I have a friend who made an extremely brazen declaration in his sermon. He was sharing about things that one ought to teach their children. Among his points he shared the following.

In order for one to be vigilant  in faith,  one need to know the sign of the end times.  according to him, one may not be able tell the DAY and TIME of the second coming but they can calculate the year. (Matt 24:36). Personally I feel that that point of view is  somewhat shallow and childish.

Personally I believe that if one were to read and try to understand Revelations , one would be blessed (Rev 1:3). But from my experience teaching students, the topic of Revelations usually stirs out a lot of interest in knowledge but never generates true faith in the listeners.

Which matters more, Faith in God or Knowledge of end times?  

One could have all the knowledge of revelation, but is without the fear of God. He would still continue to live his life without God. If one had no interest in God, no amount of warning and signs will revive the faith of the person.

The bible only tells us to build our faith on the teaching of the apostles, and the prophet (Eph 2:20). With Christ as the center and chief cornerstone. If Christ is not in the center of a Christian life,  no amount of knowledge of revelation can help one to put Christ as the center of his life. 

Those who studies the book of revelations is concern over questions such as  , “Which seal are we at now?”, “who is 666?” , “Who is the beast from the sea and the beast from the land? “ , “Who is the little horn?”, “Who is Babylon the great?”, “Who is the great prostitute?”. Do we know that these questions are irrelevant to people who cannot even decide if he wants to follow God or not? 

It worries me more to see the children leaving the church hall in the middle of the sermon,  not paying attention to the words of God. Who choose to giggle away and to play with their gadgets over listening to the words of God. It concerns me when students choose pumping iron in the gym and hanging out friends over spending time in the presence of God.

The choice to put God in the center of our lives is one that we needs to choose for ourselves, no one could choose it for us. All Christians, regardless of age must consider these words spoken by Joshua.

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Instead of wasting my time pondering over the many mysteries spoken by John,  I rather spend the time teaching the children how to use the words of God in their life, how to keep their hearts with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.(Prov 4:23). 

Remember that the knowledge of revelations does not help one commit to God. The warning and the signs of the end times will never have a impact to people who did not place God in the center of their lives.

I sincerely hope my friend will reconsider his priorities.

Is Closed Door The Best Policy? 

Besides point about revelations my friend encouraged the congregation saying that they ought to teach the children with these values.  Before I share them, I will say I DO NOT AGREE with any of the points listed below.

1. Everyone outside the church is evil. There are no good people outside the church
2. Being people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nation, (Num 23:9) 
        a. We should cut people from outside of church away from our lives

Sometimes I really wonder if he were to hold such point of view how can he preach to others and fulfill the great commandment of the Lord?

Indeed, it is fair to say Christians are a nation that does not reckon himself as one of the nations. But is that a reason to believe that beyond the church there are no good to be found?

This is a biggest form of bigotry and it is not an unfair statement to be made.

The idea of cutting oneself away from the rest of the world exists throughout history. The Essenes were a sect in Judaism were made up of people who decide to isolate themselves from the rest of the Jews. these people dwell in caves, and they are the people responsible for creating the Qumran scrolls (Or Dead Sea Scrolls). One of the oldest and most famous manuscripts to ever survive the washing of time.

These people felt that the city of Jerusalem and her temple is no longer pure and it no longer God pleasing. They felt the corrupted practice of the priest is desecrating the temple.

Instead of choosing to make a difference or to speak up, they decided to hide themselves in the caves, leading lives away from the rest of the world. They spend their days in communal living, but however, their lives came to the halt when the Romans attacked Judea.

It was around AD 70, and a group of Zealots rebelled against Roman rule (known as the Great Revolt or Jewish Revolt)  , in response, the Romans sent Vespasian , Titus Flavius , and his son General Titus to suppress the revolt, who besieged Jerusalem. The rebels fled to the last fortress , which is Masada, with the Romans pursuing them. As they move down the towns pillaging and destroying everything in their path,  they destroyed Essenes alongside with the Zealots, Scribes and Pharisees that they condemned.

Instead of going to the brethren’s and correcting them, they choose to remain quiet, and stay away, in the end, their ends is somewhat similar.

Does God expect his children to isolate from the world?

Jesus when he was in Gethsemane once prayed for his believers

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” – Jesus (John 17:14-16)

Jesus did not expect his children to be kept away from the world. Instead he  gave them a great commission

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  – Jesus (Matt 28:19-20)

While my friend loves quoting  Num 23:9. Indeed it is true that God describes his people as  “ A people dwelling alone,Not reckoning itself among the nations.” But I think very often we just take that one verse and base all our teachings from it.

The fact is, God settled his people onto Canaan, it is the cross roads of the 2 greatest ancient trade route between Egypt and Mesopotamia. In fact God wanted his people to dwell in this place and live a life that follows the command of God.

God wanted them to be an example, and to make his ways known to people. Putting the Israelites in the center of the trade routes, allows them to gain access to people from various lands and various countries.

Although there are little victorious here and there where we see converts like Rahab, Ruth &  Doeg the Edomite and even Uriah the Hittite. But actually a lot of times we learn that the Israelites failed in that mission. They took part of Baal Worship and other idolatry. As the result, they did not successfully have a great impact in the world.

In fact just like the old testament and the new, God expects his children to dwell in the world, God expects his children to live among the people on earth, to influence them.

That is why Jesus called us “the light of the earth, and the salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13-16) He specially talks about this

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”- Jesus (Matt 5:16)

As now we understand, dwelling alone, not reckoning among the nations is not about isolating ourselves from the rest of the world, but rather we have to live a life consecrated to God , different from the ways of the world.

God expects us to stay on the earth to be his witness, Perhaps my friend should reconsider his understanding of Num 23:9.

Where do we go from here?

In the next entry, I would like to share some teachings I found from the bible, to tell us what the bible expects Christians to do while living in this world.

This would help us to learn how do we be “A people dwelling alone,Not reckoning itself among the nations”