As the World Turns; the Young and the Restless are having the Days of Our Lives.

This morning I read through Revelation. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Because a loved one of mine is currently enamored with preterist eschatology. And so we have had many discussions about it and I’ve gone to the scriptures many times to see if what is being said has merit. I understand the appeal : I studied preterist viewpoints in the past, still look at it now and then, and find parts of it intriguing myself.

I also understand that the speculative leaps many ‘internet prophesy interpreters’ are making right now (and which I have also made myself here and there) might lead many disgruntled believers to preterism –with its concrete assertion to ‘stop speculating and obsessing over promises which are now DONE!’

See: Preterists believe that, in terms of End Time Bible prophesies, ‘everything already happened'(in 70 AD and shortly thereafter). Futurists believe nothing has happened yet (in terms of the ‘end times’ and second coming prophesies, not the messianic fulfillments of Jesus first coming). Historicists believe in some mixture of past, present, and future fulfillment. There are also those who believe in things like dual fulfillment of prophesy.

I am reluctant to put myself in any of the known eschatological categories. (The above explanations are my quick takeaway/paraphrasing of what I’ve studied–I encourage curious readers to research these categories for themselves for more detailed information! I didn’t want to make that the main aim of this post).

But, in the aim of full disclosure, I will say that I align ‘the most’ with the historicist viewpoint and I also see how dual or multiple fulfillments (as well as a combination of both a literal; plus a spiritual fulfillment) often seems to be a part of Bible prophesy as well. Just where I am ‘now’. That could always change.

However, I also think it’s important to understand the spirit of prophesy or the main purpose of prophesy in the first place- and to not lose sight of that. Otherwise we might see something or other as fulfilled by, say, Nero, when the greater point of the prophesy is/was to lead people to repentance and fully identifying themselves with Jesus — not leading us to identifying long dead Nero, or some present or future villain who comes to life, as the Antichrist.

If prophesy were truly about that and only THAT, than anyone who can figure out a riddle could somehow be spared– as if we just need to ‘use our own brains’ and think it through and thus save ourselves…whereas the way I see it: only those of us who approach mysterious and alarming prophetic revelations of God, by casting our selves on our knees in front of Jesus, worshipping Him alone and calling on Him for the forgiveness of our sins and trusting in His mercy and His status AS the Son of God, the WAY, the truth and the life!!–only those of us who take that posture of humility and worship and proper understanding of Jesus AS GOD–the only one who CAN save us — will be spared from the wrath of God.

(Whether or not we understood some hidden ‘riddle’ of times and dates and people and places — which may or may not have been written into the text…our posture before Him and our understanding of WHO He is; is what matters in terms of salvation and escaping God’s wrath.)

The way I see it: the spirit of prophesy points us to the denial of the self, repentance, and a return to Jesus as our first love, in this way the church is built up and edified. Read 1 Corinthians 14 . Pay attention to verses 24 and 25. (Paraphrasing:) “When an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted and called to account and the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” That, (not predicting the future! Nor proclaiming that those future predictions are all in the past now) is the aim of prophesy (the way I see it anyway). That worshipping of God (and thereby coming out of worldly and empire worship) is what The Book of Revelation is about, to me. Which makes it far less about predicting the future and far more about preparing my own individual heart for meeting Jesus face to face someday.

In regard to what still could be coming to the earth: I prefer to take a ‘wait and see how it all pans out approach.’ I don’t need everything to be wrapped up in a bow already– one and done– OR: not unfolding until after Jesus jets me outta here– to have a sense of peace. I just need to know that I am forgiven in Jesus to feel at peace. Marked by His seal on my forehead (therefore the mark of the beast, whatever that is or already was– WON’T be received on my forehead).

