Dec 12, 2015

Distress of Nations

Political Omens

"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them with fear, and for looking after those things which are coming to pass on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." (Luke 21:25, 26)

These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son and Word of God, towards the latter end of his life and ministry. He was on the Mount of Olives, itself significant in old testament prophecy, and his whole sermon show him fully in his character as "that Prophet."

It would be at the Mount of Olives that Christ would later assemble with his chosen disciples, after his resurrection, and would ascend into heaven in their sight, with the promise given by angels that Christ would return just as he has left. He left bodily and visibly and will return in like manner. This is the hope and expectation of every Christian. In the old testament it was said, in connection with the Mount of Olives and the coming of Messiah:

"Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee." (Zechariah 14: 3-5)

If one interprets this prophecy literally, which seems to be the only way to interpret it, then this prophecy cannot be said to have been fulfilled at the time of Christ's ascension, for the topographical changes to the land of Israel did not then occur.  It is for this reason that many Christian expositors believe that the complete fulfillment of the primitive prophecy of Zechariah will be fulfilled at the second coming of Christ, who will descend not only in the manner he ascended, but even descend to the very place he ascended.

Though some of the things that Christ foretold in the Olivet sermon have been and are being fulfilled, many yet await fulfillment at the time of Christ's second coming to earth to his glorious apocalypse. 

In the words of the text, Christ said that there would be "signs" in two geographical areas, one is in the heavens, in the place occupied by sun, moon, and stars, and the other "upon the earth."  It appears, from the text, that these signs occur together.  The signs that are taking place in the heavens, or above the earth, are taking place at the same time as the signs that are taking place upon the earth. 

The question to consider is what is it that is causing "distress" and giving "perplexity" to the nations towards the time of the end?  What is the reason for the great "fear" that will characterize the world community in the time of the end? 

It appears that the signs in the heavens occur first, and help to cause the nations of the world to be in distress, fear, and perplexity.  This is evident from the fact that it is specifically said that men's hearts will fail them for fear as a result of "looking after those things that are coming on the earth," things which result from the "power of the heaven" being shaken.  The shaking of the heavens, and the signs in the heavens among the sun, moon, and stars, begets the distress on earth.

Yet, it seems to me that we are seeing something of an initial fulfillment of this in the growing social, economic, and political problems that are increasing in severity to a degree never experienced in previous generations (at least since the flood).  We have all kinds of things that today worry the masses.  We have global terrorism, the threat of nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare, of laser weapons and numerous advanced technologies that pose a threat to man's very existence.

People sense that something is coming.  They are building bomb shelters, storing food and weapons, etc.  Further, the things producing fear are not the result of irrational paranoia, because the things are very real indeed.

Men are realizing that they cannot save themselves, that they need a savior.  They put their faith in science but science is showing itself to be a sorry savior.  The world is destined to accept Antichrist rather than Christ.  God help us as Christians to witness to this distressed and perplexed world by pointing them to the one and only true savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, the king of kings, and to his promised return.

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