Since early childhood I have always been drawn to the humanity of the giants of the faith the Bible so honestly outlines. To me, men such as Paul, Samuel, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and a score of others always seemed and continue to seem larger than life. When reading of their exploits, their faith, their courage, and their conviction one need constantly remind themselves that they were human, just as we are, and if they were capable of such fellowship with God, if they were capable of such boldness even in the face of death, then we too ought to be capable of such exploits for the cause of Christ.
As an intellectual exercise of sorts I often like to put myself in these men’s shoes, if only briefly, and wonder what they were thinking, what they were feeling, in those moments when things didn’t turn out as they’d hoped or envisioned, when they received some new piece of revelation, or some information that made their previous preconceived notions null and void.
Take Peter for instance, the man who had already reminded Christ that he had left everything behind to follow after Him, most likely hoping in his heart that Christ would establish His kingdom on earth and he would be a general of some sorts, then hearing the words of Christ informing him that He would soon go to the cross, be crucified, and die for the sins of mankind, and not only this, but if anyone desired to follow after Him, they must likewise deny themselves, pick up their crosses, and daily follow.
One reaction that has always intrigued me is that of Timothy upon receiving the second letter from his spiritual father Paul. Here was Paul, in prison, aware of the fact that this time he would not be getting out, but would most likely finish running his race shortly, writing to Timothy, and among the encouraging words he had for his spiritual son, Paul pens a prophetic warning, a foretelling of what the future would look like that I believe gave Timothy reason for pause.
2 Timothy 3:1-5, “But know this that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
So why do I think these words took Timothy by surprise? Well, for two reasons. First, Timothy must have realized that Paul was not referring to the world or those of the world when he was describing the condition of men in the last days, but rather Paul was speaking about the condition of those in the church. There have always been men who were lovers of self in the world, there have always been unholy and unloving people in the world, there have always been those who are haughty, and who are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God in the world, but it has not always been so in the church.
Consider that at the time of this letter to Timothy being penned, Christians were being imprisoned, martyred, fed to lions, dipped in tar and lit on fire, hunted everywhere they went, and still they would not deny Christ, still they would cling to Jesus to their last breath. For Paul to write Timothy and tell him that there would come a time, when within the church we would see men who are proud, lovers of money, blasphemers, and possessing only a form of godliness must have been a hard pill to swallow for the young man.
How could the house of God become what Paul described? How could the church spiral so far out of control that it would barely be a shadow of its former self? To anyone reading the words of Paul during those days, those days when the love of God still burned bright within the hearts of believers, those days when selflessness was the norm and not the exception, those days when the power of godliness was evident in the miracles and wonders God performed, those days when self denial and self renunciation were self evident prerequisites to following after Christ, it would have been unfathomable that the church would descend to such lows. And yet here we are some two thousand years later, seeing the prophetic utterance of Paul the Apostle of Christ come to pass before our very eyes. Yes, two thousand years ago, these words that Paul wrote to Timothy were an audacious prediction, but now they have been proven out as truth.
When God speaks a certain thing, improbable as it might seem at the time, even impossible in the sight of some, it would be wise, and yes it would even behoove us to pay attention, rather than dismiss it outright because our own intellect is unable to see the veracity of it.
The world is changing all around us, and God has already forewarned us of the changes that are soon to take place. If we were ignorant, it was not due to God’s silence, but rather due to our own stubbornness and unwillingness to see past our own pride. As clichéd as it might sound, this is only the beginning, and the wise and prudent man lends his ear to the voice of God, and prepares His heart for what the future holds.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.