Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Unless you have been a hermit living in a cave, you are aware that according to some ancient Mayan prophecy, the end of the world as we know it may occur on December 21, 2012. Just in case the Mayans were on to something, I figured I should try to post a Christmas related message a little earlier than usual this year.

Last year a well meaning but misguided evangelical Christian by the name of Harold Camping made his umpteenth prediction about the return of Christ and the end of the world, which according to his calculations was supposed to occur on May 21, 2011.  When that did not happen he said he miscalculated and it would actually occur on October 21.    The rest is history. 

Jesus Himself said that no one knew the day or the hour of His return.  The unfortunate obsession of people like Camping to predict the date was not only wrong-headed but justifiably mocked by the world.  I myself joined in the fun and had a few good laughs. But the sad part about such end-times and doomsday obsession is that it distracts from the main message of the Gospel

Having said all that, I have been thinking a lot about the supposed Mayan calculation of December 21, 2012.  The possibility does make me kind of pensive in a funny sort of way.  Wouldn’t it be just like God to not reveal such things to Christians, who would ostensibly be interested—even eager—to know the day of Christ’s return, but instead reveal it to those whom you would least expect?  Sometimes God in His grace gives supernatural wisdom even to pagans. After all, how did the three wise men (pagan astrologers at best) know to follow the star to Bethlehem?

At Christmas we celebrate when Jesus came the first time.  No one seemed to be expecting Him, save for the precious few to whom God had revealed it.  The world was in turmoil, and the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were once again a captive people without much hope.  The Romans had taken over.  All of “God’s chosen people” were suffering under oppression, except for those who had sold themselves out or had been co-opted by the Romans; such as tax-collectors, corrupted religious leaders and, last but not least,  “King” Herod.  Needless to say, the latter was not thrilled when the wise men inquired:  "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage."  Everyone desperately needed for such a Savior to be born, but not everyone knew it, nor did they have a full appreciation of what they needed to be saved from.

Two thousand-plus years later, the more things change, the more they remain the same.  The world is in turmoil.  The regions surrounding the birthplace of Jesus look frighteningly like a powder keg ready to explode.  The great democracies of the western world, which for the most part have been a force for good, seem ready to collapse under the weight of their own excesses.  We sense that there is something fundamentally wrong, but we may not have a full appreciation or understanding of exactly what ails us.

Against this backdrop, we live our daily lives.  I personally am truly blessed and have much to be grateful for.  Life is good. I have been married to the same lovely lady for more than 33 years, taking great delight in her and being amazed that she apparently delights in me. We have been blessed with three children, the oldest of which is married to a godly man, and they have given us two beautiful grandchildren.  Our other two children have special needs and we continue to pray for them, but they are otherwise healthy, content and provided for, and we love them dearly.  We also take joy in our extended family and a circle of friends, particularly those with whom we fellowship at Solid Rock Church, where we have attended for more than 33 years.

These are little slices of heaven on earth.  And yet there is a longing in my heart for something more.  Part of it is because of the pain and disappointments that stand in contrast to the blessings:  mourning over lost loved ones, disappointment in myself over sins and shortcomings I have not yet been able to overcome, and the aches and pains of life, both figurative and literal.  And a quick glimpse at the newspaper on any given day feeds my fears that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.  But even if life were presently a bed of roses, I know it is all fleeting.  We all eventually grow old and die, and everything we worked so hard for and everything that seems so important eventually comes to nothing, except…

… except it does not come to nothing.  I said earlier that the sad part about doomsday obsessions is that they distract us from the main message of the Gospel, The Gospel in a nutshell is this:  Jesus, the Son of God, took on flesh and lived the perfect sinless life that we could never live, died the death that we deserve, and rose again to offer us forgiveness and eternal life. One day--and we don't know when--He will indeed return.   

May it be soon.  Come, Lord Jesus.  

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