It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
-Hebrews 9:27, emphasis added
In yesterday's lesson we saw that there will be nowhere to hide from worldwide pestilences like the avian flu. In a matter of a few weeks, death for millions upon millions would be inescapable. As described in God's inspired Word, that scenario certainly fits with when the Lord is reeling in this rebellious planet at the end of human history: "I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth" (Revelation 6:8).
The rider on the pale horse begins his deadly ride at some point during the Tribulation, and before his ride is over, a quarter of the population of mankind will be dead from either war, famine, or "the beasts of the earth." The word "beasts" in verse 8 is therion in Greek, and means a "venomous beast." The H5N1 avian flu is a viral infection that scientists fear has crossed over from the beasts of the earth to human-to-human transmission. A virus is, in and of itself, a living thing, a "venomous beast" by definition.
The existence of a deadly virus, combined with the other signs of the soon return of the Lord, suggests a loose time frame for the end of human history. For 2,000 years, that time frame was "someday" or "eventually." For our generation, however, the ability to kill a quarter of mankind with war, famine, and infectious disease is imminently real. As Dr. Michael Specter observed: "If not this year or the next, the following year, depending on the ‘if-then' factor . . .
IF Iran doesn't use its nuclear weapons,
IF the Pakistanis and Indians don't nuke each other,
IF North Korea doesn't use its atomic bombs,
IF terrorists don't get their hands on bio-weapons,
IF no global war arises out of the policy of spreading democracy into the Third World, and
IF the ongoing Middle East conflicts don't spark a global thermonuclear war first, THEN, maybe it might take a little longer."
While we wait, we have been gifted, called, and empowered to be His witnesses.
- The Motivation: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Our marching orders as believers came in Galilee as Jesus invited His disciples to their commissioning (Matthew 28:16-20). We are all to be involved in making disciples. We are to LOVE the lost by going to the lost.
- The Power: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). We are to PRAY for the lost.
- The Method: Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily (Colossians 1:28-29). We are to WARN the lost.
- The Urgency: Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men (2 Corinthians 5:11). We are to PERSUADE the lost.
Are you loving, warning, persuading, and praying for the lost? Make whatever time you have left on earth count for Christ-for eternity!
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