Monday, November 27, 2017

End of Age Handbook

There are a lot of thoughts on the end of this age. Some thoughts are Biblical, and others are not. Proponents of competing theological perspectives cite Scripture verses that seem to support their doctrine. I mean no disrespect to anyone as I explain my own views, which I believe are vital for every believer as an End Times Handbook, and you’ll be happy to hear that you only need to remember one thing: Draw close to Jesus. Everything we need to do in preparation will be made clear as we draw into His Presence.

I write this as a member of a struggling group of people who recognize we don’t have all the answers, but we know the One Who does. Even my understanding of Scripture is flawed because the one reading the Scripture is flawed, but I am fortunate to be instructed by the One Who wrote the Bible. He explains what I can’t possibly know or understand on my own. I have listened to learned people with excellent speaking abilities explain the Scriptures to me, but the truth is that they are just as flawed as I am. They may tell me that they understand, and I listen to them as someone trying to discern while striving to listen to the Holy Spirit Who explains truth to me. So if you are still with me, prayerfully consider what I write and ask the Lord to show you anything He may want you to understand. 

Lesson #1: We are not God and He alone knows what is truly good. Adam and Eve started a deadly trend when they departed from God’s truth. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, and wickedness increases when men decide that they can choose to do what is right in their own eyes. Sure, it makes us feel good to be in the know or to have it all under control, but humility in who we are as compared to God is what leads to knowledge, understanding and (as we apply it) wisdom. 

Lesson #2: It’s not obedience when we obey only the things we want to obey or that make sense to us. It’s our tendency to only go so far, but it’s God’s will to take us to grander places than we understand are even possible. Jesus went to the cross trusting in the Father. Total obedience was demonstrated in His example, and we are the recipients of His sacrifice. It made no sense to anyone at the time, just as so many acts of faith only become clear in hindsight. For example: Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac could not be fully understood until we learned of Father God’s loving sacrifice: His Son in exchange for a wicked, selfish group of people. 

Lesson #3: Eternity is not bound by time, and neither is our God. The fourth dimension of time (space in motion) is where we live, but it’s not a constraint for a truly omnipotent and omniscient God. Our God created this universe for us, and He is in the midst of it with us while still remaining above, beyond, and around it from beginning to end. The novel is written in it’s entirety while the characters exist both within and yet apart from the storytelling. 

So what does all this have to do with the End Times? Only God knows good and evil, beginning and end; we are called to simply trust and obey the One Who is trustworthy. I learned years ago that we can only understand the Book of Revelation through the lens of the entirety of Scripture. There are so many references to other books that can only be understood by going back and observing the interwoven truth that can only have been written by One Author using the pens of many obediently inspired people. In studying Scripture, our western bias inserts a temporal sequence of events when it may sometimes be more appropriate to treat as an object, turning it around to gain a new perspective and a fuller understanding of the same event. In America, our tendency is to look through the lens of Western chronology rather than an Eastern view which asynchronously connects the dots from Genesis to Revelation, splattering Proverbs, Daniel and Zechariah onto a canvas that paints a portrait of our universe, from beginning to end… a painting that can only be explained by the Divine Artist. 

So getting to the heart of this Handbook, we need to be in God’s Presence for Him to teach us, and He speaks to us first and most clearly in Scripture. I believe that God speaks to us in many ways, and if we do not have access to the Bible, He will not forsake us, but that is no excuse for laziness. Do not expect Him to reach you in some other supernatural way if you aren’t first listening to Him through His Divine Word, not as an intellectual but rather as a humble student. If we don’t intentionally seek to understand His will for our lives through the wisdom of Scripture, I have no doubt that a lying spirit will step in to deceive us, telling us what we want to hear. And while He speaks to us through other believers as well, we can’t allow the voice of others to become the Voice of God in our lives. That is idolatry. When we look at the scriptural warnings about the end times, we see that there will be a famine for hearing the Word of the Lord. In addition, there will be an increase in heresy as people allow pleasing words to lead the world into apostasy. 

We know from Peter’s writings that people will scoff at us for proclaiming Jesus’ Second Coming, and we know that an illusion so powerful is coming that it would deceive the Remnant if that were possible. We need to stay close to the Shepherd, so we will know His Voice as He leads us. We need to seek Him with earnest and not allow ourselves to be deceived by the teachings of other gospels: social justice, prosperity, or some self-enlightenment.

There is a doctrine that emerged in the last century that says believers will be whisked away before the foretold Tribulation. There are many learned and devout believers with this perspective, and they have Biblical basis for their belief, but I don’t share it. I would love to be wrong about this doctrine, and I would be the first and loudest voice cheering should that happen, but that is not how I understand the Scriptures. Yes, there will certainly be a rapturous moment when we are raised up with the Returning King, our Savior, but I believe that will happen on the third day after the Two Witnesses are killed. When these witnesses are removed from this world, I believe there will be a great earthquake, and we will all be lifted up to our Returning King. Satan and those who follow him will finally get their wish, and all of us shall be removed from this world. This will be the start of the Great Tribulation when the knowledge of God as God will be made clear to everyone on the earth as the world is remade for a new beginning.

Some people who hold onto a Pre-Tribulation Rapture call it our Blessed Hope. They believe this doctrine is necessary for us to stay close to the Lord with a sense of immediacy, but I believe our own tendency toward selfishness should be enough to humbly draw us into dependency upon Christ. He alone can guard our hearts and minds in truth and love. Jesus is our Blessed Hope, our only Hope for redemption from our own desires in a world that is plummeting into decadence. Stay close to Him.

My concern is that people who hold onto a Pre-Tribulation Rapture belief will find their faith weakened at the time when it needs to be strongest. Perhaps they will be disappointed in God or fall into self-condemnation, believing they missed the Rapture when the Antichrist appears. Perhaps they will crumble under the extreme trials of the Tribulation. After all, the Beast will be given power to conquer the saints for a period (Rev 13:7). But if we stay close to God, we will have the power to endure when the Church suffers severe persecution that lasts for years. 

The Lord is calling us to remain close to Him regardless of the pressures of this world. I wish I could say that it will get easier, but I believe things will get harder. However, in His Presence our backs become stronger for the weight we carry and our Joy increases with the knowledge that all troubles in this world are temporary, paling in comparison to the reward that awaits us when we hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

copyright ©2017 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)