christ’s return

PROPHETIC UNDERSTANDING OF LAST DAYS.

part 6

(All scriptures in New King James Version, unless otherwise stated.)

VI. CHRIST’S GLORIOUS RETURN.

Rev 19:11-14. One day soon Jesus will return in glory to earth as a conquering King to destroy His enemies, to take over complete rule of the world and to reward the faithful.

1. HIS GLORIOUS RETURN – EVERY EYE WILL SEE HIM

a) The manner of His coming.

* Mt 24:29-30. He will return in great glory for all the world to see. In Rev 1:7 we read of this event, “every eye will see Him”.

* Mt 24:31. He will return with the resurrected believers. “Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints” (Jude 14). This would include those who have been raptured, together with many of the resurrected Old Testament saints (Mt 27:51-53).

* Acts 1:10-11. He will return at the place from where He left. The prophet Zechariah looked forward many hundreds of years to this event, “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two …. ” (14:4).

b) The result of His coming.

* Rev 19:15-21. He will destroy all opposition at the Battle of Armageddon. Zechariah again wrote, “It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (12:9).

* Rev 20:1-3. Satan and his demonic hordes will be bound in the Bottomless Pit for a thousand years. “It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will punish on high the host of exalted ones . They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in prison” (Is 24:21-22).

* Zech 14:16. There will be the greatest revival the world has ever known, for Satan will no longer be able to deceive the peoples of the world. “He will destroy …. The surface of the covering cast over all people and the veil that is spread over the nations” (Isa 25:7).

* Zech 12:10-11. The Jews will recognise Jesus as their Messiah and will repent. Paul wrote, “hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:25-26). As a result they will be restored spiritually, with all the promises given by God being fulfilled (Ez 39:27-29).

* Mt 25:31-32. He will judge nations, according to their treatment of Jews and believers. Paul said, “He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has ordained” (Acts 17:31).

* Dan 7:13-14. He will commence to rule the world with justice from Jerusalem. Speaking of His Son God said, “Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Now be wise O kings, be instructed you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear …. .” (Ps 2:8-10).

2. HIS REWARDS FOR BELIEVERS – THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

We read in II Cor 5:10, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Jesus said, “there is nothing covered that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known” (Mt 10:26). We will not be judged for our sins, which we have repented of and which are covered with His blood, but rewards will be given for our faithfulness to Him and His Word.

a) The timing. Jesus said, “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels and then He will reward each according to his works” (Mt 16:27). There seem to be possibly two occasions on which rewards will be given:-

* At the rapture – for those who meet Him in the air and possibly for the Old Testament saints, who rose at His Resurrection. Jesus said, “Behold I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work” (Rev 22:12).

* At His glorious return – for all other believers since Adam, including all those who died or were resurrected in the Tribulation (Rev 14:1-5. 20:4). Isaiah wrote of this, “Behold the Lord shall come with a strong hand and His arm shall rule for Him. Behold His reward is with Him and His work before Him” (40:10).

b) The tests. Paul wrote, “each of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12).In Rev 21:7 we read, “he who overcomes will inherit all things …. .”Each “overcomer” will be tested according to their faithful obedience to Him (Jn 14:15) and to His Word (Jn 12:48) in these areas:-

* Our hearts. I Cor 4:5. Motives – are they good or bad?

* Our mouths. Mt 12:36-37. Words – do they bring life or death?

* Our actions. I Cor 3:11-15. Works – do they glorify Christ or self?

Jesus said, “those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Mt 15:18-19). We see from this verse that the attitude of our hearts effect our words and our actions. How important it is to keep our hearts and minds holy unto the Lord.

c) The rewards.For some there will be few (I Cor 3:15), but for others, their rewards will be great:-

* Different mansions. Heaven will be so big (Rev 21:16). Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions …. I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn 14:2). What a joy it will be one day to enter these wonderful dwellings, which He has prepared individually for each one of us.

* Different brightness of our new resurrection bodies. Paul wrote, “one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory” (I Cor 15:41). Daniel prophesied, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever” (Dan 12:3).

* Different crowns. The Bible says that we compete for “an imperishable crown” (I Cor 9:25). There will be crowns:- “Of righteousness” – for those who long for Christ and His return (II Tim 4:8). “Of life” – for those who persevere in their faith through great testings (Rev 2:10. Jms 1:12). “Of glory” – for faithful pastors (I Pet 5:2-4). “Of rejoicing” – for those who lead many to the Lord (I Thess 2:19-20).

* Different responsibilities in the coming ages. In the parable of the talents, Jesus commends the faithful servant for using his gifts wisely and with diligence saying, “you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Mt 25:21).

