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The Plain Truth – January 1979
The Plain Truth – January 1979
Horrendous Mass Suicide

by Herbert W. Armstrong

Over nine hundred dead in Guyana. How to explain it? Never before such a ghastly, weird, unthinkable nightmare! What does it portend?

We have reached the time of frightening, NEVER-BEFORE happenings. How can we explain such world-shaking evils? In those more than 900 people was the first law of human nature – SELF-PRESERVATION. If in humans there is an instinct at all, it is that of self-preservation. God’s Word says, “no man ever yet hated his own flesh” (Eph. 5:29). How, then, explain a ritualistic “religious” ceremony, preceded by rehearsal drills, wherein parents fed the deadly cyanide potion to their children? Then as the children writhed in piercing agony, frothing in convulsions, unable to catch their breath, calmly administer the suicidal drink to themselves. UNTHINKABLE! How explain it? I will come to that. It is extremely important that we come to UNDERSTAND what this bizarre and shocking event, along with many other NEVER-BEFORE evils, portends – as a warning to a heedless and spiritually dying world! For civilization itself is dying!

Yet this is only one more of many world-shaking events literally rocking the earth FOR THE FIRST TIME! The time of NEVER-BEFORE evils is here.

We are experiencing the FIRST RUMBLINGS of the unprecedented “Great Tribulation.”

NEVER BEFORE were the governments of nations being overthrown at the approximate rate of one a month. God warned that in this end-time “I will shake all nations… and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms” (Haggai 2:7, 22).

Biblical prophecy says this will be followed by a worldwide earthquake such as NEVER BEFORE: “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great” (Rev. 16:18).

NEVER BEFORE was there a time when the weapons of MASS DESTRUCTION existed, capable of erasing all life from the planet Earth.

NEVER BEFORE was the very foundation of civilization – family and home life – crumbling down along with divorce, immorality, injustice, crime, corruption, violence, and repeated wars, all in a rumbling crescendo!

And yet, the worst is yet to come! These are but the first rumblings of the world-shaking GREAT TRIBULATION – the most catastrophic worldwide trouble ever to be experienced by human beings!

Prophecy of Doom? Emphatically Not!

The unprecedented worldwide earthquake will mark the time of the RESURRECTION of the saints of God in GLORY! They will meet the returning glorified and mighty Christ, coming as KING of kings, and LORD of lords, ruling over – and saving – ALL NATIONS!

Then will follow a thousand years of world PEACE, abundance, happiness and joy, and eternal life offered to ALL!

Two Vital Questions

Two supremely vital questions need now to be answered.

1) WHY, and HOW it could have been done, and 2) WHAT it portends – the WARNING it shouts to a deceived and dying world.

How could this cult leader Jim Jones have induced so many hundreds, against the strongest human instinct, to rehearse, then at his word, calmly and obediently kill their children and themselves? What could have motivated such a weird, revolting, bizarre tragedy – an unbelievable thing with no precedent known to man?

These people were not illiterate, totally uneducated savages. They probably could not have been led to such a horror.

The cult leader, James Warren Jones, was said to be a dynamic preacher, endowed with personality and charisma, somewhat flamboyant. He built the “Peoples Temple” in San Francisco, said to be the largest church congregation in California, during the late 1960s.

Jones, at various times, is reported to have called himself “God,” “Father,” and “The Rev. Jim Jones.” He was neither “reverend,” nor “God,” nor, in a religious sense, “Father.” He was 46, and professed to have raised more than 40 people from the dead.

He attended Indiana University, graduated from Butler University in Indianapolis, and attended Cleveland Bible College. He is said to have been ordained as a minister of the Disciples of Christ.

But he mixed in politics, too, as a stout advocate of civil rights. He had been pastor of a few smaller churches in the vicinity of Indianapolis.

He is reported to have been excessively sex minded, having mistresses, and inducing both female and male followers to submit to his violent sexual advances.

He attracted a multiracial following, with blacks dominating, and whites next. People began deeding their property over to him.

Jones knew the “Father Divine,” who claimed to be “God incarnate.” Jones is reported as saying he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and of Lenin, and claimed “Father Divine” had entered his soul.

Yet he built a big congregation in San Francisco. A major doctrine of his was his claim to be a faith healer. The public press has described details of many deliberately designed fake healings.

Victims in Right Minds?