I also prefer to prepare my heart, so as not to be caught unaware, for a sudden return of Jesus, or meeting Him if sudden disaster strikes me–as it seems that that was the historical position most believers TOOK– in terms of the second coming, and/0r being prepared to meet Him through death. The blessed hope is certainly: life after death through Jesus Christ our Lord. As well as these words from the Apostle Paul (verses 51-53) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

One thing which grieved me greatly, when I left my particular brand of protestantism, was that it did not focus on the blessed hope of Jesus’ return, or that the day of death is better than the day of birth either. Perhaps some protestant streams do — the one I was in: did not. The thing that grieves me about the modern evangelical world I then explored– is that it does not seem to focus on the blessed hope of Jesus’ return either–at least not to save us from our sinful state and set the world right again.

Too many evangelicals seem to focus on the blessed hope of the rapture coming BEFORE the great tribulation so that they can escape…which is a bit different than being eager for Jesus to come so that we can finally live free of sin and evil; or soberly recognizing that to die in Christ is gain- hating even our very lives (as they constantly tempt us into sin). And vastly different from casting ourselves in worship before Jesus so that He seals us; and therefore we do not need to worry about getting the other mark …because we know that if we remain walking in the Spirit, He will tell us the things we need to know in order to avoid evil.

Furthermore: I do not want to be locked into some way of thinking that might hinder what God reveals to me, both personally, and in unfolding events I can witness with my own two eyes. The danger in following these various eschatological streams is that I might stop following Him and His daily guidance and put man’s opinions above the maturing work of the Holy Spirit.

I also don’t want to break, or damage, fellowship with those who align strongly with any of these eschatological viewpoints–another reason why I’m wary of labeling myself or dialing down too hard into one way of thinking about the dim glass/(mirror) which is biblical prophesy. (read all of the chapter for context and pay attention to 1 Corinthians 13:8-12).

Meanwhile, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about how many brothers and sisters in Christ that I know (personally, as well as what I’ve seen on online forums/blogs/etc.) who didn’t think the last inauguration would ‘actually happen.’ Some because they felt God was still with Trump and America — others because Trump is ‘clearly the antichrist’ and needs to stay in power to bring on the end of the final end, the fatal wound of one head of the beast ‘being healed’ through Trump retaining power. I admit, that thought that Trump could stay in power had occurred to me as well– as I saw what was happening. Thinking it to myself, and even running thoughts and possibilities by others privately, versus proclaiming loudly, on the internet, that that was going to be the way it WAS going to go down – however- are two very different things.

For these reasons and others: this morning I had a good laugh. Because I remembered the days when I was a teenager and loved watching ‘stories’ — daytime television soap operas. A friend recorded fuzzy episodes daily (VCR taping over previously recorded tapes often made it fuzzy) and we’d watch them together at her house after school with a shared bag of Doritos and separate Cokes.

Later, when I was staying at home with small children, my boredom and desire for junk food had me once again following along–this time with a bag of cheddar cheese and sour cream Ruffles and a Pepsi.

The junk food switch was about the biggest change, too. If you’ve ever watched soap operas: not much changes. You can pick up YEARS later and quickly recognize the characters and plot lines unfolding the same as prior. There is a lot of dramatic hype within each ‘new’ episode for the future episodes–many of these coming things would be ‘prophesied’ as the viewer would always know ‘major things’ were coming SOON. But the actual coming of these foreshadowed events drug on. And on.

The stage was ALWAYS ‘being set’ for what was next.

And so when I first studied the End Times a decade ago, I did so with an almond milk/ spinach-and enough fruit to cover the spinach taste-smoothie in hand. It didn’t seem like I was indulging in junk food or falling into prior bad habits. I’d definitely changed and matured since my youthful days. I had no desire to watch soap operas anymore!

But there it was, as I dove into the End Times streams, I found that there was junk food galore, tempting me to lose focus on healthy communion with God — and every stream the same: let me show you how to DECODE the prophesy by keeping up on current events. Use your head with me as we reason through the prophesies (and don’t worry about making your HEART right with Jesus…).

Because the stage is being set for something big–just look at this news clip and examine that world leader!

Or: don’t worry about the future, the past is where it’s all at! Let me show you all the ways that you can decode the fulfilled prophesies by studying history, and then you can be at ease again.

