Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter XXXVI

The following is a rewritten chapter from Bittersweet Refinements.  If you would like to read the entire book, from start to finish and in the proper order, please go [here].

Chapter XXXVI
In The End
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?  For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”  For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.  But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.  But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!  But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.  Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen.
Even though I was well aware of what a foolish undertaking it was [Matthew 24:36], I still felt compelled back in 1995 to try to figure out when the return of Christ Jesus in glory would take place [Revelation 19:11-21].  For with the year 2000 looming ever closer and closer upon the horizon, discussions concerning the imminent rapture of the church [Matthew 24:40-41] had reached a fever pitch on Christian talk radio programs up and down the dial.
Sorry, I can’t remember just exactly how I got there.  For a critical piece of the equation is that I took the year of an established Hebrew calendar as being the current actual year, and I can’t remember which calendar that was.
What I can remember is that “I” figured that the end of this world was tied to its beginning, and that the reference made to a day being like a thousand years to our Heavenly Father [2 Peter 3:8] was the key.  For He took six days to make this world and then rested on the seventh [Genesis 1:1-2:3], and that meant that this world was meant to last just as long—only with each day being a thousand years.
Anyway, after all of “my” calculations were over, the end of the first six thousand years would come in May of 2152, according to our Julian calendar, and the Sabbath would be reserved for the thousand year open reign of Christ Jesus over this world [Revelation 20:1-6].
Therefore, it will not be until 3152 before the end of this world actually comes.  That is, of course, if “my” calculations are correct.
No, I cannot speak with any authority about the subject.  For our Heavenly Father has not told me just when the end of this world would really be.
There is something related that He has personally revealed to me [Jeremiah 33:3], however, and that is that we would all do well not to worry about such.  For unless you have been told otherwise [Luke 2:26], our own end of this world could come at any second, and it is for this that we should be prepared for [Matthew 25:1-13].
Yes, it could be argued that being prepared for the possibility of physical death being imminent would also apply to a pre-tribulation (pre-trib) rapture of the church.  For if the rapture comes in the middle of the tribulation (mid-trib), we would know that it would be coming three and a half years after the identity of the antichrist is revealed [Revelation 13:1-18].   Then if it doesn’t happen at that time, the rapture would be coming to pass at the end of the tribulation period of seven years [Daniel 12:11-12] and just before Christ Jesus utterly destroys the armies of the antichrist (post-trib) [Revelation 19:11-21].
I was taught in church that the rapture would occur pre-trib, but I have been leaning more and more towards the time for the rapture actually being just before the utter destruction of this world [2 Peter 3:10].  For at the end of the thousand year open reign of Christ Jesus over this world, the devil will be set free to deceive the nations again [Revelation 20:7-10],  and it will be those who stay true [2 Thessalonians 2:1-12], who will not sleep [1 Corinthians 15:51-52].
Yes, this is another thing that I cannot speak with any authority about.  For our Heavenly Father has not personally revealed to me just when the rapture will come, but He has made it abundantly clear that far too many have no reason to hope that it will come anytime soon.  For it is written: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’” [Matthew 7:21-23 NIV]
Alas, has not the silence that has surrounded me all of these years not served as sufficient proof in and of itself?  For who from amongst us can afford to just ignore what I have been given to say if it truly is of our Heavenly Father [1 John 4:1-6], and if it is not, who can honestly say that they truly are one of His children by faith if they could care so little about my own spiritual welfare [2 Corinthians 5:20-21]?
No, not everyone has been given ears to truly hear what I have been given to say at this time.  For in many cases, what they have their faith in is sufficient [Romans 9:16], but in far too many other cases, it is because of the wickedness of their own hearts [Isaiah 29:13-14] that they have not heard.  For it is written: That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.  Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.  Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  He who has ears, let him hear.”  The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”  He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.  Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.  In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.  For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.  Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.  For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.  Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.  The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.  The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.  But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” [Matthew 13:1-23 NIV]
To be honest, I must admit that it tastes much more bitter than sweet to me right now [Revelation 10:8-11].  For even those who openly profess to hunger and thirst after His righteousness [Matthew 5:6] are looking for something other than what our Heavenly Father has given me to say [Jeremiah 20:7-9], but there is comfort in knowing that it will be as it should be in the end [Isaiah 65:1-66:2].

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