Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
“Do not forsake our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near”(Hebrews 10:25). Another year has come to an end and with it comes my annual prophetic year in review. My conclusion: The clock ticks ever closer to midnight. Unless the Lord tarries, one wonders just how much longer things can continue as they are. Clearly, the prophecy clock is racing. I had dinner recently with Jack Kinsella of The Omega Letter (http://www.omegaletter.org/) who observed when world events can go in one or more directions they always go in the direction prophesied in the Bible. I couldn’t agree more. Politically, militarily, and financially, this world is staging itself for an appointment with its Creator. And those with an eternal perspective know this means one thing—Jesus is coming soon for His church, perhaps today.
Politically speaking, the political map of the Arab world was totally reshaped in 2011. This is significant considering it is that part of the world—the Middle East—with which the biblical prophets were primarily concerned. The so called “Arab spring,” which is quickly becoming an “Arab winter,” has seen the end-time alignment of nations come into sharper focus. With the collapse of the Mubarak regime in Egypt—the anchor of stability in the Middle East—and the ascendency of the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical elements, a united effort to annihilate Israel is clearly underway. Add to that the fact Iran may be only months away from developing a nuclear weapon. Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad’s continues his ruthless grip on power. All of this brings the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39, Daniel 11, and Isaiah 17 into sharper focus. War is on the way in the Middle East and it could literally break out any moment. Former Assistant Defense Secretary under Ronald Reagan—Frank Gaffney—warns that, “A cataclysmic regional war [is coming] and it will be over the future existence of the state of Israel. It may involve all of her neighbors, as they want to drive the Jews into the sea. It may include the use of nuclear weapons.” In the end, I’m not worried too much about Israel, as “He who keeps watch over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Psalm 121:4). But it is interesting to note that of all the directions things could have gone in the Middle East in 2011, everything has moved in the direction prophesied by the Bible.
Along with the political reshaping of the Middle East one must also consider significant events militarily. The United States has pulled out of Iraq with Afghanistan not too far behind. It will be interesting to see what happens in that part of the world once the U.S. completely withdraws. Russia continues to strengthen its military ties with Iran, Syria and other Middle Eastern regimes. In fact, Russia has confirmed plans to send a flotilla of naval ships led by Russia's only aircraft carrier to a little-utilized base in Tartus, Syria, by spring 2012. Furthermore, Russia continues to provide military assistance and weapons to Iran and Syria. One can only wonder if the groundwork is being laid for the Ezekiel 38-39 war: “Be prepared, and prepare yourself, you and all your companies that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them” (Ezek. 38:7). Additionally, things are happening in the East. China continues to pursue a global military presence and its President, Hu Jinto, recently told China’s military personnel they should "make extended preparations for warfare.” Interestingly, China is the only country in the world that could field an Army of 200 million (Rev. 9:17; 16:12). Again, of all the directions the world could go militarily it is moving quickly in the direction spelled out in Bible prophecy.
Finally, as 2011 draws to a close one should also consider world events from a financial perspective. The world has only gone deeper into debt. The financial crisis that exploded in 2008 continues to affect the entire world. One area of the world that has witnessed the affects of this global financial crisis is the European Union which is currently fighting for its own survival. This union—now 27 nations strong—has been described by many experts as being simply too big to survive. I am neither a prophet nor a son of a prophet but if I had to guess I would say the worldwide financial crisis will ultimately work out in the direction the Bible says things are going to go in the last days. What is 27 nations strong today may very well collapse and regroup with a smaller number of much stronger nations—say ten? Daniel wrote, “After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns” (Dan. 7:7). Furthermore, this global financial crisis may very well lead to the rise of a global leader—a man-with-a-plan kind of a guy—to solve the world’s financial problems as well as the problem of an elusive peace in the Middle East. “While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them…” (Dan. 7:8). 2011 was an interesting year from the perspective of Bible prophecy. 2012 promises to be even more interesting. But my focus is not so much on world events as it is on the promise of Jesus, “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). As the world struggles to overcome insurmountable problems and seeks after a super-man who can seemingly solve it all, I am looking for Jesus and 2012 may very well be the year we see Him face to face—“Even so. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
"In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8). I just returned from the twentieth annual meeting of the Pre-Trib Study Group Conference (www.pre-trib.org). The meeting took place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. This was my third trip, having also attended in 2007 and 2008. The conference was academically stimulating with several papers presented by various scholars on the Rapture and Pre-Tribulationism. Perhaps the most challenging paper for me personally was Dr. Paul Wilkinson’s paper on "The Rapture and Evangelism." Dr. Wilkinson is a British scholar from England who challenged everyone attending to be about the task of evangelism in light of the any moment return of Christ for His church. The banquet on Monday evening featured Dr. Ed Hindson from Liberty University. Afterwards I was privileged to enjoy a brief visit with Bill Koenig, a White House correspondent and director of World Watch International news agency (www.watch.org). Tuesday evening included the traditional current events presentations dealing with current events in light of Bible prophecy. Although this is perhaps the highlight of the whole conference for me, this year I slipped out after the first speaker in order to have dinner with Jack Kinsella of the Omega Letter (www.omegaletter.org) and other Omega Letter friends. When all was said and done my mind kept coming back to Paul’s words to young Timothy in 2 Tim. 4:8, which I think is summed up with this question: Do you love His appearing?
Of all the reasons we might long for and love Jesus’ return for His church, three remain in the forefront of my thinking. First of all, I want to be where Jesus is. He said, "I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3). As believers, we should long to be with Christ above all else. I think our longing to be with Him is a sure sign we treasure Him more than anyone or anything this world has to offer. Do you long to be with Christ? Do you love His appearing? Secondly, although Christ’s death has set me free from the power of sin, I long to be free from the presence of sin. Paul wrote, "For in hope we have been saved" (Rom. 8:24). This hope includes not only the redemption of our bodies but also freedom from the very presence of sin. Personally, I cannot even begin to fathom being free from the presence of sin. But such freedom is coming and it is coming at "the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13)! Finally, God has promised a great reunion in the sky for those who love His appearing. The Bible says, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus" (1 Thess. 4:14). Imagine that—our loved ones who are "asleep in Jesus" will come with Him when He appears. Asleep here simply means those who have died in the Lord. They are now with Jesus—where we long to be—and one day they are coming with Him when He comes for His church.
So what’s the bottom line? Simply put, it is this: Do you love His appearing? Do you long for and pray for the return of Jesus for His church? Or, are you busy with and focused on the cares of this world? I am amazed at the focus of Christianity today, particularly in our own country. It seems the church is more interested in the things of this world rather than Christ. We see it in so-called Christian programming where the focus is on health, wealth, and prosperity. We see it in books where the authors seem more interested in our best life now and becoming a better you. There doesn’t seem to be much interest in holy living and longing for Christ’s return. It is no wonder. Even Paul promised, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths" (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Here’s the test. Are you accumulating for yourself teachers in accordance with your own desires who promulgate what may on the surface sound and feel good but in reality is nothing more than myths? Or, do you treasure Christ above all and love His appearing? "Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:13).
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