The first thing you should be assured about is that God has a time fixed for Jesus’ coming. You need not worry about when the appearing of Jesus will happen. Only be assured that the promise is sure, for God will keep His word. The word to remember is “soon!” Even though “soon” does not communicate to us the exact year, month, date or time, God knows the exact split second when it is scheduled to happen.
You may ask then, “Why does not God reveal that time to us?” That is a question only God knows the answer to. Jesus Himself said: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32 NIV). He also said: “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:33 NIV). But Jesus was very specific about the fact that God has a time fixed for His appearing when He said: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:7 NIV).
Therefore may you be sure about the four thoughts that have become clear about the time factor:
- God has a time fixed for Jesus’ second coming
- That time is “soon” to happen
- You are not given any knowledge about the exact time
- But you are commanded to be alert and on guard
The Bible nevertheless gives one important reason why there is a “delay” in His coming: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”. What a merciful God! He is delaying to show you mercy. He wants to give everyone a chance to hear His gospel and be saved. That is the one supreme reason for the delay.
But the “soon” of God will become a reality in a split second any coming day. The door of mercy and grace shall not stand open forever: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare”. And again, “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty.
So what should be our appropriate response to the coming of the Day of the Lord. Its unannounced arrival and the warnings should make us tremble even as we look forward to the Blessed Hope of His coming:
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives, as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming”.
If you believe in the second coming of Jesus and still live as if this truth has not affected your life and lifestyle; then you are deceiving yourself. In other words you are telling the world that you don’t believe much in the truth that Jesus is coming soon. Therefore, take warning today. Order your lives in such a way so that others might know that you are looking forward to the soon coming of Jesus. Yes, speed the coming of the Day of the Lord. It is coming “Soon!”
The Blessed Hope
The Great Encouragement
When Jesus appears two things will happen. These two things will happen “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye”. The dead in Christ will rise first when the last trumpet call sounds. At the same time, those believers who are alive then will be caught up (air-lifted in modern terms) together with them in the clouds. Then all of them together, us included, will meet the Lord in the air. And all of us will be with the Lord forever.
The Bible says: “Therefore encourage each other with these words”. Yes, God has given us this truth in advance for us to live in hope. He wants each of us to remind one another of this truth and thus encourage each other.
The encouragement comes from the hope held out to us–the hope that death does not separate us either from God or our loved ones (believers). The same hope gives us a vision of our futurea future with God Himself. The theme of our great hope definitely is the togetherness with God and fellow believers forever.
The excitement of such a future is immense. And God in His plan has kept a grand inaugural for the same. No display on planet earth would ever match with what God has planned for this inaugural. It is a great and joyous reunion of all His children; loved ones and friends, saints and heroes of faith; from all generations and walks of life, the poor and the rich, the martyr and the one who died young. All such will have a great reunion in mid-air.
A well-known hymn celebrates this thought in these words:
On that bright and golden morning
when the Son of Man shall come,
And the radiance of His glory we shall see;/
When from every clime and nation
He shall call His people home–
What a gath’ring of the ransomed that will be!
What a gath’—ring! What a gath’—ring!
What a gath’ring of the ransomed in the summer land of love!
What a gath’—ring! What a gath’ring!
Of the ransomed in that happy home above!
All gathered there will have the likeness of Jesus. The Bible says: “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2b NIV). And this shall happen quickly, for the Lord will come like a thief in the night and with the visibility of a flash of lightning. It will be swift and sudden. If we are alive then, we will be one moment here; and the other moment there!
As somebody said to sign off when he parted with friends: “We’ll meet here, there, or in the air!”
Therefore let us all be encouraged by the hope of that great reunion in the air. Let us all eagerly look forward to meet the Lord in the air as He makes His glorious appearing. What a blessed hope indeed!
The Blessed Hope
Be Alert, Awake and Watchful!
When those close to you come home after a long gap of time from a distant land, how much anticipation fills your heart as you await their arrival! What all preparations you make! Above all, you prepare yourself and your heart to meet and greet them and share in the joy of reunion.
The same things ought to be true as you wait for Jesus to come in glory.
There are some reasons why we should be alert, awake and watchful for His coming.
- He comes like a thief
Jesus Himself declared this truth many times. Other passages also testify to this truth.Since a thief comes unannounced we will have to keep watch to be ready for His coming. The only thing we know is themanner in which He is coming. But we do not know the time. Still, Jesus gave many signs of the times and challenged us to interpret them to know the likely circumstances during which His coming will occur(Matthew 16:3). And judging by the signs He has given elsewhere in the Bible, we can know that we are living at the end times preceding His glorious appearing.
He comes like a thief to steal away to safety His bride–all those who have believed in Him. He comes like a thief to take home with Him the bride whom He bought with His own blood (Revelation 5:9/ …and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” NIV). He comes like a thief to fulfill the promise He gave to His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them, which once finished He would come back to take them to be with Him where He is (John 14;13).
