August 2015: Last Days!?

This is our FINAL issue (for now) about the Last Days or End-Times

“If you say the world will go on getting better, you are considered mad.  If you say catastrophe is imminent, you may expect the Nobel Peace Prize,” says optimist Matt Ridley.     He’s right.  My own reading audience would grow larger if I predicted doom, gloom, the rise of Antichrist, something called the “mark of the beast,” and an army of 200 million invading Israel.  How about the great final Battle of Armageddon?

But if I write things will keep getting better and better—overall—before Jesus returns to establish his worldwide Kingdom, I get all sorts of nasty responses from people demanding I remove their e-mail addresses from our database.  And . . . proclaiming me to be a dangerous heretic.  All I ask is please don’t use any strong, scathing, nasty language that might cause my computer to crash!  Be polite.  Be nice.  For approximately 200 years the gloom and doom pessimists have enjoyed most of the headlines—even though optimists have far more often been right.  For some strange reasons, many of we humans prefer to be pessimistic; for one thing, pessimism concerning the future brings in a lot of money for some people. 

Very few religious radio and TV programs have ever raised money by saying things are getting better.  Hal Lindsay, Jack Van Impe, Tim LaHaye, John Hagee, and many others like them would not be able to continue  their radio and TV programs if they begin to preach and teach that things are getting better.  They might even (Gulp!) lose their incomes.  If they write the end of the world is not likely to occur soon, they would have nothing to say to their vast audiences.  Few people would purchase their books or DVD’s.

Dare to be an optimist!  Dare to believe God is in total control of world events.  Dare to believe the next major event on God’s agenda is for King Jesus to return to earth to establish his Kingdom.  Again, please, please, PLEASE understand I am generalizing about many such matters.   Yes, there are people who live in abject poverty.  Yes, there are natural disasters.  Yes, there are some fuel shortages.  Yes, there are some overpopulated areas.  Yes, there are wars.  Yes, many believers in Jesus are being imprisoned, tortured, and even killed because of their belief in Jesus.

But, overall, things are not getting worse.  The world is not going to hell in a handbasket.  The Antichrist is not going to appear soon.  There is not going to be a fanciful Rapture to snatch Jesus’ followers away from earth so they won’t have to endure the “Great Tribulation.”   You’re not going to be tattooed with the “mark of the beast.”  China is not going to invade the Middle East with an army of 200 million.  The earth is not going to be destroyed in nuclear conflagrations.  You’re not going to have to hide out from the Antichrist for seven years.

Hope Is A Person!

If you’re a believer in Jesus, He—living in you—is your sole hope of glory . . . and the future! (Colossians 1: 27)  Yes, Jesus could return soon to establish his long-awaited Kingdom.  Or . . . it may be a thousand years before He will return.  No human knows for certain in spite of many slick, well-designed “prophetic timelines,” charts, and “proofs.”  Awake from the fear of the future that holds you back and keeps you from getting on with your life and what God wants to do in and through you!  Take hope.  God is in control.  Get on with the ordinary events of your life.   Trust God.  Surrender your life to His mastery.  Live an ordinary life loving and serving the  EXTRAordinary God!

Readers Digest

Millions of people around the world regularly read the Readers Digest in numerous languages.  The magazine has long been well-known for its truth-in-reporting and for its integrity and accuracy.  Seldom is the magazine ever challenged for mistakes it has made.   A recent issue featured an article entitled “The World is Not Falling Apart.”  Here are some of the highlights of that article, making an appropriate conclusion to my thoughts about the “Last Days?!” I’ve been sharing with you in The Traveler since February.

First, consider the daily ½ hour to 1 hour radio and television programs from which most of us get our world news.  They report things that happen, not things that don’t happen!  Based on the media alone we tend to believe that we are always living in dangerous times.  We tend to feel that the world is full of nothing but horrible disasters and atrocities getting worse and worse with each passing day.  We also tend to feel that violence of all types is also getting worse daily.  The facts are that “mundane” accidents such as toxic insect bites and collisions with deer kill more people than worldwide terrorism!

Did you also know that worldwide, many more people die in homicides than in wars?  And the rate of homicides is falling.  Yes, there are areas of the world where we read of gory killings, but the worldwide reduction in homicide rates is decreasing; again, we must always look at the “big picture,” not at specific incidents.  Of course we are all troubled and saddened by the atrocities and horrors committed by terrorist groups such as ISIS—and rightly so.  But such events must always be put in worldwide historical perspective.

The world is nowhere near as genocidal as it was during World War II and the beginning stages of the Cold War.  True, from time to time since the 1940’s and 1050’s there have been “spikes” in genocidal killings, but they are not signs that some sort of “Great Tribulation” is about to burst upon the world.  What about “wars and rumors of wars” that many pessimistic “end-timers” constantly bring to our attention? 