So far as this incredible mass suicide horror is concerned, the BIG question is how can such a thing be explained?

No man can teach, influence, or induce 900 people to destroy themselves and their children together at that man’s command – not in THEIR NORMAL RIGHT MINDS!

I do not believe one man can hypnotize 900 people into such an unnatural act. I do not believe Jim Jones could have brainwashed so many people, acting together in unison, to commit such an unnatural weird act.

But what the public press of this world could not understand is the fact of the literal existence of Satan the devil, and his myriad demons. These are spirit beings with supernatural powers.

God’s Word says regarding them, in Ephesians 6, concerning the problems, troubles, disputes, and incidents we humans have to wrestle with: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood [humans], but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). The last phrase could be translated “wicked spirits in high places.” Notice the word “RULERS” of this world’s darkness, or EVILS.

This world seems to know nothing of demon possession. Jesus Christ gave His apostles power to cast out demons. In this world, law officials, doctors, psychologists, the public press, always pronounce such a case as insanity or some physical or mental problem. The problem is not PHYSICAL. It is SPIRITUAL – and there are evil and wicked spirits, as well as holy angels, and the Holy Spirit of God, the supreme power over all.

But consider again, the more than 900. This tragedy was not the hysterical act of one in a traumatic, frustrated situation. It was not the act of one frustrated with life, perhaps remorse, or fear of the law, seeking “a way out” – seeking to “end it all.” (Incidentally, death DOES NOT END IT ALL. Few know what happens at death, or the TRUTH of the life AFTER life!)

But what entered their minds must, of necessity, be responsible for what their minds directed to be fed into their mouths!

Jim Jones is reported to have been somewhat concerned with the false belief in “the transmigration of souls.” Sometimes this belief leads to expecting to appear, in the next life, in a far more desirable form.

Demons would naturally believe that DEATH is a “welcome friend.” Yet God reveals that death is an ENEMY, and, in fact, the last enemy that Christ shall destroy (I Cor. 15:26).

But consider death as a demon would view it. Satan is the most miserable, frustrated, unhappy being in existence – filled with resentment, bitterness, rebellion, hate. His demons share this attitude. And they KNOW they are immortal beings, composed of spirit so they CANNOT CHANGE, and are consigned to wander in outer darkness of space forever – suffering their self-imposed penalty of such a diabolical attitude. To a demon, DEATH would be a most welcome friend. The demoniac mind is perverted, twisted, warped.

Consider, in this light, an incident in the life of Jesus. He had just landed on the Galilee side of the Sea of Galilee and encountered a man possessed of a number of demons. When Jesus commanded the demons to come out, they begged to be allowed to enter a herd of swine feeding nearby. Entering the swine, the swine ran violently down the cliff to their deaths in the sea below.

Did not these demons, with distorted minds, think that if the swine which they possessed died, they would die also?

Is it possible that, with this man Jones dealing in magic or sorcery, as has been reported, he could have himself become demon possessed, and, under his influence, his followers could have opened their minds to demon possession? Jones himself is said to have undergone a total change in attitude and action in the last few years.

The Bible shows that Satan – or the individual he possesses – shall, in our living generation, produce signs and lying wonders, working with great power, deceiving the many (II Thess. 2:9). The individual referred to in the prophecy could not be Jim Jones, but perhaps Satan could perform this in more than one man, at different times, in these latter days.

What It Portends

Regardless of HOW it was brought about, it was a NEVER-BEFORE event that shocked the whole world. God did not cause it. But God did allow it, for it did happen.

Undoubtedly it is one of the NEVER-BEFORE world-shaking events giving those who will heed WARNING of what is to come – all these worldwide troubles and evils escalating until we find ourselves literally into the NEVER-BEFORE GREAT TRIBULATION, during which not a single human would be left alive EXCEPT Jesus Christ intervenes and cuts it short. Then Christ will take over the world RULE – with the supernatural RULE of the GOVERNMENT OF GOD bringing PEACE, JOY, and ETERNAL LIFE to this earth!

As the chosen apostle of the living Jesus Christ, I say to our readers, “GOD IS NOT NOW KIDDING! Take the warnings all around you lightly, and YOU will be taken in this NEVER BEFORE time of trouble, followed by the FURY of the WRATH OF GOD – followed in turn by the Utopian wonderful WORLD TOMORROW!”