My youngest daughter is to be performing in a local theatre production this weekend. They have spent months learning lines, songs, and dances; the stage-sets, props, and costumes are prepared. The final thing that was required before the big performance, was to attend a dress rehearsal to make sure the many parts that make a successful production would come together on the night.
They knew well in advance this day was coming; they had helpers and teachers who taught and guided them, and they are now looking forward to the big day with great expectation. When the performance finally happens, they will not be surprised by it, but will draw on everything they have learned in order to get the final production right.
Are we surprised or ready?
The days we currently live in almost seem to have caught everyone by surprise. Are these the last days? Or is it preparation for them? There is much in the Bible that tells us about those times yet there is also much we don’t know.
“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.” (Daniel chapter 12 verse 1)
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mark chapter 13 verse 12-13)
While we live in a time of distress, and though we do not yet know how close we are to the final curtain call, we can still be in a state of readiness for whatever may come.
In the letters to the seven churches (Revelation chapters 2-3), Jesus gives these warnings for repentance before the end so we can do a stocktake on the state of our hearts:
· Return to your first love — You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. (Revelation 2:4-5)
· Reject idol worship and immorality — There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality…Repent therefore (Revelation 2:14)
· Beware of false prophets and deception — You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols (Revelation 2:20)
· Wake up! — You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Revelation 3:1-3)
· Be strong — I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth….be earnest and repent. (Revelation 3:15-16, 19)
It might sound harsh, but there’s no time like the present to get yourself right with God regardless of what season we are in. In fact, it is through God’s mercy and grace that we are given time and warning.
Repeatedly throughout these letters, Jesus says, ‘Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ And He says this because He wants us to be ready.
Never before have we seen such oppression on a global scale. But while the governments of the world are trying to segregate people against each other, God is doing something greater in the midst of evil and bringing many people of different backgrounds into unity – ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’ (Genesis chapter 50 verse 20)
While the enemy tries its hardest to cause disunity and separation, God is turning the tables because the enemy has overplayed his hand and many people now are uniting.
Whether they agree or disagree on certain current topics, most are coming together against the bullying that is trying to segregate one side from the other, despite what the media tells us. But while we follow the words of Jesus to love one another as he has loved us, we, the people, are becoming unified, and it will shake the plans of the enemy to the core.
The more the enemy strategizes to spread fear, the more people are waking up and saying ‘No’ to the fear. We, the people, are finding courage we did not know we had. We are employing the ANZAC spirit to fight for the freedoms our ancestors fought for, and we are cultivating love which is ‘the greatest of these’ to bond with our brothers and sisters and care for each other under the extreme threats and pressures we are being placed under by anti-God injustice.
A shaking is certainly taking place. Perhaps this is a dress rehearsal—to refine us; for us to learn how to do things differently, and to get us in the right shape for the final performance.
Daniel chapter 11 verse 35 explains, ‘Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.’
Yet, God has not left us alone to work it out—not at all! He has sent the Holy Spirit as our helper to instruct us on all things. Acts chapter 2 verses 17-21 tells us:
‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
God has also equipped us with gift and talents to help each other:
‘So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’ (Ephesians chapter 4 verses 11-16)
So, whether this is the dress-rehearsal or the performance, it is time for us to become one in Christ, caring for each other, building each other up in love, and preparing our pure white garments as the Bride of Christ ready for our beloved Bridegroom’s return.
Rebecca and her husband have four children and live on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Rebecca writes for various publications including print, online and commercial. She is the author of two books: ‘First to Forty’ and ‘Pizza and Choir’. For more information you can find Rebecca at: http://www.rebeccamoore.life, Facebook: Rebecca Moore - Author, Instagram: rebeccamoore_author
Rebecca Moore's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/rebecca-moore.html