“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...”
So wrote Charles Dickens of the days when the tumbrels pushed their way through the jostling, shouting streets of Paris to the feet of Madame Guillotine.
Dorrie sighed as she placed the well worn and loved copy of the book on the shelf alongside her Bible, laying her folded spectacles on top. She leaned back in her wheelchair and closed her eyes. The best of times and the worst of times: what would Dickens make of the present day world?
Her mind wandered from the French Revolution through the many wars and rumours of wars that had interspersed her reading over the years. In her lifetime she had to do with two of them: a major war and a relatively minor war. Always she was reminded of the histories recorded in the Scripture.
She thought of the claim that a world war was the ‘war to end all wars’ – there has never yet been a war to end all wars: that is still to come.
It was the worst of times when the Creator looked around and saw the earth full of violence and corruption. He determined to destroy all men, beasts, birds and insects. Until His eye lighted upon Noah, an upright man.
It was the worst of times when a nation was brought into cruel servitude and degradation, until they forgot their God. Then God pulled Moses from his hiding place in the desert and sent him back to remind His people of their God and their identity; to remove them from their oppressors and to lead them to a land which He would give to them.
The history of the people of Israel is scattered with good times and bad: times of obeisance and obedience interrupted by times of dishonour, disrespect and treachery. Many a prophet was sent with warnings relating both to current circumstances, and to events far into the future. Prophets spoke of the “day of the Lord” – a time which will be the worst of times, yet will usher in the best of times.
A prophet had the temerity to ask the Lord if He knew what He was doing before being assured that God knew what the future held.
The prophet Ezekiel was told that iniquity has an end, and Daniel was told that the time of the end is appointed, not yet to be revealed.
Jesus, too, spoke of the ends of times; so much so that His disciples asked Him, “What shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world?”
At this point in her cogitations Dorrie opened her eyes and reached for her Bible. She spoke as to a present companion, “Yes, Lord, and men today are still arguing the facts of the composite answer You gave them. Why is it we always want to know what the future holds even when we can do so little to change what lies ahead?”
She flipped the pages. “Here we are: ‘Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord will come.’ Now that is quite good enough for me. You will come; I don’t know the day or the hour; all I need to do is to be ready and waiting.”
She turned the pages again, glancing at the letter written by Peter warning of the sceptics of the end times questioning the teaching of the believers, until she came to the final chapters of the Book. She thought again of the best of times that will follow the worst of times, while she picked out and read aloud the words that sustained her when the days were long and dreary.
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
“And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light;”
She laid the Book open on her knees, hands flat on the pages.
“And that will truly be the best of times. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
References: Genesis 6; Exodus 3; Joel 3; Habakkuk 1; Ezekiel 21 & 35; Daniel 8; Matthew 24; 2 Peter 3; Revelation 21 & 22.
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