By Nathan Jones
What does it mean for the world when Jesus returns?
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista and I will look at the tenth and last end times sign Jesus prophesied in Luke 21:25-36 — His own return.
The Tenth Sign
Vic Batista: Reading through Jesus' teachings in Luke 21, with its parallel chapters in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, is like taking an incredible journey through the different signs of the end times. The tenth and final sign that we'll be discussing I believe will light up people's lives.
As we see the development of end time events, we can know that the Lord is coming back soon. And, as we look at Luke 21, we learn even more about this incredible sign of the Lord's return.
Nathan Jones: The Bible says that during the Tribulation period a one-world leader — the Antichrist — is going to conquer and rule the world. Matthew 24:21 reports, "For there will be great distress unequal from the beginning of the world until now and never to be equaled again." This is called the Great Tribulation which occurs during the last 3.5 years of the 7-year Tribulation. The Antichrist is going to greatly persecute the Jews during that second half.
The Antichrist starts the Tribulation by making a peace treaty with Israel so he can go out and conquer the world unimpeded. But by the time of the last 3.5 years, he breaks his covenant and slaughters two-thirds of the Jews. There are currently about 12 million Jews in the world today, so we're talking about 7-8 million Jews who are going to be slaughtered. Because the slaughter will be so severe, the Jews will look at this time as the greatest of their persecutions, even more so than Hitler's Holocaust during World War II.
Despite the horrors of the Tribulation, it will end on a high note, for it ends with the return of Jesus Christ. His return is the tenth sign that Jesus in Luke 21 and Matthew 24 gives us.
Jesus obviously did not return when the Temple fell and Jerusalem fell in 70 AD. And, when Jesus returns at the Rapture, the Scriptures says He doesn't set foot on the ground, but rather He's up in the clouds and we are taken to meet Him up there. So, the Rapture is not the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
We actually know the end of the Tribulation is when Jesus will put His feet back on the ground again. He returns to the Earth and touches ground once more.
"There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and the tossing of the seas. Men will faint from terror apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man come in the cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place stand up and lift up your head because you redemption is drawing near." - Luke 21:25-28
Vic Batista: Hallelujah! I am so excited about Jesus' return.
The Blessed Hope
Vic Batista: It's so sad today how we have all these misleading end times teachings out there. There's the Pre-Wrath Rapture view and the Post-Trib Rapture view and so on. These faulty Rapture views do a terrible disservice to the blessed hope Paul talked about, right?
Nathan Jones: Yes, that's true. There's no blessed hope for the Church if we get to be slaughtered throughout the whole course of the Tribulation. The Antichrist not only declares war on the Jews after he's conquered the world, but all those who get saved after the Rapture. They will be called the Tribulation Saints. Upon giving their lives to Jesus Christ, their salvation is pretty much a death sentence.
I'm not saying ISIS will bring about the Antichrist, but let's just use a modern day example. ISIS beheads anybody and everybody who disagrees with them. The Antichrist will do the same thing. He wants the whole world to worship him, so he puts down every people group, every religion, and everything else that stands in his way. And, the result is that the slaughter of the Tribulation Saints throughout the Tribulation will be incredibly terrible. Now, what kind of blessed hope is it for the Christian Church if we are slaughtered? As a matter of fact, Revelation tells us that great multitudes beyond count are martyred for the sake of the Lord. So, clearly, anything not a Pre-Tribulation Rapture cannot provide that blessed hope. The blessed hope of Jesus' return is to rapture the Church before the Tribulation happens. And, there are many verses that support this view.
Vic Batista: Absolutely! That's why as Christians and specifically as prophecy Bible teachers we can agree to disagree, but the reality is that there is no hope in any view that is not Pre-Tribulation Rapture. I don't see the grace of God in some of the other views. That's why I love the way that you are bringing clarity to these end time events.
