Living in Light of the Times, Part 2
In our previous article, we noted that Christians need to spend more of their time imitating Jesus. In order for that to happen, we need to ask what He did in daily life? Clearly, He lived to fulfill the Father’s business and the overarching aspect of that meant calling people to prepare for the coming Kingdom of heaven. Whatever God the Father wanted God the Son to do, Jesus did. In essence, Jesus was not only the perfect Son, but the perfect Servant, something we are to strive to be.
How did He manage to maintain the attitude and discipline to be in constant obedience to the Father?
Aside from the fact that Jesus had no sin nature (unlike us), though was tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15), Jesus always kept His focus on exactly where it should be. It was this focus that helped Him maintain the proper attitude, which translated into saying the right thing, doing the right thing, and thinking the right thing without fail. Never did He falter, stumble, or fade.
He started off by learning and knowing the Word. At the age of 12 we see him mystifying the teachers at the Jewish Temple (Luke 2:41-52). Specifically, verses 46 and 47 tell us the following:
After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Jesus were astonished at his understanding and his answers.
Notice the second sentence tells us “all who heard Jesus were astonished at his understanding and answers.” It is very likely that Jesus – even at this tender age of 12 – actually brought enlightenment to the religious teachers at that point. They were literally “astonished” at His ability to grasp the meaning of Scripture and to answer their questions put to Him. How many 12-year-olds do you know who could do this? Obviously, He had already spent a good amount of time reading, studying, and learning the Word by this point in His life.
This only comes from having a perfectly focused mind with goal always in sight along with diligent study of God’s Word. If the Man Jesus needed to study to gain insight, understanding, and to develop a proper focus on life, how much more should we? Only you know how much you study God’s Word. Only you know how diligent you are in pouring over its pages. We all – myself included – need to admit that we can always seek more of God through the pages of His Word. Jesus did this and it deeply affected His attitude, how He carried Himself, and how He lived His whole life. The Scriptures literally directed His steps and put Him in close communion with His heavenly Father daily.
We pointed out last time that society appears to be moving with specificity, rapidity, and consistency toward the end of this age. We’ve also mentioned before that as far as Jewish rabbis are concerned, there are essentially two ages in world history; this age and the one to come. This age is human history under man’s rule, though God is still sovereign. The next age is human history under the perfect reign of Jesus, Messiah, Savior, and Lord. This age appears to be moving toward the great climax the Bible speaks of called the Tribulation/Great Tribulation. This coming entire period of seven years is characterized by increasing evil which will be fully unleashed once Antichrist takes up his seat in the Temple and proclaims himself to be God at the midpoint of those seven years. From that point on, the “great” Tribulation (or final 3 1/2 years of the seven-year Tribulation) unfolds.
He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
The “he” referred to here is the Antichrist, the man Paul also calls “man of lawlessness.” A similar situation occurred once before in human history in 168 BC with Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who, on his way back from a halted attempt by Rome to attack Egypt, took his anger out on Israel, when he waltzed into the Jewish Temple and slaughtered a pig on the altar. Some historians also note he set up a statue/idol of Zeus in the Holy Place. Jesus referred back to this atrocity, which ended up halting the sacrifices, and became known as the “abomination that desolates” in Matthew 24. Jesus noted that the same type of event would take place just prior to His own second coming or physical return (as Paul notes above in 2 Thessalonians 2).
Yet, look at how society is moving along as though no date with destiny and God’s judgment awaits. Unfortunately, too many Christians are all too often caught up in the madness that has blinded the world to the coming woes.
On one hand it is absolutely astounding that the average person in society can live the way they live, with death always and only but one breath away, totally ignorant of God’s sovereignty and their appointment with judgment until it’s too late. As well, Christians too often seem more occupied with trying to get the “correct” candidate installed into elected office than spreading the gospel message far and wide. We rightly think society has veered terribly off course, but we wrongly think we must be the ones to set things right. I’ll say it again, yes, we should do what we can to overcome evil, but too many Christians think that straightening out society equals spreading the gospel. I reject that rationale. They are two completely different things and the former should not push out the latter, but in all too many cases, it does.
What should Christians do? Clearly, it is incumbent upon us to readjust our thinking. We are here for only a relatively short time and for a very specific purpose. It is not to become lost in or overcome by the world’s system, but to remain apart from it. Yes, we are part of the world, so we must make use of aspects of the world’s system, but we cannot – dare not – be overcome by it. Certainly, we should not fear it either unless we fear losing it?
Christians must work certainly, but never fear. We should never fear that God is taken by surprise, that He paces back and forth in the heavens wringing His hands and gnawing on His lips wondering if His children will ever work hard enough so that He can accomplish something. God is not impotent. He always manages to get things done according to the precision of His will in spite of the egregious nature of Satan, his angels, and humanity. God is never thwarted or hampered in any way, shape, or form. Even a cursory reading of His Word bears this out and proves the point sufficiently.
