Sermons

Summary: In these times of lockdown, some have begun to imagine that the Great Tribulation just began. Rather than focusing on such idle speculation, the Word of God would encourage us to shine brightly in difficult times to turn many to righteousness.

“Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1]

Unsettling doesn’t begin to describe the current conditions for most people. Restless, irritable, irascible—these terms seem more appropriate for the mindset of many during these days of enforced confinement. When we do venture out from our homes, we discover grocery store shelves emptied of items we have taken for granted for years. Driven by fear, many have begun to hoard commodities they imagine will soon be in short supply. Farmers are unable to get some products to market and slaughterhouses are forced to shut down due to widespread illness or governmental strictures on their workforce.

We are experiencing restrictions on gathering for any purpose as government officials seize unprecedented authority over people and even over businesses. There have even been suggestions that borders between provinces should be closed! [2] In numerous jurisdictions, restrictions on worship have been imposed; and pastors have even been arrested. However, it is reported that one of the great cities in the United States is providing 500,000 halal meals to Muslims during Ramadan, [3] making the religious strictures appear selective. Some cities have threatened to permanently close synagogues and churches should they hold services during the lockdown. The constant tattoo of woeful accounts in the various media ensure that a sense of fear pervades life in general.

Restrictions will be eased soon, or not. No one knows for certain, but everyone hopes restrictions will be eased! The excuse heard ad nauseum from bureaucrats and politicians of various stripes is, “We’ve never encountered these conditions before.” The appropriate rejoinder to such whiny pleas might be, “Politicians never thought to prepare for these conditions before!” For those of us confined to our houses, or for those who are compelled to work long hours without adequate rest, or especially for those who are attempting to cope with the loss of income, such pitiful excuses fail to comfort.

We read that during the Tribulation, powerful governments will exercise utter control over the populace. John testified that the most powerful ruler in that day, a man known to Bible readers as “the beast,” will even control the ability to buy or sell. Thus, John writes, “[The beast] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name” [REVELATION 13:16-17].

Imagine! Unable to buy or sell, except with permission of governmental bureaucrats! Or, maybe we don’t have to imagine because we’ve just had a foretaste of what such strictures would be like. I recall a message delivered by a pastor who had ministered in Romania during the days of the Communist reign of terror in that nation. The pastor had been imprisoned for his Faith by the Communist regime. His family experienced severe deprivation because he would not give up his faith in Christ the Lord. The authorities would not permit his family to purchase food, to purchase clothing, or to secure housing. One thing that pastor said during his presentation made an indelible impression on those who listened as he spoke that day. He challenged the congregation, “Do you know what the most powerful thing in the world is?” After a dramatic silence, he answered, “A ration card. You can purchase nothing without the permission of the government. You cannot sell anything without the appropriate permission. A little card signed by the proper authority is the most powerful thing in the world.”

During these past several weeks, we have stood on the edge of the precipice of bureaucratic control, witnessing how that statement could be applied to us in Canada. Observing the degree of control governments have seized, some have questioned whether the Tribulation has begun. Let’s explore the question, “Did the Tribulation just begin.”

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