The sky is relatively clear where I am in Nova Scotia this morning and a new day is dawning but I feel unsettled inside. Florida is encountering hurricane Irma, the recent earthquake in Mexico, the escalating situation in the Middle East, then there’s North Korea, a divided American populace and President Trump, not to mention our Christian brother Nabeel Qureshi, who is currently on palliative care. I could go on, it doesn’t stop there ( China, Russia, Iran, Israel etc) but you get where I am going. All is not well. Far from it.
I know these things are to be expected, in a world that is increasing being destroyed by greed for wealth and power, via dominance, at the expense of our environment, where much of humanity is focused on it’s own isolated perception of justice, morality and truth.
Having lived 70 plus years, I have a tendency to avoid those who focus upon their perception or interpretation of a coming doomsday, especially when it comes to Biblical prophecy and the End Times. There have been many proclamations made in the past how the world as we knew it, would come to an end. All of them, the proclamations that I have witnessed, have been false.
Yet I’m no longer at peace with my stance of avoidance, because I’ve never seen so many changes happening, so quickly and with such devastating results as I do now. Jesus told us that these things would happen and each generation has produced those within the Christian community, who have looked at the signs He gave us and inferred they were happening in their generation.
The Olivet Discourse is the name given to the orderly and extended teaching given by Jesus Christ on the Mount of Olives. His subject is the end times. This discourse is recorded in Matthew 24:1 – 25:46. Parallel passages are found in Mark 13:1-37 and Luke 21:5-36.
It is important to recognize that Jesus’ teaching in this discourse is in reference to Israel and not the Church. Christ was speaking of God’s future program for Israel. Other passages to consider when studying the Olivet Discourse are Daniel 9:24-27 and Revelation 6:1 – 19:21, which refer to the future seven-year period called the tribulation. God’s program for the Church concludes with the rapture, which is not taught in the Olivet Discourse. The rapture of the Church is found in John 14:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
There are a variety of opinions on how the tribulation and the rapture will unfold. The focus of this post is not on the tribulation, or the rapture. The consideration of the birth pains within the Olivet Discourse is.
In Matthew 24:8 Jesus says “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
So, what’s different now?
Environment: The intensity and frequency of environmental calamities are escalating beyond anything that has previously been recorded. Global warming is producing catastrophic changes within our environment. Indications from projected models are that these will continue to escalate. There is a specific time element associated with these changes.
Isolationism policies: spear headed by President Trump is producing opposition by other world leaders with regard to climate change and free trade. I am aware that there are many who would say this is a good thing but there are also many who view this change in policy as counter-productive, especially when it comes to the sharing of the world’s resources and protecting our fragile environment. We not coming together, we are becoming further divided.
Morality: coupled with social changes, within the United Sates, is sharply declining from a previously held Christian world view. And this decline is not isolated to just the United States, it is also happening in Europe and numerous other countries. This is only the beginning.
There are many more indications of the signs that Jesus spoke of that I could make reference to but suffice to say, for the brevity of this post, that I do believe that we are in the “birth pains” that Jesus spoke of. Maybe I’m wrong, time will tell.
It’s sad to see people getting their homes and communities destroyed, it’s sad to see the morality of our nation changing to protect that which now is, from that which once was. We also, like Israel, are now becoming a nation that can do whatever is right in our own eyes. It is especially sad to see a young Christian warrior, like Nabeel Qureshi, taken from us due to stomach cancer that is now spreading.
I understand why our environment is turning against us, I understand why our laws are being turned upside down and wrong appears to triumph over right. I freely admit that I do not understand why Nabeel appears to be in the process of being taken from us. Maybe we don’t deserve him. I do know it’s not for lack of prayer on his behalf and I do know that our God continues to be a God of love. I just don’t understand. There are a number of things within God’s revelation to us that fall into that category for me.
So I will go with what I do know.
I do understand that my insight is limited, my understanding is far from perfect and that God’s purposes, at least in Nabeel’s particular case, elude me. So I will go with what I do know. I know that Jesus was and is the Son of God, that He came to this earth to free us from the consequences of our sin, something that we could not do ourselves, so that we could be in communion with our Heavenly Father, here, today, and after we leave this life, for all eternity. It cost Jesus His life to accomplish this and the validity of His gift of love to us was confirmed through His resurrection. I know that His Holy Spirit lives within me. I know that in spite of my shortfalls, He has never failed me. I know that. I understand that. I believe that. And I will praise His Holy Name.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!
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