In the Fullness of Time

 

These days the onslaught of news stories feels like we’ve been caught in the midst of an out-of-control fireworks show – rockets and cherry bombs and roman candles going off every which way, and in such quick succession they seem almost simultaneous. We do our best to look to the past for help in discerning what will explode in the smoke-obscured future, but all the old patterns look shaky at best.

True, midterm elections are usually bad for the party in power – but if the party in power has managed to skew elections through a combination of media bias, IRS intimidation, and voter registration manipulation, all bets are off.

But “that” can’t happen here – a statement we hear a lot, but the bets are off there as well. Our society is no longer controlled by the integrity of the individual citizen; the Constitution is no longer the law of the land. We send cases off to the Supreme Court and it feels like a crapshoot – no telling which way the bottle rocket will head. All we can do is duck and hope the decision doesn’t explode too close to home.

The Russians are running amuck, and Islamic extremists always run amuck and seem to be lighting more fuses – kidnapping nearly 300 little girls?! But we’re not supposed to call them terrorists.

A plane disappears, just vanishes, and does so in a world that’s supposed to be watching everyone everywhere. North Korea feels like a bottle of nitroglycerin that’s been shaken too hard. And meanwhile our president is playing golf, our first lady is posting selfies and our schools are brow-beating our children with impossible exams. The FBI, IRS, EPA, and all the other alphabet bureaucracies are arming themselves to the teeth and going after cantankerous ranchers.  

Meanwhile, we are trying make sense of it all. One concept that helps a little is the cyclical view of history – i.e. that the past seems to cycle through periods of great upheaval about every 500 years.  So half a millennia ago the world was reeling through the Renaissance and the Reformation. Five hundred years before that the feudal system was reorganizing all of Europe and fighting off hordes of Islamic extremists. Five hundred years before that the world was still staggering from the fall of Rome. Five hundred years before that – the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ flipped the world sideways.

OK – so we seem to be on that schedule. The pattern is interesting and may be a valid way to see history, but the only thing that it tells us about the future is that we have a 50-50 chance that things will eventually settle down, but it tells us nothing about what they will settle down to. It’s little comfort.

We do have biblical prophecy – which is of comfort to those of us who see its patterns appearing and know enough about eschatology to understand what we’re seeing. Biblical prognostications can be taken seriously only because all the prophecies that could have taken place by now, have – and in great detail. Just read the book of Isaiah and compare what he said would happen to the Messiah with the gospels and the non-biblical accounts of Christ and be amazed. Even the tiniest details are accurate. And we have copies of Isaiah amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls dating back 150 years before Christ was even born.

So? So, it may be worth looking at; a great deal of biblical prophecy is still to happen. We can’t use prophecy to know what will happen at 3:30 next Tuesday, but we can tell that the end of the world as we know it is at least 1007 years in the future – one of the many reasons why all the global warming hype is just that – hype.

Just suppose for a minute that God, who is omniscient, knows all that could and would happen. Suppose He wanted to let us in on the parts we needed to know and used the Bible to do so. If that’s a given then we should pay attention.

So, what does the Bible foretell?
    That Israel would re-gather as a nation. Check. This happened in 1948 and Jerusalem came under her control in 1967.
    That surrounding Arab nations would attack her. Check. Psalm 83 appears to be forecasting another such event in the near future – likely, if the astronomical events of the next two years are of actual importance, then possibly within that time frame. Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 and 39 make it clear that Israel will triumph.  From the sound of it, this war will involve nuclear weapons.

It seems likely that before this occurs or shortly thereafter the church will leave this world, the apostacia, the departure, will take place. This seems farfetched, but here’s the challenge: either Christianity is just a fairytale, a lie, that weak people lean on, and, conversely thousands of people have died for, or it’s solid reality. One or the other – I can’t find a middle ground that I can stand on. If it was true enough for the people who were there to see it all happen, so real that they were willing to die horrid deaths over it, then I’ll stand with them. So where does that leave us today?

It leaves us smack in the middle of the Judeo-Christian drama. The show’s not over yet, and from the looks of it, when the smoke clears a little now and then, the news is looking more and more like the movie of a book I’ve read. The book of Revelation tells us that men will have identifying numbers on their hands or foreheads and that will be the only way people will be allowed to do business. I’m sure that sounded like nonsense to Augustine, but it seems not only likely today but imminent. One-world government in which the entire earth will be divided into 10 regions now seems both possible and likely, given 21st century communications and the popularity of the idea. Will Iran, Russia, Turkey attack Israel? That’s certainly possible and becoming more likely as each day goes by. In short, none of the predictions sound preposterous.

Does the Bible tell us when such things might happen? No. There is some controversy in the Christian church about the order of events – will the removal of the church happen before, during or after the 7-year Tribulation? I side with the before crowd because it makes more theological sense, but how far into the future we can’t tell and we have no date. What we do have is the certainty that it will happen. And we can, given the power of biblical prophecy, be certain that after that will come the 7 years of the Tribulation explained so thoroughly in Revelation, and after that the one thousand years of the Millennium.

Amidst the constant barrage of exploding new stories we can watch as the unfolding events slip into the biblical patterns and be calmly aware that all is going according to plan. It is sobering to realize that the United States is not mentioned in these prophecies – will we have melted away entirely? Could the Rapture of the church have such a devastating effect? Possibly. Could Obama and his leftist minions succeed? The odds seem to be in his favor.

But the world has a purpose and it will continue until that purpose is fulfilled – of that I am certain. And when we arrive at that point – over a thousand years from now – a new, perfect world will replace it. This will all happen, regardless of the chaotic news reports, all in the fullness of time.