Monday, May 27, 2024

The Last Days Of The World VII

 Lest we judge the disciples too harshly, take a moment and put yourself in their shoes. Jesus had just told them that the temple, which hadn’t even been completed at the time, would be destroyed anew to such an extent that not one stone would stand upon the other. No matter how you cut it, this was a revelation, a prophecy of a future time. He’d also been warning them of His soon-coming departure and the promise of His return, preparing them for what was to come, but as far as timing was concerned, He had not elaborated. Wouldn’t you want to know more?

A couple of years back, someone paid a cool $19 million to have lunch with Warren Buffet. Granted, what he’s done throughout his life is impressive, but ten of him wouldn’t hold a candle to one of Jesus, and here were the disciples getting to ask questions of the Christ regarding things that had yet to be for free.

Here He was, telling them of things to come, and the disciples saw it as the perfect opportunity to inquire about something more than the temple’s destruction, something that likely weighed heavy on their hearts. They likewise wanted to know what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the age.

These were two separate events, one which Jesus had spoken of and elaborated upon, the other which He’d hinted at but never fleshed out. The disciples wanted to know more because who wouldn’t? Wouldn’t you have questions if you got to sit with Jesus and have a conversation? Wouldn’t you want to know some things that were as yet unknown to you? I do not fault the disciples for having inquiring minds. I do not fault them for asking Jesus when He would return. They were, after all, human, and believing that He would one day return, they were interested in a timeframe.

The key to understanding Christ’s words is the acknowledgment that He is referring to two separate events, separated by millennia. One is the destruction of the temple, a prophecy that came to pass in 70 AD; the other is the advent of His return and what the events preceding it would be.

Since the aforementioned individuals who go without being sent have been busy cranking out prophesies as soon as their vain minds can produce them, I thought it prudent, even necessary, to see what the Bible says the last days of the world will look like, and if they look anything like the newly minted prophets of this, the most lukewarm generation to ever exist since the genesis of the church, insist they will look like.

It’s funny how even though the world seems to be in a cataclysmic storm of hatred, vitriol, bloodlust, and violence, the would-be prophets of the modern age continue to insist that it’s nothing but blue skies and sunshine for as far as their futile eyes can see. All you have to do is pack your bags and be ready to go because surely we’re not going to be around for when it gets really bad, even though it’s gotten really bad, but not as bad as it’s going to get.  

Some of them are starting to sweat, going so far as insisting that Jesus somehow got delayed in His return because, by their calculations, we should have been gone already, currently enjoying the marriage supper of the Lamb and feasting to our hearts’ content and not being witness to the world crumbling under the weight of its own hubris.

More concerning still is that ever so slowly but methodically, the sights are being recalibrated to target the followers of Christ with such purpose and intent that even those who insist that we’ve reached coexistence with the darkness are scratching their heads in befuddlement as to why so many new laws are being explicitly tailored to persecute and prosecute the Christian worldview.

In certain states, you can beat someone senseless as though they were a tambourine and be released without bail before breakfast the following day. Dare to pray, quote scripture, or sing a hymn in front of an abortion clinic, and you’re likely to spend years behind bars sharing a cell with someone doing life for multiple homicides.

The godless have no qualms about perverting the law. It’s not as though they are driven by principle or justice. Whenever it suits them, they will use the law to buoy their position, but it’s situational, and when the law attempts to constrict their agenda, they ignore it or pretend as though it doesn’t exist.

It’s important to know what the Bible says about the last days of the world because knowledge is power, and knowing what to expect will keep us from second-guessing, growing anxious, or thinking that we somehow missed the bus.

Since the question the discipled asked was twofold, so was Christ’s answer. Yes, it is interwoven throughout the chapter, but one can intuit which is referring to which based on the initial question.

Without going further than this one chapter and its counterpart in Luke, we can know what the world will look like during its last days and understand the timing of Christ’s return based on His own words. If we would rather build our foundation on the hopes, opinions, or feelings of men rather than the words of Jesus, then we will have no one to blame but ourselves. It’s not Jesus who lied to us about the last days of the world or the timing of His return; it is we who have lied to ourselves.

