In a recent newsletter, Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries, spoke of a woman calling in to a Christian radio program.She told the minister hosting the show that the prophetic implications of current events terrify her.
The host said, “For over 50-years, ever since the establishing of the State of Israel every six months we hear, it’s all coming down this week, and to me, it’s a just a huge distraction….I would stop listening to and watching that, and just get into your Bible, and that will make you happy.”
I didn’t hear the program and have no idea of the radio minister’s identity.That’s not what’s important here.What’s important is that evangelical leaders across America are encouraging people to stop studying prophecy.And in times like these, that’s a terrible mistake.
In many cases, their reasoning sounds like the people in 2 Peter 3:4.“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’
Peter gave a profound answer, including this statement in verses eight and nine.“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
The radio preacher encouraged the woman to stop looking at signs of the times.But God put those signs in His word.Jesus pointed out many of them, and with great specificity.He told them to us because He wants us to pay attention to them.
If the man on the radio wants the caller to avoid prophecy, telling her to “get into your Bible” is poor advice.At least a quarter of the Bible is prophecy.One of the primary messages of Jesus is that He will come again.Old Testament prophecies foretell a suffering Messiah and a Messiah coming in glory to rule and reign forever.It’s the same Messiah, but two advents.Jesus suffered the first time, but He will return in glory to rule and reign.We cannot give a full account of the Lord’s purpose on earth if leave out His second coming.
When the preacher says that in the fifty years since Israel’s re-establishment, we’ve been told to watch for the Lord’s return, he’s understating it.We’ve been hearing that for two thousand years.Philippians 3:20 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Joyful expectation of the Lord’s return is not a distraction.2 Timothy 4:8 says, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
I’m concerned when Christian ministers tell people to stay away from the topic of prophecy.But I’m also concerned when precious brothers and sisters in Christ look at prophecy with terror.Notice the words of Paul in the verses above. How do we wait for the Lord?Eagerly!How do we feel about the Lord’s appearing?We love it!Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come.”A kingdom must have a king.In other words, when we earnestly pray the Lord’s prayer, we’re earnestly praying for the return of Jesus.
We know from the signs that this age is near its end.That’s good news!We live in days most excellent!The next to the last verse in the Bible says, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen.Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
For more than fifty years, I have lived in the urgent expectation of Jesus’ return. Fifty years is a long time. Do I regret it? Was I wrong?
No and no!
In Luke 12:37, Jesus said, “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.” (NKJV)
As followers of Christ, we are to live in a state of watchfulness. A thousand years ago, there were Christians living in expectation of His coming. They were not foolish to do so. They were obedient. Titus 2:13 directs us to be “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)
Those Christians from previous generations who lived in expectancy of Christ’s return tended also to be those who lived closest to Him. They were the ones most interested in His word, in sharing the Gospel, helping the poor, and caring for the sick.
If you’re always on the lookout for Christ’s return, someone will inevitably remind you that no one knows the day nor the hour. But they’re missing the point. It’s precisely because we do not know the day nor hour of His return that we are to be watchful. In Matthew 24:42, Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” (NKJV)
For two thousand years, people have been watching. That sounds like a long time, but remember this. God gave the first promise of His first coming to Adam and Eve. It took thousands of years, but God kept His word and Jesus came. By human standards, the Lord may sometimes seem slow. But He has a reason for that. 2 Peter 3:9-10 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come.” (NKJV)
When skeptics complain about God allowing evil and pain in the world, remember that “the Lord is not slack.” He will one day stop all the child molesters, terrorists, and other criminals. And He will hold them to account. But He won’t just stop the evil you don’t like. He will stop all evil. He will hold everyone to account.
Why does he wait? Because He “is longsuffering toward us.” He’s “not willing that any should perish.” He wants everyone to “come to repentance” — turn to Him and be saved. For now, love and concern compel Him to wait. But He will not wait forever.
Earlier in the same chapter, Peter wrote, “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.’” (2 Peter 3:3-4 NKJV)
I’m convinced that these are the last days, and can assure you that scoffers have come. “I’ve been hearing this all my life!” … “You’ve been saying this for fifty years!” Yes, and I will keep on saying it because it’s still true.
There are no signs yet to be fulfilled before the rapture. But signs of the Second Coming are everywhere. Since the rapture comes before the Second Coming, the rapture has to be exceedingly close!
The big thing that makes our time different from any other is the existence of Israel as a nation, and the Jews having control of Jerusalem. But there are other things unique to our time, as well. For instance, before now the world did not have the technology needed for the Antichrist to control commerce as completely as the Bible foretells.