Knowing God

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10

Do you remember the lyrics from Game of Love, the popular oldies-but-goodies tune from the sixties? “It started long ago in the Garden of Eden, when Adam said to Eve, baby you’re for me?” That phrase wasn’t so far off the mark:

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. “At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’ ”
Genesis 2:22-23 NLT

Unfortunately, the first couple made the fateful decision to eat from the fruit of tree of the knowledge of good and evil, choosing to disobey God’s perfect plan for their lives in an effort to be more like Him; and it’s been all downhill from there as mankind has continued his quest to gain intellectual understanding about all that we encounter. We send our kids to the best schools and push them to study, study, and study some more. We work hard in our jobs to stay abreast of the latest developments so new technology won’t render us obsolete. We become obsessed with reading, studying, taking notes and memorizing facts about the things that are of most interest to us. To be honest, that’s not always a bad thing. After all, God did invent knowledge, and intellectual understanding can often be a good thing. Sadly though, the events in the Garden skewed God’s concept of righteous knowledge, spinning it out of balance from His perfect plan.

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2-3a

You see; wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and the fear of the Lord are meant to work together in conjunction with the Spirit of the Lord. They are meant to complement each other; but all too often we place knowledge at the top, constantly seeking facts and figures as we try to extrapolate wisdom and understanding from the corrupted knowledge of the world.

We do this not only in our day-to-day roles at work, home or play, but also in our pursuit of God; which is not His perfect plan. Yes, He wants us to be knowledgeable about Him, but studying everything we can find and trying to pack our brains full of such knowledge isn’t the way we’re going to get it. By so doing, we fall into the same trap as Adam and Eve, seeking after the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We seem to think if we just absorb enough of this knowledge we’ll have all the answers, but that never happens and can easily get so caught up in the quest to figure God out that we never get around to experiencing Him. We miss the truth:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33

Wanting to know God is admirable, and we should constantly seek Him out:

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord. Zephaniah 2:3

But if knowing Him isn’t the same thing as having an intellectual knowledge of Him, what are we to do? One morning, the Lord woke me up and gave me a quick overview of how to know Him intimately, and I remembered God’s promise in Isaiah 33:6:

… and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

It was very clear to me that it is His desire that we know him, and then I was shown five ways it will happen outside of our own pursuit of knowledge:

1) Hunger for God: Moses cried out, “Teach me your ways so I can know you.” This was after he’d been up Mt. Sinai the first time and had come back down to find the people in sin, worshipping a golden calf. God’s response to Moses’ plea was to place him in a protected place, in the cleft of a rock, as He passed by in the fullness of His glory. God called Moses His friend. Why? Because he was always hungry for more; he just couldn’t get enough of His Lord.

Consider the necessity of food to sustain life: As the body approaches death, it is a very normal thing for a person to lose all desire for food or water. In fact, they eventually lose the ability to swallow anything; and even if they did, their body could no longer process it. The need for food and water is evidence of life, and if we carry the analogy over into the spiritual realm, hunger for God is what keeps us alive spiritually; it’s what keeps us growing in our understanding or knowledge of Him.

2) Intimacy with God: Just as intimate relationships between people are developed through a process of building trust and communication over time, so are the intimacies of God revealed to us. In high school, teenage girls tell secrets to girlfriends they trust; sweethearts who are dating begin sharing secrets with one another; in a good marriage, husbands and wives are even more intimate, sharing not only their hearts and minds, but also their bodies. The manner in which relationships deepen as trust is gained reflects the manner in which we gain knowledge of God. The more time we spend with Him, the more He shares His mysteries with us.

How do we do that? Reading His Word is a start; but reading with a listening ear for the Spirit’s prompting that there is something special there for you; or perhaps reading until a particular verse just jumps off the page and burns itself into your heart. Then it will be clear that you’ve heard from the Lord; that He has imparted experiential knowledge.