3. HIS GLORIOUS RETURN – OUR RESPONSE

After His return He will set up His Kingdom on earth and will rule with His saints for a thousand years, after which there will be a new heaven and earth. Time will stretch into eternity, during which He will fulfil His plans for us and His universe. Let us:-

a) Lift our hands and praise Him for such a wonderful inheritance. Rev 5:9-10. Paul wrote,“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Cor 2:9).

b) Be active in our works and witness for Him, that we do not lose our crown. Rev 3:11.The Bible says in Gal 6:9, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”

c) Make Him our priority in every area of life. Phil 3:8.Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind” (Lk 10:27).

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years”(Rev 20:6).

 

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christ’s return

 

Rev. John Willoughby

PROPHETIC UNDERSTANDING OF LAST DAYS.

part 5

(All scriptures in New King James Version, unless otherwise stated.)

V. TRIBULATION AHEAD – JUDGMENT AND REVIVAL 

Is 24:5-6. At the end of the age God’s wrath will be poured out on the world, because of great sin and rebellion. During this time He will deal with His covenant people (the Jews) and through them to the Gentile Nations. It will be a time of devastating world wars, famines and plagues with great spiritual deceptions, revivals and martyrdom for those who believe the Gospel. At the end Jesus will return in great glory to destroy all His enemies and to rule the world from Jerusalem. Let us study some important Scriptures relating to this:-

1. THE TIMING OF “THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS”, “TRIBULATION AND “GREAT TRIBULATION”

We see in Mt Ch 24 that Jesus made a distinction between:-

a) The “beginning of sorrows”. v4-8. This time period includes the present day and has lasted for nearly 2,000 years. It has been full of spiritual deception, wars, “famines, pestilence and earthquakes”. These “sorrows” (v8) will increase greatly in number and intensity as we near the end.

b) The “Tribulation”. v9-14. Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation” (v9). This will be a time of intense persecution of believers, false prophets, lawlessness and backsliding, but also when the gospel will be preached to all nations. It will start:-

* After the Jews have been regathered from the nations and once more occupy the land of Israel (Ez Chs 36 & 37).

* After a Confederacy of nations has been established, within the land area once occupied by the Roman Empire (Dan Ch 7).

* With the revealing of the Antichrist, when he signs a very important 7 year peace treaty between Israel, her neighbours and other nations (Dan 9:27).

c) The “Great Tribulation”. v15-28. Jesus said, “after you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place …. then there will be great tribulation” (v15, 21). In Dan 9:27 we read, “in the middle of the week (7 years) he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offerings. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who make desolate.” Jesus referred to this image of the Antichrist, which he will set up in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem as, “the abomination of desolation”. We see from v15 that this action will herald the start of the Great Tribulation (v21), which will last for the remaining 3.5 years. It will be so terrible that, “unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” (v22).

2. TRIBULATION AND GREAT TRIBULATION – JUDGMENTS OF GOD UPON ALL THE WORLD

Isa 24:1-3. The apostle John was given many visions of a time of God’s wrath and judgment in the last of the last days, when all the earth will be effected. Everything will, however, be in the control of Jesus – for it is He who “has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals” (Rev 5:5). These judgments will become progressively worse. A brief summary:-

a) The Seal Judgments. (Rev 6:1-17. 8:1-6.) We read in Rev 6:1-8 that judgement will start with the release of the Antichrist (v2), resulting in war, famine and death (v4-8). After this there will be a great worldwide persecution of Christians, followed by an extremely violent earthquake and disturbances in the sky, which will effect much of the world (v9-14). As a result of these terrible judgments men will try to hide themselves and will cry out, “the great day of His wrath has come and who is able to stand” (v17). The Seventh Seal heralds great earthquakes and storms. During this time the prayers of believers will rise to heaven like incense (8:1-6).

b) The Trumpet Judgments. (Rev 8:7-9:6, 13-21.11:15-19.) We read of an increase in severity, compared to the ‘seal judgments’ and again we see an order of events. A third of the world’s vegetation will be burned, a third of the sea will become like blood, a third in it will be destroyed, a third of the water will be made undrinkable and light on the earth will be reduced by a third (8:7-12). An angel will then proclaim a warning from heaven, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpets” (8:13). After this the “bottomless pit” (abode of demons) will be opened and millions of evil spirits will be released to torment unbelievers (9:1-6). A great army of 200 million soldiers will then be released from Asia to kill a third of those who remain (9:13-18). Even after all this many will still refuse to repent (9:20-21).

c) The Bowl Judgments. (Rev 15:5-16:21.) It may well be that from this time nobody will be able to receive salvation for, “no one was able to enter the temple” (in heaven) “till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed” (15:8). We now read of an even greater increase in severity to all being judged. All those with the mark of the beast will be struck with terrible sickness and all the sea and fresh waters will become like blood and all life in them will die (16:2-4). The heat from the sun will increase greatly and scorch men, the area where Antichrist rules will be struck with plagues and darkness, but they will continue to blaspheme God and will not repent (16:8-11). Finally all rebellious nations will be called to the battle of Armageddon. At this time there will be a huge devastating worldwide earthquake, with even mountains and islands being moved. Huge hailstones will destroy what is left (16:12-21).

