Sure, we’ve all heard how Jesus is coming again. We even know the signs he tells us to watch for: wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes. It used to be rumors of war with Iran, now we have military action in Libya. Who’s next? China? North Korea? We’ve read about the recent earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, with more predicted. The world has seen massive deaths from tsunamis, and several regions of the world have volcanoes erupting. Meanwhile, we continue to live our comfortable lives – eating, drinking, marrying (Matthew 24:38), not believing that the end could come any day. There is a term for it: normalcy bias, where people expect everything to continue as normal and deny the possibility of anything catastrophic happening to them.
Are we making a huge mistake? Should we be fervently preparing? Parents, are you raising your children with your example of being ready for a tribulation such as the world has never seen? Let’s look back at history. Noah preached many years before the flood, but until the rain actually started to fall, no one believed, no one prepared. All were lost. (Genesis, chapters 6-7) What would they have done differently if they had heeded the warnings?
What about the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah? They had the example of Abraham and Lot, but yet not even ten righteous souls could be found living there, and all were destroyed. Even Lot’s wife, who knew the destruction was happening, failed to heed the warning to not turn back, and was lost as a result. (Genesis 19)
A little later in history is the story of Daniel’s three friends, who refused to worship the image set up by Nebuchadnezzar. They were the only three who refused to worship the golden image, while everyone else bowed to the false idol to save their lives. (Daniel 3) Which do you think will be in heaven -- the three who risked death to honor God, or the many that dishonored God to save their earthly lives?
Scripture doesn’t give stories of their childhoods, but let’s use our imagination with illustrations from our day. Between Daniel and his friends, and those who worshipped the image, when they were young, which group do you think was more likely to watch anything they wanted on TV, eat all the junk food they desired, read popular books that glamorize sorcery, play video games killing people, and listen to all the hard rock music they wanted? Which group was more likely to be studying the Torah, eating according to the pure diet they requested of the king later, and keeping their minds pure with worship and praise? Which group prepared their souls to honor God so they were ready when they were put to the test? More importantly, into which group are you preparing yourself, and raising your children?
If suddenly today you were forced, under threat of being thrown into a fiery furnace, to bow down and worship the image to the beast, is your faith so strong that you would tell the king that your God is able to deliver you, but even if he doesn’t, you’d rather die than worship a false image? (Daniel 3:17-18)
When Daniel was being raised, most likely his parents never anticipated that their young son would be taken into captivity and thrown into a lion’s den for praying to God. (Daniel chapter 6). Few parents today probably anticipate that they and their children might also face such a trial. But history shows that such events can come upon us at any moment. Do you think any of the victims in Japan expected that morning that they would be swept away by a tsunami? The truth is that none of us know what tomorrow might hold for us, and we must be ready right now, today, every day, to stand before the judgment seat of God. Scripture tell us that now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).
What are you doing today, and every day, to prepare for such a possibility? Are you starting and ending each day with prayer like Daniel did? Are you hiding the word of God in your hearts like David did? (Psalm 119:11) Are you sharing the truths you know about God at the risk of death, like Stephen did? (Acts chapter 7) Are you treating your body like the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) instead of eating junk food and clouding your minds with caffeine or other non-essential medicines and drugs? Is your faith so strong that you would face a giant with just that faith plus five small stones (1 Samuel 17)? Are you walking so closely with God that you could trust him to make water come from rocks (Exodus 17:6), have food fall from heaven (Exodus 16), have ravens feed you (1 Kings 17:6), or have your cruse of oil never run dry (2 Kings 4)? If you can’t answer "yes" to every single one of those questions then you need to start building your faith and relationship with God today and every day.
From this moment onward, with each thing you do, ask yourself these questions: “What would I do differently if I knew unequivocally that today was going to be my judgment day? Is this what I want to have Jesus find me doing when he returns?”