References in re-blogs of February 2018 to a pre-Tribulation Rapture, one of 8 possible eschatological scenarios, plus a theological blogger’s discussion prompted me to revisit and expand upon one of this blog’s first posts, ‘Why Watch?’
Here, we wrap up that mini-series on who, why, when and what we’re to be looking out for as being indicative of Jesus Christ’s promised return, as foretold in the Gospels and Apostle Paul’s letters.
This study is not exhaustive. As a foundational document it excludes ‘signs’ noted by other apostles, Old Testament prophets and Apostle John in ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ’, also known as ‘The Apocalypse’. However, it concludes with a listing of 30 ‘signs’ via blog-link.
You, me and everyone, especially those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ – HE is the WHO, and thus the basic reason we all need to be watching. [If you’re not familiar with His life, ministry and status, or with the fact we can be in a close, loving relationship with Him, then dip into this blog’s brief outline at Do You Know Jesus?]
For me, a spectacular, life-changing event in 1989 made watching very personal and connected me into relevant, directive scripture. Then in 2008, wanting to check Jesus’ parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13, I opened my Bible and IT EXPLODED! and I heard, “This is ALL about to be fulfilled!”
Thus began my series of emails to friends and church leaders about prophecy, as told nine years ago this month in part one of The Endgame Is Now In Play, wherein I wrote:
‘Jesus urged His disciples to look out for and observe signs of the times. Regarding their questions about His return at the end of this Age, the earliest Gospel account has Jesus stressing 7 times, “Watch…be alert…on your guard“ (Mark 13). Matthew 24 reports Jesus saying 4 times, “Watch…and when you see…” followed by the parables of the burglar and of the virgins > “Don’t be caught napping!” [Is the Church still asleep?] Luke’s account has, “Be always on the watch…” (Luke 21:36 and chapter 12 (NIV) has sections on watchfulness and interpreting the times. In each Gospel Jesus commands, “Learn the lesson of the fig tree…”. Also, the Apostles went on to give more indicators (Acts 3:20-1, Hebrews 12:26-7, 2 Peter 3, 2 Timothy 3 and the first and second letters to the Thessalonians).’
It’s claimed that for every OT prophecy about Jesus Christ’s birth and life there’s seven to eight times as many about His eventual return or ‘Parousia’, also called ‘The Second Advent’ or ‘Second Coming’. I’m of the opinion the likelihood of that event sometime in our lifetime is rapidly increasing !
So let’s look more deeply into His instructions to the four who’d been with Him from the beginning His mission, as Apostle Peter passed it down in Mark 13:33-37 (NKJV):
“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.
“Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming – in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning – lest, coming suddenly, he finds you sleeping! And what I say to you, I say to all, ‘Watch!’.”
That’s why I’m watching and, believer or not, you too are included, as can be clearly understood from Jesus’ words: “I say to ALL…
Jesus’ major End-time teaching was given soon after leaving the Temple with some of His disciples and having foretold its complete destruction, which was to happen about 40 years later after the infamous Roman siege of Jerusalem.
Jesus on the Mount of Olives:
When Jesus went and sat on the nearby Mount of Olives, two sets of brothers (Peter & Andrew, James & John) asked Him to expand upon that prophecy, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?” (see Mark 13, Luke 21, Matthew 24).
Jesus answered in some depth, and by examination of the details we can conclude that not only does He describe later events in that First Century but also those of a much later time, one yet to come but which is now at the door! So Jesus did, but didn’t, tell them precisely ‘when’!
In talking of that far future time however, He tells them a parable about the appearing of leaves on a fig tree – which many believe refers to the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel, and…
“So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it (or ‘He’) is near – at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place…But of that day and hour no-one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is…Watch therefore…I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:28-37 NKJV emphasis mine)
Other passages of the New Testament imply that He, or Holy Spirit, subsequently gave those leading disciples, and Saul of Tarsus who became Apostle Paul, further insights on the approximate timing of those signs, as below:
Peter Preaching in the Temple:
When teaching in the Temple only days after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven, Peter called people to,
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since time began…” (Acts 3:19-21 – my emphasis.)
So there’s a huge contribution followers of Christ have yet to make across all spheres of society towards such restoration – we’ve hardly started; not to mention both human and demonic opposition – but how do we restore ‘all things’? We must conclude that only The Almighty is able to bring about the ‘restoration of ‘all things’ – and doubtless in the manner Zecharia prophesied to governor Zerubbabel:
“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit”, says the Lord of hosts. (Zech 4:6 NKJV)
Although we need to beware of false prophets, Acts 3:21 implies that the Lord will keep His prophets informed of His intentions in bringing this about (Amos 3:7). Hence the important relevance of contemporary prophecy.
Paul Writing to the Thessalonians:
We know from Acts and accounts in Paul’s Epistles that this Apostle to the Gentiles was blessed with visions of and revelations from Jesus Himself as, for example, in the main scripture quoted by ‘pre-Tribbers’:
‘For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
‘For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.’ (1Thess 4:15-17 NKJV)
‘But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.’ (1Thess 5:1-5 NKJV – emphases added)
Maybe it’s as well the Palestinian leaders have been defiantly intransigent over the so-called ‘peace plan’ with Israel and, like Iran and Hezbollah, want to wipe Israel off the face of the map! Even so, let’s keep watching!
BUT FOR WHAT ??
THIRTY SPECIFIC SIGNS!
READ WHAT JESUS SAYS ABOUT ‘SIGNS’ (click to read).
Is the End Nigh?
No! I’m not of that alarmist brigade because, in my humble opinion, Jesus is coming back for a bride who’s ‘made herself ready’, which I understand to be a church that has been restored to move fully in the ‘greater works’ – one that has arisen with the glory of the Lord appearing over her and piercing the ‘thick darkness covering the peoples’ (see Revelation 19.7, Acts 3.21, John 14.12 and Isaiah 60.1-2)
There’s clear indications this preparation is already happening through many ministries. Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16.18).
On praying to our Heavenly Father, He instructed us to ask, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matt 6:10).
The Lord’s Kingdom rule has yet to come in its fullness so, in my opinion, a reworking – even a significant sifting or pruning – may be necessary as the Lord finishes building his Church and believers make themselves ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
[Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.]
Copyright RJ Barker 10.2.18