Saturday, November 13, 2010

That Great and Terrible Day

Matt.24: 43-44 - 43But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

n a frosty night in 1975 on top of Garrett Mountain in Wayne, New Jersey, and overlooking the Manhattan skyline, I became a Christian. My life would never be the same. But many, many things have changed in the church since then. God used a message on the second coming of Jesus to draw my heart to believe.
Back then there was much interest in the second coming and the rapture of the church. Graphs and charts and chronologies were abundant. There were many sermons on the signs of the times, and even though there still were many different denominations in the evangelical world, most believed that Jesus was the only path to eternal life and that He was returning to earth one day, perhaps soon. Today, the western church has precious little time for the prospect of the second coming of Jesus, and any substantive discussion of the signs is usually confined to conferences designed to address that specifically.
In fact, many consider those who speak of the eminent return of Christ as a little goofy and unbalanced. We are rich and increased with goods and seem to have little need of Christ’s return. The Spirit still says “Come!” but the bride no longer joins in with the Spirit. I am not writing this post to argue about pre or post or mid tribulation theories, so if I may take some license I want to imagine what the glorious return of the Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ might be like from the perspective of the human race alive at that time.
Perhaps the entire world feels a slight but growing tremor. That phenomenon is being felt in every corner of the earth, and seismologists are baffled as to the cause. The whole world begins to feel uneasy and normal activities are being disrupted. The news media addresses it almost hourly and world leaders call for calm. The animal world is affected as hens refuse to lay eggs, cows give little milk, and many animals become unruly. Billions loose sleep and violence increases dramatically, as does drug use, both legal and illegal.
About three months into this tremor there appears a brightening of the skies. There doesn’t seem to be any source, however the daytime grows much brighter and the night time begins to disappear. Now this event causes much concern around the world, and with the astronomers clueless as to its cause, the entire world grows increasingly uneasy and even frightened. Many things are disrupted including the use of electricity, night time partying, and many things that are exclusively night activities. Combined with the tremor, this constant brilliance begins to wreak havoc over the entire earth.
There is a tangible sense of impending doom. The careless hedonism of the industrialized world ceases, and the third world countries experience heightened superstition. Scientists all over the world gather to study all this, and most people await their findings. Many flock to churches, synagogues, and mosques but there doesn’t seem to be any clear witness or spiritual wisdom. And with every day the tremor increases and the light becomes almost blinding.
And then there is an ear splitting clap of thunder heard in ever corner of the world that shakes ever human being to his core. It is 100 times louder and more powerful than any movie house effects, and many people die of fright on the spot. It is followed by a strange sound that causes everyone to cover their ears. What in God’s name is happening?? And suddenly the heavens open. Incredibly the heavens open around the entire globe and all men see it in the same way. It is an unexplainable phenomenon and defies the known laws of physics.
And there He is! Behold, He comes from the eternal realm and is riding what appears to be a majestic white horse. It is a scene out of a fairy tale but the reality and power of it assures everyone it is no movie. The sound is deafening as He rides into the world surrounded by the hosts of heaven and the glorified saints. (when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels) Mountains melt and seas dry up and out of sheer fright men and women beg for death.

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

ll the sermons and Sunday School stories that seemed unbelievable and only some kind of metaphors are unfolding in colossal reality as the Redeemer God returns to His rebellious world. And mankind now realizes that these events are beyond what we ever could have imagined, and even the most dramatic and powerful sermons had not even approached defining the divine force of the second coming of Christ. What we treated as a figment that God used to describe a prophetic event that would probably come with much more reason and measured restraint, is in actuality much greater in intensity and experience that words could have ever projected. The specifics and manifestation of the Lord’s coming shakes heaven and earth and permeates the entire universe with a tangible glory of His Person and presence.

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

Oh dear God in heaven, can we even dare to understand such words? The church has had to dilute their meaning or at least leave them alone, but there they stand. They are every bit God’s Word as Jn.3:16. And if indeed they mean what they say, how can we even profess to believe them? While we play and enjoy the good life, and while the church builds gymnasiums and fellowship halls and spends God’s money on bank loans, do we even have the hubris to whisper that we believe the Bible?
A man sits in his living room and his neighbor walks through the door and greets him. The man invites his neighbor to help himself to the meal his wife has made, and the neighbor fills up his plate and sits next to the man and begins to watch television. After a few bites the neighbor remarks that before he came in he noticed an airplane falling from the sky, consumed in flames, and heading straight for this very house. The man looks at his neighbor and smiles. How can he believe such a wild story when his neighbor continues to calmly eat and enjoy the football game?
How can the world be expected to believe that we believe what we say? And because of that overt hypocrisy and the tension of that hypocrisy, the church has changed her message to accommodate our lifestyles and to relegate such teachings as prophetic musings and not coming realities that continue to alter our lives and move our hearts. To actually believe that Jesus is returning to earth with a vengeance must bring some change to a believer’s life, if in fact he does believe it. The second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is the event which will change the universe and bring into account all things.
As Vance Havner used to say, “The situation is desperate, but we are not.” It is time for individual believers to embrace a holy desperation that seeks the face of Christ and live lives that draw sinners to Him who we follow. The days are evil and the time is short. Let us redeem the time that we do have and glorify God in our mortal bodies. And when that great and terrible day of the Lord comes, what will we say to those who say to us, “You knew this was coming and you said nothing??”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow. powerful. thank you.