We read in Isa 24:19-20 that at the end of this time, the world will be completely devastated and will be unrecognisable as we know it today. Taking into account the seal, trumpet and bowl judgements, under 25% of the world’s population will still be alive (Isa 13:11-13).

3. In Tribulation – There will be revival

Mt 24:14. Jms 5:7-8. The prophet Joel wrote of a great worldwide move of God’s Spirit at the end of the age, “He will cause the rain to come down for you – the former rain and the latter rain in the first month” (2:23). Multitudes will be shaken and convicted at the time of the rapture, when many friends and loved ones will suddenly disappear. The terrible judgments of God will have a great effect on those remaining.

a) Jewish witnesses. Rev 7:9-14. God will speak to the nations during these last years by the many saved Gentiles and also by two groups of anointed Jews:-

* The 144,000 Jewish Evangelists. (Rev 7:2-4. 14:1-5.) They will be given a special seal of protection and anointing to minister for a specific period of time throughout all the world.

* The Two Jewish Witnesses. (Rev 11:3-12.) These may well be two resurrected prophets (possibly Elijah and Enoch), who will be given power by God to prophecy and do great miracles mainly in Jerusalem. They will be protected by God for the 3.5 years of their ministry, after which He will permit them to be killed by the Antichrist and for their bodies to be displayed publicly for three and a half days. Everybody will rejoice, until God gives His prophets life and raises them up to heaven publicly for all to see.

b) Death and martyrdom. Rev 20:4. Most of those converted will die during this time. These will fall into two groups:-

* Those who will die naturally or will be killed by wars, plagues and earthquakes (Rev 7:9-10, 13-15).

* Those who will be martyred for their faith (Rev 6:9-11. 15:2. 20:4).

4. TRIBULATION AHEAD – OUR RESPONSE

We are possiblythe last generation, before this event commences. Let us:-

a) Strengthen ourselves spiritually to be over comers. Rev 12:11. Many Christians may be tempted to give in to fear of what lies ahead. Jesus said, “do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt 10:28).

b) Continue to be witnesses. Dan 12:1-3.Paul wrote, “How then can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

c) Receive His grace in times of hardship and persecution. Mt 5:10-12. Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 2820).

“Let us not sleep as others do, but let us watch and be sober …. for God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thess 5:6, 9).

christ’s return

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

PROPHETIC UNDERSTANDING OF LAST DAYSpart 4

(All scriptures in New King James Version, unless otherwise stated.)

IV. SIGN OF RETURN OF CHRIST – THE RAPTURE OF HIS CHURCH.

Lk 17:34-36. This future event is also referred to as, ‘the taking away’ or the ‘bodily translation’ of the church. It will be the greatest sign of His return to rule on earth.

1/. PREVIOUS BODILY TRANSLATIONS

The following gives us a preview of what will happen:-

* Enoch. Gen 5:23-24. The Bible says, “before he was taken, he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb 11:5). Enoch walked with God for 365 years in close spiritual fellowship, then one day suddenly he was miraculously taken up to heaven. In the same way we can also walk with Him in deep fellowship 365 days of each year, then suddenly in His timing, He will miraculously take us to be with Himself forever!

* Elijah. II Kings 2:11, 16-17. The sudden translation of Elijah separated him from Elisha. Later they tried to find his body, but could not. In the same way there will be a sudden separation from others at the time of the rapture, nor will anybody be able to find the bodies of the departed – for as with Elijah they will be in heaven!

* Old Testament saints. Mt 27:50-53. Here we see that many rose with new heavenly bodies after the Resurrection of Christ. These joined Enoch and Elijah in heaven.

2. A FUTURE BODILY TRANSLATION

His return will be sudden and unexpected to us, but will be orderly and planned by God. Let us study I Thess 4:16-18.

a) Firstly. In v16 we read that Jesus Himself will “descend from heaven with a”:-

* “shout”. As part of the Jewish culture, when the groom arrived to collect his bride, he would give a loud shout, just outside where she was waiting. This “shout” declared his arrival to take her away to the marriage supper and to the house he had already prepared for her.

* “The voice of an archangel”. An ‘archangel’ is a ‘chief angel’. Perhaps Jesus will give instructions to all the ministering angels (Heb 1:14), who accompany Christians.

