All who have a rational mind question their existence and its moral nature. Because all who have a such conscience know intrinsically that there is a judgement to come for the evil which they are guilty of and cannot escape, they contemplate the meaning of life. Which means, more importantly, they contemplate the state of being in death. Much of the fear of apocalypse is the pain and suffering associated with great cataclysm. Yet, that is only one aspect of the question and has to do with matters concerning living life and the destruction of it. It is the other, the meaning of death, that is the teleology of life, that is really the focus of the eschatological questions each one asks.
Camping’s proposal wasn’t without grounding in Christianity and with 2012 looming, along with many cultus beliefs among the diversity of Earth’s civilizations about the end of things, this idea is not a mere eruption of a blemish upon mankind, it is an ancient, full body consumption, the disease of which all thoughts about it are mere symptoms, from which no one escapes. Even those who mock spirituality cannot escape the lure to comment on it. Though they might dismiss it, it tags them just the same as an ardent believer. We might ask why the interest of the disinterested, seeing that the skeptic or atheist ostensibly has no care for what he knows cannot be known or even have existence? For the rest, the plague of the why is the fear in death, the door through which all must pass into the room that all must occupy. What that room looks like is their query. Their question has an answer. The answer is Christ.
Denny Burk notes:
Even though bible-believing Christians will likely agree with the “Morning Joe” crew that Harold Camping is a crackpot, I think we need to be careful about feelings of solidarity. What I heard in the laughter on “Morning Joe” was not the sober critique of the pious, but the sad ridicule of 2 Peter 3:3-4:
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
In other words, one of the hallmarks of the sinful human heart is the suppression of any notion of a coming judgment. Sinners employ all kinds of strategies to make-believe that the second coming of Christ is make-believe.
Even the suppression of it, or its ridicule, evinces its ubiquity. No one is exempt. Then, what is really needed is a sober reassessment and a clear proclamation of Scriptural truths and not mere mocking, though deserved. There are real answers. Even in the face of those who say, “That’s just your opinion,” we must give an answer for our hope. We must force the choice. Christianity is not speculative, rather, it is a set of propositional truths. Then our reasoned approach, though without a miraculous work of God cannot convert, must be of such distinction as to set it apart from all others.
How does the church make such a commanded task a noble exercise in the truth?
Isn’t the Great Commission a charge to teach all that Jesus taught? Then doesn’t that mean to teach only what he did? Then aren’t there only certain answers to the questions of life and death that people ask? At least from a Christian perspective, emphatically, yes.
One of the problems of understanding, even among those within the church, is just why the wrath of God is coming. There is a singular, unequivocal answer. Unfortunately, many look at the current circumstance of sins as the reason. They decry the currency of mankind and wonder why we cannot humble ourselves and pray. While it is truth that: …because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience… sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness… filthiness…foolish talk… crude joking…, these things are the working out a first truth. That is the fact of original sin. God’s wrath is being poured out, and these things, which include the guilty conscience which asks the question, are evidence of that truth. Without doubt there are as well triggers, evils which surround and proceed from us, which cause mankind both to wonder and to suppress the evident knowledge innate to each individual. Still, the currency is the result, and not the cause of the wrath of God. The wrath of God began here. And indeed, it will be fully realized at the consummation of the ages.
The profanation of marriage: many Christians will say, “This will bring the wrath of God.” As a general statement, this is true. But I would like to suggest that given the light Western culture as a whole, and the United States in particular, has received, and given our cultural heritage, this will not bring God’s wrath, it is God’s wrath. In other words, when a culture can fall so far morally at such a precipitous speed, God has surely removed not only His hand of blessing, but His hand of restraint as well. We are being given over, or, maybe more accurately, have been given over, to fulfill the “lusts of the flesh.”
I would add we were given over in Genesis 3. That we have been cast out into the nations which we inhabit, into a world from which, by the act of one man, God has withdrawn his hand.
Can any nation long endure? What is the percentage of sin in population that is sufficient to bring down God’s judgement? What percentage of righteousness is required to stay it? It could be one hundred percent, as it was with Adam and Eve, or it could be less than one percent as it was with David and Bathsheba. With David, the sin he engaged in wasn’t the sum of his life, but just as Adam a single act ruined the whole. Nor was David the sum of the nation as was the case with Adam, but just as with Achan, David’s sin, though an occasion and not the summation of either the man or the nation, was sufficient to bring God’s wrath upon the whole nation.
Is there, then, a way to annul God’s judgement against the nations? Not at all. For each nation will always have one Achan among its numbers for which a single insignificant act is the total denial of God’s holiness. If any man sins in any one aspect of the law he is guilty of the whole and since mankind is viewed as a single fabric and accounted as a whole to God, each act of sin by one is as much as the act of Adam who was our federal head. What I mean by that, is that with each sinful individual, that first act of Adam is reestablished as the reason that God’s wrath is poured out against all of mankind such that they are cursed to sin by nature. That is the lesson taught, and retaught, again and again, in Scripture. Because of these things the wrath of God is poured out. By what punishment can God be appeased except by the death all men? Can the whole be satisfied by the sacrifice of one, as with Achan or with many sinful men? The unrighteous for the unrighteous? Well, we can answer that: did Israel continue in the throes of sin? Absolutely. After each rebellion, they rebelled, despite the punishments, despite the appeasement made. The reality remains, as we look around, that there are always some who reject the satisfaction provided for by the Lord. In fact, the Mosaic covenant is by its nature is a rejection of such, substituting sacrifices that could never take away sin even if it were the death of the one who sinned. Will his wrath always be directed at the nations until the final consummation and destruction of the world? Is there still death? What would it take to change what we know as life? And what should we expect in death?
Since the fall of Adam and Eve this has been the reality:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
We, each and everyone, are therefore without excuse. Paul addressed the general consensus, Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. And here is the fact, we all judge, and more, we are commanded to, Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. We are required says Hosea: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to judge rightly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. It appears then that we are in a quandary. We must judge all the while we are under judgement and judging we are brought into judgement, for we are all guilty by that judgement. The solution also appears in loving mercy. What then can we expect? Nothing. For anything, be it disease, disaster or death, are fit for us for our crimes. We plead for mercy, but mercy is not justice and justice is what we deserve. Is there no way in which such a wrath can be turned away, a way though judgement begins even with the household of God and turns to leave no nation untouched?
Yes, it is through the propitiation of Christ, what he has done, not what we can do, his satisfaction made to God as a substitution for those upon whom his favor rests. It is Jesus, who has for those who believe, lived a perfect life, died in their place, and was resurrected for their justification. Being in him, their life is hidden in Christ, who having died cannot die again, who being raised from the dead lives forever, who is now seated upon his throne in Heaven. Being in him believers are free from the condemnation which is coming upon the whole world. For all who are his at his coming are now seated with him. All expect judgement because all are guilty, and that is why all consider the end of their days. That is why we should love mercy, because he who shows no mercy will be shown none. And that is why we should humble ourselves that God might lift us up from the dead. For God condemns the proud but has mercy on those humbled by the guilt of their sin in the brilliance of his holiness.
Today, if you here his voice, repent and believe that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, that Jesus is Lord, and that God has raised him from the dead on your behalf, and you will have eternal life and be saved from the wrath to come.