The howl of the wind, the rush of the water, the urgency in the air causing anxiety in the south. Or the roar of the fire, the sunless sky, the smell of smoke in the backyard, causing panic in the north. Our nation has seen so much anger, violence and hostility and now it seems mother-nature is as angry as the political unrest. There seems to be a shaking in our country; a shaking in our world.
Are these incidences just coincidences? Is it “climate change”? Is it just life in a planet that is forever changing? Or is it a compassionate wake-up call to a nation from an Almighty God, reminding people that he is ultimately in control? Or perhaps an “end time” announcement?
We have seen horrific earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides and famines in other countries from a safe place. In fact we have experienced our own earthquakes that rocked the land plus horrific hurricanes and tornadoes and even volcanos that have affected personal lives. Life on this earth, inclusive of weather anomalies and change have occurred since the beginning of time. Yet it seems, from my perspective and others I have spoken with, that our nation is being bombarded by mother nature.
Was the solar eclipse that was nicknamed “The Great American Eclipse” that crossed the contiguous United States a sign of things to come for America? You might ask why one would think this? The Bible mentions signs in the heavens. Jesus warned of the days before his return.
Luke 21: 25-26 states: “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the seas and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (NASV)
Also in Acts 2:20 “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.” ( NIV)
If you have grown up in church you may have heard it preached that we are living in the “last days”. In fact you might remember the “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye that became popular videos in the Christian communities in the early 2000s. Before that there were many street prophets. Some stood with signs on the street corners that stated that the end was near. Often you see these type of people portrayed in movies labeled as crazy or mentally unstable.
But calling out to masses about coming events is not a new concept. John the Baptist could have been considered one of those crazy people. He wore garments of camel-hair with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locust and honey. He often was heard saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2 (ESV) Yet he was actually sent by God to announce the coming of Jesus and was humbled that he was allowed to baptize Jesus before he started his ministry.
Science fiction thriller movies have taken end time theories and made millions at the box office. In these movies the entire world is almost destroyed by some kind of climate change or world war 3 or a massive nuclear bomb or aliens that attack. But just at the last moment a hero saves the day or the world People leave the theater thankful that it was just a movie. And they carry on with their lives.
The concept of “end times” is old and perhaps heard so many times that it is portrayed as ridiculous. That message can get to the point of being overdone. Eventually people get tired of hearing it and roll their eyes. It took so long for Noah to build the Ark that people became weary of the sight of the ark or his lunatic racings, as well, and simply mocked him. They lived as they had always done, eating, drinking and getting married. Suddenly destruction came upon them.
Today people have become immune to the possibility of any truth those words may hold. “Seriously? We have been hearing those “end times” warnings for so long.” And then they will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:4 (ESV)
Some people have gone as far as try to predict the return of the Lord. I remember a book in the 80s that was titled “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988” by Edgar Whisenant. When it didn’t occur the way he assumed, the author continued writing more books that expanded on his explanation. He died without seeing the “rapture” take place in his lifetime.
But Jesus warned, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 (ESV)
Still Jesus forewarns that though we do not know the hour, there will be events that occur before that time. His message was to always be prepared. He even told a parable (or story) that has since been titled “The Parable of the 10 Virgins”. Five people were ready for the coming of the bridegroom, while five others had not been prepared. (Matthew 25:1-13)
Today we have many scoffers, even in the Christian community. In fact the Christian community is divided in many areas. I viewed some testimonies online from individuals that have shared dreams regarding what is taking place in America. Some said that they had already seen these events taking place in those dreams. One that really caught my attention was the proclamation that someone made regarding these two hurricanes. Afterwards they state that there will be a huge earthquake that will rock our nation. All these catastrophic events will devestate the American economy.
Regardless if these events are from the hand of God for judgement or if we are in the “last days” these events can transform each of our lives to help us to grow, if we allow them. They can cause us to trust God in the midst of chaos, create a greater prayer life, grow in our faith and relationship with our Savior and teach us compassion for those around us. Remember 9-11? It drew our nation together. Of course in the midst of positive transformation there will always be the scoffers and those who continue to harden their hearts, becoming bitter. And there will always be those that are bent on the destruction of others and themselves.
Yet heartaches can be used for good. The verse “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB) becomes even more clear. It is the through the hardest times in our lives that God’s grace and the glory can shine.
Still I join with the disciples who waited earnestly for Jesus’ return in their days and know that the day of his ultimate return grows closer. And I pray for those who have been affected by the latest hurricanes, those who have lost their property and lost loved ones. And I pray for those who are being affected by the fires that still rage. So many hurts and so many loses in this world. God have mercy on each of us.
To each of you I leave this verse:
“When you pass through the water, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)