Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Signs of the End Times ... Are We There Yet?

Many people, believers in Jesus and unbelievers alike, are concerned about the end of the world: prophecy, the Second Coming of Christ, end times and the anti-Christ.  If you were to ask them, they would tell you things are getting worse and will get worse as that day approaches.
Ask how and you’ll probably hear about wars, conflict, weather, disease, earthquakes & volcanoes.   

Jesus talks about some of these things happening.  But there’s another list that’s often overlooked because it’s less sensational and headline grabbing.  You’ll find it in 2 Timothy 3:1-5

“1 But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!”

The issues Paul talks about as difficult or terrible times in the last days are not geo-political or disaster related… they are moral and behavioral.  In essence, Paul is saying that these conditions are just as much a disaster for a people, a nation and the world as what we would call “the big ones”.   

That God considers these just as big a deal as the earthquakes and wars.  That these are just as much signs and warnings of the end as when you watch for signs and rumors.

Do you see any of these at work in our culture today?  If so, then today qualifies as terrible and difficult times.

·         When people are Lovers of Themselves – self-love—they live only for themselves and indulge themselves and see themselves as the most important.  They live to be served and pleasured—the essence of hedonism.  Of course, such a life isn’t cheap.

·         When people pursue after money and sacrifice everything else to get it or cross any line to make it.  Greed is a killer and is never really satisfied.  Money buys things and influence which leads many with great wealth to an overestimated sense of their own intelligence and importance.

·         When people are boastful about themselves, their abilities and accomplishments.  It also is related to the word for vagrancy—a wanderer—someone who’s opinion of themselves never lets them be settled, content or happy unless everyone knows just how great they are.

·         Which leads into Pride—the ultimate focus of self.   That element of character that says not only can I do it better than you, I am by nature better than you.  This was a trap Satan himself fell for and what he enticed Adam and Eve with being like God.  Which leads to the next behavior

·         Blasphemers—people who reject God entirely, reject the idea that He is better or superior, reject His authority.  If “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”, blasphemy is the opposite.  It is the lack of the fear of the LORD and is pure foolishness. 

·         When people are able to reject God, they raise their kids to reject them.  Parents are practice for obeying God.  If you cannot obey the mother and father you can see, then how will you be able to obey the God you cannot see.  If parents reject any authority over them, anything to which they are accountable, they will be unable to instill that truth to their children.  Then we grow up and the previous problems listed just get worse.  You have a nation of adult brats who feel everything is owed to them.

·         Which leads to the next point of people being Ungrateful.  The world owes me… it’s my right… such people are never thankful when someone is generous to them, nor are they thankful for what they have.  What’s more ungratefulness increases coveting what other people have, thinking that they are owed which feeds into the class warfare rhetoric that’s so prevalent today.  They are especially not grateful to God because they have already rejected and blasphemed Him.

·         As a result, they are unholy.  Their lives are the opposite of what God desires for them.  To be holy is to be set apart, distinguishable, not common, but available for a special and valuable purpose: an instrument in the hand of God for something wonderful and which gives Him glory.  To be unholy is to be not fit for use and therefore rejected.  At that point, decay only increases.

·         There’s no room to love anyone else when you love only yourself.  An unloving person is only bitter and angry.  They show no real compassion, no real concern for those around them because worth of the other is determined by whether they please me.

·         Thus  they are also Unforgiving or Irreconcilable.   When wronged, they hold a grudge, they cast off, they break relationship with.  The root of this word is used in connection with making a treaty or contract—such a person breaks the terms with impunity because they recognize no authority over them and reject reconciliation.  The KJV actually uses the word, “trucebreaker”.  This would go well in hand with the rampant divorce culture we have created. 

