THE PROPHETIC “WHAT NEXT?”
The Coming Persecution of the Church
By Paul M Hanssen
The year 2020 will go down in history as one of the most disruptive and perilous years of the modern day. Every living soul on planet earth has been affected in one way or another. The twenty plates of the planet are moving, causing earthquakes in divers places like never before. Storms and floods are increasing. Pestilences such as the recent plague of locusts to cover Africa and parts of Asia, not once but three times, are wreaking havoc. Food shortages and famine are predicted for parts of the earth. The financial markets have drastically fluctuated up and down like a yoyo causing economic uncertainty and fear. The COVID-19 virus swept the earth and has claimed, to date, over 500.000 lives globally; this number continues to rise daily. The virus has caused a permanent cultural change in the global society. Protests, murders, looting, destruction and lawlessness have spilled into the streets of our nation. Civil unrest is bringing the citizens of the land to a breaking point where many are predicting civil war. What else could go wrong? What awaits us?
Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (Matthew 24:3)
One day, while Jesus was alone with His disciples, they asked Him what signs would be given to show us that the end is near and at what time He would come again. The response they received could not have been imagined or comprehended in the day Jesus answered their question. However, today, as the words of Jesus are coming to pass before our eyes, it behooves us to pay attention to the sequence of prophetic events transpiring before us.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:4-8)
The first portion of Jesus’ prophetic response corresponds to the four horsemen seen by John in his revelation and the breaking of the first four of the seven seals. The four horses and horsemen are seen in Revelation chapter six, verses one to eight.
Revelation 6:1-8 Matthew 24:5-7
• WHITE HORSE > DECEPTION (The rider of the white imitates Jesus. Jesus also
rides a white horse. This is the anti-Christ spirit of deception riding through the earth. Jesus rides His white horse and carries a sword. The rider of the white horse carries a bow. He goes forth to conquer with arrows of deception)
• RED HORSE> WAR, RUMORS OF WAR, NATION AGAINST NATION
• BLACK HOUSE> FAMINE
• PALE HORSE> DEATH, PESTILENCES, DISEASES
Jesus said, “All these are the beginning of sorrows”. I believe we have entered the season of the beginning of sorrows. What we are witnessing before us is not the end, but it is the beginning of the end. The earth is experiencing all of the above woes during this time and season. Deception, wars, famines, pestilences, plagues, diseases, and death will only increase from this point forward. Society as we have known it will never be seen again. We have entered the beginning of sorrows.
So, what is next? What can we, as believers, expect from this point going forward?
After the introduction to the beginning of sorrows, Jesus continued His prophecy, informing His disciples of what is to be expected next on the prophetic calendar after the beginning of sorrows has been initiated.
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13)
The next thing on the agenda is the persecution of the church. Hate towards believers who stand for the principles of Truth and the Name of Jesus will rise. This will lead to God’s people being afflicted with all manner of legal pressures, financial burdens, persecution, tribulations, and troubles. The church should both expect and be prepared for extreme opposition, not only from society at large but from governing powers. Tolerance toward a person’s right to believe in God and worship according to religious convictions will no longer exist. Those standing for Biblical principles and moral standards will be regarded as offensive. If pastors dare proclaim the purity of God’s Word from their pulpits, they will be seen as spreaders of hate and as proclaimers of hate speech.
In the midst of the uprising in opposition against the true church, false prophets will arise, wolves in sheep clothing, and many will be deceived and will be led astray. Iniquity, which is lawlessness, will increase. The love for God and His Truth that once blazed like a fire will become like a cold, dead coal. The false church will adapt to and adopt the ways of the “new norm” for the sake of being politically correct, while at the same time trying to avoid persecution.
I foresee in the near future, groups of sincere believers meeting in homes rather than in public buildings, halls, or churches. Worshipping in secret will become the new norm for those who refuse to abandon the Truth and who refuse to allow their love for God to wax cold. When socialism and communism took hold in Russia in 1917, and in China in 1949, Christians were considered enemies of the state. History is going to be repeated in the United States of America.
Interestingly enough, when the fifth seal was opened, the voices of those slain for their testimony and for their stand for the Word of God were heard in heaven.
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Revelation 6:9-11)
The opening of the fifth seal corresponds with the second part of the prophecy given by Jesus in Matthew twenty-four.
I foresee that the persecution of the church is also going to bring about the final and last outpouring of the Holy Ghost. This will be when the former and latter rain falls simultaneously. This final move of God’s Spirit will be mighty and glorious for those who welcome it.
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. (Joel 2:23)
The former rain was given at the seed-sowing season, whereas the latter rain was given at harvest to ripen the crops. God is going to send both of the rains at once because the final move of God is not going to be a lengthy period of revival. This time of the outpouring of the Spirit will be short-lived and will both prepare the ground for the seed of God’s Word to be planted and will at the same time ripen the harvest for gathering.
During this time of rain, God’s Spirit will be poured out on all flesh. Many have interpreted this to mean a massive revival and millions of people responding to the outpouring. However, although there will be an awakening and a positive and powerful reaction to the outpouring of the former and latter rain, there will also be a negative response to the “rain”. The same outpouring will soften some hearts but it will harden others. When the sun rises on a pound of butter, the butter melts; but when the sun rises on a pound of clay, the clay hardens. The reaction to the sun depends on the nature of that which the rays of the sun are touching. The same will happen with the end-time outpouring of the former and latter rain. Life and growth will be the effect upon those receptive and open to the move of God. However, death and destruction will be the effect upon those who oppose God and His Spirit. Jesus said in Matthew chapter five that He causes the sun to rise upon the evil and upon the good, and He causes the rain to fall upon the just and unjust – a Bible study for another time.
The purpose of this article is not to invoke fear but rather to cause sincere hearts to come to an awareness of the times ahead of us. The church must prepare itself for the coming persecution. However, it must also prepare itself to receive the final move of God. I do not believe that we can look back on past revivals with an expectancy of the same thing happening again. The final move of God will be very different than what we have ever imagined. He that has an ear to hear let him hear!