The Snare of Sudden Change

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The Snare of Sudden Change

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Many things are lost to history. We try to read what we can, study the history books, watch the documentaries, ask the right questions of those who lived through history, and understand the chapters that came before the day we were born. But we just can’t know everything. Some or most of the big events, yes, but not all the in-between stuff, the small and medium things. And sometimes it takes us longer than we would like to learn even the big things.

It was not until I was 17 that I learned about the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. I was shocked by the staggering death toll and the things that happened in America during that crazy and sad time. The bodies piled up. The wearing of masks. The overrun hospitals. The societal changes. And I wondered why I hadn’t heard about it before.

What can we learn from other times in history when world conditions changed quickly? And does Bible prophecy shed any light on what’s going on today?

One thing often lost to history is the timing of events—how slowly or quickly conditions developed. Sometimes there’s a slow buildup, then a tipping point, and then a crash. Think Rome. At other times events happen fast—really fast—like a rug being pulled out from under us. Think 9/11. The hijacked planes literally came out of a clear blue sky.

The latest world crisis—the coronavirus pandemic—is another example of how rapidly things can change. Predictions at the beginning of January 2020 about what the year would bring made no mention of a global shutdown of businesses, travel, economies, staggering job losses, fear, hoarding and growing thousands of dead around the world.

The world didn’t see it coming. Even medical experts who raised their voices of warning could not have predicted the exact nature of the pandemic and the response.

What can we learn from other times in history when world conditions changed quickly? And does Bible prophecy shed any light on what’s going on today?

When Germany was transformed in 100 days

As we come to the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, let’s look back at some of the events in Germany in the 1930s that led to that conflict. There has probably never been a period of mankind’s history that has been analyzed to the same degree as that of World War II. There are so many aspects to this climactic horror that books and movies about it seem to be endless—rightly so.

A new book titled Hitler’s First Hundred Days by historian Peter Fritzsche details how rapidly Adolf Hitler took control of Germany. Looking at this period shows us how rapidly things can deteriorate today, as we consider the years ahead, particularly in Europe.

Here’s what a New York Times reviewer said about the new book:

“Historian Peter Fritzsche shows how Hitler and the National Socialists wasted little time after he was appointed chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933, in crushing what remained of the Weimar Republic and installing ‘the 20th century’s most popular dictatorship.’

“The changes were audacious, and they were swift. On Day 4, Hitler and his conservative allies censored any press that showed ‘contempt’ for government. On Day 7, he established links between his brownshirt paramilitaries and the official law-and-order apparatus of the state.

“The Reichstag fire on Day 29 gave Hitler the pretext he needed to get President Paul von Hindenburg to sign an emergency decree suspending civil liberties, and the Reichstag elections a week later consolidated the Nazis’ grip on power. On Day 61, the Nazis organized a nationwide boycott of Jewish businesses, and six days later purged the civil service of Jews” (Jennifer Szalai, “A Sobering Look at How Quickly Hitler Transformed Germany,” March 17, 2020).

Shocking but true! In just 100 days—a little over three months—Germany was no longer the same Germany. It was something completely different, darker and dangerous.

The reviewer continues with this observation about what the book lays out:

“There’s something particularly clarifying about the hundred-days framing, especially as it’s presented in this elegant and sobering book, which shows how an unimaginable political transformation can happen astonishingly quickly …

“Fritzsche’s hundred-days narrative takes us up to May 9, 1933, when Germany had become unrecognizable from the republic it had been just a few months before. The fragmented opposition to the Nazis had been either co-opted or destroyed. The country’s new ‘constitution,’ of Nazi rule by emergency decree, amounted to what one émigré scholar called a permanent ‘state of siege.’ On Day 101, there were book burnings organized by Nazi students; on Day 166, sterilization laws were announced.”

Just like Germany in the 1930s, world conditions can change rapidly today. The coronavirus crept up on all of us. And as the days have gone by, life has seemed so surreal—like nothing we’ve seen before. The global economy was transformed in a matter of weeks. And major geopolitical changes may yet follow.

