DEVOTION – END TIMES
“Dad, it’s time for supper!”
said a little girl who was sent to the basement by her mom. “Tell her I’ll be right there,” he said, “there are only two minutes left in this football game.” But with one team making every effort to stop the clock, the coaches using every available time out, and frequent commercial breaks, it’s amazing how two minutes can stretch into twenty. More amazing still is the level of intensity, effort, and focus on the part of the players when they know that the game is on the line, with the clock running out. Every coach must wonder, from time to time, how to get that level of play from his team during every minute of the game!
Both Scripture and our own observations make it plain that we are, right now, in the final minutes of an epic contest. It isn’t a sporting event, but rather the consummation of all history, just prior to the return of the Lord Jesus on the Last Day. The tell-tale signs of the last times are upon us—wars, rumors of wars, love growing cold, increasing wickedness, disregard for God’s Word, and false teachers abounding (see, for example, Matthew 24 and 2 Timothy 4).
Jesus tells us plainly that no one knows the day or the hour of His arrival, which means that it could yet be a long time until He comes in glory. However, it could also be very soon. What if you actually did know the day? How would your life be different if you were certain that there were exactly thirty days until His coming, with the clock running out?
There can be no doubt that, with only thirty days to go, you would be immersed daily in the study of God’s Word. There would be no choice but to make absolutely certain about God’s promises to you in Christ, and what His will for you is. Next, your heart would go out to those nearest and dearest to you, your family and good friends. You would want to make sure that they too belong to the Lord Jesus, by faith in His shed blood. And what about your fellow believers at church, your family in Christ? Meeting together to build up one another’s faith would be a high priority indeed. Then, a heart of compassion for all people would make you urgently busy, with your fellow Christians, to get this saving message out to as many people as possible. You wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on finding a safe haven in Jesus, as the storm of judgment quickly arrives!
And now comes the coach’s dilemma: we Christians are on the field, right now, near the very close of this epic contest with the forces of evil. There isn’t a moment to lose as we search the Scriptures for our own assurance of salvation, and share that assurance with our loved ones at home, our church family, and all the people we can reach with the Gospel of Christ crucified. But how can we muster the kind of intensity of purpose and focus on God’s kingdom work that are vital for these times?
That answer is found, first of all, in an ever-growing awareness of just how awful the Lord’s judgment will be over sin on the Last Day—sin very much like our own! Second, we need to be reminded and impressed constantly with the high price that Jesus paid on the cross to weather the storm of God’s judgment in our place, to set us free from all guilt. Finally, we need to respond to God’s “two-minute warning.” He’s blown the whistle, and the clock is ticking: “Now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12)
Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus! Keep us focused on Your promises to us and Your purpose for us, as this world soon draws to its close.
Bruce Naumann is associate pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.