Entering the Beginning of Sorrows!

Entering the Beginning of Sorrows!

And Jesus answered and said unto them, "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."
Matthew 24:4-8 KJV

Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city! She has not obeyed His voice, she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the LORD, she has not drawn near to her God. Her princes in her midst are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave not a bone till morning. Her prophets are insolent, treacherous people; her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.
Zephaniah 3:1-4 KJV
Pestilence: a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating especially : bubonic plague [by Merriam-Webster].

Pestilence: any very serious infectious disease that spreads quickly and kills large numbers of people [by Cambridge English Dictionary].

Pestilence: pes'-ti-lens (debher; loimos): Any sudden fatal epidemic is designated by this word, and in its Biblical use it generally indicates that these are divine visitations. The word is most frequently used in the prophetic books, and it occurs 25 times in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, always associated with the sword and famine. In 4 other passages it is combined with noisome or evil beasts, or war. [by Topical Bible].

Covid-19 - a while back you never heard of the expression. Now you hear it countless times each day! It's a reference to the carona virus that is causing havoc all over the world. Most would agree that it falls into the category of being a pestilence! The United States is but one of many countries throughout the world now being struck by this virus which originated in China.

Its impact has been most devastating to say the least. There is a daily increase in the number of cases reported along with fatalities.

Over 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ spoke of how conditions would be in the world before He returns to take control and rule it. He indicated that among calamities taking place would be pestilences. Further, He noted that these things would be the "beginning of sorrows!"

Since we are dealing with this thing as a nation and as a world it can be said that in a sense, we deserve what is happening! Long ago God spoke through Moses and spelled out before the Israelite people what was necessary to be a blessed and prosperous people. In Deuteronomy 28 God said certain things by way of their behavior and response to Him were absolutely required if they were going to be fully blessed for generations to come. The heart of the matter come down to being fully obedient to all that God had revealed to them. The first 14 verses of the chapter detail the blessings that will be experienced on condition of obedience to God. The beginning at verse 15 is where God begins to detail the curses that will come upon them for disobedience! Listed in great detail are the ways the people will be plunged into chaos through to verse 68 at the end of the chapter!

Some would object and say that Deuteronomy 28 has nothing to do with us - that was for the Jewish people. No, it has everything to do with us because the central issue is obedience to Almighty God! Are we as a nation placing obedience to Him as a top priority of not? Evidence is overwhelming for quite some time we have thumbed our nose at God and gone our own way without a second thought!

Consider three reasons as to why we actually deserve such a pestilence as is presently spreading throughout the country.

1. A Corrupted Judicial System

The United States Supreme Court has made 3 fatal decisions over the years that have had a very negative impact on our republic. The first decision was made in 1963 when the Court declared that the reading of the Bible and prayer could no longer take place in the public school system! I remember that practice when I was in school. Each day began with a reading from the Scriptures, then we prayed the Lord's Prayer, and then had the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Even the kids who were not attending church or Sunday School were exposed 9 months out of the year to the fact that there is a God to Whom we pray and He has given us His Word that we might learn of His ways. But since the ruling by the Court we are now on the doorstep of raising a 3rd generation of raw heathen who concentrate on themselves and what they want while blaming everybody else for whatever trouble they are experiencing! A prophecy of the latter times says it this way: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. " [2 Timothy 3:1-5].

The second decision of the Court took place in January of 1973 which has proved to be a disaster of the first magnitude! According to the Court a pregnant female has a constitutional right to have her unborn child aborted for whatever reason. And so over the decades since over 61 million unborn children have been intentionally murdered as of this date, March 21, 2020! Do you think God looks favorably upon a nation that is guilty of such bloodshed? He told Jeremiah, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." [Jeremiah 1:5}. Think about this: God is forming a child in the womb and some guy in a white coat invades the womb with tools, hacks that child to pieces, and removes those pieces some time before it would have been born! Want to imagine how God feels when His plan and His work is so violently interrupted and terminated by a rebellious human being?

Latest statistics on this abomination can be viewed at Number of Abortions

The third destructive decision of the Court occurred just a few years ago when it ruled that same-sex couples can be legally married throughout the United States! Again this is a direct violation of God's revelation in which He has clearly stated that marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman as spoken in the early chapters of the book of Genesis. Further, He has explicitly drawn the boundaries of human sexuality and has indicated that same-sex intimacy is an abomination. This is shown in both Old and New Testaments. Romans 1 is an instance in the New Testament regarding same-sex activity.

The country is experiencing bitter fruit as a result of these three Supreme Court decisions none of which can be construed as being in harmony with the will of Almighty God by any stretch of the imagination!

2. Corrupted System of Family Values

The first commandment given to the Israelites was very clear - they were to have no other gods before the God Who had made a covenant with their ancestor, Abraham, centuries before and Who had delivered them from a life of bitter slavery in Egypt. But history reveals that they fell into the trap of idolatry in its many forms time after time and always paid a price for such violations.

