Warnings about deceit, wars, famines, and earthquakes that will shake the world, all with the addendum, see to it that you be not troubled. There would only be one thing that would keep me mentally secure under such difficult circumstances, and that would be hope.
The problem most of us have understanding scripture is that we ignore the context and the audience. The audience was his disciples, men who were decidedly Jewish. Consider about how strongly they seem to feel about outsiders coming into the faith in the early days. If you are paying attention to scripture then you will see that not only does God attempt to straighten Peter out, but has to send Paul to withstand the leadership for pushing circumcision as a symbol of their salvation.
The context has everything to do with the period immediately preceding his return to the earth; that time lasts seven years, and is filled with an onslaught of horrendous events.
Matthew 24:14KJV And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
I cannot remember how the conversation with my friend started, but it ended poorly. He is a theology student, and was arguing the point that Jesus cannot come back because there are over 6500 unreached people groups in the world.
An unreached people group is an ethno-linguistic group that shares a self-identity among themselves as a distinct culture, language, social class along with their own collection of customs, and shared history that sets them apart from other people groups.
The thing that distinguishes them as unreached is the fact that there is no evangelical gospel witness established among them. To reiterate the importance of that statement: Unreached means much more than merely being unevangelized. Unreached means there is no access to the gospel among that people group. There is no witness for Jesus among them!
Nearly 2 billion people (27.9 % of the world’s population) live in these unreached segments of society (people groups). These peoples are cut off from any access to the gospel and are largely ignored or unknown by the Christian world. Borrowed from: http://www.toeverytribe.com/unreachedpeoples
Things that stand out in my mind.
- Genesis 2:16,17 tell us that man only had one command restricting him, and that was not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. My assumption is that man, created in God’s image, knew only good, and not the evil. Selfish desire brought about the death, which was most dramatically noted in their instant communication break with the father. My point here is that this knowledge of good is still in every man, and the evil that is so noticeable, has everything to do with man’s bent for selfishness.
- Romans 11:29 NASB “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” I think it is fair to say that this also applies to His love for us. We can see this demonstrated in Lamentations 3:22 NASB “The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.” In referring back to point number #1, I am trying to convey that, just like his gifts or love, the good was never removed from us either.
- Paul dealt a sobering blow to those that wish to restrict God’s timing and way in which he deals with the nations.
Romans 1:20-21 CEV God’s eternal power and character cannot be seen. But from the beginning of creation, God has shown what these are like by all he has made. That’s why those people don’t have any excuse. They know about God, but they don’t honor him or even thank him. Their thoughts are useless, and their stupid minds are in the dark.
While we can whine about them not being reached with the printed Word, Paul gives the impression that it does not matter.
- Christ died, once for all. Again, this demonstrates our weakness in trying to interpret scripture, because far too many try to play the role of God and judge those we believe untouched by God’s word. In other words, if they are not reached then we presume that they are destined for destruction. What makes you so sure? No denying, there is the passage that tells us that Jesus is the only way. Now what do you do with the Muslims, who will violently reject your preaching and way of living; for under the dictates of Islam they have a mandate to kill you according to Sharia law. Yet, upon seeing Jesus in their dreams, a man they have never seen they acknowledge with an instant recognition of who He is. In many ways these people are also the unreachable, does any of that stop or slow down God, hardly.
- Matthew 24 speaks primarily toward the last seven years of broken man controlling the earth, and a time of wrath against the nations and Israel for its multitude rejections of God. What does that say about the preaching of the good news as a testimony to all the nations?
This tends to convey that during one of earth’s most adverse periods, the good news about a relationship with Jesus, and the hope of an eternity with the Father, are still being preached.
This verse has nothing to do with restrictions or limitations on God’s love.
- Who says they will not be reached? John tells us that all will hear the good news.
When I mentioned to my friend, in trying to defuse his argument, that there is an angel, who flies across the globe, preaching the gospel, he responded with, I have never seen that in scripture! Well, here it is.
Revelation 14:6 CEV I saw another angel. This one was flying across the sky and had the eternal good news to announce to the people of every race, tribe, language, and nation on earth.
The next passage has no angels directly referenced, but who is to say. Are we not told that they are messengers?
Hebrews 1:13-14 KJV But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
Colossians 1:23 NASB if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.
This passage just told you that the good news was preached, to all creation under heaven, so it begs a question. Did God leave anybody out? That has to cover people groups. Keep in mind, that every people group, when found, worships at least one entity.
- Revelation 11:3 NASB “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” If you have, an understanding of all that they do it is difficult at best to distinguish where the “good news” could come into play here. However, isn’t this testifying that we are supposed to do, give witness to Jesus Christ and by extension the Father?
