Prophecies of His Coming, part 2

Posted: December 29, 2016 in Uncategorized
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“Prophecies of His Coming, part 2”

Advent is over, right?  Technically speaking, correct.  Churches that follow the traditional liturgical calendar celebrate the annual season of Advent from the final Sunday in November until Christmas Eve.  Once Christmas comes, many Christians put away the thoughts of Advent which anticipate His coming, to celebrating the fact that He has come…and indeed, that is something worth celebrating!  Yet there’s more to Advent than Christmas, because there is more than one coming of Christ.  The Bible is clear that Jesus has come once, but although He is now in heaven physically at the right-hand of God the Father, Jesus will indeed come again.  His first arrival was one of utmost humility; His second will be one of absolute power.  The first time, Jesus came to serve; the second time, Jesus will come to rule & reign as King.  For 2016, Christmas may have passed, but the anticipation of Jesus’ advent lives on.  The world has already witnessed His first coming; we now eagerly await His second…His return.

To tackle all the prophecies that deal with Jesus’ 2nd Coming is impossible to do in a night.  Whole volumes have been written concerning singular subjects regarding His return: signs that accompany it – the question of the rapture – the final battles, etc.  Thus tonight will be an overview.  What are the things the Bible says about Jesus’ return?  What are some things that can expected to be seen upon the earth as the time draws near?  That’s what we’re going to look at tonight, primarily in three areas: (1) what to expect in Israel, (2) what to expect among the rest of the world, and (3) what to expect within the Church.

Before we get there, we need to establish a couple of foundational principles, without which we cannot get very far.  First, please keep in mind that these are non-essential doctrines.  Certain things about Jesus’ 2nd Coming are indeed essential, primarily the fact that Jesus is coming in a glorious return.  A person cannot call him/herself an orthodox Christian without believing in Jesus’ future return – that is essential to our faith.  Not that we need to understand everything about it…there are mysteries and unknowns that will remain unsolved until we see them play out in real time.  In addition, it’s doubtful that too many people are taught anything about Jesus’ return when they first get saved – it’s not generally included with the gospel message.  That said, as Christians grow & learn more of the Bible, this is a topic that true born-again Christians will receive.  We know our Lord will return – this is something the Holy Spirit confirms in us through the written word, and all orthodox Christians can affirm it.  We agree on the general, while disagreeing on the specifics.  That’s OK.  Although Calvary Chapel Tyler strongly affirms and teaches a pre-tribulational, pre-millennial view of the rapture & (later) 2nd Coming, not all born-again Bible-believing Christians do.  There will be amillennialists in heaven.  There will be people with whom we passionately disagree on doctrine, side-by-side with us in eternity worshiping our Lord Jesus.  That’s not just OK…that’s wonderful!

Second, we need to make a distinction between the rapture & Jesus’ 2nd coming.  Again, this is something that is debated, but this is the perspective we hold at CC Tyler (as do multitudes of other Christians).  To be perfectly clear, every orthodox Christian believes in the rapture – what is debated is the timing.  To ignore the teaching of Scripture that the dead in Christ will rise, and that living saints will join the Lord Jesus is to ignore whole swaths of the Bible.  Even amillennialists believe in some form of the rapture of the believers/resurrection of the saints, even if they believe it happens at the very moment of Jesus’ 2nd Coming.  We see it as part of the same overall prophetic event, but separated by seven years of Tribulation.  Because Christians are not appointed to wrath (1 Ths 5:9), we will not be on earth when God’s wrath is poured out upon it (as it clearly is – Rev 6:17).  There will be people who get saved after the rapture takes place (which we’ll see later), but we who currently believe in Christ will be with Christ during that time.  That means as born-again Christians, we’re awaiting Jesus’ glorious calling for us to go home before we’re looking for His glorious return when He steps foot upon the earth.

With that in mind, we should certainly know what the Bible says about both the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ.  Why?  Because it’s all part of the glorious plan of God.  Just because we won’t personally experience the days of the Great Tribulation doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know about them.  We certainly should!  (1) It is doctrine from God, which is inherently valuable. (2) It is motivation for us to share the gospel, in that the more we understand it, the less we will want anyone to experience it.  (3) It is hope for the future, for we can see the plans of God at work with our own eyes.  As the days draw nearer & things look worse, we know that our God is still on the throne, for all things are working according to His will.  The more we understand this, the more we will praise and glorify our God.

