Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fear of What’s Coming

A massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake has struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti with thousands likely to be dead. Earthquakes always remind me of the signs Jesus gave about His return… “there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11, NKJ). The earthquake in Haiti is just one more reminder of how sorely this world needs Jesus to return.

We have always had earthquakes so the one in Haiti is not in and of itself a sign of the soon return of Jesus but it does remind us that life as we know it in this world can change in a moment with no warning. What makes earthquakes a sign of the Lord’s soon return is a dramatic increase in frequency and intensity which Jesus described as “birth pangs” in the parallel passage of Matthew 24:8 (NIV). I don’t expect these birth pangs to be apparent until the Tribulation but, for the spiritually discerning, there are plenty of developments that show the stage is being set for the Tribulation. Since a literal reading of Scripture indicates that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation, we should be encouraged by these stage-setting developments.

People who are not looking forward to Jesus returning will be quite perplexed by the direction this world is taking. Take Global Warming for example. It is pretty clear by now that we are having a colder than normal winter here on the earth's northern hemisphere. But the Global Warming Faithful will not be deterred. They say, “sure, we go through warming and cooling cycles because of changes in solar radiation but the general trend is that the planet will be warming over the long term.” They hold to their Global Warming Dogma because they don’t know how to otherwise explain unprecedented instances of polar ice melting. If “all things continue as the have from the beginning” for billions of years, visible changes to that steady state must be due to the activities of mankind (2 Peter 3:4).

This fear of what is coming on the earth will come to a head during the Tribulation. Luke 21:25-26 says, “there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken” (NKJ). I’m sure this is why people avoid even considering the idea that Jesus will return… His coming is a fearful thing if you aren’t on the side of the One who controls the “powers of heaven.”

Jesus demonstrated his power over the winds and waves on an occasion when He and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee. Matthew 8:24 calls the storm that suddenly engulfed their boat as “a great tempest.” The original Greek word used for this storm is pronounced “seismos” which refers to a quake, a great shaking. Jesus calmed the storm by rebuking the winds and sea to help his disciples with their fear of perishing. Max Lucado in his book Fearless points out that the use of the word “seismos” here puts the occasion of Jesus stilling the storm on the level of the “seismos” that occurred when Jesus defeated sin on the cross and death at the tomb. So silencing our fears is a priority with God. He uses our fears to turn us to Him.

The world is a fearful place and it is becoming more so today due to the actions of people who don’t know the God of the Bible. Many people were shaken by the terrorist attack on America September 11, 2001 which caused more people to start going to church for a while. We were shaken again by the world plunging into a global recession at the end of 2008. The time between world shaking events seems to be shortening in our day. I’m sure that by the time we get to the Tribulation the world-shaking events will be in rapid succession.

The world shaking events being experienced today is a warning to listen to God. Hebrews 12:25-28 says, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

A healthy fear of God is the only fear that will benefit us because God loves us and is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4).

The best way to deal with the fear of what’s coming is to have a godly fear of the One who is coming.

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