In the first of this two-part series, we looked at Scriptures which indicate that the early apostles thought that Jesus might return in their lifetime, and since that time, there have been many other predictions about the Second Coming right up until the present time. We showed that the world is currently in chaos with prophecies being fulfilled. We also briefly reviewed the manifold and insurmountable problems around the world at this time.
It is the job of the true Church of God to preach the gospel about the soon-coming Kingdom of God on earth and to warn about what is to come.
In our booklet “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God,” the following is written under the heading, “We Must Be About Our Father’s Business,” on pages 25-26:
“As we saw earlier, when Jesus Christ came preaching the Kingdom of God, people thought that He would establish it right then. Note in Luke 19:11: ‘Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the Kingdom of God would appear immediately.’
“Although He, the future King of the Kingdom, was among them, the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on this earth would come much later—at the time of His second coming. He gave a parable in Luke 19 to explain this. Remember, He spoke in parables so that the world would not understand, but so that His disciples would understand.
“Luke 19:12: ‘Therefore He said: A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.’ Christ is talking about Himself. He is the nobleman who went into a far country—the third heaven—to receive from God the Father the kingdom or government or rulership over this earth.
“We read about this already in the account of Daniel 7:13-14, where the Son of Man would appear in the clouds before the Ancient of Days to receive everlasting dominion and a kingdom that shall not be destroyed, so that all peoples and nations should serve Him.
“And the angels confirmed this in Acts 1:11, when they told the disciples at the time when Christ ascended to heaven: ‘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.’
“Before Christ, the nobleman, departed for the far country, he instructed his servants to keep busy during his absence. We read in Luke 19:13: ‘So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas [a mina was worth about three month’s salary], and said to them, “Do business till I come.”’
“What the master gave his servants was valuable. And they were to DO something with what they had received. They were not to sit back and do nothing. Over and over we read in the Bible that Christ expects action from His disciples. He tells us in Matthew 28:19-20 that we are to make disciples of all nations, ‘“teaching them to observe ALL THINGS that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” We already read in Mark 16 that we are to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’
“Also, He admonishes us in Matthew 24 to watch and to be ready when He, the Master, returns. Beginning in Verse 45: ‘Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, My master is delaying his coming, and begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and to drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant…will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.’
“Again, we see that Christ expects His servants to BE DOING something—but it has to be the RIGHT kind of work. In this parable, the head servant is charged with feeding his fellow servants healthy physical food while his master is gone.
“The analogy here is that of the ministry feeding the sheep healthy spiritual food until Christ returns. As Christ told Peter three times, ‘feed my sheep.’”
The Church must feed the sheep, those who have repented and been baptised and are living a life pleasing in the sight of God. The Church also has the duty and responsibility to warn the world about what is surely now not too far away. Let us list the reasons why we feel this way.
- We have seen that since the 1950’s, this has been the first time in recorded human history that we have had the capacity to commit cosmocide which is the destruction of planet Earth, especially as a result of human Just as an aside, and purely out of Church of God interest, according to WordSense Dictionary online and Wiktionary.org., the origin and history of the word “cosmocide” is shown as being in the “1989, Plain Truth – Volume 54, page 9, a magazine of the now defunct Worldwide Church of God.
- In addition, we are now at the end of the 6,000 years allotted to man. In our Q&A “Do you teach that modern man is only about 6,000 years old? Do you believe in a 6,000-year plan of God?”, https://www.eternalgod.org/q-a-14722/ we read the following:
“The concept of a biblical 7,000-year plan and the creation of man about 6,000 years ago has been believed by Jews and Christians alike over the millennia. The historian Edward Gibbon wrote in ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ that this concept was taught by Rabbi Elias around 200 B.C., who expressed the common belief that it had been taught by the prophet Elijah. The Encyclopaedia Judaica explains that this tradition can even be traced back to Moses.”
- From our understanding of prophecy, much is now in place for the end-time scenario with some important pieces of the jigsaw almost ready to be put in place, e.g., the arrival of the beast power in Europe and a new charismatic leader; a third temple to be built; nations with nuclear capabilities which could be unleashed at the press of a button; and all of the unprecedented problems that the world now faces for which there are no humanly-devised answers available.
- Signs of the times. We read in Matthew 24:32-33: “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer isSo you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” This follows on from Jesus talking about His Second Coming (see verses 29-31). We have to discern what is going on in the world and how prophecy is being fulfilled.