What to expect with Israel:
This throws many people, because generally the first thing we do when looking at prophecy is look for ourselves.  We want to see what God has to say about us in the Scripture, so we tend to look for statements about the United States of America.  Guess what?  There’s nothing there.  That’s not unusual: there’s nothing in the Scripture about Ecuador or South Africa either.  That’s not where the focus of the Bible is.  The geographic focus of the Bible is (and has always been) on the nation of Israel, for that is where God chose to send His Messiah & His message.  We know the Lord Jesus because He was first sent to Israel, and it is from Israel that the salvation of God has gone out into the entire world.  Thus it makes sense when looking at prophecies concerning Jesus’ 2nd Coming, we begin with Israel.

First, we see that Israel will be attacked, but protected.  Israel has always been hated by the world, and that continues to this very day.  It was not but a few days ago that the United Nations passed its latest resolution against Israel, with the United States very publicly abstaining from the vote (thus intentionally allowing its passage).  Just today, Secretary of State John Kerry defended the move, accusing Israel of acting against international law by allowing construction in the West Bank & East Jerusalem.  The Obama administration has publically called (May 2011) for Israel to return to the so-called 1967 borders, in which Israel has to defend its sovereignty against enemy states from a border that at some point narrows to only 9 miles from the Mediterranean Sea.  American presidential administrations & attitudes change, but worldwide opposition to Israel does not.   The Bible tells of at least two major battles/wars involving Israel prior to the final return of Christ.

Psalm 83 (a psalm of Asaph) describes a confederation of nations against Israel – one of which is not accounted for in the books of Samuel, Kings, or Chronicles.  The psalmist cries out to God for help against Israel’s enemies, and then lists them out: Psalm 83:3–8, "(3) They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, And consulted together against Your sheltered ones. (4) They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” (5) For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You: (6) The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; (7) Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; (8) Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah"  What makes this so interesting is the list of enemies: Edom & Moab = Jordan, Ammon = Jordan/Syria, Ishmaelites & Hagrites = Arabs, Gebal & Tyre = Lebanon, Amalek = West Sinai, Philistia = Palestinians.  Basically referring to all of Israel’s immediate neighbors…enemies then, and enemies today.  The Bible shows them each opposing Israel at various times, but never gives a historical account of a singular confederation against Israel, yet that’s exactly what’s spoken of here.  We cannot say with 100% certainty that this Scripture is still unfulfilled, but it seems to be the case.  If they do come against Israel at once, it is certain that God will protect His people, allowing Israel’s enemies to be “put to shame” (Ps 83:17), and thus setting the stage for Israel to further strengthen its borders and dwell in safety.

That sets the stage for what is most certainly a future battle yet to be faced, described in Ezekiel 38-39: the battle of Gog & Magog.  There, God describes another confederation formed against Israel, led by a prince known as Gog, comprised of what many scholars believe to be the modern areas of Russia, Turkey, several of the “Stan” countries around the Black Sea, Iran, several Islamic nations in northern & eastern Africa, Saudi Arabia, and more.  These nations descend upon Israel, who is described as dwelling in safety (Eze 38:8,11).  This certainly is not the case today, but who knows what kind of safety measures will be in place after a previous military victory, such as the one described in Psalm 83?  In any case, these nations pounce upon Israel, but they are soundly defeated by the Lord God in a grand witness to Himself.  Ezekiel 39:3–7, "(3) Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand. (4) You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. (5) You shall fall on the open field; for I have spoken,” says the Lord GOD. (6) “And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I am the LORD. (7) So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not let them profane My holy name anymore. Then the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel."  In that day, there will be no doubt that the God of the Universe has stood up on Israel’s behalf.  All the other nations of the world either abandoned her, or actively acted against her, but God remains faithful.  He protects His people, and not only will the world recognize the work of God, so will Israel herself!

