Tag Archives: Day of the Lord

Biblical Prophecy and Discerning the End Times.

Scripture has a great deal to say about the future, often referred to as the Last Days, End Times, or the Day of the Lord. From Old Testament prophets Ezekiel and Daniel to Jesus’ apostles John and Paul in the New Testament, numerous men of God describe signs of the end times in varying degrees of detail. They address the emergence of an evil antichrist, the establishment of a world system that flourishes worldwide, and a growing global conflict that comes to an explosive conclusion in Israel. And many of them highlight social trends that will surface in the last days.

Peter describes it like this: “In the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! … These teachers oppose the truth [and] have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are” (2 Timothy 3:1-9, NLT).

But prophets and apostles aren’t the only biblical figures who prophesy about the future. Jesus spends a great deal of time talking about future and providing a number of clues that signal the world’s end and foreshadow his return. As his ministry and life near their end he offers this response to a question about the signs of those events. “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!) “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.“Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time. “So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it! For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near. “Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven” (Matthew 24:4-31, NLT).

But the book of Revelation remains the most prominent book of prophecy in Scripture for many believers. It goes into considerable detail about the last days, the antichrist, Babylon, and God’s judgment of a sinful world. Millions of committed Christians, casual churchgoers, and non-believers alike have studied the words contained therein in hopes of discerning the timing of Christ’s return, the identity of the antichrist, and the nations involved in Armageddon. They read books from experts and scholars who proclaim to possess insight into how it all ‘goes down’ in those last days. Sadly, many of these ‘insights’ conflict with Scripture and paint a picture that is easily digested by a trusting and desperate audience.

The fact is many of the details regarding the end times will not be made clear until those days are upon us. And many of those details will bear little resemblance to the narratives offered by many self-proclaimed experts and religious charlatans.

So how should we read and study prophecy? With an eye toward understanding the big picture and broad trends without concerning ourselves too much with learning granular specifics, much of which will remain a mystery until the Lord returns.

My new novel, A Town Called Babylon, offers one portrait of how the world will look in the end days, how society will tempt Christians to compromise their faith to remain in good standing, and how the antichrist might emerge. It is not meant to be a definitive treatise on the end times.

Rather I hope to galvanize readers to think critically about biblical prophecy and consider the possibility that widespread views propagated by popular pastors and authors may not be accurate. I want to encourage readers to investigate Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they seek to understand prophetic passages and, especially, the book of Revelation. And I hope to entertain readers in the process with a compelling story, colorful characters, and a hopeful conclusion.

You can purchase a copy at Amazon in both paperback and e-reader formats. I hope you enjoy the read. Here’s a link for your convenience.

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Is Jesus’ Return Imminent?

For two millennia Christians have been waiting for Christ to return to earth and establish His kingdom. And for just as long His followers have viewed His second coming as very near – either on the doorstep or just around the corner. Yet time and again those expectations have been disproved with the passage of time – as the Lord remains in heaven.

But the repeated failure of earlier prognosticators hasn’t discouraged a new generation of voices from issuing their own proclamations about Jesus’ imminent return. In fact, there exists a growing consensus among many Christian leaders that the Lord is on the cusp of returning. And nothing can dampen their enthusiasm for broadcasting this fait accompli to all who would listen.

This current crop of self-styled seers avoids identifying a specific date for Jesus’ return. Instead, they employ language that asserts authoritatively that Jesus’ second coming will occur within a specific window of time, saying things like:

  • Jesus will return in my lifetime.
  • The current generation will see Jesus descend from the heavens.
  • This generation will usher in Jesus’ millennial rule.

This view has become widespread across much of Christendom. Not only are a growing number of voices with national platforms professing this perspective, more and more pastors and parishioners are embracing it as well. It has become a sort of Zeitgeist within the church. The frequency with which the topic arises during casual conversation with believers seems to grow every week.

Evidence of this trend is borne out in the marketplace. Go to any Christian bookstore and you’ll quickly realize few topics generate as much attention. The growth in resources, Bible studies, and novels focused on end times reflect an escalating interest in the subject. Indeed, a veritable cottage industry has sprung up on the subject with an increasing number of Christians claiming expertise on the topic.