The Remnant Saved
Nathan Jones: Israel is being brought back to the land of Israel and eventually faith in God because God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the writings of the biblical prophets all promised throughout the Old Testament that Israel would be restored as a people group again. They will finally give up their idolatry and return to Yahweh. Before the First Exile, the Israelites were exiled as an idolatrous people. They worshiped Baal and so many other false god. They were spiritually adulteresses with these idols. The First Exile cured them of that sin.
Then the Israelites came back to Israel once more when the Persians under Cyrus the Great sent them back. The remnant ended up giving their heart to God.
Fast forward 500 years when Jesus the Messiah came at His First Coming, the people wouldn't accept God again. They rejected His Son. And then, 40 years after Jesus was crucified, in 70 AD the Jewish people were dispersed throughout the world yet again.
Despite these constant rejections of God by His people, God's promises were not forgotten. God said that He would restore a faithful remnant.
The Tribulation is called the "Time of Jacob's Trouble" in Jeremiah 30:7 for a reason. It truly is as bad as it could be for the Jewish people. As sinful people sometimes we cannot come to repentance before God unless our lives have become so awful that we finally cry out to God for help. The Tribulation will be that worse time in human history for the Jewish people, and generally the world at large. The populace that was left behind will face 21 judgments from God which basically destroys most of the earth's population and the ecology. But, such awful hardships get the remnant of the Jews along with many Gentiles to accept Jesus as Savior. Jesus said He would not return until they said, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."
When Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation, and it's a good thing He comes back because pretty much most of the world will be close to being totally destroyed, that's when the remaining Jews will give their lives to Jesus Christ. Jesus then sets up His Kingdom on earth as He defeats Satan and the Antichrist. He'll restore the earth back to a paradise once again.
The Jewish people who believed in Jesus as Savior will live on through the Millennial Kingdom as a priestly group for the people in their earthly bodies. And we who are the Church, we will also be there, but in our glorified, eternal bodies. We get to be there in Christ's Kingdom, too, and we also will serve the Lord. There will also be believing Gentiles who survive the Tribulation who will join the believing Jews, and they will form the nations of the earth.
Vic Batista: Hallelujah that we are included in Jesus' Millennial Kingdom! God has so many wonderful things prepared for those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. So exciting are the joys that wait us in the future! And, it all starts with a relationship with Jesus Christ. That's why I encourage people right now to turn to the Lord while there's still time. Jesus loves you and He has a wonderful plan for your life.
The Big Picture
Vic Batista: Nathan, we continue to see the unfolding of a lot of incredible end times signs. The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians about the return of the Lord and how everything lines up with the Word's portrayal of end time prophecies.
Nathan Jones: Exactly. If anyone needs to get an idea of what's going on in the world, they just have to look at Jerusalem. Watch the news. Read the news. Just as Jesus told us would happen, doesn't it seem to you that the world is obsessed with Israel and Jerusalem? It seems like the UN exists to do nothing but make resolution after resolution against Israel. Israel can't build a house even without the whole world condemning them. They can't defend themselves against enemies like Hamas without the whole world condemning them as well. It's ludicrous!
Vic Batista: Absolutely. People need to realize that there's a reason why all this focus of the world on Israel is taking place. This is not just coincidence, this is Bible prophecy being fulfilled.
Nathan Jones: Exactly! Zechariah prophesied that the whole world will focus its attention on Israel. And now, even today, the whole world focuses its attention on Israel. It blames them for everything. You look at such a crazy disproportionate behavior and you think, "That's nuts!"
There is a reason for the hatred of the Jews. God uses anti-Semitism to drive the Jews back to the land of Israel. When the Lord has all the Jews regathered back to Israel, the Tribulation starts when the Antichrist makes a covenant with them. They will feel like they are finally at peace for the first 3.5 years, but the Antichrist will break that covenant so that those years will become the worst time period in all of human history. Then a remnant of the Jews will be refined out of that time who will accept Jesus as Messiah upon His return. That return is what all of these events are leading up to.
For those people who see all this happening and understand what it means, they're like, "Wow! I live in a time period where Jesus is coming back." So they have to ask themselves, "Am I ready for Jesus to return?"
