In the days ahead many will be stirred by proclamations, both true and false, of ominous events set for fulfillment on specific dates. However, we are not being prepared for a "date" but for a marriage.
It is the depth of our day-by-day relationship with Christ that defines walking with God at the end of the age.
The confidence we have as we face tomorrow is rooted in the quality of our walk with God today. Thus, as these days unfold, the way of the Lord will be revealed for what it truly is: a narrow path upon which we walk with God. It is an indisputable truth: the only way to prepare for Jesus' second coming is to faithfully obey what He commanded in His first coming – and His first command was "Follow Me" (John 1:43).
What does it mean to "follow" Jesus but that we walk faithfully with Him throughout our life? The fact is, we anticipate the nearness of the Lord, but we do not know when He might return. While I believe we are very near to the end of the age, still it may be many years before some of the unfulfilled prophecies come to pass. Regardless, our call is to follow the Lamb – to walk with Him every day.
If we study the Scriptures, we will see that, from the beginning, the Lord always provided for those who walked with Him in His presence. No matter what occurred in the world, God's servants were not held hostage to the fears and anxieties of their times. Their walk with God prepared them for all things.
Jesus said the days prior to His return would be as the days of Noah. Let us look again at Noah's life. God did not give Noah a predetermined date specifying when the flood would come. The Lord gave Noah two things: a task, which was to build the ark, and time to get the job done.
The Almighty could have destroyed wickedness in a heartbeat. Yet, the Scriptures tell us that the "patience of God kept waiting...during the construction of the ark" (1 Peter 3:20). The priority of God was focused not on what was to be destroyed but on what was being built.
Too many of us are so focused on what the devil is doing that we fail to see what God is doing. The focus of the Lord is not on how dark evil becomes but how Christlike the Church becomes! There is a grace streaming from God's heart. In the midst of great darkness, the Lord has purposed to bring glory to Himself and protection to His people.
God told Noah to build the ark. When the task was completed, then the flood came. We also have a task, a vision from God: build the house of the Lord and participate in the harvest of the nations. Jesus did not say, "When evil gets worse the harvest begins." He said, "when the crop permits...the harvest has come" (Mark 4:29).
Certainly, God's highest plans will not be diverted by the increase of wickedness. One may say that God's justice demands He destroy the wicked! Yes, but His nature demands His good plans and promises concerning His glory in the Church first be fulfilled!
Look again at Noah. Noah lived at a time when "every intent of the thoughts of his [man's] heart was only evil continually." His world, like ours, "was corrupt in the sight of God, and...filled with violence" (Genesis 6:5, 11).
Yet, during these same days, "Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8). What was unique about Noah? How did he find the preserving grace of God in his life? The Scriptures tell us, "Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God" (Genesis 6:9).
I love this Scripture: Noah walked with God. What does it mean to walk with God? It means that we stay yielded to His Word and attentive to His presence. Though we do not see Him, we know Him. We have found our place of security in the Almighty. Our peace comes from Him, not people, places, or things.
The name Noah means "rest." As the Lord's servant, Noah not only knew his mission in life, but he found His place of rest in God alone. Step-by-step, day-by-day, Noah lived in the Lord's presence. Noah walked with God and was intimate with Him.
But to know someone deeply does not happen quickly. It takes time to penetrate through the veil of unknowing into the place of enduring friendship and intimacy. This is why walking with God is so pleasing to Him, for it creates a time-tested relationship between God and man. We no longer are controlled by the opinions, criticisms, and approval of the world around us. Only as our walk with God matures does intimacy with the Creator truly begin and peace about the future increase.
Consider Abraham. Abraham was called the friend of God (see Isaiah 41:8). When he was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless" (Genesis 17:1). Walking with God leads to purity and intimate friendship with God. It is the source of becoming blameless.
Abraham's descendants, Isaac and Jacob, also walked with God (Genesis 48:15). The lifelong companionship between the Almighty and these patriarchs set the standard for all who followed, from the kings and the prophets of Israel to each Christian who walks with God today.
My Own Experience
We should not be hard on those who have falsely affixed a prophetic event or even the Second Coming to a specific date. It is usually the sincerity of these people that propels their prophecies into regional or national prominence. I, myself, was swept up in a similar experience in the mid-seventies.
Those were days when threats of nuclear war seemed everywhere; many Christians were predicting divine judgment for America. During those days, I came across an article about a huge comet that was due to appear on Christmas Day, 1973. Previously unknown, the comet was named Kohoutek after the Hungarian astronomer who discovered it. The signs of the times confirmed my fears, but when I read in a religious publication that Kohoutek meant "the wolf that devours the lamb," I felt certain that this was a "sign in the heavens" confirming that the end was near.
Compelled by my inner convictions, I began to warn every church in Detroit, all 1,200 of them, that the world would end that Christmas. I even managed to become a guest on the most-watched morning talk show in Detroit, where I warned as many as three million people of God's imminent wrath.
Christmas came and went and nothing happened. The comet was an over-exaggerated astronomical flop. I had been so sure of my insights, so fearfully compelled by the signs of the times, yet so wrongly informed. Then in late January, I happened to meet a woman fluent in Hungarian. I asked her to translate Kohoutek into English. She thought it meant something like "add a tomato to the stew."
God knew my motives were right, even though my knowledge was wrong. Out of that humiliating experience I began to research other "end of the world" movements in Church history. In my study, I discovered two significant items that occurred in Europe. Masses of people were convinced the year 1666 would see the rise of the Antichrist. This thought led to waves of fanaticism and fear which spread from country to country.
I had also been reading a devotional containing a series of letters written by a man named Brother Lawrence, a monk who served Christ as a dishwasher in a monastery. The simple, yet profound, sense of God's presence that accompanied Brother Lawrence made this book, The Practice of the Presence of God, an enduring Christian classic. But what changed my life was that his first letters were written in the year 1666, during the time when Europe was awash with fear of the Antichrist! For all the turmoil in the world around him, at least one soul dwelt in the peace of Jesus Christ.
Brother Lawrence serves as a model for our generation. For when the terrors and confusion of the end of the age increase, it is only in the Lord's presence that we shall find a calm harbor. And to truly know Him then, we must walk with Him now.
Enoch Walked With God
One of my favorite texts is from Genesis 5:22-24. It reads, "Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years...and he was not, for God took him." Hebrews 11:5 tells us that Enoch had "obtained the witness...he was pleasing to God."
Enoch walked with God 300 years. Every day, Enoch arose and sought the Lord, walking faithfully with the Almighty. Eventually, Enoch became so pleasing to God that, without passing through death, He was taken home to be with the Lord.
So also with us, when we faithfully walk with God we bring great pleasure to our Father. The Scripture says that Enoch "obtained the witness" that his life was "pleasing to God." God communicated His pleasure to Enoch. To know the pleasure of God is to taste the nectar of Heaven itself.
Whatever may happen in the future, the God of the future is walking with us today. And while we may not be able to see into tomorrow, our faithfulness to Christ today is our best security for whatever lies ahead.
As the first person raptured by Christ, Enoch sets the standard for all whom Jesus will one day gather to Himself. They simply and passionately walk with God.
Source: The preceding message is adapted from a chapter in Francis' book, The Days of His Presence. Francis Frangipane - Ministries of Francis Frangipane