In Part 1, we looked at several Scripture passages having to do with this topic heading, and the discoveries were very meaningful and timely. The promise in Matthew 28:20, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” brings up the questions of when and how? Or, as we mentioned, “what happens after that?”
He said, “always,” and Hebrews 13:5 quotes an Old Testament promise, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you!” When, then, is the end of the age?
That can be a tricky question unless one is aware of the flow of Scripture, for some would put it as the very end of time as we know it. But it is the time when God ceases the age of the church, takes the believers to heaven with Him, and begins a final and special attention to Israel for seven years. It is called the 70th week of Daniel.
In Daniel 9:24, the prophet was reminded of a promise of judgment made through Jeremiah: “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.”
Looking, looking, looking…” Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus has never made a promise that He did not intend to fulfill. His prophecies are promises of future events, so what do 2 Thessalonians 2:1 and 3 tell us? “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him…. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition….”
Has that “falling away” come yet? Well, are we believers still here? Answer “Yes,” meaning that any falling away has not ended, for Jesus has not come.
Are we seeing the increasing development of the “falling away” from faith, morality, lawfulness, moral integrity, truth, compassion… and what else? Every segment of our society and culture worldwide is being turned upside down. Isaiah 5:20a says in his day, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil….” That is the core action of this falling-away episode.
Another unknown promise fulfillment is the one when the Lord says He will take out of the Gentiles a people for His name (Romans 11:25 and Acts 15:14). When will the last Gentile be saved… in this age before Jesus comes?
To help us in our “looking for Jesus, our Blessed Hope,” let’s follow some “stepping stones” from Scripture that form a pathway. But first, we must have some rules for guidance.
No. 1 is 2 Timothy 3:16a, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine [truth]….” (We might step on a lily pad instead of a stepping stone and note the verb “is” in the verse—present tense!)
No. 2 is to be alert for cross-references that help us find the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
No. 3 is to be careful not to “lean on our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
No. 4 is to remember that “knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10b).
No. 5 is Paul’s directive to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15, saying he should study to rightly divide the Word of Truth, that is, to not confuse the placement of prophecies out of their order and timeliness.
Now, John reveals in Revelation 1 the authority and source of that prophecy, Jesus Christ. Verse 19 tells us that it is given in a chronological manner—to John, past, present and future. It follows that pattern to believers of today; however, it is mostly future. (I base this on the present tense of “is” in 2 Timothy 3:16, No. 1 rule above.)
The seven churches are displayed by Jesus and identified by their location and characteristics. But why those seven out of the many churches in that region? In the future, there may well be a composite of those churches in the latter days, a church becoming more identified with the world than with Christ. His appeal to individuals to respond to His knock on their doors in Revelation 3:20 seems to indicate His having been shut out of the lives of people claiming salvation but not by accepting Christ as the way to eternal life.
Applying that verse, Revelation 3:20, with the Great Commission given to believers at Pentecost (Acts 1:8) and many other places, the end of the age now approaches, and the “ingathering” spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 is foretold by John: “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet (read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.'”
“Immediately” (in the twinkling of an eye), John sees a throne and One with great glory sitting on it. Around that throne were twenty-four thrones with elders sitting on them. They had golden crowns on their heads, and later they would cast them before the One on the first throne.
This incident indicates that an earlier event had occurred there, which is the Bema judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) where rewards—crowns–are given for services for the LORD.
Who were these, for elders were not among the host of heaven? They have crowns, and the Scriptures name crowns which believers will have received from the LORD as rewards for their service to Him. No doubt but these are representatives of believers of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the Christian church era. This is the time of the “ingathering,” the Rapture of born-again believers being foretold.
Although the church as a body is not mentioned in the Revelation chapters to follow until chapter 19, those elders show up in chapters 5, 7, 11 and 14 to assist John with understanding the scenarios that develop and other services for the Lord.
Next, John’s description in John 14:2-3 tells us what happens: “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
The church shows up for the marriage supper of the Lamb, told in chapter 19, and when Jesus is ready to come back to earth, He sends His angels to the ends of heaven to bring His elect to join Him (Matthew 24:31). Jesus will have on His head a great multitude of “diadems” (KJV), or crowns (NKJV), representing that great multitude of redeemed saints from the Christian era who come with Him at His Second Coming.
Now, we are “looking for that Blessed Hope” who is the central figure of all end-time events—Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God!
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