The Sound Of The Trumpet!
By Raymond D. Sopp
Jeremiah 4:19: "My soul, my soul! I am in anguish! Oh, my heart! My heart is pounding in me; I cannot be silent, because you have heard, O my soul, THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET, the alarm of war."
On September 11, 2001, we heard "The Sound Of The Trumpet," the call to war, when the World Trade Towers were mercilessly and savagely attacked by terrorists. The loss of innocent human life was both devastating and tragic. In consternation, we all beheld the face of pure evil! With tears and in horror we all watched as a few of the innocent victims of this evil chose to leap to their death to avoid the horror of death by fire. As I was watching this horror unfold, God reminded me that Satan was the administrator of all terror and deceptive propaganda (lies) in the world. John 8:44: "He (Satan) was a MURDERER from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he (Satan) is a LIAR, and the father of lies."
Nevertheless, as it should be, the world's passion and focus were on the temporal needs of the sorely afflicted, and the discharge of justice upon Osama bin Laden and other terrorists like him. But on the other hand, we Christians must NOT abandon our passion and focus to overcome and defeat the author and father of all terrorism -- the terrorist of our ETERNAL spirit and soul, Satan. Satan incites killing for no other reason but hate, hatred for God and God's prize creation, mankind, whom God made in His own image. Satan's weapons of war are lies, deception, and seduction which all conspire together to inflame the hatred and to conceal God's love for mankind. Whereas, our weapons of war are truth (God's Word), empowered by the Holy Spirit and love – God's love which now dwells within us as we are born-again with His Holy Spirit. Hence, the repercussions of us (God's Church) taking lightly our terrorist (Satan) are immeasurably greater than the World Trade Towers tragedy, inasmuch as eternity is immeasurable greater than the temporal.
Matthew 11:12: "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence (or is forcibly entered), and violent men take it by force (or seize it by force)." The word force in this quote from Scripture is the Greek word harpazo from which we get our word rapture. In other words, Jesus was telling us that Satan will not give up his captives without a fight. We must forcibly snatch his captives away and set them free. We cannot – we must not remain apathetic as we alone hold the keys (knowledge) to enter heaven. This does not mean we can "force" someone to accept the key to heaven, i.e., Jesus; but we must forcibly (actively) proclaim the gospel and God's Word in the face of Satan's hindrances and hatred. We must be willing to lay down our lives to get the key to heaven (the gospel) to Satan's captives, even if only one will accept it. If God the Son was willing to leave heaven and all its blessings to suffer the excruciating pain of the cross to give you and me the key to heaven, setting us free from an eternity in hell, what are we willing to give up to get this key to heaven – this gospel -- this freedom to another captive of Satan's terrorism?
This is not to say that the World Trade Towers were not immensely horrible and grievous, but God also wants His Church to have an eternal perspective over and above the temporal perspective of the world. Nor is it unloving for us (Christians) to maintain our eternal perspective in the face of such a grievous tragedy; unless you think Jesus, God forbid, was unloving when He made the following statements: Luke 12:4-5: "And I (Jesus) say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!" And John 6:27: "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal." And John 6:49-50: "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die." And finally John 6:57-58: "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate, and died, he who eats this bread shall live forever."
But concerning the temporal, I was both astonished and tremendously impressed by how the world responded to this grievous terrorist attack. Their passion and focus on the temporal should be both applauded and praised. However, as I was dwelling on the world's remarkable response to the temporal, my sense of admiration for the world's response was changed to tears of sorrow when our Lord led me to read the following: Luke 16:8-15: "And his master praised the unrighteous steward because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
I instantly knew in my heart what our Lord wanted me to do. Our Lord wanted me to rehearse the world's passionate response to terrorism in the temporal and place it side by side to our response to terrorism in the greater eternal. To place the world's passionate response to the horrors of temporal death, beside our (the Church's) response to the greater horror of eternal death, i.e., hell. To say the least, I did not want to do it, because in my heart of hearts I already knew the outcome of such a comparison. It would reveal a lukewarmness within God's Church. Revelation 3:15-16: "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." But then again, I thought, I would rather have it revealed to all this side of heaven so all would have an opportunity to change and repent. Therefore, I began to do even as my Lord directed me to do.