In the 21st Century in the United States we do not have graven images of one kind or another on every street corner which wean our affection away from God. Our idols are much more subtle but every bit as deadly! The pursuit of money is a very common goal in the United States and in a very real sense is a "god" in the lives of people of all ages. The pursuit of pleasure and entertainment can easily be an idol if it keeps us from worshipping and serving God.

Statistics are alarming when it comes to how many persons regularly attend worship services weekly versus those who are involved in other activities on Sundays. Actually at present time the numbers indicate that in our present population of over 300 million, far less than half are attending weekly worship services!

A photo some time ago was posted on Facebook that cuts to the heart of the issue. It was taken at an NFL game in winter in an outdoor stadium in the northern part of the country. It was snowing in very low temperatures and the stadium was crowded with people of all ages in heavy winter wear with blankets watching their favorite team and cheering them on to victory! Can an NFL team (or some other professional sports team) be an idol with God a way back somewhere in the line waiting to be given some attention?

By the way, have you heard God being mentioned in the midst of this crisis involving a thing called covid-19?

Maybe it would be good to go back up and reread that statement from 2 Timothy 3 where it says there are those who will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Could there be such a thing as that going on in a republic known as the United States of America?

3. A Corrupted Religious System

In the early years of the republic and well into the 19th Century there was a quite a sense of unity among political leaders, pastors and church goers. It was not perfect but there was an atmosphere in which God was pleased to bless. The nation and the churches were growing. The population was increasing, and expansion of the country was taking place.

There was a central ingredient that caused unity among the different denominations in those earlier years. Pastors were pretty much agreed that the Scriptures were the inspired Word of God and the authority in matters of faith and practice.

But in the latter years of the 19th Century changes began to take place with the importation of junk theology from Europe and Germany in particular. A thing called "modernism" surfaced with some seminaries beginning to buy into this stuff from Europe! Pastors began to preach and teach that the Bible is in error regarding some of things reported within its pages. A kind of war broke out in the early years of the 20th Century and was called the Modernist/Fundamentalist Controversy. It amounted to conflict between those who believed the Bible in its entirety and those who did not.

Eventually the group that did not believe all that the Bible revealed came to be known as liberals. Their unbelief ranged far and wide whether it involved the creation as reported in book of Genesis or miracles as noted in both Old and New Testaments or the information about Jesus, beginning with the virgin birth, miracles performed by Him, His sacrificial death, and His resurrection from the dead!

But something more sinister has happened in more recent times. The liberals have put on a new mask and now identify with the term, progressive! It sounds impressive, does it not, and there are a number of pastors and church leaders who prefer to be identified as progressives in the church of today.

The corruption within church circles is so critical that it has brought one mainline denomination to the possibility of splitting. That is the United Methodist Church and the issue upon which members and pastors cannot agree is over the issue of human sexuality and whether same-sex intimacy and marriage are morally acceptable or not. There are those are both sides of this issue.

More on this issue can be seen at my blog, Musings of a Maverick which is located at Musings of a Maverick. There are topics on the subject of what is known as "progressive Christianity" and other subjects as well. If you go there be sure to use return feature on your browser to come back here.

OK, that's it! Three major things that provide the evidence that we are badly out of step with the God Whom we claim to be "under" when we recite our Pledge of Allegiance!

The answer to this? Obviously in light of Scripture revelation it means the nation needs to fully repent! One of the greatest example of mass repentance given in the Bible took place during the ministry of Jonah the prophet. You need to read the story which is not all that long. The man had his problems but eventually he listened to God and told the people of the great city of Nineveh that judgment was soon to come from God. A miracle took place and all, starting with the king, repented of their sin and the judgment did not come.

Repentance involves three elements: 1. It is intellectual - we become conscious of the fact that we are sinners under condemnation from God. 2. It is emotional - we are bothered and disturbed about this thing of having sinned against God and our fellow humans 3. It is volitional, that is, we desire to forsake all that we know to be sinful by way of practices, attitudes, and desires in our lives! It involves a 180 degree turn whereas we had our backs turned toward God, now we face Him and seek His mercy and forgiveness!

For more on the issue of how to become a Christian, see How to Become a Christian

The big question is this - will our experience of entering the beginning of sorrows result in the nation truly turning to God or not? Time will tell - I have to admit in my own praying, I admit to God that we stand deserving of His wrath because of such things as previously mentioned, but also ask for mercy and in His wise ways of working that He would employ whatever chastising actions necessary that true repentance will take place throughout the entire republic and that He will be truly honored and served as a result!

I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
Revelation 6:12-17 KJV

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? even cry out to You, "Violence!" And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
Habakkuk 1:2-2 (NKJV)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness....

It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.

Romans 1:18; Psalm 119:126-128 NKJV

March 21, 2020
Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in Full Connection
Western PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
and former pastor (Nov 1999 - Nov 2019) of
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gipsy, PA
AND Non-Affiliated registered voter, Cambria Co. PA

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