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Yesterday, at our out-of-the-building church gathering—it was at a local grocery store in the deli-eating area—a man sitting nearby approached us. At the time, we were talking about the temple and the development of the rabbinical system. Laurie’s been studying about this lately. I wondered if that system arose in Judaism because there were no prophets. There hadn’t been for four hundred years until John the Baptist came on the scene. In a related way, I also wondered if rabbis arose because, in the absence of prophets, spiritual leadership no longer existed. That causes problems. “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18). 1 The man came up somewhere in the middle of this, saying he’d overheard us talking about prophets and stuff. As a footnote, let me add that people interacting with us in our public Bible studies is relatively rare. I’d say once a year. All the responses thus far have been positive.

This one was too, but it was extraordinary in character.

The man who began to talk to us looked like, well, a wizened cowboy without the boots and the buckle. His jeans were well-used, as was his flannel shirt. Perhaps a construction worker. He was missing a tooth. He talked about meeting people in the laundromat. He wasn’t a young fellow. Looked like he was in his fifties.

We talked for some time, but the gist of our conversation was this: Difficult times are coming, times of sorrow, but we are safe; safe in the Lord. He mentioned the account of the three Hebrews thrown into the furnace. Someone had mentioned to him years ago that these three men were safer in the furnace than they were anywhere else in the country. I had never heard this before, but it was a wonderful point well-taken. He said that what we are now experiencing is like a toilet paper roll unrolling. You don’t notice much change at first, but soon you’re at the end of the roll. Homespun (pardon the pun) metaphor, but effective.

We told him that we agreed. I told him that I hadn’t met many people who talked this way.

Several times in our conversation, he was so moved that he teared up. You know how guys tear up. They fight it, but their eyes get wet. Happens to me fairly often when I talk about the things of God. I don’t know why this man was so moved. The Holy Spirit?

I told him that part of my sorrow in this time-before-His-coming has been the slow declination of the United States. We are a post-Christian nation I said. Perhaps we have been for longer than we realize. Culture and tradition, Christian or not, only has so much strength. When they fail, all the hidden ickiness comes out into view.

We all agreed again, that despite the sorrow, we were safe in the Lord. It was good. The man maintained that we won’t even remember countries when we’re in heaven. I’d never thought about that, and it makes sense. All things will be made new. “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’” (Revelation 21:5).

We parted in friendship and gratitude for the fellowship.

All that we discussed is still true, here today, as I type this article.

The United States someday will no longer exist. Neither will England. Russia. Any other nation.

I love the country in which I live. I am thankful and appreciative that the Lord has provided for us here, in this place. I am thankful that Christians have been free to worship the Lord God freely.

Thus far.

We are noticing that that may be changing.

But we have fallen, fallen in terrible ways, and the falling has been slow but is now speeding up. In our history, we committed the terrible sins of slavery and mistreatment of Native Americans. We are still seeing the fruit of those sins today. Subsequently, we legalized the killing of unborn children. Then we legalized same-sex marriage, which to me is simply a symptom of the sinfulness of a culture. Gays and others should certainly have all the rights of other citizens. It’s just that it was never an issue before. Remember, we are a post-Christian culture.

One must wonder what will befall us next, how far we are from unrolling down to the nub. The consequences of this fallenness are huge, not just for Americans, but the world. We are the bastion of freedom in the world—a strong economic and military bastion. When we fall—and we will—it isn’t difficult to conceive that the whole world will be in a more dangerous and drastic condition.

However, we are safe, and will be safe in Him, as the visitor said. Woe to those who do not know that safety. They will have no refuge. They will have no peace. But Jesus will still be available. May those who do not know Him find Him today and in that day as well.

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

Gif courtesy giphy.com.

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