What's that on the horizon?
Is it a coming storm?
Is it destruction and chaos?
Is it ...?
Mark 13:5-8 (NIV)
5 "And Jesus said, answering them, began to say: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 6 For many will come in My name saying, "I am He," and will deceive many. 7 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows."
Luke 21:25-28 (NIV)
25 "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waters roaring; 26 men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."
I Thessalonians 5: 1-10 (NIV)
1 "But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have not need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep at night, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him."
2 Thessalonians 2: 1-4 (NIV)
1 "Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let none deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
Hebrews 10: 23-25 (NIV)
23 "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of our ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
2 Peter 3: 1-18 (NIV)
1 "Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless, 15 and consider that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation - as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are somethings hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen."
My paternal grandmother was born in April 1906. Mr.B's maternal grandmother was born in November 1912. Both women loved the Lord. Both studied the Bible and prepared to live their lives for the coming of the Lord AND for a long life and natural passing. My grandmother lived in retirement approximately 11 years. She worked outside her home until she was 68 years old. She expected the coming of the Lord to occur during her lifetime and was spiritually prepared, but also worked and prepared for a time of waiting on the Lord. She passed at the age of 79
Mr.B's grandmother lived in retirement for nearly 40 years. She began working outside her home in her early 40's after the passing her husband. She continued working into her mid 50's until an injury forced her into early retirement. She also expected the coming of the Lord to occur during her lifetime and was also spiritually prepared, but worked and prepared for a time of waiting on the Lord. She passed at the age of 95.
One only needs to read a few articles in the local newspaper or listen to a couple news broadcasts from radio or television to know that our world is churning in chaos. As bleak as our times are and as distressing as our futures appear to be, we must remember that the past 100 + years of world history have also looked just as unpromising. Mine and Mr.B's grandparents endured nearly a century of chaos. They experienced our nation's and the world's worst ever financial collapse, numerous wars (2 of which were world wars), and countless numbers of worldwide natural disasters.
Knowing that the past 100 or so years has been filled with just as much chaos and uncertainty as we are currently facing, does that mean that we should ignore God's Word to prepare, watch and wait for the coming of the Lord? After all, our grandparents expected the rapture to occur during their lifetimes and alas, they lived long and natural lives. Does that suggest that we solely focus on surviving in this sin cursed, chaos filled world until our passing at a very old age? OR, since this accelerated chaos has been sustained for more than 100 years should we ignore growing old and live today like it's our last, after all the coming of the Lord must be imminent?
My answers are "No" we should never ignore the Word of God; and "Yes" we should focus on living in this sin cursed world for a long time; and "Yes" we should also live each day of our life like it is our last expecting the Lord's momentary arrival. By the time mine and Mr.B's grandmothers had reached the end of their lives, there weren't many things that would rile them up. They had lived long enough to know that all things, no matter how horrendous or fantastic, would eventually pass. But one thing that would rile them up, even into old age, was the lack of preparation they witnessed within the Christian community.
They seemed to consistently witness Christians who were so convinced that the coming of the Lord was near, they lived irresponsibly and didn't prepare financially or materialistically for a long life and entered retirement years severely impoverished and / or became burdens upon their families and society. Their self-worth diminished to absolute shame. They also witnessed Christians whose primary focus was preparation for a long physical life at the peril of preparing spiritually. Some of these "lukewarm" Christians are still around and living a comfortable retirement, but they've allowed themselves to slip so far spiritually, that one wonders if they even have a relationship with the Lord. Other's passed away quickly and younger than expected without time for repentance - all their worldly preparations performed in vain and a sense felt by others that they were not spiritually prepared to meet the Lord.
It is imperative that we Christians exercise good stewardship both financially and spiritually. The Word of God clearly states that no man can accurately predict the coming of the Lord. God's Word also clearly states that Jesus Christ will return for His church. The Bible instructs us to prepare, to watch and to wait. The life experiences of others coupled with common sense tells us to also prepare for a long life because we may need to exert some patience in waiting for the Lord's return.
I will not attempt to predict when the coming of the Lord will occur. But the Bible tells us that it is drawing near. In this context the word near is relative. According to humanity's understanding 100 years is more than the average man's life expectancy. However, 100 years according to God, the Beginning, the End, the Alpha, the Omega - in the scope of eternity, 100 years is but a twinkle of the eye. What I am saying is that it is in our best interests that we Christians watch, wait and prepare for God's timing - which leads a reasonable man to prepare for both, the immediate coming of the Lord AND a long life of waiting for His return.