And so, even though I took a break for a few years, when I went back in and started watching the ‘stories’ coming out of the various prophesy streams (and the preterist views ARE also a prophesy stream!), I found all the same storylines as prior. Nothing much was new. They are again saying the same thing: the antichrist isn’t here yet, because the rapture hasn’t happened yet, but the stage is being set for something big to happen SOON.

And the preterists are still on the opposite side with almond-milk-spinach-fruit smoothies avoiding any NEW soap operas as they assure me not to worry about a thing, lets just watch the taped soap operas that already ended. They want to hit replay on history show me how it ALL actually went down. Because the story is over and those following any newly unfolding stories are just being tricked or foolish or something. As if only the Preterists have the healthy foods all figured out. Umm, ok?

But, isn’t the entire book of Revelation actually like a big exclamation point urging me to purify my WORSHIP to Jesus so I don’t get caught up worshipping the world, fall for satan’s tricks, and get ensnared by worldly empire? If it all already happened than the people who did escape it, were doing just that — purifying their worship of Jesus. Not viewing prophesy like a crystal ball.

And almond milk and spinach is a big part of what made me SICK. It’s not health food, but just cleverly marketed junk food. But that’s a bunny trail for another day.

The big thing has already happened. I’ll agree with the preterist points on that. It’s high time to behave as if it has happened and walk in the real power that comes with Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus came once. I also believe He is, literally, coming back but no one knows the day or the hour of THAT. Focus on Him, not the details we are told we cannot know anyway. It is the young and the restless who focus on such details from current OR past events. The mature in Christ, focus on Him, and Him alone. We tremble and try to purify our worship of Him; when we read Revelation and then He calms us all over again with the knowledge of His work on the cross. We don’t say ‘phew, thankfully we don’t need to worry about all of that because it happened.’ We say PHEW, Jesus saved us from the coming wrath…

One final thing, about the vaccine. Notice I didn’t write vc or VX or any of the other things anti-vaccine people now do to ‘avoid censorship’.

I’ve now wasted many hours examining what supposed experts on both sides are saying about the vaccine. I have heard many popular ministers claim unfolding prophesy in regard to the vaccine and others insist it is ‘bad’ but NOT the mark of the beast. I’ve also heard new age, antichrist in spirit, doctors cherry pick verses from the Bible to proclaim it IS the mark of the beast, as in the next breath they tell people to ‘draw on their higher power’ whether that is Jesus or whoever. Talk about confusing times we live in.

Which is why it also grieves me– given how confusing it is to find any information one might actually trust–how many Christians continue to base major life and theology decisions on head logic, scientific arguments, and things they read online somewhere or heard from others. Instead of using wholehearted faith and prayer as much as they use the (seeming) logic of their own minds.

After praying about it, what did He tell you to do or not do? Because of course every mature Christian would shut out the noise of expert debates, theology teachers, and even the advice of trusted doctors, hunker down in humility and awareness of our fallen condition, take a prostrate position before God, and fully take that one to prayer. Wouldn’t they?

How many of us are just fearfully avoiding something because an online minister or blogger told his listeners to do so?

On the other hand, how many of us are blindly taking or allowing something, trusting what others are telling us to do; is the right thing to do?

And how many of us are using our logic and our brains and trusting in that over and above Him?

Oh, how young and restless we still are; substituting junk food and milk for meat; again and again. Others of us believing we have all the answers and aren’t eating junk food– but edifying food.

Church, please take Revelation seriously, no matter your eschatological leanings. It’s a call to purify ourselves again, to return to Him as first love, to lay down all the extra stuff we hold dear, including our notions of intellect, and to become instead: humble and faithful servants who obey His call; no matter if it makes clear sense to us or not. No matter if it costs us our very lives.

The temple veil was rent in two, we all can approach the throne boldly to get answers to our questions. The reason why we are not doing that likely has something to do with our fascination of watching the wicked turnings of the world; instead of obeying the One who turns the world. This is what keeps us immature. This leads to us needing more and more newsfeeds and proof and evidence of whatever viewpoint we have camped out on.

