Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (Isaiah 46:9-10)
We are there -2022! I would wish everyone a happy New Year, however the prospect of that seems remote at best. I do not mean to discourage, but if you believe this year will be better than last year or the year before, I fear you will be sadly disappointed. I would encourage you not to allow the circumstances of the coming year determine the measure of your happiness. Rather, focus on your relationship with the Lord and allow Him to fill your heart with joy. Happiness waxes and wanes with circumstances, but joy endures all circumstances.
I am not a pessimist, but I am keenly aware of what is going on in the world and 2022 does not look promising. Fear of the Wuhan Bug continues to grip our nation and the world even though this new Omicron variant is weaker, albeit more transmissible, than previous varieties. Yet, those who supposedly care about our health, along with the complicit and compliant media, continue to propagate the lie that this thing is killing people. Therefore, they continue to push for more “vaccines,” more boosters, more masks, more social distancing and more isolation. The Biden Administration is illegally pressuring businesses of greater than 100 employees to mandate vaccinations for all of their employees as a requirement of employment. However, members of the Biden Administration and members of Congress are not required to comply with similar mandates. There is also the matter of illegal aliens crossing our southern borders without any vaccination requirements. Something seems strangely wrong with this picture! Then there is the question of the efficacy of these “vaccines.” People fully vaccinated and “boosted” can still catch the bug, so they are still encouraged to mask up and maintain social distances. This issue will not improve and only promises to get worse in 2022.
The bug scare has severely impacted our national economy as well as the global economy. Add to that, the Biden Administration took our nation from energy independence to total energy dependence on countries that hate us. However, the damage done is not enough. Further plans await for more pipeline shutdowns, and coal mine closures. It would appear that all these “mistakes” are the result of stupidity, but there are too many and too targeted at our economy to be accidental. No one is that stupid. There are global entities behind the curtain pulling the levers and running the gears determined to eliminate the United States as a world power.
America is no longer the economic and military super power that it once was. We are diminished in the eyes of the world. Russia, China, and Korea no longer fear the United States and demonstrate it by conducting provocative acts with impunity. Iran is ramping up development of their nuclear arsenal with Israel as their primary target. The Middle East is a boiling caldron ready to explode. The players in the Gog and Magog war prophesied by Ezekiel are moving into place. Israel, standing pretty much alone, makes preparations for all out war. They cry, “Peace, peace!” but there is no peace.
I said earlier, I am not a pessimist. I see what is going on, and I know it will only get worse. However, I also study the Bible and Jesus clearly told us that these days would come. So, when I see all of this, I am encouraged knowing that Jesus promised that He would come for His own to take us to be with Him. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine).
So, whatever 2022 brings, we who belong to Him can face it fearlessly knowing that, while we may face some troublesome times, we will not face them alone. Furthermore, we have the promise of His soon return to call us home to be with Him. My concern is for those who do not belong to Him. After He calls us home, these bad times we are facing will pale in comparison to what the next seven years will bring. If you are not of His, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Revelation 21:1-5)
With Christmas behind us, we turn our attention to the coming year and the prospect of better things for the future. The year 2020 started out strong, but then things quickly degenerated to lockdowns, isolation, and fear for an unseen villain – the COVID-19 virus. At first the lockdowns were for just two weeks, then four weeks, then three months, then six months. Businesses, schools and churches were shut down. As our nation experienced an unprecedented rise in violence, many of us hunkered down in fear of dangers seen and unseen.
Then came the year 2021 with the promise of “building back better” from a new administration. The COVID “vaccines” promised immunization from the dreaded virus. First, one shot was all that was needed, then two, then a booster. It did not take very long to discover that the vaccine did not prevent infection and whatever benefit derived from the booster was short-lived and no real guarantee against infection. If that was not enough, the Delta variant rose up bringing more fear to an already fearful world, and now we have the Omicron variant and the “need” for a second booster. Along with all of that, violence and lawlessness continued to increase as our nation declined in preeminence on the world stage. The shameful and dishonorable withdrawal from Afghanistan only made matters worse.
