WHAT NOT TO BELIEVE
News is disturbing and so are the interpretations regarding of our time. Every generation has faced difficulties that wished that Christ were on his way back. In Jesus’ own days, He had to correct His followers, “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it” (Matthew 24:23). The reason being that these occurrences shall be counter messianic. False leaders with falsified performances would confuse and mislead the people. Every generation has had such leaders and their accomplishments history verifies. They also had religious interpreters that turned guesswork into unfulfilled promises that the Lord would return in their generation. They neglect to warn their contemporaries that death actually fulfills that promise.
I cannot forget September I, 1939 when we went into hiding because the people in power wanted to cut our throats or trample us to death as they did our friend. I cannot forget January 19, 1945 when we packed within an hour and were on the road to escape from the Red Army that rolled their tanks over people out of hate. We squawk about the Nazi atrocity, but not about the seventy millions the allies liquidated with Stalin as their chief executor. My father-in-law was one of his victims. I could have as well lived in Jesus’ day where the winter is not as severe and where fewer people were running for their lives. Imagine a highway filled with women and children escaping from the hammer and sickle. My mother was seven months pregnant when we fled and I was fourteen years old, driving the horses in below zero weather. We were separated from two of my brothers and father returned from compulsory service one day before we had to evacuate. Death shortened the tribulation for many. My generation has seen nation after nation crumble under the hammer and sickle and the technology that has taken men to the moon. My great-grandfather was 103 years old. He told us how he fled from the Palatine and ended up in Poland in the town where I was born. Religious and political persecutions had driven most of his people to Ireland. My point is this: stop worrying about what will happen a thousand, a hundred or even a year from now. Use the time you have left to get yourself ready for eternity. I am 81 and I am still working out my salvation with fear and trembling. I lean heavily on the mercies of Christ, our only hope.
Jesus has come to prepare His generation for what Jerusalem and the nation of Israel was about to face (Matthew 23:37). What He predicted took place in that same generation and not several thousand years in the future (Matthew 24). Jesus was talking to His own followers and told them that they would be hunted, persecuted and killed; but, that many would escape with their lives or be saved and not raptured or taken away. Their tribulation shall be minor in what the Romans would do to Jerusalem and the Jewish people. They would sacrifice a pig on the altar in the temple and commit sacrilege as predicted by Daniel. This will be a time when people will listen to their false Messiahs that could not stop the Romans and end up fleeing. Like in the days of Noah and Lot, people trusted their false prophets and not the messengers of Jesus. They were unprepared when death knocked at their door. Much worse than just facing death was that they would face their Maker with their unbelief and sins hanging over them. The angel of death would collect their souls or spirits whether they were prepared or not. That, in essence, was the rapture for Jesus’ generation and not for one a thousand years in the future. His message was and still is that every generation must prepare to face what his generation would face. In fact, it was going to be similar to what the generations of Noah and Lot faced.
The disciples were listening and they wanted to know when this would take place and what they were to look for (Mark 13)? They were concerned with their generation and not with one two thousand years into the future. As a human being, Jesus could not give them an accurate date of the demise of their nation or of their own lives. God only knows the termination date. The end comes to every one when the spirit leaves this body. When, then shall all generations see Jesus returning in the clouds and collect all the souls that believed in Him? It is not at all puzzling that He shall collect the spirits or souls that trusted in Him and not mortal bodies. The Risen Jesus revealed to John that they would escape the second death (Revelation 20:6). Final redemption comes to all generations when God consummates and recreates everything (I Corinthians 15:28; Revelation 21:5). At the end of time, the dead and the living shall hear the trumpet sound of the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:51-52).
The signs the disciples were to watch were not at all unusual. They did not compare to the flood of Noah, the split of the earth during the time of Peleg (Genesis 10:25) or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Every generation has been threatened by falling stars and configurations of sun and moon, by earthquakes and floods and by wars. The disciple’s generation ended in tragedy and so did many generations that followed. Ours has had more than its share with America experiencing mild trembling; but, it is not the big one when one third of humanity will be wiped out and sinful man shall blame God for their evil atrocities (Revelation 16). The human life or the life span of a generation is like a fig tree. Death comes to the fruitful and the unfruitful (Luke 13:6-9; 21:25-38). I had 81 years to bear fruit – some good and some not so good. That is why I take my chance with Jesus for my deliverance on judgment day in the here and now (John 3:18). We do not have a second chance.