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Friday, August 18, 2006
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately; "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3). So when they met together, they asked Him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6).
Some may find this opening illustration distasteful but it's been gripping my heart the last several days since I read the story.*1 This past Tuesday a construction worker fell to his death off a bridge being constructed over the Susquehanna River on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Just last Saturday we crossed the current bridge alongside this new bridge and noticed how high and huge it is. When we saw the construction workers Brooksyne commented about how dangerous their job was and I agreed.
As I read the story a part that really touched me and made me ponder was the fact that, although other workers at the time did not see what caused him to fall, they heard his screams as he fell. I suppose the horrible event plays over and over in their minds. When this man went to work Tuesday morning he faced a definite time when his life would end, though he surely didn't expect it to be so immediate.
One of the great questions of life is "When?" This is true in our personal and family life. If we are dealing with a trial we wonder, "When will this be over?" Several years ago I had a lengthy physical affliction with several disappointing setbacks. I was confident of God's care but sure didn't have any idea how it was going to work out or when it would be "over". Many of you reading this today (really all of you in one way or another) have questions like this in your own life. It may be in regard to a relationship, job, financial situation, physical need and on and on the list goes.
But we all have another question of "When?" similar to the one the disciples had in both daily texts. We look at the world around us; the downward spiral of immorality, the increasing tensions among nations, the desperate and diabolical ambitions of many in a false religious system. We consider the Bible promises and prophecies and wonder, "When will this happen?"
In high school I first learned about the concept of the rapture and recall, in the zeal and joy of youthful behavior, having "rapture practice" where we would kiddingly jump up, as if we needed to assist Christ in taking us home! By the way, we did this in the hallways of a public school, Truman High School in Independence Missouri, where we had a very active campus group affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ. Now in my early fifties I am glad this type of practice and preparation isn't necessary! My knees hurt just too much for it.
There has never been a shortage of those who claim to have the answer to "When this will happen?" Predictive teachings are titillating, get a following and sell books and tapes. Now certain events are again bringing this issue to the forefront. A major American TV network (ABC) will have a program titled, "Last Days On Earth" in a couple of weeks during primetime.*2
In regard to this matter I find myself needing to keep a focus of God's call on my life and avoiding two tendencies.
On the one hand we can get caught up in specific predictions, scenarios and analysis of current events and how they relate to prophecy and the coming of the Lord. I've seen people get so wrapped up in this that their life and ministry gets all out of perspective. Some even become disillusioned when things don't work out as predicted.
On the other hand we must not lose the healthy sense of anticipation and expectation at Christ's coming. For many years I had a small wooden plaque on my desk that simply stated, "Perhaps Today." The apostle Peter warned about scoffers who will say, "Where is this 'coming' He promised?" (2 Peter 3:4). The Apostle John, referring to the hope of seeing the Lord writes, "Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:3).
The main thing is to accept and daily serve the Lord. We all face an ending of this earthly existence, whether at our death or at the rapture. We simply don't know when. Let us stay faithful!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen C. Weber
Brooksyne's prayer: Father, each new day I am led by Your sovereign will. In the midst of life's winding trail I can't always see what lies before me, but step by step You lead me and I follow. There are so many questions that go unanswered and events that are beyond my control. How reassuring it is to realize that You know all things and no event, person, or force can thwart Your overall sovereign plan to bring all things into divine order. Help me to remain faithful during the journey! Amen.
"All The Way My Savior Leads Me" is a stirring hymn that speaks of walking with God and remaining faithful as indicated in the last six words of the song, "Jesus led me all the way." Fanny Crosby writes of God's tender mercies and His divine comfort as constant companions along life's way, all the way until our spirit is clothed in immortality.
A newer version arranged by Rich Mullins
A very traditional, acapella version from a "primitive" Baptist church
(Both are rather poor quality recordings)
*1 Turnpike bridge accident
*2 "Last Days On Earth" (I am not in anyway endorsing this program. Typically when secular sources deal with matters like this they have all sorts of cranks who are often characterized as "scholars". Let's hope they might have a representative voice for Biblical truth as well.)
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