ALAS! FOR THAT DAY IS GREAT, SO THAT NONE IS LIKE IT: IT IS EVEN THE TIME OF JACOB’S TROUBLE, BUT HE SHALL BE SAVED OUT OF IT. (Jeremiah 30:7)
The Coming Time of Trouble
While sitting on the Mount of Olives, the Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that there was a time of great trouble coming. In Chapter 24 of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus warned his disciples to “take heed that no one deceives you."(v. 4) Jesus told them that there would be many deceivers who would come “in my name" and claim to be the Christ.(v.5) Jesus told them, they would hear of wars and rumors of wars. (v.6) Jesus also told them, “see that you are not troubled". (v. 6) He explained to them that the end was not yet, but all of these things were merely the beginning of sorrows. He warned them that they will “deliver you up to be afflicted and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for my namesake.” (v. 9) This appears to be a reference not merely to them, but a warning that is given to all those who were alive on the earth at the time of trouble. He told them that lawlessness would abound! (v.12) Therefore, Jesus said the love of many will grow cold. We too must take heed and be watchful and pray that our love will not grow cold, and that we hold fast our profession, firm unto the end. The fact that Jesus appears to be talking about those of us who are on the earth now appears to come in verse 14 where he says, “this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come”.(v.14)
Contrary to much popular teaching, Jesus appears to say that the events that He is describing will take place before “the rapture" because Jesus said that “those days were shortened so that all flesh did not perish for the elect’s sake”. In verse 29, the Lord Jesus states that “immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; and the stars will fall from heaven and the powers of Heaven will be shaken.”(v. 29) This appears to be another indication that Christians will still be on the earth during these times. In verse 30, Jesus says, “then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. He will send his Angels with a great sound of the trumpet and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of Heaven to the other." (vs. 30 and 31) Is this a reference to the sound of the trumpet described in First Thessalonians four? There it says, “ for the Lord himself will descend from heaven with the 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." (vs. 16 -18)
Jesus even uses the same reference to the fact that no one will know the day and the hour of his glorious appearance in heaven except the Father and that appears to be substantially the same reference that he gives in First Thessalonians 5 where he says, “but concerning the times and the seasons brethren you have no need that I should write to you for you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night." (v. 1 and 2)
I. UNTIL HE COMES, DO THE GREAT COMMISSION
Nevertheless, the key point is that great deception and great difficulty is coming to the earth prior to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must take heed, by knowing God's Holy Word so that we will not be deceived. Additionally, we must be warning all of those that we can, and telling them God's Holy Truth and the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what is required by Jesus himself. In Matthew Chapter 28:18-20, the following is commanded by Jesus:
And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, “all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 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.” Thus, we are to be concerned not with the timing of Christ’s return, although we are to be praying and watching, but we are to be concerned with doing the work which he has given us to tell others of Jesus who is mighty to save. We are to be making disciples! Discipleship, of course, involves knowing the Truth and following the Truth, what many refer to today as our world life view. In other words, we are to live “as becomes the Gospel of Christ”! (Philippians 1:27)
a) NO FEAR AND NO ANXIETY
We are not to be anxious, fearful, or worried, but we are to comfort one another with the Word of God. After all, we see in Matthew 28 that Jesus is with us always even to the end of the age and we see the same thing repeated in Hebrews 13 verse 5 where he commands us to put away from us all manner of covetousness and be content with what we have for he has said he will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
b) OLD TESTAMENT
There are also prophecies contained in the Old Testament that tell us of the time of trouble coming on the earth. In Daniel Chapter 12, after Daniel describes the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes and then seemingly moves forward to the time of the anti-christ, Daniel is told “at that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turned many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 12:1-3)
The prophet Jeremiah describes this time of coming trouble in the 30th chapter of the book of Jeremiah as follows: "the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, thus speaks the Lord God of Israel, saying: write in the book for yourself all the words that I've spoken to you. For behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will bring back from captivity my people Israel and Judah says the Lord, and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers and they shall possess it." (v. 1-3) And then he said that a time of trouble is coming and in verse 7 of Jeremiah Chapter 30 he says, “Alas! For that day is great. So that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble. And he shall be saved out of it." (Jeremiah 30:7)
Thus, it seems to be clear that the prophesied time of this great difficulty, this time of Jacob's trouble, will coincide with Israel being re-gathered on the land. Of course, that happened in 1948.
c) NEW TESTAMENT: PAUL
New Testament writers, being inspired by God's Holy Spirit, also write of the times of difficulties that are coming on the earth, confirming and agreeing with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to young Timothy, says the following: “but know this, that in the last days, perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:1-7)
In verse 14, Paul tells Timothy the same thing the Lord Jesus Christ is telling us “but you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of knowing from whom you have learned them. And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:15) Thus, we see again the scriptural admonition that we are to hold fast our profession of faith and the things that we have learned and we are to be about God's business.
d) NEW TESTAMENT: PETER
Paul is not alone as a New Testament writer in warning of this coming day of trouble, for the Apostle Peter in his second Epistle calls on those who read the second Epistle to stir up their minds and remember what he has written to them. He calls to their attention “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's the promise of His coming?’ ”. (2 Peter 3:1-4a) As Peter warns that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens will pass away, he tells us what manner of persons we ought to be. We are to walk in holy conduct and godliness. We are to look for and hasten the coming of the day of God. We are to be diligent to be found by him in peace, without spot and blameless, remembering that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation.
