In this difficult season, it has been challenging to find hope in the news. But just last week, hope came in the form of a document. Nicola Sturgeon released the Scottish government’s routemap to recovery. It outlined four incremental stages following the base level stage of lockdown, the very one we have been in for the past nine weeks. If you haven’t read it yet, I would encourage you to do so. It is encouraging and humbling at the same time. Encouraging because the end is in sight. Humbling because neither the timeline, nor the specific stages, are ideal. They are painfully slow, and nonspecific in their actual times. I know that I will be grateful for each stage of increased social freedom and return to normalcy. But I also know that I will continue to longingly look forward to the future stages with even greater freedom and normalcy.
It is interesting to reflect upon the similarities of Nicola’s routemap along with God’s own routemap as given in the Bible. Now before we get too excited and carried away, I am not going to talk here about any end time prophecies or predictions. I don’t have a four-stage plan, or any colorful drawings with charts and maps. I wish I did. It might make this devotional a lot more interesting!
Rather than speculate about hidden things, I would like to point out the few things that have been revealed in Scripture, along with the humbling similarity that we are not in control of said events.
For the past several Sundays at Mosaic we have been looking at the “I Am” statements of Jesus from John’s Gospel. Last Sunday we looked at John 14 were Jesus says,
Don’t let your hearts be troubled, You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house had many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-5)
If there was anyone needing hope, here it is: Jesus is coming back for us!
And we can be certain because this promise was made by the same God who has never lied, and even more specifically, the same God who kept His promise regarding the first coming of the Messiah, and so surely, He will keep it yet again for His second coming.
It is the Hope that says the end is in sight. There is a plan in action that cannot be reversed. And we can hold onto this hope when days are difficult, and we feel overwhelmed by the weight of the world.
But similar to the government’s routemap, we are not in control. And there are days that feel like one stage is stretching on for far too long. Ever since Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension, we have been living in the “End Times”. It is a stage that has now lasted for two-thousand years, and if it was left to us, we might speed things up. Apparently, the Apostle Peter had to deal with the same questions and concerns regarding God’s apparent slowness. There were followers who were doubting God’s truthfulness because they had expected him sooner. But in 2 Peter chapter 3, he writes, “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation!” (3:15) Peter is saying that God has not yet summed up the ages because there are still people who need to come to know Him. And God, who is Love, is not wanting even one person to perish.
Now there are some who might be inclined to find close parallels between the stages of the route maps, with clear distinctions of epochs and times. There would be charts to signal the moving from one stage to the next, all culminating with a rapture and a millennium and a beast. But I will not go into that here. Jesus said it was not for us to know the exact time or the hour. If you have further interest in this topic, Pastor Jim preached an incredible series on Revelation and it can be found on the Trinity website sermon archive. Another great book is Reversed Thunder by the late Eugene Peterson. It might not have the charts, but it will give great insight into the heart of God in these latter days.
But I will close with saying that there are some things that Jesus gave us on our Routemap. These things have been happening for the past two thousand years. And while I can not say that these things (and that includes Covid-19) necessitate that Jesus is coming tomorrow, I can say that these things are meant to prompt us to pray. To see that the end is near and to pray for our neighbors and friends.
- He said that we would face persecution. (Matt 5 / 2 Tim 3:12)
- Pray for those that are facing great persecution.
- He said there would be pandemics. (Rev 6:8)
- Pray for those suffering from Covid-19
- He said that there would be natural disasters. (Mark 13)
- Pray for the recent cyclone that struck India and Bangladesh.
- He said that there would be famines. (Matthew 24)
- Pray for those who are without food today. It is a fact that there are many who go without food even in our own communities. As Christians we should not be comfortable with this fact. We should feel compelled to act, to give, and to pray.
God in His great love wanted us to know that He is in control and that the end is in sight, but additionally, in His infinite wisdom, decided we do not need to know the details of His timeline. In these “end times” we can believe that God is with us and that we can trust God with our future.
Recommendations for Reflection:
- Take a moment to Praise God for the knowledge that God keeps His word and is coming back for His people.
- Peter said that God’s slowness was because of His great love for the world. Pray for those who do not know God at this time.
- Jesus encouraged His followers to “discern the times.” But this knowledge was not for us to forget the world and look to the skies, but rather for us to love the world and to pray with a sense of urgency. Pray for a greater understanding of the times, and ask for a burden to pray for the world.