The 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ

Luke 21:10-28

[This is a transcript of a sermon given by a Christian pastor in Philadelphia, PA.] "Father, we settle our hearts in these days we live in, Lord, we don't want to just give lip service Lord to the idea of your 2nd coming or the urgency of the hour we live in. Lord we don't want to just act, Lord, like we know about it, we don't want to honor you with our lips but have our heart be far from you. And Lord, so often we find ourselves like that, I find myself like that, Lord. All of the signs of your return, Lord, surround us. There is nothing that forbids you coming this evening for the church, and yet Lord, so much of the time we find our hearts longing after things in this world instead of the souls of men, longing Lord after material blessings instead of your presence--negligent, Father, in prayer and study of your Word. And yet Lord, we with all of our hearts believe in your love and in your grace, that you have placed some unimaginable value upon us that you would send your Son into the world to die in our place. And Lord, because of that, Lord, our hearts are lifted toward heaven...for your best Lord, because we know you've given your best, given your only Son. And that you won't deny us anything else Lord, but will give us all things with Him freely. So Father, we pray for your best this evening. Fill us with your Spirit, Lord. Receive our thanksgiving Lord, for a time that we can sing your praises and study your Word, and fellowship. And Lord we pray that we might be different when we leave than when we came, that we would love you more when we leave than when we came. And we know that we are praying according to your will. And so Father we lift our hearts--do surgery on us Lord, challenge us, encourage us Lord, draw us after yourself. Lord draw me, stir my heart. Lord, you are the Good Shepherd. Lead us, and come quickly, Lord, we pray in your Holy name, Amen."

[I'm typing the whole of Luke 21:10-28 here so you can get an idea of the whole passage in context, as you read the sermon.]

Luke 21:10-28. "Then he said unto them, 'Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom [world wars]: and great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish.

And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall be the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh..." Verse 31, "So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand."

"Luke chapter 21. We have gotten to verse 11. Beginning in verse 5, "Some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts, and Jesus said, 'As for these things which you behold, the days will come in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.' They (of course, astounded with that) asked him saying, 'Master, when shall these things be and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?' He said, 'Take heed that ye be not deceived, for many shall come in my name saying I am Christ, the time draweth near, go ye not therefore after them. But when you shall hear of wars and commotion's, be not terrified, for these things must first come to pass, but the end is not or by and by. Nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be earthquakes in diverse places and famines and pestilences and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven." Now it picks up in verse 25, where it says "And there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars". In keeping with this idea of signs in the heavens verse 12 begins a parenthesis that we only have in Luke's gospel, and we'll look at it together. And it's only in Luke's gospel where Jesus warns in regards to the persecution and trouble that would take place prior to 70 A.D. and we'll look at that together.

Jesus says this, verse 12, "But before all of these things, they shall lay their hands on you, persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony." It'll be an opportunity. "Settle it therefore in your hearts not to meditate beforehand what you shall answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist. You shall be betrayed, both by parents, brethren, kinsfolk and friends, and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. You shall be hated of all men for my name's sake, but there shall not a hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls." He begins to talk to them about a persecution they would face. And he gives them some points. Now, important for us as we hear Jesus talk about persecution and his care for believers during a time like that, you know in America we feel very removed from that. Last year when there were testimonies before our Congress about Christians that are being persecuted in other countries, about Christians that are being crucified in Sudan today, and I'm sure you've heard James Dobson talking about persecution globally, things about persecution going on--the testimony before Congress last year [1997] said, more Christians have been martyred in this century than in the last 1900 years combined. More Christians have been martyred in this century than in the entire history of the Church. Now see, that seems far removed from us. When we hear when Jesus talks about trouble and persecutions in the last days, it seems like, 'Well, things gotta get worse.' Well, to most of the world they don't think this evening 'Things gotta get worse.' They think, 'Things can only get better.' William Brady, in his book "Behind the Iron Curtain" says in this century alone there have been fifteen million Christians martyred in Russia alone. So there are many who greatly appreciated these words, and I'm sure that they thought of them as they were being hauled in front of a judge or executioner or a prison guard or a warden, remembering that Jesus said 'You know in the very hour that you need the words I'm gonna give them to you. I'll give you the grace you need in the moment that you need it.' Now we know he does that, he's faithful. Think, of course, of Peter on the day of Pentecost, how he stood up and 3,000 souls were saved as he preached the gospel. We think of him in [Acts] chapter 4 again, when he's brought before the Sanhedrin and the religious rulers which were the very men that he had denied Christ before previously. Remember he said, that night when Jesus was taken from the garden of Getheseme to the home of one of the religious rulers, they asked Peter, "Are you one of his disciples?" and three times he denied the Lord, you remember that. Well Jesus clearly told them "When they bring you in the synagogues and before the magistrates..." this is Luke chapter 12, verses 11 and 12, "...and powers, take ye no thought"--same idea--"how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say, for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say." Very interesting, in Acts chapter 4, when Peter is brought before those religious rulers, it says, Peter, being filled with the Holy Ghost, stands up and delivers one of the most incredible messages you'll read in all of the New Testament. The same man who had cowered in front of them in the gospels and denied Christ, now filled with the Holy Spirit, gives great testimony to Christ. The same Lord, yesterday, today and forever, the same promise to us that he will give us what we need when we need it. We see Steven in Acts chapter 7, it says that his face was glowing like an angel and it says he, Steven, being filled with the Holy Spirit, it says that they actually held their ears, they couldn't understand, 'Steven being full of the Holy Ghost, looked steadfastly into heaven and saw the glory of God, Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God', and they cried with a loud voice, and they stopped up their ears and they ran on him in one accord and they stoned him', Steven in that very hour. We see Paul before Agrippa giving such a clear testimony that Agrippa says to Paul, 'Paul, you're trying to make me a Christian, I know what you're doing.'--so much conviction in his own heart. And of course in II Timothy chapter 4, Paul there, talking about his hearing before Nero, said, 'Everyone forsook me.' He said, "But the Lord Jesus was with me. At my first hearing before Caesar, no man stood with me, all men forsook me. I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge, notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all Gentiles might hear, and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." So Paul says the Lord was with him. The very promise that we're reading. Now I think that's important to us, you know what? As we look at friends and relatives, you know that I know that in your life there are people that you love very much, and you've been sharing the Lord with them. You know, sometimes you get a bad time from them. They get tired, like these guys in the book of Acts, they just want to stop up their ears and run at you and stone you, you know. They just want you to shut up and leave them alone. And I am convinced that more than ever what we need is what Jesus said, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I don't care what your theology is on the Holy Spirit. I'm just saying that we need what the apostles needed. Fine, put baptism wherever you want it, we need the Holy Spirit. We need His empowering, we need to be filled. When we give a testimony to relatives and people that we love, are we praying before-hand and saying, 'Lord, fill me with your Spirit, because I've said these words a thousand times.' Reading the life story of Moody it says, when after a huge successful ministry and then a greater filling with the Holy Spirit, it says, 'He said the things he had always said, but there was such power and such unction that people, millions, were giving their lives to Christ.' And I think how desperately we need that same thing. And Jesus is promising that even when there's hostility toward the things that we believe and that we want to say, that we can depend on him. And even then, against all odds, when we think people won't listen to us, that he'll give us the words to say in that very hour that no one will be able to gainsay or stand against. I think that's great encouragement as I look at this and I think about persecution. That promise is to us also.