Not surprisingly, a great many men and women earn a great deal of income capitalizing on this interest by marketing themselves as authorities on the subject. But whenever a subject generates substantial fame and fortune for those who set themselves up as experts, the risk of false teaching increases exponentially.

What, then, can we say with absolute certainty about Jesus’ return? What counsel does the Bible offer us about the end times? More importantly, what truths about the topic will stimulate and strengthen our faith? Let’s examine four.

1] He is coming back. Jesus alluded to His return in numerous parables and spoke of it specifically on many occasions. His lengthiest discourse on the subject occurred shortly before His crucifixion (see Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21). These passages offer a smorgasbord of insights and warnings about His return and we would do well to anchor our eschatology to them.

In the book of Revelation Jesus informs us, “Behold, I am coming quickly.” He shares this truth three times with the apostle John to emphasize its importance and give us urgency in our lives (see Revelation 22:7, 12, 20). Jesus reiterates the point to remove any doubt about whether He will return. And that great news is worth sharing with everyone. Is there someone you know who needs to hear it?

2] No one knows the date or time. Knowing that false prophets/pastors/priests would attempt to deceive people and accumulate power by claiming to know the mystery of His return, Jesus declares, “of that day and hour no one knows; neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is” (Mark 13:32-33, NKJV).

Many of the voices proclaiming Christ’s imminent return avoid identifying a specific date but categorically insist it will happen in this generation. But Jesus warns against those types of pronouncements as well. “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying … ‘The time has drawn near’. Do not follow them” (Luke 21:8, NKJV).

Some argue that Jesus provided signs to indicate when the end days are near. And indeed He did. But He provided those as reminders His return might occur at any moment, so we remain alert and vigilant, not as hints to solve the mystery of ‘when’.

3] Be prepared. Jesus communicated several parables that warned of the dangers of being unprepared for His return. Each lesson highlighted individuals who thought they would enjoy eternity with Christ but were instead cast into outer darkness.

In one parable the unprepared come to Jesus on His return, saying, “Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!” They want into the kingdom of heaven despite their unpreparedness. Jesus answers them, “Believe Me, I don’t know you!” (Matthew 25:11-12, NLT). Despite confessing Him Lord, these individuals are refused entry into heaven. Why? They never knew Jesus. Their hearts did not align with their words; their lives revealed the fiction of their claim.

Let’s consider that for a moment. How could someone who claims Jesus as Lord later learn He never knew them? Jesus provides a succinct explanation that also serves as an admonition. “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly” (Luke 21:34, NKJV). Their words professed Jesus Lord but their lives revealed the truth: the world and its pleasures were what they truly desired. How we live says far more about our faith than our words.

Don’t presume your salvation simply because you claim ‘Jesus is Lord’ with your lips. Look at your life, your priorities, and how you invest your time. If they do not align with God’s word and reflect the model of discipleship He taught, you may find yourself unprepared for His return.

4] Redeem the time. Irrespective of when the Lord returns, we need to maximize our time here. We accomplish this by following the model Jesus provided during His brief life. His first priority was always time with the Father. Over and over we see that in the Scriptures:

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35, NKJV).

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on a mountain by Himself to pray” (Matthew 14:23, NKJV).

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12, NKJV).

So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:16, NKJV).

Though Jesus’ days were packed from start to finish (serving, healing, teaching, forgiving, casting out demons, and rebuking religious leaders) He always carved out significant blocks of time for prayer. Maintaining a healthy, vibrant relationship with the Father was paramount to redeeming His time on earth.

We ought to take a cue from Jesus and follow His example. Regardless of how busy we are or how much good we want to accomplish with our time, our first priority must always be cultivating a relationship with Christ, nurturing our love for Him, and offering Him the praise and worship He deserves. Absent that, nothing else matters.

Second, we need to understand what Jesus said about His purpose on earth.

My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34, NKJV).

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38, NKJV).

I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4, NKJV).

We should adopt a similar focus in our lives by pursuing God’s will, implementing His agenda, and advancing His kingdom. Since details of carrying out His mission will vary by person, we need to draw near to Him on a regular basis – for only as we spend time alone with God will our ears be trained to hear His voice clearly.

So next time you hear someone exclaim how little time exists before the Lord returns, take a moment to rejoice in the good news that Jesus will indeed return. Then remind them to be about the business of redeeming their time on earth and ensuring they are properly prepared, “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27, NKJV).