Today’s Bible Reading: Micah 1-4:13; Revelation 6:1-17; Psalm 134:1-3; Proverbs 30:1-4
There is probably no place clearer in Scripture that separation of church and state was never part of God’s design for our lives than Micah 1:5. Here we see that God holds government leaders responsible for keeping their people from turning away from Him.
Obviously the recent trend in the United States has been to remove as much of the Bible and Jesus from society as possible. This all happens with government’s blessing if not outright insistence. We do this in the name of openness and tolerance. But this will this lead to – and is, in fact, already leading to – the decline of our society. All our elected officials, at all levels of government, will have to answer to Jesus for these decisions. I wouldn’t want to be them.
Due to our human nature it is impossible for us not to sin. There are many times we will simply make mistakes without even realizing it until later. But even worse than these are sins that are premeditated (Micah 2:1). Likewise there are many sins we just never have the opportunity to commit. But sometimes we are in a position where we can get away with something. This is a real test of our characters. As Abraham Lincoln said, “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Micah (and all the other prophets) tried to warn Israel about their behavior, but nobody would listen (Micah 2:6). The same is true in the United States today. For some time people have been warning that our society is too sex-crazed, that we’ve borrowed way too much money, that the rich get away with crimes others wouldn’t, that we’ve polluted our environment, that we shouldn’t be killing unborn children and a host of other atrocities. We have ignored God’s teachings about all these matters and instead have treated Him like He was our enemy (Micah 2:8). That attitude is going to come back to bite us.
God’d design for leadership is that leaders exists to serve others. But the leaders in Israel had turned that around and were abusing the people for their own selfish gain (Micah 3:1-3, 9). These leaders were so busy building their empires and securing their legacies that they were failing to do the main job God has given them to do – lead people to Him (Micah 3:5). Sadly, we have leaders who are just as terrible today – who know nothing about Jesus and who actually attempt to prevent people from knowing Him. On the other hand, Jesus modeled leadership perfectly. He loved people. He didn’t serve Himself. He served others and constantly pointed them to God. That is leadership.
Someday (relatively soon, I believe) Jesus will return to earth and reign over the entire planet for 1,000 years. This is known as the Millenium. During this time there will still be disputes and conflicts between us petty, jealous, and selfish human beings. But Jesus will be the perfect ruler. He will settle disputes with such perfection that people will see no more need for weapons (Micah 4:3-4). Every year we hear how the Pentagon’s budget is much too high. When Jesus reigns, the Pentagon’s budget will be zero.
Today in Revelation we read the passage which references the familiarly known Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In this chapter Jesus, who yesterday received a scroll from God with seven seals on it, breaks the seals one by one. As He does a new terror appears on earth. This begins the final judgement of the planet before Jesus returns. Just like the people in Noah’s day knew the flood was coming 100 years before it did, no one today should be surprised when these terrible things from Revelation start happening. God has given us ample warning.
The breaking of the first seal reveals a rider on a white horse (Revelation 6:2) who wears a crown and carries a bow, but no arrows. This is the antichrist. Someday a man will rise up and become ruler of the world without a struggle (notice that he was given his crown – indicating that he will be made leader of the world by popular consensus). But once in power, he will become violent, leading the world into many wars as symbolized by the second horse, which is red – the color of blood (Revelation 6:4).
All the wars on earth that the antichrist incites will result in scarcity and famine, represented by the third (black) horse (Revelation 6:5) whose rider carries scales to indicate rationing. During this time it will take one day’s pay just to feed one person but notice that the finer things in life will still be available to the wealthy (Revelation 6:6).
Naturally wars and famine will lead to death and that is what we see with the fourth (pale) horse (Revelation 6:7). As a result of the antichrist’s leadership and resulting wars and famines, 25% of the world’s human population will die. Needless to say, this will not be a pleasant time in human history. But this is just the beginning.
The fifth seal is interesting. When it was broken John (who was in heaven seeing these things happening and who recorded them) saw all those who had been martyred for their faith (Revelation 6:9). There is no question that Christianity is hated all over the planet. For centuries the Western world has been the only bastion of safety for the Bible, although that is rapidly changing. In many countries including Morocco, N. Korea, and The Seychelles, possessing a Bible is illegal and can lead to death. But this accounts only for the official treatment of Christians by governments. Many more are persecuted and killed by family members and friends when they give up other faiths, like Islam or Hinduism, for Christianity.
During the Great Tribulation (marked by the first four seal judgements) the antichrist will kill anyone he can find who is a Christian. It could be that these are the people John sees when the fifth seal is broken.
The first five seal judgements are the result of the stupid decisions human beings make to remove God from their lives. They will raise up a seemingly benign leader who will plunge the world into chaos. Beginning with the sixth seal judgement we see things happen that can only come from God.
When the sixth seal is broken a massive earthquake shakes the entire planet, heavenly objects go dim, and even mountains are displaced (Revelation 6:12). As a result those humans who were once so arrogant try to hide themselves. Notice that they will know exactly what is causing all these problems (Revelation 6:15-16).
Scary stuff, huh? And we still have 15 more judgements to go.
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