This troubles me a little bit. Verse 16, "You shall be betrayed by both parents, brethren, kinfolk, friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish." Those two are hard for me to put together. "Some of you they shall put to death,--but not an hair of your head shall perish." I'm not going to worry about that after they put me to death. I know some of us are worried about that now, a few hairs have perished. In another place he says, "Don't fear those who can merely kill the body"...I think that's what he's talking about. Even if we lay down our life for Christ, not a single hair on our head will perish. In fact, in the resurrection, ones that are already gone will be back.

Verse 19, "In your patience possess ye your souls", enduring, speaking to those who will face this persecution coming on Jerusalem, because he says it in verse 20. "When you see Jerusalem compassed with armies", surrounded with armies, "then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Let them who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let them who are in the midst of it depart out. Let not them who are in the countries enter thereinto, for these be the days of vengeance that all things that are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, to them that give suck in those days, for there shall be wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword and shall be led away captive unto all nations and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." That gives us a key to this passage. He begins this passage by saying "when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies", he ends this passage by saying "then you shall be driven out amongst all the nations of the world." That gives us the context. Matthew chapter 24 said something very similar, only he says this, "When you shall see the desolation of abominations spoken of by Daniel the prophet, then let the reader understand...let those who are in Judea flee into the mountains--pray your flight's not on the Sabbath"--but it says nothing about worldwide dispersion at that point in time. This is something different. This is not the anti-christ, this is "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies"--70 A.D.--"then let them flee"...Early church historians tell us that the Christians took this warning to heart. And they fled out the East Gate one night and by chance--that's not a Biblical word, rabbi's say "coincidence" is not a Kosher word--coincidentally, the Roman guards were not at that gate, and they fled to Pela, not Petra, Pela, east of Jerusalem, still within the borders of Israel, and survived the siege of Jerusalem. Many Christians, warned by this passage, fled Jerusalem, which was surrounded by armies, Titus, Vespasian, the Roman Legions. And at the end of this siege it says, "They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations." That is the Diaspora--"and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles"--that's been for the last 1900 years--"until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Now again, take notice, there is another warning, and I believe written to those who will be alive during the tribulation period. "When you see the abomination of desolation's spoken of by Daniel the prophet"--speaking of the anti-christ, we know that Israel's rebirth is necessary, because it tells us he will exalt himself above all that is called God and that he will go into the temple and seat himself in the temple in Jerusalem. So it's very interesting for us to watch the news today and see the news centering around Israel. Very interesting for us to see articles written everywhere about those who want to rebuild a temple in Israel, very interesting for us to watch the tensions in the Middle East today, and know that some world leader will soon come on the scene. Maybe he's alive this evening. And the Bible tells us clearly that he will come on the political scene as an orator, as a political genius, and that when he comes on the scene, he will sign a seven year treaty with the nation of Israel [some think 3.5 year treaty, eschatological differences exist from group to group, but the event will happen nonetheless]. I get the feeling when I read that--and by the way it says "he shall confirm a covenant"--it could be the Oslo Accord, I don't know--he's going to come on the scene and confirm a covenant for seven years with the nation of Israel. That tells me that we are looking for some shaking to take place, a limited nuclear exchange--something's going to happen to shake the world, because this evening it would be an impossibility to sign a seven year treaty with the nation of Israel guaranteeing them peace for seven years--could never happen with Islam, with the tensions in the Middle East tonight. Something will happen that will shake the world and make the civilized world clamor for peace. And this man at that point in time, will arise on the scene, stabilize the oil cartel, and sign a seven year peace treaty with the nation of Israel. Now it's very interesting, because, as we've been reading through these passages, "signs and wonders, nation against nation, famine, pestilence, earthquake, deception"--all of those things seemed to be restrained and under God's governing, not let fully go. But it tells us in 2 Thessalonians there's a point in time coming when the Holy Spirit will stop restraining all of those things, an they will be allowed to move forward with full force. So then it will no longer be "look out for deception and false christs", you have "the false christ" coming on the scene, as restraint has come to an end. Then it won't just be 'wars and rumors of wars', Revelation 6 then shows us, after the White Horse, the Red Horse riding forward, and war goes forth, and it tells us in one hour one fourth of the world's population is gonna be wiped out. That's in one hour, every human being in South America, Central America, Mexico, the United States, Canada and Europe, gone in one hour, if you can imagine that. [He's talking population-wise. It won't necessarily be those particular countries being wiped out.] And then pestilence comes forth, which always follows war and disease. Right now we're seeing the restrained versions of all of that.