It’s a telling thing that rather than take the words of Jesus at face value, we look to the sun, moon, and stars for insight, as though He were not Lord over them as well. If Jesus spoke certain things, they were for a purpose. If they were included within the pages of Scripture, that too was for a purpose.

I’ve prayed over how to approach the topic of the last days from a Biblical viewpoint for some time and have concluded that the best way is to discuss the last days of the world and then the last days of the church as separate studies. By the last days of the church, I am referring to the spiritual condition thereof rather than any timetable for when we will no longer have to contend with being strangers in a strange land.

The Bible is clear on both counts. By diligently studying the Word of God, we can know what the last days of the world and the last days of the church will look like, and in so knowing, not be swayed by the noise, the static, and the myriad of voices saying here is the Christ, or there.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Last Days Of TheWorld VI

 I’ve been asked on occasion why I believe the prosperity doctrine is a cancer in the church, and I always refer those posing the question to the parable of the sower and the seed. It is not some harmless thing that we can wave off and chuckle at when we see men who would otherwise sell used cars and likely lemons at that, flying around in private jets because by distracting individuals from the purpose of the faith, shifting their focus to the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things is choking off the word of God that was sown in their hearts. These are not my words; they are Christ’s words. It’s not an assumption on my part. He drew this conclusion based on what He knew to be truth.

The word of God calls them thorns; they are invasive weeds that will choke off the word of God in men’s hearts until they become unfruitful and, in turn, become thorns and weeds themselves. Every one of them’s got a mentor, and every single one of their mentors is a grifter who aged out and went to drink themselves silly on a yacht after fleecing the children of God for millions.

Jesus called riches deceitful because they offer a false sense of security where none can be had. They’re not evil in and of themselves, just like an inert knife isn’t evil all on its own. Riches are a tool just as a knife is a tool and it all depends upon how the individual in question chooses to wield them. Problems arise when we see riches as our place of safety rather than Jesus or when we fail to mature our faith and grow our relationship with Him because we’ve been distracted by the accumulation thereof.

Even a monumental project like reviving and expanding the temple ran the risk of becoming a distraction, and Jesus knew this. Whatever is attempting to shift your focus from the things above to the things of this earth, whether the cares of this world or the deceitfulness of riches, fame, influence, power, or prestige, its intent is purposeful and well-defined. It desires to choke off the word in your heart, thereby making you unfruitful.

Christ first! Christ above all else, whether it’s family, business, ministry, or the less worthwhile things like politics, golf, or arguing with strangers online. Whatever tertiary thing is distracting you from pursuing the fullness of Christ must be done away with because although you might deem it needful momentarily, it will become detrimental to your spiritual man eventually.

Yes, that includes end times prophecy or discussions on the last days of the world. Prioritize Jesus before anything else because knowing Him and Him knowing you are the only things that will matter in the end.

I was twelve when I started as my grandfather’s interpreter. I spent my teenage years and a good portion of my adulthood warning about the things we are beginning to see take shape in the world today. I must give credit where credit is due; I learned not to be consumed by prophecy or the prophetic from watching my grandfather and his walk with the Lord.

Spending time in God’s presence, being in prayer, and studying the Word were the essential pursuits of his existence, and everything else flowed from there. Whether the grace of receiving dreams and visions or prophesying or being used by God to heal the sick, every man of God used by God in an extraordinary fashion has being in the presence of God as their goal and purpose. The gifts, the power, and the authority flow out from the relationship one establishes, cements, and continues to grow with God.  

Be a man or woman who yearns to be in the presence of God first. Be a man or woman whose desire isn’t big crowds, fancy titles, speaking gigs, or television appearances, but rather being alone with God, reading His word, and letting it light your path. Everything else will flow from there, and God will send you where He needs you when He needs you and imbue you with His authority so that you might carry out His instructions.

