DRUGS — the dominant curse of the latter days of this age!

Photo by Colin Davis on Unsplash

“ . . . . thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived,” Revelation 18:23.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime issued a report in 2023 on the subject of drugs.

Here are some extracts from that report.

“New data put the global estimate of people who inject drugs in 2021 at 13.2 million, 18 per cent higher than previously estimated. Globally, over 296 million people used drugs in 2021, an increase of 23 per cent over the previous decade. The number of people who suffer from drug use disorders, meanwhile, has skyrocketed to 39.5 million, a 45 per cent increase over 10 years.

The Report features a special chapter on drug trafficking and crimes that affect the environment in the Amazon Basin, as well as sections on clinical trials involving psychedelics and medical use of cannabis; drug use in humanitarian settings; innovations in drug treatment and other services; and drugs and conflict.

The World Drug Report 2023 also highlights how social and economic inequalities drive – and are driven by – drug challenges; the environmental devastation and human rights abuses caused by illicit drug economies; and the rising dominance of synthetic drugs.

The demand for treating drug-related disorders remains largely unmet, according to the report. Only one in five people suffering from drug-related disorders were in treatment for drug use in 2021, with widening disparities in access to treatment across regions.

Illicit drug economies (are) accelerating conflicts, human rights abuses, and environmental devastation.

The drug economy in the Amazon Basin is exacerbating additional criminal activities – such as illegal logging, illegal mining, illegal land occupation, wildlife trafficking and more – damaging the environment of the world’s largest rainforest. Indigenous peoples and other minorities are suffering the consequences of this crime convergence, including displacement, mercury poisoning, and exposure to violence, among others. Environmental defenders are sometimes specifically targeted by traffickers and armed groups.

While the war in Ukraine has displaced traditional cocaine and heroin routes, there are signs that the conflict could trigger an expansion of the manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs, given the existing know-how and the large markets for synthetic drugs developing in the region.

In the Sahel, (hot semi-arid climate that stretches across the southernmost latitudes of North Africa – Editor) the illicit drug trade finances non-state armed and insurgency groups, while in Haiti, drug traffickers take advantage of porous borders to bolster their businesses, fuellSing the country’s multiplying crises.”

Long before men realised the growing curse that drug addiction was becoming, the Lord told us that such substance abuse would become an ‘industry’ in the last days, the means of deceiving and blinding the inhabitants of the earth to the eternal truth of God and the everlasting damnation that the rejection of the gospel will bring.

In our text above we have mention made of ‘merchants’, ‘great men’, ‘sorceries’ and ‘deception’.

Please note that:


The Greek word translated ‘sorceries’ is ‘pharmakeia’. It can be readily seen that it is the basis of our English word ‘pharmacist’ or ‘pharmacy’. The pharmacist is a person qualified and authorised to dispense legal drugs.

Today there is an industry built around the distributing of ‘illegal’ drugs. A UN report some 26 years ago stated: ‘With estimates of $100 billion to $110 billion for heroin, $110 billion to $130 billion for cocaine, $75 billion for cannabis and $60 billion for synthetic drugs, the probable global figure for the total illicit drug industry would be approximately $360 billion. Given the conservative bias in some of the estimates for individual substances, a turnover of around $400 billion per annum is considered realistic.’

One can imagine how those figures may be multiplied many times over today! There is a website which gives the ever increasing amount spent on drugs. It may be found here.

Every city, town and village has this ‘industry’ functioning. Children are used in its distribution networks. Sophisticated and innovative methods are used to circulate its evil product. South American drug-smugglers have been known to use submarines to try to escape detection, as they seek to land large cargos of drugs on foreign shores. The most violent and cruel crimes are carried out in order to promote this devilish trade. The use of the these narcotics involves the highest in the ranks of parliamentarians, business men, royalty, clerics and those that are considered the ‘dregs of society’, reduced to such by their addictive, degrading habit!

A very common and often replicated headline from Saturday 27th April, which sets forth the plague that drugs have become.  Neighbours of historic Shakespeare family cottage say county lines drug dealers have transformed village into ‘hell’ 

1. Our text speaks of ‘deception’. What deception is entailed in drug-taking! It is sold as the ‘panacea’ by which all of life’s trials and troubles can be removed! No greater lie could be promoted. The streets and gutters, the hospitals and asylums and the mental clinics of the world testify to that fact!

And, strange to relate, despite the abundant evidence of the dreadful woes that follow drug addiction, every year sees the numbers embracing such a destructive habit increase!

2. Our verse also speaks of ‘great men’ being involved in this trade. The word means ‘magnets’. The word appears three times in the New Testament.

“And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords (our word), high captains, and chief estates of Galilee,” Mark 6:21.

“And the kings of the earth, and the great men (our word) , and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains,” Revelation 6:15.

And of course our text.

“And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived,” Revelation 18:23.

