Take Comfort

“But of that day and hour no one knows … But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be”

Matthew 24:36, 37

Jesus wants His disciples to understand that there will be no warning of His Second Coming. People will be eating, getting married and all the things that people do when unaware of imminent judgment. When it comes it will be totally unexpected by the world’s population in spite of the warnings in God’s word. Those of us who have believed God’s warning and are prepared will not be here. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 that all believers will be caught up to be with Jesus in “the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). This will leave a confused and fearful world in which there are absolutely no believers.

For the second time in human history for a while there will be no believers on earth. The first time was after Adam sinned until he was restored by God. This removal of all believers is what Paul speaks of when he wrote, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Without the Holy Spirit’s presence in Christ’s church, corruption and wickedness will be unrestrained. Paul gives detailed descriptions of what that will be like in Romans 1:20-32 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Jesus gives the days of Noah as a partial description of those days. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:6, 11). Believers are salt and light and by the Holy Spirit act as restrainers on the sinfulness of mankind.

Though we don’t know the day of our departure we do know that it is imminent. That is, it is the next thing to happen on God’s prophetic calendar and it will be without warning. In Paul’s description of that event in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 he says it should bring us comfort. We will only be comforted if we actually believe what Paul has written and our desire to be with Jesus is greater than our desire for this world. God told Abraham what He was about to do because Abraham took God at His word (Genesis 18:17). Those, and only those, who take God at His word will be comforted.

A Tormented Soul

“For that righteous man [Lot], dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds” (2 Peter 2:8)

It would appear that Lot was not wise in a number of his decisions, especially concerning where to live. Unlike Lot most of us have little choice about the kind of society we live in. However, we can learn a little from Lot’s experience that may help us to live righteously in our lawless society.

I have no reservations in characterising our society as lawless. Yes, we have more laws than ever before, and new ones being added regularly – but having laws does not make us lawful people. Quite the contrary, it points out that we are not lawful by nature.

It seems that the only law people attempt to keep is, “Thou shalt not get caught” – but this is not one of the Ten Commandments.

Just one example of our lawless society: A neighbour asked if we minded if he let off fireworks on Australia Day. This was surprising since he was often critical of young people who disregarded laws, made a nuisance of themselves and damaged property in the street while passing through. There were a number of laws broken with regard to the fireworks and he expected his neighbours to condone that lawlessness. Our neighbour did not see the irony in celebrating Australia Day by deliberately and knowingly acting contrary to the laws of Australia – something all new Australians vow on Australia Day that they will observe.

We may not have chosen to live in this society as Lot did his, but we are in it. Jesus wants us to be in it, but not as a sponge; rather, as light and salt. We are not to be influenced by it, but to influence it for Him.

Lot’s “righteous soul” was “tormented” day by day because of the lawlessness of his society. It is reasonable to expect that our souls will likewise be tormented day by day. The problem can be that we get so used to the wickedness and lawlessness that we don’t even notice it. That would be an indication of spiritual insensitivity or spiritual death.

If we are spiritual at all and allowing Jesus Christ to live out His righteousness in us, we will feel tormented day by day. Paul puts it this way, “we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).

No one will inherit the kingdom of God by keeping laws – only by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. However, the one who has been made righteous by Jesus Christ will feel his righteous soul being tormented day by day.