Time's Up

by Ray Hawkins

The East is invading the West  -- again. The sword or shot-gun have been replaced by the Yoga, Transcendental Meditation, literature and the begging bowl. The fact that such cultured heathenism can get a foothold in countries saturated with Judeo-Christian teaching reveals the shallowness of our endeavours. It reveals man's desire to by-pass the revelation of God's covenants so as to get -- where-ever' by personal 'how-ever'.

An interesting off-shoot from the swarm of swarmis is the rejection by their followers, and fellow travellers, of a final cataclysmic event -- that is, the DAY OF THE LORD. For man is recyclable. Reincarnation to other forms or other worlds is the hope offered. Such fatalistic, personal-responsibility-side-stepping and accountability is pleasing to God-ignoring man, but it subverts the Biblical claim to a final decisive judgement. It is a call to practise yoga instead of repentance and righteousness.

Alas, the perfumed hand has covered the covenants; the incense sticks have subverted the inspired Scriptures. But, praise God, there is no need to remain chained to a spiritual merry-go-round (and a not so merry-go-round). For those on the carousel, whether they like it or not, must also come to a standstill before the awful throne of God's judgement. For that is where history is heading. It is by Divine appointment.

There are many and varied indications in Scripture about this judicial meeting. One that offers hope and meaning in the midst of world-wide chaos and terrorism is the truths associated with the word 'UNTIL'. This word, and its companions, are there as signposts in the history of the nations. They are there not to enslave us in fear, but they are cause for strength in the sovereignty of God. They were never meant as stocks for the feet, but as springs to propel and lift us in days of crisis.

'UNTIL' in Genesis

A most interesting use of the word is found coming from the lips of the patriarch Jacob (Genesis 49:9,10): "Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? The sceptre shal not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him shall be the obedience of the people."

This was part of Jacob's final blessing prior to his death. It was a prophetic utterance. Notice the key word 'UNTIL'. Judah is likened to a lion, victorious, and God's chosen royal line through which comes the Messiah (Shiloh). Judah was to be keeper of the promise until Shiloh came, and though there is some debate round the personage of this figure, general agreement is that it refers to the Messiah. King David came from that line. To him was given the magnificent covenant from God of a perpetual ruler on his throne. "And your house and your kingdom shall be established for ever before you. Your throne shall be established for ever" (II Samuel 7:16). "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn to my servant David; your seed I will establish for ever, and build up your throne to all generations" (Psalm 89:3,4).

It was the conviction of John, the exiled Jew on Patmos, that he saw this Shiloh. In words echoing Jacob's proclamation he records these words: "And I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals ... one of the elders said to me, ' ... Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals'" (Revelation 5:1,5). Because of the genealogies recorded by Jewish historians in the New Testament we can check on the one who can lay claim to being of the royal line, even the Messiah, as recorded by Matthew and Luke.

'UNTIL' in Daniel

There is a lot at stake in the declarations of the 'until's, for the credibility of the Bible is in the rifle gallery for one and all to take potshots. In days gone by opponents of the Scriptures dismissed such things as the historicity of Abraham, the Hittites, the writing ability of Moses, the ministry of Jesus etc. But hardly had the ink dried on their pages of criticism than an archaeologist's spade would be proving them wrong; indeed the Bible would be proven right and accurate.

In the apparent impossible situation of the Babylonian captivity many succumbed to hopelessness. God had abandoned His people. The everlasting covenants with Abraham and David had been annulled by the folly of Jerusalem and the force of Nebuchadnezzar. So said some. Then in the midst of this, God stood Daniel on the stage of the prophets, and this man, "greatly loved" by Almighty God, punctured the gloom of unbelief with the declaration of God's intervention. Nations, periods of time, certain events, are declared necessary to come and go before that great and awful day of the Lord. But come it would, for the times of the Gentiles was only 'until'.

"You, O king (Nebuchadnezzar), were watching; and behold a great image! This great image whose splendour was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome ... You watched while (meaning until) a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces" (Daniel 2:31,34). The period described in Daniel's vision as the figure of a man, is seen as the time of the Gentiles. From the head of gold it declines to iron and clay feet -- rather a graphic rebuke to those who view mankind's upward climb as an uncontested fact!

Daniel's vision is seen as moving forward to a climax in crisis; at a specific time God will intervene to establish His dominion -- at the "time of the end" . And this delcaration of faith in God's intention is repeated; the angel Gabriel speaking to Daniel said, "Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be ... for the end will still be at the appointed time" (Daniel 8:19; 11:27). The word 'until' is certainly understood here: that history is moving apace – UNTIL history is at an end.

'UNTIL' in Luke

The Messiah wore the mantle of prophet. This is evident in many of His statements, and especially those that verify and clarify Daniel. "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near ... there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:20,23-24).

How it must have cut to the heart of the one who said those words! He Himself had friends and family who would be affected. He had Jewish blood in His veins. He loved the city and the Temple. It was no easy thing for Him to declare what was in fact soon to occur, an often-repeated event, the storming of Jerusalem by foreign armies.

But again the word of hope breaks through. 'Until' comes as the word of perseverance and promise. There is a time limit for the forces opposed to God and the Messiah, for they can have their fling only UNTIL. Why the delay? God alone knows, but apparently the time is not yet. Perhaps we are not ready for the great presentation before His majesty because we have not met our Messiah and Advocate who will stand with us on that day.

The Bible does not use the word 'until' as a pious escape hatch. Nor is it a sentimental shot in the arm to bolster the crumbling resolve of the faithful. Rather it is the defiant cry about God's sovereignty in the face of man's savagery and Satan's manipulations. It is the long-distance extension of Faith that sees beyond the moment of madness to the prevailing presence of the Almighty.

Faith challenges each person with the positive view of history. Fatalism is fractured. Man as master of his own destiny is humbled. The world is not wound up and let loose; it is moving to the DAY OF THE LORD. When we hear God's voice boom "TIME'S UP!" the kingdoms of this world will become the domain of God and His Messiah. So as we read the newspaper, listen to radio or watch the television, it is well for us to remember that violence, godlessness, injustice and rebellious attitudes and actions have their sway only ... UNTIL.