I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that a whole bunch of things have appeared to get worse, all of a sudden.
For years we’ve been warned about global warming, but this last year in California we’ve had more snow in one year than we’ve had in the last fifty years. We’re thankful for the relief from the drought that has plagued us for the past decade, but now we have to deal with flooding! Meanwhile, the in Venice (Italy, not California) the canals are drying up!
I notice that autism diagnoses in young children have skyrocketed. The price of eggs has gone through the roof. The lingering toll of the COVID pandemic has left many people fearful of any contact with others. Russia has invaded Ukraine. North Korea is blasting off missiles. China is sucking up personal information from our means of communication. Politicians are being indicted. People feel slighted for the most inoccuous reasons. And on, and on.
Did I mention the earthquakes? Turkey, Syria, the Pacific Rim, California — everywhere seems to be shucking, jiving, moving, shaking and trembling in some way.
I have many friends who ask my opinion about whether these are signs of the last times and I’m sure I frustrate them by giving a less than definitive answer. In short — I don’t know, and neither does anyone else! Anyone who purports to have a definitive answer on this should be taken with a bucketful of salt! When asked about it, Jesus himself said that even he didn’t know, the timing was solely the domain of the Father!
“Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.[emphasis mine] When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day.” [Matthew 24:35-37 NLT]
Jesus does give us a major clue, however, when he says things will be like it was in the time of Noah when he returns. You’ll remember that the story of Noah begins with the behavior of mankind being so repugnant that God finally settles on just washing them all away and starting over again. I don’t know about you, but I definitely see some parallels between our current situation and the times of Noah.
So what about all those earthquakes? Like the reported rise in autism in children I suspect that much of the perceived upward trend may simply be due to better reporting. Our society is much more “connected” in real-time than in the past and many more events get reported and enter our consciousness minute by minute making it appear that much more is happening. This may or may not be the case. But in any case, it certainly should give us a reason to pause and ponder!
However, earthquakes brought to mind a passage from the letter to the Hebrews — probably Jewish christians living in Rome in the first half of the first century — where the writer reports the words of God:
“Be sure you listen to the One Who is speaking to you. The Jews did not obey when God’s Law was given to them on earth. They did not go free. They were punished. We will be punished more if we do not listen to God as He speaks from heaven.
On Mount Sinai, God’s voice shook the earth. But now He has promised, saying, ‘Once more I will shake the earth and the heavens.’
When God says, ‘Once more,’ He means He will take away everything of this world that can be shaken so the things that cannot be shaken will be left.
Since we have received a holy nation that cannot be moved, let us be thankful. Let us please God and worship Him with honor and fear.” [Hebrews 12:25-28 NLT]
According to the writer to the Hebrews, God has a purpose in shaking things up! He wants to reveal that which cannot be shaken. And what’s more, we who are secure in Christ are recipients of a “holy nation that cannot be moved”. He then says we should recognize this and thank God by worshipping Him with honor and respect [fear].
My associative mind immediately jumps to two songs we regularly sing in worship:
“We have an anchor that keeps the soul, Steadfast and sure while the billows roll. Fastened to the rock which cannot move, Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.”
“On Christ the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.”
I remarked to a friend the other day, “I’m concerned, but not worried” about the onslaught of bad news our media throws at us. We do well to remember that we are sheltered and fastened to an eternity which cannot be shaken.
Our job is to bring the good news of security in Christ to those who are deeply troubled by the state of our world. I am fond of telling people, “I have read the end of the book, and we win!” This is true, and very encouraging.
I guess you could say that I am stirred, but not shaken! It is my prayer that you are too!
Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black