Setting the Stage for Christ's Return, Part 1
When on earth Jesus Christ promised: "Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house [Heaven] are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."1
With all that is happening in today's world many ask, "Is the return of Jesus to earth getting close?" It is true that only God knows just when this day will be,2 but of one thing we can be certain, Jesus Christ is coming again. Every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ's first coming—prophecies that were predicted several hundred years before his birth—were fulfilled in minutest detail.3 We can be just as certain that the prophecies in the Bible regarding Christ's second coming will also be fulfilled in detail.
While we don't know the day of Christ's return, the Bible makes it clear that if we know what God's Word teaches, we will be able to discern the "signs of the time" that will indicate the nearness of Christ's return. True, individually, many of these signs have been happening since Christ's first coming, but today it appears that "they are all standing up at once." This, in turn, seems to indicate that the setting of the stage for Christ's return is accelerating. What, then, are some of the signs the Bible says will indicate the nearness of Christ's return?
1. Troubled Times
When Christ's disciples asked Jesus the same question, he said, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. . . . Jerusalem will be trampled on [controlled] by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.4
Jesus also said to his disciples, "Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains."5
"He [Jesus] told them this parable: 'Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.'"6
2. Israel's Homecoming
One of the most significant signs of the setting of the stage for Christ's return is "Israel's Homecoming;" that is, the return of the Jewish people to their homeland of Israel. Why do I say this is significant? Because for Christ's return, according to biblical prophecy, Israel has to be back in the "Promised Land"—the land promised by God for perpetuity to the ancient Israelites some 3,600 to 4,000 years ago. In 1948, almost 2,000 years after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple built by Herod in AD70 and forced the scattering of the Jews around the world, the nation of Israel was re-established. When you consider how many times other nations have tried to wipe Israel off the map—and still desire to—it is a miracle of God how, against overwhelming odds, this tiny nation has survived and prospered.
3. Jerusalem: The End of Gentile Control
Furthermore, Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trampled on—controlled by—Gentiles [non-Jews] until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.7 Today, almost all of Jerusalem is controlled by the Israelis. The control of Jerusalem by Gentiles after 2000 years is over. The times of the Gentiles is now fulfilled. This is another positive sign that the way is rapidly being made ready for the return of Jesus Christ.
4. The New Jewish Temple
Equally significant is the fact that Israel has to be back in the Promised Land in preparation for both the return of Christ and the entrance of the coming Antichrist who will appear at or about the same time as Christ's return. The Antichrist, a messenger of Satan, the devil, will make a Peace Pact with Israel at the beginning of the coming seven-year Great Tribulation, and then, in the mid-Tribulation period he will desecrate the Jewish Temple by setting himself up as God in the Temple. Already world leaders are desperate for peace in the Mid-east and when peace is promised by the Antichrist, who will no doubt be a silver-tongued, powerful charismatic leader, the world, the United Nations, and the United States will jump to accept his offer.
This means that the Jewish Temple will have to be rebuilt and in place after having been destroyed in AD70 by the ancient Romans. Just last year Joy and I had the opportunity to be in the Temple Institute in Jerusalem and learned firsthand that the Jews are right now drawing up plans for building the Third Temple. They are also training priests at this time to lead worship in the new Temple, and are currently making the instruments needed for Temple worship. Thus, at this very time, the Jews are waiting in the wings (as it were) ready to build and erect the Third Temple.
To be continued . . .
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for the promise in your Word, the promise that Jesus is coming again and is coming for all his true followers. Help me to be sure that I am ready for his coming, and with your help, do everything I can to help bring others to Jesus so that they, too, will be ready for Christ's return. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. John 14:1-3 (NKJV).
2. Matthew 24:36.
3. For many fulfilled prophecies about Christ's first coming see the article, "Jesus Christ: Is He God or Man?" at: http://tinyurl.com/lu577.
4. Luke 21:10-11; 24 (NIV).
5. Mark 13:5-8 (NIV).
6. Luke 21:29-31 (NIV).
7. See Luke 21:24 (NIV).