‘green agenda’, but our leaders are going ahead with this, regardless of the potential for the net zero project to bring about further economic and social decline in industrialised nations. It is projected that the UK cost of going over to net zero is around £3 trillion and will cost the UK economy £1 a second for the next 31,000 years. As we don’t have this money, either the project will be ditched (unlikely as it is written into law and supported by our political leaders and demanded by the global powers), or we will end up poor, hungry and cold, unable to travel, or express views which question the green agenda. 

Without adequate power and money available many of the systems, which the industrialised world relies on, will no longer function properly. 

Bible prophecy and reality

If we could see that our governments (or opposition parties) have an answer to all this, we could have some hope that it will be resolved.  But they don’t. Jesus said that in the last days there will be a crisis which will bring this age to an end:

‘And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’ 

Luke 21.25-26

The phrase used for ‘with perplexity’ in the Greek is ‘aporia’, ᾰ̓πορῐ́ᾱ meaning with no way out. 

The Book of Revelation 13 teaches that the Beast / Antichrist will arise in the last days of this age. 

He will offer a solution, but this will lead not to ‘peace and safety’ but a time of great tribulation on earth leading to the return of the only one who can put it right – Jesus Christ.  (Matthew 24, Revelation 6-19).

21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.

26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

Matthew 24.21-28

Those who believe in Him should not panic, but look up and lift up our heads because our redemption draws near (Luke 21).  At some point the rapture will happen.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4.16-18

Although we have this hope, we don’t know when it will happen, as the Lord said, no one knows the day or the hour of His return (Matthew 24.36). Therefore, we have to keep our lives going, and we should do this. Some fanatic elements who teach prophecy have done great harm to the cause by telling people to drop out of society as in the Kenya case for example. 

No, we should carry on, earn our living as we are able to, provide for ourselves and our families, look after the people in our community, and be a positive influence for good, for truth in society, showing the love and mercy of God to all as the Lord allows. 

We should plan our lives as if we have a lifetime ahead of us, but also be ready to meet the Lord at any time. But the evidence is that the time is getting short and, at any moment, one of the crises I have mentioned could tip us over into something serious. 

The world in which we live is heading into a storm. Jeremiah 25 – the controversy which the Lord has with the nations.

30 “Therefore prophesy against them all these words, and say to them:

‘The Lord will roar from on high,
And utter His voice from His holy habitation;
He will roar mightily against His fold.
He will give a shout, as those who tread the grapes,
Against all the inhabitants of the earth.
31 A noise will come to the ends of the earth—
For the Lord has a controversy with the nations;
He will plead His case with all flesh.
He will give those who are wicked to the sword,’ says the Lord.”

32 Thus says the Lord of hosts:

“Behold, disaster shall go forth
From nation to nation,
And a great whirlwind shall be raised up
From the farthest parts of the earth.

33 And at that day the slain of the Lord shall be from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall become refuse on the ground.

Jeremiah 25.30-33

Jesus said in Luke 21.10-11

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.

Luke 21.10-11

and continues,

And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.

Luke 21.25-28

A storm coming

Maybe the storm will be delayed but it looks like it is about to burst. There is the build up of flood waters, the bursting of defences. Maybe we will be taken out before, but nevertheless , we will be around for shaking days ahead.

In my recent Bible reading I had some thoughts about this passage in the Gospel:

Now when He (Jesus) got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 So the men marvelled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Matthew 8.23-27

The disciples encounter a difficult situation while on a boat. The storm blows up in middle of sea, far away from land.  The waves roar.  The disciples are afraid they will perish which is a likely supposition since they are living in extremely difficult natural circumstances. What are they going to do? 

Jesus in the boat

They have Jesus in the boat. One could say that the boat can’t sink, yet they all contemplate the possibility of drowning even while they have Jesus in the boat. Jesus is not going to lose all His disciples before they have had a chance to do what He is training them for, and He can’t die in a storm at sea in Galilee, He can only die on the cross in Jerusalem.

But He is asleep, apparently unaware or unconcerned about what is happening.

That’s how people feel sometimes. It’s all chaos around, the ship is sinking and God has gone to sleep and doesn’t know or care about us and our predicament. 

Yet, He is there. When they awake Him they say “Lord save us we are perishing.’ The fact is that unless He does something they will perish. But when He acts and all is clear and safe. 

Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 So the men marvelled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Matthew 8.26-27

Then there is a great calm. They question ‘Who can this be that even the wind and the waves obey Him?’ Only the One who made the wind and the waves could do this. The wind stops, the waves calm down and they can carry on. 

The miracle takes place when Jesus speaks and both wind and waves cease immediately, and it is calm.

The human condition in the end time scenario

There is the ship of the world in a storm. It is likely to sink. And the question is: Are you doomed to go down with the sinking ship or will you be saved from it? 

You cannot save yourself. What makes the difference is whether you have Jesus in the boat with you. On one level, Jesus is in the boat of the present world, because He made it, He has redeemed it. He has His people in it (us). He also has purposes for Israel, even in their unbelief. 

His purpose is to come back to the Mount of Olives, to Jerusalem, bring an end to the present world system that is in rebellion against God, save Israel and the people who believe in Him. He has to come back to it to rule over the world in the Millennial kingdom. 

