The articles that make up the material from which Sudden Death Overtime was compiled were first published in the Midnight Cry Messenger in 2001 and 2002. The reader should bear this in mind as some references — such as the events of September 11 — will seem “dated.” In addition, there are references to Bro. Thomas in the present tense, whereas the Lord called him home in August 2004. While we miss him, the Lord is still here!
From time to time various ones have asked me about the possibility of producing a book out of the article series and I have sort of “put it on the shelf.” More recently, however, I began to feel a renewed desire to share once again the burden that resulted in the series in the first place. To that end the series has been recast into logical chapters and — with some revisions — brought together here. And so, it is commended to the reader’s conscience before God.
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” I Thess. 5:1-4.
It is very evident from these verses that the Apostle Paul had done quite a bit of teaching regarding the course of the age and the coming of Christ. They knew what to expect. They understood how it would be. They knew that all history was pointing toward a day known as “the day of the Lord,” a day of utter destruction. They knew that, for the people of the world who did not know God, the coming of this day would be sudden and totally unexpected, and that it would be impossible for them at that point to escape. The reason that day would come so unexpectedly is that the people of the world would be “in darkness.” God’s people would have light and not be surprised by the day of the Lord, nor caught up in the sudden destruction it would bring.
I believe it is likewise evident from this passage, and indeed, from the Bible as a whole, that God is very much interested in giving His people light and understanding on the world in which they must live. This includes light regarding particular times and seasons, such as the days immediately preceding the coming of Christ. That is not, of course, to say that anyone but the Father will know the day and hour (Matt. 24:36), but He does desire that we be able to know and recognize “times and seasons.”
More and more I hear people express bewilderment at the things taking place in the world. People just cannot understand things like the Columbine High School massacre, or how a woman could suddenly drown her five young children in a bathtub. What’s wrong with people? They cannot understand why churches are in the condition they are in. They cannot understand the persistence of wars and other violent conflicts. In general they just cannot quite comprehend why things in this world are the way they are. We should do something! — but what?
And now, since I wrote the above, we have seen the devastating terrorist attack of Sept. 11. Multitudes who felt reasonably safe and complacent have been shocked into a state of fear and uncertainty. Jesus spoke of a time when men’s hearts would be “failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” Luke 21:26.
Does God want His children to be confused, bewildered, fearful? Of course not! He desires that we have light, that we understand the world around us. We may not be able to fully expound God’s purposes for every particular event but the bottom line is that nothing should surprise us or cause us to be dismayed.
If you are one of His, He wants you to have light on your pathway in spite of the prevailing darkness round about. He wants you to have a rest in your soul knowing that He is able to finish what He has started. He wants you to know at all times that He has everything under control and that all is proceeding according to His wise plan. He wants you to find in Him a true hiding place from the dark tempest that is engulfing our world.
For some time now I have had a growing burden to share with my fellow believers such understanding as the Lord has given me of what is happening in our world and where we’re headed. I certainly don’t profess to have anywhere near all the answers — after all, God has ordained that we walk by faith — but I have lived for many years with an inward sense of where we are in the broad picture of things and my burden is to share this.
There is no boasting whatever implied. If any of us truly knows anything at all it is by sovereign grace alone and it must be understood in the context of the Body of Christ — for we are members one of another. Rom. 12:5. We have gifts that differ yet all are given for the benefit of the whole.
The responsibility falls upon you, the reader, to seek God from your heart as to whether this burden is from the Lord or not. If it is not, nothing will come of it. If it is, the Lord will accomplish His purpose in the hearts of those for whom it is intended. If it is, and you reject it, you are not rejecting me, but the Lord and His desire to give you light.