3. We can deem the character of these ‘great men’ by their company. They are amongst the courtiers of Herod, the murderer of John the Baptist. They are numbered amongst the armies of Antichrist, damned at the returning in glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Read Revelation 6:15-17.

And in our text they are those who were the mainstay of the Antichrist’s commercial enterprises by which his dominion was upheld and supported.

These verses from Revelation 18 show that to be so.

“The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth,” verses 15-24.

What an awful fate awaits those who were allied to Antichrist and were the lynchpin of his commercial activities. Utter physical and eternal damnation is what awaits those engaged in this evil trade we see being nurtured and established around us today.

4. We must also take note of the fact that the evil system, which lies behind today’s illegal drug trade, has long been guilty of hatred toward God and His people! “And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth,” Revelation 18:24. What we are witnessing today is no new things but rather the latest, and I think we can say, the ultimate enterprise of the devil, who is the mastermind of sin and rebellion!

As the armaments of the armies of the world have changed with the advancing of technology, even so the devil has developed his strategies to keep up with changing times. From the days of the sword, the spear, the arrow and the stake, he has moved on to the manufacture of synthetic drugs and their resulting promotion of robberies, murders and manifold miseries which today increasingly plight every society today upon the face of the earth.

That plight will but increase until the intervention of Christ at His return.


“ . . . by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.”

1. The word translated ‘nations’ is chiefly translated ‘Gentiles’ in the NewTestament. That term is set over against that people who know and love the Lord. The word appears in Matthew 20:19 and is a reference to the Roman soldiers who crucified the Saviour. “And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.”

2. This deception of the devil, wrought through the ‘industry’ of drug distribution, will impact upon all the nations of men unacquainted with the truth of God. This is not so surprising since the devil has ever been able to ensnare men “at his will,” 2 Timothy 2:26. False doctrine, false gods and now drugs have been but the ‘snares’ of the devil.

His success is emphasised by John the apostle. “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness,” 1 John 5:19. Or as the final phrase has been literally translated, ‘lieth in the arms of the wicked one’.

3. Men are ‘cosy’ in their sin, reclining like contented babes in the arms of the sinful indulgences of the flesh. It takes the power of God, working enlightenment of mind and soul to the dangers that follow sin, to arouse the sinner to “flee from the wrath to come.”

Paul said of his own experience: “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died,” Romans 7:9. What he is saying is that he once considered himself alive until he was awakened and alarmed by the law of God and the perfect holiness it reveals and his sinfulness rose up before him and he realised how wicked he really was. As a result he saw himself as one spiritually dead to God!

As a commentator puts it: “It must mean, therefore, that he had a certain kind of peace; he deemed himself secure; he was free from the convictions of conscience and the agitations of alarm. . . .  he deemed himself to be righteous, depending on his own works, and esteeming himself to be blameless. . . . At that time, though he had the law, and was attempting to obey it, yet he was unacquainted with its spiritual and holy nature.”

When the law is applied by God’s Holy Spirit to the heart of sinners, they feel the power of their own depravity and  realise that they are but as spiritual corpses before God!


This something the Scriptures often repeat. Paul said to the Thessalonian church: “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness,” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5.

1. As drugs tend to render the one who takes them comatose, so the devil works the same upon the hearts and mind of those who reject the Holy Scripture and swallow instead the devil’s lie. The thief who steals in under darkness to rob, is how unexpected by men will be the return of Christ. The ‘alarm bell’ of God’s Word has been ringing since earliest times warning of this event, but man remains unaware of it. The events which will occur at and follow Christ’s return have been spoken of by ALL of God’s prophets! “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began,” Acts 3:21.

And yet, great ignorance and deception still surrounds this vital subject, even amongst many believers!

2. What a dreadful awakening lies ahead of those so deluded. I have often read of the death of the ‘rich man’ in Luke 16 and thought of the horrifyingly deep confusion and distress of that man as he finds himself in hell, having likely comforted himself that he was on his way to paradise! “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments,” Luke 16:23.

I have pondered with sorrow these words as I have heard of the news of the death of some notable person and the comments of friends regarding his ‘looking down from heaven’, when the very opposite was undoubtedly the truth.

Dear reader,

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing pow’r?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Only by the washing in the Saviour’s blood can our sins be forgiven and cleansed away for He alone is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” John 1:29.

3. There is a day soon approaching when the gentle Lamb will return in terrible wrath. “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:15-17.

The ‘great day of His wrath’! What a day that will be! Though it is far from the thoughts of mankind, yet it will ‘come’!

Please consider how the men spoken of in these verses above knew of that day and yet they were numbered amongst the armies supporting and fighting for  Antichrist. I believe I am right in saying that there is no man who is utterly ignorant of a coming day of retribution from God. We may not know the date but I believe that even those without a Bible are informed by their conscience that “every one of us shall give account of himself to God,” Romans 14:12.

May it please God to use these words to arouse you sinner and point you to Christ for salvation.

Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
Monday 29th April 2024