“The coming of the Lord draws near, therefore be ready.” - James 5:8
Never in human history has the stage been set so perfectly for the Second Coming of the Lord. In our world today, cultists, self-proclaimed psychics, and self-styled pagans join in a prophetic frenzy about an Armageddon, the end of the world, and the extinction of the human race. Time Magazine, in a secular humanist view, attempted to play the prophet in a lead article titled, “Beyond the year 2000; what to expect in the New Millennium.” If you are interested in current trends you cannot help but notice the frenzied interest in and acceptance of eastern religious, extra-sensory perception, astrology, witchcraft, and false prophets.
In 1 Timothy 4:1 we see a similarity in the prophecy from Paul when he says, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” Similarly, in Revelation 9:20, we see John prophesying about the wicked that will not repent of their evil ways. He says, “but the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.” In our world today, the worst famines the world has ever known are breaking out, new epidemics of old plagues are spreading, and new diseases like AIDS are ravaging the planet. Moral chaos, which is prolific in the world today, is destroying the fabric of our society. Drug addiction, crime, unemployment, poverty, illegitimacy, social unrest, abortion, and euthanasia run rampant and unchecked in many societies.
What we find in the Bible about the last things is most important. Jesus promised us that the generation that witnessed the return of Jerusalem to the Jews would not pass away until “all these things” be fulfilled, including the return of the King. In Luke 21:24, Jesus says, “And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” He continues by saying, “So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.” (Luke 21:31-32)
The Jewish people declared the rebirth of their nation in 1948, and recaptured Jerusalem in 1967. Most scholars agree that a biblical generation lasts for around forty years. We can see an example of this in Psalm 95:10 where the Psalmist quotes the Lord who says, “For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know my ways.’” You don’t need to be a mathematical expert to see that there might not be very much time left if we go by these dates and numbers. From the ubiquitous signs in our culture today, it is clear that the Lord Jesus might be coming soon.
First, He will rapture the church. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) Secondly, He will cleanse, purify and restore this world to the way it was intended to be before the Fall of mankind into sin. Let us examine a very interesting belief about the last days. Orthodox Jews, who believe that the creation indeed occurred in six days, teach that civilization would last for six thousand years, represented by each day of creation, and then the Messiah would come, ushering in the final one thousand years of human history. Since there were approximately four thousand years of human history prior to the earthly ministry of Jesus, and about two thousand years since then, it seems that we are living very close to the Lord’s coming.
Historians tell us that the early church taught the “six day” theory of world history as well. It was considered basic doctrine that the world would go on for six thousand years followed by a period of one thousand years, designated the ‘Millennial Kingdom,’ and corresponding with the seventh day of creation, the Sabbath. We can see this spoken of in Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:18 that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” The genealogical tables of the gospels lead us to believe that four thousand years passed from Adam’s creation to Christ’s birth, and from the birth of Jesus to the present age, another two thousand years have passed, for a total of six thousand years. This means that we have one thousand years of glorious human history yet to experience under the Messiah’s reign. If we believe what the gospel of Luke says in 21:24 and 21:31-32, the coming of the Lord is near.
The Bible cautions us against setting a date for the coming of the Lord. However, Jesus taught us that, “So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Matthew 24:33-36) Beloved, let us heed this warning and recognize our Savior’s words as an admonition to live our lives as if He might come tomorrow.