Then this anti-christ, this person who's deceived the world, it says is gonna require that everybody on earth receives a mark on the back of their right hand or their forehead, and without it they won't be able to buy or sell or get a job. Now that sounded farfetched for years, I know, but the technology is in place. Is it the technology that Revelation 13 is speaking of? I don't know that. I don't know that. Time Magazine, and this is April 27th, this spring, 1998, there's an article in here. It's called "The Future of Money." And it talks about electronic funds transfer, cash, credit cards, ATM cards, ID cards, Insurance cards, about one card, a smart-card that does all of this, and it says, the old fashioned checking accounts will be done away with. It says, "Your daughter can store money any way she wants, on her laptop, on a debit card, or even in the not-so-distant future, on a chip implanted under her skin." That was Time Magazine, this spring [1998].

I was out with someone from Washington several weeks ago, [he] told me in the Panama invasion a number of American soldiers, I don't know whether it was a division or a company, they took chips and implanted them under their eyebrow, because they knew that was the most visible place they could see them. And they watched them in battle by satellite. They could see every man, they could see where he was, if he was wounded, it was thermally sensitive, loosing blood, cooling, they could see they had a man wounded. From satellite they knew every man's name. When a prisoner of war was taken they couldn't hide him, because they knew where he was. This is Panama, you know how long ago that was. And this was a man who was involved with the technology. All of this is in place. Now I'm saying this mainly for those of you here who don't know Christ, who may have been dragged here by a friend who promised to take you out to a steak dinner afterwards. And you're thinking my mouth's watering, I can't wait till this screwball finishes. Well, you know, I just want to tell you, call this person a screwball in Time Magazine, the technology is there. For you believers, we are not watching fort the anti-christ, we are watching for Jesus Christ. And the question for us is, as we see this technology in place, what is it doing to us? You know, Time Magazine, that's speaking kind of loud to me. You know, not Time Magazine itself, but the Lord, you know, the Spirit saying you know, 'to look, watch, to be vigilant, to be sober, to see these things, to take note of them, to scenario together in your heart and mind.' And we can differ in our eschatological perspectives. But I don't think that the Holy Spirit will allow us to differ as we sense the urgency of the hour that we live in, as we see the darkness that's around us--as we see the difficulty in the world that we live in. If the Lord doesn't come for 100 years, we still are closer to the coming of the Lord than any generation in the church that's ever walked this earth. So these things are more important to us than any generation of the church that's ever lived. Remarkably, he says here, "Israel would be carried away into all of the nations of the world, Jerusalem would be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles--the only time that phrase is used in the Bible, in Romans [11:25] there's a similar passage that talks about the fullness of the Gentiles, I don't know if there's a difference--until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled Jerusalem will be "trodden down of the Gentiles." Now I'm not sure what that means. In June of 1967 Israel took back Jerusalem. In 1948 they became a nation again. Never happened! You don't know any Babylonians? A people gone for 2,000 years are reborn, in their own land, against all odds. I was in Pathmart, in northeast Philadelphia. And over the radio in that Pathmart, it was in a Jewish neighborhood, the announcer came on, in June of 1967, "The Israeli Army is in possession of Jerusalem and the Western Wall." People began to weep all over. That is miraculous. Where are we living now [in prophecy], in a semicolon?--in a comma? Is the Times of the Gentiles fulfilled, or is it just a precursor to let us know how close it is? I guarantee you that no matter what happens in the rest of the world, our attention will always came back to Jerusalem. It is a rocky hill, I've been there fourteen times. There is no gold, there is no silver, there is no oil, there's no natural resources on that hill, in that country--the diamond capital of the world--but they import the diamonds from everywhere else. There's no diamonds in Israel, no diamond mines. And that rocky hill, 25 hundred feet above sea level, Friday is the Muslim Holy Day, Saturday is the Jew's Holy Day, and Sunday is the Christian's Holy Day. Everybody wants that rocky hill, and there ain't nothing there but conviction in men's hearts. And you can't negotiate that. You can negotiate nuclear arms, you can negotiate weapons, you can't negotiate Jesus Christ, YHVH, and Allah. It will never happen. It will be a stumbling block, Zechariah says, Jerusalem, of all the nations of the world. How incredible to see it again in the center of the news, in the days that we live in--trodden down of the Gentiles, until--makes me wonder where we are today--the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. [For the latest current events evidence backing up what he's saying about Jerusalem, CLICK HERE.]