* “The trumpet of God”. This speaks of a warning to wake up and to be on the move.

b) Secondly. “The dead in Christ will rise first” (v16). Those Christians who have died since His Resurrection will suddenly be supernaturally changed and will rise to meet the Lord (see v13-15).

c) Thirdly. “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (v17). The generation of Christians who are ready and waiting for His return will also be given supernatural bodies, similar to the resurrected body of Christ. Paul wrote, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump …. We shall be changed” (I Cor 15:52). Somehow God will also supernaturally lift us all off the earth and into the sky at the same time.

d) Fourthly. “And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (v17-18). This wonderful event is something all Christians can look forward to with excitement and anticipation, infact it will be the most important event in our lives. On that day we will see Jesus in all His glory, give an account of our lives and receive rewards from His hands, enter heaven, see loved ones who have passed on and then enter the wonderful dwellings He has prepared specially for each of us – and this will only be the beginning of our life in eternity!

3. JESUS WILL COME AT AN UNEXPECTED TIME.

II Pet 3:8-9. The EarlyChurch were expecting the soon return of Christ. Since then nearly 2,000 years have passed and we could become weary in waiting. His return will come unexpectantly:-

* Nobody but the Father knows the actual timing (Mt 24:36).

* It will be at a time we do not expect (Mt 24:42-44).

* It will be like a snare for those caught unawares (Lk 21:35).

4. JESUS WARNS HIS CHURCH TO BE READY

Lk 21:36. It is wise to listen to and obey this instruction of our Lord.

a) Be diligent in watching our hearts. Lk 21:34. When speaking about His return Jesus said, “remember Lot’s wife” (Lk 17:32). Her heart was still in Sodom, even after she was warned to flee the city.

b) Be diligent in serving. Mt 24:45-51. In this passage Jesus divides His servants into two categories – the “faithful and wise” (v45) and the “evil servant” (v48). Both are given responsibilities (v45), but only the wise are faithful to their Lord’s command and as a result are greatly blessed at His return (v46-47). The “evil servant”, however, has no fear of God, returns to the sins of the world and verbally abuses his fellow servants (v48-49), as a result he is cut off from the rewards and blessings of God (v51).

c) Be diligent in preparing ourselves. Mt 25:1-13. This parable warns the bride to prepare herself for the return of the Bridegroom. Let us note the following points:-

* Jesus is referring to the Church. A “virgin” speaks of a person whose sins are forgiven (II Cor 11:2). Oil speaks of the Holy Spirit. They call Him “Lord” (v11), also they are all looking for the return of Jesus (v1) – only those born again of the Spirit do these.

* Half are wise and prepared because they, “took oil in their vessels with their lamps” (v4).

* Half are foolish and unprepared because they, “took their lamps and took no oil with them” (v3).

* Both the wise and the foolish hear the cry, “Behold the bridegroom is coming, go out to meet him” (v6). All Christians are called to be ready for the coming of the Bridegroom.

* Only the wise are prepared and join the bridegroom, then “the door was shut.” (v10).

* The foolish call out in desperation, “Lord, Lord open to us.” (v11), but it is too late.

* The reply of the bridegroom to the foolish is very significant, “I do not know you” (v12), which means ‘I do not have a deep, intimate relationship with you’. As a result they are left behind (v10).

d) Be diligent in using the gifts He has given us. In Mt 25:14-30 we read that the talents speak of the gifts and ministries the Lord has given to each one of us. There are again two groups of Christians:-

* The “good and faithful servant” (v21). These are given 2 and 5 talents, which they use diligently (v16-17). At the return of the Lord, they will be richly rewarded (v19-23).

* The “wicked and lazy servant” (v26). He is given one talent to use, but instead of using it for the glory of God, he hides it (v18). As a result we can see that such lazy Christians will not only have no reward (v27-29), but will also miss the rapture (v30).

5. RETURN OF JESUS FOR HIS BRIDE – OUR RESPONSE

Rev 19:7. His coming is likened to that of the Bridegroom returning for His bride. She is both preparing herself and is being prepared by the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:25-27). Our response to the following is important:-

a) Am I born again of God’s Spirit? Jn 3:3, 5. It is impossible to partake of the Father’s glorious kingdom in eternity, if we cannot see or enter it!

b) Am I living a holy life? I Jn 3:2-3. The Bible says, “Pursue …. holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14) and “Let our whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess 5:23).

c) Am I diligent in serving the King? Lk 19:16-17. All of us have been given at least one gift with which to bless others and glorify God.

d) Am I putting Him before all else in my life? Heb 9:28. The last words of Jesus in the Bible are, “Surely I am coming quickly” and the joyous reply of the bride is, “Even so come Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20). The bride will thirst after Christ Himself by spending time daily in prayer, worship and in His Word. To know Him intimately we need to spend time with Him.

Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am there you may be also” (Jn 14:2-3).

boats 1

christ’s return

Rev. John Willoughby

PROPHETIC UNDERSTANDING OF LAST DAYS.

part 3

(All scriptures in New King James Version, unless otherwise stated.)

