If there ever has been a “golden age” in human history I would argue that we’re not now living in one. Yes, we have technological wonders: instant communications, sophisticated transportation and household appliances, quick availability of virtually anything we want to eat or buy. So day-to-day life is as easy as it’s ever been. But Jesus said, “Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” No external things, however necessary or enjoyable, will get us into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Many people sense that the trajectory of human society is downward. A just-released poll shows that only one-quarter of Americans think the U.S. is headed in the right direction. In many other countries large majorities of the population say the same. There is increasing government corruption, self-worship, immorality, idolatry (individually and in false religions).
Christian news sources reveal that the number of “ordinary people” getting into the occult has jumped sharply, as has demon-possession, even in North America. Protestant missionaries see it. And the Roman Catholic Church now has more trained exorcists worldwide than it’s ever had. In the big picture, God seems to be giving Satan ever more leash to wreak havoc. The persecution of Christians is increasing exponentially, from gruesome martrydom, torture and imprisonment in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, to increasing restrictions and curtailing of rights in Europe and North America.
We shouldn’t be surprised at this. Scripture warns us that all of these things will come in the last days. You may say, “Come on, the ‘last days’ began two millennia ago when Christ ascended.” Theologically speaking that’s true. But with each passing day we move closer to the time – and earth-shattering Day of Christ’s return. We don’t know the day or hour, of course. We need only be ready for his appearing.
If we shouldn’t be surprised at any of this, we shouldn’t be afraid, either. Why? Because our God, the God who is in control of all things now – and we can be assured he is in control, and is carrying out his purposes as he always has (purposes we mostly can’t fathom) – is the same God who laid the foundation of the world; who gathered biblical Israel as a people for himself and led them out of Egypt “with a mighty hand and outstretched arm,” then tended (and disciplined) them over centuries; who raised Christ from the dead; who sent out his Word and Spirit, and grafted us Gentiles into his Body.
‘Before Abraham was, I AM’
I find that an astonishing, mindboggling truth that should rightly elicit from us glorious praise and immense gratitude. Imagine! The God who called Abraham out of Ur and who regularly appeared to and talked with him, who visited the 10 plagues on Egypt, who provided manna in the wilderness, who called David (repentant adulterer and murderer that he was) “the apple of his eye” and “a man after his own heart,” who appeared to Mary and incarnated his Son in her womb, who led that Son to his death for our sakes then resurrected him on the third day, who sent out the apostles with signs, wonders and his Word – that God is our God.
That God is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). That God asserts, “Before Abraham was, I am.” What Moses said of him in Psalm 90 we may say: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
That last phrase always causes me to pause for a second. It seems more grammatical to say, “From everlasting to everlasting you were God.” But God doesn’t have a past as we do. He is still Moses’ God – and Adam’s, Abraham’s and David’s – as he is our God. That is the marvelous truth to which we may cling in good times and bad, and no matter how bad the bad might get.
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