faith · life

see, i have told you beforehand

I am not an avid reader, watcher or listener of the news.  While I am usually aware of current events, I find it difficult to devote much time to reading what are more often than not depressing accounts.

I am not confrontational by nature; I do not wish to start any arguments, but it’s quite impossible to ignore the state of the world in which we live. The recent events in Dallas, and now Nice, the ongoing terrorism, and the general mayhem of the world weighs heavy on my mind at times.  (Edit as I write: coup in Turkey, shootings in Louisiana…I cannot even complete a post before there is more tragedy.) Beyond the violence, there is what appears to be a general lack of common sense or decency. A confusing acceptance of what would, at one time, be unthinkable; conversely, convictions that were once considered admirable are now intolerable to those very ones who claim to be accepting of all.

This old world seems to be spinning out of control.  It would not be difficult to be brought low by these things, to worry and fret over the future for ourselves, our children and grandchildren.  It would be easy to continue on with daily living and pretend that peace is on the horizon, that nothing is out of the ordinary. On the flip side, I can be reminded that God knows what’s happening around us and He has even told us to be aware of these things as they will be a sign to us.  Again, I’m not wanting to start a debate on end times if you’re a Christian, or even whether Bible prophecy is true, if you are not.  I am not a Bible teacher, just a student of His Word.  I realize there has been speculation on the return of Christ for a very long time.  I understand that it may still be in the very distant future.  The point is: it is written in His book that these attitudes will prevail and are to be an indicator to us.

I had been thinking on these things as the events of the week unfolded.  I’d had a couple of conversations, then this past Sunday morning the message was taken from Matthew 24.  (Another edit as I write:  this Sunday (sometimes I’m a veerrryyy slow writer), with a different pastor, the message was taken from the same events as presented by Luke in chapter 21.  It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord works all these things together.)  It would be beneficial to get out your Bible (or Bible App)  and read the whole passage, but for the sake of time and space I’ve shared verses 3-14, 21-25, 27, 32, 33, 44-46.

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.
For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come…
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.
For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
See, I have told you beforehand…
For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be…
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.
So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!…
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?
Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.

Wars and rumours of war, nations (peoples) rising up against nations…check.  Conflict in various forms and degrees is rampant across the globe.
Famine, pestilence and earthquakes…check, check and check. Even with the world rallying around third world nations, there is starvation.  Many natural disasters plague the world: drought, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, the list goes on.
You will be hated by all nations…check.  Christians face opposition (even in the “free world”), persecution, and sometimes even death, on all fronts.
Many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another…check all.  Lobbyists vie for the rights of special interest groups, even at the expense of the rights of others, creating offence and animosity.  In spite of all the efforts and even progress in past years of breaking down racial barriers, freedom of religion, and rallying together for the common good, we have now regressed in far too many ways.  Hate is unveiled, inciting all manner of riotous acts.
False prophets will rise up and deceive many…check. We are led astray by many:  false teachers, talk show hosts, world leaders, powerful ones, famous ones, intelligent ones and so on. Their smooth talk, charisma, and intellect are convincing.
Lawlessness will abound, love of many will grow cold…check.  We have become so calloused, so desensitized, we cannot even comprehend our folly.

I’m sure a hundred years ago, even fifty years, twenty years ago, people could not imagine society plummeting to the depths it had, could not imagine it getting much worse. Yet Jesus said there will be scoffers, people will follow every sinful desire, (2 Peter 3:3), will be lovers of themselves, of money and all kinds of immorality (2 Timothy 3:2).  He tells us:

“See, I have told you beforehand.”

Jesus warned us of the coming age.  But He gave us hope as well.

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.  So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

He will return! He is coming again!  John 14:1-3 says,“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” He will come with trumpet sound as told in Matthew 24:31, “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”  Again in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”  He’s promised that He will be returning for His children!  This is fantastic news!

The not-so-good news, in fact the very bad news, is that judgement will also come for those who have not believed on the Lord Jesus.  When we see these signs (read also 2 Peter 3 and 2 Timothy 3), it should create an urgency for us as His people to share the Good News. Thank God He is patient. He has held back His return.  He has continued to give this world  opportunity to turn to Him–for now: “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.” (2 Peter 3:9) A day will come, however, when it will be too late.

I don’t claim to understand the timelines, all facets, or the full implications of these prophesies.  I have some ideas, but much of it is a mystery to me and that’s ok.  Whatever the details may be, the outcome is the same: Christ will return. This is His promise. As the budding of the fig tree tells us summer is near, these signs tell us that we can expect Him to fulfill that promise of His return.(Matthew 24:32,33)  We don’t know when exactly, but we are told to be ready, busy doing the work He has given us.

See, I have told you beforehand

Am I busy at my Father’s work, a faithful servant?

 

 

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