Saturday, June 11, 2016

Seeing the End from Here

I grew up on End of Times prophecy seminars and evangelistic meetings. My home town of Keene, Texas is pretty much the capital of Adventism in Texas and the Southwestern Union, being the home of Southwestern Adventist University. My great great grandfather signed the charter for the Keene Church back in the late 1800s. I lived literally in a city on a hill - Keene is the highest spot in Johnson County. There used to be a train that ran through Keene back in the 20s. The train's conductor, a would-be humorist, used to announce Keene as "Next stop the Holy City."

So I heard a lot about prophecy as a kid. It was during the great schism of the 60s between hard-line, Sister White thumpin' legalism and the rise of the second great righteous by faith movement in the church. There was a lot going on. The one constant however were the stories about what would happen at the end of time.

It was scary stuff; the SDA preacher's version of hell fire and damnation preaching. Baptists scared people into the pews with tales of the horrors of an ever-burning hell. Adventist evangelists (some and by no means all) scared people into the pews with tales of being "unready" for the time of trouble. So I have this spidey sense about end of time signs.

The first thing man needed to bring the world to an end was a means to literally end the world. Well we already had that. I grew up with cartoon turtles teaching us to duck and cover in elementary school. We've lived with mutually assured destruction for a long time. We already have the means to turn the Earth into a dead and blackened husk fo a thousand years. So that's already done.

Some ten or fifteen years ago Pope John Paul II sent out an encyclical calling for Catholics to start lobbying for Sunday laws in their countries and declaring that Sunday was the symbol of the church's authority which all recognize. This was suggested as a means to improve the quality of family life. Nothing happened in the USA (apparently we think family life is okey dokey, so we didn't really worry about it too much, at least in North American Adventist circles. What I didn't know is that European countries like Germany did enact such laws. You can, for instance be arrested and fined in Stuttgart for mowing your lawn on Sunday. You can be visited by the police for washing your car on a warm Sunday afternoon in Munich. Quietly other strongly Catholic nations have followed suit. I don't know how many. I only recently became aware of the strong Sunday laws in Germany.

Then I stumbled on an encyclical by Pope Benedict calling for one world government with "teeth" to rein in countries like the United States. He suggested such a clearly socialist government be organized by industrial leaders, trade unions, international political parties (there's only one of those) and religious leaders. I stumbled hard over the bit about "trade unions" in particular and I heard "bundles to be burned" echo in my brain. The plan was proffered as a way to insure the relief of the world's poor - a massive redistribution of wealth from wealthy countries to poor ones. In his encyclical, Benedict stated "Obviously it (the global government) would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums." Can you say, "Beast".

Then we got a Jesuit pope, Frances. Given the history of Jesuit twiddling with the Protestant interpretation of the identity of the anti-Christ through stealth campaigns in Protestant seminaries and its insertion of the Secret Rapture doctrine into the Protestant eschatology, I could hear the far off rumble of a coming storm. In short order, Frances is invited by an ex Israeli prime minister to head up something called "The United Religions", an organization designed to be a kind of spiritual United Nations. He has not said "No". Shortly after that, the pope sends a video invitation to American charismatics to give up "Martin Luther's protest" and rejoin the Catholic Church, claiming the problem has been solved with a little wording change in the church's doctrine related to salvation by faith in Christ alone. That sent a little chill up my spine. Then he visited the USA and spoke to Congress while the Speaker of the House stood trembling with tears in his eyes.

Now we see in the very nation that SDAs have long predicted would become the "Image to the Beast", a presidential election in which both candidates are outright criminals, demonstrated liars and con artists. One owns strip clubs and borrows slogans from Adolph Hitler. The other is suspected of treasonous behavior, collusion with our enemies and massively poor judgment during her term as Secretary of State. And one of our own Adventist "bright lights", who ought to know better, is asking us to choose the lesser of two evils. Can you say "...some of our brightest lights will go out?" Thought so.

In the news today I saw an article about a new technology that has the ability to scrape all your records online, social media and everything for data. It analyzes words and puts together a report about you - one that purports to tell whether you are trustworthy or not. Google has already done something similar. The CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, said this when questioned about privacy concerns, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. The company, Score Assured, is offering its services to landlords, loan companies and employers as a way to vet those apply to them for housing, loans or employment.

"Whoa, "that no man might buy or sell" just flashed through my brain. The company's co-founder Steve Thornhill dismisses such worries saying, "If you're living a normal life, then, frankly, you have nothing to worry about." In the age of terrorism, can you imagine the US government not wanting to get its hands on a way to make sure people are living a "normal" life. All in the name of safety you understand.

So who decides what is a "normal" life. If you don't live a normal life what happens next. Can anyone else see a government market for this technology as a means to protect Homeland Security. The world has in its hands the means to insure your orthodoxy and we voluntarily have handed it to them. There's no hiding anymore other than literally going into the rocks and the mountains and hiding and with heat sensing scanners and satellites that can read a newspaper from outer space, there really is no hiding anymore.

The Great Controversy has always been about freedom vs control.  God wants us to be free and to live as we choose. Lucifer has always thought we needed a more firm hand. Look at all the most devilish governments that have ever existed and they all share one thing - a lust for power over the lives of all.  We old geezers read George Orwell's 1984 in school and for some years have managed to avoid it. An new generation is rising and Orwell and the Bible are off the reading lists for children now.

We live in a world clambering for safety, entertainment and comfort - sex, drugs and rock n' roll if you will. Greed and the lust for power has created a world so complex we can't understand it anymore. So we invent conspiracy theories to try and simplify things enough so we can understand them. We're being set up to believe that the only way to save ourselves from these conspiracies is to give ourselves a powerful leadership we can trust. Sadly, we're being set up. The only conspiracy out there is a loose sharing of mutual lust, greed and self-interest. The leader of this conspiracy is not who people think it is. We fight not against flesh and blood, but against "principalities and powers" and these have been pushing the world closer and closer to the brink of surrender and destruction using the same lies, the same inducements and the same techniques over and over. Socialism has gone down in disaster and death time after time after time and still we see men binding them selves in bundles like Mussolini's symbolic Fascio - bundles to be burned in the fires of the concentration camps, the gulags and the ghettos.

I found God during the early days of the righteousness by faith movement in the late 60s. I began a personal walk with Christ at that time, but I was impertinent enough to ask God to prove He was really who He said He was. And somewhat to my surprise, He did. Repeatedly. Undeniably. Nowadays I have a different reaction to those scary prophecies and their ongoing fulfillment in the nightly news stories.

Now, when I see the signs as Jesus said we would, my heart is lifted for I know that the time is near. It is the Autumn of our world and the winter is bearing down on us. But we are His and we need not fear. I tell people all the time that I believe that Jesus is loading up the bus to come and get us. Everybody pretty much agrees, though all of us are not completely comfortable in that knowledge. But I do not fear the time of trouble, for He is with me always. I know this, for every time an angel appears to a man, the first message he delivers is always the same.  "Fear not!" So I don't. The world IS coming to its end. Like the changing of the leaves in Autumn foretell the coming of winter, the signs of the end are all around us.

Even so, come Lord Jesus, for I am not afraid.

© 2016 by Tom King

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