ONFS, Acrylic on Canvas, Total triptych size: 256 cm x 80 cm (101″ x 31.5″). Each panel of the triptych is 80 cm x 80 cm (31.5″ x 31.5″)
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“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he [Jesus] promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation’…
…But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:3-4, 8-9)
Why has there been such a long ‘pause’ between Christ’s first and second coming?
The Scriptures answer this question: This ‘delay’ is God’s ‘grace period’ toward all of us. After Christ comes again, judgment will be executed upon all who persist in their unbelief and sins, but today is our precious opportunity to be reconciled to God so that we may be spared from this coming judgment.
Today is the day of salvation.
Everyone who repents (turns away from their sins) and trusts in Christ, believing that he has paid the punishment for their sins through his death on the cross, will be forgiven and eternally reconciled to God. (See “Message“).
The Bible says “The Tribulation” is the time immediately preceding Christ’s return when the wrath of God will be poured out on all those who refuse to repent and trust in Christ to save them from their sins (receive salvation). (See “The Tribulation” (Signs of The Times Series)). Those who have been reconciled to God will be spared from the judgment of the Tribulation as well as from the eternal judgment of hell.
Whenever we consider God’s wrath and judgment, we must understand that it is not some sort of mean streak in his character. In reality, it is God’s perfect holiness and justice which demand it against all those who do wrong. In addition, we must remember that although God is holy and just, he is also abounding in love, compassion and mercy.
God, when he revealed himself to Moses, proclaimed himself to be:
“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)
God also declares that, “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:13). More importantly, whenever we view God’s wrath and judgment, we must remember God’s earnest desire and original design for mankind is that we would enjoy a close, loving, personal relationship with him.
At great personal cost, he died on a cross in order to make restoration into that relationship with him possible for us.
“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18). The Lord does not delight to bring his wrath upon anyone. Instead, God “…is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
He does not desire to condemn us but rather to save us:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)
Though God created us to be in a loving, personal relationship with him we tragically chose to rebel and sin against him (Romans 3:23). Consequently, we are all alienated from God and cannot enjoy this kind of relationship with him. This is because God is perfect in holiness and cannot be in the presence of sin. Furthermore, because God is perfect in justice he must also mete out the just punishment for our sins, which is death and hell (Romans 6:23).
Even though we are severed from God because of our sins, he still deeply loves us (Romans 5:6-11). Therefore he has provided the way for us to be reconciled to him. He sent his Son, Jesus, to live the perfect, sinless life that none of us could live. Jesus then took upon himself all of OUR sins and bore the punishment for them through his death on the cross. (Isaiah 53). He rose from the dead three days later, making reconciliation with God possible for us.
In order to be forgiven of your sins, reconciled to God and enter into a loving, personal relationship with him you must first repent (turn away) from your sins. Second, you must place your faith in Jesus, trusting in your heart that he has personally paid the punishment for your sins through his death on the cross.
When you accept Christ as your personal Savior like this, all of your sins (past, present and future) are forgiven and you enter into a beautiful relationship with God that will continue throughout eternity. In addition, once you have placed your faith in Christ you can rest fully assured that you will be spared from hell as well as the coming wrath of God in the Tribulation. This is because Jesus has fully taken the wrath of God for you in your place! Hallelujah!!! (Romans 3:22-26).
“For God did not appoint us [believers] to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
“Whoever believes in the Son [Jesus] has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36)
“For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]” (Ephesians 2:8-9 AMP)
God graciously offers us this free gift of reconciliation and eternal life today. His ‘grace period’ to accept Christ as Savior ends the moment we die, which can happen suddenly and unexpectedly.
“Today if you hear his [God’s] voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7)
The Scriptures often liken Jesus’ return to a thief coming in the night (Matthew 24:36-51, Luke 12:35-48, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 3:3, Revelation 16:15). In other words, everyone who is not reconciled to God, prepared and waiting for him will be caught off guard when he returns, just as a thief catches a house owner off guard when he is robbed. The Scriptures warn that in one unexpected moment our gracious door of opportunity for salvation will be shut and our chance to be reconciled to God and saved from judgment will be gone forever (Matthew 24:36-51, 25:1-13, Luke 13:22-30, 16:19-31, 21:34-36).
“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)
This painting reflects God’s precious gift of time to us before the judgment of the Tribulation comes upon the world. Our time is fleeting, for “…our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
My message through this piece of artwork can be summed up by the following Scripture:
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all…Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin [a sin offering] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 17-6:2)
The four people in this painting represent every section of humanity and how they choose to spend God’s gracious gift of time to them. They also represent every section of humanity in their responses towards God’s loving offer of reconciliation through faith in Christ.
To learn about the meanings behind each panel in this triptych, please return to the Signs of The Times Series, and click on the individual panels.
This painting illustrates some of the principles in an End Times dream that was given to me on November 5, 2011.
