I am more interested in where we are rather than how we got here. That’s odd for me to say since my major in college was history. Ordinarily history provides a telling roadmap that explains how we went from that to this and then how this became now. But what do you do when “now” is inexplicable?
* How does history explain the desire to reinstitute segregation by the children and grandchildren of those who fought so long and hard to end it in America?
* How can rational human beings who espouse to be intelligent think that kicking an inanimate object can legitimately contribute to ending prejudice?
* How can people seriously carry signs to a protest that say “No Hate” while fully intending to express violence (and doing it) against others?
* How do alarm bells not go off in the minds of those who espouse Armageddon via global warming when their marches, rallies, and studies are continually having to be cancelled due to snow storms or thick ice during the Spring, Fall, and even Summer?
* How can it be that so many Christians have decided that what the Bible clearly and decisively calls sin (the practice of homosexuality) is just fine with God?
As an historian I find it difficult to say this but I believe it to be the truth: how we got to this point of stupidity and insanity isn’t nearly as important as discerning what is happening in front of our eyes almost daily.
I am not an “end times” kind of person. By that I mean, I don’t pore over the Scriptures trying to uncover secret codes pointing to specific events as proof that Jesus is returning at a particular time. Thousands upon thousands of “predictions” have been made since the Ascension of Christ about when He shall return. Every single one of them has failed. My take on it is that Christians are to believe Jesus Christ is returning, long for it, and live accordingly.
But I must say in light of the sheer insanity as described above (and you know that only represents a fraction of the lunacy permeating every facet and sphere of life from sexuality to sports and everything in between) the words and wisdom of the Apostle Paul seem to be hauntingly prophetic concerning life in the 21st century. After writing the Thessalonians about “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him” (2 Thessalonians 2:1) he explains that a great rebellion against God must take place first (v. 3). Then he talks about “the man of lawlessness” being revealed and the great restraining influence in the world being removed (vs. 3-7). The battle between the returning Christ and the antichrist is mentioned (v. 8) and then comes the explanation for why so many people on Earth decided to embrace antichrist rather than Jesus Christ:
they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
It’s not the “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6) or the reestablishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 or even the magnitude and frequency of natural disasters that seems to be increasing (like birth pangs) that has me thinking that we are nearing the return of Christ. Rather it’s the inexplicable embrace of lies and frauds which are so easily refuted that makes me think we are on the cusp of biblical prophecy becoming reality.
None of the examples cited at the beginning of this blog make any sense on their own. Only if God is sending delusion on the unrepentant does the fog of ridiculousness begin to have both meaning and purpose. There is nothing more sobering or frightening in Scripture than the idea that one can be hopelessly lost in the abyss of self-importance. That is, after all, the thing that links all those silly examples together. People thinking that their own views, opinions, and perceptions are greater than the truth that is so obviously in front of them.
Bible scholars and students know that delusion sent from God due to perceived self-importance has plenty of precedent. In the book of Exodus Pharaoh and the Egyptians are repeatedly brought to their knees by the plagues summoned by Moses. When Moses lifts the first five plagues the text says again and again that when the suffering was alleviated Pharaoh would harden his heart and renege on his promise to let the Hebrews go. By the time you get to the sixth plague the language changes to “the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh.” God sent strong delusion after a pattern of arrogance and the die was set. Pharaoh and his nation were ultimately crushed.
Then, centuries later, the prophet Isaiah records a breathtaking vision of God in chapter 6. The voice from the throne of God says, “Whom shall I send…?” and Isaiah volunteers. Then he is given a message for the people.
“Go and say to this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing but do not perceive.’ Make the heart dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” (Isaiah 6:9-10).
An amazing and terrifying passage. The truth will confront the people but God Himself will make it impossible for them to recognize it. In the New Testament Jesus cited this very passage when His disciples asked Him why He taught in parables. Truth is in the parables but the wantonly disobedient could not perceive it if they tried because God prevented them.
Here is a rather uncomfortable biblical reality: sometimes, God prevents people from accepting the truth that is right in front of them by sending strong delusion. The Greek word Paul used in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 translated “delusion” (πλανα; plane) literally means “wandering.” Aimless and fruitless in much the same way as the wilderness wanderings of the Hebrews following their exodus.
Have you ever seen one of the many episodes of Cops wherein someone robs a convenience store and is subsequently apprehended? The police review the footage from one of the security cameras clearly showing the suspect robbing the store. They show the suspect the video of him/her brandishing a weapon while demanding all the money and the suspect says, “That’s not me” despite the video showing them wearing the clothes they have on now with the same tattoos and a clear picture of their face. These people are so deluded with self-importance they actually think their words of denial take precedence over the truth that it imprinted forever on video. Astonishing!
I don’t know a single person who has benefitted from denying objective reality. Not one. From the person who denies he is overweight despite what the mirror and the scale reveal to the drug addict who says his addiction isn’t hurting anyone despite his kids not having enough to eat.
Take a look around you and see all the ridiculous denial in the face of the plain truth. Sweeping acceptance of homosexuality despite the overwhelming proof that those who practice it are subject in phenomenal numbers to STD’s in general and AIDS in particular (not to mention suicide). The war on the American family despite the glaring reality from history that not a single nation has ever thrived that undermined the nuclear family. The exploding national deficit that every educated adult knows cannot be justified and will spell disaster for future generations. The inexplicable drift towards socialism (Bernie Sanders, Obamacare, etc.) despite the glaring reality that socialism has never been anything but calamitous to the people. On and on I could go.
Neither dire need nor historical precedent got us here. When people demand the very thing(s) that culminate in misery and even death, they are deluded. Strongly. We may actually be on the cusp of the return of Christ. Not because of predicted events as much as deluded people.
For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:37).
Strong delusion is here again. Get ready.