In my last Editorial, dated November 15 (Update #899), I spoke about the fact that “time is running out.” I warned that while we see end-time prophecies being fulfilled before our very eyes, some members of the Church of God lose heart and walk away, thereby forgetting Christ’s admonition to hold fast what they have so that they don’t lose their crown (Revelation 3:11).
I continued with the same theme in my last Member Letter, dated December 17, 2019, quoting news headlines in 2019 and showing how close we are to the Great Tribulation. On December 19, we produced a StandingWatch program, titled, “What’s Ahead for 2020.”
Now notice what all has happened already in 2020: The British parliament decided that Brexit will take place on January 31, 2020, causing further disagreements and upheaval between Britain and Europe; Australia’s devastating and deadly wildfires seem to have no end; turmoil and fear of a worldwide war, stemming from America’s conduct pertaining to Iraq, Iran and the entire Middle East, captivated the headlines in early January; and the demands for American withdrawal in that part of the world get louder. Then, after Putin’s attempted power grab, the entire Russian government resigned.
In this issue, we report on the strange and cozy relationship between Merkel and Putin, in defiance of and in opposition to the USA; the virtually unknown German access to America’s nuclear weapons; and the open disagreement between the two popes. Understanding prophecy, we know what all these developments mean.
We can’t be like the proverbial scoffers who deny the obvious, but we must realize that time is indeed short, and we must be sure that we don’t lose our focus for what is really important. Priorities can become mixed up in our lives, but when they do, we might become like the five foolish virgins who do not have enough oil in their lamps and are not ready when the cry is heard at midnight. We are close to midnight now, and warning cries are going out; and we all must work on establishing a sure and lasting relationship with God. Nothing else could be more important. The Bible warns us of the many distractions in this day and age which can influence us to lose sight of what needs to be our main focus: Things like working on our own house, while God’s house lies in ruins; the pleasures of life; our hobbies; “having to” deal with difficulties caused by others; the search for a mate; the desire for riches and physical possessions… the list could be endless. None of that will help us to make it into the Kingdom of God. Ultimately, it is our righteous character which will last and which we will “take with us” when we die… nothing else will.
At the same time, we must be careful in a different way. We must work on being ready today SPIRITUALLY, while planning to have an entire life before us PHYSICALLY. We must not fall into the trap of becoming indifferent to our physical obligations and responsibilities. We are told that we must work… if we refuse to do so, we should not be allowed to eat either. And that means that we must be diligent, reliable and responsible in our job. We are to take care of our household, our children, our mates; otherwise we are denying the faith and become worse than unbelievers. We have to look after the interests and needs of others… not just of our own. We have to care for our physical possessions and must not neglect them… but none of that should take first priority in our lives. We are to plan for the future, including financially… while realizing that our plans might not be what God has in store for us. We must always be willing to submit to and accept the Will of God.
Also, we must not become discouraged and fearful when realizing that the time of trouble is at hand. Fear and anxiety destroy faith and trust. When looking at what is going on around us and forgetting God, then we will become extremely worried and unable to function properly and productively. Christ told us that when we have our priorities straight—when we seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, then we do not have to have anxious thoughts, because we know that God will give us what we need. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will be with us always; until the very end. Remember, fear is not in love, but perfect love casts out fear. And we are to become perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect.
I have always found words like the following very encouraging when I go through difficult times in my life. This kind of attitude is not normal to man; it can only be developed when God is on our side and when we draw near to Him… especially in times of need. We all must do this, when we face uncertainty, difficulties and trouble—when we consider the world in which we live:
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling… The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge… Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:1-3, 7, 10).
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he… will not fear when heat comes… And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
Christ tells us: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Considering this, let us go on with boldness, confidence and faith in these troublesome days; let us fulfill our individual and collective responsibilities, while keeping our priorities in check; and let us watch and heed world events in the light of biblical prophecies, which should motivate us to draw closer to God, and this so much the more as we see that the Day is fast approaching.