Now verse 25 then picks up from verse 11 and gives us the context, when we see Jerusalem again, when we see it's no longer trodden down of the Gentiles, under Jewish control--"there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring..." Signs in the sun and the moon and the stars, you see we're picking up from verse 11 where it says "great signs shall there be from heaven" fearful sights. What is it talking about? I don't know--asteroids? That's in the movies now, isn't it? Doesn't it seem funny that they make fun of everything that's coming? Can you see Satan desensitizing the people of this world?--turning Armageddon into a, you know, an R-rated movie, a PG-13 rated movie, instead of a reality--Sudden Impact, or whatever it was called, turning that into a movie instead of a reality. We think of the crater at Winslow, Arizona, where a meteor hit the earth--557 feet deep and 4,100 feet wide with the force many nuclear blasts. We think of the one in Siberia that we hardly know about, but we saw the forest flattened for miles. They say that if a meteor ten miles wide hit the earth, it would be 10 times all the nuclear weapons on earth, the detonating power of that hitting the earth. We would go immediately into a nuclear winter, a nuclear night, for ten years, for a decade. And of course, we have these plans, if we see an asteroid or meteor coming, we're going to send up a nuclear missile and blow it apart--you know, they're working on these plans. The problem is, the last big one--they didn't see it till it went by! You see the trick is to have to see them coming, or there's no sense shooting them after they've shot you. As for me and my house, we're gonna serve the Lord, we're going to trust Him, not the guys who can shoot down meteors. Signs in the heavens, solar flares, they're talking about power going out all over, that there's a series of solar flares coming in, I don't know. UFO's, space travel, I think they're deceptive, I don't know if that's part of it, but don't you believe it. Man is the pinnacle of God's creation. There ain't nobody smarter flying around in some ship somewhere. We were created in God's image and likeness. All of the creation was put into dominion of man. And if "they" show up, you just plead the blood of Jesus on them and they'll get out of your back yard, because that's where they come from. I don't know what it means, "signs in the heavens"--deception? I know that in Revelation 13 it says that the false christ and the anti-christ are going to call down fire from heaven. I know that it says that the two prophets that are seated outside of Jerusalem, Revelation chapter 11, will call down fire from heaven. There will be no rain, shut up the heavens in regard to rain. I know that it tells us in Revelation chapter 16 that there will be 90lb hailstones falling. Now some argue whether that's a Greek measure or a Hebrew measure, one is 110lb, one is 90lb, you get hit with one of those babies, you won't care. You know, it is interesting that after in the Bikini Islands, our nuclear tests, we took ships, we took ships out of mothballs we were no longer using and put them at certain distances away from the explosions in the Bikini Islands to see what kind of damage would happen to them in the open sea, and the ships that were further away they found huge dents all over the decks of the ships like somebody with a huge ball-peen hammer had worked them over, and they realized that when that mushroom went up to the stratosphere, that it produced hailstones over a hundred pounds of what they call "space ice", fell on those ships. I don't know. It's fine with me. New improved, or the old classic, I'm planning on watching from the Mezzanine.

Verse 25, "signs in the sun, the moon, the stars, upon the earth distress of nations"--now we don't have to look real far for that--"with perplexity." Distress simply means to be under pressure or to be compressed, speaking simply of stress of nations. With perplexity--is a Greek word that means "unable to squeeze through a narrow place", "no way out" some translate it. Or "national problems without solutions" is what it's saying here--"nations in perplexity" that we've become--we're in gridlock, that globally, nations will find themselves in gridlock, or when a human being dies in a hospital, they sometimes say, "That person died of complications." Well, that's what it's saying about the political world, that it will, that complications will start to shut things down--first the lungs go, the kidneys go, can't pass urine, the breath is lessening, the heart is straining--that's the idea--perplexity of nations, things become so complicated, "perplexity of nations"--no way out. Not the UN negotiating. Think how starved today the world is for a leader, someone to provide answers. All of this, see, perplexity, no way out, is all of these things happening at one time in greater frequency and intensity--wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilence, earthquake, all of that with Israel at the center, the tension over Jerusalem, terrorism, nuclear threat, nuclear proliferation--we're living in the middle of it, and we're worried about who the Eagles cut today. The whole world's gonna blow up (and I worry about who the Eagles cut today!)

Very interesting, verse 26 says this. Because of this perplexity of nations, signs in the sun, the moon and the stars, the sea and the waves roaring--is that from a meteor striking? They say that if a meteor a mile wide hit the Atlantic, that there would be tidal waves hundreds of feet tall, all over the eastern seaboard, all over Europe, that they would go all the way around the world. Sunamis, tidal waves, who knows--"the waves roaring", it says, "men's hearts failing them for fear, looking after those things which are coming on the earth." The only time that phrase is used in the Bible, "men's hearts failing"--it is the Greek word that means "to stop breathing"--that's "failing". Men literally dropping dead, heart attacks, fear, looking at the signs in the sun, the moon, the stars, the wars, rumors of wars, the tidal waves, the things that are going on, --men's hearts literally stopping for fear of those things that are coming upon the world. It sounds really depressing, doesn't it? This is really a bummer, for some. "For the powers of heaven shall be shaken." Now, there's three ways we can look at this. The powers, which is the Greek word dunamis, and some like to point right away to nuclear war and say, 'Well dunamis is where we get [the word] dynamite. Heaven, Uranin, where we get Uranium (235 of course), that the explosive power of Uranium "will be shaken" is literally "to be loosed", and what that's talking about is nuclear exchange, nuclear war, men's hearts failing them for fear, looking at those things. I don't know. Maybe. Other people say it's just talking about the natural, that if we get a, you know, somehow the solar system, the magnetic fields. It does talk about the earth wobbling to and fro like a drunken man, the powers of heavens being shaken, men's hearts...it's just something in the natural, the astronomical that will happen. Could be. Fine with me. Some say it's spiritual, that the powers, principalities and powers of the heavens shall be loosed, that there are fallen angels that have been bound since the flood, that God will once again lose in the last days when he brings judgment on the earth. Fine with me. You know why? Because I'm in 28th [verse]. That's where I'm at. Verse 27 says "then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with power and great glory." That's speaking about the end of the age. We know that when Jesus comes the prophets tell us the sun's going to refuse to shine, that the stars will look like they're falling from heaven like untimely figs, that the moon will turn to blood, turn red. And it tells us in Revelation chapter 19, then when Jesus returns, in a cloud, it seems to be in a cloud of witness, the believers following him. The sun goes out, the moon refuses to shine, the stars go out, and the only visible light in the heavens is Jesus Christ, coming through the heavens on a white horse with his vesture dipped in blood, with the armies of heaven and the angels following him, and on his thigh and vesture is written Lord of lords and King of kings, the Word of God--and that's the only visible thing, because the first time he came they spit in his face, they ripped out his beard, they mocked him, they crucified him. But when he comes the second time, the Father in heaven will not allow the sun to have any glory, or the moon, or the stars. One light in the heavens, Jesus, lighting up the heavens as he comes, it says, with royal crowns sparkling on his head, his vesture dipped in blood. Isaiah 63, "Who is this that cometh from Bosra, that cometh from Edom with his vesture dipped in blood, the Lord." And it says he touches the Mount of Olives and it will split in half [Zechariah 14], to the north and the south, making a big ravine that runs east and west, and it will cross the valley of Kidron which will be running with blood up to the horses bridle--maybe his horse. The blood of all nations, the Prince of peace and crossing a river of human blood because men could not govern themselves--entering into Jerusalem. It says that Jerusalem is divided into three parts in the book of Revelation, and elevated. Very interesting, that article in Biblical Archeological Review, where under the East Gate of Jerusalem, which is blocked up today--the Muslims blocked it up an put a cemetery in front of it because they knew it was Holy to the Jews--when they were digging the cemetery a Muslim worker fell through, and underneath that East Gate is an East Gate that is over 2,000 years old, intact, open, underneath of that gate. Maybe, as that city begins to elevate, we have "lift up your heads Oh ye gates, be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors that the King of Glory may come in. Who is the King of Glory? The Lord, mighty in battle--lift up your heads Oh ye gates, be ye lifted up Oh ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may come in. Who is this King? The Lord, the Lord of hosts." What a day. What a day.

