Terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon being always in our thinking, it is perhaps appropriate to reflect upon where this generation might stand while the prophesied apocalyptic storm approaches.
My colleagues and I often discuss these days the apparent lull in birth pang-like contractions the world seems to be in at this time. Other than the tsunami of December 2004, the catastrophic hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, and the current ISIS rampages across the Middle East, major convulsions that might be harbingers of the tribulation have seemed minimally significant. But, upon closer examination, is the supposed lull really a lull?
Scripture verses like the following come to mind, when thinking on end-time activity prophesied, with regard to the “time of sorrows” spoken of by the Lord: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Lk. 21:25).
Jesus said world conditions just before His return will be like a woman in travail with child. Geopolitical, geophysical and societal/cultural matters will be in a state of wave-like flare-ups. Yet there seems a dichotomy in His Mount of Olives discourse prophecies. Jesus’ words indicate that the time of His coming will be preceded by, at the same time, a worldwide perception that lulls earth’s inhabitants into a sense of things being as usual. Here is what He said in a couple of prophetic passages: “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:44). “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Lk. 17:26-30).
Perhaps a bit earlier–in the late 20th century— we were left to wonder why this dichotomy. Why Jesus foretold a time of tremendously increased troubles for the world –that come in birth pang-like fashion—and yet at the same time gave a picture of a day when no one will really see the birth pangs, except those who are truly watching for end-time things that are occurring. How can it be that these painful contractions are going on, while they are, for the most part, not noticed, just before Christ intervenes with catastrophic results?
The answer is, I think, that the contractions are so frequent now that the world has by and large become desensitized to what is happening. The quaking earth, the raging seas–both literally and figuratively (the seas of humanity), the signals of societal collapse, and all the rest assaulting our brains day and night through reports from the ever-present news media simply overload the senses. Thus there is at the same time the birth pang-like convulsions and the ho-hum attitude –even among God’s people—that things are the same as always. So, the perceived lull is really no lull at all. We reflect on what’s really going on at present.
- The world’s economy is as near collapse as the next financial default of any number of nations.
- The highest court in America has over-ruled God in the matter of His making marriage between a man and a woman, forcing upon the American people what God’s Word calls Abomination.
- America’s president embraces the tyrants of the world yet flagrantly demonstrates his dislike for Israel, threatening to pull America away from close alliance with the Jewish state.
Yet the world wags on, with America – in spite of rumors of serious economic and social ills that could disrupt not only the U.S., but the world’s economy, continuing to carry on business as usual.
We can definitely begin to understand the two conditions co-existing that seem in such diametric opposition one to the other. We begin to comprehend the paradox —both the great upheaval, and the sense of business as usual.
Obviously Jesus Christ, who is God, foresaw this incrementalism that will dull the perception of most alive on Planet Earth just before He intervenes catastrophically into the affairs of mankind in the end of days. He knew all about the lull that will in actuality not be a lull at all, but a situation not unlike the proverbial frog who does not realize it is being boiled alive because it can’t perceive its precarious, even lethal, circumstance.
That is why Jesus instructed those who are called by His holy name: “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” (Mk. 13:37).