“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth” Okay, that is dramatic, but wait, it gets better.
“And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.
(Rev 11:6) These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.”
Sounds a lot like what Moses did. No one in scripture had fire flowing out of their mouth, but everything else was done by the prophets. Elisha called fire down on several companies of troops.
Is the world going to see this? In this age of televised everything, you bet they will. This is not the positive spin that you think of when you think about spreading the gospel is it. I think we have to remember that the age of grace is over at this point. Sure, Jesus Christ’s’ name continues to carry all the power that God bestowed upon it, and the Holy Spirit will still be active on the earth. We know this because there is a steady, and continuous draw of people to Christ and to the Father.
The two witnesses take on a dramatic twist, for as you can see, they stop the rain. They are doing this for several reasons, but one is that spectators are supposed to see the power of a God that has had enough. However, Islam has its dramatic side also. The Jesus that Islam looks for will be able to do dramatic signs too. One of which is the restoration of rain where there has been none. Considering that everything points to two dramatic events at the three and one half-year mark into the time of wrath.
1) God will allow the two witnesses to be killed. Enemies of God have tried everything they could think of to shut their mouths for 42 months, with no success, so when they are killed, there is a global party.
2) Almost simultaneously, the false prophet shows up. How do I know he shows up here and not at the beginning of the seven years?
This guy is not just going to pop out of the earth. I believe he is alive and already here. I also believe, because of the terminology used in Revelation 13, that he is empowered by demonic spirits (that’s a fancy way of saying, one or more
of Satan’s fallen angel clan.)
He follows (in terms of chronology) the beast with a human description; Islam will call this first man the Mahdi – they have waited for him, much like we have waited for Jesus Christ, to return. Strangely, the beast of Revelation 13:11, is what Islam refers to as: `Îsâ Ibn Maryam, is considered a Messenger of god (Allah) and al-Masih (the Messiah) in Islam. “al-Masih” is the Mahdi. He will be the highest representative of Allah on the earth. The Jesus they wait for is not our Jesus, the Son of God. They call Jesus Christ (the Christian Jesus,) the dijal (a false prophet).
Revelation 13:11-17 NASB “ Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.”
In one of my recent posts I went into detail about the characteristics of this lamb we see in Revelation 13:11. I will not do that here. The point of all this is come to some conclusion about whether God is capable of getting his message spread across the globe; whether He is true to his character, demonstrating love and mercy (the answer to that is yes, by the way,) and whether or not God can come back for his church immediately.
Many are smarter than I. One of those would have been the former Pastor Chuck Smith, of Calvary Chapel, and he would repeatedly say that there are no prophecies left to fulfill before Jesus return for the church, his body. He is not the only one saying that.
We should have been able to see that what some see as a restraint has nothing to do with the church, but deals specifically with the time of wrath, the seven-year period we call the great tribulation.
No doubt, things are nightmarish bad in some parts of the earth, but what is coming will make the destruction we are watching seem easy in comparison. It is going to get worse.
Where is the hope in any of this? The hope lies only in accepting Jesus Christ into your life. Salvation has so many meanings, and one of them is salvation from the wrath to come. That is one of the main purposes of Him coming back for his bride.
If you should find yourself stuck in this seven-year period, find a bible; you know, that thing your elders at the temple told you to stay away from because it is filled with deceit, and improperly translated. The Word of God is alive, and it will remain alive even in the midst of chaos.
The prophets of old stopped the wind, called fire down from heaven, parted waters, and stilled the enemy and the avenger by calling upon God. His name is still Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of the living God, and he, through the Holy Spirit of God, will respond to you. Grow a backbone and stand like a rock.
The Apostle Peter (he did not know this yet) stood on the day of Pentecost, having done what Jesus had told them to do, receiving the Holy Spirit, and allowing Him to fill them with power, will do the same for you. Peter spoke out to the people, people who had heard them and mocked them, saying, this day this prophecy has been fulfilled in your ears. He spoke of Joel chapter 2, a chapter that speaks exclusively of the last seven years, the day of the Lord. Should you be in it, you will know what I mean.
Joel 2:28-29 NASB “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. (29) “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
I implore you not to wait. Turn your life over to Jesus Christ and allow him to change you. Ask him into your life. Admit that you have screwed it up and mismanaged it, and that you need him. He will come to you no matter what you have done or where you are. He will come into you. If you are in dire straights simply ask him to help you. He can change everything.
Now if you find yourself in the last days, and you think you need an example of what a bold, man of God looks like, turn your eyes toward the two witnesses. They will be standing in the streets of Jerusalem, most likely protecting the temple mount, as the new temple is being built. Do what they do.