No one can argue that we are living in some of the most challenging times in the modern era.
I can imagine that what we are experiencing today with all the polarization and unrest is similar to what Jesus encountered in his 3 ½ year ministry on earth.
The setting is not much different as there were two main political factions trying to operate simultaneously with polar opposite agendas.
Rome governed Israel under the heavy hand of Caesar while the Sanhedrin oversaw Jewish life in Jerusalem.
Within the Jewish world itself were the divided ideologies of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Essenes.
Jesus was not only a great unifier, but also a great disrupter to the status quo.
He challenged traditional thought and the heavy handedness of the self-promoting religious leaders of the day.
His teachings stirred the people and became a threat to both the established Jewish leadership and Rome.
His life, death, and resurrection brought great hope to many, but also fueled an even greater divide among the people.
Over the course of the next 200 years Rome destroyed the 2nd Temple, crushed all rebellion, and ultimately drove conformity to Roman rule or face death.
After the Third Jewish-Roman War led by Simon Bar Kochba ended in defeat in 136 AD over 580,000 Jews had lost their lives and the Jewish people were banned from Jerusalem.
The rise to power of Constantine solidified Roman Christian rule over the entire region and established the foundations of the Roman Catholic Church and fostered an even greater rise in antisemitism and the foundations of replacement theology. Over the course of history there has always been an agenda to annihilate the Jewish people.
There is a simple explanation and that is if you destroy the Jews Jesus is either never born or He never returns thus leaving Satan to rule this earth for eternity.
However, that is not God’s plan and even in the midst of the Holocaust, God’s plans could not be thwarted.
History is the most valuable tool we have in making sense of the present turmoil surrounding the pandemic, social unrest, political division, and the never-ending attempt of man to remove God as sovereign over our lives. The threat we are facing today is steeped in this rebellion against God and can only succeed so far until God intervenes to fulfill His plans for mankind.
The ultimate plan is the return of Jesus, but for that to happen there are prerequisites that God has given us in His Word that must happen before our prayers for Jesus’ return can be fulfilled.
Nothing in scripture tells us these times will be easy and, in fact, we are told just how difficult these times will be.
As it was in the days of Noah and in the Days of Lot, so shall it be in the seasons prior to the return of Messiah.
These are the signs of the time that tell us of a rise in lawlessness, a great falling away, wars and rumors of war, brother against brother and that is exactly what we are seeing not just in America, but around the world.
Statistically 80% of those who refer to themselves as Christians do not read their Bibles and only 6% of America’s believers maintain a biblical worldview.
Without the foundation of scripture to guide us and comfort us many are fearful of the events that are unfolding around us.
What has been shall be again and we must stand firm on the promises of God that He will prevail.
Nowhere in scripture does it say we have to like what is happening, but the message is very clear about how we are to treat each other during the current wave of darkness sweeping the earth.
God does not bless division and is clear in His message that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
I am deeply disturbed at the vitriol being spewed by those whom God has called to be set apart.
There is a shaking and a sifting happening all around us and the voice of the Gospel is being weaponized as an instrument of division instead of healing.
What should our response be in these perilous times? Jesus brought a message of unity and love, yet the loudest voices are capitulating to social pressures to call evil good and good evil.
The major denominational voices are yielding to tolerance and acceptance of what God has commanded us to stand against. Is it any wonder why God would allow what is happening to happen?
Throughout biblical history God has always given the people a king based on the condition of their hearts.
Israel had so turned away from God they He instructed Jeremiah not to pray for them as they were so unrepentant and more committed to their sin than they were to God.
Have we become so unrepentant that God is pouring out judgment on a world that murders millions of unborn babies and advances the rights of those who defy God’s definition of marriage?
Were we not warned to turn away from anyone who preached a Jesus that was different than the Jesus that Paul preached or a Holy Spirit that was different or a Gospel that was different?
Yet, billions of self-defined Christians have become so comfortable and complacent and lacking in discernment that they do not have ears to hear or eyes to see what is happening right in front of them.
There are many who believe that what we once knew as “church” in 2019 will never be the same.
Will the sheep scatter as many predict that at least one third of those who used to attend church will not return once the doors reopen?
Forecasters predict that approximately 25% of the churches in North America will not reopen.
Many senior pastors of large churches are retiring and stating that they are not equipped to guide their congregations into the new norm, whatever that may be.
What are we to make of highly esteemed leaders who are leaving because of moral failure or those, who even after death, are being exposed as having lived a double life steeped in sin?
How are we to process the countless prophetic voices that were adamant that the Lord told them that Trump would be reelected?
What should our response be to the pandemic, social unrest, threats of imminent war with Iran, China, North Korea, a nation and a body divided, and the many perils that are brewing both here and abroad?
It has been said that unless faith is tested is it really faith? I am always reminded that in the Book of Revelation there are 10 promises God makes to the Overcomer.
Inherent to being an overcomer means that you and I will have faced obstacles and challenges that by faith we have overcome.
Is this the season when we must stand firm in our faith in order to receive these promises of God?
Here is what is written to the Overcomer
1. Will eat from the tree of life. – Revelation 2:7
2. Will not be hurt by the second death. – Revelation 2:11
3. Will be given a white stone. – Revelation 2:17
4. Will reign with Christ on His throne. – Revelation 2:26-27, 3:21
5. Will be given the morning star. – Revelation 2:28
6. Will be clothed in bright garments. – Revelation 3:5
7. Name will be in the book of life. – Revelation 3:5
8. Will be made a pillar in God’s temple. – Revelation 3:12
9. Will participate in the new Jerusalem. – Revelation 3:12
10. Will have God’s name written on them. – Revelation 3:12.
These promises are to the overcoming remnant who stand firm in their faith and are driven to stand against the present darkness.
Our hope is not in a man or an office or a government.
Our hope is in the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.
We, like the 12 spies in Numbers chapter 13 are all seeing the same set of circumstances unfolding at the same time.
What report will we bring?
Will we be like the ten whose final assessment was that the promised land, although lush and fruitful, was inhabited by giants too powerful to defeat and death was imminent or will we be like Joshua and Caleb and give a similar report, but a much different outcome?
For the ten who said that death awaited them their words came true and they died without ever entering the promised land.
But, for the two, Joshua and Caleb, their words also came to pass as they walked by faith in the promises of God trusting that He would not lead them to destruction, but would deliver on His promises.
1 Peter 3: 8-22 reads “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
This then is our response to the perilous times we are in.
Our faith and hope is in God and the return of Messiah.
We must stand firm in our faith and not be shaken, but devote ourselves to the Word and to sharing this message of hope everywhere we go.
It is only by standing firm that we can overcome the perils of this world and receive that which awaits us in Messiah.
Rabbi Eric Walker