By Nathan Jones
How can the end of the world be a message of hope?
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista and I will look at the signs and conditions Jesus said would surround His Second Coming.
Signs So We Can Prepare
Vic Batista: Today's topic is an important one as we look at the signs of the times and also the return of the Lord. More types of threats like the Ebola plague the U.S. and Africa faced will continue to scare the world. And yet, we need to understand that God has everything under control.
Nathan, share some of the signs of the end times and then recap the last sign of the return of Jesus Christ.
Nathan Jones: In Luke 21 and Matthew 24 we read how the Apostle were with Jesus at the Temple. They presented Him with three questions because Jesus had just told them that the Temple would be destroyed. They couldn't believe it because the Temple was a magnificent building and they wondered how it ever could be destroyed.
Number one, the Apostles wanted to know when the Temple would fall. We know historically that happened in 70 AD.
Number two, they wanted to know what will be the sign of the end of the age. They were asking about what would become the end of the Church Age, which is the one we are living in now.
Number three, they asked what will be the sign of Jesus coming. That ended up being about His Second Coming which would happen after the horrible time of the seven-year Tribulation.
Jesus gave ten responses to their questions. It's interesting that He didn't address the three different time periods, but He addressed them all with the same signs. Jesus said that the signs were like birth pains in that they would come more frequently and more intensely as we got to the end of each of these three time periods.
I believe we are definitely in a stage when the signs are coming at us more frequently and more intensely and coming at us harder and harder. That tells us that we are getting closer to the end of this age, which will end with Jesus coming to Rapture the Church. That's when Jesus will take those who believe in Him as Savior off this earth and up to Heaven.
Vic Batista: Of course, by seeing these signs we can prepare.
The Two-Stage Return
Vic Batista: We believe that the Lord could return at any moment, and that is why we need to make a distinction concerning the return of Christ. There are going to be two distinct events or returns. Can you talk about that?
Nathan Jones: The return of Christ is called the Second Coming. Jesus promised all over the New Testament that how especially at the very end of this age He would return. From Jesus' point of view, it would come soon. But, for us, it has been 2,000 years! A lot of folks are now figuring that Jesus will never come back. They forget how He gave us ten signs in Luke 21, Matthew 24, and Mark 13 — all parallel chapters — that indicate and would let us know when He will be returning.
I believe that Jesus' coming back will be real soon based on the signs of the times. What's amazing is how these signs that He gave them is like reading the news.
Vic Batista: Isn't that incredible? When you open up the newspaper or turn on the news, all these events that we are seeing that were foretold in the Bible makes me believe that the Lord could come, maybe even before we finish this!
Nathan Jones: The Rapture is an imminent event, meaning it could come at any moment.
To answer your question fully, the return of Jesus comes in two stages. The first stage is the Rapture of the Church. That's when every person who has put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior will be taken off this earth to meet Jesus in the clouds and there will we be with the Lord forever. That promise is found in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15.
Following closely after the Rapture will be seven years of Tribulation. There may be a little time before that, as we are not told in the Bible, but we know definitely there will be a seven-year Tribulation. That time is when God like the Flood pours out His wrath unto the world because of their sin and evilness and to bring many people to their knees so they accept Jesus as their Savior, especially the Jewish people. It's going to be especially a terrible time for the Jewish people. Jeremiah 30:7 calls it "the time of Jacob's trouble."
For seven years the earth's population will be decimated. The ecology of the earth will be pretty much destroyed due to wars and nuclear wars. By the time the seven years are completed, the earth will barely exist.
That is when Jesus will return — at the end of the Tribulation — that is the second stage of His Second Coming. That is when Jesus returns to this earth, He defeats Satan and the Antichrist and the False Prophet who serves Satan, He defeats their armies, and the He sets up His Kingdom on this earth in Jerusalem. Jesus cleans up the earth and He makes it look like a utopia again. For 1,000 years Jesus rules and reigns on this earth. I am so looking forward to that time period!
Vic Batista: I love that! Everything happens in order. That is some of what I love about Bible prophecy. For those who take the time to study it, and when we look at the book of Revelation in particular, we see all these signs developing. We learn in Revelation about the seven Seal Judgments, the seven Trumpet Judgments, and the seven Bowl Judgments accordingly.
Embracing the Message of Hope
Vic Batista: Sometimes people have a hard time understanding Revelation, but that is why I encourage folks to take the time and study eschatology. Study Bible prophecy so that you are not confused or scared.
Nathan Jones: Some 31% of the Bible is prophecy. God wants us to know His plan for us. He gives us so many clues of what is going to happen in the future. The biggest hope of all, besides the Rapture which is a great hope for us now, is the hope that we win. Good wins, and evil is not only defeated, it is utterly destroyed. We will live an eternity with God and know Him personally just like it was in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve walked and talked and had personal fellowship with God. We too will have personal fellowship with God one day.
So, there's great hope in knowing that evil will not triumph. It will seem to triumph, especially during the seven-year Tribulation, but Jesus will defeat it and we will have such great blessings ahead. That's the message of Bible prophecy — Jesus wins! That's so important for the believer to know.
Sometimes we can get so bogged down in the negative aspects of Bible prophecy, just like the first nine of the ten signs that Jesus gave in Luke 21. We can focus too much on how terrible the Tribulation is going to be. Fortunately, as a Christian, we will not have to live through that time, so knowing that also gives us hope, and that's what Bible prophecy, I believe, is all about.
Vic Batista: You are absolutely right, Nathan. I pray that individuals will embrace this message of hope. God loves you. God has a wonderful plan for your life. It can start today even if you're ready to accept Jesus as Savior. Those who haven't made a commitment to Christ, your only hope is found in Jesus Christ. We believe that the window of opportunity it closing soon, and we don't know when the Lord will return, but it can happen at any moment. Millions of people are going to be left behind to face the tragedies of the Tribulation that the Bible has told us about. Embrace that message of hope!
In the second and last segment of our discussion on the signs and conditions Jesus said would surround His Second Coming, well get into some of the specific signs.