Friday, August 27, 2010

Atmospheric Changes during the Apocalypse

The judgment is almost upon us. Today we are going to look at the atmospheric changes during this time of God’s judgment. First I must answer an unstated question that might be implied from the closeness of this judgment. If one finds himself in the apocalypse what must he do to be saved? In every age that God has dealt with mankind the answer to that question remains remarkably consistent.

The answer is in one short word: trust. Abraham believed God and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who would come to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. So all of Hebrews is written as a hall of faith for those of us today who would believe. Enoch, before Jewish law, before Moses, before Christ, had to believe God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Noah, similarly before the revelation to the Jewish people, and way before His revelation to Christians, was saved by his faith. Read and study Hebrews 11, the Great Hall of Faith to see how to be accepted of God.

But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become the sons of God. What does it mean to receive Christ, except that you must trust God’s message of salvation in Christ. We see things that Noah and Enoch sorely searched for, and had to trust in what was yet unseen, in order that they might be saved. Similarly you are called to trust God, even if you find yourself in the most fearsome trials of the earth, the apocalypse.

Having said that, let us move on to higher things. (pun intended) What sort of things will be the signs in heavens in those days, whenever they may come? Know first that these terrible signs are passing, and “are to be put into effect when the times have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” (NIV, Eph. 2:9 & 10) In other words, these terrible times have limits, and will pass to make way for the rule of Christ.

The very end of the apocalypse is marked by, Zephaniah tells us, “On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the Lord. When evening comes, there will be light. (Zeph. 14:6) In other words, signs in the heavens finish the apocalypse with a sign unlike any other the world has ever known. Evidently God himself provides light for the earth as a sign of approval of his son.

Old Testament passages tell us that the apocalypse will be “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness” (Zephaniah 1:15), but it is really only in the Revelation that atmospheric changes of the apocalypse are spelled out. We are told again that the sun turns black, the moon turns red, and stars fall from the sky to the earth. Evidently what John saw was meteors or asteroids falling to the earth, streaking like stars across the sky. So horrendous is the damage from the celestial objects that it levels mountains and destroys islands. (Revelation 6)

Revelation 8 tells us of the first four angels who have trumpets. There are seven in all, but the first four are what concern us today, as they are the angels who announce the devastation from atmospheric changes. The first angel who sounds his trumpet is announcing hail and fire mixed with blood being hurled down upon the earth. So awful is this fire that it burns up a third of the earth. The second angel announces that “something like a huge mountain” (NIV) is cast upon the earth, killing a third of the creatures in the oceans, and destroying a third of the ships of mankind. The third angel announces a “great star, blazing like a torch” falling to the earth. This star, so huge that it is even named (Wormwood) will turn many waters bitter, and many people will die from the resulting poison. The fourth angel announces that the air itself becomes dark, even to the point of diminishing the light of the sun and the stars. In fact, it becomes so dark that a third of the day is darkness as well as a third of the night.

Here I am guessing a bit at what has happened, but it seems to me that with all things striking the earth a terrible (perhaps poisonous) cloud of dust is raised over the earth. It seems to fill the atmosphere and so seemingly darkens the sun and the stars. Remember the verse above from Zephaniah? Prophets across the ages of Biblical times seem to see the terrible cloud of darkness over the earth. It will be an unparalleled time of disaster upon this earth.

Know this: the judgments of God are not only righteous, but also they are measured—there is an end to them at which time the mercies of God will be extended to all the earth. At that time, the Bible tells us, there will be no need to teach anyone to know the Lord, for they will all know the Lord from the least to greatest. A long time of peace and prosperity will ensue upon the earth under the reign of Christ himself.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Simple but Hard Logic

“Logic,” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth.”
(The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

The claims of Jesus are very clear. He claimed to be God incarnate, just as God his father, and this was something the Jews of his day very much wanted to put him to death for (John 8). He said I and the Father are One. He claims to be the Savior of the world, able to forgive sins themselves, and to reconcile the alienation man and God have (John 3). He claims to have brought those who believe “another Comforter”, one whom the Father sent in the name of his son, even the spirit of truth (John 14). And in the same chapter Jesus clearly promises that he goes now to prepare a place for us, and that he intends to come back for us, that where he is, we may be also.

In the application of pure logic here, there are three clear possibilities. One, Jesus was just a good man. Two, Jesus was mad. And three, Jesus was telling the truth. I shall briefly describe the outcomes of all three choices.

First, if Jesus did lie to us, deliberately and provocatively, then he must be, not good, but the most evil human ever conceived. His grand deception has fooled millions of hapless people who are deceived and bereft of the great promises of God. Christians, as Paul says, are of all people, most miserable, if his claims are not true. Christians have broken their lives apart and chosen to live for one who is the greatest deceiver ever known.

Is this likely? In examining the narrative of the life of Jesus in the gospels, there is nothing that would indicate anything other than this Jesus is a remarkable man, devoutly holding to truth, and peeling apart the deceptions of the world. His life shows no deception.

Second, Jesus was mad. The only place in the gospels where madness might show through is when Jesus cleanses the temple, driving the merchants out and overturning their tables of wares. The Life of Christ in Stereo (a very fine book to study) makes it clear that Jesus cleansed the temple twice; once at the beginning of his ministry, and once just before the end of his ministry. Certainly his message was divisive; it has divided mankind into two distinct groups, one very large and the other relatively small. The larger portion of humans have refused his message while the smaller portion claims drastically changed lives.

Is madness a likely outcome? Jesus shows great intelligence in his presentation of parables that spoke above the heads of his enemies. He shows normal emotions when facing the death on the cross, asking his closest friends: “What? Could you not stay awake and watch one hour?” and in petitioning his Father: “Father let this cup pass from me. Yet not my will, but thine be done.” And even in the cleansing of the temple, Jesus, rather than being mad, is better seen as being angry at those who were trying to buy and sell his Father’s love. Madness is not likely.

Third, Jesus was telling the truth. He clearly said I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me. Logic clearly dictates this as the only viable alternative. Jesus was who he claimed to be. He clearly predicted that most people would end in hell because of rejecting him, and he clearly told us that only a few would find “the narrow path” of salvation.

If this is, as I present, the most likely outcome of logic, then there can be no more important thing for any man or woman to do other than study the claims of Jesus. After all he who came first as the sacrificing Lamb of God is coming the second time as the judging Lion of Judah.

A final word. I have many friends who take what they think is a viable fourth option. They commit the error of modern solipsism and try to have it both ways. My friends try to tell me that Jesus was a good man, but the gospels have hideously presented him, and that they will believe only the parts of Jesus being a good teacher, such as when he tells us to love one another, and not the parts where he is being exclusive such as when he says that NO ONE comes to the Father apart from him.

I think there are two errors of logic entangled with this view. First, as I have tried to show, Jesus could not have been a good man if we read his claims at all literally. But also it seems to me that those following the error of solipsism are remaking God into their image, a very dangerous thing to do indeed. If the claims of Christ are real, then one day every person shall have to stand before God. Do you really think that my friends will find credibility in saying to the Judge, “I found some of your claims to be offensive to my lifestyle, and so I chose not to believe them.”? Aren’t they saying I did not agree with the God presented in the Bible, and so I remade god to be more acceptable? Such a course is perilous and fraught with more problems than just logic. What will be the outcome of those who have been freely offered the truth and have sought to remake it?

“Bless me,” [said the Professor] what do they teach them at these schools?”
(The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)