8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
No matter what is right in front of us, our perspective becomes shaped by it. When we focus on what’s before us, that thing no matter how big or small becomes all we see and everything else fades to the periphery, or beyond.
For practical reasons, it is of course vital that we focus on what we need to accomplish first, which means that we immerse ourselves in a perspective almost wholly defined by that thing.
There are times, however, that the thing which we are focusing on – that thing which becomes so large and pervasive to us – is unimportant, or is something that requires no action, or even focus from us.
The COVID pandemic is a perfect example of this on a community/ national/ global scale: it has become an all-pervasive focus which the whole community speaks of, thinks about, and hyper-focuses on constantly to the exclusion of almost everything else.
In the news, our reporters have dropped focus on almost anything else that we may want, or need to know about and speak pervasively about this pandemic. With this hyper-focus, we have created a global community of hypochondriacs, but I digress – my point is that this merely an example of a phenomena I am calling the ‘Present Tense Deception’ which as a principle means that whatever we are focusing on is what we begin to believe is the most important/ vital thing.
Using the same example of COVID, I may point out that the focus actually distracts us from the vital thing. Because we became so focused on preventing the spread of the virus, we ignored the fact that there are companies (and nations) which are actively manufacturing diseases. If the manufacture of diseases continues, then it matters little what we do about this pandemic because as soon as it is over, another could begin with another altered/ manufactured disease which could cause even more death and destruction than this one. Now that’s just one other item that the pandemic response has caused us to overlook – it is not to mention many other things which we lost sight of due to the ‘Present Tense Deception’ of COVID.
Now, my point in writing this was not speak about the virus, but the phenomena of the present tense deception. When the virus started growing, I saw a handful of articles/ commentaries in the Christian sphere talking about how the pandemic took even theologians by surprise as there is no commentary in scripture about the outbreak of a virus pertaining to the last days. First, I point out that this is not really true (Rev. 6: 7 & 8, just for example), but typically, pandemics have not been a forefront of Christian eschatology (that is theory, or theology pertaining to the last days).
Many Christians have begun to realize that we are living in the last days, yet often their focus is not on the biblical signs per se, but on 1) the rise of iniquity (which, legitimately is a sign of the last days (Matt. 24:12), and 2) the present tense deception. We see current events in our immediate perception which appear apocalyptic, and hang our hats on these things.
In the 80s, certain Christian refugees from Slavic nations were convinced that Russia was the antichrist nation, and that they were living in the end days under that antichrist. Likewise, Christian refugees from China felt the same. Are they correct? As far as their perspective goes, where they and their families face vicious, systematic persecution, it is difficult to refute their perspective. Likewise ISIS, and other modern regimes which could be a full litany should I go through them.
Through history there have been genocides, massacres and harsh persecutions. Are any of these that specific antichrist nation? From the perspective of those who are under such circumstances in may appear so, but for those who are a little distant from the situation we can see that the systematic persecution is horrific, yet we don’t believe that those specifically are the whole fulfilment of the antichrist kingdom predicted. They may be living the present-tense reality of the appocalypse but the time in not yet wholly fulfilled. Rather, many of these are those who are hidden under the alter, and will be given white robes and told to wait a little while longer till the number of their brethren be fulfilled (Rev 6:9-11).
With all that said, it is possible to see our personal circumstances as the end-all; the truth is found in scripture – the fulfillment of the prophecies will be unveiled in their time. There are signs of the end which have occurred, whereby I believe it is the last days, but our prevailing perception and circumstance may distract and deceive us. We must look to the truth of God’s Word, not to our prevalent perspective, or circumstances for understanding.