The ancient Jewish nation of Israel did not hear the prophetic voice of God for 400 years after the last prophets, who now we call the minor prophets, gave their message to God’s people. These years passed as the Jews backslid from God into empty religious activity which was in its fullest manifestation when Christ Jesus the Lord was born and lived among men. As Matthew reported, “…the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.” (Matthew 4:16 NLT)
The dead letter of the Sadducee and Pharisee ruled the land in spite of the God of the universe standing in front of them.
A development of theology in prophetic expectation of the Messiah was deeply seated among the people. They were under Roman tyranny and they longed for God’s promised Deliverer to come and free them. Their expectations were not met in God’s promised Messiah who stood before them, even though he healed the sick, raised the dead, and proclaimed eternal salvation. Their eyes could not see the eternal purposes or supernatural reasons of God. The vast majority rejected Jesus.
They knew of demons and the supernatural possession, yes the bizarre control they had on many of the people. They saw the bondage with their own eyes and tried to fight it to no avail. They believed in the reality of Satan and his power over people.
But, the Jews could not see, hear or understand the proclamation of deliverance from spiritual bondage from their real enemy that Jesus offered. They could not see God’s purpose, power, or great love Messiah had for them. Their eyes could not penetrate into the spirit world, but yet they saw the effects of it every day.
The Jewish expectation to be free from the Romans so blinded their eyes that when Messiah came to free them, they rejected and had him killed instead. He did not satisfy their theology! He did not fulfill their preconceived idea of Messiah. Except for a small handful of people, the first time Messiah Jesus came to earth he was rejected because of the fully mapped out theological beliefs they strictly held. God was rejected by man’s understanding.
Today there is a danger then, that many will not be ready or willing to accept the End Days and the Messiah’s second return that God has proclaimed, and be caught unaware just like ancient Israel.
There is a dogmatic theology today that declares all Christians will be caught up to heaven before any tribulation of the last days. The teachers of this way of thinking will get quite excited with anyone who suggests the truth might be different. But, what if like the God fearing Jews of old, their thinking is incorrect? Would this teaching, if wrong, lead some right into this prophecy… “And then many will be offended and will deliver up one another and will hate one another”? (Matthew 24:10)
If you expect an easy supernatural deliverance from government persecution, wars, disasters, and famines, but instead it does not happen as you hope, will your theology carry you through? Or like the Jews of old, will you reject God’s way?
Listen, I really would be glad to be raptured to heaven and not suffer like the Russian, Middle Eastern, North Korean, Chinese, and many other Christians. But, what if it does not happen? Will you be ready for “but he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) Listen, this theology has been built by many God fearing teachers, who have reasoned and studied meticulously to try and be faithful to God’s Word. It is a carefully built theology, but so was the accepted theology the early Jews had. And when Messiah came then, He proved them wrong. Just maybe you might be wrong also.
To be wise, why not prepare yourself by sincerely examining the scripture from a different perspective of the last days prophecies? This is not giving up your faith, or denying the Holy Word of God, but taking your faith from your own understanding and be like “the people of Berea (who) were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” (Acts 17:11 NLT2)
Millions of Christians all over the world are suffering persecution and martyrdom today. Who says the United States of America will be left out of the worldwide suffering of last days? I do not know if we will or not, naturally I do not want to suffer persecution for my faith, but if I must, then I will, because I love Jesus Christ my Lord. Are you able to really say this also?
The conditions seem to be ripe for Christ’s soon return. The prophecies are clear, the whole world will be exploding with rebellion against God’s Word, upheavals and disasters will multiply, and the church will be filled with fake Christians. Unless you are blind like the Jews of Christ’s first coming, you have to admit, these events are growing across the world today.
Here are a few scriptures to get you started to examine or re-examine your theology.
1/ Oblivious to the warning of God’s Word, the world will march on into judgment.
Luke 17:24-30 (NLT2)
24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man comes.
25 But first the Son of Man must suffer terribly and be rejected by this generation.
26 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day.
27 In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.
28 “And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building—
29 until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30 Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
2/ What is the time table of events leading to the second coming? The disciples ask two questions, focus on the second question.
Matthew 24:1-39 (NLT2)
1 As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings.
2 But he responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”
4 Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you,
5 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.
6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.
7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.
8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.
9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.
10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.
11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.
12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.
13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.
15 “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!)
16 “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills.
17 A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack.
18 A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat.
19 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days.
20 And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
21 For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again.
22 In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.
23 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it.
24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.
25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.
26 “So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it!
27 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes.
28 Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.
29 “Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
32 “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near.
33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door.
34 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place.
35 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day.
38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat.
39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
3/ Does Paul contradict Jesus, or agree with His time table?
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NLT2)
13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.
17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.
18 So encourage each other with these words.
2 Thessalonians 1:4-10 (NLT2)
4 We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.
5 And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.
6 In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.
7 And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels,
8 in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus.
9 They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power.
10 When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (NLT2)
1 Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him.
2 Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us.
3 Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction.
4 He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.
5 Don’t you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you?
6 And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes.
7 For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way.
8 Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming.
9 This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles.
10 He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.
11 So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies.
12 Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.