There are many thoughts and observations that have been swirling around in my head these days. Actually, I have been pondering and researching for the past few years more diligently than ever. If it were just me and my thinking I don’t know if I would pay much attention. However, I am reading articles and blogs by people who have always been trusted to be level headed, non conspiracy theorists and they are observing some of the same things.
Without having to go into a great dissertation on my theological views, I’ll just lay out there that I lean towards a pre-millennial, pre-tribulation rapture of the church. I have come to these views from years of studying scripture but I have friends and brothers/sisters in Christ who hold different views on this. I love them and they love me and it is not an issue that will cost any of us our salvation. I have always said that eventually we will know who had the right theology on this when it comes to pass! Prophecy can be complicated and we should give each other grace in that area. I will die on the hill of Jesus Christ being the only way to salvation but not on the hill of pre-mid-or post! Research it out and land where you will. There is much scripture to ponder. That being said, and with me being no theologian, I will speak very plainly and practically on what I have been observing.
Having been a product of the Jesus Movement of the 70’s, I have been well exposed to the great anticipation of the Lord’s return. I spent much time excitedly looking for every possible sign. The mid 70’s and into the 90’s were a season of calm and ease for Christians for the most part, at least in America. We have been considered a predominantly Christian nation and most mainstream Christian views have been respected. There was a moral base that has come from Judeo-Christian values that led our norms in society. Even if one was not a Christian, there was an understanding as to what was acceptable in a culture. The golden rule, the Ten Commandments, etc. were seen as good guidelines for everybody despite their beliefs.
There have always been wars, murderers, false Christs and cults throughout history. In America alone, we had the Revolutionary and Civil war. We have fought WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait and Iraq. We have seen serial killers, earthquakes, famines, etc. But what I am observing is an increase of these things at alarming rates. Consider Christ’s admonition to His disciples in Matthew 24. In verses 1-14 He is addressing the first part of the tribulation. Verses 15 – 28 deals with the last half of this period. What I see are many signs that point to the possibility that the tribulation hour could be very near, especially when I consider the specifics that Jesus addresses in this important Olivet discourse..
Mtt 24:4 “Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many.” None of us are shocked by that statement. There have always been those false Christ’s and prophets. I can remember when Rev. Sun Yung Moon was performing mass marriages for his cult followers and Jim Jones was poisoning his devotees with Kool-aid in Ghana. We all thought it very strange in the 70’s when singer Cat Stevens declared himself Muslim. A great basketball star changed his name to Kareem Abdul Jabaar. Interesting that these two famous people wanted to be Muslim but we really thought nothing of it, after all there were always a few somewhat strange people out there right? In the 80’s I read a little booklet by David Breese who was a Biblical teacher that talked about the huge threat that Islam was to the world. At the time I couldn’t see it. I didn’t know one Muslim or had never seen a mosque. I thought that seemed a little out there. Today, in the city of Wichita, KS. I see a huge mosque every time I drive on the interstate there. I see mosques in every major city now. Breese was right. The other day I read that within the next 35 years or so Islam will surpass Christianity as the predominant religion. When you read the news, it is not hard to see the ground being taken and the persecution being wrought in the name of “Allah”.
Kanye West is certainly worth mentioning at this point if we are talking about false gods. In 2013 he recorded the song “I Am a God”. He has since released a version of scriptures with any references to God being replaced with “Kanye”. One can actually read “In the beginning Kanye created”. Now, I doubt that many people will start to follow him in droves but the arrogance and defiance against God is just one of the signs of a culture that has lost its respect and reverance for the one true God. Lest we think that these are just innocent market ploys to solicit shock value from fans, we should think again. Both Beyonce and Nicki Manaj who are well known singers have admitted to channeling alter personalities to overtake them so that they can perform with more power. Did I happen to mention that the power is not that of Jesus Christ? These are not the heavy metal fringe groups from the 70’s but main headliners in popular music.
