Sunday, May 15, 2011

The World to Come

For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: “What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 02:05-09, NKJV).
This world is ending. Everybody senses it. Some respond through denial, others through a renewed effort to save and remake the world system in their own image via legislation, or climate management, or imposition of this or that social, political or cultural paradigm. Still others imagine they have determined the very day and hour and have reacted by casting that date in concrete and imploring others to behave accordingly as imminent and impending destruction is at hand.

For centuries, faithful Bible expositors have studied and taught from the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments, declaring without equivocation that when the last days are upon us Israel will be in the land once more, Jerusalem will become a cup of trembling to the whole world, nations will war against nations, perilous times will come spiritually, natural and supernatural disasters will abound, men will be lovers of themselves rather than lovers of God, and a great apostasy will occur.

All these things are uniquely in place today, and have been since that fateful establishment of the modern Jewish nation on May 14,1948. In this era, as in no other before it, mankind is capable of destroying the planet, and to broadcast that destruction live throughout the globe, in precise fulfillment of ancient Biblical prophecies. It is a sobering time to be alive.

Here in Hebrews, however, little emphasis is given to the actual events involved in the end of this world, but to the inauguration of the next. In this continuation of the writer's polemic on the superiority of Christ to angels, he launches into a discussion of the future era of earth and heavenly history which will be subject, not to angels, but to glorified humanity. But do not pass over too quickly the inevitability of the world to come.

Are you holding tightly onto the things of this present age? Your career? Your family? Your nation? Your politics? Your things? Your retirement? Your future? If so, beware, these, like your mortal earthly life, are coming to an end. And sooner rather than later.

This future era will be radically different from all prior human experience, but to bring it forth, the old world system must first go down in flames.

The chronology is straightforward. The church will be taken up, and the remainder of unbelieving humanity will attempt, and fail, to cope with calamitous global events. Wars, famine, plagues, financial implosion, signs in the heavens and seas; catastrophe after catastrophe will explode across the planet. A leader will arise who will deceive the world into following him like a god, a false savior. For a short time, he will seem to succeed, cementing his rule, and causing him to succumb to the diabolical impulse to establish himself as god, requiring mandatory worship and adoration, like an ancient pagan emperor of old.

In the end, after even more severe death and destruction, this false christ will also fail, and be defeated by the avenging forces of heaven, and the true Christ will return triumphantly to rule and reign for a thousand years from the throne of His father David in Jerusalem. And the glorified saints, those taken up as the church of God, the Bride of Christ, will rule and reign with Him for a 1000 years. Rather than co-regents, angels will be ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation.

And after the thousand years are finished there will be another final rebellion against God and His people, and this too shall inevitably fail, and [then] comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15:24, NKJV)

So it is the world to come which will be everlasting and will not fade away. It is the world to come that should be the eagerly awaited focus of all believers today, not at the expense of this present world, but to set the current era in its proper perspective.

Whatever you have of material value will burn.

Whatever temporal priority you expend your energy upon is futile. 

If you are not laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven, then your time and efforts are futile and wasted.

What does this mean in a practical everyday sense?

It means people and relationships, which have the potential for being eternal, are of far more importance than anything else.

It means that what you do in the service of the Everlasting King is infinitely more significant than what you do for yourself.

It means that you are to set your minds on things above where your eternal citizenship lies, and not on the ephemeral things of this world which are passing away.

Examine your goals, your priorities, your desires, your focus, and cast aside those things which will not bear fruit in the world to come.

Live your life so that on that Day He will say to you with joy unspeakable, "Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the Kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world!"

Everything else - everything else - is rubbish.