Article

The Snare of an Evil Time

Michael Beck Michael Beck

“For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” (Ecclesiastes 9:12)

No man dictates what day he will live in. While each individual day has its own peculiar troubles, the scripture speaks of a specific “evil time” or “evil day” (Ephesians 6:13). Just such an evil time has fallen suddenly upon us. It is a prophesied day of “gross darkness” and abounding iniquity. (Isaiah 60:2; Matthew 24:12) Men are “lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:4). The Bible accurately predicted the type of man who would live in our day: “Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2 Timothy 3:2-5) Such men have arrived in the dangerous and evil day that we now live in.

The flood waters of ungodliness have risen dramatically in the past generation.

Those dead to spiritual realities and dedicated to continue in sin, wish to see no correlation between an increasingly selfish, violent, calloused populace and the worship of eros. But God’s warning to Israel applies to every nation and time: “Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.” (Leviticus 19:29) By encouraging the spirit of harlotry and making merchandise of our daughters, our land has become “full of wickedness” and is on the precipice of complete moral collapse.

The flood waters of ungodliness have risen dramatically in the past generation. David spoke of “floods of ungodly men …” (Psalm 18:4) When harlotry is promoted in a society, there is an increase of men who will not be faithful to their wives, to their children or to God. “A whore … increaseth the transgressors among men.” (Proverbs 23:27, 28) Such men, whose chief commitment is to their own lusts, never rightly care for the society they live in. It is this multiplication of godless men given over to the spirit of fornication that is fueling our cultural depravity. “When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth …” (Proverbs 29:16) By our casual disregard of God’s law and our arrogant assumption that we can instinctually order our own lives without Him, we have flung open floodgates of evil and corruption into our hearts, homes and society.

While believers in many countries around the world still face the fiery trial of persecution, believers in the West face the equally fiery trial of abounding iniquity.

But “when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19) Despite the spreading darkness, this is my Father’s world! As the hymn of that name declares, “Though the wrong seems often strong, God is the ruler yet.” What could God have to do with the plague of pornography that is now rampant through the land? While we confidently assert that God is not the author of such evil, and indeed would rather keep us from it, we err if we do not understand the purposes of God in allowing such evil to grow.

God is surely at work even in an evil time. Who can dispute that the early church thrived when it faced the fires of persecution, but languished when those fires ceased? The stake became the proving ground for the first Christians. It produced a sharp divide between those who professed the faith and those who possessed it. God allows fiery trials to test every profession of faith. Where there is an increase in transgressors there is created a refiners fire for the community of God. While believers in many countries around the world still face the fiery trial of persecution, believers in the West face the equally fiery trial of abounding iniquity. Apostasy is always an option for those facing persecution. But the spirit of fornication in our midst is equally capable of causing a falling away from the faith. “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12) The love of many indeed has grown cold. Daily the count grows of those who have broken their vows and gone to sleep in the arms of Delilah, only to wake up powerless slaves of lust.

We are steadily moving toward the final act of our age.

Beyond wars and rumors of war; beyond the increasing incidence of earthquakes, tempests, famine and strange plagues throughout the world, “abounding iniquity” and apostasy are sure signs of the times. We are steadily moving toward the final act of our age. The stage is being set for the Man of Lawlessness, or the Antichrist, to appear. The “mystery of lawlessness” has been carefully working in the world to prepare the masses for One who will embody their aspirations. Concurrent with the spirit of abounding lawlessness in the world will be an apostasy from the true worship of God among those who profess to know Him. Many who have at one time loved God will grow cold through compromise.

Yet, Jesus declared that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church. God is sifting the chaff from the wheat in this day. He is using the scourge of sexual idolatry to prove His people. It is a day “that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble.” (Malachi 4:1) Fiery trials has always been God’s means to prove His servants. The explosive and pervasive turn in our society and culture to gross immorality and sensuality is an “oven” allowed by God to try the hearts of His own people. What will be the result of such a fiery trial? “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” (Malachi 3:18)

God uses even Satan as a tool of testing His people.

Although we acknowledge that God Himself tempts no man; we know little of the ways of God if we do not understand that God uses even Satan as a tool of testing His people. Who allowed the serpent into the garden? Who led Jesus into the wilderness and for what purpose? “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” (Matthew 4:1) Many times in sacred history do we read that God conducted such tests in order to “know” what was in the heart. We read of godly Hezekiah, “He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.” (2 Kings 18:5) “Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” (2 Chronicles 32:31) God likewise wished to “prove” Israel, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” (Deuteronomy 8:2) God even allowed false prophets to work miracles in the midst of Israel to prove them. “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

God is interested in nothing less than our true state being accurately measured.

The Lord has no need to prove the heart of the wicked. He knows already: “… the heart of the wicked is little worth.” (Proverbs 10:20) But the Lord uses fiery trials to try the hearts of the righteous. Psalm 11:5 says, “The LORD trieth the righteous …” God does not look on the outward appearance like man, He looks upon the heart. “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins …” (Jeremiah 17: 10) The “reins” spoken of here and in numerous verses refers to the kidneys. The kidney was known to be the most hidden of all the internal organs in the sacrificial animals. God sees what men do not see. Jeremiah declared, “But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart …” (Jeremiah 20:12) Man is too apt to deceive himself concerning where he stands; God is interested in nothing less than our true state being accurately measured. “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.” (Proverbs 16:2) The investigation of God takes place through trials. As a result of these tests the heart and reins of men are declared and God has knowledge so certain that it can be recorded in books that will one day be opened before all.

God sends proving tests to His people. God proved Abraham through testing: “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham …” When Abraham passed the test the Lord said, “… now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. (Genesis 22:1,12) God proved Job through calamity. Job’s friends erred in not understanding that God allows fiery trial to try the righteous. Job however declared: “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) When one season of testing was over for Jeremiah he said, “But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee” (Jeremiah 12:3)

The trial that the church of Jesus Christ faces today has a clear precedent in scripture.

The trial that the church of Jesus Christ faces today has a clear precedent in scripture. The holy nation of Israel was called by God to become a nation which worshipped Him. If Israel did not remain committed to and fulfill that objective they would certainly be overwhelmed by the lasciviousness of their idolatrous neighbors. God had a clear plan to establish them as a people of worship. He warned them what would happen to them if they did not precisely follow that plan. Both they and particularly their sons and daughters would be left a snare which He would use to prove them.

What we see today throughout the world and particularly in the West is the laying of a wide and successful snare. Our spouses, our children, our brothers and sisters are falling into it at an alarming rate. The powerful seductions of harlotry have become so commonplace in our time that the man who does not become a fornicator, first in mind, then in body, is rare. What must we do to avoid being taken in this snare? The answer is clear: “And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.” (Ecclesiastes 7:26)

Like never before, men and women in this day will have to learn what it means to truly please God. God did not create us to first please ourselves. He created us first for His pleasure. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) Giving God glory, honor and power is the essence of true worship and giving God true worship, above all else, brings Him pleasure.

When a man is saved he is delivered from sin; when a man is established in worship he is secured from sin.

Entrapment in pornography is made possible because one is not established in true worship. When a man is saved he is delivered from sin; when a man is established in worship he is secured from sin. God was after far more in Israel than declaring His power at the Red Sea; He delivered them from Egypt in order to bring them into Canaan and transform them into a people who would worship Him. Today, God still is seeking for a people who will worship Him truly. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” (John 4:23)

Those who have learned to truly worship their God will not bow down to their own desires; they will not give their minds, eyes, or bodies to idolatry. They alone will escape the snare of the evil time that is upon us.


Michael Beck is a pastor in New York City and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.