We are living in a time when there seems to be trouble on almost every front . . . folks are sick . . . health care is in trouble . . . prisons are full . . . many claim that the government is untrustworthy . . . families are falling apart . . . our economy is in the tank . . . it seems that moral values are just spiraling down at a dangerous rate of speed . . . there are wars and rumors of wars . . . there is a serious enemy that lurks about . . . and tragically, it seems that our government does not even recognize the enemy exists . . .
My Sunday school lesson this week comes from the Old Testament book of Daniel and concerns some rather mysterious things about which Daniel was inspired to write. Most of the smart guys declare Daniel’s writing in this area to be related to the subject of Eschatology and tribulation that is anticipated to be a serious part of end-time events.
A couple of times a year, I get a telephone call from someone claiming to be taking a survey and I am asked if I believe that we are now in the “Great Tribulation Period.” I chuckle and say, “I am not sure that I understand much about that deep and mysterious subject, but if the smart guys are right and it is what they claim it will be, you can bet when it does arrive you won’t need to conduct a telephone survey to determine that it has happened.”
In all honesty, I need to admit that there was a time when I knew a considerable amount about all of that end-time stuff. I grew up in Churches having Pastors who were great authorities on the subject and they taught us regularly all about it. I was pretty full of myself back then so I adopted it along with what each piece of the mystery meant and represented. Then, as a young man I met some really smart men, who simply said that there was much of that they simply did not understand . . . but they did know that at some point when we least expect it, the clouds will scroll back, a trumpet will blast, and the Lord Jesus will appear. It is at that time there will be a great separation of those who believe and those would reject.
Children are easily impressed and early impressions can certainly have a profound and lasting influence on them. I suspect that all of that end-times teaching and influence in my early years have caused me to be inclined to over-focus on the worst parts of society. Hey, I was always taught that was the great measuring stick of the end as it approached.
But then, on occasion I stumble onto something which helps me open my eyes and see things in a better and more favorable light. That very thing happened this morning . . . and of all things it involved a survey . . . a survey conducted by NBC network. The survey concerned the phrase “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, and asked Americans if the phrase should remain in the Pledge. I was startled to learn that 86% of those asked stated that the phrase ought to be left in the Pledge. Three other things I learned about this matter are:
1. This Pledge of Allegiance was adopted in 1892, and the phrase “one nation under God” was not part of the original Pledge;
2. The phrase “one nation under God” was added to the Pledge by action of both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954 . . . 4 years after I was born!; and
3. The Pledge was changed to acknowledge God because the Knights of Columbus (a ministry group of the Catholic Church) proposed the change to Congress and then did the work necessary to get it passed into law. Boy was that an eye opener!!! You would never believe what those early authorities on end-time events told me about the Catholic Church and who she is alleged to be . . .
NOTE: I don’t mean to be critical of those guys who were early influences in my life . . . I am certain that they were each good men and well-intentioned, but the lesson to be learned is that there is a real maturity in being able to say, “I simply do not know, but I know that there is a time coming when right and truth will prevail over evil because of our connection with the Risen Lord!” It is just me, but I believe there is far greater value in that simple and honest declaration than there is in a week-long conference at which there are long, continuous, and theoretical debates about a topic which Jesus himself told us was safety guarded by the Father Himself.
Want a measuring stick? Here is one . . . If God did not reveal all of the answers to Jesus, you can be certain that He didn’t reveal it to some dipstick who claims to have all of the answers. I actually know such a dipstick and I really like him . . . but I also avoid that topic with him.
In conclusion, I am refreshed by the NBC survey results! I do understand that the NBC organization is not some bastion of integrity, nor is it a driving force to influence our culture toward God.