Many of us were taught about end time events from pastors and teachers throughout our lives. Have you heard of Dispensational Premillennialism, Historic Premillennialism, Amillennialism, and Postmillennialism? I grew up with the ongoing debate (that is still ongoing). If you have been taught about End Time events, just know you are reading this post with pre-conceived notions. Nothing is necessarily wrong with pre-conceived ideas as long as we are willing to "park" them on occasion to consider other thought. If you struggle with legalism, which I did for most of my spiritual journey leading up to Hopey's birth, this will not be an easy task.
Legalism is a terrible trap basically equivalent to the "P" word (PRIDE). How will you recognize it? If, when reading this post, you begin to become defensive and angry....you are experiencing a fit of legalism. Please know that I never presume to speak for the Almighty. I am just like all of you. I am a seeker. I believe in the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob just like the majority of religious people do....and I want to know Him as intimately as possible before meeting Him face to face. Therefore, thoughts and ideas shared in my blog are simply....thoughts and ideas. For this End Times study, however, know that I am attempting to keep it on neutral ground without adding my own influences and beliefs.
Now, for this week's study:
There are many religious viewpoints when it comes to views on End Time Events. For fun, see if you recognize your belief in any one of the following:
An anticipated deliverer will arrive on earth to defeat evil once and for all, raising up the righteous for an eternal life free from sin and suffering.
Oh, go figure, there is really only ONE religious viewpoint when it comes to the discussion of End Time Events. Interesting, huh? The differences are significant from the standpoint of what each religion embodies as their vehicle for salvation, sure, but the variances are only in the details describing "who" and "when".
My point is two-fold:
1. If all major religions, encompassing the overwhelming majority of the population of the world, can agree on two points:
a. the belief in God, and
b. the belief that a Deliverer is coming to destroy evil and rescue the righteous for eternity, then
perhaps these two similarities can provide a source of validity, for argument's sake, for atheists and agnostics to consider.
2. Since an overwhelming majority of the world's population can agree on two significant "religious" points, instead of dividing and separating into our own "camps" out of fear that one might contaminate the other, we could use this link to add more "LOVE" and acceptance into the "religious" equation.
Is Legalism rearing her ugly head yet? Are her eyes rolling as she spits this blog post out as "heresy"? If so, you are not alone, so don't worry. But consider this for a moment: Christians, you believe the Muslims are the Enemy....some even call "Islam" the anti-Christ. Would you be surprised to learn they feel the same way about you? And the Jews....they think both Muslims and Christians are a bunch of nuts. It is kind of humorous if you think about it. All "religions" believe they are right and everyone else is wrong.
"Every way of man is right in his own eyes, but God ponders the heart." (Proverbs 21)
Chappy and I took the girls to the Cracker Barrel on Thursday morning for a pancake breakfast. (I bet all religions could agree on the tastiness of Cracker Barrel's buttermilk pancakes as well). Throughout our breakfast, there was a man "holding court" at the large table directly behind us. He had his Bible and notes laid across the table and was telling his table, in a booming voice so the entire restaurant could benefit from his great wisdom, what he believed as he frequently flipped through his Bible to give scripture references to back up those beliefs. For an hour, we enjoyed our scrumptious pancakes while listening to a worn out sermon we did not want to hear. Chappy, finally, leaned across the table and said: "I wish that guy behind us would shut up!" The girls and I giggled because we were all thinking the exact same thought. This man was not "discussing" scripture, he was out to prove to his table that he had answers about God and discernment of scripture. Whenever anyone at the table would speak up and ask him to consider their thoughts on a particular subject, he would quickly turn to another scripture to prove them wrong and prove himself to be right....to be God's chosen ambassador placed in charge of beating the Bible into the brains of anyone who would listen.
"For the LORD is our judge, the LORD our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is HE who will save us." Isaiah 33:22
"Have you ever commanded the morning, and caused dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? Have you entered into the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell me if you know all of this." Job 38
Coming from a background where I thought I knew everything about salvation, I can now safely say that I remain at the mercy of God. I know my place. He, alone, is God....and I am not. As a result, people who proclaim to be experts in "All Things God" make me very nervous, and I stay far far away from them.
Since most religions deem the Old Testament to be somewhat historically credible and therefore relevant....let's consider the following from Exodus:
1. I am the Lord your God who has taken you out of Egypt (I am your Deliverer)
2. Have no other Gods but Me (I am the God you seek and I am all you need....worship only Me.)
3. Do not take the Father's Name in vain (If you place your identity in Me, --example: a wife taking her husband's name, making her a new woman who is no longer "one" but now joined to her husband with a new identity as wife---, your actions should line-up and show that you are Mine.)
4. Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy (Schedule regular time to make Me your focus, because I want fellowship with you)
5. Honor your Father and Mother (God lovingly gives children parents to teach them about the importance of obeying authority; by learning to honor and obey parents, children ultimately learn to obey and honor their heavenly Father...and the cycle continues with each generation. On a side note, unfortunately, sometimes parents forgo their duty which is why orphanages and foster care systems are overcrowded....the incidence of the "forgotten children" breaking the law is proportionately staggering proving God's plan works when implemented.)
6. Do not Murder (Murder = taking someone's life without full justification. God is the giver of life, so man was never intended to be the taker of life.)
7. Do not Commit Adultery (In Ezekiel 16, Jerusalem is described as a wife that commits adultery...taking strangers instead of her husband. It is arguable that God views marriage as a present-day picture of our marriage to Him)
8. Do not steal. (Be willing to work hard to earn benefits needed for survival. If you have need, however, be willing to humble yourself to ask for help. By allowing another to meet your need, you have brought to them an unexpected blessing.)
9. Do not bear false witness. (The word "devil" comes from the greek word diablos and means "accuser". When we accuse someone without two or more witnesses and/or concrete facts, we are acting like the "devil" and bearing false witness.)
10. Do not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Be satisfied---do not place importance on material things that will pass away or fade out, but focus on eternal things that last.)
Do you know what is so interesting about the infamous Ten Commandments? If you search the absolute genesis of any civilized society of every part of the world, you will find a list eerily similar to the Ten Commandments given at Mt. Sinai. One argument athiests often use to prove their point revolves around this very subject. They site the different cultures who used laws similar to The Ten Commandments, but were in place PRIOR TO the event on Mt. Sinai....then they propose that the Ten Commandments and Exodus was just a copycat (hoax) story used to control people (crowd control, if you will). Funny to me, is they never stop to consider how remarkable it is that these same laws sprouted up all over the globe by many different cultures and civilizations in ancient times when record-keeping was not the main priority of the day.
To me, in contrast to the athiests' view, this fact alone strongly validates how important those Commandments are in setting apart God's people. Only God could do something so remarkable as make the Commandments a world-wide phenomenon without the advent of television, radio, or those airplanes that carry advertisements across the sky!
To wrap up, since most religious people believe an end time event will usher in the defeat of evil while bringing eternal salvation for the righteous....and since most religious people also place significant value on the laws of God, can we safely agree, in generic, taking off our religious hat, terms, the Ten Commandments could be a "Mark" that is placed upon those who belong to Him....equally making the "Mark of the Beast" (the mark of evil) evident in those who don't follow the ways of God through their thoughts (on their foreheads) and their actions (on their hands)?
"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice: If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14
"He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him." (1 John 2:4)