"Warning Signs"   (February 2005)

  "Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." (Romans 8:21,22) When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, it brought a curse on the serpent, on the woman, on mankind, and on the earth. (Genesis 3:14-19)  We are all born under the curse of sin.  The earth is under a curse also.  Those of us who know Jesus as our Savior have a longing and cry in our hearts... "Come quickly, Lord Jesus."  We are looking for His coming with joyful expectation so that we can go and be with Him forever- "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:8); also at that time we will have a complete and total restoration, the curse will be completely done away with - no more sickness, no pain, no death.  While we are crying out for His return and final deliverance, the earth is too- it is groaning in pain so that it can come out from under the curse that was pronounced on it because of Adam's sin.  "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." (Revelation 21:1) I believe this is why we are seeing an intensity in natural disasters- earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, flooding, etc.  The earth itself is in travail awaiting deliverance from the curse.  "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places." (Matthew 24:3,7)  "And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven." (Luke 21:11,25)  "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring."  The Lord told us in His word that these would be "end time signs" and that when we see these things come to pass the end is near.  "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21:27,28)

   It's not hard to tell that we are truly living in the last days.  We are seeing prophecy fulfilled before our eyes.  Those things that Jesus said would come to pass before His return are coming to pass- rapidly.  In light of this knowledge, what should we do?   

   The Lord uses the "signs of the times" not only for the sole purpose of letting us know what's ahead and that's it's coming soon; He also uses them to warn us so that we will be prepared when it does come.  Normally, we look at these signs as exciting; they tell us that that which we have looked forward to is about to happen- the return of our Lord Jesus.  But signs play a duel role.  When I see them being fulfilled, they let me know what's coming so that I can have a chance to make sure that I am ready for it- that I am prepared when it does happen.  "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:  So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." (Matthew 24:32,33) The fig tree budding is a sign that summer is near.  These end time signs tell us that the end is near.  If we will pay attention to the "signs" and heed them as a warning, that day will not take us "unaware".  (Luke 21:34b) "But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up." (Matthew 24:43)  If he had had some sort of warning about the thief that was coming, he would have taken precautions to insure that his house would not have been broken into.  While no man knows the day or the hour that the Lord will return- "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (Matthew 24:42)- the fulfillment of the "signs of the time" give us an indication that it won't be long so that we can take precautions too in order to make sure that we aren't taken by surprise.  "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." (1 Thessalonians 5:2,4)  What keeps us from being in darkness about that day so that it doesn't overtake us as a thief?  The "light" from the signs that we see around us.

   What is our warning then?  The Lord in His tender mercies gives us these "warning signs" so that we can make sure that we are prepared.  When the Lord returns, will you be prepared to meet Him?  He will return and take His people home- we must be prepared and ready.  But should you not live to see His return- because none of us are promised tomorrow; death can take us at any time- are you ready (prepared) to stand before Him on Judgment Day?  

   When you look throughout the scriptures, you see types and shadows, parables, symbolism, analogies, and examples.  The Lord uses these as forms of instruction.  "Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." (1 Corinthians 10:11) Many of the stories that we read about have the warning to be prepared in them.  They reveal that there are blessings to those who are prepared and terrible consequences to those who aren't.

   The story of Noah's ark was one of the first examples given to us.  God warned of a great flood that was coming and would destroy all of creation.  Those that would heed the warning would find safety and refuge in the ark.  Those that didn't would be drowned in the flood.  "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." (Hebrews 11:7) Noah heeded the warning and prepared for what was coming; therefore, he was saved.  The rest of the world perished because they did not heed; so they were unprepared.

  When the Lord was ready to deliver the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, He gave Moses instructions for the Israelites.  The last plague was that of the death of the first born in every house.  The instructions to the Israelites were to kill a lamb and sprinkle it's blood on the door post of the house.  "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt." (Exodus 12:13)  Had they not heeded the warning and prepared for what was about to come, their first born would have been killed along with those of the Egyptians.

