No, I’m not agreeing with Harold Camping and his end times prediction. The fact that anyone would take him seriously is a revelation of biblical ignorance and arrogance. According to the Scriptures, if your “prophecies” don’t come true, you are a false prophet. God doesn’t think highly of false prophets.
Because of his mockery of the seriousness of the end times, many are disillusioned and the world mocks the church. He did not help us. The world has a hard time taking the church seriously when the quacks get all the attention. The tragedy is, he was not the first, and he won’t be the last.
No, I’m talking about other signs. While no man knows the hour, it is obvious, at least to me, that this world is racing toward judgment. In a few weeks, I’m going to begin a new sermon series entitled “CONTROL: out of my control is not out of His control”.
Like it or not, most of life is out of your control. You can diet and exercise and get hit by a train. You can get an alarm system and your house can be struck by lightning.
You had no control over where you were born, when you were born, or who your parents were. You had no control over your DNA, hair color (at least until you get older), shape of your face (but then there’s Botox and a billion dollar makeover industry), size of your feet, or height. You had no control over your IQ (although you can choose whether or not to use your head).
We want pat answers when there are none. We want our faith to make all our problems go away, but it doesn’t. We can’t (although many do by believing false or distorted teachings) believe that a prayer a day keeps the devil away. Nor can we look people in the face who have buried loved ones because of cancer, tragic accidents, or man’s inhumanity to man and say, “They just didn’t have enough faith.” Life is not defined by clichés. Clichés are easy, life is hard.
While the Scriptures promise an abundant life, they do not promise us exemption from trials and tribulation. If anyone should have gotten a free pass on trials, it was the Apostle Paul. In reality, his faith brought multi-faceted trials on his life that he would have never known had he not given his life to Christ.
That brings me to the reason why I’m starting this new series. All the events of our day—Hurricane Katrina, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, massive and deadly tornadoes across America’s heartland, terrorism, the persecution of believers around the world—demand we face life head-on. We can’t hide in a cave and hope all this will go away. Nor can we pretend it’s not happening. Just because it may not have happened to us, doesn’t mean it’s not real.
Think of the millions of Americans affected by the housing collapse, a bloated market and bad investments. Try to get your arms around the fact that our government seems to be playing with the numbers, printing money like toilet paper, and not dealing with uncontrollable gas prices. It’s enough to make a red, white, and blue American wonder where we are headed.
Add to that America’s increasing disrespect for the nation of Israel, and you wonder what’s going on. After all, Israel is the only true ally we have in the Middle East, and we seem to be treating her like an ugly step-child.
Throw in the efforts to shove Christ and the church out of the public square, the media push for same-sex marriage, and the mocking of anyone who defines marriage biblically. Add a dash of intimidation by Islam with efforts to build a facility in the shadow of the tragedy of 9/11. What do you get? A nation that has lost her values, her mind, and her bearings.
One book has noted the “timing” of nations denouncing Israel or embracing immorality with a rise in “natural disasters.” I don’t know if that’s true or not. What I do know is this world seems to be spinning out of control and racing toward a judgment that is promised in Scripture.
You can’t thumb your nose at a holy God and get away with it. While God is gracious and patient, He is not naïve and He will not allow sin to go unpunished. Being “one nation under God,” you would think we would have better sense than we have. But we don’t. As Anne Graham Lotz said a number of years ago, “If God doesn’t judge America, he owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.”
Is Jesus coming soon? I don’t have a clue. But I know that He will come when we least expect it. In the days of Noah, they didn’t expect judgment until it started raining. Then God shut His remnant in an ark, and all the rest perished. They had been given warnings, but they were ignored. Aren’t we doing the same thing?
I’m not a prophet of doom. I am a realist. I can’t read the Scriptures and ignore what God said about a people who forsake Him. Yes, there is a difference between the Old Covenant and the New. I get that. What I don’t get is the indifferent, apathetic, yawning response of believers who should be able to see the signs of the times and the urgency of the hour.
Whatever happens, I’m not in control, but God is. I can hear and see rumblings on the horizon. My heart tells me we can’t go on like this. I may be off target. I may be totally wrong. But if there’s a chance I’m right, I want to make sure I’m not one of those saying, “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” In reality the question is, “Why would a holy God put up with this for so long?” That’s the bigger question.
(Copyright, Michael Catt)
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.