The dream as originally recorded (with minor grammatical editing):
It was a lovely summer’s day, and I was back home at my family’s lake cabin in northern Minnesota, USA. It was one of those hot, lazy, relaxing summer days, an atmosphere of leisure and pleasure, and I had not a care in the world. I had my swimsuit on was about to go for a swim off our float. An attractive young man accompanied me. Evidently he was a friend of mine. In my dream I was unmarried. We were talking as we walked down the dock to the float. He threw a large inner tube into the water, and I jumped in!
Oh, how refreshing the water was! And so warm! I was so used to absolutely freezing my backside off back in the chilly Southern Ocean off southeastern Tasmania, Australia. I exclaimed, “I can’t believe how warm the water is! It is sooooooooo nice! It is sooooooo much more comfortable than Tasmanian waters!” It was like sheer joy. I had not a care in my mind, and I was perfectly at peace. I swam around and went under, like a happy little duck in the water.
The guy jumped in and joined me, and we continued to chat. I kept telling him how much I was enjoying the warmth of the water. I said to him, “And another thing is that I don’t have to worry about rip tides, currents or any ocean waves crashing over me and carrying me away in my innertube.” We talked for about a minute, and then he got out of the water and said he was leaving. I was a little disappointed he was leaving me, for I enjoyed the male company. However, that warm lake water was so pleasant I was just as happy to stay out there myself.
When the guy left, the inner tube had started to float away a little bit, but I thought nothing of it. I got up onto it to soak up all that sun!!! (Another thing we don’t get enough of down in chilly Tassie!) As I tried to situate myself comfortably on the tube, I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of bubbles underneath me and around me in the water. I thought that was strange because our lake, like virtually all the other 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, were very still, calm waters. It was like there was churning, disturbed water underneath me.
As the guy walked back to land all of a sudden a great current dragged me powerfully and quickly away–nearly 10m (33 feet) in about a second. I was a bit worried and thought, “What on earth is going on? Where is that current coming from in this lake?” I realised I was being dragged out towards the buoys that marked the channel. I was alarmed and knew I had to get myself back to the float so that I wouldn’t get hit by any speed boats going through the channel.
The innertube was really cumbersome and large. It was hard to paddle and manuver myself with just my hands. I looked at the disturbed water underneath me again and thought, “This is so strange….” The water was not being churned by the wake of a boat or any natural cause, and it was beginning to get rough, like whitewater rapids. I kept thinking, “What on earth is going on????” It became more and more difficult to paddle myself back because the water was getting increasingly rough.
I looked up across our lake and from the direction of the north waves were growing and coming towards me. They were still only small, less than 30 cm (1 foot), but they were really agitated and powerful like a raging river. I knew I had to do more than reach the float–I had to get off the water! Thankfully, though the waves were growing bigger and bigger, they actually helped push me to shore.
As I neared the shore I saw my mildly retarded older cousin sitting in one of the lawnchairs. She was petting Boomer, the cute 6 week old golden doodle puppy I bought for my family.
As I got out of the water I looked back over the lake to see what was going on. The waves had grown considerably by that time, to small ocean standard, perhaps half a meter (1.5 feet), but there were bigger, rougher waves coming in behind them, and all in my direction. No longer was this the land of “sky blue waters” (the meaning of “Minnesota” in the Dakota language). They were rough, churning, agitated, whitewater waves that were coming in at a faster than normal speed and intensifying at a faster than normal rate.
I was scared at how unnatural all of this was…it was supernatural. I had no idea what was physically going on for there was no scientific explanation for it. Therefore I also feared the unknown. What was going to happen in the immediate future? Everything was getting bad so unnaturally quickly.
Really alarmed, I ran up to my cousin, who was facing the water. I grabbed her arm and said, “Get up! Get up! We need to get out of here!”
She was very reluctant to leave her comfortable seat on the shore and said, “Why?”
I was so desperate though because I knew we had to get away from the water, so I kept pulling on her arm trying to get her up. But after a few attempts and she wasn’t budging, this horrible feeling came over me. I realized that although she was sitting on the shore looking directly at the lake she could not see the waves! This really scared me.
When I wasn’t getting anywhere with getting her out of her seat she asked me again, “Why do I need to get out of my chair? What is going on?”
I stopped yanking her arm and turned and pointed at the waves and said, “Can’t you see all the waves?”
She said nothing. This really disturbed me because they were plain as day, and now that I had pointed them out to her she apparently still did not see them. Though she is mildly retarded, she was completely mentally capable of understanding the kind of danger she was in…if only she could see it.
What on earth was going on? How come she could not see the waves but I could?
One thing she could see, however, was the great distress I was in. Because she saw that I was so alarmed and earnest with her, she finally stood up and we started to scurry up the hill to our lake cabin to take shelter. Although she could not see the danger she was in, she believed me on account of my testimony and took action accordingly…and with hardly a minute to spare for the waves would have engulfed us soon.