Vic Batista: Nathan, that's a very good question. I believe that needs to be a question that should be asked by everyone, otherwise we may find believers in Christ are asleep when it comes to Bible prophecy and the events that are going on around us.
Nathan Jones: Many people really are asleep at the wheel, and it's sad. Clearly we as Christians deal with a lot today, and I don't blame churches for having endless sermons on how to live in this difficult life. Marriage, divorce, even sexuality — you name it — there are so many problems we deal with on a day-to-day basis.
But, when we understand God's prophetic Word which is 31% of the Bible, we can know what God wants us to know about the future. When we have that big picture — that 30,000 foot view — then we can understand where our lives fit in the big schemes of things. That helps us live our lives better. It helps us live our lives more holy, and we will evangelize more because we know the time is short. And, when we see the world falling apart around us, we can understand that's part of a bigger picture of God's plan. We know how it will end. It ends with Jesus coming back victorious. With that knowledge, we should get excited and have hope for the future.
Vic Batista: I love that! That is what Bible prophecy is — it's our hope. As we turn to the last page of the Bible, we know that in the end we win. Those who are with Christ, those who are following Him, well no matter what's happening in their lives right now, there's always hope.
Nathan Jones: When people usually look at Bible prophecy, they hear all the gloom and doom and destruction. We've covered plenty of that when reading about the ten signs Jesus provided in Luke 21. But, all that horror leads up to Jesus Christ returning.
The earth and all the terrors that are happening right now and will happen are such a tiny, minuscule, short time in human history compared to the thousand years reign of Jesus Christ. He's going to bring peace, righteousness and justice to the world. Then we'll live in the eternal state in a super city called the New Jerusalem on the New Earth. God reformats the earth. It will be a time when there's no crying, no tears, no suffering, and that goes on forever.
So, when people look at Bible prophecy and they only think of the death and the destruction, they need to realize that it's only for a short period of time. The true hope is knowing our eternal lives are coming after that.
Vic Batista: Absolutely! These signs Jesus provided are for us to know simply what's going to transpire. We don't believe that we are going to be here to live through all that horror due to the Rapture, but we do believe that as Christians we do have a responsibility. We see the alarms sounding. We see the clock ticking. We see everything sort of wrapping up. It's like an urgent call for us to wake up, to move forward, and to preach the Gospel by order of the Great Commission. That all has to be motivated by the Holy Spirit and a relationship with the Lord. Once someone opens their heart to receive Jesus and the Holy Spirit comes in, He does His work through us.
Nathan Jones: Exactly. If we recognize the signs of the times, we can know that we are living in a time when Jesus' return is just around the corner. He could come at any moment.
The Rapture will happen in the time it takes to snap. When the Rapture happens, no one is going to be expecting it. Jesus compares the Rapture to a thief. You don't know when a thief is going to break into your house. Jesus is going to come and break into this world and there are going to be a lot of people who are going to wake up spiritually when the Rapture happens. They are going to be like, "I can't believe I waited too long." If only they knew about the Tribulation and the horrors that they are going to have to live through. The Rapture to the world left behind will be just the beginning of the horrors that are to come.
The End to Waiting
Nathan Jones: And so, we have to ask people, "What are you waiting for?" If you know Jesus Christ died for your sins, then what are you waiting for? Give your life to Him now before it's too late. You could die at any moment, and if you're dead, there's no chance for you to accept Jesus' free gift of salvation.
Vic Batista: That is why we want to encourage people to take that opportunity to give their lives to Jesus Christ. We know there isn't a canned way for people to come to know the Lord, but could you lead people in a prayer so they can come to Jesus?
Nathan Jones: If you are ready to accept Jesus as your Savior, and if you believe in your heart that He is the Son of God and that He died for your sins and He rose again to defeat death, then that victory over death can be yours as well. Just pray in your heart something that expresses what you are believing such as: "Dear, Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and be my Savior." Jesus promises that when you come to Him in repentance, He will forgive you of your sins. He will give you that blessed hope and He will give you that future of eternal life with Him.