Ever wonder what the last days of this age will look like? Well… look around.
Please don’t misunderstand. This is not the tribulation that Jesus, Daniel, and others in the Bible warned about. We who know Christ will be gone before that begins. But as we get closer to that time, we can see how those events are preparing to play out.
A Drudge Report headline on March 9th read, “Market Bloodbath.” Later in the day, the Drudge Headline said, “Italy Quarantines Entire Country.” The USA Today headline said, “Midwest farmers face a crisis. Hundreds are dying by suicide.” Later, the USA Today lead headline said, “Dow plummets 2,000 points, oil prices drop as global recession concerns mount.” The lead story in the Jerusalem Post said, “All travelers returning to Israel from abroad will enter isolation.”
People are ill at ease, frightened, skittish, worried. The financial unrest caused by the coronavirus COVID-19 is making matters worse. Then over the weekend, Russia and Saudi Arabia began an oil price war. Markets are down close to 20% from all time highs less than a month ago. That illustrates the volatility of a world in rebellion against God.
Despite our shortcomings and sin, I hear nothing about repentance or having sorrow for wickedness. In Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation of 1861, he wrote about God’s ongoing provision for the nation despite the terrible war. He said that these good things, “…are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
Lincoln went on to invite his fellow citizens “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.”
Even in Thanksgiving, he spoke of humility and repentance before God.
In 1789, President George Washington also set aside a day of thanksgiving for all Americans. His proclamation said, “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”
Washington said the day should “be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks.” But Washington did not stop with proclaiming thanks to God. He said it would also be a day to beseech God “to pardon our national and other transgressions.”
Those are a examples of the leadership that made America a nation where more people have lived in more freedom and with more prosperity than any nation in the history of the world. Yes, they were flawed leaders, but their ideals set in motion something extraordinary – something that has greatly blessed the whole earth.
First, they were thankful to God. Second, they were humble before God. Third, they were actively repentant.
Today is a totally different story. Today, public repentance would not be politically correct. To repent implies the existence sin, and the righteous expectations of God that we as a nation fail to meet.
It’s another preview of the tribulation. Revelation 9:21 is one of the most remarkable verses in all the Bible. Terrible calamities will have fallen on the earth by that time – calamities that are a direct result of human sin. But John, being given a vision of those future events, tells us, “They did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”
But today, the church is still here. We can’t make the world repent, but we can provide an example of repentance and humility before God. We the Church can humble ourselves and pray. We can seek His face. We can turn from wickedness and sin. While we remain in this world, we are to be salt and light within it.