Thursday, January 1, 2009

Is Jesus Coming Back?

On the island of Patmos, the Apostle John, nearly 100 years old, saw a vision from God, given to Jesus, transmitted to John through an angel. (Revelation 1:1) At the very end of his apocalyptic book, he faithfully repeated the words of Jesus Christ. "Look! I am coming quickly, and the reward I give is with me, to render to each one as his work is,...Yes, I am coming quickly." (Revelation 22:12, 20a) John, as confidant as ever in his old age, replied, "Amen! Come Lord Jesus."-Revelation 22:20b

That begs the question: Is Jesus going to come back one day? Well, since Revelation is a book inspired by God, the answer has to be yes. "However", many may say, "Revelation is a complex and hard-to-understand book. Even those phrases may be open to interpretation." If that is true, then we cannot rely on just this book. Is there another book that even mentions this momentous event?

There is! The return of Jesus Christ is a very important subject in the New Testament. Paul, an enemy of the Christ but later a faithful believer, wrote many times on this subject. One that is worth consideration is in one of his letters to the congregation in Thessalonica. After speaking of tribulation that we as Christians must endure, Paul spoke of "relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire." (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8)

So, we can see that the return of Christ is a certainty. However, when looking at this Scripture, it brings up another question. Is the return of Christ something that we as Christians should fear? We are told that Christ is coming "with his powerful angels in a flaming fire" and that sounds a little scary. A little background as to the return of Christ is probably in order.

Going back to the days of the prophet Ezekiel we read, "This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: 'Will it not be in that day when my people Israel are dwelling in security that you will know it? And you will certainly come from your place, from the remotest parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great congregation, even a numerous military force. And you will be bound to come up against my people Israel, like clouds to cover the land.'" (Ezekiel 38:14-16a) What is going to happen? Ezekiel goes on to explain further, quoting Jehovah God. "And it must occur in that day, in the day when Gog comes in upon the soil of Israel...that my rage will come up into my nose. And in my ardor, in the fire of my fury, I shall have to speak. Surely in that day a great quaking will occur in the soil of Israel...And I will call forth against him throughout all my mountainous region a sword...And I will bring myself into judgment with him, with pestilence and with blood; and a flooding downpour and hailstones, fire and sulphur I shall rain down upon him and upon his bands and upon the many peoples that will be with him."-Ezekiel 38:18-19, 21-22

Satan, as Gog of Magog, is going to come against the anointed remnant, "the Israel of God" and their companions, the Great Crowd. (Galatians 6:16; Revelation 7:9) After that, Jehovah is going to stop His people from being completely destroyed. How? He is going to use Jesus Christ as his military commander. (Revelation 19:11, 15, 19-21) Christ will use his position to defeat Satan, his demons, and their human followers. Then the prophecy in Proverbs 2:21-22 will find fulfillment. "For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it."

Are there any developments that are going to take place before all of this comes about that will reveal any signs that the return of the Messiah is imminent? Let us look in the Bible for the answer.

At Matthew 24 (and the alternate account at Luke 21) the Apostles speak to Jesus Christ about an important event, asking him, "What will be the sign...of the conclusion of the system of things?" (Matthew 24:3) Jesus tells them that there is a possibility in that time period for people to be mislead by false Christs. (Matthew 24:4-5) He then warns them that there will be wars and rumors of wars. He even says that "nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom". Then he says that there are going to be "food shortages and earthquakes". (Matthew 24:6-7) Luke, in his account, says that there are going to be pestilences and "fearful sights and from heaven great signs." (Luke 21:11) Both Matthew and Luke then talk about persecution against the true followers of Jehovah God.-Matthew 24:9-12; Luke 21:12-17

After all of this, Jesus points to good things that are going to happen. He says that "this good news of the kingdom will be preached" in the entire earth for a witness. Until then, the end will not come. (Matthew 24:14) During all of this, something miraculous is going to happen. We now turn to the book of Revelation to find out what it is.

In the book of Revelation at chapters 17-18, we find a prophecy about Babylon the Great. Through holy spirit and intense Bible study, Jehovah's Witnesses have found that Babylon the Great is the world empire of false religion. We are first warned to "get out of [Babylon the Great] my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins...For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind." (Revelation 18:4-5) Part of the reason Babylon the great is so guilty is because she has had a hand in politics, commercial business, and other ungodly practices.-Revelation 18:9-19

How is Jehovah going to accomplish this? He is going to use the wild beast, or the United Nations (see Revelation 13:1, 14-15 and Revelation 17:8, 11) to destroy her. Jehovah says, "And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished." (Revelation 17:16-17) Jehovah will make the nations turn against religion. What will this start?

Going back to Jesus' prophecy we read, "For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again." (Matthew 24:21-22) After another warning about my false prophets and false Christs, the conclusion: After those signs in the sky that Luke talked about we read: "And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity."-Matthew 24:30-31

Obviously, Jesus is coming back. Many books of the Bible besides Matthew, Luke, 2 Thessalonians, and Revelation discuss it. If we are not on the side Jehovah you are not going to survive. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Will there be any blessings for those who do survive? Will anything change?

"But there are a new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise and in these righteousness is to dwell." (2 Peter 3:13) In the Bible, we are given a glimpse as to what life will be like after the wicked are destroyed. It will be a good time. Just think of these blessings that the Bible promises.

1. No one will be sick.-Isaiah 33:24
2. The lame, mute, blind and deaf will be healed.-Isaiah 35:5-6
3. There will be enough food for everyone.-Psalm 72:16; Revelation 7:16
4. Death will be abolished.-Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4
5. The dead will be raised back to life.-Isaiah 26:19; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15
6. War will be gone forever.-Psalm 46:9; 72:7; Micah 4:1-5
7. Animals will live in peace with humans and one another-Isaiah 11:6-9
8. There will be adequate housing for everyone.-Isaiah 65:21-22
9. We will live under a righteous government.-Daniel 2:44; 1 Timothy 1:17
10. We will live forever!-Psalm 37:11, 29

There are many reasons to learn the truth about all of this. It means our everlasting life. (John 17:3) If you would like to live in peace under a perfect government that will bring many blessings, Jehovah's Witnesses will be happy to help you! Please accept our invitation to have a study and learn about our God, Jehovah, and our King, Jesus Christ.

Remember, the Lord Jesus is coming. Will you be ready?