Lions and Tigers and Bears . . . and Conspiracies, O My!
“For the Lord spoke to me with His strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread” (Isaiah 8:11-12).
Lately, it seems there is almost an endless stream of “prophets” warning us of the impending collapse of America and the west. These prophets come in various shapes and sizes. Some focus on economics (and goodness knows our national economic policies over the last thirty years have been disastrous). Some focus on the military (and goodness knows our military readiness has declined precipitously over the last thirty years). Some focus on agriculture (and goodness knows something is going on in that arena as evidenced by grocery prices and shortages). Some focus on the Deep State (and indeed corruption is so pervasive that it makes the average citizen mistrust nearly everybody in government). Some focus on morality (and for sure the decline in biblical ethics in the west is all but complete, it seems). Some focus on public education (which has been under the domination of atheistic Marxists for many decades, not to mention higher education). Some attempt to demonstrate the coordination and cooperation among all these facets, to expose the overall agenda being controlled by . . ?
Even those of us not given to paranoia have lots of reasons to be fearful. Skeptical. Perhaps panic. Build bunkers. Buy enough ammo to field a small army. Keep enough emergency rations to feed our families for years, and store them in temperature-controlled barns we build (pray the electric grid holds up).
But for God’s people, saved by grace through faith in Jesus, it must not be so.
Over 300 times in the Bible, we hear the refrain from God Almighty, “Fear not!” Or, “Stop being afraid!” A right view of God, and a robust view of the world derived from God’s Word, ought to steel us against all the so-called prophetic chatter. The Church of Jesus Christ ought to be filled with the most non-panicky people on the planet. But if COVID showed us anything, it exposed how shallow our discipleship in this area of “fear not” has been over the last decades. Pastors and parents must link arms again in the Church to remind ourselves of who God is, and to inculcate courageous confidence in Him among the rising generation. After all, things may very well get worse. Our children may well suffer significantly for the cause of Christ, or they might just get caught up in the collapse of our American civilization.
But our God reigns! The Psalmist says so, “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). Sister Hannah says so, “The Lord kills and brings to life; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and He exalts . . . The Lord will judge the ends of the earth” (1 Sam 2:6-10). Mary echoed Hannah’s prayer: “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:52).
To an Athenian culture that was consumed in “spending their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21), the Apostle Paul proclaimed, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth . . . He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:24-26). And again to Rome, Paul wrote under Holy Spirit inspiration, “There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom 13:1). Regardless of the nuances of your end-time theology, we all know how this story ends:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Indeed, this might be a good time for the Church in America to latch onto the best of each end-time view.
• We could all stand a little dose of Preterism – to remind ourselves that so much of the Scriptural prophecies really have been fulfilled already! So we can trust God to do everything He says He will do, in His time, in His way, and in His Son who is the Word made flesh.
• We could all use a dash of Post-Millennialism – to remind ourselves that when things look bleak in our part of the world, God and His Gospel are still advancing and converting souls in other parts of the world. Are you aware of just how prevalent Christianity is becoming in Africa, for example?
• We could all add a pinch of Dispensationalism – to recharge our urgency to evangelize our neighbors and the world for the sake of God’s glory in Jesus Christ! Jesus is coming again, and “concerning that day and hour no one knows” (Matthew 24:36).
• We could all use a scoop of Amillenialism – to stay humble and realize there are prophetic truths in Scripture that may well be more symbolic and less literal, and therefore to spend more time learning to deeply trust our sovereign Lord, and less time hammering out the details of our eschatological and/or WWIII timelines.
• We could all benefit from a heaping helping of Historic Pre-Millennialism – to remember that throughout human history, God’s chosen, redeemed people have suffered, and that God is glorified even in their pain. God may well ordain severe persecution for American Christians in days ahead. If so, Jesus said those believers are “blessed” and should “rejoice” (Matt 5:10, 12).
You see, the fact is, Assyria did come conquer the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Just like God said through the Prophet Isaiah (see citation above from Isaiah 8). And, Babylon did smash Judah, just like other prophets said (Jeremiah, Hosea, Habakkuk, for example). God ordained famine, drought, floods, earthquakes, and so on, down through the ages. And what God has ordained, happens. Full stop.
This does not mean Christians should not try to prepare ourselves and our posterity spiritually, financially, and otherwise. The Book of Proverbs commends wise planning for the future, but it does so within the framework of God’s absolute control: “Boast not yourself of tomorrow, for you know not what a day may bring” (Prov 27:1). One day can completely wreck a person’s plans, and wipe out all his wise preparations. And one day can also ruin an entire Nation. Because God is God.
When it is all said and done, only one conspiracy matters. Only one conspiracy wins.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa 40:8).
“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from now and forevermore” (Ps 131).
“Some trust in chariots, and some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright” (Ps 20:7-8).
by Keith McWhorter