The End Times Testimony of Peter, Paul and Jesus.
Maria and I are very stirred at this season over a message that “the Spirit is saying to the churches”. We believe that now is the time to prepare the global church for the End Times Generation, the people who will witness the 2nd coming of Christ.
At the very least, we believe that now is the time to seriously know “the Book”, especially the New Testament. One of the most neglected and confusing books of the NT is the last one, Revelation. This is about to change, however, as we experience a “world-wide shift” to prepare the Bride of Christ for Her role in the age to come.
To take you into this slowly, I thought it best to concentrate our study of the End Times and the 2nd Coming of Christ through the testimony of Peter, Paul and Jesus.
Several common themes emerge. I would like to look at five of them in the next few articles.
1. Be Ready for His Coming. (Mtt 24:44)
From Mtt 24 (and the 2 parallel passages in Lk 21 and Mk 13) we can see that when Jesus was asked directly by His disciples about the “end of the age” (Mtt 24:3), His immediate response was that they be careful not to be misled by anyone and to be on their guard.
Paul echoes this reply when speaking of the End Times (i.e. the Day of the Lord) to the Thessalonians:
“So then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” I Thess 5:6
Jesus later explains to his disciples in Mtt 24:25, 44 that He is telling them about His 2nd coming “in advance” so that they can “be ready!”
Many in the church today are confused about this point – “If we cannot know the exact timing why should we bother to spend much time in Revelation and the End Times chapters? Isn’t this just harmful, unnecessary speculations?”
Here is where we have erred however.
While it is true that NO ONE knows the day or the hour (except the Father) we ARE TO KNOW the signs and the season that the Lord will return.
Jesus said it quite clearly in Luke 21: ”But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near.. Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation… and that day come on you suddenly like a trap.” Lk 21:28,34
Peter joins his voice on the “End Times Discussion” by telling his readers:
“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” 2 Peter 2:11-12
The clear, straightforward truth of our position regarding the End of the age and the return of Jesus in the clouds is to “Be Ready”
2. Encourage one another with these words. (1 Thess.4:18 )
“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” I Thess. 4:17-18
It is quite remarkable to read the short letters of I & II Thessalonians and to realize how much is in there regarding the End Times.
Paul’s stay in Thessalonica was very brief. NT Scholars all agree on a stay no longer than 1-2 months. The Jews grabbed some “wicked men from the market place” and formed a mob to chase Paul and Silas out of town! Yet in that short time, Paul and Silas made known to the new believers there the importance of preparing for the 2nd coming of the Lord and to comfort one another with these words.
I love Paul’s writing from II Thess. 2:1-4. In the middle of the discussion about the End Times and the great “falling away” that would come and the revealing of the “man of lawlessness”, he suddenly stops and reminds them that he has told them this already:
”Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?” II Thess. 2:5
For Paul (and Peter and Jesus), the End Times was a doctrine to put your hope in and not to be afraid of. It was teaching to encourage each other about and not to separate with each other over or quarrel with. There was an anticipation and expectancy in the 1st century church that we would do well to follow in the 21st century!!
As Paul wraps up his exhortation to the Thessalonians about the End Times he tells them: “Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.” I Thess. 5:11
We believe the Bride of Jesus is making herself ready and is doing just this around the world.
3. The Abomination of Desolation (Mtt 24:15)
“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” Mtt 24:15-16
One of the most sensational aspects of the End Times is the reality of the Abomination of Desolation that Jesus predicted would come before He returns on the clouds and with the blast of the great trumpet. It will be an event that signals the beginning of the Great Tribulation:
“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Mtt 24:21
We must be grateful, though, that in Jesus’ great discourse of the Signs of the End of the Age (Mtt 24) He mentions the “Abomination of Desolation” as being spoken of through the prophet Daniel. This allows us to look even further BACK in history to gain more understanding of a certain FUTURE event!
The “Abomination of Desolation” is an act by the Antichrist and his forces in the End Times as he sets himself “as God” up in the Temple in Jerusalem to be worshipped by all nations.
Forces from him (the Antichrist) will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation. Daniel 11:31
Daniel was one of the key End Times prophets:
He saw with stunning clarity and detail the Abomination of Desolation and what was coming at the end of the age. Here is a quick overview from the last few chapters of the book of Daniel (7-12):
During one significant dream about the End Times, Daniel, so disturbed about the beasts he saw, asked an angel – in his dream – for the “true meaning” of his vision. The angel gave Daniel an explanation of the Beast with 10 horns. This Beast would devour the whole earth and would rule the earth for 3 ½ years. He will speak against the Most High, wear down the saints, and try to “change the set times and the laws”. (Dan. 7:23-25)
Daniel goes on to pinpoint this Beast with 10 horns as the one who commits the “Abomination of Desolation” (Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) that Jesus references in Mtt 24.
John in Revelation calls him the Beast from the sea: ”All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast” Rev 13:8
Paul called the “Beast” the “man of lawlessness” and said that when he is revealed he “opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (II Thess 2:4)
The Beast’s power, deception and rule is unparalleled in human history BUT his end is sure.
”Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming” II Thess 2:8
4. The Last Trumpet (I Cor 15: 51-52)
Leave it to the apostle Paul to give us the shortest and simplest explanation of the Second Coming:
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Cor. 15:51-52
In another “End Times moment” Paul tells his readers that:
”the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:15-17)
It is so significant to see the central place that the last trumpet has in Paul’s teaching because he wrote this forty years BEFORE John wrote Revelation. In Revelation, we see the unfolding of the great devastation (with great symmetry) that the 21 judgments will release upon the Beast and his kingdoms to wipe evil off the planet.
First, there will be the 7 Seals judgments (Rev 6) that in turn open up the 7 Trumpets judgments (Rev 8-11). After the Last Trumpet, there follows the final 7 Bowls judgments (Rev 15-16). “Last because with them God’s wrath is complete.” (Rev. 15:1)
At the last (7th) trumpet, Jesus returns with the “dead in Christ” and those who are alive at His coming will be “caught up” together in the air, to be with Him forever.
5. And He shall reign forever and ever. (Rev 11:15)
“And He shall reign for ever and ever! King of kings and Lord of lords! Hallelujah!” (G. F. Handel)
These words are far more than just a powerful refrain for Handel’s The Messiah. It is the conviction of the whole Bible that Jesus will reign as Lord of lords and King of kings forever and ever.
Has this happened yet? Did it happen at the cross?
Once again we can turn to Paul for answers!!
”For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. (I Cor 15: 22-25)
At the end of the ages, when Christ returns with the saints, He will rule and reign on the earth over all rule and all authority and power! Then He will hand over the kingdom to His Father, Who will come in the sky with the new Jerusalem. (Rev. 21:16)
The new Jerusalem has no temple: Jesus and the Father are the temple.
The new Jerusalem has no sun or moon: Jesus and the Father are the lights.
The nations of the earth will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. (Rev 21:22-24)
”Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus.”
Yours for the least in the kingdom,
PS. ”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 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief… Therefore…let us watch and be sober. “(1 Thess. 5:1-6)