“Beware the Ides of March.”
Most days are like nondescript puppies in a big litter; grouped into mutual obscurity made up of 24-hour periods whose names end in “y.” Tomorrow usually looks a lot like yesterday, but with a few more scars and wrinkles from what is likely to happen today. But, then, there are the exceptions…
If you’re Julius Caesar, and it’s 44 BC (they didn’t call it “BC” back then, but we do, now; it used to mean “Before Christ,” but we’ve taken Him out of history, so these days, trendy culturalists have recalibrated the acronym to signify “Before the Common Era”), the caution sign would have been flashing red. Beware the Ides of March…
William Shakespeare did in 1601 what movie producers do today: the message in front of the dramatic portrayal says, “Based on a True Story.” That language – approved by the legal department of the studio – allows a writer to invent script and scenes that have no historic basis. In Shakespeare’s play, it’s a soothsayer who warns Julius Caesar to call in sick on March 15th. There would be some guys at work on the Ides of March who would make the day stand-out for Julius: though beyond our modern imagination, there were players in the Senate who were out-of-sync with the Emperor (recently named “Emperor for Life” by the same body). Lots of intrigue came before the 23 stab wounds that ended his reign and made the day a turning-point of historic consequence…
Some days you can see coming on a particular date (presidential elections; Super Bowls; Oscars); others are “out there,” but not yet calendared (the day the Bull becomes a Bear; the day Robert Mueller delivers his report). There are days that will stand out from all others; they become anchored in memory and highlighted in history.
The prophets of Israel whose writings have been recognized to be inspired by God – and included in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures – understood that some days are destined to stand out. Dozens of citations – from multiple authors – anticipated a future event they called the “Day of the Lord.” The features they described that would occur on that Day would qualify for “breaking news” and “headlines” in the modern media age.
The anticipation regarding that revealed cataclysmic destiny – not the demise of a corrupt politician, but the divine tipping point for all of humanity – did not fall out of vogue in the Christian era. When Paul wrote to his friends in the church he planted in Thessalonica, he made it a focus of their planning: “Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 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. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you…” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).
So… the Day of the Lord is still “out there,” and history is heading toward a change-point about which God has given warning and for which He has graciously allowed people to prepare. People who read the Bible as revelation have that Day as a Post-it-Note, ready to drop it into their calendar at the appropriate time.
That Christians would believe that is immensely troubling to modern godless minds. As the website Raw Story reports: “Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo are each a ‘genuine, end-of-days, believer in the apocalypse,’ and Financial Times journalist Edward Luce said their religious beliefs about the end times exerts a troubling influence on their duties… Luce argued that both Trump administration officials were part of a ‘millenarian cult,’ and he worried their ‘militant creed’ would influence their public policies to spark a ‘final conflagration in which the righteous will vanquish the wicked.’”
Julius Caesar was (purportedly) warned about the Ides of March. Mankind has been (prophetically) warned about the Day of the Lord. If the warnings are valid… what are we supposed to do?
“So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober… Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5: 6, 11).
Awake, and sober,