THE BEGINNING OF BIRTH PANGS
A) World events
B) Handwriting of the wall
C) Time to awake
D) A Message of hope
S.R. Shearer a writer of the Antipas Papers states “Do not underestimate people’s ability to adapt to worsening conditions”. It would be a blind soul indeed who is totally unaware of the worsening conditions that is taking place in our world. In almost every area of life things seem to be coming apart.
There are tribal wars, international conflicts and the threat of nuclear wars. There are famines that decimate millions in poverty struck areas. Earthquakes and its possible after effects of tidal waves. Diseases such as Aids that is wiping out whole villages in Africa, and that have become the scourge of the western countries. There are volcanic eruptions and wildfires that destroy thousands of acres of forests not to mention the homes of hundreds of persons. Global warming and the resultant floods in unusual places. Hurricanes of unprecedented magnitude and frequency that leave thousands homeless and a trail of shattered lives.
To add to all this there is terrorism and suicide bombers and spiralling crime. These are just some of the occurrences that should make us all stop and think, “What is happening to our world?” The recent catastrophe affecting Indonesia, Thailand, India and other parts of Asia that came about from a earthquake producing Tsunami was a major jolt to our world, because of the sheer magnitude of the lives and property that were lost.
Even as I write these words the gulf states of the USA are presently reeling from the effects of hurricane Katrina that is being called “the worse hurricane in living memory” because of its toll on human lives and the magnitude of destruction of property both private and public. In one newscast of world events, I am hearing about one jolting earthquake, two approaching typhoons and the aftermath of a monstrous hurricane. Terms such as “beyond human imagination” and “one of the worse natural disasters in our nations history” crops up from those who are shocked as they see what is unfolding before there very eyes. The word of Yahshua that “All these are the beginning of sorrows” foretells that we may expect more events and catastrophes of similar and worsening nature.
It has been noted that a woman in labour, experiences increased frequency and intensity of birth pangs as the time draws near for her deliverance. So likewise there is a marked increase in the number of disasters, and these disasters are growing to unprecedented levels of destruction.
The Handwriting is on the Wall
Some may say “these things have always been around” but in the last few years there has been a rise in frequency and intensity of so called natural disasters. The observation of these things are not limited only to the religious minded, but the perceptive persons of this world see them too, though their explanation for them tends to be more scientifically based, and is put down simply to cause and effect. From the perspective of one who believes in the unerring accuracy of the written scriptures, the handwriting is on the wall.
On that fateful night, during Belshazzar’s feast, when the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote on the wall, what was written, was clear enough for all to see, but the interpretation of the writing or what the message really meant needed someone with spiritual insight, who though living in a Babylonian system was not of it. So today, even though the events of our times can be explained by those of learning, the Elohim of history foretold it all long ago and there need to be some Daniels who interprets things from the Divine perspective.
Something came to my mind some months ago as I read Yahshua’s prophesy in Matthew 24, I was arrested by His words in verse 33. “When you see all these things…”I realised that if all the things that he had prophesied were to be seen, known and realised in any generation then that generation would have to have the means of communication that would make them aware of the various happenings around the world. In other words when Yahshua said “you will hear of wars and rumours of wars etc. and then goes on to list many catastrophic events, it could only be possible for all these things to be known as they occur, in our day, because of our advance means of communication. We can, on any given day learn what is happening in every part of our world because of our satellites, televisions, internet, and other means of communication. Unlike generations before us the entirety of his words can be seen unfolding in live and living colour, and we don’t have to guess what is transpiring on the other side of the globe- we know, thus showing us that His prophesy is for our time.
Time to awake
It is not enough though to be aware of what is happening in our world. The unfolding of events should help to galvanise us to meaningful activity. We are called to be more than armchair spectators, but rather participants in the end-time purpose of Yahweh.
Rom 13:11 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” In the midst of all that is happening in our world, before our eyes, we can like Jonah, who had gone down to the lowest part of the ship, be fast asleep, hoping to ride out the present storm of unfolding world events, while there is a desperate need as men’s hearts fail them (Luke 21:26,) for answers. It is indeed high time to awake, to be aware, and to offer to perishing souls the way of escape. Pro 10:5 “….he who sleeps during the harvest is a son who causes shame”
The story related in Acts 20:7-12 about Eutychus has a spiritual and parabolic message for us all today. It is a story of a young man who falls asleep at midnight amidst the gathered saints. His sleep leads to death, and as his name Eutychus means “fortunate” he was fortunately revived by the embrace of Saul.
We are approaching the midnight of this world, when the word of Yahweh has to take precedence in our lives. It is going to prove to be the most valuable asset that we have. Before this journey is over, some of us may lose material possessions, whether through disaster or tribulation. We may lose brothers, sisters or friends, as Yahshua prophesied, but the abiding word of Yahweh will be our stay as we endure to the end.
Lawlessness abounds. This does not mean the anarchy caused by those who break the law of the land, but it means the anarchy caused by those who no longer hold the law of Yahweh as important, and are therefore inclined to live lawless lives. Because of this lawlessness, “the love of many will grow cold” Matt 24:12. Sleep will overcome some as it did Eutychus.
I wonder if the fact that Eutychus sitting in the window, contributed to him falling asleep, then falling to his death. In the window seat he could so easily get distracted with what was going on outside, while trying to concentrate on what Saul was saying on the inside. There are so many distractions in our world that if we don’t fix our minds on Yahshua and focus our thoughts on what is really important, we will through our fluctuating interest, fall asleep - a sleep which could prove fatal in these times.
In contrast there needs to be those whose lamps of living testimony are burning in the upper room, - the upper room that speaks not only of where the Assembly began in the Spirit but where it must continue in the word. As the times become more precarious, so these persons will become more watchful and continue to be more established in the truth. Far from being overcome by sleep they are watching, working, even in the midnight hour of this world. Providentially Eutychus was revived. Some may not find this revival and may fall away into a lasting apostasy.
The Message of Hope
1Cor 7:31 “For this world in its present form is passing away.”
There is good news amidst all the bad news we hear from day to day. Yahweh has a plan to bring to this world an era of lasting peace, a time when wars and terrorism will cease, when famines will be unheard of. This will come about, after the coming of Yahshua, whom Yahweh plans to install as the King of kings, and Ruler of rulers. Under his watch the way of peace will be learnt, and nations will forcibly be brought to submit to his rule, and experience the long withheld blessing of the Kingdom of heaven. Yahshua taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”.
This is going to be literally fulfilled. Yahweh’s kingdom, his rule and authority will indeed be coming to planet earth through the one whom He has appointed. Isaiah the prophet foresaw this time and foretold in Chapter 11 of his book of one upon whom the Spirit of Yahweh, of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might and knowledge will rest. Such a one will judge this world in righteousness, bringing equity to the poor, and a deserved punishment to the wicked. He then describes a time of such peace that even the disposition of wild animal will be changed to one of peaceful co-existence.
Yes, this world system is passing away, and right now everything that man has built, whether materially, or institutionally, is going to be shaken. It is all weighed in the balance and found wanting. Heb 12:28 Therefore, receiving a Kingdom that can't be shaken, let us have grace, through which we serve Elohim acceptably, with reverence and awe.
Our work at this time is to declare to a despairing world this message of hope. That through faith in Yahshua we can become partakers of His kingdom. That amidst the darkness that is enveloping our world there is a beacon of hope. That though conditions will rapidly deteriorate all around us, at the critical moment there is going to be an intervention from above.
Let us live our lives as those who are expecting the soon return of their Master and let him find faith in the earth at His return.