Praying and worshipping are helpful practices, but simply waiting quietly for Him cannot be undervalued. Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10a) is not about just asking for things, but silently waiting on the Lord. Then, suddenly He speaks and you have a new understanding of something; or, you may actually hear his voice. You will have found knowledge through intimacy.

3) Experiential knowledge: God is gracious in that even when we aren’t willing to hungrily seek after Him, He shows himself in other ways and we experience His intervention on our behalf; we experience His hand, His power, at work in our lives.

Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. Exodus 6:6-7

Here, you shall know equates to experiential knowledge. How many times has God delivered each one of us from a difficult, seemingly hopeless situation? Perhaps it was financial or relational, or perhaps an illness that had no solution aside from God’s intervention. Such times, whether we recognized it or not, were opportunities to know Him better, to know His love, His power; to gain that elusive knowledge that cannot be found in books.

4) Observation: All we have to do is open our eyes – open our hearts – and observe God’s Hand at work in the lives of mankind to gain knowledge of Him. He’s not out of the miracle working business either, so watch and see what the Lord can do:

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”  Exodus 14:18

But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” Matthew 9:4-6

Well, some may say, that’s fine for the ancient Egyptians and the people of Jesus day, but when do we have the chance to observe such things? Scripture is clear that His works surround us daily:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20

Did you notice that last sentence? So they are without excuse. When we stand before God, we will be left with zero justification for not knowing Him!!!

5) Judgment: All men everywhere will eventually have knowledge of the true and living God!  Surely this is not the way we would choose to came to know God:

And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. And they shall know that I am the Lord. I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.” Ezekiel 6:9b-10

How much better to learn of Him now, and to experience all of God’s blessings that to gain experiential knowledge of His wrath once it’s too late:

For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him… Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:1, 10-12

Invisible People

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
John 1:11

Have you ever felt like you were just a nameless face in a crowd; unknown, unwanted, without value? I have. You see, I was never one of the popular crowd; always the last one picked for a team, never invited to other kids’ parties, always wondering what was wrong with me.

One example: Linda was a girl across the street who I played with a lot, and in my mind she was my best (and only) friend, but… A year ahead of me in school, she quickly found new friends and moved on. One day Linda had another friend over and they were playing in a building behind her house. Standing outside of the fence, I longed to join the fun as I heard them laughing, clearly having a great time. They even came out and teased me about how much I was missing.

Another time: There was a huge playground at school, and given that we were only a block from the beach, it was mostly sand. A group of kids started building sand castles, which over the course of a week evolved into a sand city. Other kids were invited to help but though I asked, they told me no; and I remained on the sidelines.

Those are very simplistic examples of a lonely child; and as an adult I came to understand the deep agony of others who weren’t just rejected by other children, but by parents and family; often abused or abandoned. I am so blessed that I had parents who truly loved and did the best they could for me and my younger siblings; but my point is that no matter how good or bad our backgrounds may have been, most of us have felt like invisible people at some time, lost in a swirling crowd of humanity.

Biblical examples of the misunderstood are almost too numerous to mention; but consider a short list:

  • Joshua and Caleb – nobody believed their report of the wonders that the Land of Canaan offered; so they had to spend forty years wandering around in the desert until all of those rebellious people died
  • Joseph – his jealous brothers not only scoffed at him but also sold him into slavery, where he spent 17 years (some of them in prison) before he came to the attention of Pharoh and was exalted to the highest office in Egypt, second only to the king
  • King David – persecuted and pursued by Saul even though he sought to honor the king throughout his life
  • All of the Old Testament prophets – condemned, criticized, and many who were martyred for their faith
  • The apostles, all of whom except John were martyred, and he was certainly persecuted

I’m sure that Jesus himself would have known what that felt like. Sure, thousands of people flocked to hear Him teach; individuals sought Him out for healing; but even among His disciples, did anone really know Him? He wasn’t welcome in His own home town, and even His mother and brothers doubted:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which
their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.
But passing through their midst, he went away.
Luke 4:16, 28-30