It’s when men go without being sent that they fall flat on their faces, and then they have the audacity to blame God for their failures. But I was told I was going to be a prophet to the nations by the guy whose course I bought on how to be a prophet to the nations. Just because someone claims a title does not make it so. God doesn’t have to sign off on your identity as an apostle or prophet, and just because He refused to co-sign our machinations does not mean His hand is short or that He doesn’t do today what He did two thousand years ago. I think it’s the self-importance some people assign to themselves that gets my goad.

You are not the last apostle, the last prophet, or the only one through whom God can speak a message. Yes, I know, being humble is for the birds, and if you don’t promote yourself, who will? That’s the crux of the issue, though, isn’t it? You’ve taken ministry, the work of God, and the calling of God and made it all about you. You are dust, just as I am, and to dust we will return, and the only thing that will remain beyond this present life is whether or not you were faithful and obedient to God. Were you saved through faith in Christ? Were you sanctified and washed clean by the blood of the Lamb? Did you pursue righteousness more than an audience and intimacy with God more than the praise of men?  

If you’ve ever wondered how many bridges I can burn in one day, now you have your answer. All of them! Am I trying to be purposefully antagonistic? Hardly, but the noises from the voices blathering on about things God never said and turning the hearts of sincere people toward issues that don’t matter will only continue to grow and intensify while the tumblers on the lock keep clicking into place and we get closer and closer to the time when men’s hearts will fail them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth.

That’s another thing we tend to overlook. For information to spread fast enough so that an individual might learn what was happening on another continent before the information became stale and irrelevant, this age of technology we are currently living through had to come into being.

If a guy got on a ship with breaking news, and the soonest he could deliver it was four months later, it would no longer be breaking, and the war or rumor of war he was reporting on was likely over. Just a thought for those who insist that the things Jesus spoke of as having a global impact and causing worldwide trepidation have already come to pass.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Friday, May 24, 2024

The Last Days Of The World V

 Matthew 24:1-3, “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down. Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Solomon, King David’s son, built the first temple, and it was a wonder not only for its time, but had it stood, it would be a wonder to this day. No expense was spared in the building of the first temple, with gold being one of the primary materials used. It was a splendor, and all who laid eyes on it came to this unanimous consent.

The first temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Seventy years later, it was rebuilt, but not nearly to the grandeur of its previous iteration. Fortunes had waned since Solomon's time, and they could not match the splendor and opulence of the first temple.

Sometime before the birth of Jesus and the start of the new age, Herod the Great, desiring to ingratiate himself with the religious class and the Jews who inhabited the land in general, made multiple improvements to the temple, enriching it both by the materials used and erecting new buildings to expand the temple proper.

This was by no means a small endeavor, and the project extended beyond Herod the Great's life into the rule of his sons. The work was still ongoing when Christ’s disciples came to show him the buildings of the temple. Historically speaking, the entire project was completed sometime during 63 A.D., and the prophecy Jesus spoke regarding not one stone being left upon the other came to pass seven years after the project’s completion when the temple was sacked and destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.

It doesn’t take much of an imagination to see that the disciples were proud of the new buildings going up around the temple and the improvements that had been made to it. They’d gone out of their way to give Jesus a tour, and the entire scene seems to be undergirded by a sense of nationalistic pride.

“Look, Lord, in case you missed it, we’ve not been sitting idle; we’ve been building stuff.”

It says a lot about the disciples in that they took Christ’s words in stride. They did not try to convince Him He was wrong about the future of the temple or that it couldn’t possibly be so. They knew who He was, and when He spoke, it was yes and amen. When men and God don’t see eye to eye, it is incumbent upon man to change his outlook and not God’s. God knows what He said because He’s the one who said it. If you disagree, that’s on you.

We can’t downplay how much of a gut punch Christ’s words were to these men who were essentially showing off all the progress that had been made in the restoration of the temple and even the new buildings that had gone up recently. The building wasn’t even done, the paint wasn’t even dry, and here was Jesus saying it would all amount to rubble. Not one stone would be left upon another when all was said and done.

