Israel looked for a Messiah for 4000 years !
They expected someone who would come as a conqueror, a King ! Someone great and wonderful who would come with power to destroy all their enemies, freeing them from oppression and set up a perfect kingdom for them on earth !
But, instead, a baby was born in a stable who for 30 years lived a quiet humble life helping his father as a carpenter. When He began to teach, He seemed far too ordinary to be the Deliverer that they had been waiting for ! Even His disciples were confused and when Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection they finally outright asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6)
We have all seen movies and read books depicting the author's view of what end times will look like. I’m thinking that many have taken license for dramatic effect. I have a suspicion that the time before Jesus comes back will be much more ‘normal’ than many of the end time teachers have portrayed !
Yes, times will be difficult (as they are now – we need only watch the evening news) and the signs that Jesus said to watch for will be happening but there will also be places on earth where life just carries on !
Why do I say that ?
Look what Jesus says will be happening just before He returns.… people will be eating and drinking and planning and attending weddings (Luke 17:26) . People will be carrying on their daily tasks, preparing food, working in the fields or sleeping in their beds! (Luke 17:34) If things were not going to be distractingly ‘normal’ would He have had to tell us over and over to Watch! So we don't miss it ?
Can we know what to believe about end time scenarios? Would Jesus not be the One to ask? He gave us two OT examples that He says picture for us what the end times will be like.
The two examples are Noah and the flood, and Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah. Isn’t it interesting that these two stories are two of the best known bible stories even among those who have never darkened the door of a church ? Listen and take note of how often they are referred to !
Let us look at these two stories. If Jesus says they are important then they must hold the key to unlocking the end time scenario.
The two examples Jesus points us to are amazingly similar for a purpose, because where they are similar, reinforces the teaching they reveal.
Lets look at the what they show....
A Supernatural Rescue
In both stories, there was a supernatural rescue ! God shut Noah into the ark and the angels grasped Lot’s arm and led him out of Sodom.
Are we looking for a supernatural rescue ? Yes, definitely ! Jesus has promised !
1Th 4:17 “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.”
Preaching to the Lost
Noah preached to the people of his world for 120 years !! By the time he stepped into the ark every person had heard this “preacher of righteousness !” (II Peter 2:5)
Lot is described as…..”that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds" (II Peter 2:8)
In the Sodomites own words, they complained that Lot set himself up as a judge constantly accusing and condemming their deeds. (Gen. 19:9)
Does Jesus not say that the gospel will be preached throughout all the world before the end comes ?
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." (Matt. 24:14)
No repentance - not ready!
In both stories although Lot and Noah begged the people to repent there was no repentance .. and the people were not ready when the end came.
We see Jesus encountering the same problem …. "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not" (Matt.11:20)
And again at the end in Rev 9:20 "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk"
Do we not see today a resistance to the gospel… and an openness to everything else? People following after the gods of their own making!
No Second Chance
Once God closed Noah into the ark … there was no longer any way for anyone to be saved. I’m sure people ran toward the ark when the rain began to pour from the heavens and rise up from the earth… but it was too late ! and Noah could not have opened the door had he wanted to.. God closed the door from the outside.
In Lot’s story the same was true.. no one was saved from Sodom and Gomorrah after Lot and his family were taken out.
Will there be a second chance for anyone who is not ready when Jesus returns? Not according to the examples Jesus gave us to look at … nor according to His parable of the 10 virgins - once the door was closed the five found not to be ready when the bridegroom came found no entry and were turned away. Jesus ends the parable with this warning. "Watch therefore , for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming!"
Swift Judgement- The Wrath of God
Again in both stories , the wrath of God fell immediately after the supernatural rescue. As soon as the door of the ark was closed the rains came ! and Lot was barely out of the city before the fire consumed it !
Will it not be the same when Jesus comes back ?
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (IThess. 5:3)
“Those who do not obey the gospel … these shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord …… when He comes in the DAY to be glorified in His saints…” II Cor.1:8-10)
And agian in Jesus’ own words… Mat 13:47-50 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.
So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
There is one harvest time when both the wheat and the tares will be havested. (Matt.13:27-43)
When Noah was rescued into the ark.. the ark was not a spiritual invisible thing. It was clearly visible to all the people who were left outside.
When the angels came for Lot, they did not come secretly. The angels were visible to all.
So also Jesus says that when He will return it will not be secret !
Rev 1:7 “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Rev.1:7)
Perhaps there have always been disagreements about how the end would play out. Paul addresses this very problem among the Thessalonians. He says, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering to Him…” (I Thess.1:8)
There is no argument from any theological corner that the ‘gathering to Him' is referring to anything other than what we today call the rapture.
Greek scholars such as Ward or Williams say that the way the sentence is structured there is a single article joining the two things Paul is talking about here, which, they say, can only mean that Paul is talking about a single event. ( http://www.dbts.edu/journals/1998/Combs.pdf )
But really, we do not need to be Greek scholars to understand that. I think it was not by accident that Paul writes the order in the way that he does… Paul is saying… “Do not be soon shaken in mind about the second coming of Jesus and the rapture.”
I know that the popular teaching has the rapture coming first and then some years later, the return of Christ but scripture does not support that.
Paul goes on to tell the Thessalonians two things that must happen before this event of the second coming and the rapture will happen…. There will be a falling away and the antichrist will be revealed.
Yes… the believers will still be here when the antichrist appears on the world stage.
Could it be in our lifetime ? Is he already alive and waiting in the wings? He could well be ……
Next post … recent changes/events that have brought the hands of the clock much closer to midnight when this earth will be changed for ever !
And also – the promises of Jesus to us who live in the end times.
Please NOTE !! - If any of you have comments, opinions or questions.. I would love to have either a dialogue in the comment section or I could try to answer your questions in a separate post !