Isn’t it true that mankind does not like change? Especially if it is sudden, we are really upset. But life is full of surprises. The announcement that the Lord will come “like a thief in the night” brings a sense of uncertainty.
For many years we have been taught that Jesus would return at any time, that nothing hinders Him from coming this afternoon, even. Yet, do we really live like we believe that? Our lives, our plans, all have future dates, and we live like we believe every tomorrow will fade into a today, just as it has for thousands of years.
And quietly, underneath the obvious, we have begun to absorb the world’s provisions so much that God has to take extreme measures to get our attention—both believers and non-believers!
When God was ready to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, He salvaged a baby named Moses from the ravages of the Pharoah, who had ordered the killing of all Jewish male babies under two years of age. Forty years later, Moses realized his calling, but his kinsmen were not willing to leave Egypt. Another forty years passed, Moses had gone away to Median, and Pharoah had begun to make life unbearable for the Jewish people.
Then, both Moses and his kinsmen were ready to depart their habitats.
In those years afterward, the Jews were continually willing to forsake the leadership of Moses and return to their miserable prior existence. There were two men of faith and commitment, Joshua and Caleb, as there have been down through the ages.
The greatest work of God came as a result of His promised punishment for their repeated disobedience—that He would have them scattered into all the nations of the world. His prophets repeatedly relayed that promise to them: “I will scatter them also among the Gentiles, whom neither they nor their fathers have known. And I will send a sword after them until I have consumed them” (Jeremiah 9:16).
“Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known—wood and stone” (Deuteronomy 28:64).
Then, the promises of their return from the nations:
“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land” (Ezekiel 36:24).
“After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely” (Ezekiel 38:8).
Now, we look back to 75 years ago, May 14, 1948, and see the fulfillment of those promises. However, the final scattering came with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple with the Roman invasion in 70 A.D. and following. It took 65 years, until 135 A.D., for Jerusalem to be truly uninhabited.
Jesus acknowledged this destruction when He responded to the disciples’ admiration of the temple, told in Matthew 24:2b: “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
The stones were inlaid with pure gold. Contrary to current teaching by some, there is no evidence of the beginning of the Millennium at that time, nor any Roman soldier standing in the Holy Place and declaring himself God and demanding that all must worship him as God—as they were tearing the temple down! If the thousand-year “Millennium” began then, none of the returns of Christ will have happened. Both the Rapture and, seven years later, the Second Coming precede the Millennium, just as the Scriptures roll out the future events.
For 1800 years, the land lay desolate—70 A.D. to 1870 A.D., when nomadic Jews began to filter back into their promised land. But the return of them to a nation of their own was not yet. A foundation of leadership took time to develop, and after the First World War—1914-1917- signs began to emerge with relationships with Britain. The Balfour Declaration established a homeplace for the Jewish people—Palestine—but no sovereign nation among nations.
God’s foreknowledge of the coming establishment of a sovereign nation for the Jews also brought forth the awesome challenge of getting Jewish people willing to move there from those countries where they had become embedded after those 1800-plus years. Their past experience of 400 years in Egypt tells us that—they loved those lentils and garlics of Egypt.
The answer was the Holocaust that formed in the minds of Adolph Hitler and his associates. Since God cannot, in Himself, touch evil, all He needs to do is to allow Satan free reign. With man’s ready and willing Adam nature, Satan is enabled to “steal, kill, and destroy” whoever and wherever he finds an opening. Peter declares this in his first epistle: “…Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Even as believers, we find our feelings, our emotions, and actions entangled with “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” that we tend to draw back when we learn that “All things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). But repenting may not be so difficult if we change the disappointment to His appointment in our hearts with submission. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, for His compassion fails not, they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
So Peter writes of the attitude that will be in the last days when scoffers will come saying, “Where is the promise of His coming, for all things are as they were in the beginning” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Is there a reluctance in the hearts of man to turn loose from the attachments of the world? It is understandable that unsaved people would readily accept any position that does not recognize God’s presence in the world.
Are true believers also among those “scoffers” with deviant doctrines of disbelief that Jesus really is coming, first, for His own body of believers? Looking for “a new heaven and a new earth coming down from heaven” is not the next thing on God’s agenda, according to great passages of Scripture that cannot be ignored as no longer relevant. In the first part of 1 Corinthians 10, Paul writes of the definite need for the examples of people and God’s response recorded in the Old Testament. When Paul wrote to Timothy that “all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable,” he only had the Old Testament scrolls in hand.
As I write of these things, I come to the undeniable truth that “If we do not believe, yet He abides faithful for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). Just as Proverb 3:5 sums up rather quickly the underlying truth that it is God who is sovereign and not mankind.
Our times are in His hands, and thankfully so.
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