III. SIGN OF RETURN OF CHRIST – EMERGENCE OF LAST WORLD EMPIRE.

The rise of a very powerful confederacy of nations, which will rule the world and which will eventually come under the leadership of the Antichrist, is one of the signs which no other generation has seen. Let us study some important passages concerning this.

1. AREA OF EMPIRE.

Dan 2:40-43. We see in v31-39 a vision of a figure, which Daniel interpreted as five world empires, which would in future years effect Israel (v28). The fifth with the “feet partly of iron and partly of clay” (v41) represented the last world empire, before the return of Christ (v44-45). The two feet are an extension of the two legs of Rome (v33, 40), which in its latter days split into two. It seems therefore that this future Empire will come out of the area of the old Roman Empire. Some aspects about the feet:-

* They are a mixture of iron and clay (v41). Whereas the Roman Empire was united and extremely strong being just of iron, this will have an aspect of weakness and disunity. It will still, however, have the strength in it of iron.

* The feet have ten toes (v42). Biblically 10 signifies completeness, therefore this could mean either a complete number of nations (number unknown), or 10 prominent nations representing the others in the empire.

2. RULER OF EMPIRE.

The apostle John said, “the Antichrist is coming” (I Jn 2:18).

a) His citizenship. Dan 9:24-27. This prophecy covers a period of 490 years (70 weeks), ends this dispensation and is solely related to the Jews and Jerusalem (v24). We read in v26 that soon after Jesus was crucified there would arise a “prince”, whose “people” (soldiers) would “destroy the city and the sanctuary”. This was fulfilled in 70 AD, when the Roman general Titus ordered his legion to completely destroy Jerusalem (the “city”) and the Temple (the “sanctuary”). The following verse says, “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many”. This “he” refers to another leader very similar to the “prince” of v26 (the Roman general). In this case, at the start of his reign he will “confirm” a peace agreement between Israel and “many” other nations. The leader of v27 refers to the Antichrist, who will come many years later from the same area as the previous Roman “prince” (Titus), the area once occupied by the old Roman Empire.

b) His release to rule. II Thesss 2:3-8. We see in these verses that, “the lawless one will be revealed” (v8) when “He who now restrains” will be “taken out of the way” (v7). Many believe that this “He” refers to the Holy Spirit who resides in His temple on earth (the church). Jesus referred to His people as salt and light (Mt 5:13-14). Salt gives taste and preserves, when it is not present the food is tasteless and the meat goes rotten. When light is extinguished, only darkness remains. When the church is raptured a vacuum will be released for the Antichrist to fill.

3. POWER OF EMPIRE.

a) Political. Dan 8:23-25. We see in these verses that the Antichrist will destroy his enemies, be very cunning and will gain control through political scheming. He will at first appear as a ‘saviour’ or ‘messiah’ to the Jews and will sign a political agreement to bring peace between Israel and many nations, which will last for 7 years (Dan 9:27). He will come into power after 10 nations have risen into prominent positions and will “subdue” three of them (Dan 7:24). In Rev 13 we read that he will rule with absolute power for 3.5 years (v5-7) and that this power will come from Satan (v2). The world is at present looking for a powerful political leader to bring peace and security, the Antichrist will promise to do this, although the opposite will happen.

b) Financial. His control will be absolute over:-

* Nations. Rev 18:1-5, 8-13. “Babylon the great” (v2) refers to the financial empire of the Antichrist, which will control nations (v3) and the souls of men (v13). Those who participate in it will become very rich, but God will judge it with fire (v8-9). In Dan 8:25 we read that he will destroy many rich people by his economic policies.

* Individuals. Rev 13:5-7, 16-18. As nations are being manipulated more and more by financial organisations, politics and military power, so the individual will also be controlled. We read that he will do this with a mark of allegiance (v16-17), possibly starting in his kingdom and spreading later to the whole world (v7). This mark will only become fully operative in the last 3.5 years of this dispensation (v5), but we can already see preparation for it today.

c) Military. Rev 6:2. He will probably arise as a type of saviour at a time of great world turmoil, caused possibly by war, terrorism or an economic collapse. At first he will come speaking peace, (riding on a “white horse”), with the support of great military power (“a bow”), but will not yet have full control over it (no arrows mentioned). He will be given great authority (“a crown”) and will start to control the nations (“he went out conquering and to conquer”). In Dan 8:24 we read that, “he will destroy fearfully” and in Dan 11:39, “he shall act against the strongest fortresses ….” and he will, “rule over many” by means of military conquest.

d) Religious. Rev 17:1-6, 15. We read that a false world religious system (“great harlot”) will arise (v1-2, 15). All will have to join and those who refuse will be killed (v6). This religious system will be ruled by a trinity:-

* Antichrist. Jn 5:43. Paul wrote, “he opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (II Thess 2:4). In Rev 13 we read that He will be killed and will go through a false resurrection, to impress the world of his supernatural powers to be like a second Christ (v3). The world will worship the Antichrist as well as Satan (“dragon”), who will give him his power (v4). He will speak “blasphemies” against God and his full authority to rule the world and to kill all who believe in Christ will last for 3.5 years (v5-7). All “whose names are not written in the Lambs Book of Life” will worship him (v8).

