Saturday, January 01, 2005

Keeping Watch

This is a long one, but worth it. Happy New Year!

Many of the things we hear about today are related to what the Bible calls the "End Times," so we're going to talk about why so many people are quoting the Bible now, either for or against things that are happening.

Hang in there on this one; even the non-Christians will want to know about these interesting "Signs of the Times."


SIGNS OF WHAT TIMES?

The phrase "Signs of the times" comes from this passage in the Bible's New Testament, Jesus is speaking:
He replied, "You know the saying, 'Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow, red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.' You are good at reading the weather signs in the sky, but you can't read the obvious signs of the times! (Matthew 16:2-3, New Living Translation)
The Bible talks about many signs of the "End Times," and the world talks a lot about what the Bible says about them. Most people talking about them just throw the terms around without being really clear on what the Bible says about them.


WHAT ARE THE "END TIMES," ANYWAY?

People talk about Armegeddon and the end of the world, is that what it means? Not exactly.

The Bible divides times up into three 2000-year "ages." The first 2000 years, Adam to Moses, was called the Age of Chaos, because chaos had come into the world and there was no restraint against it.

The second 2000 years, Moses to Jesus, was called the Age of Law, because Moses was given the law (the 10 commandments written on the stone tablets) and the law was "our schoolmaster," to to teach us that we couldn't do right even when we tried.

The third 2000 years, from Jesus until, roughly, today, was called the "Church Age" or, the "End Times." Because, it was the last age before the second coming of Christ.

There are several interesting events related to the predicted End Times. You've probably heard of them:
  1. earthquakes, famines, epidemics and signs in the heavens and on earth, then
  2. the rapture ("catching away" of the church),
  3. the revealing of the "Anti-Christ,"
  4. the "tribulation" (7 really bad years) and
  5. the "second coming of Christ" just before
  6. Armegeddon (a battle including all armies of the world) and after that is
  7. the 1,000 year Age of Peace, during which Jesus reigns.
When people talk about the End Times they usually mean the end of this age and the things predicted to happen now (Some believe these things will happen but not now).

This is a hot topic because, a) we're there, and, b) lots of people have their eyes on the "signs of the times."


SO WHAT ARE THE SUPPOSED "SIGNS OF THE TIMES?"

When asked about the signs of his return Jesus said (in Matthew 24:6-8):


And wars will break out near and far, but don't panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won't follow immediately. This has been happening, but note it says the end won't come "immediately."

The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. We definitely have been having famines and earthquakes.

But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. This is not a comforting thought.

Another author explains the same conversation this way (Luke 21:9-11):

And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don't panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won't follow immediately." Sound familiar?

Then he added, "Nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other." As we said, isn't that happening?
There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and epidemics in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs in the heavens. This is why we are looking at these.

SUMMING UP

Jesus said we should be able to recognize "the signs of the times" as well as we can recognize changes in the weather. And the signs he listed for the "end" of the end times are sound mighty familiar.

What is important to note is: 1) what is predicted, and 2) what is happening. And remember, it says these "signs" are only the "beginning of the end." And there is lots more, but we won't go there.

We might want to remember:

1) IF we are going through what the Bible predicted, THEN all the "wars and insurrections" going on all over the world are really "hot spots" in the final war of the Age.
2) IF we are in the "End Times," THEN the natural disasters we are experiencing (earthquakes, famines, epidemics) along with "signs in the heavens and on earth" can be expected to increase this year. (VERY IMPORTANT.)

Did you know the Bible is 75% predictions, or "prophesies" and most of them have already come true? Now there are people who can find fault with that, but it does make a strong case.

As you can see, things going on in the world today line up with things predicted in the Bible enough to generate a LOT of interest and discussion.

Of course, this will only be important IF we really are at the end of the age and IF that 7-point list of predictions (near the top) really is beginning to happen. Hmmm??


ONE MORE THING

Whenever these things are discussed, someone invariably brings up the "no one knows" quote:

"However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. And since you don't know when they will happen, stay alert and keep watch. (Mark 13:32-33)
So we agree and fully admit that we (or anyone else) cannot say the day or the hour these things are predicted to happen, but we find it all very interesting, and want to reserve the right to stay alert and "keep watch" with the rest of the world. And notice it didn't say no one knows the year, month or week. :-)


QUESTION FOR YOU: was last week's tragic tsunami a "sign of the times?"

2 Comments:

Blogger creamyglaze said...

I really doubt it. Religious people like to bring up "end times" whenever some big disaster happens. People have been thinking the world will end anytime for hundreds of years. It's one of the wonderful things about the Bible. It's full of all kinds of brain teasers and vague warnings to keep you afraid and watchful. I mean, give me a break. There will be war, famine, natural disasters! When was this not happening on our planet?

January 1, 2005 at 5:55 AM  
Blogger FatherofFour said...

Thanks for the great post and great blog. If you haven't already, read up on preterism, which agrees with a lot of what you are saying.

You can find some good links here pn my blog.

http://flyingtalkingdonkey.blogspot.com

January 2, 2005 at 1:23 AM  

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