Peace among rumors of wars

The disciples asked Jesus about the end of times in Matthew 24:3, “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus gave a lengthy and specific answer. One of the signs He told the disciples to look for were “wars and rumors of wars.” The rumors of wars is often overlooked in light of the upcoming fact of the wars of Isaiah 17:1, Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38-39, and the war at Armageddon in Rev. 16:14, plus other wars that have not been described specifically but will occur as per Rev. 6:4.

The news today is sobering. On one side of the Atlantic, we read that The “Special Relationship” between US and UK is over, MP’s say. Also on that side of the Atlantic, we read that even as tanks roll into Gaza, “Israel will have to end Hamas regime.” On the other side of the world, a South Korean ship was sunk in the Yellow Sea with all hands on board. North Korea is suspected. At home, massive FBI – DHS raids were carried out in three states, militias are the suspected targets, as reported here, and here, and other places. In this report, the raids were against militia groups with Christian ties, specifically with end time orientation and philosophy.

Note that none of the prophesied wars have occurred yet. However, Jesus said in the same breath, ‘wars and rumors of wars.’ Wars are something we can wrap our minds around. There are concrete terms that we associate with wars. ‘Win,’ ‘lose,’ ‘enemy,’ ‘advance’, ‘retreat,’ ‘victory’, ‘defeat.’ We can understand what is required and take action. However, with rumors, there is nothing concrete. Truth could be anything and anything could be a lie. Nothing is certain. Rumors are quicksand. And rumors of wars are the worst kind of rumors because they keep a population on such edge and anxiety. Looking at the news today from east to west, north to south, we never quite can predict where or when the next blow will come. That is the nature of rumors.

Gary Alan Fine is a premier academic who has made a career of studying the social impact of rumor and legend. In his book “Rumor Mills,” Fine says that a rumor’s “major ideological function is to bridge over the cognitive gaps tearing the tissue of normative beliefs and standards.” In other words, as belief systems are shaken, people knit the few facts available into tales that satisfy the gaps in their understanding, an understanding that is being shaken ever more vigorously, and as it is shaken more vigorously, the tales increase to cover the gaps. The end time is certainly a time when belief systems are being shaken. People who believed whole-heartedly in the concepts of money, tenure, career, home, capitalism,  retirement, and security are concepts that no longer have the same meaning as they did even two years ago.

Rumors put you on edge. The search for truth often proves fruitless. Anxiety grows. Rumors draw energy away from our culture, life, society. The promote a general unbalancing. This is what rumors do and rumors of war are the worst. However, Jesus, being perfect, and intentional with every word He speaks, said in the same sentence as the promise 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.” (Mt 24:6 NIV)

Jesus knows the effect that a time of prolonged rumor has upon a psyche, and He admonishes us not to be afraid! Do not be a slave to fears. There is nothing more tarnishing to a Christian testimony than a life of hand-wringing. Nothing is more detrimental to the Light of the Holy Spirit inside us than giving in to the fear that rumors of war brings.

UK and US may go their separate ways. North Korea may have sunk a South Korean ship. Israel may occupy Gaza. FBI may have busted up American militia groups. These are all potentialities. Look past the rumors of what MAY happen, to the certainty of what will happen. The Lord will come rapture us away. The Holy Spirit will draw multitudes to salvation during the Tribulation. God will re-create the earth. Of all people, Christians should exhibit the peace that passes all understanding. Others may fear and cry. Others may let rumors permeate their soul and dim their light. This time, above all times, should be the time when we heed the Lord’s admonishment and fear not! We can look past the time of uncertainty toward the time of certainty – when Jesus rules. We have the blessed Hope. Be bright with hope for others who are in the dark. Rumors come and go. They float up into a nation’s consciousness, and they they dissolve just as ephemerally. Jesus is solid. He never fades. And that’s a fact!