Saturday, February 27, 2010

Living on the Fault Line

For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs (Mark 13:8)

Haiti is still reeling from the massive earthquake a few weeks ago, and this morning we hear of an 8.8 jim dandy in Chile. Reports of the damage and casualties are still coming in. On top of the earthquake, which did enough damage on its own, we also as of this writing have tsunami warnings for much of the Pacific basin.

No doubt these events rekindle discussion among Christians about the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. As you can see from our Scripture reference, the Lord Jesus said earthquakes would be among the signs of His impending return. Where the difficulty comes in is balancing biblical truth and the sure fulfillment of prophecy with wild speculation. There is nothing wrong with speculation in and of itself, just as long as we don't turn our speculations into "thus saith the Lord." It is also important not to go beyond what is written in Scripture, and to be sure we are not mishandling God's Word. Datesetting is a good example, yet people do it over and over again.

I make no apologies for being premillennial in my eschatology. We should look forward with expectancy to the Lord's return, and His Second Coming ought to be taught from the pulpit as well as in Sunday schools. But we also need to be careful and teach God's Word on the subject. Books and commentaries on the subject are just that -- books and commentaries. Some are excellent, some are marginal, and some might well be downright horrible in their handling of Scripture. When well-meaning Christians overspeculate, set dates and go to other extremes, we really hurt our credibility.

There's even a more important point that needs to be made. In Haiti, and now in Chile, eternity came very suddenly and terribly for some people. No one is immune from a natural disaster. The map above shows the New Madrid Fault system in the central part of the United States. Very large earthquakes have happened in this region, and probably will again. There's also a pretty significant fault system in the Appalachian Mountains, with significant temblors taking place in the Carolinas if memory serves me correctly.

And there's always the legendary San Andreas Fault in the West. This is the fault zone that produces the massive earthquakes in California, including the devastating San Francisco earthquake in the early 1900s. If there was an 8.8 magnitude quake in Los Angeles or San Francisco today, the casualties would no doubt be horrific.

Aside from earthquakes, we have tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning strikes, blizzards, floods and a whole host of other potential calamities that can claim lives unexpectedly. How about fires? My own house burned to the ground in 2003. Thankfully, our lives were spared. But there is no guarantee of that from day to day.

Jesus gave another solemn warning that we ought to consider . . .

Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:1-5).

I think that's pretty plain. All of us are only a heartbeat away from eternity. If you don't know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, His command is this. Believe on Him and repent of your sins, and place your trust in Him as your Savior. He is the only way to a right standing with God, and the Holy Spirit will not strive with men forever. You might not have another opportunity, and after death, it's too late.

In the meantime, our hearts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones in Chile and Haiti. As physical aid is rendered, I pray that many opportunities for the Gospel will also be opened.

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