First, let’s define “war,” as contrasted with “armed conflicts” and “civil wars”?  War is defined as “armed conflict between two or more nations.”  Defined in that manner, actual wars have declined since World War II; Yes, there have been many armed conflicts since World War II and the Cold War.  In early 2014, there were 11 actual wars being fought in the world.  But in terms of actual deaths in battle, the numbers are far fewer since World War II.

Bottom line?:  let’s focus on actual, statistical evidence instead of all the inflammatory headlines of the media!  In short, overall—if you look at the big picture!—there is much more hope for our world than despair.  No, things are not necessarily all good by any means, but world events could very well be setting the stage for the return of Jesus rather than the appearance of a fanciful antichrist.

Here’s my conclusion of all my thoughts about Last Days and End-Times I have shared with you since last February.  By all means, keep in mind I am very human and make all sorts of mistakes.  I freely admit I could be wrong about my own end-time views.  Since February, I have merely shared with you thoughts from my current state of awareness and present level of understanding about the Bible.

Jesus’ return is the next major event in God’s plans and purposes for earth.  Anything else is pure, fanciful conjecture.  Therefore, let us each get on with the ordinary events of our lives, letting others clearly see Jesus in our skin and sharing the Good News about all God has done for us through Jesus.  One of the finest books about this entire subject is a little paperback book written about 10 years ago:  Victorious Eschatology by Harold Eberle and Martin Trench.  

I don’t see eye to eye with them about everything they have written; nevertheless, it’s one of the best books I’ve read about eschatology; in fact, I’m re-reading it right now.   The theme of their book is having a victorious view of the future instead of a pessimistic view.  They conclude their book with these words:  “A victorious view will inspire you to plan for the future, move ahead with courage, invest in the next generation, and believe God for greater things yet to come.  Satan is not taking over this world.  Jesus Christ is Lord and He will rule until every enemy is put under His feet.”

God Speaks

Over the past few months, for whatever their reasons a large number of my readers have asked me about whether or not God “speaks” to people these days and—if so—how.  I know this is a complete change of subject from my thoughts about the Last Days, about which I feel I’ve written enough for now.  I feel that now God wants me to take a few moments and address the issue of his speaking to humans.

Yes, God certainly does speak to people these days . . . and has been speaking since the very beginning of the human race.  Jesus—God the Son—addressed that issue in the 10th chapter of the Gospel of John in the Bible—as well as elsewhere in the Bible.  God speaks to humanity in an infinite number of ways, but the Bible and experience teaches us that He speaks in 5 main ways.  I certainly don’t want to limit God in any way, but here are those 5 main ways He speaks to us.

First, He speaks to us by means of the Bible, his written Word to humankind.  If you’re a regular reader of the Bible, I know you’ve experienced God speaking to you through the Bible numerous times.

Second, He speaks to us by transmitting,  imbedding, and implanting his thoughts into our thoughts.  How do we know if those thoughts are his thoughts, or if they’re our own thoughts?  By stepping out by faith and doing what He says to do.  And by practice!  Yes, the only way we know if it’s God speaking is to act upon what He is implanting into our thoughts.  Practice doesn’t make perfect; practice makes permanent.  Only as we practice sorting out his thoughts from our own thoughts is how we come to recognize his “voice” over time.  Being human, we make mistakes, but over time we begin to recognize which are his thoughts and which are our own thoughts.

Third, God speaks to us through dreams, visions, “inner pictures,” our creative imaginations, and the like.  Our imaginations are not just for children.  Indeed, our imaginations are very “creative forces” by which God speaks very clearly to us . . . if we’re listening!

Fourth, God speaks to us by gentle urgings, nudging, and impressions.  Generally, when we have such urgings they simply won’t go away unless we act upon them.  They will persist until we acknowledge them and do something to verify they are God speaking to us.

Fifth—Gulp!—God speaks to us by means of the use of tongues and interpretation.  This is the method many people shy away from because they simply don’t believe in speaking in tongues.  I’m certainly not going to argue this fifth point, but many people who do practice this method often have God speak to them very clearly when they speak in tongues and then interpret in their native tongue what they have just spoken in tongues.

I could write much more about how God speaks to us, but—again—these are the five main ways He speaks to us.  It’s not really a question whether or not God speaks to humans.  The real issue is ARE WE LISTENING?  And DO WE ACT UPON WHAT HE SPEAKS?  I hope this very brief teaching about God speaking to us opens up a whole new world of interaction and relationship between you and God.  He speaks.  We hear.  We act. 

Bill Boylan
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Revised and Updated December 2020

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