Dark Times~ Blessed Hope

By Lawngren

The internet is full of rumors as I write this, and few if any know what today, let alone the next week, will bring. Destruction and horror may be taking place as you read this … if anyone is able to read today as dawn breaks on this 20th of January, 2021. There are, however, a few things certain even in this quicksand that used to be America. We need solid ground to stand on, so let’s turn our attention to those few solid realities. We will end with “the Blessed Hope”, so hang in there.

First, we need to emphasize that the mess we’re in didn’t catch God by surprise. Please read all of Matthew chapter 24.  I’ll be quoting from it. The news of the last year could have been taken, in some instances almost word for word, from this chapter.

The chapter opens with the disciples calling Jesus’ attention to the magnificence of the Temple buildings. But Jesus replied that not one stone of the buildings would be left on another. This must have been shocking and frightening to them. The Temple was the center of Jewish life, the heartbeat and the hope of Israel. Even the Pharisees who rejected Jesus hoped for God’s Messiah to deliver Israel once and for all from its enemies, and the Temple was Israel’s connection to the Most High, built (originally) according to precise instructions from the Most High Himself. To lose the Temple would be to lose their connection with the Blessed Hope.

Naturally, when they could speak to Jesus privately, the obviously worried, scared disciples asked Him when this was going to happen. After all, if it was a hundred years in the future, they’d be safely in their graves.

The first words that Jesus said in reply were, “Be careful that no one deceives you because many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many.” If you are well acquainted with the Bible, a quick sampling of “religious” or even professedly Christian websites and broadcasts will sicken you with the lies told about “correct” Christian life, beliefs, and goals. Many people love it.

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.”

Then Jesus added that there would be famines and earthquakes in many places. It appears that earthquakes haven’t ramped up significantly. (Yet. That’s all I have to say on that topic.) And He added this extravagant encouragement: “All this is just the beginning of birth pangs.”

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.  And then many will be offended …” Offended? That’s one of the most over-used words in America today. Has been for several years now.

“… and will betray one another, and will hate one another.” The single most prominent characteristic of political discussion for at least several years now has been the relentless, mindless hatred in America politics. It has divided families, divided this nation, and ended friendships.

“Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Anyone who saw videos of riots in Ferguson, Missouri, or Baltimore, Maryland, or Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, Washington, etc., knows that massive, destructive, vicious lawlessness is ordinary now. With the approval of the democrat governors and mayors in those areas.

No wonder the love of many will grow cold. War can do that to you.

“But he who endures to the end will be saved.” These words seem to mean that our salvation has to be earned. That contradicts the doctrine of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone. This is why we don’t build a doctrine out of one verse. Given the rest of Bible teaching on salvation, I conclude that what these words mean is that God will strengthen His genuine children and we will be able to endure to the end.

OK, now we come to the solid realities and the good news.

First. everything we are seeing and anything we might experience was prophesied. God knew it was all coming, every detail of it, long before we were born.

Second, we are not alone. Not ever. Never. Jesus told His disciples, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Third, King Jesus went before us into anything we are called on to endure. The closest we can come to understanding that, to feeling that, is to watch Mel Gibson’s lifetime masterpiece, “The passion of the Christ”. It’s the only movie I ever had to turn my face away from. Watching Jesus so cruelly mistreated, and with no excuse whatsoever, actually hurts. But when you watch it, you know how much He loves you, and you know a fraction of what He suffered for you. We still have no idea what it means to “drink the cup of the wrath of God”. Because King Jesus was obedient to the Father even to death, and was without sin Himself, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and strengthen us when we need it. And the Holy Spirit prays for us too: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
King Jesus is right now interceding for us in Heaven: “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

Fourth and finally, King Jesus is going to return for us. I believe the Rapture will happen before the Great Tribulation, but it doesn’t matter. Things could get horrible before the Rapture, but we’re going to leave this life anyway someday. Then we’ll spend eternity in Heaven, where “… there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, because the former things have passed away.” And “…nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

This world, all the evil in it, all the evil people, and the demons that trouble us, will pass away like a bad dream, and we will think of them no more. We will be living a life of joy such as we can’t comprehend now. I’ll see you there!

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