Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Prophecies of the End: Gloom or Glory?

Not all news is good news. In fact, the vast portion of it downright bad. As society further rejects its biblical roots in favor of immediate personal gratification, it is also rejecting its out-of-step source-Book.  announced:

·       Bible skepticism is now “tied" with [faithful] Bible engagement [at 19% of respondents]. This year's research reveals that skepticism toward the Bible continues to rise. For the first time since tracking began, Bible skepticism is tied with Bible engagement. The number of those who are skeptical or agnostic toward the Bible—who believe that the Bible is "just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice"—has nearly doubled from 10% to 19% in just three years. This is now equal to the number of people who are Bible engaged—who read the Bible at least four times a week and believe it is the actual or inspired Word of God.

Although these findings are deeply disturbing, they also mirror the pattern of end-times prophecy. The Book of Revelation presents a more-than-gloomy picture of the world prior to Christ’s return. Jesus’ portrait is no more encouraging:

·       “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.… For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” (Mat. 24:9-21)

Instead of an invitation to reign in glory, He advised flight in the midst of persecution prior to His return. Paul didn’t give us any more hope about the end-times:

·       But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power… everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 12)

The New Testament seems to speak with one voice about the coming end-times crisis. Peter warned:

·       In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4)

Although the events of our day seem to be eagerly following in the steps of the prophetic warnings, this gives us little comfort. Here’s what does give us comfort. The Bible consistently affirms that our God reigns:

·       Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:31-33)

This tribulation will inevitably cause us distress, but it will also drive us to take refuge in our only true Hope.

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