We Live in Fearful Times
"When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. . . . And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
-Luke 21:20, 24b, emphasis added
Jesus has said that Jerusalem will be a focal point globally in the end times. At the end of Luke 21:24 He was referring to where we are right now in history. After A.D. 70, Jerusalem ceased to exist as it had previously. No longer could the Jews worship God as they once had because Jerusalem had been trampled by the Gentiles. In fact, Revelation reports that there would be an abomination up on the Temple Mount, and it is there today-the Dome of the Rock!
Jesus spoke of wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences (deadly diseases), and changes in climate. He spoke of Israel as a literal place in the last days, and of Jerusalem's rise to global prominence. Have you ever considered that Jerusalem has the third largest press corps in the world? Why is that? After all, Jerusalem has less than one million people, so why do they have more reporters there than anywhere, except for New York City and Washington D.C.? The only possible explanation is that the whole world is fascinated with Israel! Other nations do not like Israel being there; they are afraid of Israel because it is so disproportionate in its influence and attention.
To a science fiction enthusiast, a paraphrase of Luke 21:25-26 might read like news reports in a futuristic episode or miniseries: "The end of the world is upon us! There are troubles with the sun, moon, and stars! On earth there is distress of nations, with mass confusion, and the waves are roaring! All over the planet men and women are dying from fear!" From a Christian perspective, however, look at what Jesus says when all that happens: "When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:28).
There are two separate Greek verbs in verse 28. Not only are we to lift up our eyes, but we are also to turn our whole bodies toward Christ because His coming is near! Every time I hear of a major solar event, a huge earthquake, a catastrophic hurricane, or an unprecedented tidal wave, I am grieved for all those who have been snatched into eternity without knowing Christ. Yet my heart is also thrilled because such events remind me that our redemption is getting nearer!
Whenever there are signs in the sun, moon, and stars; signs on earth when the nations are in distress; and signs when fear and deadly "panic attacks" hit the planet, we should "look up" because Jesus said our redemption is close at hand. In Luke 21:31-33 Jesus says the generation that is alive when these things begin will be the final generation, and will see His coming-if they survive!
Where to Find Hope in Fearful Times: More and more we see the reflection of society's fears in apocalyptic-themed films. From some of the early global disaster movies in the 1980s and 1990s, such as Apocalypse Now, to more recent ones like The Day After Tomorrow, people are watching and thinking about fearful themes on this doomed planet. Sometimes just reading those titles is enough to scare anyone who is not grounded in the Word of God!
God has an offer for those who live in fearful times. More than any other prohibition in Scripture, He repeatedly calls out to us, "Fear not!" To conquer fear, a truly wise person will earnestly pray: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalms 19:14; see also Proverbs 3:21-26).
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