One good housecleaning, coming right up.
We’re in a war against germs, things invisible to the naked eye. It’s unnerving. Apart from a test, you only know you might have these germs if you start to exhibit symptoms, so, understandably, we’ve all become a bit symptom-sensitive. Last week, I went on a run around my block, the first time I’d run in a while. It started off as a heroic effort, but halfway through, degraded into a zombie shuffle. Out of steam, and gulping oxygen in the middle of the neighborhood, I needed to cough, which I tried to stifle in the crook of my arm. Coughing is something you just don’t do in public anymore. It freaks people out, and has “symptom” written all over it.
“Symptom” means “a physical or mental feature which is regarded as indicating a condition of disease.” Now here’s a fact that escapes the human race: we all have shown symptoms of a certain thing.
Case in point, Jesus came to our world 2,000 years ago. He lived a life so morally, spiritually, and ethically influential that we divide history before Him and after Him. No lovelier life was ever lived than His.
And so we killed Him.
Now, that is what I call a symptom—an outward proof that something has gone viral and infected the soul and spirit of humanity. We can say, Hey, not my symptom. I didn’t help kill Jesus. I wasn’t even born yet. I’m not part of that.
God doesn’t agree.
When Jesus was crucified, “Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek” (John 19:19-20).
God allowed Pilate to attach that sign to the cross, and in doing so, implicated the whole human race in the deed. The sign performed the same function as when terrorist groups claim responsibility for an act of violence—chest thumping of a sort.
You see, Aramaic was the common Language of the Jews at that time, embracing the religious world; Latin, the language of Rome, of politics and power; Greek was the language of high culture—wisdom, and the arts.
These categories describe in some way, shape, or form every human on the planet. We, not they, killed Christ. That’s the chief symptom of rebellion against God—killing Him. It doesn’t get any more rebellious than that.
But God didn’t respond to this affront by destroying the world. Instead, He called people everywhere to believe in His Son, and not only receive forgiveness for all the rebellious acts they have already committed against Him, but power to overcome the sinful rebellious things they might do toward Him in the future.
What happens when someone refuses the treatment of salvation? A cancerous lump within the soul continues to grow. It becomes so brazen that the people affected by it will on day gather to meet Christ at Armageddon and try to kill Him again.
Apart from the salvation of Christ, every human heart is trapped in rebellion, whether it is religious, political, or some kind of cultured revolt.
And the ultimate manifestation of this mutiny will occur in Revelation 19:17-21, where Christ and His armies will then “disinfect” this earth of those who hate and resist God.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.”
The angel in this scene knows the outcome, and so he calls nature’s clean-up crew in advance of the battle. But the humans here are deeply deceived—they think they have a chance. A rebellious heart against God causes men and women to think, say, and do incredibly weird, unwise things. In this case, Christ is coming again as Invincible, and Almighty, but these rebels believe if they can gather a large enough mob, maybe they’ll crucify Him again.
19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse, and against his army.
Antichrist leads the column of resistance in this world against Christ. He always has. 1 John 4:3, speaks of the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” Even before he shows up at the end, He’s here now, embodied in an attitude of resistance to Jesus.
But after all the centuries of blasphemy, twisting the Bible, lying about God and Christ, after damaging the church, of poisoning the well of truth over and over, of gathering a consensus of anti-Bible opinion, and recruiting millions of fifty-cent critics, look at the result:
20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.
Throughout history, many evil men have been overthrown through wars, the consequences of their own actions, the counter-evil of others, or justice administered through legal powers. But only these two will be punished in so direct a way, that they skip death and go into hell alive.
What about those who follow them? “And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh” (v. 21). At the end of the day, all Christ needed to do was open His mouth, and speak the Word, (c.f. Heb. 4:12). As Isaiah had also prophesied, “he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked” (11:4).
This entire scene is what happens when rebellion goes unchecked. It spreads, until it eventually turns into a gigantic boil that needs lanced. What the Lord does at Armageddon therefore, is nothing short of disinfecting the world. Remember His prayer: “Let your Kingdom come, let you will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” Well, there are things down here in the way. Jesus and His army will come remove them.
If I asked you to name something spreading in this world today, it would only take you a half second to say the Coronavirus. I suppose that’s a reasonable response, because it has so thoroughly changed our lives at this moment. It’s also easily transmitted. Besides, it’s bad news, which we hate, but seem drawn toward. Adrenaline, apparently, is more addictive than chocolate. And of course, as I’ve shared here in this post, rebellion toward God also spreads.
But those aren’t the only things spreading. The Gospel of Jesus also spreads. It has changed not only the current moment (when we’re forced to stay in our homes), but it has influenced the history of the world. And talk about ease of transmission. All you have to do to catch the message is hear it, just be within earshot of it. Best of all, rather than kill, it gives eternal life to anybody who receives it, something that makes them in the most important sense, invulnerable to the tragedies of this world. As Jesus said, in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” That was the last thing I ever said to my mother-in-law, as she lay incapacitated in a hospital bed.
During this particular time, God has opened floodgates everywhere, causing this message to spread all over social media.1 Maybe you haven’t shadowed the doorway of a church facility in years. Now God serves the gospel to you right there on your couch.
He’s telling you, You’ve got symptoms. If something’s not done, your rebellion toward Me is going to grow.
It won’t get better on its own. And in fact it might be so advanced that up to this point, you can barely tolerate reading this short post. I remember that feeling—when a church service seemed like an eternity, when the Bible was beyond boring, and Christians easy targets of ridicule.
Yes, I used to live there. But I didn’t stay. You don’t have to stay, either.
Turn to Jesus, so love for God can be poured into your heart through the Holy Spirit.
¹Our church has its own YouTube channel — https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZRi7-hDCzpfturCu7_OdZw. You can join us on Sunday mornings at 11:00 a.m. eastern time to hear our announcement of the timeless gospel of Christ.