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Friday, 7 March 2014

The end-times.

It never fails to amaze me that I can read a Biblical passage for the umpteenth time - and see something that I have never noticed (or, at least, never fully taken in) before.

Part of my personal devotions this morning involved reading I Thessalonians 5:1-11.  I was struck, as never before, by what the apostle wrote in (what we know as) v.3: "When people say, 'There is peace and security,' then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape."

As we look at a world in turmoil, I hear many suggest that this is a sign of the end-times - the Rapture, the tribulation, and the Second Advent.  However, this morning, I started to wonder if the opposite is true - if, in fact, the events that we witness on our television screens, night after night, new-bulletin after news-bulletin, indicate that it is not yet God's time for those tumultuous events to take place!

Could it be that it is when the events of Revelation 13, [inter al], take place, and when there is a true "one-world" government under the authority of the "man of lawlessness" (I Thess.2:3), that there will be the superficial peace to which the apostle refers?  If so, then that will be the time at which the saints of God will "... be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air;" (I Thess.4:17; see also I Cor.15:52).

Of course, the important thing is to be ready for that glorious event whenever it may take place.  The true disciple of Jesus is already prepared, although even we must be ever watchful! (cf. Matt.24:42, inter al).

Robert Murray McCheyne was a most godly minister of the Gospel.  He was settled to the pastorate of St. Peter's Church, Dundee, where he ministered for about seven years, until his death at the tender age of 30.  I cannot vouch for the absolute veracity of the story - although it has what J.B.Phillips would call 'the ring of truth' - but it is recounted that, one evening, while entertaining a group of men in his home, the topic of conversation turned to the return of the Christ.  Well, they didn't have such exciting things to discuss as Eastenders, Britain's got Talent, or I'm a celebrity - get me out of here!  Anyway, Mr. McCheyne asked each of his friends if they thought that the Lord might return that evening.  To a man, and in the manner of the period, they replied "I think not."

Mr. McCheyne then quoted, from the Authorised Version (this was the middle of the 19th century!), the words of the Lord Jesus: "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matt 24:44).

Are you ready?  We can never know the precise time!  Regardless of what I thought this morning, it could be tonight!

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