How Long?

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As I reflect on the Sutherland Springs shooting this past Sunday, the word “brutal” comes to my mind. In 2 Timothy 3:2 the Apostle Paul says that people will become “heartless, unappeasable . . . brutal . . . treacherous, reckless” during the last days. Is this not what we are seeing throughout our world to an ever increasing degree?

Do not all these traits sum up someone who would walk into a church and slaughter 26 innocent people including small children? Does this terrible act of violence not confirm Paul’s words of the “perilous times” we would see before Jesus’ return?

Although we do not understand the shooter’s ultimate motive, we know he had threatened his mother-in-law who attended the church. We also know that he was an atheist who mocked Christians stating that all “people who believed in God were stupid.” Did his antagonistic mindset toward believers contribute to the killing of so many of them? It seems likely to me. Why kill so many innocent people out of anger for just one person?

In his prophecy update on Sunday, Pastor J. D. Farag spoke of how Satan knows that his time is short and is stepping up his evil and murderous activity. I believe the shooter in Sutherland Springs was demon possessed and the killing stemmed from Satan’s rage against God people. The devil used his hatred to inflame not only the rage of this shooter but also to instill in him a total lack of pity for those he killed.

We see these types of attacks on Christians all throughout the world. A couple weeks ago, ISIS viciously attacked and killed 128 Christians in the Syrian town of Qaryatayn as they fled the city. Boko Haram and his men continue to brutally kill Christians by the hundreds in Nigeria. Do you remember the bombs that killed many Coptic Christians in Egypt during their Palm Sunday services earlier this year?

Brutal and Reckless

According to William Barclay, the word Paul used for brutal in 2 Timothy 3 “denotes a savagery which has neither sensitiveness nor sympathy.” It refers to a fierceness of character that displays a lack of human sympathy or feeling in its treatment of others. Does this not describe the shooter in Las Vegas as well? In both cases, these killers acted without the least bit of compassion toward their victims.

The word reckless in this passage describes someone falling headlong into something; it later came to define someone pursuing evil with great passion.  Barclay says this about it, “It describes the man who is swept on by passion and impulse to such an extent that he is totally unable to think sensibly.” This certainly fits with the demonic rage the Sutherland Springs shooter exhibited.

Jesus said that what we are seeing throughout our world today would happen in the last days just before His return.

In describing the end times Jesus said this, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another” (Matt. 24:9-for 10). Jesus said that what we are seeing throughout our world today would happen in the last days just before His return.

The Lord Sees

Long ago, the prophet Habakkuk complained about the “destruction and violence” he saw in Israel. Like today, he saw that the wicked often triumphed over the righteous so that “justice” was “perverted” (Hab. 1:3-4). The Lord’s response, in summary, was that He saw all the violence and perversion of justice. Because of evil rampant in Judah at the time, he would send the Babylonians to judge His people. They later came and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple taking many of the people captive back to Babylon.

Jesus is near to us in our pain; He never leaves or forsakes those of us who know Him.

The Lord sees the atrocities of our time. He also looks with compassion upon all our suffering; He deeply feels the sorrow of the survivors in Sutherland Springs. In Psalm 34:18 David said this, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Jesus is near to us in our pain; He never leaves or forsakes those of us who know Him.

Just as in the days of Habakkuk, the Lord will someday respond to the violence and great wickedness we see around us in the world. He sees the countless babies murdered in our abortion clinics. He sees the deadly rampages of sick evil men. He sees a culture that has lost its way and fallen into all sorts of deviant behavior. At just the right time, Jesus will totally destroy the kingdom of darkness responsible for all this rebellion against Him.

Is this not why the coming time of tribulation described in Scripture will result in so much devastation? Jesus will have His day. After exacting judgments on sinful humanity and the domain of Satan, He will return with unimaginable power and glory. His kingdom will someday fill the earth with righteousness and justice. He will reign for a thousand years and then forevermore.

