Is this day the Beginning of the End?
The author of Psalm Chapter 118 provides a clear pattern for us, as we shape our attitude about struggles and tribulations that we will encounter in life. Perhaps the most familiar and profound comes in verse 24 (“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. “).
Something is afoot in the world, of that I have little doubt. Whether or not this marks the final year of God’s plan for humanity is anyone’s guess, and only a fool would presume, or worse, profess to know. It was frankly embarrassing to witness the foolish proclamations of the man, Harold Camping this past year.
Harold was a man of numbers; an engineer by trade, and with that expertise he convinced himself (and thousands of others) that he knew a mathematical formula that precisely revealed the date that Jesus Christ would return. His first attempt at applying the formula gave him the date May 21, 1988.
That day came and passed, and then most notably, he announced that May 21, 2011 was instead the date due to a mathematical error. Still not convinced of his own fallacies, he adjusted the prediction to October 21, 2011.
Again, the day came and departed as all other days have done. In a private interview, he reportedly has said, “…he no longer believed that anybody could know the time of the Rapture or the end of the world.”
Harold Camping’s embarrassment (on a global scale) did not prove that Jesus Christ would not return as Jesus said he would. Rather, it proves that no man or woman will know the day or the hour. In 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5, verses 1-3 remind followers of Jesus: “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
In verses 16-18, we find these instructions: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I would suggest reading this chapter in 1 Thessalonians. It is very short, but instructive.
The secular world is abuzz, almost to a fever pitch, with television programs that discuss the end of the world. In all of these programs, the Book of Revelation of the Christian Bible is a centerpiece, as is speculation about the ancient Mayan Calendar, which marks the date December 21, 2012 as being a date of significant change.
Many have heralded this to mean that the end of time is at hand, and coupled with a wild mash-up of prophesies from many religions, climate change alarmists, and predictions from occultist practitioners, this entire year is stacking up to be a wild-eyed time of worry. Those who do not have the assurances that our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ provide are going to be sleeping with one eye open. To be honest, I cannot blame them for their sense of unease. However, I want to help as many as possible come to know the peace that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God the Son.
Indeed, there will come an end of days, but to really understand the significance of that event, and live eternally past it, one has to know why it will occur. A correct God-given choice will assure you of the outcome right now, and it will not matter when it happens.
About: The Devil
Here are but a few names for the created being, known as the evil one. Lucifer, Satan, Prince of Darkness, Prince of the Air, Serpent, Deceiver. For this article, I will refer to him as Satan to simplify my task.
In Isaiah 14, verses 12-15, the writer chastises him: “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.”
“O morning star, son of the dawn,” is accompanied in the King James Version by the name Lucifer. It is my understanding that Lucifer was a created being, more wondrous and powerful than Michael, the Archangel. Lucifer was so enamored of himself that he deceived one third of the Angels into following and worshiping him. God cast them out of His presence to await judgment.
Unfortunately, that puts Satan and his fallen minions in our midst, and as his hatred for the Most High corrupted angelic beings, he corrupts the Earth and all that depend on it for life. Just as created angels were deceived to follow this deviant self-anointed god, so too are human men and women, God’s greatest and dearest creation. Many are enamored and deceived to ignore and deny Almighty God.
Indeed, Satan is a powerful and dangerous adversary. He hates humanity just as he hates Almighty God, and it is his wretched desire to pluck as many from eternal Glory as he can before the Day of Judgment. Still, he is not God and does not have anywhere near the power of God. Satan is not omnipotent, does not know all that God knows. The devil cannot be all places at all times, and he cannot know what is in our hearts.
What Satan can do and does do is to tempt, lure, trick, and nurture the minds of people, making it easy to follow the ways of the fallen, and hard to follow the narrow path that leads to eternal communion with God. He is the master of deceit, and because mankind was given the free will to choose self over a relationship with God, he is relentless in his lies and is ever ready to devour those who ignore their Creator.
Satan obscures the narrow path, and puts up flashing billboards to mark the wide road that he wants us to follow. He knows that man is born to seek a spiritual connection to God, and he knows that the hearts of people are troubled, and are by nature aware of the void that exists between them and God.
Because it is difficult to step onto God’s narrow path, to lay down our pride and admit that we are incapable of reaching God by our own devices, and on our own terms, Satan is able to offer a smorgasbord of alternatives that seem palatable. He knows that we seek a spiritual connection, so he has prepared and nurtures false teachers of false religions.
It is this choice that we have been given that is the one and only eternally fatal sin, that we ignore God’s simple, but unwavering terms. Instead, many will refuse to sacrifice the pride, arrogance, or outright gluttony for self-gratification, and will insist on their own terms. Satan is ready, willing, and able to help them make that fatal bad decision.
About: Jesus Christ
Not one person who reads this heading thinks, "Jesus Christ… who is that?"
In fact, that name, Jesus Christ, rings a bell for everyone, and is familiar in nearly every corner of the globe. For Jews, Jesus was a Rabbi who stirred things up at a particular time in history. The Muslim's Koran speaks of Jesus as one of the great Prophets, created miraculously. Muslims believe that Jesus did not die on the cross, but ascended to Heaven while still alive.
Christians believe Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. Then he arose from the dead and ascended to heaven. This is central to the Christian faith, because the entire reason for Jesus' coming was to defeat the consequences of sin, and eternal death. Christians believe that Jesus took the death penalty of sin upon Himself, and paid the price on our behalf.