e) CURRENT EVENTS
As we look at the events presently on the earth, we can be certain that the time of the return of the Lord draws near. When? Only the Father knows! Nevertheless, we see the events of our time and the Lord God says, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee, I will help thee, I will uphold thee with my righteous right-hand.” (Isaiah 41:9-10) We can see that Israel has been returned to the land and is being re-gathered out of all nations. We can also see that the gospel has been preached and is currently being preached in all the world in languages in which it has not been preached before. In addition, we can read and see television documentaries of the present discussions and the possibility of a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. News programs show political events all over the world giving rise to the rapid increase of talk about Globalism and a single government over all of the world. We also see an economy that is being built for the world. The results of a world economy is that eventually someone will control that worldwide economy, whether it's one person, as for example the anti-christ, or a group of people. Someone will control what is bought and sold in that world economy. Again, one can read and see television documentaries concerning the rapid movement toward a “cashless society”. A cashless society has already been introduced into India. A cashless society would expedite greatly the inability to buy or sell in the world economy without the permission of the one who controls that cashless society and world economy. We can see and read of the rapid increase toward a one-world Church incorporating a “form of religion" but denying the power thereof.
In the first chapter of Paul's Epistle to the church at Rome in verses 18 through 25, we can read that the world has always been full of religions. There have always been efforts toward the assimilation of one religion's beliefs and practices into another and it is still with us. This practice, known as syncretism, has seemingly advanced with a degree of urgency and geometric progression as the present pope in the Roman Catholic Church has publicly stated that one who is a Muslim, or Hindu, or Buddhist, or even an atheist, can be accepted into heaven if he is “good". This proclamation completely denies Scripture! In John 14:6, the Lord Jesus Christ says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and, no man comes to the father (heaven) except by me.”
These attempts to unify and amalgamate eastern and western ideas seem to be gaining new momentum. The former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair, and the former President of United States, Bill Clinton, have been reported to have formed a coalition toward unifying religions and bringing about an increased pressure to compromise. In Exodus Chapter 20, the Lord God commands Israel, and indeed all people, to have no other gods before Him. God's admonition and repeated disclosures throughout Scripture show that He Himself is all-sufficient. Jesus is sufficient for all, for he is all in all! Therefore,we must know God's Holy Word, which is able to make us wise for salvation through faith which is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let no man deceive you with vain words, this time of trouble is coming on all the earth! The Lord Jesus Christ is our only hope. Paul describes the Gospel of Christ in his first letter to the church at Rome as being “the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Do not depart from it. As Paul himself said, “but though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be anathema.” (Galatians 1:8)
II. The Millennium Of Revelation 20
The only place in Scripture in which the millennial, or thousand year reign of Christ, is described, is in the 20th chapter of Revelation. The premillennial interpretation of this passage of Scripture in Revelation 20 is that it describes a thousand year reign of Christ on Earth following his second coming. This is based on a chronological reading of the Book of Revelation. Another millennial view of the Book of Revelation is based on what is called progressive parallelism and its hypothesis is that Revelation 20:1 actually goes back to the first century and begins at the start of the New Testament. Anthony A. Hoekema, in his book “The Bible and the Future" takes this position. Hokema takes the position that the events described in Revelation 20:1-6 take place between the first coming of Christ and the second coming of Christ and state the following: “then I saw in Angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the Dragon, that serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for 1000 years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit and shut him up, and set a seal on him. So that he should deceive the nations no more until 1000 years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:1-6)
Hoekema takes the position that the thousand years described in Revelation Chapter 20 stands for “the complete period" between Christ's first coming and the period of time mentioned in Revelation 20:7-15 when Satan shall be released for a little season. It is not my purpose to try to prove which of the differing millennial views are correct, but only to make the readers aware of the fact that there are differing views. The premillennial view and the postmillennial view are both fairly well-known, but Hoekema’s view (the amillennial view) is not as well known, thus a brief explanation is in order.
Hoekema states that prior to the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Satan deceived the nations. Indeed, the nations of the world outside of Israel did not know the truth and were therefore in ignorance and error as we see in Acts 17. After Christ gave his disciples his “great commission" in Matthew 28, Hoekema says that Satan was bound so that the Gospel of Christ could go forth and the disciples could make disciples of all nations. According to Hoekema, when the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan, Jesus replied, “how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strongman?" (Matthew 12:29) On pages 228 and 229 of Hoekema’s book, Hoekema, discusses this matter of binding the strongman. According to Hoekema, “interestingly enough, the word used by Matthew to describe the binding of the strongman is the same word used in Revelation 20 to describe the binding of Satan (the Greek word deō) is deō and therefore, one could say that Jesus bound the devil when he triumphed over him in the wilderness, refusing to give in to his temptations”. Hoekema concludes that “it is precisely because the Kingdom of God has come, that the gospel can now be preached to all the nations (see Matthew 13:24- 30, 47 - 50).
If Hoekema is correct, are we seeing Satan loosed for a little season? The Gospel of Christ has been preached around the world and Israel is on the land. There is talk of the rebuilding of the temple and we see the gathering storm clouds of Globalism. Syncretism and a one-world Church is being promoted, and the Global one-world economy is also being promoted. Nevertheless, the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal: “the Lord knows those who are his, therefore let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Timothy 2:19) We should rejoice and be exceeding glad always, because He is with us always, and never leaves us nor forsakes us. Therefore, fear not for he is with you. Be not dismayed for He is our God. He will strengthen us and help us and uphold us with his righteous right hand!
We want to live as becomes the Gospel of Christ. We want to be those who are making disciples of all nations. We want to be growing in Holy conversation and godliness and looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God. Be diligent and faithful to be found in him as Paul says in Philippians 3:9, “....not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith….”
Now unto him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior who alone is wise be the glory and majesty,dominion, and power both now and forever more. Amen
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