Bend Until it Breaks
by Pete Garcia
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:26-31
Addressing the Greeks at Mar’s Hill in Athens, the Apostle Paul begins his discussion by complimenting them (in a way) on how religious these stoics, Epicureans, and philosophers were, even going so far as to dedicate an altar to “the unknown god.” Of interest to this article, is where Paul identifies a period of time known only as the ‘times of ignorance,’ which God overlooked.
While Paul doesn’t specifically state which times these were, one could assume he was referring to the antediluvian period before Noah’s flood and also afterward to the pagan civilizations who arose after the Tower of Babel global scattering (Gen. 11:1-10). But also take note that God no longer ignores or tolerates ignorance as an excuse any longer. It is apparent that at the fullness of times (Galatians 4:4-5), that generation were the recipients of both the fulfillment of the Old Testament (or the Tanakh) prophecies, as well as the physical manifestation of their promised Messiah. This is why Jesus was particularly harsh when rebuking Israel for their rejection of who was clearly promised to them in Scripture.
Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” Matthew 11:20-24
By Paul’s day, the Law had already been given to Israel some 1,500 years previous, and also all the prophets from Enoch to John the Baptist, through whom God spoke. The experts (Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees) led the people to almost overwhelmingly reject Jesus and His Gospel and going so far as to kill the One whom God sent by way of the pagan Romans. Even after the Resurrection, Jesus remained with the disciples in geographical Israel for another 40 days as proof that He was alive again.
Through Israel came the Messiah who fulfilled both the Law and the prophecies concerning Himself and He now commands all men to repent because judgment is coming. We can know judgment is coming with absolute certainty because God raised this Man Christ Jesus from the grave (Amos 3:7). This authentication to that generation (due to their rejection of Him), came by way of the sign of Jonah (Matt. 12:39), was given with the same level of divine authority that Jesus forgave the paralytic of his sins in front of Scribes. When they balked at this, He challenged them and said (paraphrasing here) is it harder for me to forgive his sins, or tell him to get up and walk? He then authenticated His power to forgive sins by telling the paralytic to get up and walk (Mark 2:1-12).
Invariably, every society, kingdom, empire, and nation that has ever existed has always moved along the same path towards self-destruction without exception. That is because all of the aforementioned are filled with people, and people are filled with sin. Without divine intervention, sin always corrupts and destroys. That is why there were even “times of ignorance” so soon after creation and the flood, because mankind willingly rejected the truth, thus searing their conscious for generations. Even then, God showed lenience. But man can only bend so far before he is completely broken. Nations can only delve so far into wickedness before they are brought to ruin. That is why we haven’t seen a kingdom last more than a few centuries at a time. True, some empires such as the Romans or certain Chinese dynasties have lasted longer, but they never stay the same shape. They have to continually evolve in form in order to stay alive.
Man’s sin is like a genetic error that keeps reappearing in the family tree. At its core lies the idea that man has the capacity to become like God. This becomes something our adversary the Devil masterfully and dutifully repackages and regurgitates on a regular basis. Every religion, ideology, philosophy, and worldview that teaches redemption apart from Jesus Christ, is antichrist at the core and is anathema. And if we believe the Bible to be true (I do), then the history of this world is one replete with man’s continual rebellion against its creator God. This is why the world was given over to Satan in the garden. Man forfeited his right to rule (Luke 4:5-7), and thus Satan uses that authority to place a veil over reality shielding fallen man from the truth.
…and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 1 John 4:3
The spirit of antichrist is one which can mean either against or in place of Christ. It seeks to replace our one and only Savior (John 14:6, 1 Timothy 2:5) with one more amenable and palatable to man’s darkened heart. We know one day that this spirit of antichrist will be personified into a single person, the Antichrist, and he will embody the totality of evil. If you think about all the depravity and wickedness in the world today (mass shootings, terrorism, abortion, rape, violence, corruption, etc.), and imagine it being embodied into a single person, you would have the Antichrist. No wonder he is called the son of perdition and the man of lawlessness.
