17 February 2015

What's Going to Happen Next?

I get asked that question more frequently than you might think. Watching the news reports - assuming you can find one you trust to be reasonably accurate - can leave an intelligent person curled in a fetal position, wondering when it will all be over.
Jesus' followers asked Him the same question, although for slightly different reasons. Let me set the scene for you:
a) Israel was occupied by Roman troops, which were everywhere;
b) The Romans allowed the Jews the illusion of self-rule, but only the religious council - and they only had authority in spiritual matters; political guidance came from Rome; and
c) Many Jews were agitated by the Roman occupation, and wanted to mount a revolt for Israel's freedom - especially the Zealot movement, which could be loosely compared to the III% movement of today.

From the book of Matthew, chapter 24 –

Jesus then left the Temple. As he walked away, his disciples pointed out how very impressive the Temple architecture was. Jesus said, "You're not impressed by all this sheer size, are you? The truth of the matter is that there's not a stone in that building that is not going to end up in a pile of rubble." 
Later as he was sitting on Mount Olives, his disciples approached and asked him, "Tell us, when are these things going to happen? What will be the sign of your coming, that the time's up?" 
Jesus said, "Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, 'I am The Anointed One, the Messiah.' They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.
(Leaders with forged identities, called "The One"? Nah, couldn't be.)
"They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other's throat, everyone hating each other. In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.
Christians being put to death, around the world? Check. Overwhelming spread of evil? Check. People hating Christians and Christianity? Check. Lying preachers, deceivers? Check. People at each other's throats? Check. People hating anyone and everyone? Check.
"Staying with it—that's what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry, and you'll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come. 
~ snip ~

"If anyone tries to flag you down, calling out, 'Here's the Messiah!' or points, 'There he is!' don't fall for it. Fake Messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better. But I've given you fair warning. 

"So if they say, 'Run to the country and see him arrive!' or, 'Quick, get downtown, see him come!' don't give them the time of day. The arrival of the Son of Man* isn't something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it's not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds.

~ snip ~

"Then, the arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies—no one will miss it.
Cable/satellite TV broadcasts? Probably.
"Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. At that same moment, he'll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God's chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.
Again, he's promising a world-wide audience, presumably watching a "live" broadcast. But for all I know, he may be talking about the event being visible everywhere at once. How? How should I know? A god so small that I could figure out his methods wouldn't be worth serving.
"Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer's just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you'll know he's at the door. Don't take this lightly. I'm not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out.

"But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows. The arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah's. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing—until the flood hit and swept everything away.

"The Son of Man's arrival will be like that..."
* * * * *

So are we in the end times? Yes, I believe we are entering the times Jesus described as "the beginning of sorrows" in the King James translation (the version most folks are familiar with). But, he added, "the end is not yet."

It's not over yet, folks, not by a long shot. Don't give up; I believe there's still time to pull America back from the brink of whatever it's doing now. America can be great and good again.

"But Paul, what if you're wrong?"

Then we get to go to Heaven even sooner, along with all of God's faithful followers. Ain't nothing bad about that!

* Jesus most often referred to himself as "the Son of Man" - this is a reference to the Messiah as described in the Old Testament book of Daniel, chapter 7, verses 13-14:  "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." 

   By this, He was reasserting his identity as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.


Old NFO said...

Good thought provoking post today. Worth thinking about and can't disagree with any of your points...

Rev. Paul said...

Thank you, sir. :)

A SImple Man said...

Thank you Rev. I needed that. Been feeling gloomy and doom lately.

Rev. Paul said...

You're welcome, friend. I'm glad it helped. :)

Well Seasoned Fool said...

So, it is required that we get up every morning and start putting one foot in front of the other, no? We know what is expected of us and need to keep on keeping on.

Rev. Paul said...

WSF, that's pretty much it, in a nutshell.