So we are asked to be alert, awake, and watchful so that we will not be left behind by His surprise coming at an unexpected time.
- Arrival of Deceivers and Deceptions
This is a great area of concern. Jesus found it important to warn us about coming deceptions in the last days. The only possible safeguard against deceptions is to keep looking to Jesus and never taking our eyes off Him. Keep looking at His humility and sacrifice on the cross. Only this kind of a focus on Jesus alone can prevent us from being deceived!
One: For a cross-less Christianity is popularly preached today. But Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24b NIV). We need to remember that true Christianity has a price tag attached to it. And that price tag is the cross!
Two: Along with the preaching of a cross-less, Christ-less Christianity, there also is a preaching for living in prosperity in this earth. But the Bible says: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20 NIV). So it is clear that we do not live for the “now” alone, but we live primarily focused on the hereafter!
Three: And to make all this confusion worse is the deception of self-styled gurus and prophets preaching a secular gospel, mixing elements of various religions and teaching that all streams lead to the same river. But Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV).
So we are asked to be alert, awake, and watchful so that we will not be deceived by deceivers and deceptions of the last days.
- The possibility of being left behind
Jesus said the He came to bring division on the earth. His second coming would divide people of this earth as in no other time of history. The wheat and the chaff will be separated. And no one will be able to cross the dividing line at all.
Unless you are found prepared for His coming the opportunity of going up to heaven with Jesus will be gone for ever. Then what remains will be fear, terror, pain, pestilences and death.
The horror of being “left behind” is unimaginable. Your child sleeping in your arms might be taken and you left behind. Your husband who was in your embrace might be taken and you left behind. You might have been talking to your pastor over phone, and suddenly the line at the other end falls down dead. He might be taken and you left behind.
So we are asked to be alert, awake, and watchful so as to be found in His company as He takes His children back to heaven.
The Blessed Hope
Busily Busy with Business — Death’s Final Call Letter
||There are people who are busy all the time. They run here and there. They keep receiving and making calls, fixing appointments, scheduling and rescheduling, planning and executing, arranging and organizing. They are too busy.
In one sense this is very good. They are managing their time wisely. But there is one simple question here. What keeps them busy?
You might be surprised to note that Jesus already has answered that question for us. He pointed out: “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:38,39 NIV). Again, “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building … It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:2830 NIV).
“As it was then, so will it be” when Jesus comes. Those people were very busy with their own things. They had no time for God. Eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting and building are all normal activities in which people engage in. Then in what sense does Jesus find fault with them? The answer to this question is of great importance.
The answer is that there is nothing wrong with all these activities. But Jesus is pointing out man’s PREOCCUPATION with these normal things that makes them abnormal. Jesus is pointing out man’s EXCLUSION OF GOD from his life as he includes more and more of such activities into his daily concerns and routine. In other words, God gets crowded out of man’s life: “In all his thoughts there is no room for God” (Psalm 10:4b NIV).
What Jesus is emphasizing here is the worldly philosophy of “eat, drink and be merry” that would dominate the thinking of people in the last days. The people of the world including busy Christians would conveniently forget the fact that: “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 NIV). Such an attitude of forgetfulness of eternal truths would lead to destructiona final and complete destruction!
So busy Christian, here is a question for you: “What keeps you busy?”
Know that the smell of death and its stench rises from those busy bees you’re so happily and ignorantly chasing. If God is not in your foremost thoughts, know that one day you will go down; bitten by its sting.
The Blessed Hope
A Sign of the Times–Jerusalem
Jesus gave us many signs that we can watch out for. An open mind, a prayerful heart, a simple reading of the Scriptures and the ability to see what is happening in the world are all what is needed to interpret these signs. Of these signs the most important is Jerusalem. What happens there reaches our homes instantly and therefore easy to monitor.
Jerusalem is God’s chosen place for Himself. It is where His dwelling was and where His throne will be in the future (Jeremiah 3:17). It is the city of God, the great King (Matthew 5:35). God has set Jerusalem in the center of the nations with countries around her (Ezekiel 5:5). That much about the importance of Jerusalem.
But more importantly, in the face of current events, we need to look at two truths:
- Jerusalem’s strategic importance in God’s end time plans
The Bible asks us to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” and also declares: “For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity” (Psalm 122:6a, 9 NIV). Yes, Jerusalem is important to God.
And Jesus, in the context of describing the signs of the end times, said: “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20). This statement calls attention to the fact that Jerusalem and its fortunes play a very important role in end-time events. Therefore, know that the rest of world history is going to be scripted on the fortunes of this one single city in the world.
Jesus, the Son of God, was rejected, humiliated and crucified there. But He will reign there one day!
Then: “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10 NIV).
Finally, Jerusalem will own Jesus whom they rejected and crucified. They will accept Him as their Messiah, their Savior, Deliverer, Redeemer and King, the Son of David; the Lion of the tribe of Judah!