The pandemic has shown us that we cannot always see things coming, that even the experts fail in predicting what are called “black swan” events—rare and unexpected occurrences with potentially catastrophic consequences.

But what if there were a source, an authority, we could turn to for answers about our future?

There is! But sadly most do not take a serious look at what its pages tell us.

The future revealed

Most people, including professing Christians, do not know the details of prophecy as revealed in the Bible. But God has not left us in the dark about what lies ahead. In a number of places, Jesus Christ clearly explained what would happen before His second coming. He said that before the arrival of the Kingdom of God—which will establish universal peace and prosperity—horrific events would come upon all nations.

As the saying goes, “It’s always darkest before dawn.”

Jesus warned of the time of His coming and accompanying earth-shaking events, “It will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35 Luke 21:35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout). A snare is used to trap animals in hunting. Often well-hidden, snares take their quarry suddenly and unexpectedly. With this analogy, Jesus warns all those who have “ears to hear” what is coming in the years just ahead.

Just before this, Jesus explained what His followers must do to prevent being caught off guard by the “snare” of end-time events: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life [distractions], and that Day come on you unexpectedly” (Luke 21:34 Luke 21:34And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come on you unawares.
American King James Version×
).

Christ then says, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36 Luke 21:36Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
American King James Version×
).

God recorded these things in His Word to warn us ahead of time. He wants us to escape! He wants us to repent and turn to Him. He does not desire that anyone die, but that all men repent and live! Notice what He said through the prophet Ezekiel: “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11 Ezekiel 33:11Say to them, As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
American King James Version×
).

It is not God’s plan to allow the human race to be wiped out or to annihilate itself, even though He will allow terrible calamities to come on the world. God is working out a purpose to teach humanity important lessons so that we turn to Him. He created all human beings for an incredible future, and you can learn about this purpose for your life in the pages of the Bible.

Ultimately, God’s wonderful plan will be carried out, and all peoples will learn to live in harmony with others and with God.

The good news

Despite all the bad news around us, Jesus said in Luke 21:31 Luke 21:31So likewise you, when you see these things come to pass, know you that the kingdom of God is near at hand.
American King James Version×
that we can take comfort in knowing that the Kingdom of God is just around the corner. Notice: “When you see these things happening [referring to calamitous end-time conditions], know that the kingdom of God is near.”

There is still hope! There is light at the end of the tunnel.

While we live in what the Bible calls the time of the end, this does not mean the human race or the earth are coming to an end. Rather, it means the age of man’s misrule under the influence of Satan is ending, to be followed by the return of Jesus Christ, who will usher in the world-ruling Kingdom of God. As Christ’s gospel message proclaims, the world will then experience a glorious disease-free era of peace and stability during which all peoples will learn to live according to God’s righteous way of life.

But again, there will be dark days before that—the worst time of trouble the world has ever seen.

We have not yet entered the final phase of this dark period. We may yet see a stretch of a “new normal” after the current crisis is behind us. Regardless, current events clearly show that the world really can be turned on its head overnight—and at some point this is going to happen on a vastly greater scale.

While most people will not wake up and heed God’s warning now, you can be an exception!

Dramatic prophesied world crises do not have to hit you without warning. You can know exactly what Jesus foretold would come on an unprepared world. Pandemics like the coronavirus are just one of the conditions He said would occur before His return.

Now is the time!

A powerful passage from the apostle Paul puts an exclamation point on Christ’s warnings: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 [2] For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. [3] For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail on a woman with child; and they shall not escape. [4] But you, brothers, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. [5] You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. [6] Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
American King James Version×
).

So what will you do? Will you sleep or stay alert and watch? What changes will you make in your life today in striving to follow God and obey what He says?

Now is the time to change, to draw close to God in Bible study, prayer and fasting.

Seek God while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6 Isaiah 55:6Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near:
American King James Version×
).

There is still time to prepare yourself and to strive to be counted worthy to escape coming catastrophes and to stand before Jesus Christ at His return!

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