Some more wistful thoughts about the future

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Some more wistful thoughts about the future

Can you believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ is mentioned over 300 times in the New Testament?  The apostle Paul alone refers to some 50 times in his epistles.  Since it is mentioned so often—fully 8 times as often as His first coming—it must be an important doctrine to understand.

It’s too bad that liberalism in the Church of Jesus Christ has turned this important and precious doctrine into little more than the stuff comic books are made of.  Those of us who believe in the literal, visible, and physical return of Christ to the earth are often ridiculed and mocked by the left wing of the Church.  Yet, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that Jesus Christ’s second coming will be:

  • Personal—John 14:3; Acts 1:10—11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 1:7; 22:7.
  • Literal—Acts 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:16—17; Revelation 1:7; Zechariah 14:4.
  • Visible—Hebrews 9:28; Philippians 3:20; Zechariah 12:10.
  • Glorious—Matthew 16:27; 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7—9; Colossians 3:4.

In an effort to avoid the literal nature of Christ’s return, some teach death is really the second coming of Christ; that He comes to get you when you die.  However, Scripture indicates that the Second Coming is the exact opposite of physical death!  The dead in Christ will be raised to new life when Christ comes to get them.  At death, we go to Him, but at His glorious appearing He comes for us.

Others, desperate to explain away this great doctrine, teach that at Pentecost Jesus came again, in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  Others claim Christ came in 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed.  However, even if we could wrap our minds around their premise that Jesus’ return was spiritual in nature, so many other things have not occurred:  nobody was resurrected from the dead, for example.

It is natural for Christians to long for Christ to return.  Those of us to believe that He will return visibly, literally, and physically live with a sense of hope and confidence in the future.  We know that no matter what happens in this world, a better world is coming!  No wonder liberal Christians are always “angry” about something and demonstrating against this and that!  They have no hope in the future!  If they did, they wouldn’t be such a miserable lot and instead of tilting at windmills, they’d be out spreading the Good News!  Read what Paul wrote—

The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.  (Romans 8:19—23)

It will be a glorious day it will be when Christ returns to Earth.  Of course, we believers will with Him when He returns to set up His earthly kingdom.  But what of the House of Israel?

To Christians, Jesus Christ is the Head and Savior of the Church, the heavenly people.  To Jews, the earthly people, Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah.  When He returns, He will return as their Messiah and their deliverer; He will deliver them from the Tribulation, gather them together from around the Earth, restore them to their Promised Land and finally rule over them as their long awaited King of the House of David.  We who are not Jews cannot imagine what His return will mean to them.  The nation of Israel has been looking for their Messiah since the days of Abraham!  Multiplied millennia have come and gone; but the faithful followers of Jehovah have never given up on the great messianic promises and prophecies of the Old Testament.

Earth changes

When Christ returns and builds His kingdom, the world as we know it will change.

  • There will be worldwide peace, Isaiah 2:4;
  • All people will live in safety, Micah 4:4;
  • The earth will produce abundantly, Amos 9:13;
  • The nature of wild bests will also be transformed, Isaiah 11:6—8;
  • The world will be ruled by one Man, Jesus Christ, Isaiah 11;
  • Israel will be regathered to it’s ancient land, Isaiah 11:10—12;
  • Jerusalem will be center of the world’s government, Isaiah 2:3; 33:20, 21; Jeremiah 3:17;
  • Jerusalem will be the center of worship, Zechariah 14:16;
  • Nations of the world that may have been against Israel in the past will be allied with her, Isaiah 19:23—25;
  • World leaders will submit to Christ, Psalm 72:11; Zechariah 9:10; Psalm 86:9.

Earth’s greatest King

There have been influential political leaders in the past; there have been great world leaders (and some who thought they were great), but none can compare to the greatness of Jesus Christ when He finally assumes the seat of power.

