Last week I presented a synopsis of events to be expected sometime soon. How soon? No one knows, and if someone claims to know, leave as wide a distance between him and you as there is between his brain and reality. Even Jesus claimed only the Father in Heaven knows the day or the hour that Jesus is to return to this earth to begin its last age.
That said, it is certain that the return of Jesus, called The Christ, is nearer than it was 2000 years ago when He left. Some surmise the history of the world is a “week” of ‘1000-year’ days. This is a very plausible theory for Young Earth theorists: 4000 years from Creation to the advent of Jesus to a virgin in Bethlehem of Judea; 2000 years of the Church Age; 1000 years of Christ’s millennial reign; concluded with God’s recreation of a New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21).
Since we do not know exactly the year of Jesus’ birth, this remains a possible interpretation of time for at least another 20-80 years. (This includes allowance for questions of exactly when to begin the 2000 year church age.) This would propose that we are very close to the end of time as we have known it, again though, not knowing the day or the hour, or I would point out, the year or even decade. However, given the shape of world events it is very difficult to imagine The Day waiting more than another few decades.
However, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of your investigation into these propositions! You must not depend on someone else, not even me, Martin Luther, the Pope, Joel Rosenberg, John Stott or any other to feed you with such milk. You need to examine Scripture to discover what it says. To not do so is to remain a spiritual baby, accepting “predigested milk” like infants, unable to feed themselves. There is nothing wrong with starting out as a suckling, but think of how sad we feel if we see an adult who has never learned to feed himself or clean his own bottom. Though you may be new to faith in Jesus, begin to train yourself to read the Bible. If you have been walking with Jesus for even a few years, you should be more mature and able to read the Word and apply it to your daily activities, daily ingesting the food of the Scriptures and doing what it says, praying with the understanding and in the Spirit.
So I encourage you to read the first few verses of Revelation 1:3 “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.” Do not be dissuaded by those who would say this book is too confusing or too full of symbols which must be studied in historical context. The book itself says you will be blessed if you read it or listen to its reading!
Along side of this, to understand what the Bible teaches about End Times (Eschatology), one needs to read Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 12; Ezekiel 7-8, 17, 38-39; Daniel 7-12; Joel 2; Zechariah 1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4-5; 1 Timothy 1, 4; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Peter 1-3; 1 John 2; and Jude. There are other references in the Bible to the End Times, but these are the main ones wherein it is a theme of the writing and the study of these, with Revelation, will give one a fair grasp of what we are allowed to understand of what is to come.
Please underscore this: WHEN you believe Jesus is returning is not as important as your belief that HE IS RETURNING! There are differing views on the events listed in my synopsis last week, and I make no claim to fully understand everything about these things, nor to have every detail correct. This is the best understanding to which I have come based on years of study and examination of Scripture. But faith in Jesus is not dependent on agreement on these details of eschatology.
But these things I do know! What kind of people should we be, especially as we gain understanding of God’s plan for the ages? First, love your family! (1Timothy 5:8) Next love your fellow Christ-followers! (Galatians 6:9) Then, love your neighbors, those in your subdivision, your community, your city and county. (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31) And then, if you are going to follow Jesus, get ready for some reeeally tough instruction: “Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:44)
That’s right, pray FOR bad people! Do not pray against them; do not pray for their deaths or for their destruction. Leave that up to Father; “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19, Deuteronomy 32:35)
We must pray FOR our enemies. For that politician who represents everything you voted against in the last election; for that relative who makes you feel like you want to avoid them forever; for that guy who drives like a maniac, running stop signs and racing to cut you off; for that woman who swears so terribly she makes sailors blush; for that person responsible for your loved one’s death; yes, pray for your enemy, that they will see how they have been deceived and turn from their wrong actions. This is God’s heart for His enemies: “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the LORD God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)
Friend, the time is short. Jesus will come back, maybe in the short few years I have left on Earth; maybe later today or tomorrow; maybe not for another decade or more. But He WILL come back, and when He does it will be too late to get ready.