But look at the next verse, very important to us. It says, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh." Very interesting passage, because it divides itself from verse 31, [which] it says, "so likewise when you see these things come to pass"--come to completion--"then know that the kingdom of God is nigh." So it's telling us two things here. To a certain group of people, when you see these things come to completion, then know that the kingdom of God is nigh. But to another group it says, "When these things are"--literally--"beginning"--just when you see the beginning of them--"then lift up your heads, because your redemption"--which is a word only used through the New Testament for the believer--four times it speaks of the redemption of the body being caught up to be with the Lord. The other times it talks about our salvation. It is a believer's word. Study it through the New Testament. See for yourself the places that it's used--ten times: Luke 21:28; Romans 3:24; 8:23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Eph. 1:7; Eph. 1:14; Eph. 4:30; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:15; and in Hebrews 11:35 it is translated "deliverance". Every one of those places except the last one in Hebrews talks about the redemption of the believer. Here is says, and I love this verse, "when you see these things are beginning..." Let me tell you something. They have begun. Look around the world, they have begun. Wars and rumors of wars, famine, like we have never seen--pestilences, deeply infectious diseases--earthquakes, like we've never seen--persecution, like we've never seen--deception, like we've never seen--"when you see these things beginning," then you, who believe, you Christians, "lift up your heads, because your redemption draweth near"--is the same phrase we have in other places, which means "is at hand." Here it's in the present tense--"is and has drawn near and stands at the door"--when you see these things happening.

You say you believe in the 2nd coming of Christ. You say that Jesus could come [for you] at any moment. Is that being expressed through you life? Is there an urgency? It says in 1 John 3, "Any man that has hope purifies himself, even as he is pure." It is a purifying hope in the church, it is a strengthening hope in the church. It speaks of imminence. There's no way that we can get rid of that. Romans chapter 13, and you don't have to turn there, I'll read these passages to you. It says, "The night is far spent, the day"--here's our phrase--"is at hand, therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of God." It tells us this in James. "Be ye also patient, establish you hearts, for the coming of the Lord"--same phrase--"draweth--eth in the king James--"nigh", literally "has drawn near and is imminent." Peter, telling us the same thing, 1 Peter 4, verse 7, "The end of all things is at hand." What it says is, there is nothing preventing Jesus Christ from coming this evening. [For those who believe he's coming first to "rapture his church, his Bride to safety, wherever that is, heaven, Petra, I don't care, just so it's a safe place away from World War III!] If you say he can't come till the end of the tribulation, "Who is that wicked servant that says in his heart, 'The Lord delayeth his coming'". It says what it produces is drinking and fist fighting and laxity. It says that if you believe that Jesus Christ could come tonight, what it produces is purity. It's called the 'blessed hope of the church.' It's not 'we're waiting till the end of the tribulation to get out of here.' It says, "Men, treat your wives the way Christ treated the church." Well you wives better hope that your husbands are Pre-tribulationists, because if they're post-tribulationists they can set you on fire and persecute you and just, you know, tidal waves and all kinds of stuff--"treat your wives the way Christ treats the church."--nourishes it and cherishes it and cares for it. The Bible's clear, Christ is coming. Are we living like that? Do we think about that? Does it bring to bear on my own heart the pressures that is should bring to bear on me?--that he could come at any time [to take me to safety]? When we witness to our friends and to our relatives, so what if we get some persecution. He'll give us the words that we should speak in that very hour. That's what is says. And he'll give us the unction, he'll give us the power. We should be seeking the Lord for a filling of His Spirit. We are not looking for the anti-christ, but we see the signs. It tells us in 1 Thessalonians "You have no need that I write unto you in regards to the times and the seasons, you yourselves know that the coming of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." He says 'you don't need any more explanation about the times and the seasons--we see them around us--Christ is coming.