In turn, this may bring about the next major event for Israel (or at least be a huge part of it): the time when they finally come to faith in Christ.  Never forget that the Jesus we worship as God and Christ is Himself the Jewish Messiah.  He is the fulfillment of the covenant promises God made with Israel, and one day they will see Him as their own.  Although it may seem incredulous that Jews will worship Jesus, that is exactly what the Bible promises.  Paul wrote this to the Romans, in regards to the Gentile Christians not becoming arrogant in the grace they have received: Romans 11:25–29, "(25) For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (26) And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; (27) For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” (28) Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. (29) For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable."  God made promises to Israel, and He will keep those promises.  He promised them a Deliverer, and He will give one.  He promised them a King; the King will come.  He promised them salvation through a Messiah, and they will finally see the One True Messiah as their Lord.  When will it take place?  In the timing of God, which cannot be fully known.  But will it take place?  Without a doubt!

  • Isn’t it a wonderful thing that our God keeps His word?  That’s one reason it is so foolish for Christians to spiritualize all of God’s promises to Israel away.  If God didn’t mean what He specifically said to Israel, how do we know He means what He specifically says to us?  What God promises, God performs…period.  He is faithful!

Of course, just because Israel comes to faith in Christ does not mean that the newly believing Jews will have an easy time in the world.  It seems that much of this (if not all of it) takes place during the years of what Jesus described as the Great Tribulation, and during this time, Israel will be roundly persecuted.  Matthew 24:9–14, "(9) “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. (10) And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. (11) Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. (12) And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. (13) But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (14) And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."  When Jesus spoke this, He was speaking to His disciples – but remember who His disciples were: Jews!  Jesus prophesied of a day in which the Jews who believed in Him would experience all kinds of trouble, as the gospel is being preached around the world.  John wrote in the book of Revelation how Satan would pursue Israel, as a dragon pursuing a woman into the wilderness, trying to kill both her as well as any children she may have had (Rev 12:13-17).  It was a picturesque way of describing the persecution believing Jews will suffer by Satanic forces during the days of the Great Tribulation.  At that time, many people will come to faith through Israel’s witness, but there will be much suffering along the way.

  • The good news is that their suffering won’t last long!  Though seven years of tribulation are terrible, at least there is an end to it.  Jesus will come back in His glorious 2nd advent to rescue His people, and to put an end to the forces of Satan forever!

What to expect around the world:
The primary geographic focus of the Bible may be Israel, but Israel is not the only nation mentioned.  Nations all around the current Middle East are mentioned by name – not only in reference to the immediate fulfillment of prophecies in past history, but also in future prophecies yet to be fulfilled.  But beyond that, the Bible has much to say about the state of the world outside of Israel as the days draw nearer for Jesus’ glorious return. 

For one, there will be cosmic signs and wonders, which will be recognized, but generally ignored.  Jesus specified some of the things to be expected around the world during His Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24:4–8, "(4) And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. (5) For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. (6) And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (7) For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. (8) All these are the beginning of sorrows."  Although these prophecies are many times used as benchmarks for some of the things we see today (and no doubt we see some previews of these things), overall it may be better to view these in light of the original seals being opened by Jesus at the beginning of the Great Tribulation.  In Revelation 6, John records seeing the four horsemen of the Apocalypse: (1) a seeming imitation of Christ on a white horse, who had the power to conquer the world, per vs. 5, (2) a rider on a red horse with the power to make war, per vs. 6, (3) a rider on a black horse proclaiming economic hardships and famine, per vs. 6, and (4) a rider on a pale horse bringing death, also seen in vs. 7.  

All over the world, people will experience various troubles, all designed to get their attention – which it does.  What it does not do is bring everyone to repentance.  They see the work of God, but they harden their hearts.  Revelation 6:12–16, "(12) I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. (13) And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. (14) Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. (15) And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, (16) and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!"  Even in the midst of massive earthquakes, solar turmoil, and meteor showers upon the earth, people harden their hearts against God.  They will know it is God at work, even recognizing it at the time of God’s wrath – but instead of repenting, they hide.  Later judgments described by John are specifically said to see people refuse to repent & give God glory (Rev 16:9,11).

  • Why?  Because mankind is sinful and stubborn.  When God sends His judgments upon the world, He does so out of His mercy just as much as His righteousness.  How can we know?  Because God doesn’t have to do it gradually.  If He chose, He could simply blink the world’s population directly to hell…and He would be right in doing so.  Instead, He gives opportunity after opportunity for people to repent.  He wants people to be saved; He just won’t force anyone to be saved.  If you choose to reject God, God will allow you to do so.
  • Don’t do it!  Whenever you know the Lord’s calling, respond!  That applies just as much to Christians as it does to non-Christians.  For the non-Christian, the right response is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  For Christians, the response is confession and repentance from current sin.  God will allow us to face the consequences of our sin, if we choose to persist in them – what He desires is our humility, confession, and faith.