My heart was so warmed when I saw the outpouring and generosity of the secular world in response to the devastating disaster brought upon us by the terrorists. Even all of Hollywood came together to put on a fund raiser which raised somewhere around $350 million (US). Tears came to my eyes as I saw little children emptying their precious little banks filled with coins in order to help the victims of this terrorism. And the only motivation the secular world needed was to see their fellow humankind in need. Not once did I hear anyone promise a hundred fold return on their donation to arouse their benevolent spirit and passion. All the secular world needed to see was a temporal need, or crisis to move their innermost bowels of compassion. Are we (Christians) no longer aroused simply by people's need of eternal life and salvation from hell!? Must there always be something in it for us such as a hundred fold return, before our compassion is moved? The reality of hell and its eternal fiery horrors were enough to move Jesus' innermost compassion and motivated Him to leave heaven and embrace a cross. Do we need more of a motivation than the reality of hell to move our innermost compassion? Do we still need to know what's in it for me? If we (God's Church) are so lukewarm and passionless on the reality of heaven and hell, should we be surprised if the world remains unimpressed and unresponsive!?
James 3:1: "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment." I've seen many in a leadership position, for the sake of expediency, appeal to a Christian's carnal nature (flesh) instead of appealing to and building up the new born-again spirit within. For example, to raise finances they will appeal to fleshly greed by promising a hundred fold return. The hideous outcome of these teachers that appeal to our greed (flesh) to raise funds is that many now equate being rich in this world for being blessed by God. Hence, without giving it a second thought, their disciples live in worldly opulence, boasting in their earthly treasures. The end result is less money for the gospel as they follow their teacher's instructions precisely and amass huge earthly treasures for themselves. Satan is a shrewd enemy indeed as he knows that an unfunded ministry is no threat to him! As for me and this ministry, we'll just keep our eyes on the heavenly treasure, because we know it is also written: "You cannot serve both God and mammon!"
But, brother, are we not told in Malachi 3:10 that we could test God with our donation and He would multiply it back to us until it overflows. Well, you just made my point. Have you ever read all of Malachi? Malachi was preaching to one of the most corrupt, lukewarm, carnal, worldly and secular groups of people in the whole Bible. Is that really the book you would like to be identified with when you see Jesus face to face? Yes, because of the hardness of the people's heart, God relented and allowed this group to test Him. Yet, we also know without a doubt that it is God's PERFECT will not to test Him at all. As for me, I do not study the Bible to see how close to the IMPERFECT I can get; I study to find God's perfect will, and with help from the Holy Spirit, to do it. Therefore, instead of Malachi 3:10, let's go to 2 Corinthians 9:10, "Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing, (i.e., it's not for us to keep), and increase the harvest of your righteousness." I'll take increased righteousness over increased worldly wealth every time. Proverbs 11:4: "Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death." Or what about 2 Corinthians 8:3-4, "For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints." Did they need a fleshly motivation to move their innermost bowels of compassion?
I then started to rehearse in my mind how the US government was giving 20 billion of our tax dollars toward rebuilding and humanitarian aid. The insurance companies estimated a payout of over 15 billion. And various secular corporations were giving literally hundreds of millions. Hollywood's effort brought in about 350 million. And as I was contemplating the mind-numbing size of those numbers, our Lord brought the following Scripture to my heart: Luke 9:59-60: "And He (Jesus) said, ‘Follow Me.' But he said, ‘Permit me first to go and bury my father.' But He said to him, ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.'" I immediately sensed the seriousness, the sternness, of our Lord. Not only did this verse by context convey both gravity and urgency, but it also made very clear that His Church needs to concentrate its finances and efforts on the eternal needs of mankind, not the temporal.
Our Lord was NOT saying the temporal was not important, but He was trying to convey that the spiritually dead (the world) had more than enough money to handle the temporal and humanitarian needs. Therefore, His Church needs to concentrate on the eternal -- the preaching and teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 6:12: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." The world's corporations, foundations, and sometimes even the US government will give BILLIONS to humanitarian aid. But if you mention Jesus, heaven, or hell the world will not give you a dime. And I know that to be true, as I have been rejected more than once as I have sought financial help to preach the gospel.
