Saturday, April 25, 2009

It's the End Times, expect the unexpected

The world convulsed yesterday. It still is convulsing. Our deepest fears were savagely brought to consciousness as over a thousand Mexican citizens came down with flu in Mexico City. This flu was quickly identified as a swine flu, but it had genetic markers consisting of avian flu and human flu as well. Worse, none of the sick had been near a swine, so it had passed through human to human contact, igniting long held fears from Health officials of out-of-control mutations and containment issues.

Many books of the bible are prophetic, some say that 30% of the bible is prophecy. So many verses are dedicated to warning and alerting the Christian from the Old Testament to the New as to what is to come and sometimes even when it will come, that many of us have grown confident as to how the end times will actually unfold. We think it will be a calm, orderly progression to the rapture, one 'end times sign' emerging after another as we nod and stand by wearing our "Repent Now!" sandwich-board signs, holding clipboards and ticking off the signs one by one.

Not so.

We serve a mighty God, and His creativity is endless. His timing is His alone. He hung the planets in their courses and He planned the end time with equal precision. Though it will unfold exactly as He said, its manifestation takes unexpected turns. We are told in Luke 12:40 that "the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect" and again in Matthew 24:50 we are told to expect the unexpected. That unexpectedness in my opinion is carrying over to the end times signs' manifestations.

Just as we were watching for President Obama's inauguration, a huge earthquake swarm erupted at Yellowstone National Park, contributing to hysterical global fears, not to mention imminent doom. As we were watching the gear-up to the Lisbon Treaty vote with all its prophetic import for the kingdom of the European Union, Chile's dormant volcano Chaiten suddenly erupted for the first time in thousands of years. As we were watching Wall Street and the Treasury Department deal with bankruptcies and currency maneuverings at the G20, Italy suffered a massive earthquake.

In other words, just as we expect the catalyst which will deepen the end times to be military, a natural disaster happens. As we watch for natural disasters, political catastrophe strikes. As we follow political upheavals, a biological pandemic breaks out.

If anyone remembers the scene in The Princess Bride where Vizzini debates with Westley, I believe it is an apt metaphor.

Vizzini sees reason and order in the universe but he believes logic will solve for him any problem he encounters. His tangled debate with himself as he vainly attempts to discover which goblet holds the poison does not even remotely cover all the possibilities. Yet as he proceeds in his "logic", his attempts to see the situation clearly only becomes more clouded.

The hero sits calmly removed from Vizzini's ever more frenzied deductions, as Vizzini comes up with ever more certain logical conclusions that are in fact ever further from the truth. Vizzini continues his frenzy that he can, in fact, deduce the signs because he is a "genius" and knows all contingencies, until he veritably keels over from the effort. As the solution is revealed, it is elegant in its simplicity. Hindsight is perfect.

Brothers and sisters, let us watch as instructed, "Therefore, be on the alert--for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning--in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. "What I say to you I say to all, 'Be on the alert!'"

While on the alert, can it be truthfully said that we will know the exact manifestation of "distress of nations"? They we are sure what "in perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the seas" means? Our finite minds think hurricane, or tsunami, or even the slightly more creative, Antarctic ice shelf breaking up or Las Palmas. But that is just it, our finite minds can conceive of logical likelihoods of the end times manifestations, and that is good, but let us not become so convinced those are the only manifestations, or we shall veritably keel over like Vizzini.

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