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Could Man Become Extinct?
A few nights ago, in a dream, I saw a flashing countdown clock with the numbers “3129” on the face. (I think the clock was counting down—it doesn’t matter). A voice coming from a loudspeaker asked, “Could all human life on earth come to an end?”
Before I awoke, my immediate reaction was, “No, we are safe.” Actually, most of us in the "invincible" U.S. believed this half a century ago. God rules over heaven and earth and easily keeps mankind within safe boundaries.
As I was waking up, I knew at once that the total end of all life on earth was not only a distinct possibility, but now entirely within reason. Could God, in fact, allow us to self-destruct?
For many years Russia and the U.S. have had more than enough nuclear weapons to take everyone out in little over half an hour’s time. It almost happened in the Bay of Pigs crisis during the Presidency of John F. Kennedy in April 1961.
Horrific new flu viruses, plus hosts of other infectious agents and deadly chemicals, are under (we hope) close, careful monitoring. The sudden, accidental release of a dangerous chemical or deadly organism killer can now get all around the world via jet planes in a few days' time. The Black Death, bubonic plague, took out about half of Europe's population, peaking about A.D. 1348. Terribly deadly, it just took a bit longer to spread.
A strain of the influenza virus got to our troops returning from Europe, carrying the “Spanish Flu" to the U.S. in 1918-1920. Globally, one strain or another of seasonally recurring flu kills one-quarter to one-half billion people per year, according to Wikipedia.
Astronomers map and monitor the heavens. They now know that small asteroids or comets entering the earth’s atmosphere at ~22,000 mph can destroy a city or a continent. I am interested in one object, “Apophis”, which is predicted to come close to earth in 2029, and again in 2036 (http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/apophis/).
Yellowstone National Park is now thought to be a sleeping “super-volcano” which could wake up at any time-- taking out the entire Western United States. Large volcanoes rumbling to life in the Indonesian archipelago have been driving thousands from their homes and killing hundreds just as I write this. A single, magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti in 2010 seriously affected 3 million people and killed a quarter million persons. A cholera epidemic has since erupted there. The major earthquake faults along the U.S. West Coast are known to be stretched tight with stored-up energy, ready to let go at any time now (high probabilities are assigned during the next 20-30 years).
Terrorists have shown they have the murderous will and ready capability of doing terrible damage anywhere in a targeted nation, as they did in New York on 9/11/2001 and Madrid on 3/11/2004. Chemical agents, deadly toxins, or killer biological agents released into the air intake of a large building could... (you can imagine...)
Nuclear weapons are no longer owned and controlled by the United States and Russia; every major nation now has their own arsenal. Some rogue powers aren't especially careful about who they choose to blow up. Very small dirty bombs can be brought into our country "safely." And so on...
Hackers all around the world have learned how to break into the computers close by or halfway round the world--with impunity. Their targets were once thought to be totally secure government and commercial computer networks. The intruders have slipped undetected into vital computers and shut them down, or diverted them to purposes other than intended by the builders and owners.
So much for the deliberate actions by a few of our enemies or international terrorists. Might we, by accident, engineer or discover a new virus or a new form of monster life which then proceeds to attack its creators? "Genetic engineering" seems to be as ominously threatening as any of the conceived imaginations in Pandora's Box.
The list seems endless. If there were no God and man came into existence solely by accident, then our race could certainly end “by accident,” and no one could stop it.
However, not only does God exist, the Supreme Being's most senior spokesman, Jesus, had quite a bit to say about our future.
There is an old American folk spiritual which says, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”
I, for one, speaking as a physicist, believe this to be true. (See http://ldolphin.org/cohere.shtml). We shall not all die. For our destruction to be forestalled, we need big-time outside help. Such help has already been arranged for. The rescue plan is already in place.
During the last week of His life, before His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple. Jesus told a small group of His disciples that He would be gone for an indeterminate period of time. He gave them (and us) some broad, sweeping guidelines about life on earth between then and now.