* False Prophet. Rev 19:20. In Rev 13:11-15 we read that he has similar power and causes all to worship the Antichrist (v12), deceives the world by his great miracles (v13-14), gives supernatural life to the image of the Antichrist and causes everyone to worship it – all who do not will be killed (v15).

* Image of Antichrist. Mt 24:15-16, 21. We read in Dan 9:27 that at this time animal sacrifices will have commenced in a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, “But in the middle of the week (after 3.5 years) he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering”. At this time he will erect the image in the Temple.

4. EMERGENCE OF LAST WORLD EMPIRE – OUR RESPONSE TO THESE SIGNS.

a) Search the Scriptures and watch the signs.Lk 21:33. We read in Acts 17:10-11 that the believers in Berea, “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so”.

b) Believe that His love casts out all fear.II Tim 1:7. Paul wrote, “you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out ‘Abba Father’” (Rom 8:15).

c) Praise Him for His protection, victory and strength.Mt 7:24-25. Jesus said to Peter, “who do you say that I am”. Peter replied, “You are the Christ the Son of the Living God”, to which Jesus replied, “on this rock (revelation) I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:13-18).

Jesus said, “Watch therefore and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk 21:36).

christ’s return

PROPHETIC UNDERSTANDING OF LAST DAYS

part 2

(All scriptures in New King James Version, unless otherwise stated.)

II. SIGN OF RETURN OF CHRIST – THE WORLD.

Jesus gave us signs as a warning of coming events saying, “Watch therefore” (Lk 21:36). This command is particularly relevant to the generation living just before His return.

1/. THE WORLD – SIGNS IN NATURE.

These have changed little during the past 2,000 years and are described by Jesus as part of, “the beginning of sorrows” (Mt 24:8). As we enter the time just before His return, so they will increase greatly in intensity. In Lk 21:11 we read of:-

* “Great earthquakes in various places.” Usually they take place in the ‘fault lines’ of the earth’s crust. This will be extended to other areas.

* “Famines.” By 2020 the world’s population is projected to grow to over 7.7 billion, with almost all of that increase being in developing countries. This increase, unless extra food is produced, could result in famine and death for many, leading to riots and mass population movements bringing world instability.

* “Pestilences.” T.B, Aids and other sexual diseases are becoming rampant. Some viruses and sicknesses have become resistant to treatment by antibiotics.

* “Fearful sights.” Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and volcanic eruptions.

* “Great signs from heaven.” Jesus continued in v25, “there will be signs in the sun, in the moon and in the stars”, many of these signs we have yet to see. However, in recent years the ozone layer has been shrinking, resulting in higher temperatures. As a result ice on the poles has been melting and the sea has been rising, threatening the disappearance of some islands and coastal areas. Climatic changes have caused parts of the world to experience terrible drought, while other parts experience torrential rain.

2/. THE WORLD – SIGNS IN THE NATIONS

As we near the time just before His return, the following will increase in intensity:-

a) Wars. Lk 21:10.Jesus said, “there will be …. distress of nations with perplexity” (Lk 21:25). Conventional, biological and nuclear weapons are becoming more deadly as the years pass, with more countries owning them. There is an increasing danger that some of these may fall into the hands of rogue states, terrorist groups or criminals. The rise of powerful and well organised terrorist organisations (often religious) has been an important factor in world instability, during the past few years.

b) Fear. Lk 21:26. The increase of wars, global warming, famine, crime, terrorist groups, disease, drugs and nuclear fallout will increasingly cause a great fear of what lies ahead in many hearts. Paul wrote, “in the last days, perilous times will come” (II Tim 3:1).

c) Knowledge. Dan 12:4. During the past 100 years, knowledge has been increasing at an accelerating rate. We are thankful for the many scientific advances that have brought better living conditions to countless people. Nuclear technology, Television, Computers, Fax Machines, the Internet, e-mail and Mobile telephones are common today, but 50 years ago they hardly existed. Many also “run to and fro” (in travel) with speed and ease, due to the advent of jet travel, cars and trains. The desire to do evil has not changed in the hearts of men, but the ways of doing it have increased considerably.

d) Ungodliness. II Tim 3:1-5. Peter wrote, “scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts and saying, ‘where is the promise of His coming?’” (II Pet 3:3-4). Jesus likened this time to the days of the Flood and of Sodom before the judgement (Lk 17:26-30). He also warned us not to be influenced by such decadence (Lk 21:34). The Internet and Television beam sordid sex and violence into many homes. As a result sexual promiscuity, child abuse, infidelity and homosexuality is becoming rampant, resulting in unwanted children, easy divorce and the breakdown of the family.