So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.”
For not even his brothers believed in him.
Matthew 7:3-5

Almighty God, I AM, Jehovah understands:

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man
and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:19-23

No matter how invisible we may feel, there’s good news. God knows each of us intimately:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high;
I cannot attain it. Psalm 139:1-6

Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:15-16

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep … I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:3, 14-15

The Lord sees what we are enduring:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:7-16

And the best news yet – He gives us hope:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Yet sometimes, life gets hard and we may easily fall back into our invisibility cloaks. In such moments, consider Jesus’ prayer for you. Consider that just hours before He was nailed to the cross, you were on His mind:

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17

If I Were A Tree, What Would I Be?

Memories of the wondrous redwoods have appeared often in my posts, for I grew up along the magnificent northern coast of California in the land of the giants. One day, the Lord impressed me to start going back to older hand-written journals to refresh my memories of old dreams, Spirit-inspired insights, and lessons learned. Doing so, I was surprised to find a poem jotted down during a journaling session that I don’t even remember writing.  I share it here now, not because I’m a gifted poet; trust me, I’m not! I share it because it illustrates scriptural principle of unity:

If I were a tree, what would I be? 

A redwood you see, a redwood for me

Standing, standing, so strong and so tall; years upon years, staying strong through it all

Planted by God beside the sea; centuries before they ever saw me

Through lightnings, thunderings, and winds big and small; reaching up to the heavens standing so tall

Supported by others, so like our churches; left alone they’d fall, like baby birds from perches

So many wonders in redwoods I see

Yes, oh yes; if I were a tree, that’s what I’d be

Redwoods can reach heights of over 300 feet, and live for over 2,000 years; and one of the secrets of their strength and endurance is their root system. Typically, the roots only reach about 6 to 12 feet deep, certainly not enough to keep such giants standing through the storms of time; except for one thing – unity. Each tree’s roots intermingle with those ot its neighbors, creating a networked system that quite literally holds them up.

Biblically, we see many examples of both unrighteous and righteous unity. First the ungodly version that leads to destruction:

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth. Genesis 11:1-9

The people of Nimrod’s kingdom built a tower into the heavens, using ungodly unity to tap into false glory and false unity, using a valid spiritual principle to establish an evil kingdom. The Lord recognized what was happening and, in His wisdom, turned disunity loose among the people by confusing the language. They could no longer communicate and were scattered across the earth.

Ungodly unity always sows seeds of discord; it reared its ugly head time and again throughout the scriptures, as is well illustrated by the persistent agreement of the pharisees against Jesus, the stoning of Stephen, and the persecution of Paul:

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” … So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
John 11: 47-48, 53

But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. Acts 7:57-58

But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” Acts 18:12-13

Currently, one need only look at wars and rumors of war, personal and political animosities against anyone who doesn’t share one’s view, rioting, rampant crime—in other words, the world in general—to observe glaring examples of disunity. Clearly, the enemy is still up to his old tricks thousands of years later, but we can’t say we haven’t been warned. Jesus himself described in great detail the chaotic world in which we now live in Matthew 24.

But enough bad news! Let’s turn to the good news, which gives us hope and should definitely make us feel a whole lot better.

Clearly, the enemy is the prime promoter of disunity, so how great it is when God steps in and uses it against him. King David certainly understood this when he wrote:

God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him! As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away; as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God! But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! Psalm 68:1-3

This was Gideon’s experience, when God whittled his army down to just 300 men who were expected to defeat the forces of Midian, which were innumerable:

That same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.”… When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.” As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.”…Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled. Judges 7:9-11a, 13-15, 20-22

The characteristics of unity are diametrically opposed to disunity; complete opposites, and certainly much more pleasant! Synonymous with unity are agreement, accord, consensus, peace, harmony, solidarity, unison, assent, unanimity, concord, wholeness and oneness; [i] and unity can be defined as:

  • The quality or state of not being multiple: oneness
  • A condition of harmony: accord
  • Continuity without deviation or change (as in purpose or action)
  • The quality or state of being made one: unification
  • A totality of related parts: an entity that is a complex or systematic whole [ii]

God in His three persons as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the perfect example of unity: “God’s unity is an incommunicable attribute of the divine essence that refers to the absolute oneness and uniqueness of God (unity of singularity) and to the utter simplicity of his essence (unity of simplicity). Divine unity is an attribute of God which affirms God’s uniqueness and absolute oneness (unity of singularity) as well as the qualitative unity of the divine essence (unity of simplicity). The former implies that there is only one divine being. God is numerically one, not in the sense that he is one among others, but exclusively and solely the one God. All other beings exist from him, through him, and to him. The latter, God’s unity of singularity, is the inner unity of God’s essence by which all composition is denied. It affirms that in God everything is one; his attributes are identical with his being.” [iii]

Time and again, Jesus taught of His oneness with Father and Spirit, and their perfect cooperation was displayed after Jesus’ baptism:

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16–17

Jesus’ prayer for us just before He went to the cross was about being in unity, both with God and with one another:

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. John 17:9–11

Nothing comes from ungodly unity aside from chaos, confusion and all manner of destruction. How much better is the Lord’s righteous version of unity!

[i] Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002

[ii] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003)

[x] Gayle Doornbos, “God’s Unity,” in Lexham Survey of Theology, ed. Mark Ward et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).

Storm Warnings

Behold, the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
Jeremiah 23:19-20

From encouragement to warning, continuing from the Lord’s encouraging words in my last post…

The angels are coming; the angels are coming
The devils are coming; the devils are coming

One if by land; two if by sea
What does that mean to you and to me?

Sound the alarm; ring out the bells
Evil released from the deep pits of Hell

But the Son rises up; He draws near, He draws near
To lead in the battle: You have nothing to fear

For years and for years, you have all asked Me why
The time has now come; hear the Lord’s battlecry

Onward and upward; follow My lead
I’m sufficient My Bride, for all that you need

The victory, the victory, the victory is won
Keep your eyes on Me; keep your eyes on the Son

In some of His final words to the disciples shortly before He was crucified, Jesus couldn’t have been clearer that time is short and we should heed the ‘storm warnings’:

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:4-14

Sadly, even as everything Jesus mentioned happens right before our eyes, many people (Christians included!) could be compared to those who have ignored modern-day warnings of natural disasters, with tragic results. Warnings such as:

  • 2005 – Hurricane Katrina: Three years previously, the city’s main newspaper, The Times-Picayune, had devoted several days of coverage to a special series, Washing Away, in which that dangers associated with failing to correct weaknesses in the levees that were meant to protect New Orleans were addressed.
  • 2007 – Minneapolis Bridge Collapse: Thirteen people were killed and another 145 injured in a sudden bridge collapse, despite the fact that officials at multiple levels of government had been warning of structural defieciences for almost twenty years.
  • 2011 – Fukashima Meltdown: No one could have forecast the massive earthquake, which triggered a disastrous tsunami that not ony killed over 15,000 people but also triggered the failure of the nuclear power plant and forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people. The negative effects of that meltdown are still being felt, yet the Carniegie Endowment for International Peace concluded that the disaster could have been prevented, “Bureaucratic and professional stovepiping made nuclear officials unwilling to take advice from experts outside of the field. Those nuclear professionals also may have failed to effectively utilize local knowledge. And, perhaps most importantly, many believed that a severe accident was simply impossible.”

Such a list could go on and on. It seems that mankind routinely ignores valid warnings time and time again, the worst of which is when multitudes fail to receive Jesus:

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:12-15

Jesus was clear; the end-of-times ‘storm warnings’ are clear throughout both the Old and New Testaments. May we all be wise and heed God’s words:

Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the Lord is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. Joel 3:14-16