October 15, 2013

Signs of the Times

“When it is evening, you say: ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ In the morning you say: ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is threatening.’ With accuracy you forecast a change in the weather. How is it, that you have failed to discern the signs of the times?” –Jesus

You’ve probably heard the one about the two pastors having a heated debate over the correct eschatology of the end times, when a third declares, “I’m a pan-millienialist!” The other two stop in mid-sentence to ask, “What is a pan-millienialist?” “Everything will "pan” out in the end!“ he chortles.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Harry Reid and the Democrats represent the evil monopolizing of political & police power to control the lives of millions of people. In historical allegory, they would be the Roman Empire of Jesus’ time, a brutal occupying power that used a country’s own traditions and governing structures to impose their will, punish dissidents and confiscate treasure from the conquered. The Republicans are divided in their response and are represented by the "Establisment” and the “Tea Party” wings whose leaders grow more hostile to each other with each passing day, certain that their view of things is the proper tack to take in dealing with a formidable foe. In a sense, this is the place the Pharisees and Sadducees held in the tense relationship between the nation of Israel and their foreign occupiers.

(For argument’s sake, the current administration represents the puppet government of “King” Herod who loved the title, lifestyle and notoriety of supposed power bequeathed by Rome and used it to bully his own people into submission, but I digress…)

Undercurrents of rebellion filled the streets of Jerusalem led by various groups most notably the “Zealots” out of which Bar Abbas was born. The Pharisee and Sadducee sects tried deliberately to keep a semblance of order in the midst of this turmoil and did not cotton much that would threaten the fragile “peace” the Romans offered.

Into this political house of cards Jesus was born. Preaching strength through love of one’s neighbor AND enemies while demonstrating amazing command of nature, disease and language, He appealed to the hearts of individuals in ways over which the Pharisees and Sadducees could only languish. And as the self-proclaimed Light of the World, he was not only a Beacon of Hope illuminating the way in dark times, he was (and is) a spotlight to expose the dark places in the heart; especially in those with a special calling to be light themselves but who faltered in times of trouble allowing their faith to flicker and their behavior to bruise.

Not unlike elected officials at every level of our own government, who read the “signs of the times” not as an opportunity to hold the line on principle, allowing adversity to strengthen faith and character, but as a chance through expediency to “get theirs” while they can! And like every generation before us we allow our debates to be reduced to ideologies, doctrines, which politician can promise the most expediency, or worse yet, whether we should even get involved at all, rather than discerning what God is up to – as Abraham Lincoln entreated – and positioning ourselves on His side! For if, as Jesus warned, adversity tends to make us fearful and fickle, great adversity more so – driving love out of our hearts – then it is our duty to be resolved to stand firm in faith as we recognize the warning signs of impending difficulty; willingly, like Jesus, to lay down our lives for our friends in resolute pledge to life, liberty and the protection of property.

While the Pharisees and Sadducess were looking for credentials, Jesus was demonstrating God’s Perfecting Will. The same Will that is at work today: making us as individuals fit for his kingdom of love, light, and righteousness – who by eternal choice of good are overcomers.

If you don’t like what our country is becoming, read the signs…and choose wisely!

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