Happy New Year. Just a few random ramblings for the year to get us started. Thanks for your patience, or, if you are not patient, feel free to move right along.
1. First off, don’t place too much hope in the flip of a calendar page. Man makes calendars, but God made time. He is not following our calendar.
2. If you are behind in your 2020 Bible reading, just stay with the plan you’re on and continue. Otherwise, at the end of your time on earth, you may have read Genesis 60 times but never make it through the Prophets. Maybe your 2020 New Year’s resolution to read the Bible through will actually be an 18- or 24-month plan. So what? The goal is the reading—just do that.
3. Let’s agree to stop saying that a current event may “usher in the antichrist.” This is often said with great seriousness, emphasizing that we are now in the last days.
But . . .
Remember the millennium meltdown of 2000? I do. Books, sermon series, and videos were all produced with great certainty that the turning of the calendar meant the antichrist would arrive and bring in the seven-year tribulation. Depending upon your eschatology, the rapture would occur sometime before, middle of, or after the Great Tribulation.
I don’t need to remind anyone that none of that happened as predicted. In fact, the change to 2000 did not usher in anything other than a change of calendars which required some computer coding. The reality is that Jesus was likely born between 6-4 BC (our calendars are 4-6 years off), the actual millennium began sometime in 1994-96! We were late to that party.
God does not live by our time.
The antichrist has always been with us. All the passages referring to the antichrist occur in John’s letters (not the Revelation): 1 John 2:18; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 7. The idea of antichrist is that it is the spirit that will replace and be against Christ. This has been the struggle between God’s people and Satan’s forces since the beginning. It has been present against Christians since the beginning.
Let’s learn from this: God’s acts are not determined by our news-feed.
4. Consider the world in which we live. Chaos seems to reign, and the entire world is focused on the US election—indeed elections in many countries are viewed by many as the salvation or damnation of a nation.
Elections are serious matters, but not ultimate ones. It is true they change the course of history, but God determines history in the first place. An election may be used of God for national salvation or national judgement. I’m inclined that in recent times it is for the latter. We are not witnessing the end of the world, but the end of Western civilization, and that does not mean the end of the church or the end of Christ’s rule on earth. No nation that destroys its young, disabled, frail and elders can hope to avoid judgement. This statement should be entirely unremarkable. We should expect national judgement as much as we expect the sun to rise in the morning. It is the most predictable event we have. Christians should read up on this–it’s in the Bible.
Will Communism prevail? Will climate change fanatics win? Possibly, but untrue systems cannot go on if they are false to reality as established in Creation, by a Creator, who has told us other things that cancel the mischief planned by the planners. God laughs at them, actually (Psalm 2).
Any man or woman, or collection of them (a nation, society, or culture) that chooses to abandon what God has decreed will fail, and that failing is brutal to watch (Job 21:5).
So it follows that the outcome of elections, run as they are by unregenerate people, will have unregenerate results:
“We are not seeing terrible things in our culture because we vote the wrong way. We are seeing terrible things in our culture because men love darkness rather than light.” –Voddie Baucham.
We are a confused people, and that itself is a sign of God’s judgement. See Romans 1:18-32, Genesis 11:1-9; Exodus 14:24; Leviticus 26:16; Isaiah 22:5, etc. 1 Corinthians 14:33 tells us that “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.” We need to come to grips with the fact that all the contradictions of policy, laws and solutions are the signs of a confused people. Our rulers and governors are demonstrating, before God and His church, that they do not know what they are doing, and Christians need to pray 1) for repentance in the hearts of those who rule and 2) that their plans for evil will be completely frustrated and defeated.
5. In light of the above, Christians must stop being surprised when unredeemed people act like unredeemed people who insist we follow the fruits of un-redemption, all the while openly displaying total confusion.
6. As our society thrashes and rages like a wounded animal caught in a trap, we should, short of a real interruption brought on by repentance or God’s judgement, expect violence. Repentance will quell the violence. Judgement will too.
7. On a final note, Christians must reject and abandoned the pietism that has so damaged the church’s witness for nearly 200 years. This is the notion that faith is entirely private and does not enter the world outside the church or family. This is the opinion that the faith has little or nothing to do with the world between Sundays, and to insist on cultural change is somehow to only “rearrange deck-chairs on the Titanic.”
God is the Creator, Christ is the King, and we are His subjects. We cannot abandon the world to Satan.
It is a new year on my calendar. There is, in Christ, much to celebrated daily.
Happy New Year! Just remember, God created time–He is not bound to it.