As the prophet Daniel foretold, there is a time of trouble coming on earth that will bring it to the brink of destruction.
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, every one 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, some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:1–2).
Survival or Destruction?
Will the earth survive or will it, and every living thing upon it, be destroyed? Some people think that the earth’s days are numbered and fear for its future survival, but they need have no such concerns.
Although there is a time of judgement coming on this earth, the Bible is quite definite that the earth itself will not be destroyed; that it will survive. And as this is a promise that God has made in His Word, the Bible, we can be absolutely sure about it. Here are some of those promises:
- For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:18);
- The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men (Psalm 115:16);
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Notice the last passage in particular, for it is a promise made by the Lord Jesus to all faithful believers. This is the promise of an everlasting inheritance here on earth, not a promise of life in heaven.
It is God’s intention to stop the present decline which now affects most aspects of human existence, before it goes too far. He will send His Son to save His people from destruction and to set up His kingdom on this earth. The establishment of that Kingdom will, in time, restore this earth to the condition it was at the time of creation. This is what the apostle Peter said on the day of Pentecost to those Jews who were willing to listen:
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:19–21).
The physical earth will survive the time of trouble that is coming on this world and will yet have a glorious future. There are many descriptions of this time which is spoken about by God’s prophets and they are written to give us great hope and encouragement. For example, God says through His prophet Isaiah:
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2–3).
God’s Gracious Purpose
We will consider more of these things in due course, as this series continues. For now, we can satisfy ourselves with the knowledge that, even though we are living through the beginning of a time of trouble such as never has been known before, God has a plan for this earth and He will surely bring it to pass. For it is God’s ultimate and declared purpose to fill this earth with His glory.
But truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord… (Numbers 14:21);
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9);
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
Jesus was once asked how many people will be saved: would it be many or few? His answer challenges many of the assumptions held today by people who are hoping for the best.
It is a widely held view that if there is a God in heaven – and a lot of people haven’t made up their minds about that – it is to be hoped that He is a benevolent being who will be kind to all those who try to live a decent life. I expect you have heard the argument that “I have never done anybody any harm”, where the inference is that such behaviour should be good enough for God, in the hope that He is not too demanding.
View the full article at thebiblestudy.co.uk …
So why didn’t the world end yesterday? Where was Jesus? No doubt you read the many newspaper and internet stories about a gentleman named Harold Camping, and the many people who believed in his prediction that 21 May 2011 was the day of the rapture when Jesus would come to save his true believers and the rest of the world would perish in earthquake and fire.
It didn’t happen.
Here we all are, a day later, and nothing has changed.
And yet despite the craziness surrounding this non event I find a small amount of sympathy for the people who truly believed this was going to happen. As a Christian I know what it is to long for the second coming of Jesus. I believe that the Bible teaches the return of Christ, the resurrection of believers, the judgment, and then the setting up of God’s kingdom on earth which will be a cleansing of our poor abused planet. I can’t wait for that day, and I know many other Christians who feel the same way.
Unlike Mr Camping though I also believe that “about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24 vs 36) and I’m afraid that anyone who therefore says they know the exact date of the return of Christ must have been misled.
What we have been given is some signs, so that we can look at the world, and see that the time of the return of Jesus is drawing ever near. It is however impossible to be dogmatic about it. So what should we be looking out for:
- The Jews returning to their land – which quickly progressed with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
- Unrest and warfare in the Middle East centered around Israel.
- An increase in natural disasters.
- Men’s hearts “failing them for fear”.
- Troubled times among world leaders.
- A decline in the moral standards of society.
All of the above are signs given to us in the Bible that the time of the return of Christ is near – and all of the above have happened to a greater or lesser degree over the past fifty to one hundred years. How much worse will things get before we see the coming of the Son of Man with power and great glory?
We don’t know the answer, but we must all continue to watch and be ready, so that when the day finally comes we will be welcomed with the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25 vs 21)
It’s easy to be impatient. Especially in today’s society where we are encouraged to have what we want, when we want, and think about the consequences later. Need a new car? Go and get one – pay later. Want a new TV? Put it on the credit card. The media rarely encourages us to wait for what we want and save up for what we can’t afford straight away.