In addition to the world’s general refusal to repent towards God, there will also be deep hatred of Israel & worship of Antichrist.  We’ve already mentioned the tremendous persecution that believing Israel will face prior to Jesus’ return.  Satan will give his power to a man known as the Beast, or Antichrist (an evil & false imitation of the true Lord Jesus), and this man will be apparently miraculously healed after a fatal wound & thus worshiped by the world as a false god.  Satan sends another evil messenger known as the false prophet to proclaim this Beast & cause people around the world to worship his image.  Revelation 13:14–15, "(14) And he deceives those who dwell on the earth—by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. (15) He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed."  This is when the infamous number “666” is given, described as the number of a mark which must be worn by all people on the earth in order to buy or sell anything.  Those who take the mark show that they worship the Beast – those who don’t are hunted and killed.

Where is this image of the Beast erected?  Apparently in a rebuilt Jerusalem temple, committing what Jesus called “the abomination of desolation,” (Mt 24:15), itself a reference to an earlier prophecy from Daniel (Dan 11:31), in which Daniel at one point referred to a Seleucid (Greek Syrian) King by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes who desecrated the Jerusalem temple in 168BC by sacrificing a pig on the altar.  That was to be a sign of the future abomination to come: the one that would be performed by Antichrist and his false prophet.  As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, that was an essential event that must take place prior to Jesus’ return.  2 Thessalonians 2:3–4, "(3) Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, (4) who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."  To the Thessalonians, Paul reassured them that they had not missed Jesus’ return.  There were other events that needed to take place first, this sign being the most important.

  • Question: If there is a sign that absolutely must take place prior to Jesus’ return, what does this do to the doctrine of imminency?  (The teaching that Jesus can come back at any moment.)  Nothing.  As we’ll see in a moment, the Bible does teach imminency – but it does so in reference to the rapture; not the 2nd Coming.
  • That said, even if someone doubts the teaching of a pre-tribulational rapture, the doctrine of imminency holds.  How so?  The reality of death.  Any one of us has the potential of seeing Jesus at any time.  A single heartbeat is all that separates you from eternity.  Are you ready to see your Maker & Judge?  He could call you at any moment.  Live your life in such a way that you may have no regrets!

For as many around the world who will completely reject God, worship Antichrist, and hate Israel, there will be others.  There will be many who repent and get saved!  The question is sometimes asked if it will be possible for anyone to come to faith in Christ after the Great Tribulation has begun, and the answer is: not only is it possible; it is certain!  John specifically tells us of this: Revelation 7:13–15, "(13) Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” (14) And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (15) Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them."  Contextually, this comes just after an event where John sees 144,000 counted out from among the tribes of Israel & sealed with God’s protection for the Great Tribulation.  He goes on to see a great multitude from “all nations, tribes, and peoples” (Rev 7:9) who are clothed in white robes singing praises to God.  When John asks who the group is, he’s given this answer – that these were people “who come out of the great tribulation.”  Apparently they were martyred during the course of the Tribulation, but there is no question here that they belong to God through the work of Jesus the Lamb.  For those who believe in the pre-tribulational rapture of the church, who else could these be, other than people who come to faith after the rapture?  They’ve come to faith during the days of the Great Tribulation, and were gloriously saved.

  • Again, God wants people to be saved!  He gives them every opportunity to be saved.  All we need to do is take it.  Eventually, time runs out for us all…don’t waste the time you’ve been given.

What to expect within the Church:
So far, we’ve looked a lot at what the Bible says will take place during the days of the Great Tribulation, immediately leading up to Jesus’ return.  During that time, the Bible strongly indicates that the Church will not be on earth, but in heaven with Jesus.  (Again, this is something that is debated.  It is important doctrine, but not absolutely essential to salvation.)  Thus as the Church, we look to the primary event that precedes Jesus’ 2nd Coming, and it often associated & combined with it: the Rapture.