3/. THE WORLD – THE SIGN OF THE GOSPEL BEING PREACHED TO ALL ETHNIC GROUPS

James wrote about a great outpouring of God’s Spirit in the last days (Jms 5:7-8). Jesus did not say that all would believe, but rather that all would hear the Gospel (Mt 24:14). Much of the world has heard the Good News – by means of Television, Radio, the Internet and Literature. The Bible has now been translated into all the major languages. In the past missionaries tended to be sent from the Western Nations, but now they are going forth from Africa, Asia and South America to spread the Good News to all peoples. There remain resistant areas, but even there people are becoming more responsive. Satan will continue to oppose this move of the Spirit to the end, by the following means:-

a) A great increase of false religions and cults. Mt 24:11, 24. Paul wrote, “the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (I Tim 4:1). Satan, in his desire to prevent people responding to Christ, leads many into false religions and if that fails, into various false ‘supernatural’ or ‘religious experiences’. Some of which are:-

* False religious church – a very clever imitation of the real church (those born again of God’s Spirit), where adultery, homosexuality and fornication are accepted.

* Cults – Mormons, JWs etc.

* Occult – New Age, Spiritism, covens, white and black magic, ancestor worship, witchcraft etc.

* Evolution – A belief system, which denies the existence of God and therefore a final judgment for sin.

b) A great persecution against believers in Christ. Mt 24:9-10. Today many are being persecuted daily for their faith – infact more so than in any previous generation. This will increase as we near the end. Jesus said to the persecuted church at Smyrna, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. …. Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev 2:10).

c) A great backsliding amongst Christians. Mt 24:12-13. Paul wrote, “that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first” (II Thess 2:3). If Satan cannot lead us astray or kill us, he will try to make us backslide through discouragement or sin.

4. THE WORLD – OUR RESPONSE TO THESE SIGNS

a) Ask for spiritual discernment and wisdom. I Jn 4:1. We read, “Do not be carried away with various strange doctrines” (Heb 13:9). We need to beware of cults and false prophets.

b) Endeavour to be salt and light. I Thess 5:23-24. The breakdown in moral values will get worse, let us continue to be a witness to His divine power and grace.We read in Heb 12:14, “Pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord”.

c) Resist the temptation to backslide. Rev 21:7. To be an overcomer to the end, we need to receive His victory, which He has won over the flesh and the devil. Paul wrote, “Stand fast in the Lord” (Phil 4:1).

d) Be obedient to preach the Gospel in the power of His Spirit to the end. Mk 16:15-18. An eternal future awaits all – either in heaven or hell. Jesus said to His followers, “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8).

Jesus said, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come on all the world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Rev 3:10).

 

 

Christ’s Return

PROPHETIC UNDERSTANDING OF LAST DAYS

part 1

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

I. SIGN OF RETURN OF CHRIST – THE JEWISH NATION OF ISRAEL.

Let us look at some of the past, present and future events concerning Israel and her people, to better understand their spiritual significance in the light of the Lord’s soon return.

1. ISRAEL – The sign of her destruction and her being re-established as a nation.

Mt 23:37-39. As the Jews sent Jesus to the Cross, they cried out a curse upon themselves, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Mt 27:25). They rejected their Messiah, the Blessed Son of God and as a result brought upon themselves terrible judgments under future Gentile conquest (Ez 36:4).

a) Roman rule (To AD 640).The destructionstarted in AD 70 when Jerusalem, the Temple and the surrounding towns and villages were completely destroyed and most of its people killed or taken into slavery by the Roman general Titus.Jesus warned His disciples of these terrible events (Lk 19:41-44. 21:5-6, 20). Later a new city called ‘Aelia Capitolina’ was built over the ruins of Jerusalem and under strict law all Jews were prohibited from entering it on pain of death.

b) Arab and Turkish rule (AD 640-1917).At this time Islam became the religion of the area andmany great mosques were built. Later Israel became part of the Turkish (Islamic) Empire and in 1867 there were no Jews left living in the region.

c) British rule (AD 1917-1948). On11th December 1917 British troops under the command of General Alenby (a born again Christian) defeated the Turks and brought the area of Israel under British control. At that time fewer than a half million people lived in Palestine, of which only 25,000 were Jews.

