by Howard Green
Friday August 13th 2004 is a date Floridians will remember for a long time. Hurricane Charley struck S.W. Florida with 145 mph. winds and torrential rains causing a 50 mile wide path of destruction beginning on the Gulf coast and exiting on the Atlantic coast. I lived 30 miles inland in central Florida at the time. A family member living one mile from the Gulf of Mexico called me just as the storm was beginning to hit there. They told me that the winds and rains were unbelievable and it was getting very bad down there. After we hung up, I went outside and took a look around….knowing Charley would arrive in a few hours
I was struck by the calm of the lake I lived on, the puffy clouds dotting the blue sky, and the lack of any wind. Just a few hours later, the sky turned dark, the winds picked up, and torrential rain battered my home. The contrast between the calm earlier in the day and Charley’s 90-100 mph. winds was unbelievable. When the sun rose the next morning, it exposed all of the damage and destruction Charley left the day before. I won’t forget the calm weather, numerous warnings to get ready, and apathy of many citizens….just days before the approaching storm. I believe we are living in the days of relative calm before the storm…….the coming storm of birth pains and God’s divine judgement.
1 Thessalonians 5:2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
For the most part, people in our time remind me of the people we read about in Noah’s day. Despite warning after warning…they go about their life like they have no one to answer to. Noah warned of impending judgement and the flood came. Prophets warned of coming judgement and the Babylonian armies conquered. Jesus warned about the coming destruction in Jerusalem and just a few decades later, Jerusalem was in ruins as was the temple.
Here we are now in our modern world….with all of it’s comforts, luxuries, and diversions. Everything is going on just as it always has. Our generation has been witness to wars, disasters, and economic uncertainty. Most people view these events as just another link in the chain of history. Although we face major issues, things always die down and return to normal. Wars eventually come to an end. Evil dictators and rulers eventually die. The financial markets always bounce back. Natural disasters eventually run their coarse and recovery efforts restore a sense of normality to life.
Take the broad view of our world right now. Sure…there is conflict, there is suffering, and there are pockets of violence. We have displaced people looking for refuge in safe areas. There are sporadic acts of terrorism. The economy is fluctuating wildly and we have nations threatening other nations. In all reality……things look pretty normal. For the most part, people have the same thoughts and opinions about the current world condition. They believe this is the way it’s always been. They reason that everything always returns to normal. They feel like this life has it’s ups and downs but everything will work out just fine.
It’s like most people in our day are collectively thinking the same thing about the future: “We have peace and safety.”
People…especially here in the West have been warned through the faithful preaching, teaching, and witnessing of believers. They have been warned about God’s holiness, His wrath, and the coming judgement He will pour out on an un-repentant world. They have been warned over and over again. Unfortunately….a majority of these warnings are laughed at, forgotten, or ignored. Some people do respond with a contrite repentant heart that trusts in Jesus for salvation, but a majority do not. The signs pointing to the nearness of the Lord’s return are everywhere, but most people live as though He’s not coming back.
Even more telling about the times we live in is the rampant apathy even among some Christians regarding the Lord’s return. Where does this ‘I could care less attitude’ come from? I don’t believe it’s from ignorance because there are countless verses in the Bible pertaining to the end times. These people choose to gloss over words like: Rapture (teaching about it), 70th Week, Great Tribulation, birth pains, beginning of sorrows, etc.
That is a shame because I believe….the amount of weight or esteem a Christian gives eschatology will greatly impact the way he or she evangelizes, disciples, and lives a life of holiness. We know the Master is away but He is coming back soon and we will have to give an account for how we spent our lives here.
2 Peter 3:3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
We have scoffers both inside and outside the church who choose to ignore His warnings. The warnings have been sounded almost everywhere. In just the last century, we have seen the Bible translated and distributed to many languages and countries. Can you imagine that? Many around the globe that were previously living in darkness now have the word of God in their own language. Now only a shrinking number of people groups and dialects await the good news.
Let’s connect the dots regarding our current global situation: People are being warned about coming judgement. Just like the example of the hurricane warnings that went up as Hurricane Charley approached Florida, individuals must decide how to respond to the warnings of what is coming. Apathy…..especially spiritual apathy is destructive. Neglect God’s warnings and terrible consequences follow as history shows in Noah’s day, Sodom, Jerusalem 586BC – AD70, and even now………the warnings in the Bible are largely ignored. This world has had the last 2,000 years to consider the words of Jesus as He warned us of what is coming in the days ahead.
Luke 17:26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Decent people see all of the hurt, pain, and atrocities committed by evil people and we ask: “How could God allow such a thing?” Please understand this: Nothing that happens has escaped God’s watchful eyes. He isn’t ignoring suffering or evil, but is patiently waiting for the last church age person to come to salvation. There is a day coming and I believe we are quickly approaching it….when God will pour out His holy righteous judgement on a wicked, evil, unrepentant world. Ultimately, everyone who hasn’t come to repentance and made Jesus their Lord will stand before the Great White Judgement Throne of God and face eternal judgement.
Between then and now, we don’t know how much time will elapse although we are seeing end time prophecy increasingly fulfilled. Russia and it’s military are forging alliances and conducting movements that place it on a collision course with the God of the universe. Iran has called for the destruction of Israel and the US and by our actions, we are helping the procure the armaments to act on their threats. China and North Korea are arming to the teeth and destabilizing the entire Asia-Pacific region. The global economy is increasingly volatile and some are calling for a global currency. The Russians and Chinese are calling for replacement of the dollar as the world’s standard currency.
We are certainly living in perilous times and we are seeing the birth pains and signs of the times increase in severity and frequency. Many people in the world are going about daily life either oblivious to the fact judgement is coming or they just don’t believe it.
Harry Truman was the caretaker of the Mount St. Helens Lodge on Spirit Lake. He received numerous warnings from officials that the longtime dormant volcano was on the verge of eruption. Scores of residents, campers, hikers, and park rangers evacuated the area. Harry refused to leave and on May 18th 1980 the mountain exploded with fury and he was vaporized by the pyroclastic blast of the volcano. Just like Harry….people ignore hurricane warnings, tsunami warnings, and other warnings about impending danger and pay a terrible price.
Countless millions of people are ignoring Jesus’ warnings about coming judgement. They need to be told about God’s holy law, sin, judgement, salvation, and repentance before it’s too late. They are collectively believing: “peace and safety” when we are in the calm before the storm.
All for Him, Howard