Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Last Days

Since finals are over now, I've had a little free time and have begun reading a new book byJoel C. Rosenberg. I've been impressed by Rosenberg's work, I read one of his novels and am currently reading his nonfiction work entitled Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Well Change Your Future. It makes for quite an interesting read so far, and it's gotten me thinking, "are we really living in the end times?"

I recognize that this question has been asked for a long, long time by an innumerable number of believers. Every generation has had people who believed they were living in the last days. Jesus warns that no one knows the day nor the hour except the Father in Heaven, but warns us to be vigilant (Mt. 24; Mk 13).

Rosenberg brings together some points that I found quite interesting. First, he discusses the "political earthquakes" that have been shaking the middle east in the past several years (it's interesting that he quotes several different news sources that all use the same "earthquake" language). He also points to the rise of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose goal is to get nuclear weapons and unleash them upon Israel. Rosenburg says of Ahmadinejad, "He told associates that he believed the end of the world was just two or three years away. He said he believed he had been chosen by Allah to become Iran's leader at this critical hour to hasten the coming of the Islamic messiah known as the Twelfth Imam or the Mahdi by launching a final holy war against Christians and Jews." This sounds like it fits quite well with events depicted in Judeo-Christian apocalyptic accounts (Ezekiel, Daniel, Revelation). The Twelfth Imam is a "messiah" (jewish word is "christ") - if he is a false messiah he is "anti-christ." I've somehow not heard anyone make that connection yet, but it's probably just that I've not been looking or listening to the right things at the right time.

Ahmadinejad has declared that he wants to start a holy war with his nuclear weapons in the next two or three years (i.e., 2007-2009 - he was elected in 2005). He has declared that he wants to destroy Israel (the "little satan") and America (the "great satan"). During the next two or three years the following are scheduled to happen -- George W. Bush leaves office, a new president is elected, US troops begin to leave Iraq(?), British PM Tony Blair leaves office. This removes some of the personalities with the strongest motivation to fight the forces of radical Islamic terrorism. Will the next leaders be willing to give them control of the middle east? The fictional future that Rosenberg portrays in his novels indicates that he believes our leaders will not have the will to stop them.

My point with this post is not to speculate about when Christ is coming back or the order of events surrounding his return. Rather, I'm simply asking a few questions. If He is coming back soon are we ready and waiting or are we preoccupied with other things? Will we be living in comfort, insulated from the World up until then? Will we continue to live as we have, or will we begin to have an end-times mindset that places our own comforts on the back burner? I know it was an eye-opener for me. I haven't been living as though I expected Christ to come back in my lifetime. I think that many others like me have been lulled into a false sense of comfort. We just assume that life will continue on just as it always has because it always has.

At first, when I began reading and began to realize that the end could be near, I was a bit unnerved. Then I recognized that there is nothing I can do to stop or forestall it. God will send Christ back when the time is right, and only He knows when that will be. Ultimately I know that things will get bad (whether or not we'll be here remains to be seen), but in the end Jesus will prevail and set up His eternal reign on earth. Let not your hearts be troubled, but let's at least recognize that we are in a time and geo-political situation that could be just what the Bible describes. Are we ready?

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