Troubling Times :: By Grant Phillips

“The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, ‘When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’ Jesus then left them and went away” (Matthew 6:1-4).

At this point of our Lord’s ministry on earth, He was fed-up with the constant badgering of the unbelieving Jewish leaders continually asking for a sign to prove His words. The signs were all around them, but they were too blind to see. Of all the prophecies relating to Jesus’ first coming, He fulfilled them all, but the blind were leading the blind, and therefore few truly believed.

The Jewish people of that day were much unlike most in the Church today. They knew the Scriptures. Most in the Church today do not. They, on the other hand, were trained in the Scriptures from their youth, so they were very familiar with them. God in the flesh stood in their presence, and they as a whole rejected Him, even though all the signs were right in their face.

The signs of Jesus’ second coming are all around us today. They are so plentiful they are like a balloon filled with air that is about to burst. Unfortunately, many today, in the Church, are blind. If we are part of the true Church, we are saved, but many in the Church are totally unaware of what is ahead.

Jesus is coming soon. I don’t know when. No one does, but we are definitely in the season of His return. First will be the Rapture of the Church (the bride), then the seven years of Tribulation, then Christ’s second coming, then the Millennium (1,000-year reign), and then eternity.

I wonder if the Lord Jesus is maybe just a little perturbed with those of us who are asleep.

“… With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1:8-10).

Jesus wants His people to know the season of His return. Think about it. There are more prophecies of Jesus’ second coming than the first. He wants us … today … to know that time is running out and we need to be telling others this very thing.

We need to keep something else in mind, and that is it would be better to be busy serving and living for Him when He snatches us away (Rapture) than to be embarrassed of our actions at that time. We live in a world with many more temptations than any other generation. Our world is corrupt, and it is getting more rotten each day.

Let us consider a few passages from Isaiah, understanding that they are specifically for Israel, but also understanding that God didn’t put them in the Bible for us to ignore. Therefore, the message is also for us to heed.

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:6-8).

God is the Father of all in this respect; He is the Creator of us all. From a personal standpoint, He is the Father only of those who have put their trust in Jesus His Son, but from a collective viewpoint, He is the Father of all, but only as our Creator.

More than once, Isaiah stated that we are unclean and our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Please notice they had the same problem then that we have today, “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you.” Then also notice that God hid His face from them and gave them over to their sins. This is exactly what the apostle Paul is talking about in Romans 1:18-32. Three times Paul states that “God gave them over” (Romans 1:24, 26 and 28).

I am of the opinion that God has done exactly that with us today, i.e., He has given us over to our sins and turned His face from us as a nation. The end may be closer than we think.

Are we not, as a nation, just like those in Noah’s day? Theirs was a very evil generation, and the people went about their lives without a care in the world of coming judgment, but judgment came in the form of a worldwide flood. Only those who trusted God were saved.

Just prior to the flood, a man named Enoch was removed from this earth by God and taken to Heaven. “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24). He is a picture of the Church today. The Church will be removed just prior to the judgment (Tribulation) to come upon this earth.

Noah, with his family, is a picture of those who will be saved during the time of the Tribulation.

The many that perished in the flood are a picture of those who are lost and will perish in the Tribulation.

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—” (Isaiah 65:1-2).

For 120 years, Noah preached to the masses in an attempt to convince them that a great flood was coming. God warned the people of that day of His coming judgment, but there were no converts except Noah and his family.

God is calling out today to all who will listen that judgment is coming, but again, few are listening. Instead, we relish our sinful ways and pile sin upon sin. We are so infatuated with our sinful ways that we have moved God out of the way lest He interferes. Having removed God from our society, we educate our children to follow our footsteps, and they have become even greater blasphemers of God and His righteousness than the previous generation. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are” (Matthew 23:15).

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. ‘These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word'” (Isaiah 66:1-2).

Our great God is looking for those who “are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble” at His word. “Contrite,” by the way, means sorry, remorseful, repentant, regretful, apologetic, penitent and ashamed. Does any of this passage describe us as a nation today? I think you know the answer to that. There are many in our nation who are humble and contrite before God and who tremble at His word, but as a whole, as a nation, we curse His holy name. We have audaciously picked a fight with God, and we … will … lose. The humble before Him will receive His loving favor. The arrogant and proud will receive His judgment.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Every word in God’s holy book, the Bible, is true, factual and will happen exactly as God has said. It really doesn’t matter if one does not believe God’s word. That doesn’t change a thing. It has always been true. It is true, and will always be true.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6).

Going back to Isaiah 65, the Lord made clear to Israel that they sought Him superficially, so He turned to the Gentiles to make them jealous, but still they were stubborn against Him. (See Romans 10:20-21 and Isaiah 65:1-3a below.) We as a nation are behaving exactly as they did then. Read carefully what God says in this passage.

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—a people who continually provoke me to my very face …” (Isaiah 65:1-3a).

The holy righteous God of Heaven does not want any to perish. He longs that we believe in His Son and follow Him.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

The world is on the threshold of the return of Jesus Christ, but this time He will not come as a baby in a manger. He will come in all His glory to judge and rule this world. Put your faith in Him today and be saved from the wrath to come.

Grant Phillips


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