There have always been scoffers about, and there are plenty today – those that deride the understanding that there is indeed a supreme Almighty God, and even if this is admitted, scoffing about the return of Christ abounds.
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:26-30).
We further read in 2 Peter 3:1-4 a passage that shows that there will be scoffers at the end of this age: “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’”
Jude verses 17-18 also reveals mockers: “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.”
The original question asked was “Don’t you emphasise the end times too much when there still seems to be plenty of time left?,” and it is an assumption that there seems to be plenty of time left, but is there?
Some claim that it has been the end times since the inauguration of the New Testament Church in 31 AD and that it is a period of time from the first coming of Jesus Christ until His return. After all, we read in 2 Peter 3:8: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
On the website “got questions,” we read:
“In a sense, the marking of time is irrelevant to God because He transcends it. Peter, in 2 Peter 3:8, cautioned his readers not to let this one critical fact escape their notice—that God’s perspective on time is far different from mankind’s (Psalm 102:12; 24-27). The Lord does not count time as we do. He is above and outside of the sphere of time. God sees all of eternity’s past and eternity’s future. The time that passes on earth is of no consequence from God’s timeless perspective. A second is no different from an eon; a billion years pass like seconds to the eternal God.
“Though we cannot possibly comprehend this idea of eternity or the timelessness of God, we in our finite minds try to confine an infinite God to our time schedule. Those who foolishly demand that God operate according to their time frame ignore the fact that He is the ‘High and Lofty One . . . who lives forever’ (Isaiah 57:15).”
The phrase “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” shows the difference between God and man and is just a way of trying to show that the difference between the ways of God and the ways of man are so great that words cannot do this justice. It is a way of trying to describe that which we cannot really understand. God is patient, and He gives us the time we need; man, generally, is impatient.
However, the idea that in regard to Christ’s Second Coming, the end-times began with Christ’s first coming does not at all convey accurately what the Bible is talking about. The prophecies and statements regarding Christ’s Second Coming do not refer to events which occurred about 2,000 years ago, but are written for the last generation—for OUR learning and instruction, “on whom the end of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Paul was inspired to address us today, even though, as we pointed out in the previous Q&A, he might have thought that he would experience the return of Christ in his lifetime. Also compare Christ’s words in Revelation 1:1-3, saying that the time of the Day of the Lord (the main theme of the Book of Revelation) was near or at hand. Again, He addressed the end-time generation with this statement, as it could by no means be said that the Day of the Lord was near about 2,000 years ago.
No one knows the time of Jesus Christ’s return, except the Father, who is the One who will decide as to when He will send Christ back, and those who take it easy, not expecting His return anytime soon, could be caught out as we read in Matthew 24:36-44, and that would be a very unfortunate position to be in. Jesus was “about His Father’s business” at the age of 12 as we read in Luke 2:41-49. Can we, as followers of Jesus, do any less?
The signs are there in the world today that man simply does not have the answers to the many and varied problems that exist, and only the intervention of God to save mankind will resolve this matter. But we must be close as we understand prophecy and how it is being fulfilled on the world scene now. It surely cannot be that long but it is for the Father only to decide such timing.
Let us consider this. Regardless as to when Christ returns, those called and chosen will have lived a far better life than they would have done had they remained “in the world” and its ways. God’s Way brings far more joy, happiness and peace of mind and it enables them to be a part of the end-time commission to the Church to preach the gospel. And the future for those called and chosen by God will be an eternity of serving and sharing in the Kingdom of God.
Please see the sermon given by Mr Eric Rank entitled “Don’t Stop Living,” given on 20th August 2022, where he encourages everyone to proceed with normal planning in our lives involving God in every way and aligning ourselves with His Way of Life and if Christ returns before such plans come to maturity, then something much better will replace them – the Kingdom of God. https://www.globalchurchofgod.co.uk/dont-stop-living/
We know from Scripture that Jesus will return and whether we died before this or are still alive at that time, we will be with Him when He does. As we read earlier in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Until that time happens, it is our job to warn the nations about what is just around the corner. We do that through the StandingWatch programme, through all of the material that is available on our website, and through our advertising and involvement with social media outlets that allow us to reach right across the globe. And we will continue to do this for as long as we are able and for as long as God allows us to do this in His service.
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)