You know, as a parent, what kind of hope could I have in this day? What kind of hope could I have for my grandchildren? Look at what's happening in our nation. I think we should pray for our president. We should pray for our policy-makers. But what we should pray for, if we're gonna be here, is a God-given outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a revival, an Awakening, and a Great In-gathering. "Lord, if you're gonna leave us here, fill us with your Spirit and set us on fire! If you're not going to that, then get us out of here!" Why just be here in neutral? Why just be here in neutral?! All of the signs are there. I believe Christ is coming [for his Bride] at any time. As I look at all these things happening in the world, I am not depressed, because all of these things are prescribed, they're written on the "prophetic menu." This evening, where is your hope? As you see nuclear proliferation, what does that mean to you? If you don't know Christ, what does that mean to you? You know, the difference between, one of the differences between the Scripture and the Apanashadze and the Bagvaguita or the Koran or any other religious writings in the world is the Scripture is almost two thirds prophecy. None of the those other books lay out for us in great detail exactly what we're seeing today. The Bible is very clear. And in Isaiah 40, 41, 42, and 43 God says, "Talk to your gods. Can they tell you what will happen before it comes to pass? I alone am your God and your Savior. Talk to your idols. Talk to your religious leaders. Can they tell you from the beginning..." The Bible's saying it's a message to us from another domain--God's Kingdom--with all of the things necessary that we need to see for us to be on our toes. Examine your hearts tonight. If you're living in compromise, if your living in sin, you're taking drugs, and you're calling yourself a Christian--you are self-deceived. How can you say you believe Christ is coming and live deliberately in sin? But you can come to him. We confess our sins. He's faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He, like the father of the prodigal son, will run to his returning children with His arms open to embrace them. He's done everything that's necessary.

I'm gonna have the musicians come, I want to challenge you that don't know Jesus personally. You know, it's interesting, I remember even before I was saved being interested in the book of Revelation. You know, before I was a Christian I'd have gone to see Armageddon right away, soon as that came out, because I had that morbid curiosity about the future. I wanted to know what Nostradamos said. I may have even been foolish enough to read some of the check-out stand prophets and see what they had to say. But that's when I was in darkness. That's before the Lord brought me into the light. The news is here. CNN hasn't got a clue. Here's the news, right here, you can read today's news, tomorrows news, you can read the Good News. The Good News is Jesus Christ is coming. When he comes are you going to be with him? Or will you be left behind? Your choice. [And I don't care, personally, whether the rapture is to heaven, or a place of safety on earth--just so it's not where the bombs are falling.] The Bible says that all we need to do is accept him as our Savior. It's not a religion, it's not playing church, it's not Calvary Chapel. You can be from any denomination, any background, any religious background, the Bible says what's necessary is that you need to come to him as a sinner and ask his forgiveness. He's not a great teacher, he's not a guru, he's a savior.

That's why it's so offensive to talk about Jesus to friends and relatives. That's why he says, "I'll give you the words" because as soon as you say "Jesus", people want to run. You can talk to them about dieting, you can talk to them about Yoga, you can talk to them about marshal arts, you can talk to them about vegetable juice...or anything you want. When you say "Jesus", they're outa town. Isn't that interesting? You never hear anybody smash their thumb with a hammer and go "Harikrishna!", "Oh Buddha!" Isn't it interesting that it all aims at our Savior Jesus?

I encourage you tonight, don't leave this building tonight if you don't know tonight, if you died on the way home, where'd you'd spend eternity--you can know before you leave. And as we sing this last song I want you to come and accept Christ as your Savior. Or you can refuse him. God will honor that in you. He's given you the ability, the freedom to choose. Don't point the finger at him and say "How could a God of love send people to hell?" He puts a simple choice up, Ask Jesus for forgiveness and go to heaven [or receive eternal life, spent with Jesus, wherever he ends up--read Revelation 21], or refuse his forgiveness and go to hell [and hell may not be ever-burning--read Revelation 20:14-15--depends on your eschatological interpretation]. Don't say "What about the guy on the island?" because that's no longer your worry--because your worry is you came here tonight [or you're reading this article about the second coming of Jesus Christ], you heard [or read] that Jesus loved you and he loved you so much that he laid down his life so you could be forgiven. He loved you so much he wrote you ahead of time and told you about the very days we live in. He loved you so much he drew you to this building [or this article] tonight so that you could hear a warning and that you could hear it's not too late, and you could hear that just like in the days of Noah, the door of the ark is still open--and that you can enter in and be saved. That's tremendous love.

Let's stand together and let's pray. I don't want anybody to run out, I want everybody to pray. And as we sing this last song, if you want to be saved tonight, maybe a friend brought you, they'll walk down with you. Maybe you've been thinking over the last couple of weeks, "Boy this end-time stuff is getting scary." Get saved, please, tonight, because we don't know if we'll be here next week. We know we're here now. We can't guarantee you if you walk out this door without Christ that you'll have another chance. We can guarantee you that if you receive Christ as your Savior tonight you will go to heaven [or eternal life spent with him wherever he ends up residing, as some interpret Scripture] forever. We can guarantee that. Let's pray.

"Father we settle our hearts before you and we thank you for this continual opportunity to gather and study your Word. Lord we lift our hearts, Lord, all of us that believe and ask that you really challenge us Lord and exhort us, inwardly by your Spirit, reprove us Lord. But encourage us and lead us onward. Lord, in these days we're so desperately in need of your power and your strength and your love. You give us a new hunger for your Word and new thirst for your presence. And Lord, we pray for those here, Lord, that don't know you, that this evening would be the night they would enter eternity. Lord we pray for our friends and relatives that we could think of this evening, that kind persecute us and give us a hard time Lord. The next time we're with them, Lord, instead of thinking about our argument ahead of time, let us trust you Lord for the filling of your Spirit and for the very words to say Lord, to those that we love. And Lord as we sing this last song we pray you draw with your love and your grace all of those here who don't know you. You draw them to you personally, to heaven, to forgiveness, and Lord we pray in Jesus name Amen."