Now 2022 is waiting in the wings. What will the new year bring? Will things ever get back to “normal”?
I am not a pessimist, but I do read what the Bible has to say about the end times. If the Bible is true (and it is), things will get worse before the Lord returns. Jesus said, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6-8, emphasis mine).
Does that not sound familiar these days? So, do not expect 2022 to get better; it will only get worse. Now, what do we do in light of this dismal outlook; crawl under a rock and hide away? NO! We face the future with the assurance that God has all things in His control.
What Does God Have to Say About It?
As Moses prepared Israel to enter the Promised Land, a new land filled with giants, dangers, and unknowns, he encouraged them not to fear because God was with them. “Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 1:21, emphasis mine). As Israel prepared for battle against their enemies, the priests were to encourage the people, “And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you” (Deuteronomy 20:3-4, emphasis mine). The unknown is frightening, but God promises to go with us and even to fight our battles,
So, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Deuteronomy 31:6, emphasis mine). When we attempt to face challenges on our own, WE WILL FAIL, but God will never fail us or leave us alone.
God has unlimited resources. When Syria harassed Israel, their efforts were constantly thwarted because God, through Elisha, warned the king of Israel before every attack. The king of Syria suspected that he had a spy within his ranks, but one of his servants told him about Elisha the prophet who warned the king of Israel ahead of every attack. Therefore, the king of Syria sent an army and surrounded Elisha’s house. “And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And [Elisha] answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15-17, emphasis mine).
“And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD” (1 Chronicles 28:20, emphasis mine). David referred to the Temple Solomon would build. Solomon had the promise that God would not abandon him until the work was complete. Today, believers are the “living temples” of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). As long as God lends us breath, we have work to do “for the service of the house of the LORD.”
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness … For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:10, 13, emphasis mine). When we trust God, He is our strength and our help, He sustains us and holds our right hand.
Jesus said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7, emphasis mine). God cares for all of His creation, even those we would count as insignificant. He knows us intimately, even to the most minute detail – the number of hairs on our head. Since God cares so much for common sparrows, how much more does He care for those created in His image?
What Can We Do?
When Babylon conquered Judah, Nebuchadnezzar carried away the Jews in three deportations. Nebuchadnezzar set Gedaliah as governor over Judah after the third deportation to Babylon. They were going into captivity. In that circumstance, the people are encouraged to “fear not,” accept the situation, and it would be well with them. “And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan sware unto them and to their men, saying, Fear not to serve the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you” (Jeremiah 40:9; 2 Kings 25:24, emphasis mine). God promises to be with us even in difficult situations.
Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “fear” (used twice in this verse) is phobeō, from which we get the English word “phobia.” Strong’s defines it this way: “to frighten, that is, (passively) to be alarmed; by analogy to be in awe of, that is, revere: – be (+ sore) afraid, fear (exceedingly), reverence” (emphasis mine). With that in mind, Jesus says not to fear or be frightened of those that can kill the body – that would include COVID-19. Rather, we should “revere” the One who ultimately determines our eternal destiny.
When Jesus was selecting His disciples, Luke records the account this way: “And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:10, emphasis mine). The world may be falling down all around us, but we are not to “shelter in place.” Jesus gave us the “good news” for us to share with those around us.
Jesus also said, “And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:29-34, emphasis mine). We are not to be overly concerned with our material needs. Jesus promises that God will provide what we need.
“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation [i.e., behavior/conduct] in Christ” (1 Peter 3:12-16, emphasis mine). When we are secure in the Lord’s care, we can be confident to face whatever the future may bring. When others see our confidence, they will want to know the reason for it, and we need to be prepared to give an answer.
We cannot stop 2022 from coming. We cannot alter the circumstances that 2022 will bring. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, emphasis mine). However, we can control our own outlook when we place our trust in God knowing that all things are under His control and that He cares for His own. Again, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, emphasis mine). Ultimately, we have the promise of eternal life with Him in a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1-5).
