Before you even get in the raft, the white water guide begins to establish his or her authority and control. In the early stages of the float trip they work hard to make sure everyone knows what to do, practicing the commands over and over. “Back-paddle!” “Right turn!” “Let’s do it again!” Why? White water! There’s rapids downstream and, when they get to them, it’s too late to begin figuring out what to do. The idea is for everyone to be alert, trained and ready to respond quickly, without panic. Even if the raft seems about to flip.
Jesus told the folks in His raft they would eventually confront dangerous rapids. When they asked how they could know the end of the age was approaching, He didn’t mince words. Instead, He prepared them (and us). You can read what He told them in the 24th Chapter of Matthew, but here are some excepts of what He said:
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
In other words, “When things get dicey, make sure you listen to my commands and not anyone else.”
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
In other words, “When you hear the roar of the rapids, don’t freak out; I have told you this trip winds up in white water so keep your heads.”
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. – (Matthew 24:4–13 Excerpts – NIV84)
In other words, “Don’t be surprised at how violent the rapids will seem. You may even get tossed out of the raft. But remember to trust me. Do what I say and you will come through just fine.”
Human history is filled with failed attempts to make our world better as we strive for utopia. People even held the hope that World War I would serve to end all future wars. No matter how or what we try, we have not succeeded in eradicating evil. As we see the rise of ISIS, Russia’s alliances with wicked dictators and nations who pledge the destruction of Israel, it might seem discouraging and frightening.
But these kinds of events have been foretold in Scripture. Jesus never whitewashed the truth: wickedness will increase as the age continues toward the end. But He also said, “see to it you are not alarmed.” And, “don’t listen to others who will lead you astray.” And, “stand firm in your faith and you will be saved.”