There will be perilous times in the last days

- “Malaysian plane shot down over Ukraine – all 298 on board perish.”

- “War breaks out between Israel and Hamas.  Hundreds killed.”

- Northern Iraq overtaken by ISIS – Terrorist group seizes Uranium Compound.” 

- “Thousands of immigrant children pour across the U.S. — Mexico border.”

- “80% of California now in extreme drought.”

- “Gallup Survey shows over half of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.”

How should believers respond to these troubling headlines?  As followers of Jesus Christ, do we hunker down in our homes and refuse to travel?  Do we take a survival course and buy an arsenal of guns?  Do we gulp down anti-depressants or a shot of whiskey each night to calm our frayed nerves?

I think we would do well to remember two truths from Scripture.  The first is that perilous times are a sign of the soon return of Jesus Christ.  The Bible predicts that as we near the Lord’s return the world will become increasingly chaotic, to the point that, “Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world…” (Luke 21:26).  The Bible predicts that in the last days all nations will come against Israel and extreme violence and sexual immorality will be rampant.

Rather than getting panicky, we should confidently lift up our heads for our redemption is drawing near.  As Pastor Adrian Rogers aptly put it, “The world is getting gloriously dark.”  The storm clouds on the horizon should remind us that God’s timetable is unfolding just as He predicted.  We are nearing the glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ and He will make all things new.  Our hearts should quicken with anticipation rather than palpitate in fear.

Secondly, let’s remember God’s promise that death has lost its sting for those who are in Christ.  Yes, it’s true that this world is not a safe place, but in reality it never has been.  David once wrote, “There is a step between me and death.”  James said, “We don’t know will happen tomorrow.”  The world wasn’t safe for our forefathers who braved the high seas to come here or who struggled on wagon trains to move westward.

Let’s remember that our hope isn’t in this world.  It’s in Christ.  It’s in the world to come.  Like Abraham we look for a city whose builder and maker is God.  Like the Psalmist we can say, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…”  Jesus encouraged his followers, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

When you’re tempted to be anxious, ask yourself again, “Do I really believe what I say I believe?”  Do I believe Christ died to forgive my sins and that He arose from the dead to prove I can do it too through His power?  If I believe God’s Word is true, then I will think and act like it.  I will say with the Apostle Paul, “To live is Christ, to die is gain”.   And I will, “… set my affections on the things that are above and not on the things of earth.”

Since the Lord is my shepherd, I will fear no evil.  I will not be afraid to fly in a plane or drive a car at night or walk in the park alone or take a missionary trip overseas.  I will not be intimidated by Satan’s fiery darts.  Because, “…we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Cor. 5:1).

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was imprisoned and tortured for his faith during the communist takeover of Romania.  In captivity, an arrogant interrogator sought to intimidate Wurmbrand by thrusting a gun to his temple.  He barked, “Don’t you know I have the power to take your life?”  Wurmbrand calmly replied, “Sir, put your hand over my heart.  If it beats rapidly you can know I am afraid.  But if my heart beats normally, you can know that God lives and I do not fear what a mere man can do to me.”

When the moment of death nears, the Scripture assures us that the Holy Spirit will empower us.  So, trust in the Lord and be strong and courageous.  Jesus assured us, “Do not let your heart be troubled.  You trust in God; trust also in me.  In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).

There is one safe place to hide in perilous times.  It’s not cowering in your home or hunkering down in a bunker.  The only safe place to be in these uncertain times is in the will of God. “…under his wings you will find refuge, his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness nor the plague that destroys at midday” (Psalm 91:4-6).

 

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