·         Whenever someone like this ends a relationship, be it a marriage, a business partnership, a church membership, or a friendship is broken… it’s not enough to walk away, the other person must be Slandered and their reputation destroyed in order to justify our own actions.  All the blame is cast on the other because “they” are so terrible—every wrong is listed, every fault is exaggerated.  There is little to no remorse for such false characterization and slander.  Which is just further evidence of a lack of

·         Self-Control—rather than self-love, we need self-control.  But there is, I believe, a relationship between the amount of self-love and the lack of self-control.  The more self-love, the less self-control.  “If it feels good, do it”, “just telling it like it is” and other similar phrases are endorsed and lived out.  They don’t care about what they should or shouldn’t do and they don’t have the wisdom to know when to quit no matter who is hurt in the process.  Such callousness only makes one more and more…

·         Brutal—the pain inflicted on someone else is either written off as unimportant or is actually enjoyed.  If I understand the notes on the root of this word, it talks of something being “lame”, like a horse or animal that can no longer walk.  But it is an injury that is deliberately caused.  To be brutal then is to inflict debilitating injury on someone else.

·         In the end times, such people will be those who do not love the good.  When there is something that is good in the world, something that reminds them of God’s ethic, God’s law, something that shows mercy and service, something that shows them there is another way to live—such good things are despised and their brutality is poured out on it.  The KJV translates it “despisers of those that are good” the wording of which implies that “those who are good” are not just abstract concepts or things but actual people who are trying to live according to the ways of God and are thus rejected for it. 

The mere presence or existence of someone “good” is a reminder that their life of evil is wrong.  Such people live out 1 Peter 4:4—“they think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation and they heap abuse on you.”  As a pastor, I cannot tell you how many times my mere presence angers someone, or if they see a Bible, the rage that pours out.  We see this often today when the only thing not tolerated by our news and culture is the biblical perspective.

·         The end times is full of people who act and live Treacherously or as Traitors—handing people over to the enemy, providing evidence, testimony or accusation that will get someone in trouble, particularly those who are “the good” much like the men in Persian history who concocted a law they knew would get Daniel thrown into the lion’s den.  They will violate the bonds of friendships, family, faith & even nation to remove the good from stopping their fun.

·         As a result they are Rash or Reckless—they act impulsively.  When they see an opportunity, they jump at it, looking before they leap, not considering the consequences.  The word picture here is of one trying to step so quickly that they trip on their own feet and fall on their face, or someone who is so busy texting on their phone they don’t realize the wall or hole their about to walk into.

·         Because the world is supposed to be all about them—they are Conceited—it’s all about them, my way or the highway.  The word picture here is to “envelope with smoke”—like a stage entrance where they are the star or like the glory of God that surrounds the Mt. Sinai or fills the Temple (Isaiah 6) should really be surrounding them and their glory.

·         The end is full of people who seek their own pleasure—the word is actually a form or hedonism here and see pleasure as the highest goal—especially higher than pursuing after God and that which pleases Him.

·         Some of these people even have an air of righteousness about them—they may even hold positions of power and influence—many people may look to their opinion and seek to model their life after them—the elites of culture and sophistication, the intellectuals in their ivory towers.  They are pious and devoted to their cause (themselves) but in reality, they deny or are working against the true power of faith, devotion and belief.  Those who live devoted to the power of Jesus at work in their lives are disdained, seen as simpletons, backward, a part of “fly over country”, clinging to their “God, guns and religion”.

·         And yet, the true power is there.  The true power is with those who love God, those who are pursuing Him, who love Him more than themselves, who serve others more than themselves, who love the good.  That is where the true power in this world lies… the meek for they shall inherit the earth, theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

So tell me… based on this list of Paul’s, describing the terrible times in the last days… are we in the end times?

1 comment:

Jennifer Ingle said...

Very good, Kelly! I would say, according to this, yes we are in the end times. However, I like to remind myself of all the other times in history when things looked dark. How must the Christians have felt under Nero? WWII is always on my mind when I think of the end times. I know that my God has the end under control and that it is not the end for me. Only another chapter. The passage from this chapter may be peaceful or painful, but the result is the same and that is what I hold on to. God Bless.