- Jerusalem as the KEY to World Peace
If you switch on the TV, almost everyday you’ll find Jerusalem in the news. For some reason or the other it will be featured in the news.
Have you ever wondered why it is so? The answer is found in the Bible. God said long ago, “On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves” (Zechariah 12:3 NIV).
This is the simple reason why the world is divided on Jerusalemthe bone of contention. Peace processes will stumble on this one rock because God in His wisdom has kept Jerusalem as a cause of division in the world. More importantly,Jerusalem is God’s reminder to the world that it cannot have peace without acknowledging God and His plans!
And lasting peace will come to this city only when Jesus, the Prince of Peace; King of Kings and Lord of Lords, shall reign there in righteousness. At that time what the Bible predicted centuries ago will come to pass: “And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE” (Ezekiel 48:35b NIV).
God’s Final Marvel
“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2 NIV).
- Jerusalem and Mount of Olives
There is a second phase to Jesus’ second coming. The first phase occurs when Jesus appears in the clouds and takes His children back to heaven.
The second phase happens after a brief period of time (7 years)*.
At the end of that time of 7 years Jesus will come and stand on Mt. Olives. And Mt. Olives is near the city of Jerusalem. Both the Old Testament and New Testament testify to this.
“Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem …” (Zechariah 13:3,4a NIV).
As Jesus was taken up to heaven the disciples kept looking intently into the sky. Then heavenly messengers asked them: “ `Men of Galilee”, they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’ Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city’ ” (Acts 1: 11,12 NIV).
The Mount of Olives, being so near Jerusalem, is of strategic importance in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Hence, Jerusalem will continue to be the focus of attention in the days to come.
1. During that period between the first phase (also known as the Rapture) and the second phase when Jesus comes and stands on the earth, there will be a 3 ½ period of great peace and prosperity on earth under the rule of the Antichrist. This rule will probably be accepted by the world through some kind of peace treaty he will be able to make with Israel. We need to remember that a real peace treaty that the Anitchrist might have been able to make with the land of Israel at the beginning of his rule would exalt him as a great person in the eyes of the world. Also, when he is healed of a fatal wound, “The whole world was astonished and followed the beast” says Revelation 13:3 b NIV.
After 3 ½ years the Antichrist would show to the world that he has been empowered by Satan himself. Then will occur a reign of terror and lawlessness for the next 3 ½ years. The Bible describes the Antichrist as a man of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:812). The Jewish people will suffer much during this period.
This second 3 ½ period will possibly begin with some kind of violation of the peace treaty between the Antichrist and the land of Israel. And then the Antichrist will sit inside the Holy place of the Jewish Temple (which is yet to be built). This is what Jesus referred to in Matthew 24:15. That means that the Antichrist will finally exalt himself to the position of God.
The prophet also declares: “He (the Antichrist) will speak against the Most High and oppress saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time [that means, for a year, two years and half a year totalling 3 ½ years]” (Daniel 7:25 NIV).
The Blessed Hope
A Costly Mistake
One of the great tragedies in life is the loss of opportunities. On most of these occasions the missed opportunity never knocks twice.
As one thinks about missed opportunities in life, a question pops up in our mind’s eye: “What makes one miss opportunities?” The answer is simple. People miss opportunities because they look at the wrong places. They have wrong expectations. Therefore when the opportunity presents itself right before their eyes they fail to recognize it. This happens because they are looking at some other place for it. And they fail to recognize it for another reason too. They expected something else. So when expectations don’t match they let the opportunity slip by.
The same thing happened to the Jewish people when Jesus came to them. They expected a Kingtheir Messiah. They expected Him to destroy the Roman Empire and reestablish the Kingdom of Israel once again.
But He came as a suffering servant. And He chose the cross instead of the crown. Therefore they rejected Him. And they missed their opportunity.
Reflecting on this missed opportunity Jesus wept over Jerusalem and its coming destruction: “They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:44b NIV). The people had missed their opportunity. And that was going to cost them much.
In another portion, Jesus laments about Jerusalem and its people thus: “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:23b NIV). Note the phrase, “but you were not willing!” How often God is willing, but we are not ready to be shielded under His wings! With what great love and compassion He longs to reach out to us, but we are not willing!
And if we continue like the people of Jerusalem we will miss the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ. It will cost us much for we were unwilling to be ready for His coming.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25) teaches this supreme truth. It is not enough to watch out for His coming. More than that He should find us prepared like the five wise virgins. If we are like the foolish virgins trying to get ready when the trumpet call would sound, it would be too late. And the door shall close on us.
There are many who try to avoid this disaster by doing nothing and looking at the clouds of heaven, watching and waiting for His coming. But Jesus warned that He would be happy to find His children doing their work He had entrusted to them: “It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns” (Matthew 24:46 NIV). So we are asked to be diligent and faithful in the work that God has called us to do instead of daydreaming and wasting our time.
Look, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.
So shall it be! Amen.
Revelation 1:7 NIV