“Straighten Up and Raise Your Heads”
By Dr. Ray Rooney, Jr.
And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:25-28).
Virtually all of the eschatological (last things, end times, judgment) passages in the Bible are meant to elicit a response of vigilance rather than calculations and computations. They are there so that we might be confident that the return of Christ (Parousia) is absolutely certain and will take place at the time appointed by God. The fact that there are so many of these passages drives home the message, “It will happen and each person had better be prepared.
Too many people get hung up in language that is intentionally metaphorical in nature trying to turn everything into a literal event. All that does is entice people to reach for some “secret code” or illumination. It’s no different from Satan enticing Eve with knowledge she didn’t have. The lust for hidden knowledge became so all-encompassing that it seemingly justified (in her mind) introducing sin into God’s creation. It was this same lust that led to the Gnostics, the Illuminati, and many others like them. It does absolutely nothing in the way of spiritual preparedness, choosing instead to make the focus of future events a special privilege as a result of mental acuity/special knowledge.
In the passage above from Luke’s gospel, the intent is not to get people to go out and buy telescopes to scan the heavens or get the latest information from NOAA concerning trends in the world’s oceans and seas in order to accurately predict the Second Coming of Jesus. Rather, the intent is simply to relate the message that immediately prior to the return, there will be a lot of chaos. Throughout the Bible, changes in the moon, sun, stars, and planets have been indicative of spiritual trends while the roaring seas usually point to worldly or political turmoil. The point Jesus seems to be making is that there is going to be chaos in almost every realm of human existence prior to His Parousia.
But the focus in His prophecy shouldn’t be on the chaos. That is simply the setting or context. Rather, it should be on the people. Jesus said the chaos would cause people to be “fainting with fear and with foreboding…” Pay particular attention to the posture of people in this time immediately prior to the Second Coming. If they are to “straighten up and raise your heads” then it is clear that they will be slouched over with their heads down. That is a posture of fatalism and defeat. That, more than anything else, is what has me convinced that our “redemption is drawing near.”
The past ten years has been both remarkable and surrealistic concerning the advancement of evil from the shadows.
The definition of marriage that has served humanity since the dawn of creation and civilization was instantly wiped away with a single Supreme Court decision. The discipline of science that evolutionists, atheists, and secular progressives deified for so long was suddenly (and conveniently) cast aside on the garbage heap when transgenderism came into vogue. Suddenly, despite what we know about DNA and basic biology, gender has been declared “fluid.” Consequently, if a grown man with a full beard says he feels like a woman on any given day, he should be allowed to utilize public restroom and changing facilities for women and little girls. No questions asked.
The biblical concept of “nation” has been eroded to the point that a surprisingly large percentage of our politicians now favor “open borders” which is an invitation to both chaos and anarchy. Public displays of a pornographic nature are “protected” while public prayers attempted anywhere but home and church are derided as “unconstitutional!” Abortion was exposed for the evil it truly is via Kermit Gosnell and the Center for Medical progress videos and yet the federal government continues to subsidize Planned Parenthood with nearly a half-billion taxpayer dollars each year. And now we see that all the conspiratorial rumors about a Deep State operating within our government are actually true.
The events themselves are collectively just a part of the shaking of the heavens and the roaring of the sea. But the effect it has had on Christians across the planet is the telltale sign that things are about to change, fast and big.
The brazenness by which evil has revealed itself in the past decade is breathtaking. Hatred for anything or anyone associated with the God of the Bible has become fashionable in the realm of politics, higher education, and often even in institutions like the military. The sudden cultural acceptance of things like Antifa, Black Lives Matter, doxxing, and accosting conservative politicians in their homes, restaurants, and airports in an intimidating and threatening manner seems to have cast a pall over many Christians and churchgoers. Our culture, society, and even the world are being shaken right now. And when it comes to our religious leaders…there are very few Jeremiahs but a whole lot of Hananiahs in leadership roles (see Jeremiah chapter 28).
Face it. Today’s Christian is being kowtowed and intimidated into keeping their faith corralled within the four walls of their church sanctuaries. Eight years of the Obama administration redefining “freedom of religion” into “freedom of worship” convinced many that their religious freedom is limited to their place of worship. The virulent hatred for all things biblical has many believers slumped over in a posture of submission and defeat.
That’s why I believe the time of His return is near.
If it is, Christians had better turn their attention toward Jesus and away from the darkness. The one question we should consider in these dark days is not “how will my life change if evil continues its march to prominence?” but “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth” (Luke 18:8)?
Believers are not called to leave our Bibles at home and our faith and worship in the church sanctuary. We are not called to “go with the flow.” We are not called to acclimate ourselves to the growing presence of evil in our society and world. No, we have been admonished to “straighten up and raise your heads” (Luke 21:28)!
The book of Hebrews was written to people who had grown weary of persecution. So the author begins by reminding them of just who Jesus is.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).
The author goes on to make the case that Jesus is greater than angels. He is greater than Moses. His priesthood is greater than the Levitical priesthood. Finally, the author takes them on a tour of the faithful and reminds them that they are to be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
Indeed, the darkness is growing. Evil is in our face daring us to come out of our prayer closets and churches with fearless faith. Many of our religious leaders counsel us to “tolerate that woman Jezebel, who…is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:20). We’re being challenged from without and lied to from within. It’s little wonder that many of us have adopted a posture of fatalism and defeat.
But if there was ever a time in human history to “straighten up and raise your heads” it is now! Our redemption is drawing near. When He returns, will His church be found defeated, diminished, and desperate? Or will His ears be greeted with songs of victory and praise? Remember the stanza from “Onward Christian Soldiers”?
At the name of Jesus Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, On to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver At the shout of praise:
Brothers, lift your voices, Loud your anthems raise!
In the spirit of Joshua I say, “As for me and my house, we will straighten up and raise our heads” in these increasingly dark and difficult times. How about you?