When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes (Matthew 24:37-39-NLT).
For a few months now, I’ve had a sense deep inside that change was coming to our world, and, it’s not a good change. It’s a change that is filled with challenges and confrontations spiritually, mentally, relationally, physically, economically, and socially. No one will be immune from the effects of what is coming. I can’t exactly tell you what it is, but I can just tell you that as I pray, something that changes the game of life is on the horizon. And that is as specific as I can be right now. And, the body of Christ in America is not ready.
This past Sunday I was “minding my own business” as our worship service was proceeding. The worship was good, the band was good, the people were engaging God and I heard again a word that came to me first in my office prior to the service beginning. My people are at ease in Zion. Zion is a term used in the Old Testament to refer to the people of God.
This is a quote from the book of Amos. Before I go further, let me address a faulty concept that says because we are new covenant Christians and live under the grace of God, the Old Testament is no longer relevant to who we are and what we experience. Well, that’s a new idea for me. If that were true, then what do I do with Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 10:
1 Corinthians 10:1-11 (NLT) – I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. (2) In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. (3) All of them ate the same spiritual food, (4) and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. (5) Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. (6) These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, (7) or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” (8) And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day. (9) Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. (10) And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. (11) These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.
Paul indicates that the things that we read about happening to God’s people in Israel in the Old Testament are written to help us now as we face the close of the church age. With that thought in mind, let’s look at Amos chapter 6, where the prophet is being quite plain in addressing the sins of Israel:
Amos 6:1-7 (NLT) – What sorrow awaits you who lounge in luxury in Jerusalem (KJV- who are at ease in Zion), and you who feel secure in Samaria! You are famous and popular in Israel, and people go to you for help. (2) But go over to Calneh and see what happened there. Then go to the great city of Hamath and down to the Philistine city of Gath. You are no better than they were, and look at how they were destroyed. (3) You push away every thought of coming disaster, but your actions only bring the day of judgment closer. (4) How terrible for you who sprawl on ivory beds and lounge on your couches, eating the meat of tender lambs from the flock and of choice calves fattened in the stall. (5) You sing trivial songs to the sound of the harp and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David. (6) You drink wine by the bowlful and perfume yourselves with fragrant lotions. You care nothing about the ruin of your nation. (7) Therefore, you will be the first to be led away as captives. Suddenly, all your parties will end.
The cities mentioned here: Calneh, Hamath, and Gath, were all destroyed by their enemies. Somehow Israel had been lulled to sleep by their prosperity, and they felt invincible to any major problems like other cities had. God’s love and blessing had brought prosperity, but Israel forgot the God they were in covenant with, and had come to enjoy the blessings more than and in place of the person who gave the blessings – God Himself.
Food was plentiful, leisure was an important part of life, entertainment was abundant, and the wine flowed freely as Israel enjoyed their party times. They had no idea that their nation was in jeopardy of collapsing and being run over by their enemies. Little did they know that war, famine (lack of food), and disaster were just around the corner.
Fast forward to America today. In spite of all the people that attend church once a week (make that less than 2 times a month according to recent stats), we are a nation addicted to money, greed, entertainment, lusts, illicit sex, lying, cheating, and on and on the list goes. And truth be told, the church looks more and more like the culture it’s called to reach.
We are at ease. As long as the Stock Market is high, jobs are plentiful, food is abundant, and our needs are met, we go on and on with hardly a care while our culture in spinning down into a morass of moral perversion. One day, just like with Israel and Judah, judgment will come. Things will change, and we are not ready.
Back in the early 1990’s I was in my early thirties and I was reading the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel spans most of the prophet Daniel’s life, and for most of the book of Daniel, he was in exile in Babylon away from the land of Israel because of the disobedience of God’s people as a whole. As I read through Daniel, one day I had the sudden realization that all of God’s people, both the obedient and disobedient went into Babylonian exile. The righteous were affected just like the disobedient people were. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego, were all removed from their home land along with the disobedient people.
Today, I do believe we are living at the very end of the church age. And, right after the church age comes an age of judgment called the tribulation and the Day of the Lord. The Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl Judgments in the book of Revelation chapters six through eighteen all come as a result of God’s righteous judgments upon His arch-enemy Satan, and those people groups that follow God’s diabolical enemy.
The lines between the age of Grace and age of judgment are beginning to be blurred. The climate on earth is changing (don’t confuse this with global warming – which in my view is a ridiculous theory), earthquakes are increasing. Famines are coming. Economic upheaval is approaching, war and chaos on an unprecedented scale will eventually engulf the planet. Finally we will come to a terrible time that Jesus mentions in Matthew 24 where no one would survive unless this terrible time was cut short. Matthew 24:21-22 (NLT): For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. (22) In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, the rapture of the church occurs, and true believers are taken to heaven before the judgment of God begins. I’ll talk about this in the next few days as I continue this thought that we need to prepare for what is coming.
I’ve read from several sources of what some people call a normalcy bias. That is, a thinking process that says that because everything just keeps going the way it has, there is no need to worry about unusual things that you hear that may be on the horizon. Here’s a clear statement from a normalcy bias: 2 Peter 3:3-4 (NLT) – Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. (4) They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”
Jesus really is coming again. We really could be the generation that sees His return. Now is the preparation time for what is coming. God has promised to take care of His people regardless of what comes. Now is the time to get ready by making firm consecrations to God and His word with how you live your life. Search yourself and ask God to show you any areas of compromise that affect how you relate to Him. He has promised to care for us through every hard place. But He must have our cooperation.
I’ll continue in my next blog!