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Forerunner, "Prophecy Watch," August 1999

Recently, the media has generated a tremendous amount of news about a self-inflicted computer programming problem called Y2K. In the not-so-distant past, many computers were programmed to use only the last two digits in dates. For instance, computers saved January 17, 1978, as 01-17-78, assuming the century to be the 1900s. These computers, then, still assuming it is the 20th century, read dates for January 1, 2000, and beyond as 1900, 1901, 1902, etc.

Not only are personal computers susceptible to the Y2K computer bug, but also corporate and governmental mainframe computers. This, according to some computer experts, may cause the modern business world to collapse. Others believe society will receive the equivalent of a bad storm, and many declare that we will notice mere glitches. There are as many opinions about the impact of Y2K as there are computers. As with any abnormal situation, varying degrees of believers and scoffers forecast widely differing scenarios.

Almost 6000 years ago, God created in human beings the most powerful organic mainframe computer physically possible—the human brain. Man will never duplicate its awesome power to think, reason, analyze and decide. About ten years ago computer scientists estimated that for man to build a computer as powerful as the human brain, they would need a room the size of Texas. Considering recent giant leaps forward in technology and miniaturization, it is fair to say that man could now reduce the size of that original estimate. However, no matter how far man reduces his computers in size, he will never have the ability to put into any computer the spirit God has put in man (I Corinthians 2:11; Job 32:8).

Out of all the multiple billions of people that have lived on this planet, only a select few have had the greatest and most powerful program downloaded into their minds—God's program of eternal life (I Corinthians 2:9-10). For those who are already the dead in Christ, their program has already achieved spiritual compliance. Their memories have been safety buffered, awaiting the final command from God to rise up for eternal life. But for the rest of us, our programs are still running, completing all the vital subroutines before the predetermined time set by the Creator runs out.

However, the Documentation reveals that half of these spiritual computers have a serious problem. They have so many other programs running that God's runs very slowly or not at all on their clogged "machines"—to the point that they have gone into "sleep mode." God classifies them as "the five foolish virgins" (Matthew 25:1-13). If time runs out before His people complete the program, they are faced with a very serious problem: the Great Tribulation!

Could the Y2K bug with which humanity is so preoccupied have been inspired by Satan so that God's elect would be sidetracked and thus miss seeing a far more serious problem—spiritual Y2K, that is, You-2-the-Kingdom? A very real and present danger faces those who are not making their spiritual computers Y2K compliant for Christ's return.

The Virgins and the Laodicean

Compliance to God's will is a real job in itself, and if that is not bad enough, most of the end-time "machines" are documented to be infected with a most deadly Satanic virus—Laodiceanism. This virus has traveled through the church for millennia, many times lying dormant for years in its host, waiting for the best time to strike, often when the spiritual immune system is low.

Spiritually, a virgin is one who has not defiled herself with the religions of this world. A foolish virgin, as defined by Christ in Matthew 7:26-27, is still a spiritual virgin, but her foundation is very weak. She has no oil in her lamp (Matthew 25:3, 8-12) and lacks the proper relationship with Christ.

Only by God's grace and Christ's sacrifice have we been made worthy to be called God's children, and we have not yet been changed or inherited His Kingdom (I Corinthians 15:50). Revelation 14:4 makes it very clear who will enter the Kingdom:

These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

If we are not careful, our sins and lack of faith, commitment and zeal can ultimately keep us from being protected in the Tribulation.

Thankfully, we have a God of mercy, who gives us time to straighten our lives and priorities until they conform to His will. II Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."

Some of us in the scattered church of God, however, are earning the final title of "foolish virgin." We are all suffering, to one degree or another, from Laodiceanism. As individuals, we must now regain the title of Philadelphian—a spiritual condition of the heart, not the name of a corporate church—that will make us worthy to be protected from the Tribulation (Revelation 3:10).

The foundation is the teachings of the law and the prophets with Jesus Christ as the main cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). He is the living Word, the lamp of the Bible. In many, the foundation is weak because God's Spirit, which enables them to fully understand the scriptures, is lacking. Building a strong foundation without God's Spirit is like trying to use a computer when the power is out.

Many Foundations to Collapse

As Christ's return approaches, half of those foundations will crumble. Matthew 25:1-4 shows all the virgins have the same beliefs, represented by the lamps they carry with them. The lamps represent the Word, the laws and the statutes of God. Five of the virgins are foolish and five are wise, showing that the end-time church is composed of two types of members. The foolish have the Word of God but lack a sufficient level of His Holy Spirit, which opens the converted mind to understand and live God's way of life. The wise are actively using God's Spirit to enhance their understanding and have sufficient amounts of it to last them.

Verse 5 continues, "But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept." They all—both wise and foolish—nodded off for a while. The wise, too, let down in their spiritual energies.

"And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!'" (verse 6). At a time the virgins least expect it, a call goes out, requiring them to meet Christ, but again, both wise and foolish lack vigilance to watch diligently for His return. They had some good works, but they lacked the faith to believe that time was short and urgent. Half were not even working hard enough at overcoming to put fresh oil in their lamps.

"Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps" (verse 7). A lamp is trimmed when the wick is turned either up or down to regulate the amount of flame. If a lamp is empty of oil, it does not matter how much one trims it—the lamp will go out when the oil is consumed.