As I was running up the hill, I was slowly waking from my dream. My stomach turned upside down, and I was overcome with dread. In my head I kept trying to figure out what was causing a Minnesota lake to act like this. In the natural, there was no scientific explanation for it.
But as I was rushing up the hill, I knew in my spirit exactly what was happening…It was the End Times.
Then I woke up.
“‘There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man [Jesus] coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’
Then he [Jesus] told them this parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man [Jesus].” (Luke 21:25-36)
THE MAIN LESSONS OF THE DREAM:
1) Despite an illusion of peace and security, the End Times will come upon the earth suddenly and destructively.
“Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord [Christ’s return] will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3)
In my dream, the calm, dependable water turned supernaturally rough and dangerous at a supernatural rate. In the same way, the turmoil of the End Times will come upon the world.
For unbelievers, like the woman in the left panel of this painting, their false sense of security and peace as well as their pursuit of earthly things will be their undoing. Destruction will come upon them suddenly, as the Scriptures say. Dissipation, drunkenness (lack of spiritual sobriety and an excess of earthly indulgence) and the anxieties of life will distract them, and that day will close in on them unexpectedly like a trap.
“No one knows about that day or hour [of Christ’s return], not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man [Jesus]. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:36-44)
Once Christ returns, the door of opportunity for salvation will be shut. There are no second chances (See Matthew 25:1-13). We must believe in Jesus today for Today is the day of salvation.
2) We must believe, just like little children do, to be saved.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15)
Little children are humble and simply believe what they are told without skepticism, doubt, arrogance or cynicism. Jesus presents them as the model of how we must humble ourselves and believe his message of salvation through repentance and faith in Christ.
Because unbelieving men and women are alienated from God because of their sin, all of their thinking, reasoning and wisdom has become spiritually darkened (See Romans 1:18-32). Therefore, the simplicity of the gospel (repent and believe in Jesus and you will be saved) sounds foolish to their ears, for they consider themselves too “wise” by earthly standards to believe such a thing (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16). “An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin” (Psalm 36:1-2).
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-21)
Sadly, despite all of the darkened ‘wisdom’ the unbelieving world possesses, they do not realize that their sin has spiritually blinded them and that it takes a miraculous work of Jesus to restore their sight so that they may believe and be saved (Matthew 13:11-16).
Jesus often healed the physically blind, which was symbolic of him healing the spiritually blind (granting them salvation) (See John 9). “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.’” (John 9:39)
I was once spiritually blind because of my sin and unbelief, but in 1997 Christ in his mercy came to me and granted me my sight. The amazing thing was I did not realize I was spiritually blind until Christ opened my eyes. Up until then I thought I could “see” just fine.
(See “About: About The Artist“ to read how Jesus opened my eyes. See “Salvation Testimonies” to read personal accounts of how Christ opened the eyes of many other people around the world. See “Message” and “Is God Real?” if you want God to open your eyes).
In my dream I could “see” the spiritual waves of the End Times coming plain as day because Jesus has already opened my eyes (1 Thessalonians 5:1-9). Jesus had not granted my cousin her spiritual sight yet, therefore she could not see the waves for herself.
My mildly retarded cousin has got the mentality of an 8-10 year old child. Though she was reluctant to move out of her seat because she was comfortable, she still had the faith of a child to believe what I said and be saved from destruction. Though she is several years older than me she did not get agitated with me, reprimand me or demand that I scientifically explain everything to her before she would believe and get out of her seat.
Had I done the same to a normal adult they most likely would have laughed at me thinking I was a complete idiot and eventually gotten angry with me because of my persistence. They would have been a lot more reluctant to leave their comfort and relaxation to be saved.
Like the children in the right panel of my painting, my cousin simply believed and was saved.
“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve [disciples of Jesus], was not with the disciples when Jesus came [after his resurrection]. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’
But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’
A week later his diciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’
Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’
Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:24-31)
3) Do not allow the pleasures of this earthly life (big or small) to distract us from our watchfulness of Christ’s return.
Summer holidays, an attractive young man, a good conversation, sun and heat, a refreshing swim, a cute puppy, all of these are symbols of the pleasures in life. Unfortunately, they caused me to lose my spiritual sobriety. I dropped my guard and allowed them to lull me into a false sense of peace and security.
“Now, [believing] brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord [Christ’s return] will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-9)
In another dream God gave me, an inner tube was symbolic of the distractions of this earthly life. In both dreams, though the inner tube was not a heavy burden, it was cumbersome and greatly hindered my ability to move swiftly and manuver myself accurately. The Scripture likens our Christian life to a running race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Hebrews 12:1-4, 2 Timothy 4:7). Trying to run with an accompanying inner tube is very detrimental to winning the race!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
As the signs of the End Times increased in my dream, they ‘awoke’ me from my spiritual slumber (confer Matthew 25:1-13). For us Christians, we must not only be on guard against being lulled to sleep by earthly pleasures but also by the mundaneness of our daily routines. Each day we must remember that “…our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).