“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars”

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Jesus warns us that our world is in a downward death spiral. His prophecies in Matthew 24, 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21 weave together a scenario of very difficult, horrendous times that could explode like a house with a gas leak. Just one spark and boom. History has had many such sparks and explosions. And each generation thinks ours could be the last and final explosion. I do.

Nagasakibomb

As I write, Syria’s civil war is a gas leak that could explode and engulf the Middle East and destroy the American “firefighters” sent in to rescue the victims and put out the fire. But, what concerns me most about this potential conflagration is that it is next door to Israel and fueled by those who hate the Jews and want to annihilate them. Not since WW II has the extinction of Israel been more possible.

Meanwhile, Americans are more concerned about getting our kids back to school, the power ratings for the NFL, the college football rankings, paying bills, being with our families, doing our jobs, finding a job—the normal routines of the end of summer, beginning of fall rituals. Yes, we watch the local and national news and hear the continual drone of the partisan politics, the redefinition of marriage by the courts, the intolerance of those toward us who disagree with their sexual “rights”. But, do most Americans just passively think that things will get better, as long as we are not inconvenienced? Watch out. Just underneath the surface of the day-to-day stuff, the Bible tells us that there is a terminal cancer eating out the heart of this world: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Sounds like the ads for fall TV series and movies?

What is our response? Live in a fantasy world by ignoring the world’s events and just hoping the rapture comes before all hell breaks loose? That’s laughable and satirized by the entertainment industry. Retreat like hermits and doomsday preppers? That’s contrary to Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors. I think Jesus’ warnings serve us best by calling us to a sense of what is really important and urgent—as if your house were on fire, what would take out of your house first? Family. Pictures. Documents. Pets. It’s all about relationships and getting our loved ones to safety, isn’t it? Well, the house is about to explode, the gas has been leaking for some time and the sparks of wars, especially in the Middle East, might ignite that gas for the big explosion.

Jesus applies His prophecies with several parables in Matthew 25. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (v. 13) Jesus’ parable of the talents warns us to use His gifts to advance His kingdom now. (vs. 14-30). When Jesus comes back in his glory, He will judge all the nations and separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (vs. 31-46). The ridiculous bumper sticker “Coexist” will be incinerated.

How about you? Are you living with the reality of this world’s soon end? Are you living hope?
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” (Philippians 2:14-16)

In these last days, let’s keep our focus. Keep the main thing the main thing: Love God, love people, give life.

For His glory,
Pastor Mike