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WHAT ABOUT THE END OF TIME

For Bible believers everywhere, somewhere in the back of our minds there looms these thoughts and these questions about the end ... the end of time. The day when Jesus will come back and everything that is on this earth, as we know it, will shut down. The questions begin to multiply.

When is that going to be?

What's going to happen?

Will the earth continue?

Will it be destroyed?

What will happen to our bodies?

What about the dead?

The questions go on and on and on. Those questions are spurred periodically by our subconscious to our conscious by volatile world events, and by these "end of time" prognosticators.

We all want to know when, Is it going to be today? Is it going to be tomorrow? Will it be 100 years? When is Jesus coming back? and When will time--as we know it--end?.

Theories are numerous. You can go all the way back in history and see where there have been these vain attempts to try and predict the end of time. For example, if you look back to William Miller, a figure associated with the founding of Seventh-Day Adventist religion, he predicted the date of Christ's second coming as being somewhere between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He got all of his camps prepared for that Second Coming and the end of time and, well, nothing happened. He assumed he had miscalculated the date so he re-figured again. This time it was going to be October 22, 1844, but again nothing happened.

In an effort to advance his movement, Charles Russell, the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, advanced the notion that Jesus was going to return in 1874. But again, the wait was in vain.

In 188 another author, Edgar C. Whisenant, projected the date of the rapture. Then when he missed that date, he put it a little bit farther ahead. All of that has come and gone as well.

During the first Persian Gulf conflict, an article on the front page told about what is happening overseas, and right beside it somebody was predicting the end of the world because of this conflict in the Middle East.

Now, look at a couple of statements about those predictions--recent or long ago. All of those predictions stem from literally a handful of verses, some of which are found in the first half of Matthew 24 that incidentally, was not spoken by Jesus about the end of time but the destruction of Jerusalem. Some of those come from apocalyptic literature. That's vivid literature written for the Jews--filled with imagery (some in the Old Testament, some from the book of Revelation)--but most of the time, pulled out of context from verses not meant to apply to the end of time at all.

In fact, if someone studies the Bible with any scrutiny at all, they realize that the predictions are pure folly. 2 Peter 3:10 states, "The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." Jesus is quoted in Matthew 24:36, talking about the end of time "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father."

The point is when anyone informs the world that he or she has suddenly discovered the time of the Lord's second coming, they immediately reveal themselves as a false prophet, because the day of the Lord will come like a "thief in the night". There has been such a proliferation of propaganda concerning the end of time -- the coming of Jesus -- what's going to happen when that occurs -- proposing countless theories. So let use examine what does the Bible tells us is not going to happen when Jesus comes again and then what it tells us will happen.

What Is Not Going To Happen!

1. He is not coming to set up a kingdom.

One of the more popular theories regarding the last days is the fact that Jesus will come and establish some kind of utopian 1,000 year reign, during which time there will be peace and prosperity all across the earth. According to this theory, which is called the Millennial Theory, the temple is going to be rebuilt, temple worship will be restored, Jesus will rule from David's throne for 1,000 years, and he will evangelize the world from that throne.

The doctrine has its roots all the way back to C. L. Schofield and some others, but frankly, it's not Biblical. Oh it's true there are a number of Bible prophecies about the Messiah setting up a kingdom.There are also Biblical prophecies about that Messiah sitting on David's throne. But the Bible teaches that has already been fulfilled, the Messiah has come and he has already established his kingdom. In fact, here is an inspired interpretation of those very prophecies. It is found in Acts 2:29-33 when Peter stated Pentecost “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”

Peter said that prophecy has been fulfilled. The prophecy about the coronation of Jesus occurred when he was resurrected. Right now he is seated on his throne, and the kingdom is under his charge now. All the prophecies about the kingdom reign are fulfilled in the resurrection and the ascension and the coronation of Jesus. I wish we had time to look in detail at Colossians 1:13 and 1 Corinthians verses 15:20-26. It just says the same thing; Jesus is reigning over his kingdom now.

