And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. - [Matthew 24:3-8 KJV]
As I write this, two days ago, a massive earthquake has rocked a portion of Japan to the ground. Just a few weeks earlier, Christchurch, New Zealand, was rocked. Are we experiencing more earthquakes? I googled "Recent earthquakes" and one of the top links was a news story telling people not to worry. Yeah right. Here, as plain evidence is a snip from http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/
- Magnitude 8.9 NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN March 11, 2011
- Magnitude 5.4 MYANMAR-CHINA BORDER REGION March 10, 2011
- Magnitude 6.5 NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA March 09, 2011
- Magnitude 7.2 NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN March 09, 2011
- Magnitude 6.6 SOLOMON ISLANDS March 07, 2011
- Magnitude 6.5 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION March 06, 2011
- Magnitude 4.7 ARKANSAS February 28, 2011
- Magnitude 6.3 SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND February 21, 2011
- Magnitude 4.1 ARKANSAS February 18, 2011
- Magnitude 6.6 OFFSHORE MAULE, CHILE February 14, 2011
- Magnitude 6.8 OFFSHORE BIO-BIO, CHILE February 11, 2011
- Magnitude 6.5 CELEBES SEA February 10, 2011
- Magnitude 7.2 SOUTHWESTERN PAKISTAN January 18, 2011
- Magnitude 7.0 LOYALTY ISLANDS January 13, 2011
- Magnitude 6.6 VANUATU January 09, 2011
- Magnitude 4.1 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA January 08, 2011
- Magnitude 7.1 ARAUCANIA, CHILE January 02, 2011
- Magnitude 7.0 SANTIAGO DEL ESTERO, ARGENTINA January 01, 2011
Still thinking we aren't seeing an increase in earthquakes? I think we can agree we are indeed seeing an increase of quakes. What about world tension? Wars? Rumors of war? See what is going on over in Libya? Tunisia? Yemen? Saudi Arabia? Not to mention our ongoing battle in Afghanistan, of course. Will Iran or North Korea decide to step in and stir up more trouble? I think the case can be made that the conditions of Matthew 24:7 are upon us. If the world right now is in fact a fulfillment of Matthew 24:7, then we can only accept with grim resignation and trust in our Savior that Matthew 24:8 is also upon us. "All these are the beginning of sorrows."
Complaining? Who, us?
The children of Israel can tell us a lot about complaining. They personally experienced God deliver them from slavery. They crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. They saw the dreaded Egyptian army consumed in the very same sea. And as soon as they not see where tomorrow's meal would come through, the complaining began.
And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. - [Exodus 16:1-3 KJV]
Do you think those people were any worse than we? Do you think they were all a bunch of godless heathens with no faith? If we were there, do you think we would have fared any better? Anyhow, in spite of their lack of faith, or perhaps because of it, God meets their need in a way nobody would have ever expected.
Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. - [Exodus 16:4 KJV]So, God heard their complaining, and He is acting on it, but do you think He is pleased? I think not. The people were complaining about Moses, but God says they were complaining about Him. He delivers them bread falling from heaven, and they no longer have to worry about food. They get out each morning and there it is. But once the thrill is gone, the complaining starts back up.
And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD. - [Exodus 16:8 KJV]
And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. - [Numbers 21:5-6 KJV]God does not like complaining!
Korah was a complainer. He complained about Moses' leadership, and even had a "new teaching" about everybody being holy he wanted to dump on Moses.
Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? - [Numbers 16:1-3 KJV]So Moses could have spent some time arguing back and forth with Korah, but instead decided to kick it up a notch. Why squabble amongst the servants when you can take it up with the Master?
And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to morrow: And take every man his censer, and put incense in them, and bring ye before the LORD every man his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; thou also, and Aaron, each of you his censer. And they took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation with Moses and Aaron. And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. - [Numbers 16:16-21 KJV]As you can see, God does not like complaining.
The lesson for us? When we complain about our circumstances, the lot life has dealt us, who are we truly complaining about? Has God provided for us? Indeed He has. It may not necessarily be the way we would have it, but He has meet our needs. And sometimes, at the moment, there is no escaping that the situation is pretty grim.
Handling personal tragedy
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That woe and well-being proceed? - [Lamentations 3:38 NKJV]When the world turns against us, it is easy to fall into a pit of despair and complaining. You want to know who could handle whatever life threw his way? Job could.
Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? - [Luke 13:4 KJV]
Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. - [Job 2:9-10 KJV]
Even Job reached his breaking point, though. That's why the book of Job is 42 chapters long. Job lost almost everything he had, and it took a face-to-face encounter with God to come to grips with it all.
Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. - [Job 42:1-6 KJV]
Simply put, we may never know why suffering comes our way. How we respond, though, will demonstrate where our heart and treasure reside, and to which God we owe our allegiance. We may be entering a period of time that, as Chuck Missler says is "a time about which the Bible says more than any other time in history." We will need to hold fast in the face of disaster, in the face of tragedy, in the face of misery.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. - [Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 KJV]
Or perhaps more fitting for our today:
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. - [Luke 21:36 KJV]
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; - [Philippians 2:14-15 KJV]