Over the course of these last several months, this series has been steadily building the case that the Bible contains the key to understanding the times in which we are living. It is a very specific and precise book that tells us not only who we are now, but lays out for us our future destiny. Read in context it gives us a blueprint of events to come. At some point we will see the Rapture of the Church. Taking out the timing of that event we’ll also see: The Psalm 83 War, an Interlude of Peace, the War of Gog & Magog, the Return of All Jews, the Entrance of Antichrist, the Abomination of Desolation, the Great Tribulation, the Battle of Armageddon #1, the Return of Christ, the Judgement of the Nations (sheep & goats), the Millennial Reign, the Battle of Armageddon #2, the Great White Throne Judgement, Eternity. That’s what the future looks like. More importantly it reveals to us identity and character and much of the plan of the very God of the Universe. I tell you truthfully, this is more than just information. It demands an answer.
THE MEANING OF THE MESSAGE
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” (Matthew 24:32-33)
“…knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” ….But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
(2Peter 3:3-4, 7)
We live in very unique times; – the likes of which we’ve never seen. So much of what this series has been about is the marshalling of the evidence that we are indeed living on the edge of the Last Days, – The Day of The Lord. I am not writing here to convince you of that fact. We’ve made that case. The other related but separate task of this work is to sound the alarm among those that call themselves Christian, and to call the unbeliever to seek and find a relationship with the very God of the universe. We are all charged by God to do so. “If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand”, reads Ezekiel 3:18.
So knowing what we know; – what we are supposed to know, I have a very important question to ask. ‘Do we really trust God?’ Do we have REAL faith? As Jesus Himself asked, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”. (Luke 18:8) Or to put it another way, Does what we believe about God affect the way we live? Does what we know about the Times – affect the way we live? We read the news; – Israel, Iran, Iraq, terror threats, Pakistan, EMPs; – But we don’t live in that reality. The reality that we live involves; how we’re going to pay the bills, and getting the kids to dance and soccer and getting ourselves to church, and the work around the house and the car needs fixing and on and on. But the fact is: That other REALITY is overtaking us!
So we see, – in many cases the TRUTH of our situation, – but refuse to acknowledge the situation we’re in. Jesus faced a similar situation with the Jews of His day. He was riding into Jerusalem after His triumphal procession of Palm Sunday. He had just been feted and honored and hosanna-ed and recognized as King and Messiah. It should have been the prime moment of His ministry here on earth, yet He instead expressed an incredible sadness. Here is the Gospel account as recounted in Luke 19:41-44. “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.’”
Did you notice that last line? He held them responsible, because, as He told them, – “you did not know the time of your visitation”. We are responsible…to know…the Time of our Visitation. Christ leaves no room for us to plead ignorance. He left none for the Pharisees, who despite their witness of His many miracles and signs and wonders, – were always asking Him for another sign to prove just who He was. On one occasion He told them: “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matthew 16:2-4) Strong words, those!
His actions should have been compelling evidence for them of the overriding reality of their time. It is the same for us. Just as they were given all of the Scriptural / prophetic evidence to recognize His first coming; – So we too are faced with the same compelling evidence. We too face an overarching reality that is greater than the reality we live on a day-to-day basis. JESUS CHRIST IS LIKELY GOING TO RETURN IN THIS GENERATION!!!
Did you get that? It’s a reality I can hardly get my head around. The Man who did those miracles, and calmed the sea, and walked on water, and raised up Lazarus, – is likely coming back in my natural lifetime. The very Word that spoke the cosmos into existence, – and sustains it with His word, – will be arriving soon! The God / Man who died and rose to pay for my sin is on the doorstep!! All Scripture points to Him, Old and New Testaments. His first coming defined history and gave it meaning. His second coming will put an end to history and establish His Kingdom.
Now it is said that the Bible is 70% history, – a record of exact fulfillments in everything that has come to pass. That portion of Scripture that pointed toward His first coming gave His generation more than ample reason to believe. It revealed His pedigree; – a Son of David, from the tribe of Judah, born in Bethlehem, spent time in Egypt. Isaiah 53 reveals His character and career and temperament and sufferings and details of His suffering and a mode of death that was unknown and not invented, when that passage was written hundreds of years before Christ. Zechariah 11:13 called the price paid for His betrayal so exactly and the circumstances and purposes so perfectly accurately, when it prophesied Christ’s betrayal. “And the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.”
So here’s the truth of the matter. His generation should have expected Him. And the fact is: They did. As the capper, God used the Prophet Daniel, to even give them the exact timing, – if they could see it, – of the coming into His Kingdom. Now God just didn’t have Daniel prophecy something. He proved the man first. When King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that his wise men, (or Magi), not only interpret a dream for him, – but do so without being told the dream, – on the pain of death; – It was Daniel, with God’s help that was able to do it. Daniel prophesied the fall of kingdoms, and he told the king that he would be crazy for 7 years, before coming to his senses and worshiping the true God. He laid out in advance the coming of Alexander the Great and detailed the breakup of his kingdom into four parts. Daniel was a certified prophet. He was the real deal. And so when God used him to reveal the prophecy of the 70 weeks and the arrival of the Messiah, the Pharisees and scholars took him seriously. Now when was the last time you went up to somebody in the mall and asked them: ‘Are you the Messiah’? Didn’t happen, did it? But the Jews of Christ’s day expected Him. They were looking for their Messiah in the 1st century. They inquired of John the Baptist if he was the Messiah. The Essenes, – that monastic group that gave us the Dead Sea Scrolls that have confirmed the accuracy of Scripture, – were waiting and expecting the Messiah. The Pharisees expected Him.
It is because of that that Jesus held them responsible. We too are called to that standard. And that expectation has implications. Because He’s expected again; – since He’ll likely return in our lifetime: HE HOLDS US RESPONSIBLE too. As Peter described it, we may live in an age of scoffers, – yet were are called on to know the season; – to understand the reality that overtakes us. We are to look at the times in which we live and understand the parable of the fig tree, – and see “all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!”.
Now I know that some will say that there have always been people saying it is the Last Days, there has always been trouble and famines and pestilences and earthquakes and wars. That is true. Yet the Bible has been very specific in laying out the characteristics of these last days. Here’s just a quick review of some of the prophecies fulfilled already or in the process of being fulfilled. As foretold by so many Scriptures, Israel is back in the land, the nation is reborn. The frequency and magnitude of earthquakes occurring in diverse places is increasing exponentially. Hardly a week goes by without a major temblor. The weather is getting more volatile. Wars and rumors and terror are everyday occurrences. Mark of the Beast technology is in place to institute the totally controlled economy spoken of in Revelation. The EU is assuming the shape of the old Roman Empire. An exact alignment of nations – [with the ancient peoples clearly named] – is taking form to fulfill the prophecies of Psalm 83, (the war of the inner ring of Arab states) and Ezekiel 38, (the Gog-Magog invasion with Iran, the outer tier of Islamic states and possibly Russia). Even nuclear war is described in Zechariah 14:12. “And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, Their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, And their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths.”
The Bible is specific and exact. And because we have this very specific information, – revealed to us by God in His word, – WE ARE RESPONSIBLE TO KNOW THE TIME OF OUR VISITAITON. And because we have this great revelation, we can know how God deals with nations in rebellion. It’s a serious thing.