On its face, the first few verses of Matthew 24 are a prophecy about the future fate of the temple whose grounds they were touring, declaring its destruction even before it was completed. It would be easy to read these verses, shrug our shoulders, and conclude that Jesus was right and what He said happened just as He said it would, but there is a deeper truth contained within this seemingly straightforward text that resonates even with those of us living in these last days.

Other than the prophecy of the temple’s destruction, the main takeaway from this exchange is the instability of the physical world in which we place so much stock. While the godless see building up our spiritual man and the spiritual world as a whole as ethereal and insubstantial, Jesus flips it on its ear and insists that it’s the physical world, the material things, the jobs and the homes, and the security blankets we’ve fashioned for ourselves that are illusory and deceptive.

That grand edifice we labored to build can turn into so much rubble faster than we can process what happened. All those plans we made, all the scenarios we crafted, and all the actions we took to mitigate the effects of one thing or another can come to naught in the blink of an eye because everything we do in the physical that we believe will bring us security is a well-crafted illusion.

There is more substance in building up your most holy faith, in learning to hear the voice of God, in learning to walk by faith and not by sight, than in anything you can do with your two hands.

Not only was Jesus foretelling the destruction of the temple, but He was also teaching His disciples not to trust in anything other than God's providence. Every construct of man fails eventually. Everything God establishes remains, though the world might rage and seethe and plot against it.

In His parable of the sower, Jesus lays out four scenarios: the seed that fell by the wayside, the seed that fell on stony ground, the seed that fell among the thorns, and the seed that fell on good ground.

While it would be a fruitful discussion to dissect all four, especially the seed that fell on stony ground and Christ’s assertion that although they receive the word with gladness because they have no root in themselves, they immediately stumble when tribulation and persecution arise for the word’s sake, I believe it is the seed that fell among the thorns that Jesus was referencing when warning His disciples not to trust in the arm of the flesh.

Mark 4:18-19, “Now these are the ones sown among the thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Last Days Of The World IV

 We’re going to babystep this because it’s necessary. There is a haze of confusion about what the Bible says regarding the last days and what Jesus said. It runs the gamut from full preterists, who believe that all the prophecies regarding the last days have already been fulfilled, to partial preterists, who are self-explanatory. Then there are presentists and futurists, each clinging to their dogma with a Charlton Heston-like death grip.

It’s no longer enough to believe Christ is Lord; it’s no longer sufficient to believe He is the way, the truth, and the life. In order to be deemed a brother or sister in Christ nowadays, you also have to subscribe to the non-salvific dogma being foisted and presented as more important than the lordship of Christ. If anything the Bible says contradicts our preferred theological bend, we just ignore it because we’ve carved a niche out for ourselves, we’ve laid hold of a slice of the pie, and we will defend the slice of pie with far greater fervor than ever we would defend Christ.

We’ve become so childish and infantile in our reaction to being challenged that with not an ounce of self-awareness, we boldly declare that you might be saved, sanctified, and reconciled unto God, living a life wholly surrendered to Christ and pursuing righteousness consistently, but if you don’t believe in in a pre-tribulation rapture, you’re just going to get left behind when Jesus comes for those who do believe in it.

I must have missed that part during Sunday school class. I’ve always assumed that Jesus is returning for a bride who does not have spots or wrinkles or any such thing but is holy and without blemish. I always assumed that was the criteria, but I guess you learn something new every day.

Apparently, it’s whether or not you have the right view on eschatology that will determine whether or not you are welcomed into the marriage supper of the Lamb and not whether you were born again and made clean by the blood of Jesus.

Although we can blame the modern-day church for much of what ails it, and all of it can be traced back to our willingness to compromise the truth of Scripture in exchange for the acceptance or validation of the godless, whispers of the Christ having already returned, and all prophecy having already been fulfilled have been bandied about since the early days of the church.

It had become such an ongoing point of contention that Paul addressed it via the urging of the Holy Spirit in his second letter to the Thessalonians.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, “Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

Even though we’ve rebranded Gnosticism and no longer refer to it by that name, the root and fruit are the same as ever. In short, it’s the belief or assertion that one individual possesses some hidden, secret knowledge heretofore undiscovered that elevates them spiritually above their fellow man.

