today is the the 20th of december of 2012…tomorrow being the 21st…and there are many people in the world that are certain that on the 21st there are going to be major cataclysmic events that may bring an end to the world as we know it. let me start by saying that i don’t have any idea what the future holds nor will i spend much energy debating that subject. the only thing i will say is that Jesus told us that He would return someday and that would mark the beginning of the next age. i believe in that, and therefore i don’t put much stock in the predictions of mankind. something may happen tomorrow…who knows…but i refuse to be distracted and carried away by that debate.
recently i started teaching through the book of Daniel on wednesday evenings at church. it’s been a great study but when i started it, i was primarily focusing on the stories of the fiery furnace, the handwriting on the wall, the fiery furnace, nebuchadnezzar’s downfall and repentance, etc. honestly, i didn’t consider for a moment that when i began this study i would eventually end up in the prophetic chapters…yeah…i know…how could i have missed that? don’t judge me…we all make decisions without total consideration. the reason that this is a big deal is that the last half of the book deals with prophetic events and their interpretations about which there is much…much…MUCH debate. some say that the events that Daniel prophesied about already happened, while a large number of others say that these are things that have yet to be fulfilled. there is a multiplicity of writings, both nonfiction and fiction, about these things. one of the most notable is the fictional “left behind” series, which takes a futuristic interpretation of these events.
so as i have been studying these chapters…and studying history…and thinking about the big picture of the redemptive arc of God’s work throughout history…i have come to a conclusion…and here it is…we get very distracted about these things after He told us specifically not to be. you may wonder what i’m referring to…i’ll do my best to explain myself here. Jewish thought regarding the Messiah was that when He came He would be a political leader that would deliver Israel from their captivity and oppression and establish them as the most prominent nation in the world. they thought He would essentially be a conquering King. so when Jesus’ disciples spoke in reference to His Messiah-ship, they were always asking things like, “when are you going to set up the Kingdom and fix this world?” the final time they pressed Him on this issue, right before His ascension in Acts 1, He finally gave them the best answer yet…He told them it was not for them to know the events that God had foreordained, but it was their responsibility to preach the Gospel. they were to be witnesses in their immediate communities, and spread from there to the farthest reaches of the earth. that was the reason He gave them the Holy Spirit and that is the reason He gives His Spirit to us today…but we get so distracted…by so many things…especially during an election year or when there is a major prediction that a person or group of people have made…and this year happens to be a “double-whammy.” there has been so much conjecture and speculation about what the future holds due to the outcome of the election as well as what the world is going to look like on 12/22/2012…and many of those carried away by such discussions are people of faith… who are not called to be Christianized versions of nostrodamas…but are in fact called to be witnesses.
i guess this is my point: maybe the world as we know it will change dramatically or even end tomorrow, and maybe the outcome of our election cycle is some “sign of the times,” but even if those things are remotely true, our primary goal should be to share the Gospel with all people in the world. we should spend more energy and resources finding ways to love God more deeply and love our fellow man more sacrificially…or, dare i say, we should put more energy into acting Christlike than we do in knowing things that He told us were not ours to know.
i’ve been thinking about this a lot today, and i realized that Scripture doesn’t put much stock in how much we have figured out the future or how much we know. it puts emphasis on our imperative to love God and love man. that’s it. God gave the Law to Moses to give to Israel and those two things were the foundational truths of it. then Jesus came and reiterated that very truth by saying the entirety of the Law hung on those two principles, which were really one in the same.
let us not be distracted from what matters most. the point of those prophecies in the big picture was ultimately to glorify God and let us know we could totally trust Him…and He says that we need to tell others they can trust Him too. if i die in some cataclysm or persecution, i pray that it can be said that my energy went into what Jesus told me to put it into…sharing his message of love and redemption. amen.