I’ve been struggling for the right words to share, lately. I think it’s because the world has been so loud, angry, and distracting; and my hubby was traveling for work, so I’ve just been really busy with the kids. But a few thoughts have come to mind these last couple weeks, that I felt I should share.
First, in the United States we experience freedoms that are rather unique from many countries around the world. The First Amendment of our Constitution protects freedoms of religion, speech, and to peaceably petition the government against grievances. Right now, in places around the world, there are people literally disappearing because they disagree with their country’s leaders. Additionally, according to Open Doors, more than 260 million Christians live in places where they experience “high persecution.” Places where they are physically attacked and/or killed, detained or imprisoned without trial, and/or shunned from their communities/families for their faith in Christ.
Religious freedom is what brought pilgrims to the shores of the New World in 1620, and it’s one of the things Americans have taken pride in ever since. Recently, however, I’ve been reminded how much we’ve taken these freedoms and protections for granted. I mean, other nations have no protections in their government for freedom of expression of religion, and in many places it’s actually the government that prohibits it.
Second, I’ve noticed a lot of people proclaiming it’s the end times and a lot of studies on the book of Revelations going on. While I’ll agree that there are many signs of this, and it’s never a bad idea to know what’s to come, the bible tells us that the day and hour of Christ’s return is unknown (Matthew 24:36, 44); and also that it will be like the days of Noah, and people will just be going about life as usual (Matthew 24:37-39).
What does it mean that it will be like the days of Noah? Well, in Genesis 6 we’re told a few things about those days. 1) That the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and 2) that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 3) The earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and 4) it was filled with violence. I mean, the whole earth was so bad, that God wanted to start fresh. That should tell us something!
Noah and his family were only saved, because Noah found favor with God, walked with God, and ultimately, was obedient to God. This is where we should be concerned. We should be in a place of continual communion with God, surrender to God, and obedience to God. No matter what is going on around us, we shouldn’t lose focus on the promises of God.
The promise of His return, the promise of His coming judgment, and the promise of eternal life for all who believe and accept Jesus Christ as Lord of their life, are where believers should place our hope.
Third, when Jesus was asked about the end times He had this to say: “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:4-14, ESV, emphasis added).
Did you catch that? The beginning of birth pains. Anybody who has ever given birth will tell you, it’s not the contractions at the beginning that are tough, it’s those that come just before it’s time to push that are unbearable; and sometimes it takes a long time to get to that point. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the amount of persecution the Church will eventually face; and we’re not talking about just in the States, we’re talking globally. So, we should definitely be aware of what’s happening around us.
(The books of Daniel and Revelation have more to say on this time of tribulation, as well.)
And finally, I want to remind you of this…the “freedoms” we hold in the U.S. really offer a false sense of security, because one day it won’t matter how much we hem and haw about our loss of rights and freedoms, they will ultimately be taken away, according to biblical prophecy. God’s plan will unfold exactly as He says it will, and there will be nothing anybody can do about it. We are part of God’s story; not the other way around. That’s why we’re told not to fear men, who are able to kill our flesh and not our soul, but God, who has the ability to destroy both in hell (Matthew 10:28).
Truth be told, we should be less concerned with the when and how the end will come, and more concerned about being found taking care of the Father’s business, when that time does come (Matthew 24:42-46). So seek Christ. Seek His will. Proclaim His truth. Walk with the Father in humility, and live your faith, just as much as–if not, more than–you talk about it. Because there’s no country, no leader, no cure, and no law that could save our soul from hell…except the blood of Jesus Christ. And as long as we still have the freedom to openly proclaim this truth, we should be bold in our proclamation of it!