Take it to prayer. Ask. And then listen.

Expectancy

Waiting.

Watching.

Pregnancy.

This is the month most of Christianity celebrates the advent of Jesus as a babe in Bethlehem so long ago.

I went through a phase where I questioned all of that. It’s trendy to call what I did: deconstruction. As in: I ‘deconstructed my faith’. However, I am not a fan of buzzwords. They become overused and cliche pretty quickly and all of a sudden I’m annoying people with highbrow language. So I’ll use a deep analogy to annoy readers instead, LOL.

Starting in my late twenties and peaking in my early thirties, I dug down as deep as I could into the soil of my own life and I examined every root which I could get my hands on. This led to the shedding of a lot of things and the solidifying of other things. Thereby I made the religion I was ‘born into’, into my own chosen religion instead. I walked away from Protestantism and became a biblical Christian.

Ever dug up tree roots? It’s messy work. It’s hard work. It’s often alarming work too, as you find buried things which you never expected to find.

Which is how I came to give up Christmas for a few years, too. Well, not entirely. I found it was impossible for me to totally get rid of Christmas. But it was scaled way back. Most presumed I was joining the ‘Christmas has gotten too commercialized’ movement or something. My dilemma was far more of a spiritual dilemma than merely questioning the seeming ‘need’ to go shopping and decorating. When certain politicians and conservatives were insisting everyone say ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of happy holidays: I wasn’t sure that Christ belonged in Christmas.

I couldn’t find Christmas in the Bible. I’m not talking about the account in Luke which we refer to as the Christmas story. I’m talking about how scholars are unsure which day and month of the year Jesus’ day of birth occurred. As well as the lack of a biblical command to celebrate His day of birth. I read compelling theological arguments for a fall birth, during the feast of tabernacles. As well as sound reasoning for why a December birth was possible too–as there were shepherds staying out in the fields watching the temple’s sacrificial sheep at night, year round, not just in the warmer months. Others believe that the immaculate conception likely occurred in late December and so celebrating Christmas on December 25th was appropriate either way.

Meanwhile what has become known as Easter–I could find that in the recorded account, in the passover feast and in Jesus’ command that His followers continue to keep it and commemorate His death. In Hebrew and early Christian life the day of death was known to be better than one’s day of birth: Ecclesiastes 7:1, Philippians 1:21.

But the Christian Easter is calculated by the moon cycles, and doesn’t always correlate with the Jewish passover. Therein I saw another problem.

With those I shared the deeper reasons with, I still felt misunderstood. Some judged my giving up on Christmas and questioning of Easter as if I was giving up on Jesus. Others thought I wanted to become a part of their religion (Hebrew Roots movements, Jehovah’s Witnesses). When I felt I was doing the opposite — actually searching for the real Him amidst the existing religious offerings of the world and Christendom.

Now that I have a lot of energy back again, I take part in Christmas without much dilemma, just an awareness that it isn’t all as ‘necessary’ or even as edifying as I thought it was earlier in my life.

It’s fun for me to decorate and keep a nice and welcoming home, to entertain people at our table on a cultural and/or Church holiday (yes, I am aware that is difficult to do in a pandemic.) And I like to be reminded of Jesus through music and the focus on Him that occurs this time of year. I feel that the message of the cross isn’t as fickle as to be threatened by whether or not I put some winter greenery on my mantle. I do, however, think it can be dangerous to wrap Jesus up as a baby, and keep Him there…

Regardless, I’m not really sure why all that stuff once bothered me as much as it did. Except that I needed to dig up the roots of my life and make that big mess I made in order to be set free from many, many things that had me trapped.

Plus, at the time I scaled Christmas back, I was exhausted and starting to get sick and truly questioning if a Christian should even celebrate what has become known as Christmas. When one is too exhausted to fully partake, plus one’s own conscience isn’t clear on a matter — it is best to avoid it (Romans 14).