Therefore, let's turn the table on Luke 16:8-15, so that the sons of the light become more shrewd than the sons of this age. If we as Christians see a need for humanitarian aid, let us create or contact a secular non-profit. One that can be funded by secular government grants, foundations, and corporations so we can free up 100% of the Church's funds for the Kingdom of Heaven. Christians are so few in number and means as compared to the world, yet God's Church is the ONLY source we have to fund the gospel. Satan loves to tug on our HUGE heart with humanitarian causes in order to starve the gospel into silence. Remember the very first thing the USA did to defeat terrorism? Our first strike in the war against terrorism was against the terrorist's finances. Satan is no fool, an unfunded ministry is no threat to him! Are you saying we should turn our backs on the hungry and suffering? No! God forbid! We should be the first one to help someone in need, but let's use the secular world to fund it. For example, how many well-intentioned Christians gave to this disaster without first thinking, how many BILLIONS do they really need? Let's be sure we are not duplicating what the secular world is already doing very well, because the secular world will NOT help us with the gospel.
I also saw the secular world put aside their inconsequential differences in order to come together to defeat a common terrorist. All of a sudden -- in the twinkling of an eye -- that which was once very important, became frivolous in the face of pure evil. In order to keep God's Church as non-effective as possible, Satan's number one objective is to divide God's Church into as many factions as possible. Therefore, we must not allow frivolous doctrinal differences to fracture God's Church. However, there are lines in the sand we must draw, such as "Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Him." But to fracture over which Bible translation you read, or when the rapture of the church will occur is just frivolous. We must become much wiser as to where we draw our lines in the sand. You can continue to preach what you believe, but please do not divide and fight over things which do not lead to death. There are eternal lives which hang in the balance. Titus 3:8-11: "This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. But shun foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned."
My heart was warmed once again as I saw the secular world's respect and appreciation for the efforts of the rescue workers as they placed their lives in jeopardy to save total strangers from certain death, and/or help them escape from the entangled web of debris. The world also showed their appreciation in a tangible way by fulfilling the rescue worker's financial needs. Pastors, teachers, and evangelists at one time also commanded great respect as they also put aside their worldly wants and desires in order to save total strangers from eternal death, i.e., the flames of hell. And yes some, actually many, not only lost their lives figuratively, but also physically.
And as with all rescue workers, as a minister myself, I can tell you with certainty that there is also an emotional aspect to our rescue work. Hell and eternal death to us is as real and hot as the fire which consumed the World Trade Towers, only the fire we seek to rescue people from has a ponderous eternal consequence. Oh, how we are grieved when we try to point people to the fire escape (Jesus) and they just ignore us and run directly into hell's eternal fire. Or how emotionally draining it is as we try to recuse someone from the entangled debris -- the web of Satan's deception with the truth of God's Word, but again they refuse to listen. Consequently, we are forced to watch their lives slowly drain away, languishing in the entangled web of Satan's deceptions. Brokenhearted and in tears, we know that we cannot force anyone to accept God's plan of salvation (Jesus) -- to be set free – to be born-again with God's Holy Spirit into His Kingdom.
It's likely that the world's selfless passion will fade away as the terrorists and temporal needs fade away; but what can our excuse be as Satan, the terrorist of all mankind, continues to kill, to destroy, and to hold his grip of hell and death over a myriad of souls through deception? How can we ever justify allowing our selfless passion to fade away? We must always guard our hearts from becoming apathetic and lukewarm, because if we don't, the advantage will go to Satan. Look at lives lost when the USA became lukewarm to the threats of terrorism from just man. God forbid if we, the Church -- God's Ambassador -- ever become lukewarm concerning the threat to an individual's eternal life from the author of terrorism, Satan. Think of the lives that could have been saved if God's Church would become the salt and light again. Think of the havoc we could have done to Satan's lies and deceptions which motivated the terrorists that hit the World Trade Towers.
Lord, please never let my passion become lukewarm for the eternal lives of mankind. But even as the world's passion needed a catalyst (seeing the World Trade Towers burning) to ignite their fleshly passion, I need a catalyst (a touch from You) to ignite the spiritual -- the eternal passion within my heart. Open my eyes to the reality of the eternal horrors which await the victims of the terrorist, Satan. And God forbid that it could ever be said again, "The sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light." Help me Lord to hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. In Jesus name, Amen!
From my heart to yours,
Raymond D. Sopp
All above Bible references are from The New American Standard Bible, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1977.
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