commentary: Age of Distraction
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 18-Feb-17; Sermon #1364c; 12 minutes
Daniel prophesies of knowledge increasing and people madly dashing to and fro, pointing to the frenetic conditions at the close of the age, when multiple distractions prevent people from thinking straight, a time when minds keep busy, but accomplish nothing. A distraction is any event that breaks our focus or attention. Though it may last only a moment, it may ruin the rest of our day. The boxer breaks the focus of an opponent through a feint, drawing his attention in another direction, only to deliver a decisive, debilitating blow. While our hopelessly corrupt government has deliberately distracted our attention toward illegal immigration, it has silently encouraged massive legal immigration of Muslims and have distributed 'legal' green cards to millions of aliens. Satan's chief stock in trade is the distraction, creating confusion and consternation for all, including God's called-out ones. God wants to see how focused we are on His truth, warning us that, even though we live in the world, love for the world and its corrupt systems cannot coexist with love for God and His truth. We dare not let a feint from the Dragon distract us from our work of developing God's character.
I was only half listening to the car radio as I was driving along, but now I wish I had been more focused. The reason I was only half listening is because what was on was an advertisement for a recently published book. I did not hear the book's full title or the name of its author. I did, though, here that the book has a subtitle, and it's subtitle provides a pretty good hint to the book's theme. The theme has to do with the tenor of the times that we live in. It was the subtitle that grabbed my interest. It is, "The Age of Distraction."
The small portion of the sales pitch that was being made that I clearly heard triggered some thoughts in my mind of Daniel 12:4, which in turn produced this commentary.
Daniel 12:4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
What a colorfully apt description of the times in which we live and have been given are calling from God. Well, that is not the only way that verse can be translated and understood. Listen carefully—the Moffatt Translation says this:
Daniel 12:4 (Moffat) And now, oh Daniel, keep all this a closed secret [he's talking about the whole book that was revealed to him], and keep the book shut as a secret till the crisis at the end. 'Ere then, many shall give way, and trouble shall be multiplied on earth.
The New American Standard Bible says this:
Daniel 12:4 (NASB) But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the time of the end. Many will go back and forth and knowledge show increase.
The New International Version translates it this way:
Daniel 12:4 (NIV) But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.
And finally, the Revised English Bible translates it this way:
Daniel 12:4 (REB) But you, O Daniel, keep the words secret and seal the book till the time of the end, and many will rush to and fro, trying to gain such knowledge.
With that background, let's first consider what a distraction is. My Reader's Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary states that a distraction is an event that draws, breaks, diverts or claims one's attention from one focus to another.
There is no time stamp on what may distract. In can be a flash of lightning, a crash of rolling thunder, a piece of music, a child demanding attention, a fragrance, a phone ringing, or being asked a question by a fellow worker. The distraction may last only a few seconds or a few minutes, or it may ruin the rest of the day because the distraction burns all the time that you might have left. It might even last a week. Who knows? But it does break your focus when it occurs. That's the important thing.
One thing is sure, and that is that distractions tend to create a break in progress. They have a strong possibility of creating diversions. A diversion is defined as "a turning aside." In warfare and some athletic contests, as in boxing, basketball, and football, a diversion is a maneuver that draws an opponent's attention so that he leaves himself open to a devastating attack elsewhere. In those kind of situations, they are called "feints," and sometimes they are very effective.
Now, that is almost exactly what I see happening in the United States of America by means of the combination off terrorism and massive legal Muslim immigration taking place. Terrorism is the distraction. It's merely a feint to attract attention. It gathers public attention, distracting us. Meanwhile, the real weapon, according to the Muslims themselves, is the largely legal massive immigration, with the immigrants getting the bulk—this is actually happening—of the green cards issued. That, combined with Muslim women simply out-producing the local American female populations with almost five times as many babies as American women produce. We are being hornswoggled. I kid you not.
Allowing ourselves to be lured by distraction is a very serious challenge to those of us in the church. Now, this is Satan's world, and God has permitted him to take advantage of the massive—and I mean massive—explosion of mechanical and electronic knowledge in the past one hundred years.
Four of the five translations that I gave above forecast an increase of knowledge at the time of the end. God has permitted this to occur, and I believe that He has permitted this to occur because He wants us to see how focused we are on His truth. He wants to see whether we really and truly love His way of life, thus not allowing ourselves to get caught up in the distracting diversions available within easy reach of our attentions. They are so available, we do not even have to search for them.
They come knocking, and He wants to see whether we will discipline ourselves to not allow ourselves to get caught up in something that might be quite pleasurable but not profitable spiritually if it is easily available and too often indulged in.
All of the five translations I gave you indicate some measure of confusion, with a great deal of moving about by the citizenry as they are seeking to make sense from within some measure of general confusion—again, a distraction.
Did you get one of the major points the angel sent to Daniel is making? All the way back in the time of Daniel, the angel is giving a warning to all of God's children that Satan will create a world of attractive, easily-reached and -found distractions that produced diversions by which our minds are kept busy and pleased, but produce little or nothing toward accomplishing what we've been called to.
In I John 2:15, we are warned not to love the world. What John is showing us is that love for the world and love for God—this is important regarding the distractions. Love for the world—and, incidentally, this word is from the root agape—that word love. What John is showing us is that love for the world and love for God cannot exist equally, side-by-side, in the same person.
Jesus clarified and emphasized by teaching us a reality, a truth we must grasp. He teaches us in Matthew 6:24 that when this occurs—when the world is there along with God—we will absolutely love one more than the other. And we are in the middle. We must choose to discipline ourselves by not allowing ourselves to be distracted to that degree. What I am saying is this entire world of appealing-to-carnality busy-ness is nothing but a huge, massive feint by the Great Dragon to distract us from the reality of the spiritually war he is making against our futures.