We're going to sing through again, you continue to come. And listen, if you feel a tug-of-war going on in your heart, and I want you to forgive me, because it's with human language I'll try to describe this. I'll describe this as best I can. If, as we're singing this song, inside of you there's a struggle, a war, kind of a tug-of-war--I'm using human words trying to describe something supernatural that's going on, so forgive me please. [You may feel this tug-of-war going on in your mind as you're reading this. If so, the Lord is calling out to you as well.] But if inside of you you're feeling "Naw, I'm not going to do this, and who, Ah, I want this, but I'm not going up--this is weird--my friend set me up, he brought me to church, promised to take me to Friendly's, now this Altar Call stuff is going on, you know." Look, if all of that is going on in your heart, you have to understand, we don't know that. Who are you arguing with? You're arguing with God, because Jesus said "No man or no woman can come unless the Father reaches down in his love and draws them" (John 6:44). And he said, if you're willing to acknowledge me before men I will acknowledge you before my Father, and all of the angels in heaven. [Some preach that the Altar Call is our public statement as well as our sincere request for the Lord to enter into our hearts with his Holy Spirit, whereas others teach that the Altar Call can be a private request, and that baptism is our public statement of what's already been done and of our faith in Jesus. It can be either way, both work, the Lord honors both the public and the private altar call. It's what's in your heart that counts when you confess you're a sinner and call for him to enter your life and be your Savior.]

As we do this, listen to the words of this song. "Come just as you are." That's good news. You don't have to get it together first, you don't have to get rid of all your sin first, you come the way you are--drug addiction, suicidal thoughts, violence, murder, whatever it is, you just come the way you are. The Lord took me out of drugs. I didn't have to get it together first. I couldn't get it together. And when I came to him he forgave me and got my life together. And that's the Good News, and that's what he'll do for you this evening [or now when you ask him as you read this].

And I'm just trying in human words to describe something you may feel going on inside your heart, inside your chest, inside your being. So I put that challenge out as we sing through, if you feel that tug-of-war, you feel that struggle, then the question is no longer "Is this real?", the question is "Will you respond?". Now he hung naked before the world for you, they stripped him of his clothes, they brutalized him. You can come stand here with your clothes on for him and say "I'm a sinner, I believe Jesus died for me, I want him as my Savior." And that will give you a moment in time that no one can ever, ever take away--not your own conscience, not Satan, not your critics. It gives you the privilege to have this moment that will be on video-tape in heaven. There's a replay button there, and it will be on record forever. So we're going to sing through again. You have to listen to your heart, because I'm just trying with human words to describe what will go on. As we sing the words of the song, "Come just as you are"--if you feel the drawing--somewhere in your heart you're hearing that, "Come just as you are" and the Lord's love is drawing you, come, you come, come just as you are.

"Come just as you are,

Won't you hear the Spirit call,

Come just as you are,

Come and see,

Come and see,

Come believe,

Come and live f o r e v e r,

Come just as you are,

Won't you hear the Spirit call,

Come just as you are,

Come receive Christ the King,

Come live forever,

Life everlasting, strength for today,

Taste the Living Waters,

And never thirst again."

The Bible says that when one sinner comes, all of heaven rejoices, so we always like to ask a third time, because I know there's somebody here still wrestling. You can fool everybody, you can't fool God, you can't fool yourself. The Good News is, you come with all of your sin, all of your problems and you let him take you and change your life. Things are uncertain [in the world]. You know every opportunity we have to do this, we need to do it with urgency because we don't know if we'll be here another week, we don't know what will happen. [And if you think, "Naw, things aren't that bad", click on that hypertext and read the article and email about Jerusalem. This is being transcribed two years after it was spoken, and things are worse, not better.]

So now, tonight, this third time, if you've been putting it off I hope you'll say "This 3rd time is too much, I can't hack it anymore, I'm going." We're praying. And all you who believe pray, because this is struggle is over eternal things, it's a real struggle, because Satan wants to see some people go to hell forever, and there are spiritual forces at work. It's not a game. And you don't want anything phony, I don't believe Jesus wants anything phony either, he doesn't want you to play church or Christianity, he wants a relationship, not a religion, and the way that starts is by you responding He's done it all, he's paid the price for you. He hung on the cross and cried "My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me?" so that you wouldn't have to cry it. He went to the electric chair in your place. He paid your penalty. But he's not going to put your arm behind your back and force you in a headlock and drag you up here. You don't want that with the person you love, or the spouse you love. You want them to come with their heart. And he wants your heart. He paid for it in his own blood, he loves you...

I'm gonna have a prayer with you guys that have come forward. Why don't you guys move in toward the center here. And if you couldn't get yourself up here for some reason, maybe you have a physical handicap and your heart came forward and your body couldn't, or maybe just embarrassment and yet you know in your heart--"I need Jesus, I need forgiveness." You can be saved right where you are [even as you read this article]. But you pray in all sincerity, because that's what he cares about. The Bible tells us man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on our hearts. And he wants something genuine with you like any father from their child, they want something genuine. And how many of us who are parents if we have one of our children ask genuinely, "Dad, forgive me." It doesn't matter where they stand, how we receive them with open arms. He loves us more multiplied times than we could ever imagine any human father could. So I'm gonna lead these folks up here in a prayer. In your heart, if you want to, in all sincerity, you pray the same prayer. You ask Christ to forgive you tonight [or right now as you read this]. When the service is over, you'll come up to the front, we'll give you the same Bible, we'll give you the same literature. We're not going to give you offering envelopes, we don't want your home address, we're not going to hock you for money. We don't want anything from you. We want everything for you. We want heaven for you, and forgiveness for you, and life for you and freedom for you, and new life, and we want everything for you because he's given everything to us. Why could we ever begrudge anything to anyone else. So you guys who've come forward, this is your moment, no one can ever take this from you. We'll be on record in heaven forever. I'm gonna lead you in a prayer, and I want you to say this prayer out loud so I can hear you. Let's pray together:

"God Almighty, I'm ready to be saved. I know that I'm a sinner, and that I need forgiveness. But I believe you're the Savior, the Savior of all men. I believe you died for me. So Lord Jesus, wash me, cleanse me, remove all of my sin, once and for all. Fill my life with your love, with your Spirit. Take away the guilt, the emptiness, the struggle and fill me with your grace. Be my personal Lord. Be my personal Savior, and be my personal friend. Teach me to love your Word. Lead me for the rest of my life. And thank you for heaven [or for ushering me into the kingdom of heaven]. Thank you for forgiveness. And thank you for life beyond the grave. In Jesus name, Amen."

