Original Artwork: ONFS, 76cm x 101cm (30″ x 40″), Acrylic on Canvas
Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man [Jesus] will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:35-38)
This painting is based on this Scripture and an End Times dream I had somewhere between 2003-2006. I did not record the exact date.
I was with a father, mother and an adult daughter in their two-story house. They were financially well off and lived in a nice, upper middle class suburb. They were normal, kind people who gave to charities now and again, and sought to live a peaceful, comfortable, happy lifestyle just like everyone else.
We heard the news that a big storm, like a hurricane, was coming towards us. (*In my End Times dreams, these storms are symbolic of God’s wrath being poured out in the End Times (on account of sin). “See, the storm of the LORD will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked.” (Jeremiah 23:19)). We realized the End Times were closing in on us and that we had to flee in order to save our lives.
Up until this time, this family was living a comfortable, earthly lifestyle, and they did not really think about God or the End Times. It was only now that the warning had gone out and the sky was darkening that they finally began to think about these things seriously. Thank God!!! They had had a complete change of heart and began to believe in Jesus and what the Bible says! As a result, they would be saved from God’s coming wrath.
The mother and the daughter were upstairs, and they were alarmed, serious and focused. They knew they had no time to waste as they were about to flee their nice home in the suburbs. Although they had many expensive possessions which they had acquired through years of their hard work, they were not even thinking about them. They knew they did not have time to pack these items nor did they have a way of carrying them as they fled the city. They wanted to escape with their lives, so they abandoned all their earthly possessions. In Jesus’ End Times discourse, he warns, “…then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak” (Matthew 24:16-18).
I was downstairs with the father. By this time, however, the storm of the End Times was beginning to come upon us. Heavy rains had begun to flood the lower level of the house where we were standing. The water was rising over our knees. The father and I were looking around at his many expensive possessions that were either partially submerged or soon to be engulfed by the floodwaters. Although it was a lost cause and I did not really believe we should do it anyway, out of my care for the father I said, “If we hurry, maybe we can save some of these possessions. Do you want me to help you move them to higher ground?”
The father was silent for a moment as he looked around at all his possessions which were rapidly being swallowed up in the flood. Then he said to me, “No, just leave them. We need to get out of here.” Although he had paused to answer me, I could tell by the tone of his voice that his heart was not attached to these possessions; he wasn’t wishing that he could save them. He was thinking about something else as he paused…
With that we all began to flee their beautiful home which was now being destroyed in the deluge. As the father was fleeing, I could perceive what he was thinking about. He was thinking to himself: “I have spent my whole life, over fifty years, working to acquire everything I own. All my schooling, all my work every day, all my preparations and every effort of my hands has only gone towards perishable things. Now there is nothing left; everything I have worked for my whole life is entirely gone. I have labored so hard all my days and have gained absolutely nothing.”
In the wake of the destruction of all his earthly possessions, I could perceive that the father was now starkly confronted with the complete vanity and worthlessness of his former lifestyle. He had come to the sharp realization of just how spiritually impoverished he actually was. Up until now he had not invested a single effort or a single second towards eternity. All his efforts had only been towards temporal, perishable things.
Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Now that the father had come to believe in Jesus he had a sense that he was beginning life all over again with a brand new slate. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). He no longer had any earthly possessions to his name and neither did he have anything in his “spiritual bank account”. But at least now he could now invest his remaining efforts towards eternal things rather than perishable things.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world [earthly vanities]. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father [God] is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
Then I woke up.
Immediately preceding Jesus’ return is “The Tribulation” (Revelation 6-16), a time when God will pour out his wrath against those who stubbornly refuse to receive his gracious free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. (See “The Tribulation” (Signs of The Times Series)).
However, God does not delight in sending his wrath on people, for he is a loving and redemptive God “…who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men…” (1 Timothy 2:4-5).
Although God loves us he is also perfect in holiness and cannot be in the presence of sin. God’s perfect justice demands that we be punished for our sins, which is death and eternal separation from him in hell (Romans 6:23). Sadly, because every single one of us has sinned against God, we all justly deserve this sentence (Romans 3:23).
However, God deeply loves us and longs to save us from this. That is why he has provided the way for us to be reconciled to him.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, 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)
God sent his Son, Jesus, to ransom us from our sins by living the perfect, sinless life that none of us could live. Jesus then took all of OUR sins upon himself and bore OUR punishment for them through his death on the cross. By rising from the dead three days later he eternally conquered sin and death and made reconciliation with God possible for us.
In order to be forgiven of our sins and to be reconciled to God, we must individually appropriate this ransom through trusting in Jesus in our hearts:
First, you must repent (turn away) from all your sins. Second, you must place your faith in Jesus, trusting that he has personally paid the punishment for your sins through his death on the cross.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
While the justice of God demands punishment for sin, the mercy of God pardons those who repent and place their faith in Jesus as their Redeemer. Those who do this, like this family, will be spared from all the End Times wrath God will pour out on those who refuse to repent and trust in Jesus. They will also be saved from an eternity in hell. (See “Message“).
“They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
This dream calls to my mind one other Scripture in particular:
Jesus said, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man [the time of Jesus’ return]. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed [Jesus returns]. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” (Luke 17:26-36)
Jesus states that both Noah’s flood (Genesis 6-9) and the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-19:29) are historical examples to us about what things will be like in the days leading up to his Second Coming. Just like the family in my dream, people will be going about their normal, everyday lives and then suddenly that Day will close in upon them like a trap, “…for you know very well that the day of the Lord 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 5:2-3).
In the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord came to rescue righteous Lot before he poured out his wrath on the city. In my dream, the Lord also rescued this believing family and me. The Bible tells us that believers in Jesus will experience tremendous persecution and opposition during the tumultuous period leading up to his return (Revelation 12:17, Revelation 13:5-7, Luke 21:12-19). However, the Bible also reassures believers that they will be spared from his wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, 2 Peter 2:9) for Jesus has already taken all of God’s wrath in their place.
One important point Jesus makes in this passage (about the End Times being like Noah’s flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorroah, Luke 17:26-36, above) is not to look back like Lot’s wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt for doing so. As Lot’s wife was fleeing Sodom she looked back and longed for her earthly possessions and the nice lifestyle back in Sodom which she was leaving behind in order to be saved.
We must take Jesus’ words in Mark 8:35-36 very seriously, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Jesus’ word is clear: If we want to hold onto our earthly lifestyles more than to Jesus, we will forfeit our eternal life, but if we abandon everything in this life to follow Jesus we will gain eternal life.
“Then he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’
And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’
But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.’” (Luke 12:15-21)