(image courtesy of c3entertainment)
I recently had a conversation with a young man about the escalating tensions in the Middle East. Like many, he is convinced that the world is in great peril; that indeed the end is close at hand. Because of this, he has decided that he wants to put a comfortable chair on his roof and watch as the missiles fly.
As interesting a take on current events as this is, I also believe that like many, this personable fellow is mis-interpreting current events. To be clear, I am no End-times expert. Having said this, I do give the following answer each time I am questioned (I guess many assume as a pastor I have special insight; spoiler alert, I don’t) about the end of the world: “Today, we are definitely one day closer to it than we were yesterday.”
Please understand, there is nothing flippant about my response and in fact I base it entirely on what the Scriptures record the Lord Jesus saying on this topic, starting with His answer to His disciples question: “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)
Jesus, after giving an account of things that will precede His second coming, then answers His disciples by saying, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36) Jesus added, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will return.” (Matthew 24:42)
The young guy wanting to be on his roof, like others, are missing the point of Jesus’ words. These most recent events in Iran do not singularly represent the nearing of the end of days, but rather are simply more on what Jesus called “birth pains” that the earth and mankind will experience throughout the ages. I understand these “birth pains” to be all the nastiness, both created by Nature and by man, because of the fallen condition of our planet and those who inhabit it.
I know that we all would sometimes like a glimpse into the future. Parts of life would seem to be easier to plan for if we had some insight into coming events. The problem with this approach, concerning things eternal, is that the knowing would decrease or eliminate the need for faith. I don’t mean to over-simplify this, but when Jesus said you cannot know the day or hour that the end will come, I’m good with that!
Faith, that wonderful gift of God, assures the believer that God has everything under control. It is a blessing given from the Father that assures us of His never-ending dominion. To truly trust in God is to trust Him in our chaotic world, where often times seemingly inexplicable things happen to us and to those we love.
Out of this growing faith ( for me it has taken time for me and I’ve still a long way to go!) comes the peace of God that the Bible says transcends all understanding. Once again, faith leads me to see that there are things beyond me. One of these is the knowledge of the end times. Trusting in the forgiveness of the Lord for salvation allows me to rest easily at night even amidst the uncertainty of the world around me.
Therefore, if I can’t and never will figure out exactly the what and when of God’s plans, what am I left to do? For today, I will make my best effort to live out this faith in God by embracing today for just what it is: One day closer to the end than yesterday. If I am to believe this, all of my actions, indeed all my motivation, ought to be to share this precious gift of faith I have been given with everyone I meet.
I realize this will look different for each of us, and that’s ok. God is as diverse as He is immeasurable. I do believe, however, there will be one common denominator: A life lived in faith will be recognizable in the joy present in our countenance. Though our eyes will take in all that goes on around us, nothing we see with distract us from the awesome truth of God’s saving power. This truth tells us that Almighty God loves us and in His love He calls us to live this life with the unshakable assurance that He has guaranteed our forever place with Him.
So if you see me up on my roof, I won’t be looking for missiles, but rather it will be to get a better view of the world around me, praising God for who He is and that He has given me this day to worship and enjoy Him, even (or especially) if it’s the last one I get!
Thanks for reading,