We Have Hope of a Better Day

We have hope; this life is not all we have. Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Paul had already suffered greatly when he wrote this. Later, Nero beheaded him. Even so, he regarded all this affliction (and martyrdom) as “not worth comparing with” all the wonders and joys that awaited him in eternity.

A much better day is coming. In eternity, God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

Jesus sees all our tears and someday will replace them with exceeding joy.

This picture is a far cry from our current experience, from the headlines of our day. Yet, this is our hope because we belong to Christ. The suffering and death of this current world is just a temporal fleeting reality. In God’s eternal day, we will see His purposes behind all that we suffered on earth. Jesus sees all our tears and someday will replace them with exceeding joy.

Yes, the brutality we witnessed in Sutherland Springs was horrific; I cannot even begin to imagine the horror of being in that church when the shooter arrived. Jesus, however, saw all that happened and not only is He comforting the victims in heaven, He will wipe out all such evil in His kingdom and then forevermore.

Revelation 6:10 gives voice to the martyred tribulation saints in heaven, “They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” I wonder if the recently martyred saints in our world are saying something similar before God’s throne in heaven.

Those of us still in shock due to the violence we see in places such as Sutherland Springs ask, “How long before you come and take us home, O Lord? How long before you bring your justice to this wicked, violent, and rebellious world? How long before you establish your righteous rule over the nations of the earth?”

Jesus last words to His church were “Surely I am coming soon.” To which John added, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

Is this not our hope? Someday Jesus will correct all the wrongs of our current world; those who know Jesus will rest with Him forever experiencing sweet relief from the suffering and pain of this life.

How long until then?

Maranatha!!

 

Are These Perilous Times?

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The news of the Las Vegas massacre shocked me. I watched with great sadness as updated news bulletins increased the death toll seemingly each hour on Monday morning. How could someone be so evil as to murder innocent so many people he did not know? How could he gun them down as though he was a gamer shooting lifeless images on a computer screen?

The pictures of those killed, now appearing on news sites, are almost too much for me to bear. I see the smiling faces and wonder about the grieving families left behind.

Are these the “perilous times” that the Apostle Paul described in 2 Timothy 3? Are we in the “last days?” I think so. Paul’s mention of “last days” in this passage refers to the time just before the end of this age. While the evil people he described in the opening verses of this chapter existed in his day as well as in every era since then, the sense is that they will be especially numerous at the end of human history with their behavior much more intense, or fierce, than in previous times. I believe this is what we are seeing today.

This Is a Sign of the Last Days

In 2 Timothy 3:1 Paul says this, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (KJV). I used the King James Version here because the phrase “times of difficulty,” as in the English Standard Version, does not capture the harshness of the word in the Greek.

In Matthew 8:28, the word in the original depicts the fierceness of the two men possessed by demons. The text says that they were “so fierce that no one could pass that way.” They were “violent and dangerous” men as the commentator William Barclay describes them. The word also denotes someone as “hard to approach.” The brutal nature of these demon possessed men made it impossible for anyone to deal with them in any normal way.

Does this not bring to mind the scene in Las Vegas? Although the suspected shooter did not appear to be violent leading up to the assault, he somehow possessed the vileness to carry out the vicious attack. I believe the characteristics of the two demon possessed men of Matthew 8 apply to anyone who would massacre and injure so many people. We see the work of the devil in all such violence such as was certainly on display during this latest tragedy.

Barclay also described the menacing last times of 2 Timothy 3:1-5 as “a kind of last tremendous assault of evil before its final defeat.” All throughout the world we see daily terror attacks with similar death and destruction. The devil knows his time is growing short and is fiercely and savagely attacking all that is good. This came to full fruition in Las Vegas, did it not? This brutal attack has the fingerprints of Satan all over it.

Although the authorities have not yet announced the motive for the killing, I firmly believe ISIS was behind it. In Amir Tsarfati’s prophecy update after the tragedy, he provided many convincing reasons for this conclusion. I do not think the shooter could possibly have carried out his tragic attack without help. He appeared innocent enough so he could procure the weapons, but could not have planned and carried this out alone.