First of all, there is a rapture, and the timing is imminent.  Although you won’t find the word “rapture” in the Bible (neither will you find “Trinity”), the doctrine is most certainly there.  Actually, what we often describe in terms only describing the rapture of believers also includes another event that takes place simultaneously: the resurrection of the saints.  1 Thessalonians 4:15–18, "(15) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. (16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (18) Therefore comfort one another with these words."  In his earlier letter to the Thessalonians, Paul reassured the Christians not only had they not missed Jesus’ return, but their loved ones who had died also did not miss the blessing of Jesus’ grace.  There will be a day that Jesus comes back to earth, but “by no means” will it “precede” the event in which Jesus calls all believers (living and dead) to Himself.  At that time, a trumpet will be blown & those who have died in faith will be raised, followed a split-second later by born-again Christians still alive on the earth at the time.  Please note where we meet the Lord: “in the air.”  The resurrection/rapture is not the 2nd Coming where Jesus sets His foot upon the earth (on the Mount of Olives, FYI – Zech 14:4).  At this time, we will meet the Lord in the air, returning with Him to glory, being always with Him.

When will this event take place?  No one knows, but it will be soon!  In the same letter, Paul writes: 1 Thessalonians 5:1–2, "(1) But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. (2) For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night."  The whole idea is that it will come quickly & unexpectedly.  This is where the doctrine of imminence comes in.  We don’t know when Jesus will come and call us home – so we need to be ready at all times.

  • Consider for a moment what’s involved with that.  If Jesus were to call us tonight, would you be ready?  For anyone who isn’t a born-again believer, they certainly are not – but what about you as a Christian?  Are you ready to see Jesus?  Are there things He’s given you that are yet undone?  Is there unrepentant sin in your life of which you’ve not confessed?  How tragic it would be to stand before Christ in heaven with regrets!  Thankfully, our salvation is not dependent upon our obedient works, nor will we forever have regrets in heaven.  The promise from God is that He will wipe every tear from our eye.  But may we live in such a way that we have less reason for tears in the first place!  Our Lord is coming, and He is coming quickly.  Be ready!

As the Church, we may not be on earth for the 2nd Coming, but that doesn’t mean we won’t have anything to do with it.  We’ll actually have front-row seats.  The Church will be with Jesus at His 2nd Coming.  Revelation 19:11–14, "(11) Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. (12) His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. (13) He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. (14) And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses."  Who are the ones in Jesus’ armies?  Us!  The saints of God are consistently described through the book of Revelation (and elsewhere) as being clothed in fine linen.  We have been clothed in the pure righteousness of Christ, and we will accompany our Lord upon His glorious return to earth.  Keep in mind, we may be described as His army, but we won’t fight.  There won’t be a need.  Although the world’s armies will gather at the field known as Armageddon, poised to battle with Jesus, all Jesus need to is show up & the rebellious world will be defeated.  After all, there is a battle field described, but no actual battle – only the carnage left behind for the scavenger carrion birds.

  • It may be gory, but it is also glorious.  Not that God takes joy in this – as He expressly told Ezekiel, He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but would much rather the wicked person turn from his evil ways and live (Eze 33:11).  Yet how can the display of Jesus’ infinite power be anything other than glorious?  This is our Lord & God in action.  He simply has to arrive, and all evil is instantly defeated.
  • Christian, this is your God!  That sort of glorious display promised in the future ought to give us much hope for today.  Jesus has no less power today than He will on the day of His return.  He is the same God yesterday, today, and forever.  Take your problems and your pains to the victorious, conquering Lord Jesus.  His strength is infinite, and He will give you the strength you need to endure.

That’s all at the end, but is there anything the Bible says to the Church for today in regards to Jesus’ return?  Yes!  First, we need to beware.  The Church is to expect apostasy & false teaching.
1 Timothy 4:1–3, "(1) Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, (2) speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, (3) forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth."  Paul could not have been clearer with his young friend & son in the faith.  The “latter times” will be times of apostasy.  False doctrine will be spouted by false teachers, and cause people to veer off from the truth.  Some people will even “depart from the faith,” leaving the gospel of grace to immerse themselves in legalism, which is demonic in origin.  When the Scriptures are twisted to control and abuse the people of God, we can be sure that it is an attack upon the people of God.