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
The presents are gone from under the tree. The wrappings, ribbons and bows are all in the trash, and all the guests left days ago. Not many days remain in what’s left of this year, and soon we’ll be singing “Auld Lang Syne.”
The older I get, the quicker the years seem to zoom by. This year is no exception. I must confess that this year has been somewhat of a disappointment to me. You may attribute that to the state of politics, the economy, the rise of terror, the decline of morality in our nation, etc., and while all those things can put a damper on one’s outlook, they really are not the source of my disappointment.
I started this year with the genuine hope that this would be the year that Christ returned, and we, His children, would be taken up in the clouds to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Many of the signs seemed to converge to make a good case for this being the year. First there was the third Blood Moon of the rare tetrad at Passover in April that was preceded by a total solar eclipse in March. Then the fourth Blood Moon of the tetrad appeared during the Feast of Tabernacles in late September. Add to that, the final Blood Moon followed the end of the Shamitah which modern “prophets” saw as a sign of economic collapse, (which did not occur in any way to cause great consternation). To boot, all of this leads to the Year of Jubilee, which began on Rosh Ha-Shanna, September 13.
All this year, I have looked toward the eastern sky and cupped my ear for the sound of the trumpet, and it didn’t come.
Jesus did not come. 😦
I am disappointed, but not disheartened or discouraged. After all, Jesus said, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32, emphasis mine). The modern day prophets made some good guesses solidly based on Scripture, but they obviously missed it. To their credit, none would dogmatically set a date for Christ’s return, and all offered the disclaimer that God is not bound by their speculations. Still, there was the hope.
Should that hope be abandoned simply because mortal men guessed wrong? As Paul would say, “God forbid!” Jesus promised to return: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). There is absolutely no reason not to believe that He will do as He promised. The Old Testament is full of prophecies foretelling of His first coming, and all were proven true beyond any shadow of doubt. So accurately were those promises fulfilled, that the probability of one man fulfilling just eight of them is a virtual impossibility, yet Jesus fulfilled them all. If Scripture proved true about His first coming, then it will certainly prove true for His second coming.
A few days still remain in 2015. Jesus may return before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, or He may yet delay. Twenty-Sixteen is the Year of Jubilee and that would be a great time for Christ to return. And what if He does not come in 2016? So what! Jesus promised He will return. In the meantime He said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8, emphasis mine). “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20, emphasis mine). We must do this because, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). Likewise, we should not be willing that any should perish.
Does this mean I should stop looking and listening? Of course not! “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3, emphasis mine). “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). So, no lollygagging! There is work yet to be done! “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Matthew 24:46). Perhaps in 2016!
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
Another year whizzes by in a blur. Earlier this month I lamented to my youngest son, who lives in the area, that I do not see him and my granddaughters often enough. So, perhaps out of guilt, he and my granddaughters came by to visit the other night. When he entered our home he commented on our new floors. “When did you get your new floors?” “Last January,” I replied. In his busyness, he did not realize that it had been that long since he had visited inside our home, but to grandparents, that is a long time. However, in all fairness, our schedules have been just as busy, and time takes no breaks.
It is once again time to make resolutions (that will not be kept) for the New Year. I have resolved to read the Bible through in a year once more – a resolution that I will keep. I have given up on resolving to lose weight. That never works and leaves me feeling like a failure. 😦 At least by reading the Bible through in a year I can put on some “spiritual” weight.
No matter what we resolve to do in the New Year, the admonition of our starting verse should rise above and take priority over all other resolutions. Moses’ prayer request that God would “teach us to number our days” should be our prayer. In a previous verse he says, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (v. 10). By that estimation, my allotment of years numbers between six and sixteen years, but that is not what this verse is saying. The Hebrew word translated as “number” is mânâh, and it means to “weigh out” and by implication to “assign value to.” In other words, we need to ask God to teach us how to make our days count for something in God’s economy – in God’s economy. Of course, God is concerned for the well-being of His children. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine). Moses acknowledges this in the opening verse of this psalm: “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (v. 1). We are “housed” in His care and protection. We need not worry about our circumstances; God takes care of those details. We are to “occupy till [He comes]” (Luke 19:13).