Are You Ready?

What does the terrible tragedy in Las Vegas tell us? I believe it primarily reminds us that we need to be ready. If you know the Lord as your Savior, this means watching for Him to return as Jesus instructed us to do in Matthew 24:42-44. If we are in Christ, we know we will see Him either through death or meeting Him in the air. We need not be afraid of the day in which we live; we are secure in Him regardless of what comes our way. Personally, I am hoping to meet Jesus in the air.

If you do not know Him, please call upon His name while you have opportunity. As demonstrated by what happened in Las Vegas, life on this earth is ever so uncertain. We do not know if we will have tomorrow; but those who know Jesus as their Savior can rest in His promise of eternal life come what may during their time here on earth.

Jesus said this in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus is the only path of salvation available to men and women. He will, however, give eternal life to all who call upon Him believing that He will forgive sins and save them from the wrath that is coming (see Romans 10:9, 13).

Are you ready for eternity? Are you resting secure in Jesus?

Stay tuned for more studies on the characteristics listed in 2 Timothy 3 . . . .

 

Habakkuk in the Morning

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I need the message of Habakkuk this morning!

As I look at the evil and injustice flourishing in our nation, discouragement looms at my doorstep.  Habakkuk helps me close the door to such feelings of despair.

The book of Habakkuk begins with the prophet’s complaint of violence and injustice in Judah:

2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,

    and you will not hear?

Or cry to you “Violence!”

    and you will not save?

3 Why do you make me see iniquity,

    and why do you idly look at wrong?

Destruction and violence are before me;

    strife and contention arise.

4 So the law is paralyzed,

    and justice never goes forth.

For the wicked surround the righteous;

    so justice goes forth perverted.

Does this not describe our nation today? Is this not our world!?

My heart grieves as I think of all the violence all about us, of the despicable practices of abortion clinics, of the growing violence toward police, and of the almost daily terrorist attacks that claim the lives of so many innocent lives throughout the world.

I’m horrified by the actions of Planned Parenthood as well as by both political parties that not only refuse to take action against the selling of baby parts, but continually vote to continue taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. Just this week, Hillary celebrated the anniversary of Planned Parenthood. We live in evil times!

BTW, Hillary believes Christianity must be changed to accept abortion and if elected she will have a Supreme Court that will fully back her in this matter.

We see “iniquity” prospering throughout our nation as never before. Twenty years ago I never could have imagined that our Supreme Court would someday rule in favor of same sex marriage or that a candidate of a major party would fervently support this along with a host of other sins so clearly forbidden in Scripture.

The prophet saw that the law was “paralyzed.” Could there be a more apt description of what is happening in our nation?

The prophet saw that the law was “paralyzed.” Could there be a more apt description of what is happening in our nation? The rich and powerful are not called to account for their evil and yet bakers who stand by their biblical convictions face obscene fines.

Truly, justice is “perverted” in our nation as the “wicked surround the righteous.”  The institutions that we as nation rely on to bring the wicked to justice are now stained with political corruptness.

I see a nation one election away from surrendering to an oppressive and socialistic world order that will, as President Obama clearly stated recently at the United Nations, “take away some of our rights and freedoms” for the “common good.” The recently uncovered e-mails reveal that Hillary is totally on board with this evil agenda to subject America to this satanic and demonic world government.

The message of the prophet, however, calls me to a higher perspective far away from the feelings of despair that lurk nearby.

The Lord Sees

The Lord saw all the evil in Judah during the time of Habakkuk; He sees everything today.

His response to the wickedness of Judah was already on the way, even before the prophet voiced his complaint (1:5-11). God was raising up the Babylonians who in about twenty years from the time of Habakkuk would begin their conquest of Jerusalem.

The Lord sees and just as in day of Habakkuk, we can be sure God will respond in a similar way to the wickedness around us unless we repent as a nation.

It’s so easy to think the Lord does not see the vile things done today in our abortion clinics or the lewd display of evil around us. We think He would surely have done something by now if He truly saw the violence and injustice that daily surround us. How could He possibly let this continue so long?

