Signs of the Times

Spring has officially arrived. I’m not talking about spring coming because it’s a date on the calendar when the shift of the earth takes place, nor does this have anything to do with what the Farmer’s Almanac or anybody else in the weather department may predict or what some groundhog has done recently. The surefire sign that spring has arrived has taken place, though. The first week in April I saw it with my own eyes, the one sign that never fails. What sign is that? It’s just a theory that I have seen and followed through the years that spring has arrived when you find the first dead snake in the road.

Now you may have already seen some snakes slithering about, but the real indicator that spring is here, freezing weather is gone, and no more frost is ahead, is a dead snake in the road. I do not know how all this works out, but apparently one of the snakes agrees to take one for the team and volunteers to crawl out there in front of a car or truck and announce that beautiful spring weather is on the way. You need to understand that me seeing the dead snake in the road doesn’t mean spring will come to you where you are. You have to experience it for yourself. Keep your eyes open for the sign of the times.

You start out by seeing a snake recently and thinking about the signs of the changing times. I began thinking about where our world is and the craziness we see in every direction and the signs of the times of which Jesus spoke. At the close of His ministry, He spoke to His disciples and told them of signs that could indicate what’s going on in the world. In that narrative He gave in Matthew 24, He indicated some things that were going to happen soon — and they did – along with other signs that were indications of the last days — and they will be. We would do well to pay attention to what our Lord told us.

While there are numerous signs of the end times, just think about some that seem to be so prominent in our world right now. For one example, Jesus indicated there would be little or no moral restraint. Moral decay would be happening all around us. Jesus said, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage…” (Matt. 24:37-38). He pictured the days of Noah as being days like the last days. When you look at Noah and the conditions that brought on the flood that would destroy mankind, you recognize that morality in that time was on a deep, fast decline.

It was in that atmosphere that one man and his family found grace in the eyes of the Lord and so by God’s command, Noah began building an ark. For decades he built and he proclaimed the truth of God to a generation that didn’t pay any attention.  It seems as though that generation was the first generation that practiced, “If it feels good, do it,” regardless of restraints or what God declared or what anybody thought. Is that our culture, our world, our planet today? You certainly could make a case that it is.

When you stop and look at the Ten Commandments God has given us, it is amazing to think about the fact that every one of the Ten Commandments can be legally broken somewhere in the United States. The first commandment that no other gods should be before God is a good example. In our world, someone who stands for truth and morality as God would depict it is dismissed while an atheist can get more attention at times than a hundred preachers. Some may think that we still hold to the sanctity of life – that people are not supposed to murder — yet every year over a million babies are destroyed through abortion. Some of them are fully developed and almost ready to live and laugh and enjoy life, but their lives are taken away under the court’s protection of a woman’s rights but providing no rights for the child. Many of the truths of God are broken that have to do with fidelity, integrity, and sometimes the language we use. We simply disregard what God has said with a shrug of our shoulders and think, “Well, everybody does it.” It could be that we’re living in those days about which Jesus told us.

A second sign is more prevalent today than ever in history, and that is Jesus told us there would be wars and rumors of wars. It’s hard to find a time when there weren’t wars and outbreaks and skirmishes taking place around our world, but not like today. While we have had world wars where scores of nations would join together and fight against each other, today in actuality everywhere — every city and village, restaurant, or theater — could in a moment of time be turned into a terrorist battleground. You could be in Paris or California, New York or Brussels, Istanbul or the Pentagon, and instantly the landscape could become a war zone. No longer are the battlegrounds places like Iwo Jima or Normandy, but an unsuspecting airplane or the finish line at a marathon run. These are the new war zones and battlefields we hear about, and many more that we’re concerned about, because it could be right next to us. It is that kind of world that Jesus described as signifying the last days.

One other sign that is indicated about the last days is that the Savior would be displaced. Jesus said that in those days people would say here’s the Christ or there’s the Christ, and it would even be those who would declare themselves to be the hope and the savior, even in light of the fact there is only one Savior sent from God: Jesus, our Lord. Here’s what you’ll find. It’s not just that they deny Jesus as a religious leader. It’s that they want to put Him in the lineup of simply being another religious leader like all other religious leaders. That is not who He is. You can line up all the religious leaders that have ever lived and put Jesus in the lineup, and in fact He does not stand shoulder to shoulder with any or all of them. He is not just head and shoulders above all of them, but He stands alone, singularly, as the hope of the world. He declared himself to be and indeed is, “…the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

More and more, to believe that truth about the living Christ is to more and more put yourself in the minority. In fact, to believe there is one God that has given His only begotten Son to die for us is to invite attacks that you’re intolerant, insensitive to other people’s thoughts and feelings, and probably even somewhat ignorant because you believe such a thing.

Into a world that will reject Jesus, displace Him, and at best want to simply put Him in the mixing bowl of religious ideas and choose what is liked the best, the living Christ will come. The signs of the times are real and not just a snake in the road. It is a Savior who spoke 2,000 years ago, pointing us to a world that seems an awfully lot like the world we live in now.  It is not time to be in despair but “look up… for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

The author can be contacted at directions@mbcb.org.

Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer
directions@mbcb.org

04-14-16

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