In Matthew 24 Jesus explains to His disciples what they can expect to see happening in the world before He comes back. As we read through this chapter it is both comforting and alarming at the same time, yet Jesus calls us who follow Him to trust His promise, to trust His Word and to know that when He comes back to earth a second time it will be in power and with great glory v 30.
He is talking of course mainly to the Jews, about what will happen in and to Israel during the time before and during the Great Tribulation - a time described throughout the Word of God as The Day of the Lord - a time when finally and completely the Lord will judge the wickedness of mankind and will pour forth His wrath on those whom Revelation describes as 'those who dwell upon the earth' Rev. 3:10; 6:10; 8:13: 11:10; 13:8,14; 17:8
We as believers in the Lord Jesus, we who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God, we who have put our trust in Him - we will be gone - called up to meet the Lord in the air in an event we call the Rapture, from the Latin 'caught up' a phrase found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
We do not know the exact day or time of this event but we know it will come and that because of Jesus we who believe will be 'rescued from the wrath that is to come' 1 These. 1:10
But it is what happens before this event that we are concerned with today. Jesus says there will be wars and rumours of wars, nation will rise against nation, in various places there will be famines and earthquakes but all these things are merely 'the beginning of birth pangs'. He is describing of course the beginning of labour - the signs, the discomfort, that a mother has that let her know that the baby its about to be born. Though the birth may still be hours or even days away she can know that when the birth pangs begin the baby is definitely on its way.
That is where we are today as we watch the signs of the times in which we live - as we feel the discomfort and even fear that accompanies them.
Today in our newspapers and on our computer screens we read of Coronavirus, of huge floods caused by violent storms, of fires raging across Australia, of earthquakes and volcanoes erupting at an unprecedented rate. We read of huge swarms of locusts decimating vast areas of Africa and Asia and affecting almost 2 billion people in the resulting famines.
We read of wars and the developing of nuclear and chemical weapons of mass destruction; we hear of climate change but we don't really know whether the earth is cooling or heating up at an alarming rate. Are we headed for another mini ice age like the one experienced in the 1600's or are we on a path to extinction by the temperatures rising too fast?
We read that the magnetic field of the earth is weakening and that the earth is under great stress at this present time and worse we watch on in horror as we grow in our understanding that we have no control - that things are escalating at a pace we could not have imagined even 10 years ago.
What is the answer, where is the solution, how will we live in peace through it all?
Psalm 46 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of Hosts is with us, The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Come behold the works of the Lord, who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire....
Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth'.
God is in the midst of His people - His Spirit is in the midst of His Church and like a river of living water is being poured out through you and through me.
How will we live in peace through it all?
We will trust in His Word and stand His promises; we will live in His powerful grace and we will not be moved! We will 'occupy until He comes'. We will be good stewards of the things He has left us with and we will take every opportunity, in this ever increasing panic, to speak LIFE.
We will live in peace and with joy as we know that the day is fast approaching when this world with all its terror, horror and pain will come to an end and the Lord Jesus will stand in Jerusalem and will rule and reign in power for 1,000 years. Rev. 20:1-4
These are tremendous days - they are difficult and trying; they may be full of persecution and pain, BUT God is with us - He is ever present - He is the all conquering, almighty Lord of the Universe - He is the Creator and Sustainer of everything we can see and all that is not yet visible.
He is the self-existent, all sufficient Jehovah and He is coming and coming soon.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change........
Next Saturday - 7 March at DT Centre, Cirencester we will be holding a seminar on Prayer - The Weapon of War..........if ever there was a day when we need to know the power of God as He works through our prayers it is today - join us from 2 until 4pm.