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? And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:1-24).
(I’ve included a chunk of surrounding text to help the reader see the context). The last verse is God’s promise to intervene. A great time of war and violence will come upon the entire earth, threatening every one on the planet.
Jesus solemnly tells His followers that God would personally intervene to prevent man’s complete self-destruction. From many other passages we know that God’s agent in this intervention would be spearheaded by Jesus. In His first visit to earth, Jesus came to sacrifice Himself so that we sinners might all be able to know God and be set free.
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2)
The reason for His midnight-hour intervention, God says, is “for the elect’s sake.” Who are the elect? Not angels, not plants and animals. The elect are men, women and children who belong to Jesus. This statement of Jesus hints at how valuable God’s family is to Him. When any man, woman, or child places his or her faith and trust in Jesus, God adopts that person into His family. That is the simple answer to the question, “Who are the elect?”
So the answer to the question raised in my dream: a good many millions of followers of Jesus from creation to the last terrible war will live forever. As the Bible says for itself, “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” (Proverbs 30:5)
The first visit to our planet by Jesus was to bring out a solution to all human sin by sacrificing Himself for our sins. His second visit will be to expunge sin from our race and from the environment.
"And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." (Hebrews 9:27,28)
That One Who makes these promises and carries them out faithfully is Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things, the Savior, the God man:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:13-17)
Christians as Good Citizens
True Christians have eternal life here and now, and they will all survive the “end of the world.” No one needs to be left out.
There is a corollary for the followers of Jesus. “How then shall we live?” "What kind of persons ought we to be?" While living under the reign of the cruel Roman Emperor, the Apostles Peter and Paul both wrote in the New Testament instructing Christians to live law-abiding lives, whether they serve under a “good” or a “bad” government! Only in exceptional times was it OK for the followers of Jesus to do otherwise.
The roots of government as instituted by God among men can be traced back to Noah and his sons, as the earth was rebuilt after the Great Flood.
And, much of sacred and secular teaching about government down through the centuries can be traced back to the Lord's Covenant with Israel, about 1500 BC. More about the great "Gentile" (pagan) governments of the world has been sketched for us by the prophet Daniel. Returning from their 70-year captivity in Babylon the exiled Jews have much to report on what they learned in exile. (The Persians, Greeks and Romans came later.)
Specific instructions to Christians were given to the early Christians in the First Century AD:
"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13)
When saying that "all authority" is appointed by God, the Apostle deliberately includes angelic and demonic powers that are invisible, as well as earthly rulers who are in plain sight.
If we could draw back the curtain and see beyond the physical, material world, we would be see a vast array of good and evil angels, towering upwards towards the throne of God! We are given general names for these great angelic orders: They are "thrones," "dominions," "principalities," "powers," -- "the world rulers of this present darkness." God does much of the government of the universe through His angels. We humans are given the privilege of entering into the centuries-old warfare underway in "the heavenly place." (See "Spiritual Warfare," by Ray C. Stedman, http://www.raystedman.org/thematic-studies/spiritual-warfare.)
The importance of the New Testament passages on our relationship with government can not be overestimated. Scripture tells us that when believers cooperate with their Lord, even under conditions of what seems to be poor government, believers will enjoy the best protection from God in the long run. Everyone in government is held strictly accountable to God. God is a God of law and order, since the opposite of law and order is lawlessness, or anarchy. True, the apparent exceptions to these principles will fill many books. The important point to remember is that God is the God of law and order. The affairs of nations are supposed to be conducted in as civil and peace-seeking a manner as possible. Even in times of war, there are negotiated rules of conduct (such as the Geneva Convention) to reduce cruelty, inhumane conduct, and torture, to protect, rescue, and provide aid to wounded soldiers, and to minimize all harm to non-combatants, etc.
