2009-02-23_1049_BangaloreGarbageHeaps

Does anything about the Last Days upset me?

Yep. Plenty.

You may respond by saying, “Don’t worry, Jim! We win in the end!”

True, but here is a question Jesus asked that gives me serious pause, and it’s not about earthquakes or rumors of wars:

“And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:7–8 ESV, emphasis added).

Keep in mind that this is God Himself talking, and He is expressing concern that there may be very little or no faith when He returns.

Yes, if you’re here at that time, that means you.

You may reply, “I won’t be here for any of that. I’m going up in the rapture.”

However, here is a portion from Revelation that should bother you, whether you think you will be here or not.

“And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear: If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Revelation 13:5–10 ESV, emphasis added).

Why should this trouble you? Because the saints will be conquered. Whether you think you will be present for this terrible time or not, these are your brothers and sisters. When Jesus says, “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints,” this should concern you. A very difficult time for believers lies ahead.

In addition, these verses cause me no small measure of unease:

“Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name” (Revelation 13:16–17).

It no longer seems far-fetched to envision a cashless society, even in very poor countries. Almost everyone has a cell phone now, including those we consider destitute. These verses upset me, not only because it would be probable, since Laurie and I would reject the mark, that we would die of starvation. Watching my wife die like this would be unbearable in the extreme. However, our kids or grandkids might also die in this way. And lots of parents and their children would. Witnessing this would be a grief and a horror from which no one would fully recover. Thankfully, we would all be with Jesus soon, who would wipe away our tears.

Here’s the last one. People who are warning about the Last Days often talk about earthquakes, and wars and rumors of wars based on this scripture portion from Matthew:

“As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:3–6).

True enough. Jesus continues to speak about famines, earthquakes, tribulation, deaths of believers, lawlessness, betrayal, hatred, and apostasy in His answer.

Doesn’t sound too pretty, does it?

Thankfully, Jesus gives us hope. He says in verse 14:

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). (This sounds a lot like “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” from Revelation 13:10 we read earlier.)

And the end of all the last-day trouble is this:

“And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31–32 ESV).

Yes. Those who say we will “win in the end” are correct.

However, while acknowledging Jesus’ ultimate victory, let’s return to where He begins His answer to the disciples’ question, “When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?”

You would expect His answer to include a list of signs, which Jesus does eventually provide. However, the very next thing that Jesus says is, “See that no one leads you astray.”

Now, you may say, “I would never be led astray.” To this, I would respond, “Then why would Jesus be so concerned that this statement would be at the top of His warnings?” And, “You say you will not be led astray, but have you ever watched your children, any children, anyone die from lack of food? Have you ever experienced being on the brink of starvation yourself? Have you ever been subject to utter lawlessness—or any of the things Jesus listed? If you haven’t, don’t be so proud to think that you would not be crying out for a savior—any savior—for rescue, even a false one.”

When I pray for the kingdom to come as Jesus instructed us to, I often add, “Father, be merciful.” The time of the end will be difficult in the extreme.

Thanks to Ben Williams for the photo.

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