The Earmark of A Generation

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“Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.”  (2 Timothy 3:1, NIV 1984). “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” (Luke 17:26, NIV 1984). “[Where] the LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5, NIV 1984). “[So] there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive.” (Matthew 24:21, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Earmark — a characteristic or identifying feature.  What characteristic is it that defines or identifies a generation?  The “Greatest Generation” has been used to identify that generation whose childhood was framed by the perhaps the greatest depression of modern history and who came of age fighting (or supporting the war effort) of arguably the most horrific war (World War II), heretofore known to mankind.  Perhaps more horrific than the “war to end all wars” (World War I), whose carnage had eclipsed all wars that had preceded it. The term “Greatest Generation,”  if not coined by, was certainly popularized by former NBC Nightly News anchor and author Tom Brokaw in his book bearing the same name.

My generation, far from the greatest but also not the worst, had its own identifying charactereistics.  I was born in the mid-fifties, grew up in the sixties and early seventies, got married and started my career in the mid to late seventies.  We lost our innocence through the assasination of three major political and social leaders (JFK, MLK and RFK), grew up under under the continuous threat of “mutual assured destruction” from thermonuclear warfare, fought another war (Vietnam) that divided rather than united a nation, and witnessed the collapse of the “Cold War.”

Up to this point in the history of mankind, the “Greatest Degeneration” (to fall below a normal or desirable moral qualities) would have to be the generation that preceded the flood (yes I believe this is real history).  One would think that a generation where “every inclination of the thoughts of [mankind’s] heart was only evil all the time,” would qualify as the “Greatest Degeneration.  After all, God sent a great flood to destroy all life except that which Noah took on the Ark with him.  But it is not.  Jesus stated that as His return is imminent, the moral state of the world will be like it was in the days preceding the flood.  What’s more, the distress of those days will be “unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.”  So bad that “if those days had not been cut short, no one would survive.”  The term used to descibe these days is the “Great Tribulation.”

My Advice – Those days will be “cut short” by the return of Jesus Christ.  A day of great reward and of great judgment.  Great reward for those who have been “born again,” and a day of great judgment for those who have not been.  Jesus characterized this generation by the signs to look for as the Great Tribulation draws near.  Among these are “wars and rumors or war,” “famines and earthquakes in various places,” Christians “hated by all nations because of Me,” “many will turn away from the faith,” “increase of wickedness,” and the “love of most will grow cold.”    He also said that “all these are the beginning of birth pains,” that like birth pains will increase in frequency and intensity as the end draws near.  See Matthew chapter 24 for the complete details.

Beginning to sound familiar?  Read any headlines like this lately?  Jesus also said, “when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matthew 24:33–34, NIV 1984).  Are we “this generation?”  Are we seeing the “beginning of birth pains?”  Good questions.  But the more fundamental question for each of us is: Will it end in a day of great reward or of great judgment for us?  It does not need to be a day of great judgment.  But as Jesus also said, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:5–7, NIV 1984).  If you have not been “born again,”  accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior today (see “The Born Again Experience” blog series).