“And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides.” Luke 21:25 NLT
When Jesus spoke of the End Times (as we tend to call them) the signs sound terrifying. This verse tells us that the very things that mark our time, our days, nights, months and years, will be out of sync. It would make sense if odd things were happening in the solar system, that seas and tides would be affected, and no wonder that there would then be turmoil. And yet afterwards, on the other side of Judgement Day, Revelation tells us that there will be no seas, no moon or sun, no day or night. So perhaps these things too are passing from one kind of reality to another, just as all souls on earth will do.
I love the sea, or rather, as a card carrying landlubber, I love looking at it, and hearing its sounds, so it makes me sad to think of it disappearing. God though, always changes or redeems things for the better, so I am reassured to know that though things will be very different when heaven finally comes to earth, they will be infinitely better. I have a sneaking theory too, that the seas will remain but become fresh water, fed from the river of Living Water that streams out of the Temple in those days. But I’d be hard pushed to make a theological case for that….
The Lord goes on to speak of war, famine, pestilence, betrayal and persecution unto death for those who believe in him. It is worth remembering that eleven out of the twelve Disciples were martyred, and John only escaped because being boiled in oil somehow didn’t kill him, and endured banishment instead. Being a Christian sometimes has a high price.
But though none of this is really comprehensible to us, and we can grow fearful of what may happen, or even become obsessed by eschatology, as many sects and Evangelicals have, our focus needs to be not on how the supposed Rapture will come and how many will be saved, but on Jesus. Whilst some may read these events as linked to environmental disaster, and still others like Donald Trump, see no further than the ends of their noses, tweeting erudition like “It’s freezing out there today. Where is “global warming?” we need to see the signs, but to read them as birthing pains.
When the world is in chaos, and all is turned upside down, when the enemies of our faith come for us, as has happened and is happening in many parts of the world today, it is our witness that will matter, given by words from the Holy Spirit. And the Lord’s advice to us when all is in turmoil? To stay alert, to not trust in our own words but in his which shall never pass away, and to “…straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28 NLT partial). When the sky falls, when the earth crumbles under us, then we find out on what we stand. Not on the fear of a Chicken Licken world, determined to panic, or on the ostrich-vision of politicians, their heads full of wet sand, but on something more reliable than tides, and more permanent than even the very stars in the sky.
Photo from Morguefile.com