In Matthew 24: 6-8 “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” We are definitely seeing action with North Korea, Russia, Iran and a occasional concern about China. Once again, there are always rumors of wars but these countries are major players. The most major player is Israel and they have been hated by their surrounding neighbors from the time they were a nation. Iran will nuke them in a heartbeat the first chance they get and Israel knows that. Woe to us if we bail on our friend Israel.
About the famines and earthquakes. If you start with 1863 and follow earthquakes for 38 year periods at a time that register 7.9 or higher on the Richter scale until 2014, this is what it looks like: 1863-1900 (23 earthquakes), 1901-1938 (53 earthquakes), 1939-1976 (71 earthquakes), 1977-2014 (190 earthquakes). No doubt we are seeing an overwhelming amount of earthquakes! I read about them in the news every other day at least. We are having them in places that are just not normal. Michigan? Really? To my knowledge we don’t do any fracking there even if that is what is contributing to the activity. Not to mention, God doesn’t tell us what will increase the earthquakes, just that they will pick up like labor pains in a woman ready to deliver her child.
What about volcanoes? In the 20th century there were 3,542 volcanoes. That averaged 25 a year. In 2015, four months into this year, we have already had 36. Scientists are baffled as to the increase of this activity. We have to take note of the strange sounds people are recording all around the world as well. It is similar to a groaning or grating and once again there is no explanation! The blood moons that are to occur this year all fall according to Jewish calendar and festivities. The increase of UFO sightings has upped to the point that something I never have given credit to has got me wondering about what exactly is happening in the heavens? I am not saying that I buy into alien theories, only that people are seeing bizarre things happening in the skies, some of them getting pictures and no one can seem to explain what they are seeing.
I am hard pressed to read the news in the past 3 years and not see the term “record breaking….” Everything weather wise seems to be a record breaker! Normal is becoming increasingly rare. There is a catastrophic drougth in Caifornia, there is snow where it has never snowed, and on and on the list goes.
Most of us were deeply concerned to learn that Ebola was running rampant. The headlines have had terrifying health reports of brain eating amoebas, super bugs and even bubonic plague making a come back. What is with the millions of birds in Iowa that have bird flu and need to be exterminated? E-Coli came heavy on the scene a few years back and with all of our modern medicine it seems bizarre illnesses and diseases are only on the increase.
2 Timothy 3:1 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them”. Although I see all of those characteristics increasing, I have really noticed that brutality is definitely on the rise.
In the 1950’s the country was shocked about the murder of a nice family in a small town outside of Garden City, KS. Truman Capote wrote a book about it titled “In Cold Blood”. It was so horrific that there was a movie made about it. I am here to say that this murder is nothing compared to what I read about in the news on a daily basis. The men who killed the family had vaguely even known them and were looking for money. I am constantly reading about people killing their own children (no, not just abortion) or killing their parents. Sometimes they kill people just for entertainment so they can know what it feels like. The golden rule has been changed to “do unto other’s before they do unto you”. I could go on and on about every one of those characteristics listed but all you have to do is read the news and you will see all of them played out in the headlines at alarming rates.
Personal responsibility is not a virtue anymore. We see this in the rioting and looting that happens when people are angry. There is civil unrest. The lawmakers instead of demanding people be law abiding and reasonable allowing due process and justice are increasingly supporting those who are rebellious. We follow the God of political correctness and not the God of order.
The pursuit of pleasure and loving ourselves has brought about a multi-million dollar porn industry. It has contributed to the break down of the family in devastating ways. We are a culture on the prowl for personal sexual pleasure at the expense of the people around us. As a child I knew few divorced people. It is not so now. Several years ago we read in our local paper that a man left his wife and children to find himself and his true love in a homosexual relationship. The local newspaper glorified this man as a real hero for being true to himself and finally finding the love of his life. His wife responded in a letter to the editor that she thought she was the love of his life and that she and their children had loved him dearly. She pointed out that they were devastated and it would take a long road with much help for them to get through this and move on.” Standing in the grocery line the other day I read the headlines about Bruce Jenner that said “The amazing Transformation of Bruce Jenner as He Discovers His True Self”. Wow! Up until the late 70’s Psychological Journals categorized homosexual and trans-sexual preference as gender confusion and people who needed help. I see Bruce Jenner as a lost and confused man who more than likely was sexually exploited or abused at a crucial time in his life. Instead of making him a hero somebody ought to help him and let him know that he will not find happiness in mutilating his sexuality. This is very sad and grieves me to the core. His ex wife is so happy for him as she has run off with some other man. Well, of course she is. He is now out of the way and she is free to go on to the next personal pleasure pursuit. Statistically trans-gender people have one of the highest rates of suicide. While the culture tells them to pursue happiness and pleasure, the people who would really care and try to help them are seen as the haters. Go figure.