This December already feels so different than any I’ve lived through prior. I’m back in touch now with the child hood work ethic I once knee-jerk saw as part of ‘being worldly’ or as putting one’s work above God. And I’m pondering all the verses and songs about Jesus ‘coming to earth at His birth’ and seeing their dual fulfillment in Jesus’ second coming. That second coming feels nearer now than it ever has prior. Which motivates me to continue working hard right up ‘to the end’.

In sharing my thoughts with others. (Seeing this season as a time to prepare myself for His second coming), I’m getting a return of the familiar ‘I think I am being horribly misunderstood in my approach to Christmas.’

To clarify: I’m not checking out of my life and waiting on a high hill for Jesus to appear in the air, as the angels appeared to tell the shepherds the good news at His first coming. It’s more like this: I feel this urgency to find a neglected hill in my life; to get busy tending some sheep on, or else I might miss the great appearing in the sky entirely…

I’ll return to that in a minute.

Let’s just say that I feel like there is pregnancy in the air. And something else stirring me which reminds me of the nesting phase prior to a baby’s arrival. A need to stay busier with my hands so that my mind can be more solidly focused on God. It works that way; for me. If I want to lose focus on God, I just need to lie around for a few days and then I’ll be scattered and not able to think clearly.

It also struck me last month, when reading the Book of John, how the fishermen, who were busy fishing when Jesus approached them, instantly recognized Him as Messiah. The learned men who were well studied and presumedly ‘watching’ for signs of Messiah – for the most part, missed seeing Jesus as Messiah. I wonder if that was because they weren’t actually, well, working at something, at the time of Jesus’ arrival on the ministry scene.

What does fishing look like? It means I show up at the office and keep things in order there. When at home: vacuum and mop the floors, do the laundry, keep in touch with loved ones, read the books and blogs I find edifying, work on writing projects (which may never actually get published), clean the closets, study the Bible, memorize verses, go for walks to clear my head and keep my body in shape, even when its cold outside, and always be ready for a knock at the door or a phone call from someone who wants to visit– and– generally: Keep all things under my charge in good order…or in other words: I just need to keep working, literally. Or as Jesus commanded: Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning (Luke 12:35).

I feel that I need to prepare not only for imminent return but for a lengthy time of Him tarrying in which I may face persecution OR continued prosperity and protection. Or some kind of a situation where brothers or sisters in Christ will ask for extended shelter in my home, or even the garage where our pets stay…a season where I am awkward and lumbering along myself, overdue and growing worn out, and must stay active regardless, all the while patiently enduring life here on earth– navigating the good stuff which tempts me to fall away from God and the bad which tempts me to despair too– whether the arrival I wait for comes quickly; or a long time from now.

Either way, I sense its long past time to get to work and/or to stay content in that work. I sense that will be the best possible way to actually prepare for my life to be completely up-ended by Jesus’ sudden arrival. Which will be as surprising as the onset of labor pains–even after nine months of knowing it is coming–it’s always surprising when it actually happens.

Yet I do think a surprise arrival will be less damaging and more likely to go well, if we realize the pregnant state of things, and that a pregnancy means there is a lot of work and preparation and study and reconnecting which needs to be done before we are ready to receive a child.

Get right with Jesus, pray and repent and praise Him daily. Examine our roots and take our born-into faith and either toss it, or, if its sound: truly make it our own born-again lifestyle.

Then continue cleaning that closet out, keep on fishing, or hammering, or watching after the sheep. Just as the fishermen were doing when Jesus appeared to them and told them to drop their nets and follow Him. And thirty years prior to that: just as the shepherds were doing when they were told the good news of a baby born to save the world and they left their work to go see Him.

The pattern that I deduce from scripture is that work and busyness isn’t necessarily the problem at all. Certainly not to the level which the pop-psychologists of the world, and even the church, often proclaim it to be.

The precedent seems to be that people whose hearts were right with God were actually found being busy; working and then they readily left their work to follow Jesus.

Perhaps those who missed Jesus the first time around, will be just as those who miss His second coming: not busy enough. I pray He finds me, and all my loved ones, fishing when He comes again. And that we all drop our nets and go with Him eagerly.