The Second Coming of the Lord is described in many ways, particular by the Apostle Paul. He used phrases like ‘the day of our Lord Jesus Christ’, ‘The day of the Lord’, ‘the day of Christ’, ‘His day’, ‘The revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ’ and ‘when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven’ – just to mention a few.
Of His Second Coming Jesus was very explicit. “See to it that no one misleads you.” For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” (Matthew 24:4-7)
These words, particularly in current times, should raise eyebrows.
a) There will be false Christs or Messiahs. People will be misled.
b) There will be wars and rumors of war.
c) Nation (or ethnic groups ‘ethnos’) will rise against nation.
d) Kingdom (or maybe ‘caliphate’) against kingdom.
e) Famines and earthquakes – Japan, NZ.
On the end of days, note this teaching from a Jewish source: “Rabbi Yitzchak quoted Rabbi Yochanan saying: ‘In the generation when the Son of David is to come, scholars will be few in number. As for others, their eyes will fail from sorrow and grief. There will be much trouble, and evil decrees will be renewed, with each new evil coming quickly, even before the other has ended.’
The Rabbis taught a specific seven-year programme would happen at the end of which the Son of David is to come.
1) In the first year, ‘I will cause it to rain upon one city and cause it not to rain upon another city’ (Amos 4:7).
2) In the second, the arrows of hunger will be sent forth [food shortages, with no one being fully satisfied].
3) In the third, there will be a great famine, during which men, women, children, pious men and saints will die; and [hunger will cause] the Torah to be forgotten by its students or talmidim.
4) In the fourth, there will be surpluses of some things but shortages of others.
5) In the fifth there will be great plenty — people will eat, drink and rejoice; and the Torah will return to its talmidim.
6) In the sixth year, there will be sounds or shofar blasts announcing the Messiah’s coming.
7) In the seventh year there will be wars. And at the end of the seven years the Son of David will come.” (Sanhedrin 97a)
A Sign in the Church
Not only are the Jews considering the signs, there also will be a sign in the Church.
Matthew 24:10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.”
The Church will be persecuted. Vicious attacks on the Church and Christians are on the rise throughout Arab world and in North Africa today. Jesus warned the attacks will come from governments as well from religious persecution. That’s the basis of jihad – or what is called ‘holy war.’ But persecution is building for the Christian faith even in the West. Advice shared by the Apostle Peter to the suffering Church two thousand years ago seems appropriate.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler, but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.” (1 Peter 4:12-16)
Jesus spoke about a falling away. The Barna Research Group has published a survey of senior protestant pastors in the U.S.A with startling conclusions – Overall, 51% of pastors in America have a biblical worldview. That means 49% find something other than the Bible as the standard or platform for their so-called ‘Christian’ ministry. THIS IS STAGGERING!!! Is this the beginning of the falling away Jesus spoke about?
When I lived in Jerusalem, Jewish Rabbi’s and religious leaders expressed concern that for them, Jesus could not be the God of Love when so many of His leaders were divorcing their partners just as much as unbelievers! They were concerned that so many Christian leaders were charged and found guilty of sexual sin including pedophilia. This concerned them and we spoke at length about how Jesus died for our sins, even such as these.
Matthew 24:11-13 “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
THIS IS A HEALTHY WARNING. Do not be influenced by false prophets. One resource I studied suggested this reference could mean ‘false messiahs’ and I immediately thought of the Mahdi or the twelfth Imam so passionately proclaimed by the Ayatollah Homeini and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.
In Matthew 24, Christ is preparing the disciples for His own death. The true Messiah is about to be crucified. He issues a caution: “Take heed that no man deceive you. ‘ This advice is true for us today. It is so easy to be anxious and even needy for the return of Jesus, that we might grow impatient and fall for an imposter.
(Watch for Matthew 24 Part 3 – coming soon)