“For though we very truly hear that the kingdom of God will be filled with splendor, joy, happiness and glory, yet when these things are spoken of, they remain utterly remote from our perception, and as it were, wrapped in obscurities, until that day”
~ John Calvin
There is an underlying principle which is often forgotten in our world of dicey theological differences: God can use anyone, anywhere to do anything. This amazing fact is made clear in God using the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart to free his people, the reality of all things working together for the good of his purpose and the Lord who has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.
In the recent days, it has been amazing to me to see God using the misguided date calculating of Family Radio Ministries to get people in the world talking about his actual return. We find in Matthew 24:36 the specific words of the Messiah, “no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” Yet, Harold Camping and his band of RV driving dooms-day-ers have not let that stop them from calling out this Saturday, May 21st, 2011 as the day of destruction and Rapture. It is a strange turn of events, as Mr. Camping also predicted the end of days in 1994. Needless to say, in coffee shops, café’s and in the streets I’ve been hearing the buzz about whether Rapture is reality on Saturday.
And yet we are back to the beginning: All things are possible, in God’s mighty power. But rather than chant down the end of the world, I will be joyful that people are coming face to face with a life defining question: What if it is true? What if the end is Saturday? What will happen to me? This is the place of joy experienced through the power of God to use anyone and anything to the good of his purpose. Whether the 21st is the beginning of the end, as they have prognosticated or not, the wonder of the amazing Lord of hosts, is that He can even use someone’s public and blatant error to draw men and women unto Himself.
This caveat of the May 21 message, in light of Christ, is the difference between seeing the end of worldly treasure and embracing the good news of eternal unity in the kingdom of God. There is a largely different element to the “fire and brimstone” message passed on through the culture of doomsday than that which Christ began his ministry with in Matthew 4:17. The reality of the ministry began with a call, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This, unlike the extrapolations of it, is no doomsday message. It is a message of hope. These words of Christ are ushering in an new era of providence and provision for humanity: Repent! I am the Messiah; the one who will usher in the kingdom of God and I am here.
Christ’s kingdom, is one which has come with Him into the lives of his people. It is also living in those now who feel the pull to the eternal kingdom which is to come. The establishment of his kingdom began with the God of the universe breaking into humanity by sending Himself in the flesh to come to the aid of his creation. It continued as He discipled men and women to recognize the God centered purpose in seeking to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. It culminated in his death and resurrection, his sacrifice for the imperfections of human sin and his victory over death, that all men might have a way to unity with the Father. This is the call to repentance: to recognize that He has come and to penitently seek his offering of forgiveness. His promise is that He will come back to unite us and complete us in the presence of the Holy God. His return will connect his people, his bride, the community of his faithful followers with the one they have loved and dedicated living for. And, if that day is Saturday, we rejoice. If that day is next Tuesday we praise Him. If that day is 30 or 300 years from now, we longingly await his triumphant return.
As for the actual day of the 21st of May, we might all be better for recognizing that the end of our time on earth may be drawing near. Realistically, we should also rejoice every day that the kingdom of God has come in the person of Jesus Christ. Though He will come again to complete his work, his kingdom is alive and vibrant in the loves of those who daily take up his cross and follow the one who came and delivered them from sin, death and the fear of the end. He calls to us, “Repent!” “Seek me first, and my kingdom.”
As we come to the Messiah in repentance, committing to follow Him, we see our fears subside in light of our hope in the future He has promised. Whether Saturday contains an earthquake, a Rapture, a silent wonder or a mocking world for the bold words of a misguided man, I pray that God will use whatever circumstances to draw more unto Him. I pray that people will find hope, which puts their fears to rest. I pray that people repent and seek. That, much like the thief on the cross, when the end is the direct confrontation, they acknowledge the Lord for who He is, repent and join the Kingdom at hand and to come. Most of all, whatever transpires on Saturday, let us praise the Father for his use of all things and people to draw men and women to Himself, and bring hope to those who call Him Lord!
If you have never been confronted with the Almighty for who He is, I suggest you seek Him today. Simple words and honest words are always the best, but these are a good start for where you can speak to Him and be excited at where God takes his conversation with you: “God. There is no one like you. I am afraid and alone and I do not want to be. I do not want to be disconnected from you anymore. I recognize that you sent Jesus to be the sacrifice for my sin, that I may be unified with you. I repent of my desire to rule my life and submit to your desires for me. I want to experience you as my Lord and Savior. Please forgive me and take away my fear, that I may live with you for all eternity. Make me a new creation in you, covered in your promise, filled with hope and rich in the experience of your kingdom.” Listen to what the Lord speaks to your heart. Find a bible and read (online bibles are free). Seek others who have found the Father and embrace the community of fellow new creations in Him. And above all, praise Him for his love and mercy!!!