If we are not rooted in the Gospel, and what flows out of us is not in harmony with God’s word, then we are preaching another gospel entirely. If we are not in Christ, then we are not in the way; if we are not in the way, we are not walking in it.

Perhaps we’ve gotten too used to being coddled, and we just need someone to slap some sense into us.

Whether it’s Jesus, Paul, Peter, Luke, or John, the running theme throughout all their writings when the focus turns to the end times is to take heed that we are not deceived. Paul says let no one deceive you. Jesus says take heed that no one deceives you. Peter says beware, lest you also fall from your steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.

Galatians 1:8-9, “But if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”

If we’re falling for sweaty guys in their mom’s basements with a whiteboard and magic marker, making illogical connections and creating extrabiblical doctrine, how will we be able to keep from turning away from the truth if an angel were to come preaching another gospel?

I’ve lost count of how many imminent rapture warnings I’ve seen over the last couple of years alone. It’s come to the point that if a week goes by without another ‘Tomorrow’s the day, pack your bags and make sure your passport is up to date’ e-mail, I start to worry and wonder if everything’s okay.

Deception, deceivers, and those attempting to deceive have existed since the beginning of the church. Even in its infancy, when those who had walked with Jesus, heard His words, and were witness to His death, burial, and resurrection were still among the living, there were those who would come in with mal intent and attempt to teach things antithetical to His instruction. Because the apostles knew the danger such individuals posed and understood their intent was not benign, they confronted and rebuked them in the strongest possible terms.

We have seen the effects of a little leaven in our modern age and bore witness as entire swaths of what identifies as Christendom, claiming to be of Christ, descended to the darkest recesses of hedonism and heresy, all the while maintaining that they walk in the light.

Truth matters because it sets us free. Truth matters because it is one of the immutable characteristics of Jesus. Without truth, we wander in deception. Without light, we wander in darkness. Without Jesus, we can never come to the Father.

Truth is not subjective; it is not given to personal interpretation or preference. It is absolute, immutable, unshakeable, and eternal. Build your foundation on the truth of Christ, and you will weather any storm. Build it on anything less than Jesus, and you will be swept away by the tempest.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Last Days Of The World III

 Suppose that when I was yet a teenager, someone asked me if I planned on finding a girlfriend, getting married, and having children. My answer to all three would have been yes, but the individual who asked the question would have intuited that they would happen at different times throughout my life.

Even though my answer could have been that I hoped to have children, but no more than four, I hoped to find a wife and have a girlfriend, it would have been clear that there would be a natural order, a natural flow to the sequence in which they were done, because I needed to have a girlfriend before I could make her my wife, and have children with her.

There was a twenty-year span between the first of these, getting a girlfriend, and the last, having children. I met my future wife in the early nineties, courted her for a few years, married in 2000, and had our first daughter in 2014. Even though my answer as to whether I planned on a girlfriend, wife, and children was no longer than a sentence, the completion thereof took twenty years.

Since we are temporal creatures, we view the span of human history in small, easily digestible chunks of time. It’s difficult to understand why it took seven hundred years for Isaiah’s prophecy about the birth of Jesus to come to pass or that, for the most part, prophecies of future events saw their fulfillment long after those who prophesied them returned to the dust of the earth.

True prophecy is not constrained by time unless a timetable is expressly given. If a word is from the Lord, it will come to pass because He has spoken it, and because He has spoken it, it will come to pass in His time. The man of God's duty is to relay God's message to those who would hear. It is not his job to attempt and interpret it or decipher when it will come to pass. Neither Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, nor any of the prophets of old gave a word and then went on to explain what they thought it meant or why they thought it would come to pass on such and such a day. They did not expound, expand, hypothesize, or otherwise conjecture. They just relayed what God had spoken to them.

God gave the word, they spoke it, and that was the end of their duty.

We’ve stopped differentiating between opinion and revelation, mistaking the former for the latter, and are gobsmacked when what is ‘prophesied’ doesn’t come to pass. Modern-day prophecy, prophets, and prophetesses have come under ridicule because it’s deserved. They’re not being persecuted; their error is being exposed. We cannot conflate the two lest we make martyrs of people who never heard from God in the first place.