This thinking can permeate into the rest of our lives. Many people do not have a “job for life” these days, working their way up from the bottom of the company to the top. Instead its quite acceptable to have a CV showing you’ve moved jobs every few years in order to pursue new opportunities.
Modern life is also designed to test our patience, as anyone who’s spent time sitting in a traffic jam or waiting for public transport will tell you. Life moves at such a pace that we plan every minute. Children are shuttled round from activity to activity, older people who may be slower moving become a frustration to busy people in the shop or on the street, and we have non stop communication at our fingertips with the internet, smartphones, facebook and 24 hour news channels.
So, the question is: are you impatient for the coming of the Lord Jesus? Are you fed up of waiting for him? Do you want him to come back and sort the earth out so desparately that impatience can turn into frustration?
Do you ever wonder if God has forgotten us and what happened to his promise? Do other people think you are crazy for expecting the return of Jesus Christ? Do not worry – the apostle Peter tells us that this is a sign that Jesus will soon be here:
Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” – 2 Peter 3:3-4
It can be hard to remember that everything happens in God’s own good time. God is not held by the constraints of time that we are. Peter tells us later in that chapter:
But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. – 2 Peter 3:8-9
So God is waiting until everyone he has called has turned to him and repented. Meanwhile, we just have to wait patiently – easier said than done!
However, we are not the first people who ever had to wait patiently – think about these examples:
- King David – anointed by Samuel and received the Holy Spirit but didn’t become king until many years later following much persecution from King Saul.
- Abraham – waited many years following the promise of a son to his elderly wife. He tried to the manipulate the situation himself by having a child with his wife’s handmaid, but events backfired on him, and later his true son was born.
- Peter and the disciples – wanted Jesus to be king immediately and overthrow the Romans and found it difficult to accept he had to die, but learnt ultimately that Jesus’ way was a better way.
So what are we to learn?
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. – Psalm 37:7
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. – Matthew 6:9-10
Many things can go wrong in life in the Western world. A lot of us have houses and cars to take care of, many of us have children or other family members to look after, we have to get through our days at work, and deal with all the problems that crop up. What if the alarm clock doesn’t go off? What if the car breaks down? What if that customer shouts at us? What if the kids misbehave?
There are many constant decisions to be made, what to have for dinner, what to wear, when to get all the housework and washing done, how much time to give to work, church, family and friends. We have many constant demands on our time, and these can lead to genuine stress and anxiety.
I seem to be writing a lot about the “Big Picture” at the moment, and today I had that reinforced again. Without belittling the stresses of life in Western society, because they are very real, it is also true that there are very few of us who are without food or clean water, sanitation, electricity, education and access to health care. The things that really matter, the things that we need for survival are there.
Today I heard a presentation at church about the country of Sierra Leone. A gentleman involved in charity work in this small West African country which is recovering from the aftermath of a devastating civil war, described some of the conditions that exist in that country and how the charity work he does has made some improvements to the lives of people in that country.
Some of the facts he told us were quite shocking. The average life expectancy of a person in Sierra Leone is around the age of 50. It has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world, and is the eighth poorest country in the world. There is no electricity in the country following the destruction of the power stations in the civil war. There is little sanitation. Cholera is rife due to lack of drinkable water. Malaria is a huge killer. 90% of adults are illiterate.
Suddenly I am very thankful that the choice I am making is whether to have beef or chicken for dinner, not the choice of rice if I’m lucky or nothing if I’m not. I am thankful for my toilet, my hot water, and my electricity.
It’s easy to take these things for granted because we are so used to them, but we must remember that many people in the world do not have these blessings. We should remember to thank God for our blessings, and ask Him to help those in need.
People may say that the suffering of people such as those in Sierra Leone shows that there is no God – but until the civil war, which was a result of man’s greed and desire for wealth and power, this country was relatively peaceful and prosperous. Man’s free will was used for evil, and many have suffered because of it.
So why isn’t God doing anything about it? He will – all in his own good time. Let us pray for His kingdom to come soon and put an end to suffering and bring about peace on earth.
He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” – Isaiah 25:8-9