"Where do they get the idea about the 1,000-year reign?" It comes from Revelation 20. But, if we begin to take every image and symbol and number from Revelation literally, we will be the most confused people on the face of the earth. Written apocalyptically, the number 1,000 is a symbol. Ten (a number of completeness) cubed, which represents further completeness. That 1,000-year reign represents the last days of the Christian age, and we are living in that right now. It's the 1,000-year reign. So don't misunderstand ... God is not coming again to set up a kingdom, the kingdom is here.

2. He Is Not Coming To Bestow Special Favor On The Jews.

This really is a spin-off to the Millennial Theory. It is a premillennial idea that Jesus' Second Coming will be just before that 1,000-year reign. The concept is the Jews will be saved during that 1,000-year period of evangelism and they will be instruments of Christ to evangelize the rest of mankind, still lost up to that point. During that time, the Jews will supposedly come from all over the earth to their homeland of Palestine, and there, Christ (bestowing special favor on the Jews) is going to reign over all man.

There is one thing the Bible makes abundantly clear in the New Testament. The time of any nation or race of people receiving special favor from God has long since past. It is never to be revived, and not to be resurrected.When Peter was instructed by God in Acts 10 to go to Cornelius and open the doors of the kingdom to the Gentiles, Peter did as he was told (with some coaxing). But here's the conclusion he reached in Acts 10:34-35: “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right’.”

If there was any question about God coming to bestow special favoritism on the Jews, or anybody else, Paul summarizes it in Galatians 3:28-29 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” The time has long since past where God will bestow special favoritism on a race of people.

3.There's not going to be a rapture.

Everyone has probably heard the "rapture theory", that one day, there is going to be an evacuation—rather a vaporization—of all the Christians on earth. Suddenly, they are just going to disappear. After the rapture, supposedly, there will come some seven-year period of tribulation followed by that 1,000-year reign. You know the rest of it from what we have just discussed above.

Where did this idea come from? James Brooks in the latter part of the 19th century developed it based on 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-55. In both of those passages, Paul speaks of the dead being raised, then the living being caught in the air and given a new incorruptible body to live through eternity. But, in those passages there is no indication that life on earth is going to go on as usual or that all of those who are not saved are going to keep continue living. To the contrary, Philippians 2:10-11 states “…every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Matthew 25:34-46 tells us when Jesus appears again, that is going to be followed immediately by a great judgment scene. Some rapturous disappearance of the saints is not found in the Bible.

What Will Happen:

  1. A Spectacular Thing - I Thessalonians 4:16 -, "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, and the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God..." Every human being living on the face of the earth, whenever that day is, will hear that trumpet and our attention will be suddenly captured on a moment's notice.
  2. The Dead Will Be Raised - 1 Thessalonians 4:16 -: "...and the dead in Christ will be raised first." That is corroborated in 1 Corinthians 15:52. “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” When Jesus comes again, the graves are going to be emptied. All of those that we have known and loved, and who have gone to that grave, those bodies are going to be reunited with their souls and they are going to be turned into something beautiful and incorruptible.
  3. The Living Will Be Changed - 1 Corinthians 15:51 -, "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality."

Folks, those first three things are all going to happen just like that. They practically will be simultaneous. A trumpet will sound and there will be the voice of the archangel, the dead will come out of the graves, and the living--at that time--will be caught in the air with them. Therefore all of humanity, from the beginning of time, will be caught up in the air with Christ himself. It is going to be something, isn't it?

  1. A Great Separation – Matthew 25:31 - "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left."
  2. A Great Judgment Scene - Matthew 25:34, 41 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world."  … "Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’.”

We read of that same judgment is Revelation 20:12, where John writes (having seen that revelation), 'And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books."

  1. The Destruction Of The Earth - 2 Peter 3: 10, "The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare."

This earth is not going to continue for another 1,000 years. Jesus is not coming to set up a kingdom. He is going to deliver the kingdom that is already His to the Father after the judgment. And those of us who are part of that kingdom, we will live forever with the Father for eternity. The Second Coming of Jesus is a fearful thing for many people but it will be a joyious time for those prepared. Lesson #1015 by Steve Flatt 06/30/91.


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