Thursday, September 07, 2006

Devotion - Apocalypse




Devotion - Apocalypse
BMC-LR

On my desk is a book called "Jerusalem Countdown." It is a
book that has this to say about itself: "Jerusalem Countdown is a
page-turning heart-stopper! Using my confidential sources in
Israel, information from military experts around the world, and
electrifying revelations from Bible prophecy, I will expose this
reality: unless the entire world-- including America, Israel, and
the Middles East--reaches soon a diplomatic and peaceful
solution to Iran's nuclear threat, Israel and America will be on a
nuclear collision course with Iran!"

I didn't add any extra exclamation points, those are in the original
text. The author goes on to say that he foresees a nuclear battle of
Armageddon on the horizon, and very soon. This will be how the
apocalypse, the end times, how the end of earth as we know it
will be played out. All it takes, he argues, is some careful reading
of the bible and some careful reading of the political situation in
the middle east to see this coming reality.

And I'll grant, he's not the only one who thinks this. During the
past six week campaign between the Hezballah militia and Israeli
forces in Lebanon, it has amazed me how many patients I
encounter who are eager to get a "preacher's" take on the end
times, how this is all going to play out, and how Israel bombing
the suburbs of Beirut where Hezballah members live among the
general population, (that is, those who were too poor or too weak
to evacuate) is going to effect Jesus' itenerary for returning with the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

In a disturbingly interesting development, one writer following
the conflict pointed to the similar beliefs about the end times held
by Iran's Muslim president, Mahmoud Amadenijad. It seems that
among certain Muslim groups there is a belief that a hidden
Imam, or leader, who disappeared hundreds of years ago will
eventually return and will stand upon the mount of olives with
Jesus and bring down the rule of God. It seems Christians are not
the only ones who have an idea about how the end shall come.

I have in my email box a group email from an acquaintance
warning about his experiences twenty or so years ago being
taken in by the end times schemes of one Hal Lindsey and
his book "The Late Great Planet Earth," in which he
predicted a similar nuclear apocalypse only this time it was
the Communist Russians who were the threat. All it took
was a careful reading of the bible and a careful reading of
the political situation in eastern Europe and Russia to see
the coming reality of the end of days. But his doomsday
came and went. The sound heard by thousands was not that
of a thunderous nuclear holocaust but a great sigh of
disillusionment escaping the lungs of college students,
seminarians and armchair scholars everywhere.

My acquaintance warned against following folks who had
times and seasons all mapped out. But he couldn't resist to
indulge in a little end times speculation about the current
middle-east conflict (along the lines of Jerusalem
Countdown).

Before that, there was a group in the church who felt that
God's kingdom come on earth and that, little by little, bit by
bit the community of humanity was rising, becoming more
godly, and it would eventually culminate in the end of this
age and the beginning of a new utopia crowned by Christ's
return. You see things were going so well, economies in
Europe and America were booming, progress and
modernization were spreading. All it took was a careful
reading of the bible and a careful reading of current events
to see this new coming reality. The horrors of World War I
and the unspeakable evil that eventually was uncovered by
World War II tended to throw doubt over this school of
thought.

But there's just something in us that wants to know how the
story is going to turn out. And part of that something is a
sneaking suspicion that we may just be the end of the line;
the last living souls who will see the end; see Christ's return,
be it Armageddon or utopia. I think it might have something to
do with the correlating fact that if we were to be the last ones, we
might just get out of this world without tasting death, the great
enemy.

Jesus knew about our propensity for buying into end times
schemes this when he warned in Matthew ch. 24 about false
prophets who would predict when the end would come and fool
many in the "last days."

And yet, Jesus does tell us that the kingdom of God has come
near and scripture tells us we are living in the last days. So what
are we to do? We don't want to be duped by false prophets whose
"page-turning heart-stoppers" clog bookstores and late-night
religious info-mercials. And yet, central to being a Christian is
the confession that Jesus is coming again and will bring with him
a new Heaven and new Earth. How can we hold both of these
two seemingly contradictory concepts in our minds at the same
time?

Ask any of our families next door with patients in the intensive
care units. Ask your grandmother when she's broken her hip in a
bad way and is facing weeks of physical therapy IF she is ever to
have a shot at walking again. Ask the mother of a child
diagnosed with a mental disability or Downs syndrome in utero
who decides to deliver their baby anyway. These people and
many others like them will tell you what it's like to hold in one
hand all the cold hard medical facts about the likelihood, or
unlikelihood of their loved one's recovery or survival and the
hope that they will beat the odds in the other. They know the
secret to surviving in these times of intense pressure, fear,
uncertainty; these times of not knowing how it is all going to turn
out is to hold reality in one hand and hope in the other. To hold
the gravity and weight of how bad it looks, how bad it really is in
one hand and an indomitable hope for the future, for fresh
possibilities we don't anticipate in the other.

I believe we have much more to learn from these people who are
fighting the battle of their lives to accept reality while clinging to
hope, than we do from many of these doomsayers who join
a long line of people, generations long who were mistaken
about being the last. Because, after all, there is only one
who knows the day and the hour of His second coming;
there is only one who knows how this hospital stay is going
to go, there is only one who knows the end of the story. So
to put it another way, we're all in the waiting room. We
don't lie to ourselves about how dark things are getting. But
we also don't let go of the hope that God may yet give just a
little more time.

So we continue living, holding onto what we can see with
one hand and allowing the One who sees so much more to
hold the other.

Lets pray.

[Play Pilgrim Travelers' "Jesus Hits Like An Atom Bomb"]

6 comments:

Joshua Daniel Franklin said...

These are great. You should do this for a living.

M. Lumpkin said...

Thanks Josh. I kind of do :)

tigbeane said...

I'm kinda glad you do this for a living. I'm one of your wandering sheeps :) I have a friend who lost her son to himself, she lives for the day of Jesus return to see her son again. With all the comfort she has recieved from the One, it's not complete. They are going to Israel in a few days, they go yearly. Their son also lived there a year while studying worship. I hope I never know that loss, but seeing it so often is overwhelming at times. I pray often for peace in Jerusalem, for all the meanings of Jerusalem. bb

tigbeane said...

I'm kinda glad you do this for a living. I'm one of your wandering sheeps :) I have a friend who lost her son to himself, she lives for the day of Jesus return to see her son again. With all the comfort she has recieved from the One, it's not complete. They are going to Israel in a few days, they go yearly. Their son also lived there a year while studying worship. I hope I never know that loss, but seeing it so often is overwhelming at times. I pray often for peace in Jerusalem, for all the meanings of Jerusalem. bb

M. Lumpkin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
M. Lumpkin said...

It can be very overwhelming. You begin to see the faces of your children and loved ones in the faces of those you care for. I think it is terribly interesting that "Jerusalem" contains the Arabic root for peace: "Salam."

I hope your friend finds peace and comfort there. Though there is a sense in which we will never be complete until he comes again.
It's good to hear from my wandering sheeps :)