I’m not advocating a laissez-faire attitude that says, “Hey, I don’t need to do anything because God has it all under control!” I’m saying we do our part and always trust that in spite of how things turn out, God will have His way. Oh, it may look terrible to us, but how does it look from God’s perspective? Do we have faith in God? Do we actually believe God is sovereign or not?
There are several aspects of the events leading directly up to the crucifixion of Jesus that help us understand this truth. These help to remind us that God was (and remains), fully in charge of all things in spite of puny man’s attempts to override His will.
Long before Jesus was born as the God-Man, prophecies were written by numerous holy men of old that outlined and detailed the things that would happen to the Messiah during His first advent to earth in human form. Anyone who has studied these prophecies knows that many have already been fulfilled and to the nth degree. There is no question (or shouldn’t be), among believers that Jesus was the One written about hundreds of years before He came to die.
As Jesus was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked why they came out against Him at night as though He was a thief (Matthew 26:55)? Matthew notes this was done so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. In other words, Matthew was attesting to the fact that what took place against Jesus had been written about centuries before and was finding fulfillment in his day. Is this not proof that God is sovereign? Without doubt. But if it was God’s will, how can those who came against Jesus be held accountable? Because they willingly gave themselves over to evil so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled. Consider that. Dwell on it.
Not only did Jesus have to endure the illegal trials before Annas and Caiaphas (the trials were at night, making them illegal), but He was paraded first before Pilate, then sent to Herod, then sent back to Pilate. After all that, Jesus was declared innocent by Pilate because he stated he found no fault in Jesus (cf. John 18:38).
The entire process that led up to His crucifixion was ordered by God and aren’t you glad?! It was God’s design and His sovereignty that brought it all about! Yet, it was terrible, horrendous, and shocking to know what Jesus went through and put up with for our sake! From a human perspective, He should not have been falsely accused, suffered, or died. Yet, He submitted willingly to all three because of His great love for you and me that compelled Him to the cross.
If we judge merely by human standards, the whole thing was tragic. It should not have happened. Surely, something should have been done to avoid it! But no, God had decreed and brought it to pass.
Most have little to no problem understanding why God would design something that required the perfect, undefiled blood of the God-Man to become the sacrifice for us so that we might have the opportunity to receive salvation made available because of that sacrifice. We have no problem understanding things even if only to a small degree.
Consider though that the religious leaders heard of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead before the disciples and their response was to pay off the Roman guards, telling them to lie and they would cover for them! How hard-hearted must a person be to hear from the brave, strong Roman guards that Jesus had actually risen from the dead and then try to cover over what is clearly the truth?! That is pure evil, but it played directly into God’s sovereignty.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men (Matthew 28:2-4).
I know some will disagree with me, but I think it behooves Christians to be less concerned about what is happening in society and more concerned about the fate of those who pass by us every day who may not know the Lord.
If we believe that a Tribulation of seven years is coming, and if we believe as Jesus says in Matthew 24 that it will be the most evil time the world has ever seen, and if we believe one thoroughly evil man will give himself over to his spiritual father Satan and will rise to the top of the heap doing everything he can to oppose God, and if we believe that this same individual will face the coming God the Son at the end of the Tribulation (only to be vaporized in but a brief second), then how can we possibly think anything we can do will forestall it or “slow down” the process?!
Is God’s timing already determined or is it up to us and what we might be able to accomplish? Are the coming days of unsurpassed evil already on God’s time-table or is there something puny humanity can do to push things back? In short, is God fully sovereign or is His sovereignty somehow dependent upon humanity’s actions? If the latter, then God is most certainly not sovereign and I fully reject that notion.
We must come to our senses with respect to God’s sovereignty and we must be about the Father’s business which is found in Matthew 28 – the Great Commission. We are not called to save society, but to introduce people to God the Son, who came to die so that they might have life and have it abundantly. We then must teach them the things that we have been taught through His Word so that they can develop into mature Christians who also take seriously the Great Commission.
Ultimately, this entire world will be destroyed by Jesus Himself along with the heavens which have been corrupted by the same sin that has corrupted the rest of His Creation. These things are on God’s time-table and have been determined before the foundations of this earth.
We need to get with God’s program and stop worrying about how we can change society so that things will “improve.” They aren’t going to improve. Hell is destined to be unleashed onto the earth and Satan will have his day in the form of Antichrist and he will be defeated with finality. Aren’t you glad? There is an end to this growing, stupefying morass of evil and it is on the horizon. Can you not see it? Can you not yet hear the footsteps of the Messiah as He returns in complete and utter victory to a world that has always rejected Him and His sovereign rule?
Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Emotional virtue, eternity, israel, Judaism, Life in America, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Pretribulational Rapture, rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming, temple mount. Tags: 2 Thessalonians 2:4, antichrist, god is in control, god's sovereignty, hebrews 4:15, jesus at age 12, kingdom of heaven, luke 2:41-52, man of lawlessness, man of sin, obedience, psalm 2, sovereign, sovereignty.