Sunday, December 6, 2020

Are we in the end times? When is Jesus coming?

Many of us during the last year were wondering, when Covid-19 began striking down people across the world, we wondered, is this the end of the world?  We began wondering if we were nearing the time when Jesus Christ will return to the Earth. We began to wonder if we would see the rise of the anti-christ and the judgments of God against the Earth.  Many of us started reading or rereading the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible.

So it seems logical that someone asked this question, in our series, God Questions, Real Answers, the question being: “Are we in the end times? When is Jesus coming back?” 

These two questions are linked when considering the fact of the coming end of the story.  Yes, when we look at Christian worldview, we see a beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth. And we see an end in the future, when God will conclude history and bring about destruction, followed by a new paradise.

So let’s address the first question: Are we in the end times?  The short answer to that question is “yes.”  From the times of the early church, two thousand years ago, they always viewed history as something that could conclude at any time.  In many of the ancient letters of the new testament you see that the early church viewed itself as living in the end times.  So we should always have this mindset that we are living in the end times, that Jesus could return in our lifetime, and so we should be ready to receive him. 

But I know that’s not really what the questioner was looking for.  The questioner was really asking, are we close to, or already in the events depicted in the book of Revelation. 

Now it’s important to mention that Jesus said in Matthew 24:36 ESV “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

So no one knows the exact day or hour when the world will find it’s conclusion. But, we can be wise and discern the times we live in. 

Several factors come into play that can indicate that we are indeed very close to the times described in Revelation.  Note several things in the book of Revelation, one, that during the end times, the great tribulation, everyone will be required to take a mark in their right hand or forehead, without which, they will not be able to buy or sell anything.  Second, notice that in the great tribulation, the anti-christ will control the world under a one world government. Third, notice that anti-christ will require all to worship him, and it says there will be displayed an image of the anti-christ that all people across the world will worship at the same time.  Fourthly, notice that Israel is an established nation during the tribulation. Fifthly, notice, the spread of the church across the Earth.  

So, consider this, that the technology to put a “mark” in or on someone’s hand or forehead in relation to buying or selling is a very interesting development. Is it possible that this could be a microchip under the skin? It’s possible.  It could also be more symbolic in it’s meaning.  But the indication of right hand or forehead does make it sound like some sort of specific literal mark. And how long have we had technology to perhaps place a microchip in your hand, and have your credit card information on that chip, and you could simply swipe your hand at the checkout at the store.  The technology possible for that, has only been around for the last ten to twenty years.

Second, the idea of a unified one world government would’ve been virtually unthinkable until modern times, where modern forms of communication and high speed travel have allowed for alliances like the United Nations, the European Union, and so on. As globalization has taken hold in society, it becomes increasingly likely for global alliances between groups of nations to flourish and grow. 

Thirdly, the technology to allow for an image of the anti-Christ to be spread around the world that all would worship him would’ve been impossible over the last two thousand years.  But now today, we have global news stations, television, newspapers, and the internet.  It is now possible, that a live streamed image of the anti-christ could be universally display to billions of people around the world to be worshipped. Such technology did not exist until the last 20 to 30 years.

Fourthly, in ad 70 nation of Israel was destroyed by the roman empire. And the Jews spent the next 1,850 years in exile across Europe and the east.  Yet the book of Revelation said there would be a nation of Israel during the end times.  For all those years there was no such nation any longer. But then world war II happened. And as we know the Nazi’s persecuted and exterminated the Jews. And After the war, the allies created a new state of Israel in the middle east, so the Jews would have a nation of their own once again, in 1948.  That was about 70 years ago. And just like that, the book of Revelation was proved to be true, the nation of Israel once again existed.  And exists right now.  Amazing.

Fifthly, the last command of Jesus before he returned to heaven was the command to win all nations to the gospel.  Today, the church has spread across the known world, to virtually every nation on the planet. Every continent, every nation, every language, for the gospel.  We’re not quite there yet, but very close.  Wouldn’t it be logical to say, that at the conclusion of the spread the end times would occur?

So those are five points that indicate that yes, we should consider ourselves to be living in the end times.  We are close to the tribulation and the return of Jesus.  How close?  It could be a few years.  It could be twenty years.  It could be fifty years or 80 years.  We don’t really know. But we should as Christians, be watchful, watching and observing events on Erath.

Luke 21:36 ESV says, “But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Second question, when will Jesus return?  As we mentioned, no one knows the day or the hour. But we can be watchful and discern the times. 

Certain things must take place before Jesus returns.  Here is what Jesus himself had to say about it:

Matthew 24:5-28 ESV  “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake.”

And I would include the COVID19 pandemic as simply part of the beginning of birth pains.  But no, this is not the terrible time that is called the great tribulation. The great tribulation will make COVID-19 look like a walk in the park. 

So here is what will happen before the return of Jesus.  First of all we have the church age, the time of the spread of the church across the Earth. Then we have the birth pains, where things get worse and worse.  Then we have the great tribulation. This is a time when God judges the Earth. We see all sorts of terrible things happening during the great tribulation, plagues, famines, asteroids hitting the Earth, the oceans being poisoned, lakes and rivers and springs becoming poisoned, hail, and earthquakes, wars, and battles, just all the very worst things you can imagine.

And no I didn’t just list off there the worst things I could think of, everything mentioned in that list is specific to the book of Revelation, mentioned in those pages.

But during the great ribulation we also see “tribulation saints” rise up out of Israel, and they help win millions to Christ during this dark time.  And it also says that those who have the mark of God on them are immune from the various judgments in the tribulation. So while the people of the Earth endure judgment, the tribulation saints are protected from them.  Very interesting stuff. 

The anti-Christ rises up during this time, and defeats the saints, establishing a one world government, and a peace treaty with Israel, but later betrays Israel.  Then the anti-Christ and his kingdom is judged by God, also, “Babylon” in the end times is also judged by God and destroyed. And at the culmination of all these events, finally, Jesus Christ returns, to rule and reign on the Earth. 

So in response to the second question, we don’t know exactly when, but we can watch for certain events to take place, like the spread of the church, a great rise of evil and wickedness before the end, then the great tribulation, the rise of the anti-christ, the defeat of the anti-christ, the judgment of Babylon, and then the return of Jesus. 

In conclusion today, I would encourage you to read the book of revelation, Revelation 1:3 ESV says,” Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

The time is near, we aren’t there yet, but honestly I expect to see it in my lifetime.