End

The Purpose of Prophecy

What is the real purpose of prophecy, anyway? Human curiosity about the specifics of what, when, where and how often tends to obscure the overreaching why--the truly important lessons God gives his people through prophecy.

First and foremost, Bible prophecy (which makes up at least one third of the Bible) leads us to God. First, fulfilled prophecy clearly demonstrates the infallibility and veracity of God's Word as being authored by none other than God himself. Further, it reminds us God is in control, supervising and intervening in human affairs whenever he desires. By his power he will bring about the future he has promised. In the end, good will win over evil (Daniel 4:17). We can see the sovereignty of God through prophecy.

Bible prophecy reminds us God is Judge, the final arbitrator of all things. Through prophecy we learn that nobody really gets away with anything. Oppression of the poor and the weak by the wicked will not last forever. Every action will be brought into account. Judgment will surely come. Prophecy also reminds us of God's love and faithfulness. The time will come when his kingdom will be established over all nations, and all people will come to know repentance (II Peter 3:9; Zech. 14:9).

Even though there will be wars, small and large, Bible prophecy tells us the world will not be totally destroyed by nuclear, or any other kind of human warfare. God himself will, at the close of his purpose for humanity, burn up the earth and create in its place new heavens and a new earth in which dwells righteousness (II Peter 3:12-13; Revelation 21:1). Through Bible prophecy, then, we are comforted and encouraged, assured that the course of history is being controlled by God, the God of love, peace and mercy. We are guaranteed that our labor of love in Jesus Christ is not in vain --and yes, a major part of that labor of love is through our efforts in evangelism and our efforts within our congregations to help nurture new-believers into becoming active mature members of the body of Christ. We are given the confidence all wrong will be righted, all crooked places will be made straight, and there is life beyond death--happy, peaceful, fulfilled life forever.

Exactly when God will do that, we are not given. But, through the revelation he gives us in Bible prophecy, we rejoice in the sure knowledge he will do it. And we are motivated by the Holy Spirit to live according to his will for our lives, the job he gave all of us Christians to do until he comes again in great glory and power. Also, through prophecy, God reassures us that our faith is not in vain. All that he has promised will surely happen. We are not told when--but we are told what to do while we wait: Just before Jesus was taken up into heaven his disciples asked him when he would re-establish the kingdom to Israel. His response was, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus gave a similar command, to evangelize, baptize and disciple. This is called the Great Commission and it is the Christian's primary job and responsibility given by Jesus to do until he returns. So our job, what we are told to do while we wait for his return, is to pursue evangelism--personal, local church, national and international. And as spelled out in Matthew 28:18-20, it is to baptize and disciple those who respond to the message. In Ephesians 4 Paul points out that the church has been raised up to complete the task started by evangelism. It is the church, with its structure of apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers, who are the ones to strengthen and unify the body of Christ, those who have been baptized. So the unified task or job Christians have been given by Jesus, encompassed in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 is to evangelize the world, the whole world, and to baptize those who respond, and to disciple and nurture those same who respond--in a body called the church--until they are spiritually mature Christians, no longer tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, as Paul said in Ephesians 4. This website is full of resources that explain what evangelism is and how we can go about effectively doing it--on the personal, local church, national and international level. It is also full of resources that can be used to spiritually strengthen the body of Christ. Jesus our High Priest and Commander-in-Chief has given us our marching orders--to evangelize the world, and build up his body of believers, the church, with those who respond to our evangelizing efforts--to nurture those new-believers to spiritual maturity. Those are our marching orders. This web site is designed specifically to make those marching orders clear and facilitate their implementation by Christians online. So when you're finished reading about Jesus Christ's 2nd coming, log onto the section on evangelism and check out those marching orders. For some, the Lord may lead you to directly evangelize. Others will be led to use their talents to strengthen and help mature new-believers and the body of Christ within the church congregation. And then, we can all support evangelism on the international level. To see how, log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/gifts5.htm . Try giving $5.00 or $10.00 a week to one of the major international evangelism missions, like the JESUS Film Project, or Samaritan's Purse, or Gospel for Asia (which supports native evangelists in countries where North American and European evangelists are no longer allowed). Pick one of those three and faithfully give that amount week in, week out, and see the Work of the Lord go worldwide in great power. Many hands make light work, and Jesus has given you and I the privilege of being able to participate in his great work of saving the world and building his kingdom on earth--which will become a holy nation, raised up in one day, at his return (I Corinthians 15:49-54; Revelation 11:15-19;Daniel 12:1-3).

So when you are finished digging into this interesting study on these prophecies of Jesus 2nd coming--which present current day events have helped generate a tremendous curiosity for--dig into the section which explains the job Jesus gave us to perform until he arrives again in great glory. Those are our marching orders, explained, made clear and broken down into fine detail. We are soldiers of Jesus Christ. A good soldier would not think of going into the battle without reading the specific marching orders and intelligence reports pertaining to the battle he's about to go into, and we need to apply the same diligence toward our marching orders--to evangelize the whole world, and to baptize and disciple those who respond favorably. Prophecy is interesting, but are these events being held up while Jesus waits for us to finish the job he gave us to accomplish? If you ask me, we have a job to do, and it isn't accomplished yet. Enjoy this study, and then let's get busy.

If you are not quite sure of your relationship with Jesus, or what it means to believe in Jesus, or if recent events (September 11th) have you wondering how you might develop a relationship with Jesus, http://www.unityinchrist.com/faith/whatis.htm.