I was reading and deleting emails while waiting at the dentist’s office when I came across an email from Denison Forum dated April 23 that was titled, “Will the world end today? How Satan uses end time speculation.”
I paused for a minute and consulted my calendar. Today was indeed April 24. My husband’s second root canal was indeed in progress. The world indeed had not ended…and in the busyness of the previous day, I had totally forgotten its potential significance as an end-of-the-world date. I also could not recall the potential trigger for yesterday’s assumptive catastrophe. Jim Denison’s article rescued me by explaining it was another alignment-of-planets situation, plus unpredictable “Planet X” thrown into the mix.
Planet X — really? No sighting of Godzilla or King Kong, shortly after, though — right? Most folks had responded to this prediction with a dismissive shaking of the head, as I did. Others, perhaps aware of Jesus’ words in Luke 21:25, may have given at least minor consideration as to whether or not this star alignment addressed “signs in sun and moon and stars and on the earth dismay among nations,” indeed signaling a significant event ahead for Planet Earth. As I also did, for the briefest of moments.
My primary interest in the article, however, was to explore the second part of his heading: “How Satan uses end time speculation.” Denison shared and brought it around to “Satan will do whatever he can to distract us from considering our eternal destination.” Additionally he stated, “When the prophesied end of the world passes yet again, such fakery dulls our cultural consciousness to the real urgency of death and eternity.”
That statement caught my attention — but my thoughts were focused on an individual influence. I don’t believe it’s just a dulling of the “cultural consciousness” that occurs as repeated Henny-Penny warnings fizzle to naught. The fallout can have a much more personal impact, for our senses and intellect are always competing with faith as we search for a situation’s “truth” we can both believe and walk in.
Whether you set your sail on the no-rapture/walk in eternity now watercraft, or the rapture coming/tribulation very soon ship, there are issues of “death and eternity” with which we all must reckon. Eternity, defined as “Infinite or unending time.” Eternal, “Lasting or existing forever, without end or beginning.” Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
Knowing God. Knowing Jesus. We make it so much more complicated.
While our enemy may manipulate our uncertain perspectives regarding eternity as tools against us, God has designed us with this specific fascination for His purposes and to nurture His relationship with us: “He has also set eternity in their heart, without which man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecc. 3:11, NASB, footnote inserted/italicized) Young’s Literal Translation reads, “The whole He hath made beautiful in its season; also, that knowledge He hath put in their heart without which man findeth not out the work that God hath done from the beginning even unto the end.” (Ecc. 3:11, YLT)
This is significant as both self-revelation and Spirit-revelation: discovering the wonderful work that God has done.
In fact, the intrinsic qualities of our character and unique fabric of our lives is recognized as we experience God’s revelation of Himself to and in each and every one of us. It begins with how He has fashioned us from the beginning (“You wove me in my mother’s womb” Psa. 139:13) and continues throughout our lives as He walks with us faithfully, for “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)
Our relationship with Him is strengthened as we grow in our knowledge of “the only true God.” Knowing that He is good. Knowing that the wanton destruction of life (or planets!) is not in His character. Unwavering in our knowledge that each of us is an important part of His tapestry and He is constantly weaving us into His world, His purposes, partnering with us to bring about His plans.
Against such extravagant love and care, power and grace, strength and delight, the enemy has no weapon, no tool, no power, no strength…except to concoct schemes and deceptions that derail us. And from this murky substance arises frightening predictions and hypothesized scenarios of all sorts, both of a public and personal nature. The letter of Ephesians confirms that we do struggle in this life. Our struggle is against “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places,” and we are encouraged to “take up the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:12, 11) in our defense.
The online KJV Dictionary describes “Distrust of God’s promises and faithfulness” as a partial definition for unbelief. Therefore, these particular schemes of the enemy have a goal — that our distrust of what we see, hear and experience in the natural world expands into a distrust of what we believe about our spiritual life, our adoption into God’s family, the character and faithfulness of God…and much more.
Jesus “did not do many miracles” in His hometown of Nazareth “because of their unbelief.” (Matt 13:58)
The gospel of Mark records that after His resurrection, “He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen.” (Mark 16:14, italics added)
Paul warns in the Book of Hebrews, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you, an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” (Heb. 3:12) The Message states this warning as, “Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God.”
Tripped up. Thrown off course. A partially hardened heart.
I discovered that the first prediction of an “April 23 Doomsday” occurred in 1843. According to online britannica.com, numerologist Harold Camping predicted the end of the world 12 times between the years 1992 and 2011. In 1920, a general panic ensued regarding the nearness of Halley’s Comet as it passed by Planet Earth, fears of impact that never materialized. Numerous Christian groups in 17th-century Europe believed 1666 to be the end of the world, given the last three numerals of the year. February 25, 1524 was the date set by German mathematician Johannes Stoffler for a second great flood to destroy all humankind — again due to star alignment. On this occasion, all the “known planets” were in alignment under the constellation Pisces, known as “the fishes.”
I Peter 5:8 — Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
We know and can recognize the voice of our Shepherd. Let us keep tender towards Him, seeking and listening with faith and expectancy as He directs us though challenging times.