Thursday, August 22, 2013

Doomsday Preppers

Today is the fourth day in our 33rd week, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures* today are: Micah 1-4; Matthew 24; Psalm 10.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered a new show (that I haven't yet watched) that's all about doomsday preppers.  It's called Doomsday Castle, and you can check out the show by following this link.  In the show, a family builds a modern castle, convinced that a doomsday scenario is imminent, and that the only way to survive is to hole up in their fortress-home.  

These days, with realistic talk of electromagnetic pulses, civil unrest, an increase of natural disasters, and disease outbreaks, many people are afraid of the future.  "Preppers" are people who stock up their homes with the items that they believe will be necessary in the event of doomsday scenarios.  Some preppers are extreme, and others are more balanced in their approach.  But all preppers believe that we are a whisper away from things falling apart.

Both our OT and NT passages today deal with days of trouble, trial, and tribulation.  Matthew 24 is known as the "Little Apocalypse."  In this chapter, Jesus talks about days of great trial.  False Christs will lead many astray.  Wars, rumors of wars, and natural disasters will be in the news.  They may become realities in your own life.  But these will be just the beginning of birth pangs.  Betrayal, death, and bloodshed will become commonplace.  But Jesus doesn't say that the solution will be holing up in your own personal castle.  Rather than filling your house with so many valuables that looters attack your place first, a better plan is to bug out.

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 

Now, I don't intend to discuss all the pre-trib, post-trib, or mid-trib rapture scenarios, or get into premillennialism, postmilleninalism, or amillennialism.  Click here to read more on that.   I'm simply saying that the Christian response to disaster is not to hoard everything that you own for yourself, to defend your possessions to your last breath, and to live a fearful life--so terrified that somebody's going to come take your stuff that you have to build a castle to defend it.  It's better to leave everything behind and remain true to your beliefs, trusting that God will take care of you.  In Matthew 6, Jesus says:

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Our problem is that we tend to believe that our treasures will save us.  So we hoard them and defend them to the death.  Instead, we need to understand that God is our Protector.  In the same chapter, Jesus also says:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Jesus lived without a home for three years, so He knew what He was talking about.  Life is more than food or clothing or the roof over your head.  Life is about your relationship with God, and with the people around you.  When the threat of potential trouble takes your humanity away and turns you into some feudal lord who relies on the strength of his stored arms or sustenance from his amassed reserves, then you've lost connection from your head.  Jesus knew that bad times were coming, but His advice to His followers was to stay true to His Word.  Only by remaining faithful can Christians preach the Gospel throughout the world as a testimony for all nations, so that the end of trouble can come (Matthew 24:14).

Jesus ends this passage with ominous warnings, but Micah sheds some light on an otherwise gloomy message about the last days.  The faithful will be uprooted, but once they are, God says:

I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob;    I will gather the remnant of Israel;I will set them together    like sheep in a fold,like a flock in its pasture,    a noisy multitude of men (Micah 2:12)...

It shall come to pass in the latter days
    that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
    and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
    and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
    and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
    and shall decide for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
    and no one shall make them afraid,
    for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
For all the peoples walk
    each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
    forever and ever.

In that day, declares the Lord,
    I will assemble the lame
and gather those who have been driven away
    and those whom I have afflicted;
and the lame I will make the remnant,
    and those who were cast off, a strong nation;
and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion
    from this time forth and forevermore (Micah 4:1-7).

Just as living in a time of peace and plenty is not forever, just as all the things that we count on for safety and security will one day pass away, so also will pass the days of struggle.  We can run through all the doomsday scenarios we want, but at the end of them one thing is always true:  God is still God.  God is in control, and God always wins.  We don't need to be doomsday preppers.  We simply need to trust that God knows what He's doing, and that as long as we trust Him, then whatever happens, we'll be in His hands.

*Scriptures taken from the ESV.

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