Saturday, November 6, 2010

On Prophecy

What is it that is transpiring as we watch events unfold? The explanations are many, the prophetic illustrations written over and over again in countless “best sellers” by any number of self-proclaimed “experts”. The most popular timeline is as follows:
1.       The known world comes to economic ruin, setting the stage for the introduction of the “anti-Christ”. He makes peace between Israel and the Arab world for “seven years”(Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24)
2.       This anti-Christ gains world power as a Hitler-type and gains influence over the worlds governments in order to destroy Christianity for three and a half years, which is termed the Great Tribulation(Daniel  7:25, Revelation 13:5-8)
3.       Israel builds the third Temple, where, at its dedication, this anti-Christ proclaims himself God, thus ushering in the Rapture of the Church and the beginning of the final three and a half years before Christ’s Second Coming, to be filled with the Wrath of God on unbelieving and unrepentant Man(Daniel 9:27, 2 Thessalonians 2, Matthew 24, Revelation 13-19)
4.       At the end of these seven years Christ returns to lay claim to the Earth and set His kingdom for 1,000 years(Revelation 20-21)
Of course, this series of events has been taught for many years, and I have watched as the identity of this ”beast” in Revelation and Daniel has gone from being the Soviets to the Chinese to Barack Obama with little circumspection or regret on the part of the mainstream “prophets”. For all of the Cold War the fundamentalist Christians were convinced that Russia would launch an attack on Israel and the United States, ever identified as the “good guy” by virtue of our obviously “Christian” nature, would be there to defend her. Notice that it is the US that rises to defend Israel and not Christ—an interesting change in persona that these “prophets” shamelessly promoted.
Few people today consider the beast to be exactly what the Reformation preachers believed it to be—the Roman Catholic Church, or the Pope at the very least. Today only fringe denominations of Christianity hold to this view as the Pentecostals and the Charismatics have usurped the very message of service to our fellow men and fellow Christians and have perpetuated a message of selfish blessings instead. In fact, it now seems as if there is no room for the generosity and service we learn about from Christ and the Apostles or the imminence of the fulfillment of scripture at all. It very much feels as if the Christian faith has taken a “dig-in” approach to their walk with Christ wherein we are instructed to grab any blessing we can and hold onto it, waiting for the Rapture to take us out of here.
Certainly this seems a defeatists approach for a faith of Victory. Of course, once Christians feel they have discerned the clear pace of events and what worldly crisis must be unfolding, they feel free to sit on their hands and await their proscribed “end”.
What happens when things don’t go quite according to plan?
It would seem to be that the world is going down in economic ruin. Only a fool would think otherwise. Whether or not this means an anti-Christ will come along is anyone’s guess, but the critical reaction to this ever-approaching catastrophe should be willingness to serve our fellow man and aid those who are going to be homeless, hungry, lost, and fearful. Isn’t this the very harvest we have been called upon to reap? As for our own fate, aren’t we told not to worry what we will eat or drink or wear because our heavenly Father will look out for us? But that isn’t the message today from the pulpit. Today they are telling us to go through the motions to make sure God’s blessing for us is not being interrupted by our actions. That is, we won’t be blessed if we aren’t observing communion correctly, or if we aren’t speaking our faith correctly, or if we are having any doubts, thus not walking in faith correctly.
Seems kind of harsh, doesn’t it? Seems a bit legalistic, as if we are to be so careful to observe every conscious act we engage in, from thought to motion, for fear that the transmutation of spiritual blessing into physical reality may not actually manifest itself in our lives. What? Are you kidding me? So Almighty God, who gave the free gift of SALVATION from SIN is hampered in His ability to sufficiently bless us as BLAMELESS CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM because we are not correctly praying over our food or taking EVERY thought captive? Isn’t that a message that puts works ahead of faith? Aren’t we freed from the law by the Love of Christ and His sacrifice on the Cross? Yet when legalism rears it’s ugly head and the people look to their shepherds for guidance, this is what they get.
Today we stand at the precipice and no one knows what lies ahead. What we who are Christian know is that no matter what happens we are saved. Not from material desire, not from hunger or cold, or from violence or persecution, but saved from the judgment fire of Hell. We are blameless in the sight of God, forgiven from our sin, and our one Holy Spirit guided mission is to go into the world and preach the Gospel to all men. Can we know what is before us? Perhaps, and we should be aware of what is going on in the world—in this day and age, how can we not?
But there will be no temple rebuilt, and there will be no “seven year peace” either. This is a distraction put upon us to keep us from doing what we are told to do and that is to preach the word of God. It isn’t time to build bunkers, but bridges. It isn’t time to store up for ourselves food and water against the events of Man, but to go out and HEAL by our faith the sick and poor and the hungry. Of course our very nature tells us to buy gold and silver and stock up on food, but that is not what our FAITH tells us to do.
“Do not store up your treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. But store up your treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Too often we hear advocates of violence, of retreat, of "survivalism", of desperation, and of fear, and even I have been one of them. These warnings may be true, truer than many would otherwise care to believe. I don't deny that the road ahead will be at least as bad as the past three years, but the focus, the objective of the faithful in Christ should not be deterred. If ever there was a time to be a light unto the world, to lay down ones life for their friends, and to walk a life of faithful dedication to Christ in utter love and obedience, now is that time.
Recall that Paul warned us that the houses would be shaken? Remember that our faith is tried by fire? Now is that time when what we honestly believe bears it's fruit. It will not be easy for anyone, but for those of us who are adjusting our perspective, taking root in the Word, and setting those feet forward by the will of God alone, these are the days we have been preparing for. This is call we have waiting to hear.
This is the reason we are all here now and not being swept up in the Rapture. Not now, that glorious transformation in the blink of an eye. Not yet. We have a 2,000 year old harvest to reap.

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