When a new president takes office he is given a series of thorough briefings, including endless briefing reports by government and military intelligence professionals. We outsiders can not and should not know about the many important issues a sitting president wrestles with daily. He needs prayer no matter his stance on a particular issue. Like it or not, the incoming president has to take up the responsibility for ongoing issues that came into being during the office of predecessor presidents from the other party. Suppose, for instance that four administrations earlier President Up 'N Close discovered that UFOs were real and probably dangerous. A super secret UFO research program, initiated say 40 years ago, has been continued and covered up for the safety and well being of the public. What should the incoming president do about this huge project which now has a life of its own?
In the interactions of the U.S. with the nations of the world, there is a public-information side of events that is reported. We won’t be told (and usually shouldn’t be told) what was discussed in the back room where things easily get frank and brutal, even when two friendly nations meet. The leaders of two powers have vast secret libraries about the history, politics and justification for actions the public may strongly disagree with.
A President has to deal with thousands of people daily. He must learn fast. Any changes in our foreign policy with one nation will have immediate repercussions with many of those on our "friends and enemies" list. Like it or not he will quickly be confronted by the impossible pressures and challenges of his position. His hair may “turn white overnight;” he will quickly age from the enormous pressures of his office. The weight of the incredible pressure of the office has driven more than one of our presidents to his knees in prayer. One of the great privileges of our form of government is our freedom to pray for those over us and to participate by voting and expressing ourselves lawfully.
As we have seen, the President, and all who serve in government, are the agents of God, whether they themselves know this or ever acknowledge it. They will be judged by the God who created our race and who rules over everything, visible or invisible. A little rational thinking about this should help us to agree with our Lord’s calling to be law-abiding citizens and to pray for our leaders. In fact the Apostle says that route guarantees our well-being even under “bad government.” This is all taught in Paul’s words to Timothy:
"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle--I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying--a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth..." (1 Timothy 2:1-7)
Many presidents must make good decisions that will make them unpopular in the public eye. We should remember that they are acting on the huge data base that only he has access to. The government we have may not be the best, but God is the One who set it in place for His own purposes.
In mercy, God has told us to pray for our leaders. Prayer opens channels for God to work through government, or apart from government. Perhaps God will restrain a reckless CEO or move some "good angels" into place to offset the angelic warfare in a certain city or province--as the citizens pray. Again, taking matters into our own hands is called “anarchy,” as God has created everything visible and invisible to be “lawfully” managed.
We can always pray over the heads of world rulers. As Christians, we’re each to report for duty into the highest level of authority in the universe. Should such a privilege not cause us to show respect to the True CEO who is above all men and angels?
In Psalm 2, each Person of the godhead speaks. The subject is God’s King, Jesus, and the rulers on earth who, more often than not, are like wild, brute beasts as far as God is concerned.
Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me,
‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”
Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
December 4, 2010
In early November a Sunday trip to the Emergency Room at long last resulted in the diagnosis of a malfunctioning gall bladder. Usually a patient goes home the same day but I had to come off my blood thinner Coumadin before surgery and get back on Coumadin after the laparoscopic surgery. I was only home from the hospital four days when massive abdominal surgery sent me back for 5 pints of blood. I am convinced of one thing now: we cannot die until God calls us home. I have been home a week now and seem to be recovering nicely.
My various hospital visits each has been a major teaching time from the Lord which I need to begin summing up for my readers. I do want to thank all of you who sent in financial contributions. If you are able to invest in my ministry, please pray for me so that God can use me effectively and keep me going. You may send contributions directly to my PayPal account. These PayPal contributions are tax free to me, though not to you. The Blue Letter Bible ministry has graciously provided a channel for tax-deductible donations. If you would like a tax receipt, send your check to Blue Letter Bible ATTN: Lambert Dolphin Ministries (LDM), 29 Rancho Circle, Lake Forest, CA 92630 (Please make your check out to "Blue Letter Bible" and mark "LDM" in the memo field of your check). Thank you very much!
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