   Another example is that of King Hezekiah.  The Lord sent the prophet Isaiah to the king to tell him that he was going to die and needed to get his house in order. "In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live." (Isaiah 38:1) Isaiah told him to get his house in order- in other words, get prepared because you are going to die.  What did Hezekiah do?  He turned his face to the wall and prayed that the Lord would spare his life.  The point from this story in regard to what we are talking about is that he heeded the warning and did something about it.  Too many times we ignore the warnings that the Lord is sending our way.  There will be multitudes of people who will not be ready for the Lord's return because they did not heed the warning signs.  Instead, they mock those like Noah who tried to warn them to prepare.  Or they will scoff at the signs saying such as, "We have heard this all our lives.  Where is the sign of His coming?  It hasn't happened yet."  Everyday people are ignoring the warnings to make sure their soul is prepared to meet the Lord.  They ignore it thinking that they will "live forever".  They don't take the time to make sure they are prepared because they are putting their trust in something they did once years ago, or in their good works, moral lifestyle, or a whole host of other things.  To stand before the Lord is not something that we should take lightly.  Once there, there is no second chance; if we aren't prepared it will be too late.  Here and now is your opportunity to make sure.

   Even Jesus left of an example to be prepared for that time when it comes- either through death or by way of the rapture.  "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:23,24)  "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.  And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.  Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.  And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:36-39) Jesus knew that it was time for Him to be offered up as the sacrifice for the sins of the world so He departed to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and release His will completely over to the will of the Father.

   The last example that I want to bring to your attention is found in the parable of the ten virgins.  This parable deals with the return of Christ- our Bridegroom.  There is this same warning in it for us- the warning to be prepared.  "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.  And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:  But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.  And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.  Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.  But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.  Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.  But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.  Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 25:1-13) The ten virgins represent two groups- those who were prepared when the Bridegroom came, and those who weren't.  Had the five foolish been prepared, they would have had oil with them and the parable would have had a different ending.  The reason Jesus told this parable this way was because He always tells us the truth- He is The Truth.  The truth is...not everyone is going to be prepared.  What a sad day that will be for some- "I know you not."  If only they had "watched" (heeded the signs) they would have entered into the house with the other five.  Let us heed the warning and not treat them casually.  Don't take for granted just because you are a "virgin" (among the ten) that you are prepared.  Make sure.  Ask yourself-  Are you like the five wise or the five foolish?  Do you have oil in your lamp or is it empty?  Are you heeding the warning signs or scoffing at them believing that you have plenty of time- it's not going to happen yet?  If you are unprepared, you will be left behind just like the foolish virgins.  But if you are prepared you will enter in like the five wise and receive the blessing of hearing your Bridegroom (Jesus) welcome you in.

   How do we make sure that we are prepared to meet the Lord either at His return or when death ushers us into eternity?  The first step is to make sure that you have made Jesus the Savior and Lord of your life.  Have you acknowledged that you are a sinner in need of a Savior?  Have you then acknowledged that Jesus is the only One who can save you?  From there have you asked Him to forgive you of your sins and come life in your heart?  Have you made Him the Lord of your life- surrendering your will and accepting His'?

   If you have made sure that you have received Him as Savior, then you need to make sure you are following Him everyday as your Lord. "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 16:24,25- NKJV) Are you following Him- taking up your cross and denying

yourself?  Are you keeping your garments white and unwrinkled?  He is coming back for a "holy" church- one who has kept herself "untouched" by the world; one who is "set apart" for Him.  "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:27)  Do you have oil in your lamps like the wise virgins?  Is He the love of your life?  Are you watching and looking for His return?  Are you seeking Him daily? 

  "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." This cry brought great excitement and joy, but it also was a cry to alert the bride so that she would be prepared when he arrived to receive her- so that she would not be caught without her makeup on and her hair still in rollers.  The signs of the time are a joyous "cry" to us that our Bridegroom is on His way, but they are also a "cry" that alerts us to make sure that we are prepared when He arrives to take us with Him.  Are you prepared and ready to meet Him?  Heed the signs!