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What does the future hold?

December 21, 2011 No Comment

Christmas greetings from the ABC District president

President Don Schiemann

by Don Schiemann

History records the rise and fall of great and powerful nations and empires. In the days of Daniel the prophet, the ancient Babylonians were at the pinnacle of power. Everyone feared them, and with good reason, as evidenced by the destruction of Jerusalem and their enslavement of the Israelites. In Daniel’s dreams, however, he was shown by God that the Babylonians would be succeeded by the Persian Empire; the Persians would be succeeded by the Greek Empire; and the Greeks would be succeeded by the Roman Empire.

After the Roman Empire, we see other kingdoms even more powerful: the Holy Roman Empire, the Napoleonic Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the British Empire, the German Third Reich, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United States of America.

What does the future hold? Any speculation is dangerous. The recent and sudden demise of the regimes in Egypt and Libya remind us that the course of human history is beyond prediction. At best, we can only say that nations and kingdoms come and go and no human institution or political entity is permanent.

Even on the grand scale of human history, we are constantly reminded of our own mortality and that the world is not infinite. All things will end. The Bible tells us, “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (Psalm 103:15, 16).

What will things be like at the end? People have a natural curiosity. The disciples asked Jesus, “Teacher, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” (Luke 21:7). Jesus gave the disciples general signs. He told them there would be wars and rumours of war; earthquakes and famine. All these would be like increasingly worse symptoms of a fatal disease. As for the exact time, Jesus said, “Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only…For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:36-39).

On the one hand, we are not told the specifics of the when and the how; but the Bible tells us enough that we can look forward confidently to the end, whether the end of our own life or the end of the world. “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:5b-7a).

The season of Advent encourages us not only to celebrate the first coming of our Saviour into this world, but also joyfully to anticipate His Second Coming. In Christ we have the assurance of forgiveness, life and salvation. Based on this promise we can look forward confidently to the final coming of Christ’s everlasting kingdom with full assurance that we are members of that kingdom and will reign with Him forever.

Rev. Don Schiemann is President of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church–Canada.

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