Though born “king of the Jews,” (Matthew 2:2—6), Christ was not such at His first coming and He still is not, but He will be when He returns in glory.   Notice how the angel announced His birth—

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  (Luke 1:32, 33)

Mary found all this hard to swallow, and some still do to this very day.  But when we consider the miraculous way in which Christ was born, it’s easy to believe He will return in an equally miraculous manner!

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus was referred to as “king of the Jews” even though nobody around Him could discern His kingship; Jesus wasn’t born like a king, He didn’t live like a king and He didn’t have the trappings of royalty.  And yet, for His entire earthly ministry, those who believed in Christ recognized His authority as king of the Jews.  To those faithful followers, vindication is coming when their faith is made reality.

The Millennium:  The Kingdom of Jesus Christ

Almost every Christian has at least heard of “the Millennium,” whether they can explain what it is or not.  The word itself is not seen in Scripture; it means literally “a thousand,” and we know it refers to the duration of Christ’s reign upon the Earth as its great Sovereign.   Though referred to elsewhere in Scripture, here is a good summary of the Millennium—

He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.  I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.  (Revelation 20:3—6)

Can you imagine a world without evil?  A lot of people have been deluded into thinking that Satan, or the Devil, is a fictional little guy that sits on your shoulder whispering bad thoughts into your ear and tricking you into getting into mischief.  But Satan is real, and evil is real and rampant in the world around us.  How else can we explain they heinous crimes human beings commit against each other?  But one day, the presence of evil will be incarcerated for one thousand years!

Of course, there will still be sin in the hearts of man—not everybody alive during the Millennium will be worshiping and obeying Christ out of love and devotion to Him.  This thousand year span, in addition to fulfilling the myriad of prophecies and promises concerning the restoration of Israel, will also be kind of final proving ground for all mankind.  This will be our last chance to exercise our vaunted free will in the right direction.  Sadly, we know that when Satan is released for a very brief time, he will, as he has done since the beginning of time, lead many astray into everlasting damnation.

But the Millennial kingdom will be a real, brick and mortar kingdom, inhabited by real human beings, saints of God, angels, and all under the benevolent leadership of Christ.

How wondrous this time will be to the Jews!  Ezekiel 37 is a remarkable prophecy concerning the complete restoration of Israel; Jewish graves among the nations will be opened, new life will come to Israel, Judah and Israel will at last be united as one great nation; all of this  points to a glorious restoration of God’s people.

Who believes this?

Well, I do!  And although sometimes I feel like I am the only one who does, I know that I am good company.   The apocryphal Book of Barnabas, while certainly not inspired Scripture, is nonetheless interesting and sometimes edifying and has a lot to say about the Millennium.  In it, the author writes that just as there were six literal days of creation, so God will, in six thousand years bring this present dispensation of the world to an end.  Then follows a seventh millennium, corresponding to the Sabbath of creation, in which Christ renews the world.

Church father Papias ,who departed this earth around 60 A.D. writes about the idyllic condition of the the world during the millennial reign of Christ.  Justin, born around 100 A.D., the ante-Nicene theologian, also taught about this restoration of the material universe during the literal reign of Christ during the Millennium.

And what about you?  Do you live the kind of hope the apostles and the early church lived with and that many of us today live with?   I hope that you do.  These are difficult times for many Americans; the things and people we used to trust in have failed us and some folk wonder if life will ever get any better.  There has been a lot of talk about “hope and change” in recent months; I believe in “hope and change,” but not the kind any human being can bring about.  Jesus Christ, a carpenter from the plains of Galilee, is the one Man who not only offers “hope and change,” He will deliver it!

When the two Mary’s went to the tomb of Jesus, they made a startling discovery:  He was not dead; He had risen from the dead!  An angel told them—

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”  So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  (Matthew 28:6—8)

Jesus said He would rise from the dead and He did.  He said He will come again, and He will!  If you truly believe this, as I do, then go quickly and tell somebody who needs hope.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

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