Summary: The signs of our times are significant, and we can place them in six categories: Signs of Despair; Signs of Warning; Signs of the Road; Signs of Judgment; Signs of Hope; and, the Sign of the Cross.
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
Good Morning. Our Bible readings today all mention signs. But we have to be careful not to place too much emphasis on the signs themselves. Signs are meant to guide us to a destination; they are not the destination themselves. The sign that points to Los Angeles is not the same as Los Angeles the city, and if we misinterpret the sign we can easily end up lost.
It’s the same with signs from God. Christian stores are full of books claiming to identify the end times based on signs in the Bible. Jesus said, however, that even he doesn’t know the day or hour of his return, only the father knows — and he’s not telling.
So, just in case you were expecting me to explain the prophetic signs and give you an approximate date of Christ’s return, well, your guess is as good as mine. But whenever that return will be, if we cling to our hope in Jesus, and recognize that those signs are here to reinforce our hope, then none of the signs will shake us.
People often talk about the “signs of our times,” so this morning I’d like to go over some of them.
The signs of our times are significant, and I’ve broken them down into six categories:
1. Signs of Despair;
2. Signs of Warning;
3. Signs of the Road;
4. Signs of Judgment;
5. Signs of Hope; and,
6. The Sign of the Cross
I. Signs of Despair
To despair means to be hopeless; to have no hope; to give up all hope or expectation. I saw hopelessness displayed in full force a couple weeks ago as I was driving toward Coast Highway. While at a traffic light, I was reading the bumper stickers on the car in front of me. One of them had a drawing of a small child on his knees, hands clasped together, looking up. Next to the drawing were the words: “Nothing fails like Prayer.” Next to it was another bumper sticker that read: “The Next Logical Step is Atheism.”
To believe that there is nothing but this material world we live in — that there’s no God and no “us” beyond this life — is true despair. If we are a series of cosmic accidents that will cease to exist — a creation with no creator — then we have no purpose and our lives are absolutely meaningless.
In the early14th Century, Dante Alighieri wrote about the afterlife in an epic poem called The Divine Comedy. In the part about Hell, called Inferno, he described an inscription over the entrance to Hell, which reads, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”
That sign also describes the hopelessness of atheism. The advertising of despair. The blatant shout to the world of believers, stating, “I HAVE NO HOPE, SO HOW DARE YOU HAVE ANY!”
I know that seems harsh. After all, we’re used to atheists having a “live and let live” attitude toward people of faith. But that has changed recently. People of faith, especially Christians, are considered dangers to society. Look at what’s been going on just in the past week:
Despite the president signing a Congressional bill into law authorizing the transfer of the Cross on Mount Soledad to the Department of Defense, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the Federal Government to prevent it.
TIME magazine’s cover features a debate: “GOD vs. SCIENCE,” reinforcing the notion that you can belief in only one or the other, but not both.
NEWSWEEK’s cover features an American flag wrapped tightly around a cross. The “Special Report” dissent by atheist Sam Harris, describes his view of Christians who believe in the Bible. He states, “Some of these people are lunatics, of course, but they are not the lunatic fringe…(and) … our infatuation with religious myths poses a tremendous danger.”
Even the techno-geek electronics magazine WIRED has jumped into the fray, with a current cover that reads: “The New Atheism — No Heaven. No Hell. Just Science. Inside the Crusade against Religion.” In that crusade, the New Atheists “condemn not just belief in God, but respect for belief in God. Religion is not only wrong; it’s evil.”
They even propose the idea of an atheistic prayer — although I have no idea to whom they would address it — but they call it a prayer nonetheless:
“Here is the atheist prayer; that our reason will subjugate our superstition, that our intelligence will check our illusions, that we will be able to hold at bay the evil temptation of faith.”
Instead of becoming despondent over these signs of despair, we should realize that they lead us toward the signs of warning.