There was a time in my life, where I was obsessed with all things Apocalyptic. If it was about the end of the world, I wanted to read it, watch it, hear it. As a young believer, I heard all of the urban legends like the one of the hitch hiker who get picked up, says very little to the driver, then out of nowhere says, “Gabriel’s lips are on the trumpet,” then disappears from the sight of the driver. Thrilling to say the least, for my young faith. Jesus could be coming back any time, and I was excited!
I dreamed about it. I had dreams of rapture that seemed so real, I thought I could feel my body lifting away from my bed, right before waking up. I had a zeal for the return of Christ. I still do. It is the hope of all Christians that Christ will return and establish his kingdom once and for all, recreate us, recreate the earth, recreated the heavens, so that his kingdom can at last be one for the ages of eternity and never die, never rust, never fade!
But as I grew in my faith, got married, had children, my zeal turned away from his return to the here and now. How can I pay this bill? How can I be a better husband? How can I be a great father? There were more pressing issues than Christ’s return which grabbed my attention. Faith was transforming for me from a Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13) to a practical help.
Faith was transforming for me from a Blessed Hope to a practical help.
I’ve written before about my journey through Revelation and how it has refocused my faith. Without the Blessed Hope, practical help is empty. Without the Blessed Hope, my reasons for adhering to Christianity just don’t stick. Why bother with all this if there is no Blessed Hope?
I came to John chapter ten today, where Jesus talks about being the Good Shepherd. How is this related? Stay with me, it won’t take long to connect this dot.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:14-16
Jesus says, “I know my own and my own know me . . . they will listen to my voice.” He is our Good Shepherd, our Blessed Hope. In the midst of everything happening in the Middle East with ISIS, Iran, and Israel, we need, more than ever, to be familiar with the voice of our Shepherd. Why is that?
A couple of weeks ago I watched Benjamin Netanyahu speak to the our Congress. I like this guy. The man speaks so plainly and clearly about the stakes we, the U.S. and Israel, face with a nuclear Iran. I was drawn in to his leadership, his clarity, his passion, and I found myself wishing he could be our President.
Wait a second.
One way you can interpret the apocalyptic Scriptures is that the man who resolves all of Israel’s security concerns and brings peace to the Middle East, and consequently peace to the rest of the world should not be trusted. The Scriptures call that man the man of Lawlessness, the Antichrist, the Beast, and he will deceive the world through his leadership.
I’m not saying Netanyahu is him. Not even close. But a man like him will arise, one who is likable, respected by everyone, and he will accomplish what no one has been able to accomplish.
Peace, just not lasting peace. It will be demonic ambition disguised as peacemaking.
I know my own and my own know me . . . they will listen to my voice.
How well do you know the voice of Jesus? How attuned is your ear to the voice of the Holy Spirit? Jesus said that his sheep will know his voice. How important is that in a world where charismatic, persuasive men and women can captivate the minds of millions, even billions, through one hour of television?
Church, know the voice of your Shepherd. It has always been important for believers to train their ear to the Holy Spirit’s voice. It is just as important today as it was for the believers in the first century. The risk of being undisciplined with this is more grave than ever.
The world is primed. The world is literally salivating for someone to rise up with a solution for all of the violence. We’ve tried entertaining ourselves out of the despair. We’ve tried consuming ourselves out of the despair. Pleasure is wearing thin. Material wealth is proving to be an illusion. The world is running out of ways to make peace. Whenever that man of Lawlessness arrives, he will be embraced without hesitation.
Know your Shepherd’s voice. He will lead you into all truth. Knowing His voice will help you recognize the fake whenever it tries to win you over.