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If you are a citizen of the United States, you may have been wondering in the last few months, “What in the world is happening to this country?” I have warned several times in the last few years that judgment is coming to this nation. Is what we are experiencing now part of that judgment? Well, it should be obvious to Christians that God is not unaware our situation. The question is, “Is the Lord, in His sovereignty, allowing these things to happen or is He causing them?” I ardently believe that nothing happens in the cosmos or on earth which He does not cause or allow. I lean strongly to the “cause” position, but I see through a glass, darkly.

I have listed several times the offenses, the sins, we have committed over our history that make us ripe for His chastisement. The legal murder of millions of innocent, helpless babies, and our acceptance that such murder is necessary because we have the right to have sex outside of marriage without restriction is prominent among them, as is the legalization of homosexual marriage and the promotion of homosexuality. Some may insist that our treatment of indigenous peoples and minorities should be included as sins against the Lord, which they were, but we have acted and are acting to right these wrongs. Racism is no longer governmental policy, although it remains among individuals in our culture. The foundation of these transgressions, however, is our disobedience to the Lord and rejection of Him. As I wrote in last week’s article, Scripture tells us that sin brings death. Instead of flourishing, people begin deteriorating and sin increases. We have been witnessing this in escalating measure.

Many may not agree with me, but I perceive this increasing lawlessness as a withdrawing of God’s hand of restraint. They think that these two verses in Second Thessalonians refer to the rapture and that “he who now restrains” is the Holy Spirit who will leave the earth when the saints are “gathered together to him” (2 Thessalonians 2:1)1 and thus His Spirit will be “out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). I do not agree that something that is “taken out of the way” equals “is removed from the earth.” I may take a chair out the way that is restraining your progress, but the chair is still present, but it no longer impedes you.

Christians eagerly wait for Jesus to return, but I am not eager at all for the lawlessness that will occur—and is occurring—before that Day arrives. When Jesus spoke of His return, He talked of earthquakes, wars, rumors of wars, and famines. We realize that those things have occurred for centuries and have never ended; thus, Jesus said they were “the beginning of birth pangs.” However, the very next thing He said was, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:9–13). I, in my comfortable and, yes, blessed American life, don’t much care for the hatred and lawlessness Jesus spoke of, nor for the reality of the necessity for great strength and fortitude: “…the one who endures to the end will be saved.” I’m just being honest.

I confess that sometimes I worry about what my wife and I will do as the lawless days Jesus spoke of increases, but God will be our strength. And I am bolstered by what the Lord told Isaiah: “For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear and let him be your dread’” (Isaiah 8:11–13).

So. Concerned? Sometimes. But none of this has touched me yet. Not excited about “enduring to the end”? Yes. In need of faith? Absolutely. I have faith, and although it may be tucked somewhere hard to find in my heart at times, I trust and believe that He will supply the faith, the endurance, and whatever else we will require when those days arrive in their fullness.

1All Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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