Return of Jesus – Matthew 24:4-14

The Time Of The End Is Imminent

4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Diverse Deceivers

Since the time of Christ, there have been many who have claimed to be the Messiah.  Here is a partial list (and this only includes that last few hundred years!).  Even now, people are claiming to be the Messiah, and many are following them.  God’s word is truth, and this has come to pass…

Diverse Disasters

And while one or two signs don’t indicate anything, when all of them are occurring, it is indicative of the diagnosis:

  • Wars and rumors of wars – When are nations not at war with each other, even now?
  • Nation rising against nation – The precursor to wars
  • Kingdom against kingdom – More precursors to wars
  • Famines – Haiti, North Korea, and nations in Africa – The list goes on…
  • Earthquakes – We have better reporting on earthquakes today then ever before, so we are recording more accurately and completely than in the past.  Whether there are more earthquakes now than in the past may not be known, since we have incomplete records for even the recent past (the last century).

Religious Reversal

There is no nation in the (Biblical times) known world in which Christians are not persecuted.  We must recognize that when prophesy was given, that it was based on the knowledge of the  known world at the time that the prophesy was provided.  The hearers would have recognized that during the time of Christ, the known world was basically (in importance and distance from the epicenter, which is Israel-centric):

  • The Middle East
  • Northern Africa
  • Europe
  • Asia

With the proliferation of the “religion of peace” into all of these regions, there is now great persecution of Christians in each of these geographic areas.

Ample Apostasy

Paul indicated that the second coming of Jesus Christ would not occur until the great falling away.  In the known world at that time, there were many plantings by Paul and the early church.  In the Middle East, apart from the country of Israel, publicly declaring that you are a Christian will get you beheaded.  The Christian faith is very vibrant there, as those who chose to accept Christ know that it is only a matter of time before they will be martyred.  Elsewhere in the world, great persecution is occurring for Christians, including genocide in Africa.

But even in that, many are turning from their faith.  Churches in the once vibrant Christian nations in Europe are now being turned into Mosques as attendance dwindles and they are closed.  People are walking away from their faith in the face of post-modernism and secular humanism.  Culture is becoming the dominating change factor in people’s lives.

The moon is designed to reflect the light of the sun.  It has no light in and of itself.  In the same way, Christians reflect the light of Christ.  We are not light, but merely reflect it.  And as Christians turn from the light towards darkness, so the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.

Powerful Preaching

Darkness has arrived, and no one can work.  In the Middle East, in countries ruled by Islam, Christians are unable to reveal Christ to the population in general, because they will be beheaded if they do.  It is impossible to evangelize if you aren’t able to deliver the message of the cross due to immediate and very public death.  Because of this, Jesus has been revealing Himself to people in dreams and visions.  And this is not just in the Middle East – China is experiencing one of the greatest awakenings they have ever had.  There is a great revealing of Christ going on now in areas that traditionally have been kept in the dark about Jesus.  The final awakening is at hand.

Righteous Return

And after all of these occur, the Son of the Most High God will return.  Many have believed that they were in the end times even during the time of Paul.  We have been in the end times for almost two thousand years.  But the great falling away (rebellion) has only recently occurred.  Prophecy written over two millennia ago – predicting the gathering of the Israelites back into their own land – has come to fruition.  And it was only after this occurred that the great falling away truly began.  Prepare for His arrival, for it is nigh.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I prepared for the imminent return of my Lord and Savior?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have provided us, through your word, the signs of the world before You send Your Son, Jesus Christ, back to the world.  He will come as a lion this time, for He has already come as the lamb.  Remember Your people, Father, that we would be faithful to the very end.  Help us to overcome the difficulties that we encounter as people fall away from the faith.  Keep us connected to the vine that is Your Son, that we may be nourished by him even during the most severe droughts and trials that come upon us.  Fill us with hope as we endure persecution and death.   Provide for us, and strengthen us for what is to come.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Redemption of God – Isaiah 65:25

The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
    and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.

God, speaking through his faithful prophet, Isaiah, indicates that this will occur after He creates new heavens and a new earth.  We see this same language in Revelation 21:1, indicating that this will occur after God has poured out his wrath upon the ungodly and taken his His people to be with him.  The implication is that there will be animals in eternity.

God intends to redeem all of His creation.  In John 3:16, Jesus says:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The word “world” is interesting.  In the Greek, it is cosmos.  This word can be translated as all people, as indicated here.  It can also refer to all of creation as well.  God declared prior to the sin of man that:

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Notice that God saw that it was good.  There is no reason to believe that God will not redeem the creatures of the earth.  Whether the creatures that had already existed in the past will be redeemed or not is mere speculation.  Although they have souls, we are not told anywhere in the Bible that they have spirits.  Most likely (and this is mere speculation), God will create new creatures once He destroys evil and wickedness from the face of the earth with fire:

By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 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 done in it will be laid bare.

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Do you enjoy the company of animals here and now?  Be assured that you will do the same once God prepares the universe for His redeemed ones in glory.  God intends to redeem what we have lost to His Glory and pleasure, and for our pleasure as well!

[Special thanks to T. G.]

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You show us great and wonderful things in Your word.  We thank you that you are so patient with us, and that Your character is perfect.  Thank You for showing us Your level of care for us as well as for Your creation.  You are restoring what once was and should have been from the beginning – uninterrupted relationship and fellowship with those You have created.  You are marvelous, and Your mercy and grace are seen by all by what You have done, what You do now, and what You have declared You will do.  Keep us until the time of the great and terrible day when Your Son comes in glory as the conquering Lion.  Guard us until that day, and give us a sense of awe and expectation for these things that are to come.  This I ask in the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?