So, if we apply this image of the boat to the world, to the church, and to Israel, we realise that there may be a whole lot wrong with them all, but the boat cannot totally sink. The earth must remain until the Second Coming. Israel must remain. There must remain a witness to the truth through true believers in Jesus. But it can get very rough for all concerned.

Complacency

In the light of this there are two prevailing erroneous attitudes in the world today: Complacency and Fearfulness.

  • Complacency means being asleep, blind to what is going on around us, trusting in ourselves. If we think we can save ourselves, we are strong. When you approach people with Gospel, one of the frequent responses you get is: ‘I’m all right’ (in other words: ‘leave me alone, I don’t need your Jesus‘). But they’re not ‘all right’, they are in a sinking ship and the only one who can save them is not there. 

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus speaks to Laodicean church.

17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

Revelation 3.17-21

Much of church today is ignoring the Second Coming prophecy. This church says: ‘We can work it out ourselves‘. Such an attitude is the root of the humanist message.   

Many in Israel too are saying they can defeat their enemies in their own strength. 

nytimes.com

Perhaps the best example of complacency is the most famous ship wreck in history, the Titanic. In pride man said: ‘God cannot sink this ship‘. Yet, it sank on its maiden voyage after being hit by an iceberg. 

The Titanic was meant to break the record for an Atlantic crossing, but it’s path through the waters put it in danger of icebergs. There weren’t enough lifeboats on board and that created an unjust situation between those travelling in 1st and 3rd class. Once on path to the iceberg, there was no turning back. 

In our society, Jesus is being kicked off the boat. Consumed by pride, by massive injustices, the world dwells in complacency about our condition when, in reality, we are in great danger, on a path to disaster with no way to turn back. Our world has rejected the lifeboat of faith in Jesus that can save us.

Fearfulness

  • Fearfulness creates paralysis. We find ourselves in a perilous situation yet we don’t do anything. We try to keep safe but are in fact overcome with fear.

People since Covid won’t go out. 

Many believers won’t open their mouth to say anything about Jesus for fear of what people may say or do to them.

Beliefnet

Many believers don’t want to hear anything about prophecy because it is scary.

But Jesus is in the boat with you

He tells you,

‘Yes, you are weak and you can’t save yourself from the danger. But I can save you. I am with you always even to the end of the age. Nothing can separate you from the love God. Cast your cares on Me for I care for you. Come to Me and I will give you peace and rest. Yes, you may suffer for a while (but it is brief in comparison to eternity). You may even die – but then, you go to be with Me. I will never leave you or forsake you. 

If we manage to do this, to believe this, we will have the right attitude as the ship heads into the storm. We will do what we can to keep ourselves afloat: live a normal life, go to work, study, look after yourself and your family. When we put our trust in the Lord, we ready ourselves to meet Him at any time and use our time to spread the Word, and help others to get ready to meet the Lord.

Sometimes people may think that God is asleep, that He doesn’t answer our prayer or that He doesn’t care. Often, we see things going from bad to worse and our prayers don’t seem to make any difference. He does care, and He does answer prayer. But there are conditions: Call on name of the Lord. Repent and believe the Gospel.

Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!
For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”

For they have consulted together with one consent;
They form a confederacy against You:
The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites;
Moab and the Hagrites;
Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek;
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Assyria also has joined with them;
They have helped the children of Lot. Selah

Psalm 83.1-8

Because many people have kicked Him off the boat and got rid of the lifeboats, when the storm comes, they are helpless. Some times God’s purpose in allowing the storm to happen is to get people to cry out to Him.

23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
24 They see the works of the Lord,
And His wonders in the deep.
25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
Which lifts up the waves of the sea.
26 They mount up to the heavens,
They go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
29 He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
30 Then they are glad because they are quiet;
So He guides them to their desired haven.
31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Psalm 107.23-31

At wit’s end

Trouble is at hand and there is peril for their lives. They are at wit’s end and there seems to be no hope, no solution. Then, they cry out to the Lord in their trouble and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm.

The story of Jonah becomes extremely relevant here. He is out of God’s will, then, going through the storm, he comes to God and gets to do His will.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.

Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.

So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”

And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?”

So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.

10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous.

12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows.

17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 1

That is the current situation for Israel as we read in Jeremiah 30:

“For thus says the Lord: ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, Of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, Whether a man is ever in labour with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins Like a woman in labour, And all faces turned pale?
Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it. ‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’ Says the Lord of hosts, ‘That I will break his yoke from your neck, And will burst your bonds; Foreigners shall no more enslave them.
But they shall serve the Lord their God, And David their king, Whom I will raise up for them. 10 ‘Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,’ says the Lord, ‘Nor be dismayed, O Israel; For behold, I will save you from afar, And your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, And no one shall make him afraid. 11 For I am with you,’ says the Lord, ‘to save you; Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, Yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, And will not let you go altogether unpunished.’

Jeremiah 30.5-11

Wrong turns

There was this concert in desert where other gods were exalted and many people were killed by Hamas on October 7. We all need to correct what is wrong in our lives and turn to the Lord. The whole of humanity is in the same situation.

Make sure that Jesus is in the boat with you, that He is in your life. No one else can save you. But, if He is in the boat with you, you are safe, you are saved. He is able to keep us in the time of trouble. And, even if we die in the time of trouble (as we will anyway in the natural order of things), we will be absent from the body, but present with the Lord, as Paul put it. And we shall always be with the Lord. So comfort one another with these words.

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11.27-29

Tony Pearce

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