“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap” (Luke 21:34).
At present the American military is fighting in Iraq and Afganistan. The Foreign Policy website cites thirty-three conflicts on-going around the world including civil wars and insurgencies. Not counting all-out wars, cities all over the world including in the Unites States, have long been riddled with too many instances of assault and murder. Considering reality and what is reported daily on news stations, is it stretching things at all to say we are a planet at war?
Death tolls are expected to reach into the thousands after the 8.9 strength earthquake that hit Japan on Friday. It is the fifth strongest of eleven quakes recorded in the last 110 years that register at least 8.6 on the Richter Scale, and it happened right on the heals of the quake that struck New Zealand at the end of last month. Four million buildings in Tokyo alone had no electricity shortly after the disaster hit. Thousands of homes and automobiles were destroyed in a matter of hours.
Add to this kind of horror the untold numbers of people suffering from starvation, disease, and AIDS in our world. Tack on the increasing incidents of religious persecution; specifically, the numbers of Christians being arrested, detained, and killed. We cannot help but feel a cautionary check in our heads and hearts when we measure the world’s news against Jesus’ prophetic statements in the Bible, especially in Luke’s gospel. Jesus warned, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).
Dissipation is excess amusement, entertainment, self-indulgence, partying, recreation, and self-gratification. Jesus sternly warns people not to let their lives be taken over by these things. A life full of these excesses cannot be centered in Jesus Christ. Drunkenness is being intoxicated to the point that our mental faculties and physical actions are diminished. Alcohol and drugs will certainly put people in this condition. So also will sex, power, and greed. Anxiety is worry, tension, and panic that sets in when we are unrealistically, overly concerned about past, present, or future events. This kind of angst creeps in and steals our ability to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, our hearts committed to him and his will, and our hope securely centered in his promise of eternal life.
Christian, you have much to make you “lift up your head” toward heaven. Because you have received Christ as Lord and Savior, do not allow anything to steal your attention from Christ. Serve him to the bitter end. Jesus died on the cross in your place to pay your penalty for your sins, and three days later he rose from the dead. Today, he sits at the right hand of the throne of God, the Father. One day soon, in an instant, whether you are dead or still alive, he himself will come for you. All who truly belong to Jesus through faith will be sucked off of this planet as in a vacuum–raptured, caught up with him in the air–where we will be with him forever.
When Jesus somehow hides his heavenly army and family of believers in another dimension of time and space, you will be there to see him do as John Phillips described, “detonate the earth” (Exploring Proverbs. Volume 1. New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1995, page 466). Heaven and earth as we know it will be destroyed in a great cataclysmic fire. And after the smoke clears, somewhere on the banks of eternity Jesus will appear sitting on a great white throne. The unsaved, wicked, and evil dead will be raised, judged, sentenced, and damned to hell for all eternity.