The End Approaching
The End Approaching
The economy has been shut down. Politicians are fighting. People are protesting the shutdown. On top of the inconveniences, difficult situations are made more difficult. All of us are affected by this. The whole world has been affected by this.
Wedding plans have been changed dramatically. Family members have been infected and even died. This has been a world-changing event.
In our fathers’ generation, there were two great world wars and the unleashing of the atomic bomb. When I was a child, people were building bomb shelters and storing up food. Our world groans under the consequences of sin. As Romans 8:22 tells us:
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:22 ESV)
We all have our own reactions to these things. Fear, anger, frustration, preparation, planning, anticipation and the list could go on endlessly. This season will pass, and we can begin preparing and planning now for when this time is over. Our world will be changed. The evil one is pushing his agenda. The spirit of the antichrist that is always at work in the world is using this as an opportunity to advance its cause. Remember what Ephesians 6:12 says. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers against the authorities against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” However, as far as our world is concerned, we know already the general outline of what is to happen. And for our individual lives, we have the confidence that God is on our side. Encourage yourself with the words from Jeremiah 29:11.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)
We are living in the last days. I believe that I will be caught up when Jesus comes for in the rapture of the Church spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 4:17. In other words, I believe that Jesus will return while I am still alive. Unless I get to go home early because of a car crash or coronavirus or a hangnail or cancer or liver failure.
Remember, this world is not our home. As believers in Christ, we are citizens of the kingdom of God and our home is in our Father’s house where Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us and where He is seated at the right hand of the Father. As citizens of a different kingdom, Jesus told us that if the world hated Him it will also hate us. 2 Timothy 3:12-13 says:
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV)
In light of this world situation, I want to encourage us with the words of Hebrews 10:19-31.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:19-31 ESV)
Look with me and consider the words of verse 25 where it says, “...as you see the Day drawing near.” Friends, we see the day drawing near.
The coronavirus is an indication of the last days just as the two world wars of the last century were indications of the last days. Do you remember how God gave Pharaoh 10 chances to repent and to let the people of Israel go? God did this by sending 10 plagues and before each plague God sent Moses to say, “Let my people go.” According to 2 Peter 3:9, the Lord is not slow concerning His promise to return, but He is patiently waiting for people to repent. He really does not want anyone to perish.
The coronavirus is not an indication of the Day of the Lord or that the Great Tribulation has begun. However, it is a call to repentance. It is a call for sinful man to repent. It is a reminder that when the day of the Lord, the great Tribulation, comes it will be much worse.
How are we as believers supposed to respond? What should we be doing? Hebrews 10:19-31 gives instructions for us as we see the day approaching.
First, we are to instructed in verse 22 to draw near to God with a true heart and full assurance of faith. Look at how this is described:
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
This is consistent with other passages that call us to live godly, pure lives. We are called to be holy as God is holy. We are called to walk by the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We are called to be imitators of God as beloved children. This world is not our home. We are just passing through. If you have your heart and mind fixed on the things of this world, let the coronavirus remind you how fleeting these things are and how quickly they can be taken away.
Second, we are called to hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.
This is a call to perseverance. The world mocks and challenges our faith in many ways. The Bible is attacked in many ways. Some say it is full of fables and myths. Some say it is not reliable. Some say it is not scientifically accurate. In more than half of the nations of our world, it is illegal to be a Christian or to confess the name of Christ. In a study conducted in 2019, Open Doors reports that every day, day after day, 11 Christians die for their faith. That makes 4,015 martyrs in a 365-day year. And these are just the deaths recorded in the top 50 countries that ban Christianity. So, in actuality, the real number is much higher. Another way to consider the cost of being a Christian in our world is to consider the years from 1901 to 2000. Christianity dot com reports:
In a recent article, Justin D. Long emphasized the startling fact that more people have died for their faith in the Twentieth Century than in all of the previous centuries combined. “During this century, we have documented cases in excess of 26 million martyrs. From AD 33 to 1900, we have documented 14 million martyrs.
We are called to hold fast our confession. This means that we must hold fast to the basic truths of the gospel, which according to the Apostle Paul are as follows:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV)
Notice that Christ's death, burial and resurrection are all according to the Scriptures. The Scriptures are the means by which we know the truth. We must hold fast to these truths.
In addition to drawing near to God and holding fast our confession, we are called to gather together and encourage each other. Hebrews 10:25 says:
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
We are currently quarantined because of a virus. However, God has provided means by which we can gather and encourage each other. We have the telephone. We have “FaceTime.” We have “Skype.” We have “Zoom.” We can encourage each other using all these tools. Please share the online church services with your friends. Invite them to watch. Ask them how they are doing. Remind them of their need for Christ, for forgiveness for salvation and for a relationship with God.
Consider the extremely serious and urgent warning of Hebrews 10 verses 26 and 27 and think about how important it is for all your family, friends and neighbors to hear the message of the Gospel.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26-27 ESV)
The coronavirus has reminded us of how easily all life on this planet can be disrupted. The coronavirus has reminded us that we are living in the last days. The coronavirus has reminded us of what is truly important. We have never had a better opportunity to tell others about Christ. You may never have a better opportunity to get right with God.
What will you do with this opportunity?