They went without being sent, and they spoke without being given a word. Their words were so ludicrous and antithetical to scripture that even the godless were rolling their eyes and snickering under their breath. Pet dinosaurs and body part rooms in heaven, you say?

The troubling trend of late is that the modern-day church would rather receive these foolish machinations than go into the Word of God and see what it has to say regarding the last days of the world and what they will look like before the return of Christ. Anyone who says they heard from the Lord, yet what they say is contrary to His word, is a liar from the start. There need be no further investigation, study, or introspection regarding what they spoke. They contradicted the Bible; therefore, what they said is demonstrably false.

It’s not as though the Bible doesn’t paint a picture of what the last days will look like; it’s that we don’t like the picture it paints. We would rather find reasons and excuses not to believe the words of Jesus because His words are troubling to our flesh and dismantle our preconceived notions regarding the days we’re living in than humble ourselves and prepare our hearts for what He says will be.

The most remarkable prophecy regarding the last days has been dismissed by the modern-day church because they fail to give it more than a superficial reading and understand that Jesus foretells of two separate events during two separate time periods: one concerning the destruction of the temple and the other concerning the end of the age and His return.

Context matters. Without context, we will misinterpret simple truths and dismiss wisdom and revelation we ought to take to heart and remember.

It is essential to know what the future holds, if not in full, then in part, because knowing what is to be will keep us from being anxious and fearful and prevent the enemy from sowing doubt in our hearts. If I know all the cities I’m going to drive through before I reach my destination, I don’t have to wonder whether I’m on the right highway, if I missed a turn, or if I failed to take the right exit along the way. I’m seeing what I expected to see on my way to where I was heading, and so I rest easy, secure in the knowledge that this is the way.

There has been much debate about Christ’s prophecy in Matthew, commonly known as the Olivet Discourse, which is likewise echoed in Luke. Much of the controversy stems from men’s inability to see what is clearly there. The key to understanding lies in the questions the disciples asked Jesus as they sat on the Mount of Olives because they centered on two events at different times.

Why is this relevant? In short, we have a generation of believers thinking that utopia is just around the corner when the opposite is about to be unleashed upon the world. While we are rubbing our hands in expectation of mass revivals, Jesus warns of persecution and betrayal. While we wait for the world to get better, it’s only getting worse, just as Jesus said it would.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Monday, May 20, 2024

The Last Days Of The World II

 Somewhere in the south of France, an art gallery put on an exhibit by a little-known artist and invited art critics, reporters, and potential buyers to attend the function. Many attended, the artist among them, but as yet, he’d not been introduced, nor did anyone present other than the gallery owner know what he looked like.

There were many fine works on display, but one stood out. The painting was of a woman sitting in a rowboat in the middle of a placid lake, wearing a sun bonnet and holding a lace umbrella. As they wandered from painting to painting, giving their assessment, two critics stopped before one of the women, and each offered their interpretation of what they thought the painting meant. One said it was an expression of the loneliness of life, how we’re all alone floating on the waters of life, with no one to help us row. At the same time, the other insisted it was a representation of the value of solitude and how the lone woman in the middle of the lake represented the lengths to which someone would go to find it.

The artist stood to the side, overhearing the conversation, until one of the critics turned to him and asked, “What do you think it represents, sir? Which of us do you think is right?”

“Neither,” the artist answered. “It is a woman in a boat, on a lake, dressed in her Sunday best.”

Indignant, the critic who’d asked for his opinion pursed his lips and retorted, “What do you know? You are no art critic. How can you be so certain of your opinion?”

“Because the woman in the boat is my wife, and I painted this painting on a Sunday afternoon as she rowed out onto the lake behind our cottage,” the artist answered calmly.

