In our superstar culture, learning to be content with your part in the big picture seems like a foreign concept. A dear friend was telling me yesterday that her son, whose heart has been set on becoming a pitcher on his baseball team, is starting to realize that he is actually a very good catcher.
“Everyone wants to be a pitcher, because its sexy,” she said in a matter of fact way. “But, a catcher is a very important part of the team. It’s like being point guard. Everyone wants to be the rock star.”
But, really, without the catcher, what would the pitcher do?
Similarly, I have sung in choirs, played in bands and orchestras. Sometimes, when you are playing saxophone, you have the melody. In a jazz ensemble, you are in the spotlight. Other times, like in an orchestral piece, you sit there counting through 30 measures of rests until you provide a quarter note attack.
So, it is with real life, and our part in God’s prophetic plan. We would like to think that we are the center of God’s prophetic plan and that whatever happens in our lifetimes must be the main event. (Well, I guess it is to us. But remember, we are focusing on playing our part in God’s big picture.)
Each generation reads the signs of the times and says, “This is it! It can’t get any worse than this! The end is here!” (Or insert any other apocalyptic saying.) Others scoff and say, “Where is this coming? Where is this end-times that was ‘foretold’? Ever since ages past people have been saying this. It’s all a myth.” Sound familiar? Have you ever thought this way? Have you ever wondered these things? Let’s look at what the scriptures say about this.
2 Peter 3 New International Version (NIV)
The Day of the Lord
3 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. (emphasis mine) 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (emphasis mine)
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.[a]
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[b] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Peter warned the believers in the early church of the coming of Christ. They were fully aware of the prophetic teachings, but here he tells them that they are to not fall into the camp of thinking that God will never fulfill his prophecies, because they aren’t fulfilled in our timing. A day to the Lord is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day.
What does this have to do with baseball, basketball or music?
God’s symphony is playing. He is the composer and conductor. Each part of the church throughout history is keeping time. Some are counting measures of rests, waiting for their turn to play a very short part. The coming of John the Baptist was foretold for hundreds of years, yet when he arrived, he only played his part for a short 6 months before he was beheaded. His role was crucial and Jesus said that, apart from the Son of Man, no other greater man ever lived.
If you pay attention to prophecy at all, you may get confused. Some prophets sound the cry of revival and others speak of judgement. How can God be speaking both? Well, let’s look at this. At the time of my writing of this blog, 7.7 billion people are alive on the planet. There are 6,500 known languages in 195 nations. God can be moving in revival in some nations and bringing judgement in another.
Also, let’s look at the major prophets in the Bible. In the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, the Lord prophecies judgement and restoration. He speaks of anger and love. It may seem a bit confusing. How can all of those conflicting prophecies be true? Well, they are true, because God is speaking about the big picture. God did bring judgement on Israel and Judah, and then he brought restoration. He spoke the hope of restoration alongside the pronouncements of judgement. The judgement was terrible and necessary, after hundreds of years of complete rebellion, child sacrifice and idolatry. In order to be a just God, he needed to bring judgement for blood of all the innocent children who were slaughtered. (Take heed, America.) But, because of his mercy and grace, and because of his promises to Abraham, he brought restoration and he upheld the faithful Jewish people during their exile.
In 2 Kings, the Lord raised up kings, in the middle of Israel and Judah’s “dark ages” of rebellion. These kings repented for the nation and begged the Lord for reprieve. The Lord gave reprieve, but just for the time that king was on the throne. The next wicked king came into power and the judgment clock continued to tick. In fact, the most righteous king, King Josiah, came into power near the time of judgement. He did more than any other king to restore The nation to the Lord. He tore down every entrenched altar, he cleansed the temple from the worship of false gods. He got rid of witchcraft and sorcery. He tore down the high places, the altars on the mountains and hills of Judah (the southern kingdom) where the people worshiped Baal and Asherah. He reinstated the observation of the Passover and the Law.
Because of his reign, judgement was put off for 42 years. (A generation) But, it still came. Why? Because his sons and grandsons allowed the evil to return. They turned back. Also, because of the killing of innocent children. The Lord had to avenge their blood. Read it for yourself here in 2 Kings 24.
“During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he turned against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled. 2 The Lord sent Babylonian,[a] Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets. 3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done,4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive.” (emphasis mine)
So, oh boy. What’s the point? What is the point of revival? What is the point of repentance, if the Lord will only postpone judgement? Because, you need to play your part. God goes not call us to grow weary of prayer or serving him or to throw our hands up in the air, because of the time we live in. We are called to play our part. Our part may be played in a time where the world is rebelling and the church is in disfunction and sin. But, we can still stand for truth. We can be the ones who stand in the gap for the Lord. We can cry out for mercy.
What is the lesson? Don’t give up! Don’t say that your place or part is small or that your voice is unheard by the Lord. One of the biggest issues we see, when we read the Old Testament and observe how the Lord dealt with generations and nations is the dropping of the baton from one generation to the next generation. Pass the baton. Pray for your children. Teach them to fear God. Share your testimony and your faith. Do the work of the Lord!
What happens nationally matters. What happens in a group of people matters. All you can do is play your part. Whether you live in a place of revival and reprieve or are surrounded by backsliding and rebellion, if you are still breathing and love the Lord, you can be filled with his strength to do his work. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and be like the people that Peter speaks about. Don’t say, “Well, I haven’t seen the clouds part and Jesus descend with the final trumpet, so it’s not going to happen. I’m just going to live for the flesh and live for the almighty dollar.” Live for the Lord. If you are reading this, take this as your message today. Do not be afraid. Play your part!