The Lord sees and just as in day of Habakkuk, we can be sure God will respond in a similar way to the wickedness around us unless we repent as a nation.

In Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 we find this warning, “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.”

Far too often we mistake God’s patience for His lack of interest or unwillingness to deal with sin. As Solomon points out, such a perspective ends in tragedy for those who believe the Lord does not see or care about their wicked lifestyle.

It’s a Matter of Faith

Habakkuk convicts me of my unbelief. Yes, I know all the warnings of Scripture concerning His judgment of nations and of wickedness, but at times my thoughts do not reflect a belief He will actually judge evil or punish the wicked in this life.

Habakkuk begins his book questioning God’s absence and ends with an amazing statement of faith despite the lack of the Lord’s blessing.

The prophet Habakkuk provides us with two amazing statements regarding faith.

The Apostle Paul later quoted his words in 2:4, “. . . but the righteous shall live by faith.” In midst of the calamity about to descend upon Judah, the Lord says that those who know Him will “live by faith!”

As the book ends, we see the prophet proclaiming that regardless of any calamity he might see, he would still “rejoice in the Lord” (see 3:17-18). Habakkuk starts out questioning God’s absence and ends with an amazing statement of faith despite the lack of the Lord’s blessing.

The message of Habakkuk assures us God will not let evil continue unchecked. At just the right time, the Lord will show up and deal with any society that rejects Him and openly flaunts its rebellion toward Him.

We see this clearly in Psalm 37. The Lord not only sees the evil about us, but laughs at the wicked because He knows what’s ahead for them. I know this message is true, but do I live by faith believing God will someday soon intervene in our world?

The test of faith often comes as a result of God’s patience; He often waits a very long time so people have as much opportunity as possible to repent and avoid His wrath.

It’s a Matter of Waiting

As the Lord responded to Habakkuk regarding how he would deal with the Babylonians for their sins, He said this in 2:3, “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

We know Jesus is returning soon. We recognize all the signs for the beginning of the Great Tribulation on the earth. And yet . . . we wait.

There’s that pesky word “wait.” Is this not where our faith so often falters?

We know Jesus is returning soon. We recognize all the signs for the beginning of the Great Tribulation on the earth. And yet . . . we wait.

We see horrific violence in the world and daily hear “rumors of war” like no other time in the history of humanity. Every week I read a story about how World War III is about to start and I wonder how much longer the Lord can delay His appearing to take away His church. And yet . . . we wait!

I remember a particular thunderstorm from my grade school years in Rockford, Illinois. In the midst of the wind and rain, everything grew perfectly calm for several seconds. Then suddenly, a huge bolt of lightning and loud crashing thunder interrupted the tranquil moment. Although the lightning struck harmlessly on our property, it set our neighbor’s home on fire.

I sense we are in the calm before the storm. Despite all the threats of violence and rumors of war throughout the world, our nation seems eerily peaceful on the surface.

I Thessalonians 5:3 speaks of a time when “people are saying, ‘There is peace and security’” ahead of the “sudden destruction” that will mark the beginning of the day of the Lord or the Great Tribulation.

The leaders of the world today often proclaim “peace and security” not realizing they are fulfilling prophecy. I believe the “sudden destruction” of 1 Thessalonians looms over the world at this very moment.

How long will this last? We cannot know. God is patiently waiting for as many as possible to repent and find eternal life in Him. However, I believe the rapture and subsequent Great Tribulation are rapidly approaching.  How much longer will the Lord wait?

Yes, I need the reminders from Habakkuk this morning as I recover from my angst of the past couple days when everything seemed so murky.

Habakkuk reminds me of God’s sovereignty; nothing escapes His notice and or diverts Him from His purposes. His Word will not fail!

The Lord will not let evil go unchecked. At precisely the right time the Lord will show up, much, much to the dismay of those who now reject the Lord and so openly flaunt their rebellion toward Him.