What’s the point of this story, you might ask? The point is as simple as it is profound. There are things people say about what Jesus said; then there are the things that Jesus said. Always trust the artist. Always trust Christ’s words over the words of men, trying to twist His words to make them fit their worldview. If you can’t trust Jesus, then there’s nobody you can trust, so the first task we must tackle is to see what Jesus said the world would look like in the last days.

If you’ve ever played the game telephone as a child, you understand that if enough people, even with the best of intentions, repeat what the first person said, eventually, you’ll get an entirely different message by the time it makes its way down the line. The message might start off as the ‘sun is shiny’ and end up with ‘your mom’s smelly.’ It's totally different than the genesis of the message, isn’t it?

We must also consider that not all who attempt to pass on Jesus's message do so with the best intentions. Many have a pre-established worldview, see the future through the prism of how they’d like it to play out, and twist and refashion the words of Christ to fit their conclusions. In such cases, when you dare to point out what Jesus actually said, they get defensive and proceed with ad hominem attacks because they can’t defend their position.

Did you go to seminary? Did you take an advanced course in eschatology? No, but I know how to read, and I’m not pompous enough to put words in Christ’s mouth that He never spoke or created doctrines out of whole cloth just because they fit a particular narrative.

As the main body text for the events leading up to the end of the world, we will use the words of Jesus and then supplement those scriptures with various other insights written by Paul, Peter, and John.

It would be arrogant to say that the key to unlocking the mysteries of the last days lies in interpreting scripture with scripture because it’s not a mystery. The text is plainly written and readily understood if we are willing to accept it at face value.

God's Word isn’t trying to be vague, mysterious, or confusing. It becomes all those things, however, when men take it upon themselves to insist that it means something other than what it says. We must choose to either believe the art critics as to what they interpret the masterpiece to be or take the artist’s word for it.

It is also wise to consider the individual character, personality, temperament, and makeup of the men who wrote the firsthand accounts of what Jesus said. When we come to Jesus, our personalities, how we think about things, and how we assess them don’t get wiped clean. We don’t revert to factory settings, no longer employing the natural gifting and ability with which we were endowed.

Although Matthew 24 and Luke 21 describe the same Olivet Discourse and are identical in substance, they differ in style because of the men who wrote them.

Matthew was a tax collector before Jesus called him. He was a numbers guy. He was the man with the pocket protector and abacus under his arm, a column A and B sort of individual. Numbers are not given to poetic license or inventive interpretation. The numbers have to make sense; they have to add up, and that’s that.

Luke was a physician. His mind worked differently than Matthew's. Luke’s vocation was to tease out an individual's symptoms so he could draw a correct conclusion about the underlying disease.

I understand this difference in mindset all too well because I see it in my little brother Daniel and myself. He’s the Matthew to my Luke. He’s comfortable with numbers and likes spending time pouring over them, while I would rather have a group of blindfolded kids swing at me with wiffle ball bats as though I were a piƱata.

Words are my comfort zone, the environment where I’m most comfortable, and it’s often, I find myself meditating on a verse or a passage of scripture for an hour or two, not realizing how much time has passed until I see my wife’s hand waving in front of my face trying to get my attention.

I’ve said that to say this: Although Matthew’s retelling of the Olivet discourse is more detailed, Luke does a far better job of separating two events that would take place millennia apart. It’s not that one did a better job than the other; rather, the nature of their vocations in life determined how they retold the event.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Last Days Of The World I

 There is no happy ending for this world. It doesn’t get to ride off into the sunset, and a hero doesn’t do something unexpected to save the day at the last possible moment. Art might imitate life often enough, but not in this case. If there is one word that encapsulates what the last days of the world will look like, it is cataclysmic. Chaotic would be another, but it fails to encompass the extent of what the Bible says will be.

Before we delve into the depths of what the Bible reveals about the last days of the world, it's crucial to underscore a fundamental truth: there exists a clear demarcation, a stark contrast, between the world and its ungodly inhabitants, and the children of God, those who have been redeemed, saved, and sanctified through Christ Jesus. This distinction is not merely a matter of semantics but a profound reality that shapes our understanding of the end times.