2. ISRAEL – The sign of the regathering of His people from the nations of the world.

a) The Land and People – Fig Tree. Mt 24:32-34. This tree is a picture of Israel (Lk 13:6-9) and is a very significant sign, given by Jesus of His soon return. For nearly 2,000 years after He had spoken these words, there was no life on the “fig tree” and it looked dead, but on May 14th 1948 she became a nation in one day (as prophesied in Isa 66:7-9) and the buds started to appear. Starting with a population of only 650,000 Jews, today they number over 6 million. God has not forgotten His promises and covenants to His people

b) The Capital City – Jerusalem. Lk 21:24. For nearly 2,000 years and then for another 19 years, after Israel became a nation in 1948, Jerusalem (her capital city) still continued to be “trampled by the Gentiles”. Then in 1967 as a result of the ‘Six Day War’, it was set free from Gentile (Arab) control and returned to being a Jewish city once again, thus fulfilling the words of Jesus, “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”.

3. ISRAEL – The sign of Satan’s hatred and of God’s love for His people.

a) Past hatred of many nations – until her independence in 1948. Dt 28:37. Since God first called Abraham and gave His covenants and blessings to the offspring of Isaac and Jacob, Satan has hated God’s chosen people and has stirred men’s hearts to kill and to persecute them down through the centuries. In recent years under the Soviet Empire and in other European nations, there has been terrible persecution, ending in the holocaust of the last World War, when over 6 million were sent to the gas chambers by Hitler.

b) God’s love – established by His Word. Dt 7:6-8. We read in Amos 9:14-15, “I will bring back the captives of My people Israel. They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them …. I will plant them in their land and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them”. God still loves the Jews and He will keep His covenant to bless them, despite the hatred of the Gentile nations and their own rejection of Himself. Most of His promises have been fulfilled during the past 100 years and some continue to be fulfilled today:-

* They would be re-gathered from the nations (Isa 11:11-12).

* They would be brought back, due only to God’s grace and mercy (Ez 36:20-24).

* They would reposes the Land of Israel (Ez 36:8-12).

* They would be restored as a people (Ez 37:1-12).

* They would become one people in the land (Ez 37 21-22).

* The land would be blessed and restored (Isa 61:4-5. 27:6.).

* They will never leave the land of Israel again (Ez 37:25-26).

c) Present hatred of her neighbours – since her independence in 1948. Zech 12:8-9. Satan has stirred up the offspring of Ishmael (the Arabs) to destroy the offspring of Isaac (the Jews). They have attacked many times, but God has confounded their tactics often miraculously:-

* May 1948 (immediately after independence). By Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. All were badly beaten.

* 1956. By Egypt and her allies. They were defeated by Israel who captured the Suez Canal.

* June 1967. The ‘Six Day War’. By Egypt, Syria, Iraq and allies. The Jews although outnumbered 30 to 1 defeated their enemies, increasing their territory from 8,000 to 34,000 square miles. They captured Jerusalem, which returned to being a Jewish city after nearly 2,000 years.

* Oct 6th, 1973. The ‘Yom Kippur War’ (lasting only three weeks). Egypt and Syria attacked on the Jewish most holy day – the Day of Atonement. Israel defeated them and retook the Sinai.

* Jan 7th, 1981. Iraq prepared to attack. As a result, the Nuclear Generator in Baghdad was destroyed by Israeli jets in a pre-emptive strike.

* June 6th, 1982. Due to continuous attacks from Syria through Lebanon, Israel invaded Southern Lebanon and established a buffer zone as a protection for her people. She withdrew all her forces from this area in May 2000.

* 1991. The First Gulf War. Many missiles were shot at Israel by Iraq and many buildings were destroyed, but not one Israeli life was lost!

* Late 1990’s until today. The Intafada. Hamas terrorists, using suicide bombers, try to kill Israeli civilians and destroy military targets.

d) Future hatred of all nations – God’s final blessing. Zech 12:2-3. God said of the Jews,“he who touches you, touches the apple (pupil) of His eye” (Zech 2:8). One thing is certain, neither Israel nor her people will ever be completely defeated, for God is in control and will protect her to the end. According to the Bible, there will be many wars ahead, ending in the Battle of Armageddon, when the Jewish people will be fully reconciled to Himself, through their acceptance of their Messiah (Zech 12:10).

4. ISRAEL – Our response to these signs.

The Psalmist wrote, “May they prosper who love you” (Ps 122:6). We can show our love by doing the following:-

a) Give thanks for His people. Rom 9:3-5. Our spiritual inheritance is Jewish. The Bible is a Jewish book, the first disciples and apostles were Jews and our Saviour is Jewish.

b) Pray for His people. Ps 137:5-6.In Ps 121:4 we read, “He who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps”.

* “For the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps 122:6).

* That Israel may repent and “be saved” (Rom 10:1).

* That God’s plans will be fulfilled (Isa 62:6-7).

c) Watch as prophecies are fulfilled concerning His people. Mt 24:42. As we see this happening in our own generation, so we shall be encouraged to be always ready for His return.

Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Lk 21:28).