As a pastor’s wife and a believer, I will now get to the part that grieves me the most, so here we go. 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” Many have become consumers who are no longer convicted by personal sin. They grab tidbits of this thought and that thought and if they are in scripture at all it is only to look at the feel good verses. How else do we come up with the idea that God is all about our happiness? Where do we find that? Many a self seeking person is leaving their spouse these days under the guise that God just wants them to be happy. We don’t want to look at giving up everything to follow Christ or suffering persecution. Forget personal repentance. Aren’t I a good person? We have a culture that will not tolerate the Jesus who says “I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me”. Jesus can have his place but it must be one of many god’s and preferences and whatever I need Him to be for me. I will not follow Him but He can fit into my agenda and we will all have warm fuzzy feelings…oh can’t you feel the love?
Can I say that if we don’t open the book and know the one who is the Great I Am’s character and what He came to do and who we are in light of that, that there is a huge possibility we don’t know him at all? He doesn’t share His throne with other gods. We love experiential Christianity of miraculous stories but we don’t take the time to saturate ourselves in getting to know the one who performed the greatest miracle of all. He died for our sins and rose from the dead. It doesn’t get any more miraculous than that but somehow that story bores us nowadays. And to many it is offensive.
We hear miraculous stories and believe them without testing them with the word of God. A little boy named Alex Malarkey (I know, this really is his name!) recently admitted that the book written about his experience of dying and visiting heaven was a lie to get attention. Praise God that this kid had the humility to admit to this! The sad thing is that thousands of people loved and bought the book and believed it. We will put more faith in the words of someone’s immediate experience because we get more hope from that than Jesus description of heaven.
This Saturday we will bury a little baby from our church. I will never forget the grandmother’s comforting words as she reflected on the loss of her granddaughter’s passing. She said “Jesus is taking her home because He has a place ready for her”! What a comfort to know the baby’s suffering is over and she can now enter into the place He has prepared. Now that is truth! Why? Because Jesus said that He goes to prepare a place for us. He says that in His father’s house are many mansions. That is more comfort than anything I can imagine. He personally prepares a place for His loved ones! Why do we have to seek out people who say they have gone to heaven or hell or seen this thing or that thing when we have God’s word that spells it out?
The teacher’s that are teaching what itching ears are wanting to hear are certainly making big bucks and bamboozling a whole lot of people and that is sad. The fraud, deception, abuse of power and money is a ploy that continues on with these wolves who prey on the flock because they are smooth and flattering and exactly what so many want to hear. A pastor in St. Charles, MO just cheated the elderly out of 3.3 million dollars convincing them to invest with him. He pocketed $570,000. That is not even an alarming story anymore, there seem to be so many.
Well, I am definitely getting long winded here and I need to close. I don’t know that I have said anything that one wouldn’t have observed themselves. I am no theologian and I am sure there are ones that could out reason me in a heartbeat. I do believe the time is close though and that as believers in Jesus Christ we must be encouraged to know that He will return and it seems that the signs are in place. Matt 24:36 “No one knows about that day or hour not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”. This tells me that we need to run if anyone sets a date! However, He does tell us to watch for signs and I am watching.
Matt 24:37 “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man”. At this season of life I am helping to plan a wedding, I go daily about my business. I do not know what each day will bring. I am ready though because if you continue on in Jesus words in Matthew 24, He says that this is what His wise servant does.
Blessings to you my friends, look up your redemption draweth nigh!