To say the world is the same today as in years past – that we don’t live in unique times – is just not true. More than any other generation, ours has reason to expect the Second Coming. Jesus and the prophets said to look for specific signs heralding the end times. For over 1,800 years, you couldn’t find one of the signs they said to look for. Today, in one form or another, you can find all of them. Here are just a few examples:
During the past year, I have written many articles defending my belief in premillennialism, which is the belief that Jesus will return to earth after a literal seven year tribulation, destroy the armies arrayed against Jerusalem, and rule the world for a thousand years seated on the throne of David.
At this point you may be asking, “What difference does it make?” After all, many pastors who deny these things preach the Gospel and expound the Word with great conviction. Does it really matter if they deny Israel’s place in future biblical prophecy or regard the book of Revelation as having little relevance for us today apart from the final two chapters? Yes, it absolutely matters.
We live in exciting times that are also quite sad. We possess great hope for what lies ahead, yet at the same time we remain fearful of what the next year might bring for America. We rejoice in the signs that point to the soon return of our Lord Jesus, yet we cannot help but mourn for what the people of our nation might soon experience
Lest you think I’m crazy or perhaps suffering from a split personality disorder, let me explain.
Pull up a chair, pour some coffee (or your morning beverage of choice), and let’s spend some time with Habakkuk. I believe he can ease our burden in the light of several current events.
“Haven’t we already done that?” you might ask. Yes, but if you are anything like me you need a fresh reminder of not only the prophet’s complaint, but the Lord’s response as well. I am again wondering why He does not respond to all the violence and perversion of justice I see everywhere I look.
Since my seminary days, I have heard people say the church should endure at least a part of the tribulation because of its need for persecution. But is more suffering really what is next for us? Are we to expect persecution or perhaps greater oppression in case of many believers worldwide? Or, are we to expect Jesus’ appearing to take us to His Father’s house (John 14:2-3)?
I firmly believe it is the latter. The church at Thessalonica illustrates the difference between an anticipation of tribulation conditions and further persecution versus that of the rapture.
On September 28, 2018, many residents of Palu, Indonesia gathered on the beach to celebrate the town’s anniversary. Despite the rumblings of earthquakes, it seemed like a normal day to the people joining in the happy festivities.
Due to a failure in the tsunami warning system, the people on the beach were unaware that a tidal wave at least ten feet high was headed their direction at a speed of 500 miles per hour.
Jesus compared His appearing to the days of Noah and issued this warning along with that, “and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:39). Do you see why the tsunami is an apt picture of Jesus’ words about the last days?
Satan hates the pretribulation Rapture and throughout the history of the church has sought to either bury the doctrine under layers of false teachings or discredit it. If ever there was a time in which this rings true, it’s today. His hostility to it began in the earliest days of the church.
Why does Satan hate the Rapture? Scripture gives us several reasons for this.
Most people disdain the whole idea; many Christians regard it as an out of date belief.
“Who really believes in the Rapture anyway?” some ask. “Why should I put my hope in something that no one believed until the nineteenth century? Why would anyone look for something that only recently appeared in the long history of the church?”
The brides of Jesus’ day did not fear the arrival of the bridegroom. The bride looked forward with much anticipation to the surprise return of her bridegroom; this was an expected and exciting part of the wedding festivities. It brought great joy to the bride as she eagerly awaited the groom’s arrival to abduct her and take her to the place he had prepared especially for her.
Jesus is now preparing a place especially for us. Many neglect to emphasize this wonderful truth when teaching about the rapture. We can be sure this place will be astonishing beyond anything we can imagine. Jesus is designing and preparing it with our specific needs and desires in mind.
Weddings are typically times of excitement to which both the future husband and wife joyously anticipate.
I believe this is why Jesus used words reminiscent of the first century AD Jewish wedding customs when He first mentioned His return to take believers back to His Father’s house, known today as the rapture (see John 14:1-3). His announcement would have sparked positive and hopeful comparisons to the disciples as they listened to Him that night in the Upper Room.
. . . . Someday, perhaps soon, the Father will tell his Son to go get his bride, to go get us! What a day of rejoicing that will be for us!!
As his wife and those closest to him gathered around his bedside one evening, they believed this would be the last time they would see him in this life. Louis Talbot, the longtime president of Biola University and driving force behind the formation of Talbot Theological Seminary, was in the hospital suffering from pneumonia. Many in the room, including Carol his wife, believed he would not survive the night.
Seeing the tears stream down the face of his wife, Talbot responded with these words, “What’s the matter with you? For this I was born. For this I’ve lived all my life—to see my Savior face to face. It will be all glory. I can hardly wait.”
We all have longings and dreams for our future. It’s normal and healthy to look ahead and consider our future. But, what if Jesus comes for us before we realize our desires for the future? What if we never experience what we long for most in this life?
What are some steps we can take to keep our goals in perspective when our aspirations for the future loom large in front of us?
“Who is this guy with the wrinkles and droopy skin?” I asked myself as I stretched in front of a mirror at the gym (in a room with lights that revealed everything!). I looked every bit my age and for a moment I felt depressed.
Then I remembered Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” I think this is becoming one of my favorite verses! Even as believers, we have so much more to hope for than what this world can offer us even in the best of circumstances.
What we hear instead of watchfulness for Jesus’ appearing is that the church must be about fulfilling the Great Commission as though that excludes teaching about the rapture, the coming tribulation, the Second Coming, or the millennial kingdom.
I believe Jesus regarded His command to preach the Gospel as inseparably intertwined with watchfulness for His return. Let me explain why.
Do you ever have times when a line from Scripture jumps out at you and cannot get past it in your thoughts? One morning this past week was such a time. As I was reading in Proverbs 10, the first line of verse 26 struck me in such a way. It says, “The hope of the righteous brings joy.”
Our hope brings us joy; the anticipation of Jesus' appearing and all that He has promised us for all eternity.
It seemed so simple. We would send our letter and earnest check for our new home in Illinois via certified mail. Our purchase contract for our new house allowed several days for the check to arrive.
After double-checking the address my realtor had provided, I took the letter to the post office in North Liberty, Iowa on March 30. The kind young man at the counter gave me the tracking information and said our check would be at its destination in Rockford, Illinois on Monday, April 2. I felt confident the check would arrive on time.
On April 2, I entered the tracking information only to discover that our certified mail was in the small town of Wellman, Iowa