Then as we learn to make our days count, we need to “apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Our “hearts” (not the organic pump that circulates blood through our bodies) is the motivating force of our being that drives us to strive for our desires. Our desires can be wicked: “For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth” (Psalm 10:3) or they can be righteous: “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Psalm 73:25). If the latter, we can put them to work wisely. The word “wisdom” here is the translation of the Hebrew word chokmâh which can also mean “skillful.” Wisdom from a biblical perspective is the skill to practically apply the truths of God’s Word in our every-day lives. Jesus tells us to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). As we learn to make our days count for God’s kingdom, He will provide the skill to apply His Word in our lives. The material stuff – He will also provide according to our “need.”
So, in 2015, Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 25:13)
This past weekend my wife and I had dinner with some good friends from church. A little sign above their kitchen clock caught my eye. It read: “Perhaps Today.” It reminded me that Henry M. Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, kept a similar placard on his desk as a constant reminder that Jesus could return any day. Jesus Himself commanded that we should “watch” for His return. That word in the Greek is grēgoreuō, and it means to “keep awake,” to “be vigilant.”
Jesus issued that exhortation in the context of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Five of the virgins were characterized as “wise” and the other five were “foolish.” All ten virgins fell asleep. Perhaps the expected Bride Groom tarried longer than anticipated, and they all grew weary in waiting. The difference is that the wise virgins were prepared with extra oil for their lamps while the foolish virgins used all they had and made no provision for the unexpected. When the herald announced the coming of the Bride Groom, the wise virgins, prepared with extra oil for their lamps, went on in to be with the Bride Groom while the foolish virgins missed the wedding.
Oil is often used to symbolize the Holy Spirit. We who are “born again” have the advantage of the Holy Spirit residing within us, and, like the wise virgins, we have the provision of the Holy Spirit so that no matter when the Lord returns, we will be prepared. However, just like the wise virgins we can become weary of waiting for the Lord’s return, and we lose focus. We fall asleep often distracted by the cares and worries of this world, and we forget to watch. Sometimes we lament, “How long for His return!” While the foolish, distracted and unconcerned, say, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:4). And so, they have no “oil” for their lamps; they are unprepared.
Our dinner conversation quickly turned to the topic of eschatology, the study of end times. All of us at the table are on “watch” and anxiously await our Lord’s return. Someone brought up the fact that there are four “blood moons” (lunar eclipses) and a solar eclipse expected on significant Jewish feast days in 2014 and 2015. The first will occur on Passover (April 15) 2014 followed by the second on the Feast of Tabernacles (October 8) 2014. The third will occur on Passover (April 4) 2015 followed by the fourth on the Feast of Tabernacles (September 28) 2015. This infrequent sequence of lunar eclipses has historically held great significance for the Jewish people.
For example, when it happened in 1493 and 1494 Jews were expelled from Spain. The blood moons in 1949 and 1950 came right after the nation of Israel was assembled, giving the Jews a homeland for the first time in thousands of years. And in 1967 and 1968 it was linked to the Six-Day War.
In addition to this, a solar eclipse is expected on March 20, 2015. This date equates to Nisan 1 on the Jewish calendar which is New Year’s Day on the Jewish religious calendar. When measured against Scripture, these phenomena should make us pay attention.
When God initiated these feasts (there are seven), He said, “these are My feasts.” “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts” (Leviticus 23:2, emphasis added). Besides the seven, modern Jews celebrate Purim and Chanukah, but these are not “feasts of the LORD.” The Feasts of the Lord is a fascinating study, which I cannot cover in this brief article. They hold great significance as they reveal God in the Person of Jesus Christ and demonstrate His plan for the ages.
The fact that this sequence of blood moons, along with the solar eclipse, looms in our immediate future has many who study eschatology excited for the prospect of Christ’s imminent return. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come” (Joel 2:31, emphasis added).
How are you fixed for oil in your lamp? “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Are you prepared for the Lord’s return? Perhaps this year! Perhaps today!