Apparently, when events make it obvious Christ's return is immediate, the whole church wakes up in surprise. Its members get out their Bibles to find the answer to where Christ is waiting for them, but with the oil of the Holy Spirit producing only a dim light, they lack the spiritual insight to find Him. It is as though the foolish virgins are stumbling around in the dark trying to understand the Word of God, but they cannot.

At this point, the foolish are in a state of panic; they realize they cannot understand and do not have the faith to believe. They ask the wise for help in understanding:

And the foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." But the wise answered, saying, "No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves" (verse 8-9).

It is impossible to transfer God's Spirit, or understanding, or zeal from person to person. The only source for the Holy Spirit is God.

Gold, Garments and Salve

In Revelation 3:17-21, Jesus tells the Laodiceans to buy certain items from Him to become worthy:

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—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. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. 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. 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.

The three items—gold, garments and eye salve—represent character or faith honed by trial (I Corinthians 3:12-13; I Peter 1:7); righteous acts (Revelation 19:8); and God's Spirit that gives divine insight into the things of God (I Corinthians 2:10-16). Like the foolish virgins, the Laodiceans' inventory of spiritual possessions is sparse, and they need to remedy this situation immediately in an attitude of zeal and repentance.

While the foolish are busy trying to get their spiritual lives in order at the last minute, Christ comes to take the wise, and the doors to the marriage feast are shut (Matthew 25:10-13). Only those virgins who have a regular supply of oil and combine it with the lamp of God, the Bible, can hear the true voice of their Shepherd calling to them through His true ministers, including the Two Witnesses. The foolish virgins, representing many ministers too, will at first scoff at these two men and ignore their warnings. But when the Two Witnesses begin performing miracles, the foolish virgins will start to wake from their deep sleep; they will begin to repent and ask God for His Spirit.

God the Father has the authority and Jesus Christ has paid the price to enable us to have oil in our vessels. Everyone called by God must pay a price, obedience to God, to receive His Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32). This means we must repent and overcome sin on a daily basis. Paul expands on what this entails in Romans 12:1-2:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Before baptism, each of us should have seriously considered the consequences of the spiritual contract God offered us. We sincerely repented of our sinful way of life and were baptized, entering into the New Covenant, a spiritual agreement with God signed by the blood of Christ. God then gave us a small portion of His Spirit to start our new life and journey of sanctification into the spiritual wilderness.

Like physical Israel, we each have a long journey to the Promised Land. If we fail to walk with God daily—through prayer to God and study of His Word through His Spirit—then the outcome of our journey will be the same as ancient Israel's: They died in the wilderness, never reaching the goal. Spiritually, the foolish virgins are on the verge of a similar end.

"Not One Stone"

In Matthew 24:1-2, Jesus gives another indication of just how bad the foundation of the spiritual Temple will be just before His second coming:

Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came to him to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

The disciples did not understand the full meaning of what Christ says in these verses. Though it is true that Roman armies would tear down the physical Temple before them in less than 40 years, Jesus' main concern was for His spiritual Temple, the church of God. Scripture often uses the Temple in Jerusalem as a type of God's church (I Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21).

In I Peter 2:5, the apostle describes us as individual stones that make up the end-time church. We are each a support system to one another, working together to hold the Temple together: "You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." We each have a part to play in making the church strong in preparation for Christ's return. We will accomplish this if we each have a strong relationship individually with God.

Man's Solution or God's?

As we rapidly approach the year 2000, it is increasingly evident from daily news and government reports that the main infrastructure of the United States will not be completely Y2K compliant in time—and the rest of the world is even worse off. Man's solution to this self-inflicted problem is either ignore it or to store up food, water and money. From what we have learned from the experts about the possible ramifications of Y2K, it would be foolish in human terms not to prepare in a mature and balanced manner.

Notice Jesus' admonition in Matthew 6:31-34:

Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

We should ask ourselves a far more serious question than what to do about this physical Y2K problem: Does Jesus Christ want us to be more concerned about our physical wellbeing or our spiritual wellbeing? Are we making our spiritual computer compliant by overcoming spiritual bugs and viruses and by storing up spiritual food, the golden oil of God, and the Bread of life?

Matthew 7 tells of the foolish person who built his house on the sand. That house is the human mind. In Matthew 24:42-43 Jesus warns:

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

A converted person who does not watch the signs of the times is not looking after his spiritual house. Christ will return for His people as unexpectedly as a cat burglar appears in a home, and if we are not alert and prepared for His arrival, we may well miss it! Thus He says, "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him" (verse 44). When we least expect something, our guard is usually down, so we have to keep it up all the time!

The impact of the Y2K computer problem is insignificant compared with the spiritual You-2-the-Kingdom compliance we must be working toward. It is far more important that we have lamps full of the oil of the Holy Spirit than our houses full of material possessions. Matthew 6:19-21 says:

Do not lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Yes, we should make reasonable preparations for any disaster or unemployment that may come our way. If we do our part to provide for our families, God has promised to see us through the ups and downs in our lives. But of far greater importance is being prepared for the spiritual deadline of Christ's return.

Will you be spiritually Y2K compliant in time?

© 1999 Church of the Great God
PO Box 471846
Charlotte, NC  28247-1846
(803) 802-7075

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