What can we do to guard ourselves?  Stick to the Scripture!  That’s exactly what Paul told Timothy, when he warned Timothy about this again in his 2nd letter.  2 Timothy 4:1–4, "(1) I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: (2) Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; (4) and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."  Timothy was to preach the truth, because the time was coming that evil people would preach lies, and they would be believed.  More than that, these lies would be desired!  These false doctrines & fables were things that people heaped up for themselves.  Instead of wanting the truth of God, which sometimes brings conviction & rebuke, false Christians would desire false teaching that tickled their ears & made them feel good.

  • This sort of false teaching has always existed around the edges of the church & at times proclaimed from the midst of it – but there is a clear association with the end-times/latter days.  The closer the time comes for Jesus’ return & His call for the church to be raptured, the more these false teachings come to prominence.  To turn on the TV, it’s difficult to see how we could get any closer to the end!  Whole TV networks are funded through the lies of false teachers who have been welcomed by supposed-Christians around the world.  Some truly are believers who have been duped – others are false-converts, defrauded and deluded by their own desire to have their ego stroked by a guy in a fancy suit on TV.
  • Beware!  What is commonly known as Christendom is filled with false teaching.  Just because something has a cross slapped on it, or is labeled with a Bible reference doesn’t make it Biblical or honoring to the Lord Jesus.  We need to have discernment in these last days, and the only way for us to do it is by immersing ourselves in the truth: the Scriptures.

As we wait, we need to be encouraged.  Be assured, that Jesus is coming!  Sometimes when Christians talk with skeptics, skeptics scoff at the idea of Jesus’ return.  After all, it’s been nearly 2000 years.  If Jesus was going to return, He would have done it by now.  The Bible repeatedly speaks of Jesus’ “soon” return, but He hasn’t done it yet.  That’s a chink in the Bible’s armor, right?  Wrong.  People were scoffing at the idea of Jesus’ return back in Peter’s day as well.  Peter knew better than anyone that Jesus’ promises are always true.  Peter had heard Jesus predict His rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection several times, and Peter always seemed to doubt…until it came true.  Thus when Jesus promised to return, Peter believed it!  2 Peter 3:8–9, "(8) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (9) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."  God isn’t “slack” – He isn’t lazy – He isn’t incompetent.  Perish the thought!  No – instead, God is patient, graciously & lovingly giving time for the maximum number of people to repent and come to faith in Christ.  God isn’t on our time schedule; we’re on His.  If a thousand years is as a day to Him, then it’s only been a couple of days – not even a whole weekend.  God will fulfill His plan in His time, and when He does, it will be glorious!  Thus we ought not get discouraged in the waiting, but get busy.  Every day that goes by is another day God has given someone an opportunity to be saved.  We’ve got the opportunity to share the gospel with them, so let’s do it!

In the end, we don’t have to rely on the word of Peter or Paul or any of the apostles regarding Jesus’ return.  We’ve got the personal promise of Jesus Himself.  Revelation 22:12–13, "(12) “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. (13) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”"  These were some of the last words Jesus spoke to John before the end of the book of Revelation, and it left a lasting impression upon him.  Jesus is coming – we have His word on it.

Conclusion:
What does the Bible have to say about Jesus’ 2nd Advent?  Quite a bit!  To Israel, there is the promise of His protection, and of their spiritual faith & salvation.  To the world, there is the assurance of their judgment, but the gracious offer of salvation.  To the church, there is a warning against false teaching, but a glorious hope of His imminent call.  Jesus is coming, and we ought to want to be ready.

When guests come to our homes, we all do at least a little preparation.  We put away things that were left out – maybe we clean the bathrooms a little more – we do any number of things simply to be ready for the guest.  What all it is that we do likely changes with the identity of the guest.  It’s one thing for your best friend to drop by; it’s another for your in-laws.  It would be something more if you were to receive a visit from a celebrity or dignitary.  Now multiply that to the Nth degree as you consider the fact you will be seeing the Lord Jesus.  He won’t be dropping into your house (so to speak – though He is always present with us wherever we go); He’ll be calling you home to the house He has prepared for you.

First of all, that ought to be incredibly exciting!  We are going home to see our Jesus!  Of that, we can be sure.  Every promise He made to us is true, and we will one day be in His presence for all eternity.  Amazing grace!

Secondly, it ought to be a bit sobering.  Again, we need to ask ourselves if we’re prepared to see Him.  What would He say to us if He called us home tonight?  May we live every day as if it is the day we will see Jesus!

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