Is this the be­gin­ning of End Times?

Ripon Bulletin - - Local/state/Obituaries -

As typ­i­cally hap­pens when­ever there are nat­u­ral catas­tro­phes of im­mense de­struc­tion, there are those who come out with dooms­day pro­nounce­ments declar­ing the world is be­ing judged, or the end of the world is at hand.

As the 24/7 news cy­cle has so breath­lessly at­tempted to keep us up to date, we have watched as mas­sively de­struc­tive hur­ri­canes rav­age Texas along its Gulf of Mex­ico coast­line, and now Hur­ri­cane Irma is about to pounce on Florida from stem-to-stern. There is a vir­tual na­tional hys­te­ria over the size and force of Irma as she bears down on Sun­shine State, hav­ing her way, dis­rupt­ing all the in­hab­i­tants from Key West to Jack­sonville and be­yond. This hur­ri­cane has al­ready left in her wake death and de­struc­tion, rip­ping through the Caribbean Is­lands. A re­tired Navy chap­lain friend who hails from Saint Thomas, the Vir­gin Is­lands, in­formed me that he fi­nally made con­tact with his brothers and sis­ter back in St. Thomas. They are all well, but one cousin was killed. And not a sin­gle roof sur­vived the fury of the storm.

I find my­self get­ting re­ally an­noyed by fools who de­cide to stay even af­ter a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion has been called for. I’m re­fer­ring specif­i­cally to those who are very ca­pa­ble of leav­ing the area, but choose not to for what­ever fool­ish rea­sons they imag­ine. I heard of one pro­fes­sional surfer who de­cided he would like to ride the wave pro­duced by Irma. I’m not sure where he did this, but the end re­sult was his death. Oth­ers are seen run­ning around like frat boys act­ing stupidly in the face of cer­tain death. You would think that the hor­rors of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey would have been enough to con­vince folks that these storms are noth­ing to tri­fle with.

Mex­ico has had its own nat­u­ral dis­as­ters over the past cou­ple of days. First, it was an 8.2 seis­mic read­ing some 60 miles off the west­ern coast of Mex­ico now known as the Chi­a­pas Quake. It is listed as the strong­est quake any­where in the world dur­ing 2017. Last re­port listed 61 peo­ple died. A day later, a hur­ri­cane hit the other side of Mex­ico wreak­ing de­struc­tion and ad­di­tional loss of life.

Back home in the west­ern part of the USA, we have ex­pe­ri­enced dev­as­tat­ing for­est fires in Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, Cal­i­for­nia, Idaho, Mon­tana, Wy­oming, Ari­zona, Utah, Ne­vada, and Colorado. I looked at a map on the In­ter­net that showed where all the fires are. It’s fright­ful to lit­er­ally see ten of the west­ern states go­ing up in flames. A golf­ing buddy just re­turned from Den­ver where he said they fires had cre­ated so much smoke that you couldn’t see any blue sky. An­other friend said the air qual­ity in Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton was hor­ri­ble, all due to outof-con­trol fires.

Add to these as­saults by mother na­ture a crazy man as the leader of North Korea, who seems to think it’s okay to “beard the lion.” Kim Jung Un is do­ing his ut­most to draw the US into a war. This is lu­nacy! He threat­ens to use nu­clear weapons against our al­lies, South Korea and Ja­pan, as well as nuke the US ter­ri­tory of Guam and even main­land USA! What chutz­pah! Can this mad­man ac­tu­ally cause de­struc­tion and death? Cer­tainly! Can the US wipe him and his na­tion out quickly? Yes. But only if we are forced to do so. Let’s pray that this nut job will take a hia­tus.

One more dev­as­ta­tion is the wide­spread famine that has af­fected sig­nif­i­cant por­tions of Africa. Famine is noth­ing new on the African con­ti­nent, but most of the time these famines are caused by sparse rain­fall. Two the worst famines in Africa at this writ­ing have been caused by war­ring fac­tions, each de­stroy­ing the fields and crops of the other. Lit­er­ally tens of thou­sands are dy­ing due to lack of food.

It’s at times like this that I’ll hear some­one in­tone, al­most as a prayer, “Je­sus has to be com­ing back soon! Things can’t pos­si­bly get any worse.” My re­sponse is, “Not so fast!” Does the Bi­ble have any­thing to say about this? Well, yes it does. In the 13th chap­ter of the Gospel of Luke, we read, “When you hear of wars and ru­mors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must hap­pen, but the end is still to come. Na­tion will rise against na­tion, and king­dom against king­dom. There will be earth­quakes in var­i­ous places, and famines. These are the be­gin­ning of birth pains.”

What does all this mean then? The be­gin­ning of the End Times will be ev­i­dent through earth­quakes, wars and ru­mors of wars, and famines, among other things. But this would only be the be­gin­ning of that lengthy time pe­riod lead­ing up to the tri­umphant re­turn of Je­sus.

You and I have no con­trol over the nat­u­ral cat­a­clysms that take place, nor do we have the power to pre­vent war and its af­ter­math.

But we can de­cide whose side we’re on. Joshua said, “But if serv­ing the Lord seems un­de­sir­able to you, then choose for your­selves this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my house­hold, we will serve the Lord!”

CHUCK ROOTS Colum­nist

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