by Tad Lindley
Forgive me for being a doubting Thomas, but when the rumors of smelt location start flying in May, I try to change the subject. The reports always conflict with each other. On Monday they are at Oscarville, but then on Thursday they are only at the Johnson. You’d think with the advent of Facebook the rumors would give way to truth, but it seems as if nothing has changed. So when I hear that the smelts are at Napakiak, I don’t hop in the boat and run down there. In fact, I won’t believe the smelts are anywhere until I see them jumping in the water and the Bethel sea wall lined with dipnetters.
Jesus is coming
As sure as the smelt swim up the Kuskokwim every spring to lay their eggs, Jesus will come again. His coming will herald the end of time as we know it. His coming will coincide with the rise of the anti-Christ and planet wide hatred of Christians, a time of tribulation greater than any that has ever been known. And in the same way that rumors abound about where the smelt are, there will be many incorrect rumors about where Jesus is.
Jesus predicts his own rumor mill
When Jesus was prophesying about the end of time in Matthew 24, he spoke plainly about the fact that there would be many false rumors. Then if any man shall say unto you, “Lo, here is Christ”, or, “There”, believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect…Wherefore if they say unto you, “Behold, he is in the desert”; go not forth: “Behold, he is in the secret chambers”; believe it not. (Matthew 24: 23-26) Even if somebody were to go on Facebook and post, “Jesus is at Napakiak!” we should not be surprised, but neither should we be deceived.
The False Prophet
In fact during the time of the anti-Christ, there will be a world religious leader who will win many souls to his cause. In the same way that the apostles and the prophets direct us to worship Jesus, the False Prophet will cause people to worship the anti-Christ. The False Prophet will fool many, many people, because he will be able to perform miracles. And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and he deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles… (Revelation 13:13-14) If we are alive when this is happening, it is very likely that we will see people flocking to see this miracle working False Prophet mistaking him for a prophet of God, and then being completely deceived into worshipping not the true Christ, but the anti-Christ. If they known the true word of God, they will not be deceived.
How will we know?
The signs of the coming again of Jesus are as follows: For as the lightning comes out of the east and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be…and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:27,30-31) In the same way that we know the smelts are here, because the sea wall is lined with people and buckets and totes are filling up with fish, there will be undeniable evidence that Jesus Christ has come.
Did you eat smelt?
Back in 2015, the smelt run hit Bethel on Memorial Day. Those who were ready with dip nets mended and containers ready to fill were rewarded, but many did not hear about it until it was too late, and had to rely on the generosity of others in order to eat smelt. Unfortunately on the day of the coming of Jesus Christ we who are ready will not be able to share salvation with those who were not ready. We will rise up to meet him in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:17), and those who were not ready will remain and experience the wrath of God poured out on those who denied him, bringing to pass one of the saddest scriptures in the entire Bible, Then two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, the other left. (Matthew 24:40-41)
Stop chasing rumors
The smelt have to come by Bethel on their way to spawn. There is no point in chasing rumors. Everyone who is ready and waiting will sit down at the table that night and eat fried smelt, and then dried smelt in the months to come. And so it is with Jesus. Our job is to be ready and waiting for his return. Every place on planet earth will know that he has come. If we are chasing after miracle workers and men claiming to be God, when the real God comes, we will be too late.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.