But as man continues to pursue wickedness in an ever-increasing capacity, the world continually sinks lower and lower to find a savior who embraces (and even encourages) man’s sinful state. (See for example) But in man’s descent arises another idea. If man can be like God, shouldn’t man also be the arbiter of his own morality? The most recent examples we have seen of this is human secularism, and it has tainted every fabric of our society. Humanism denies the divine and questions everything that is, regardless of how obvious a thing may be. Is it any wonder that we are having the issues we are today? And every man did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). Tragically, we are witnessing probably the greatest assault on truth, Christianity, sexuality, gender identity, marriage, and family the world has ever seen.
Well, there was this one time before…Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually Gen. 6:5
And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. Luke 17:26-30
I know there is already a lot of commentary on ‘the days of Noah and Lot’ out in the ether sphere. I don’t think I’m adding anything significant to the collective group-think for remnant believers (to borrow a coined phrase from Jan Markell). What I would add though, is that all cultures/societies/civilizations have a breaking point. Every nation and empire has a point of no-return. Sometimes these breaking points are determined by metrics measuring birth/death ratios. For example, if a nation drops below the 2:1 birth to death ratio, the survival of said nation may be at significant risk. If births drop below 1.7:1, a nation’s ability to survive becomes unrecoverable.
Other less tangible things may also be used as a metric…such as morality (or what a nation deems as morally acceptable) may point to its demise. For example, the Third Reich legally and culturally pushed Anti-Semitism to the point to where they arrived at the Final Solution. So bad was this destination that even to this day, some 70 years later the swastika is still reviled as one of the evilest symbols ever devised, because of what it once represented.
There is another metric though, and that is the divine one. After committing the blasphemy of desecrating the temple “vessels”, God’s handwriting appeared on the wall of Belshazzar’s courtroom. So shaken was he at witnessing this, that scripture records that not only would his knees not stop shaking, but his loins were loosed. King Belshazzar was instructed to bring in the now elderly Daniel, who explains both the words and the meanings behind them. He (and the Babylonian leadership) were weighed and found wanting, meaning that his kingdom would be taken from him that very night when the Medes and Persians infiltrated Babylon-proper and killed the royals.
And this is the inscription that was written:
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” Daniel 5:25-28
Anne Graham Lotz and others have pointed out, that we are a nation under judgment. If that is true, what is the handwriting on the walls for us? Is it just one thing?
Scripture doesn’t give one specific, but many. In God’s mercy and generosity, He points to many things we believers could see as ‘signs of the time.’ Wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilence, so on and so forth (Matthew 24). Paul and other apostles speak to the increasing moral corruptness of culture in general, and the rising tide of apostasy in the church as signs of the end. Jesus pointed out the lukewarm nature of the final stage of the church. These weren’t mentioned for their peculiarity, but rather for their increasing frequency and severity.
Technically speaking, the state we are at now is one where man is at his most dangerous. This primarily because not only have we created the most dangerous weapons mankind has ever known, but we also lack the moral and ethical foundations to govern ourselves properly.
The main differences between our days vs. Noah’s is that we do not need a global flood to wipe out humanity; we have the technological and biological means to do it ourselves. The proverbial bell was rung when we entered into the Atomic Age. We can’t undo that. We can’t undo the development and proliferation of chemical and biological Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). We can’t undo the internet or computers. We have crossed too many red-lines technologically speaking, in regards to quantum physics, genetics, and artificial intelligence that can’t be undone.
God gave mankind 120 years before the judgment of the flood. Ironically, it’s been 120 years since the First Zionist Congress in 1897, when God began stirring the Jews to leave Europe and get back to their ancient homeland. Jesus used the parable of the fig tree when referencing Israel, and to the other nations as ‘all the trees’ (Luke 21:29). Will we get more time? Will these trees continue to bend, or is there a breaking point ahead?
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:25-28