I didn’t want to do this, didn’t want to go here, to be caught up in speculation, rumor, hidden “truth” and The End of The World discussion. But here I am; a longtime friend wrote me today, asking for my opinion about all things scary. Here’s my response to him; maybe to you, too.
What will it take, what is required to turn a nation, a world to it’s knees and to the living God?
Will terror and destruction and tragedy and death turn a wildly spinning planet to its Creator? Will persistent messages of grace and mercy, of love and forgiveness cause hardened and sinful hearts to repent and to find atonement for their transgressions?
In our recent history, fuel-laden jet aircraft smashing their way through New York’s World Trade Center buildings and into the guarded halls of the Pentagon chased people by the tens of thousands to church.
For days, perhaps even for weeks following the 9-11 attacks, church attendance in America increased. Some thought, and excitedly promised that revival would surely ensue but now, looking back fourteen years, revival was not spawned by ruin.
Nearly three centuries ago Jonathon Edwards delivered his famous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon. In his closing remarks, Edwards encouraged, “Therefore let everyone that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come!”
That kind of warning and promise will not move a society plugged firmly and fully into a digital electronic world of continual mental and emotional stimulation where the dividing line between reality and fantasy is hopelessly blurred.
Simply stated, we’re not living in the reality that surrounds us. Ours is a society that has succumbed to the siren call of a secular world around us. We are surely “in the world” and we have largely become “of the world” in the daily habits of our lives.
Life in the 21st century has become essentially an amusement park ride in a gaily-painted fantasy world; what we see and hear and feel and experience on nearly every level of existence is illusion and not verity.
Our pursuit of pleasure has outrun a consideration for our divine purpose and need. We are a temporal-minded and not a spiritual and eternity-minded generation.
And so the gospel has become mundane. The good news has been relegated to “old news.” The message of the Cross elicits more “ho-hum” than it does “hallelujah.”
If we attend a church meeting at all (and the national average of Sunday church attendance for committed Christians is now 1.6 times per month) we arrive at church expecting Hollywood quality lighting, music, seating, graphics, preaching (if you must) and better-than-average coffee.
Transport yourself in your own slick-whiz time machine back in time two thousand years to a hillside in Judea and imagine no sound system at all, no lighting except for the sun and a solitary Voice calling men and women back to the One, true God and to find a salvation and a redemption that neither antiquity or modernity can provide without the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Incrementally, just a little here and a little there, we have permitted ourselves to become spiritually dumbed-down. When it comes to matters of the eternal soul, a pandemic of deadly distraction prevents us from getting to know the One Whose life was cast to the grave for our eternal salvation.
And so, into this miasma of spiritual boredom and soul-slumber, a chilling, almost frantic voice is raised, warning us of blood moons and the Shemitah of all shemitahs, the great “year of release” and the collapse of the Stock Market and even of the U.S. dollar.
Christians across the world have begun to prepare their stockpiles of food and fuel and water filtration systems. If a tetrad (a group of four) of blood-red moons is upon the literal horizon and if the American economy is about to come crashing down, the prophetic shout warns us, then Christians – mostly American Christians – had better get to buying. The cry seems to be “Amazon-Dot-Com, here comes Armageddon!”
I’m not poking fun at those who have been stirred and motivated to store up food and survival equipment. They are “sluggards” who fail to consider the ways of the ant who “Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (Prov 6:6-8). The virgins of Matthew 25 were encouraged to ensure their lamps were filled with fuel. Preparatory action is not aberrant behavior. Wisdom is in preparedness.
Planning for rainy days is not irrational; the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared” is good advice for us all. But in this writer’s view, the troubling aspect of all this clamor and uproar over collapse and calamity and worldwide catastrophe is this: Where is the call to return to the Cross and hence to the Peace of Jesus? Where is the reminder that among His various victorious titles, our Savior is known as “Prince of Peace?” Where is the promise, “fear not” among the messengers of doom? Luke records encouraging words for us all, and all of humanity when he writes, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (12:32).
I want to be as clear as crystal when I say this: The world as we know it may come crashing down on September 11, 2015. I don’t personally anticipate it, but World War III may be just ten, or twelve or a hundred days away. The New York Stock Exchange may implode in less than two weeks. The volcanoes of the Ring of Fire may erupt with sudden and devastating effect before we live through another day. Earthquakes may shake the inhabitants of the planet before October arrives. But the amazing and revelational thing is, that’s the way the world always has been. “No man knows the day or the hour” of the biblical “That day.”
No less than the voice of Jesus declared that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Mt.24:35) and “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (V36).
The gospel message has always been and continues to be – “live ready!” Be ready to live and be ready to die. Be ready for peace and be ready for persecution. The soul that is anchored in Jesus need have no fear of the ferocity of the storm, the raging of the waves or the viciousness of the tumult. As the songwriter reminds us, “the anchor holds,”
Though the ship is battered
The anchor holds
Though the sails are torn
I have fallen on my knees
As I faced the raging seas
The anchor holds
In spite of the storm
Surely, storm clouds are forming on the horizon of planet Earth. Spiritual and economic prosperity cannot be sustained when Government and Business and the Media and the Church – when society conspires to live without God, outside of His provision, in defiance of His purposes and plans. We cannot long continue to live as though there were no God and fail to experience the whiplash of our rebellions.
And now a most important footnote to my rambling discourse: Last night I watched a video posted by a Baptist Church that’s located not a mile as the crow flies from where I am writing these words. I pass that church frequently and never fail to notice the huge, white cross rising above treetops and buildings there. At the end of day, as I drive toward home, the sight of that cross announces the nearness and imminence of rest.
The video we watched consisted simply of a lady singing, with members of the church filing across the front of the church bearing cardboard signs of personal testimony. The chorus of the song was this:
If there’s anybody here who’s found Him faithful
Anybody here who knows He’s able Say, Amen.
Anybody here found joy in the midst of sorrow
Peace in the storm, hope for tomorrow
And you’ve seen it time and time again Just say. Amen –
My wife and I listened together and each of us responded – she with Goosebumps and me with tears. As the song concluded we heard shouts of praise as we watched arms waving and the overt gratefulness of a congregation of God’s people for the faithfulness of a Savior Who never fails, Who never falters, Who never forgets – Who asks us and Who promises us, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget you” (Is. 49:15).
“He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”
If hell breaks loose across our nation or our planet, God is with us. If disaster crashes down around our fragile world, God “upholds all things by the word of His power.” If we are the terminal generation – if we are that people upon whom the ends of the world have come, we have a sure and confident word, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” but “I am with you alway, [even] to the end of the world. Amen” (Mt. 28:20). And we shall surely, if called upon to demonstrate His grace to an astonished world “overcome . . . by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of (our) testimony” (Rev. 12:11).
Blood moons come. Earthquake and volcanic eruption and economic destruction, do your best; God is our hope, His Christ is upon the throne of the universe, and our hope is sure and it is sealed; it is undeniable and it is undefeatable. “On Christ the solid Rock (we) stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”