What on earth is going on?
Yes, there is a hope! Please forgive the length of this article but we hope you find time to read it because the hope we have in the promises God has made to us are of great comfort in difficult times like these.
The Bible teaches that after his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven to be with God. Ever since, Jesus has been working towards a time when God will send him back to the earth to establish a Kingdom run by him, and ultimately making everything ready for God’s everlasting Kingdom on Earth (Psalm 2:6-12, Isaiah 2:2-4, Acts 17:31).
In Acts 1:11 messengers from God spoke to Jesus’ disciples and told them “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
While Jesus was with his disciples, he gave important instructions regarding the time when he would return. Jesus obviously hasn’t returned yet so we must believe that the message is still applies today.
In Matthew Jesus tells us “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only… Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” (24:36,42)
The Bible doesn’t leave it there though, it tells us about the signs to look out for that show Jesus could return very soon.
In Luke 21:7, Jesus’ disciples ask him this question about when Jesus will return to the earth. “So they asked Him, saying, ‘Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”. Then He (Jesus) said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven” (10-11).
Later in the same chapter Jesus adds to this, saying: “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”(25-26)
The things Jesus predicted then seem to be happening more and more in the world today don’t they? Croatia experienced a large earthquake last month; huge swarms of locusts have swept through East Africa that will lead to even more devastating famine than is normal in that area; and the whole world is feeling the effects of the pestilence that is Coronavirus. It is remarkable how normal life can be turned upside down so rapidly, without much warning!
All these things lead to what was described in Luke 21:25-26. In the Bible the signs in the sun, moon and stars can be understood as symbolic of the ruling powers on the earth, our governments and political leaders. There is certainly perplexity and distress of nations, with governments forced to take unprecedented action, locking down multiple countries, something never seen on such a scale. The ‘sea and the waves roaring’ symbolises the nations of the earth as unsettled and not at peace.
We can be forgiven for feeling as if we are living in this time right now. Remember, “…of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” but “Watch”! We aren’t going to try and predict when Jesus will return but we are watching for the signs and it could be so soon.
Jesus told his disciples about other signs too. He talked about the people of Israel and how they would be scattered and only re-established in the latter days: “And they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (v24) (‘Gentile’ means any non-Jewish nation.)
Jerusalem was indeed destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans and the Jews scattered across the earth, but the Bible has many prophecies about Israel being restored for God’s people. In 1948 the state of Israel was re-established, as promised thousands of years ago. Bible students see this and wonder if it was the start of preparations for Jesus’ soon return. Many people are alive today who witnessed that event, showing it is still very recent history, even if it does feel like a long time ago.
Later in Jesus talks about the signs in nature that show the seasons changing. “When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:30-31). We should see these current world events as ‘signs’ too.
We promised to talk about the hope that gives us comfort in this difficult time. The Bible describes how, when Jesus returns, sorrow will turn to joy!
“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labour, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore, you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:20-22).
When a woman is in labour, she has painful contractions that is a sign the baby is coming soon. The contractions get closer and closer together and more and more painful! But what happens next? The child is born and the pain and effort that mother put in, is rewarded with a child to love and cherish. But the child wouldn’t come without the mother's dedication.
How often do we look at the news and wonder why these things are coming so thick and fast, and we can’t catch a break! It’s like those contractions becoming more intense and more frequent! But if we show the same love and dedication as disciples, that a mother shows in childbirth, we too can be rewarded with a precious gift from God. This is the hope that God has blessed us with.
Isaiah 35 describes what this future time of God’s glory filling the earth will feel like. We would encourage you to read the whole chapter but v10 reads “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
If you think these could be the last days before Jesus is sent back to the earth we implore you not to wait! Please get in touch either with a message (see Contact Us) or maybe read through the Our Beliefs page and send us a question.