When we discuss the events leading up to the end of this world, we often lump all of mankind into one giant stewpot and infer that everyone will suffer the same fate. While the children of God will not be spared the persecution of the ungodly, God’s covering and protection will extend over them, sheltering them from harm as it was in the days of the plagues that devastated Egypt in Moses’ time. Although they lived in Egypt, the people of God were separate, inhabiting a place called Goshen, which did not experience the same tribulations as the rest of the land.

It is important to remember this lest we become fearful of what is to come or incorrectly conclude that the events of the last days will affect us in like measure as those of the world. What the children of God will have to contend with is persecution—a persecution the likes of which has not been since the genesis of the church. But fear not, little flock; the Lord is with you, and He is faithful. The Lord is with you, and He is able.

Let's be clear about the purpose of this study: it's not to instill fear but to ignite hope. The Word of God, in its prophetic wisdom, foretells the events leading up to the last days of the world. This divine foresight not only confirms His omniscience but also assures us that He has prepared a place of refuge and safety for all who live by faith and follow after Him. His omniscience and omnipotence are simultaneously highlighted in equal measure, and knowing what will be gives us the assurance that He has the power, will, and ability to keep us through it. This is a message of hope, a beacon of assurance in the midst of uncertainty. That is the second point I wanted to make clear before we begin. 

That place of safety is not some geographical location or some as-yet-undiscovered desert island to which we will all make our way; rather, our place of safety is in Him. If we are where God commanded us to be, doing what He commanded us to do, we have nothing to fear. A thousand may fall at our side, ten thousand to our right hand, but it shall not come near us. Only with our eyes shall we look and see the reward of the wicked. Again, Bible.

Psalm 91:7-8, “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look and see the reward of the wicked.”

Because there is a clear difference between the world and the church, I thought it prudent to separate this teaching into two parts: what the Bible says the last days of the world will be like and what the last days of the church will resemble.

Much of what modern-day teachers and preachers hope to see in these last days has no basis in the Word. While we’re pining for sweeping revivals, the Bible tells us there will be a great falling away. While we’re pining for peace and harmony with the godless, compromising the truth in the hopes of getting to that envisioned utopia of coexistence, the Word tells us the hatred, vitriol, and animus against the children of God will only grow and intensify until it crescendos to a time where the just will live by faith, and nothing else. Every safety net, everything we’ve taken for granted, all the comforts and conveniences will be stripped away, and all we will have to sustain us is faith. Hence, the reason it’s of paramount importance to build up our most holy faith is that when those days come, we will not be shaken or troubled in our spirits but walk boldly in Christ.

Notwithstanding the reality that nowadays, many practicing physicians prescribe medicine their patients don’t need because they get a kickback on the back end, they still took an oath to do no harm. They are oathbound to diagnose a patient and give them the facts of their situation. Just because it would hurt their feelings, a doctor cannot omit informing a patient of their terminal diagnosis. They can’t pretend as though their patient isn’t long for this world or that they have serious issues. Would they wish the situation were different? Unless they were a sadist, the answer is a resounding yes. Nobody likes to deliver bad news, but sometimes you have to. More often than not, healing begins with confrontation. If we are never confronted with the reality of the times we’re living in and what the future holds, we will never prioritize the essentials necessary to withstand them.

I have gout. Other than my acerbic sense of humor, it’s the one thing I inherited from my grandfather. Anyone with the misfortune of having gout knows the mind-numbing pain it produces, and although I can’t verify it, it has been compared with the pains of childbirth. Knowing what I had, it was up to me to tweak my diet in such a way as to mitigate an attack. The choice was mine to make, and since I’m no fan of excruciating pain, I made the requisite changes. It’s been over a decade since I’ve had a debilitating gout attack, not because I hoped I wouldn’t or battled it with positive thoughts, but because I made the necessary changes.

Those tasked with preaching the gospel and rightly dividing the Word are accountable to an authority far greater than a medical board review. They are accountable to God for delivering the truth of the gospel and not attempting to circumvent, whitewash, or ignore the uncomfortable bits. They are there for a reason; if we ignore them, we do so to our peril.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.