Of course, there are people who declare themselves to be Christians, but for no significant reason other than an adherence to a social philosophy. Sort of like wearing a tee shirt, that declares an allegiance to the writings of Voltaire or Rousseau.
Other religions (including Islam) have arisen since the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. All of them must deal with the name and person of Jesus Christ, in order to make room for their own existence. Jehovah Witnesses declare that Jesus Christ was really Michael the Archangel prior to his birth. Upon his death, they believe that He did not return to Heaven as God the Son, but once again as Michael the Angel.
Mormons believe that Jesus was a created being: the elder brother of Lucifer (otherwise known as Satan, or the Devil). They believe that Jesus was "a god,” rather than an inseparable member of the one Godhead, otherwise known as the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). They also believe Jesus was not conceived by the Holy Spirit, but that "God" had sex with Mary as a man, and conceived Jesus just as any other man would have been conceived.
Our secular or atheist brethren deal with Jesus on a sliding scale, from recognizing Him as a historical but insignificant figure, all the way to an absolute denial that there ever was such a person. I presume that agnostics could not care less, one way or the other.
Such is the name of Jesus Christ, known to billions of people throughout history. Yet we see a continuous battle raging in America, simply for the acknowledgment of the reason for the season. The same process is at work as occurs in the peripheral religions, which is to marginalize the importance of Jesus, and to dethrone Him from his identity as God the Son.
This is why I continue to speak of the religion of secular purity. There exists a burning need to cleanse the "Public Square" of Christ's name, even while accommodating the special needs of other beliefs, such as those held by Muslims. It is the same dynamic at work. Do you hear the howls of protest, coming from those who wail at the wall of separation between church and state?
The commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ has been observed for centuries as Christmas. There is No Scriptural Commandment to celebrate Christmas, but the significance of Christmas should be obvious to anyone. It roughly marks the day to remember, when God gave to us the greatest gift ever given in the history of mankind. He gave Himself as God the Son, Jesus, who would choose to die in our place. His unique blood was destined to wash our sins away then, now, and forever.
Faith is believing without the benefit of seeing. Jesus suffered and died horribly on the cross for our benefit. Believing, without seeing, should not be much of a burden to bear. The name of Jesus does not demand death for those who use it inappropriately, but offers life for those who write it upon their hearts.
We are the reason that the Earth exists at all. Time exists solely for our benefit, and has no relevance beyond our realm of being. There is but one entity that has had no beginning, and that is God. The creator of all that there is, cannot be adequately described in our time-dependent terms. The best we can say, is that God has been, is, and always shall be that which He is.
God told Moses, when asked who God is to say, “I am that I am.” The translation suffers, but God is essentially saying that He is "…in the process of being." He is saying that he exists in all times, constantly, eternally.
So with all of this in mind, knowing that time is relevant only to us, then the fact that an “end of days” is coming, is a purely human concept. In the spiritual realm, Satan and his loyal throng fall from the Glory of God, and face the judgment and punishment of God in the context that exists where time does not, and it is almost impossible for us to put our arms around it.
In our context, time does exist and we mark time with every beat of our hearts. Things happened to us in the past, are happening to us now, and will happen to us in the future, and it is definitely our place to live in that context for now. When God’s plan comes to that point known only to Him, our context of linear time will cease to exist, and we will resettle into that unfathomable timeless context.
For now, we should follow the advice of the Psalmist, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” In that way, we are living as we are intended in the context of our time-based existence, even as followers of Christ with a mission to spread the Good News.
This is why we are not to look back at our sinful nature after accepting God’s Gift, of having our record of sin wiped clean. God’s work in that was finished with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is as if that sin never existed, and we are to live in the present, seeking to glorify God in our everyday relationships.
We must be aware of the great deceiver, of the work and aspirations of Satan, but we must not give to Satan anything of ourselves. Satan’s work of corruption is also in place and finished. When bad things happen, it is because we live in a corrupted existence.
The earth itself is corrupt and decaying. Our bodies are subject to deterioration and disease. Even though our names appear in the book of life for the Day of Judgment, we as believers are still to live in this world until our appointed day comes to leave it, and that will keep us in harm’s way.
Let us take care not to ascribe any undo credit, or power to Satan. He is not powerful enough to focus on each one of us as only God can. His evil work is in place and underway, and his demonic angels and minions scurry about, seeding temptation and false teaching like a pathetic swarm of filthy roaches.
Almighty God knows when we are afflicted, and He knows when we are suffering. God knows that for us to gain spiritual strength and endurance, we must bear our crosses and keep our eyes on Him. Let us not speak more of the work of Satan than we do of the Glory of God, but pray constantly for deliverance from temptation and evil.
Let us speak of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and of the blessings we find even as we live in the world. It is not yet our time to separate ourselves from it. We will each come to our appointed day, and some will live to see the day when Christ returns, but until then, we are God’s witnesses to unbelievers, in how we carry out our lives with them.
God will lead us to find and use the gifts that each of us has been given. Some are called to teach, others are called to serve. All of us are called to love as we are loved, and to put aside pride and self whenever we become aware of it.
The end of days may come this very night, on December 21, 2012, or any time before or after. It is okay to long for the Glory to come, but in the meantime, we should carry on with our daily lives as best we can to honor Jesus Christ. We must be a shining light that reawakens in others the yearning to seek and find their Creator.
There is no look, manner of speaking, nor is there any apparent attitude that will cause the light to shine. The love of God will shine brightly when we love, care, and sacrifice for others, and like moths to a porch light, the lost will find their way home.
2011 by Phil Harris