The other day our family went to the IMAX Theater in Milwaukee. During part of the film a large monster appeared on the screen. It likely wouldn’t have been that scary except that the image was projected onto a six-story screen [complete with roaring digital wraparound sound]. Gus was sitting on my lap. My hands immediately went over his face. I held him tight. “Daddy is with you,” I said.
I later recounted how much that scene was like the book of Revelation. There are some really scary scenes in that book as God tells us what is going to take place when the end comes. Yet while the book contains a whole host of visions of all the terrible things that will take place, God interrupts the visions again and again to whisper in our ear, “As you hear this know that I will preserve you in these days.” “Take heart, I will keep my Church.” “You are right to be scared my child, but know this, your Daddy is with you, and it is impossible that one of my saints be lost.”
I had never really considered it before, but it caught my attention as we were studying the book of Revelation in Bible Class. So often we talk about how bad these times are. We look at the state of the world and of the church and say, “Surely we are in some evil times!” In the recent riots that plagued London the Prime Minister talked about the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in England these past few generations. And while these things are certainly true, the Bible has an even more frightening thing to say. The Bible says that Satan is already bound!!! Ever since the death and resurrection of Jesus Satan was captured and put in chains. (Rev. 20:1)
Now I know what you are thinking. “Why is it a frightening thing that Satan is bound; isn’t that a good thing?” Yes, it is good news, but think of it … if this is what the world is like when Satan is bound, what is it going to be like when Satan is let loose! If Satan is hindered from completely carrying out his evil plots and schemes, what will the day be like right before the end when he no longer is hindered? This means a very astounding thing. WE ARE IN THE EASY PART! WE ARE NOW IN THE TIME PERIOD OF RELATIVE PEACE. Though what we are experiencing now is hard, it can’t be compared to what it will be like at the end. (Revelation 20:8-10)
We can only wonder what that day will be like, but it will be an onslaught like has never before been seen. Will there be Bibles? Churches? Believers? Will we be able to gather together for services and share our faith freely? Will it be like the days when the Soviets took over Russia and pastors were jailed and killed, Christians met secretly in cemeteries, and Lutheran grandmothers taught the catechism to their grandchildren around the table? While we now have these opportunities, it will not always be so as the devil is bound, and God will only let Him go so far. Yet Satan strains against the leash and upon being loosed he will rush forward to kill, devour, and destroy. It was about these days that Jesus spoke of when He said in Matthew 21, “There will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”
People make the excuse, “Being a Christian isn’t that difficult. I am able to handle things fine without too much of God’s Word. I don’t need to study the Bible or develop a personal life of prayer and devotion to God and His Word.” But God is saying, “Be warned! You might think you can stand now, but will you be able to stand in the Last Days?”
And so the Bible says:
As we begin the new academic year we therefore make the following assertions. Our Sunday School is not for entertainment, our VBS is not for Day Care, and our purpose in teaching the memorization of the catechism is not because we need something for the kids to do. Our Bible Class is not just for old people, the Family Altar is not for bulletin filler, and our daily Matins service is not just a nice way to ensure that we get our monies worth out of our pastor. We conclude that this is not all a joke, the purpose of our existence is not so that we exert a positive moral influence on our community, and none of what we do is up for grabs, but what is necessary and needed for life, rescue, and deliverance in this present age. We are about the things that are the difference between salvation and destruction, life and death, heaven and hell.
St. Paul urges us to consider these things. In Ephesians chapter 6 he says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
… And having done all, to stand!
God grant it for Jesus sake.
Let us not forsake the assembling together as is the manner of some. -- Hebrews 10:25