“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6)
By my count there are at least 8 or 9 major factors in place, or soon to be in place, that detail the hour of the Lord’s return. Over the last 70 years, and all-the-more in the last 20, the features surrounding Jesus’ return are advancing with mind-numbing speed.
Jesus always expressed desire that His people comprehend the days in which they lived. He’s zealous for us to see, and understand what’s on the horizon so we can be prepared and not be caught off-guard at His return.
1. Lawlessness. We live in a day when sin, lawlessness and evil is compounding exponentially. Today’s values are quickly being swallowed up by tomorrow’s avant-garde social mores… What you and I believed even ten years ago is perpetually being replaced with new paradigms of unrighteousness. And the level of rage against God’s time-honored standards of life and human relationships grows only more intense. This is the contentious context for the elevation of the man of lawlessness – the antiChrist. His arrival has never been more imminent.
2. The False Church. The degree to which the adulterous church is clothing herself with the unrighteous norms of a godless world is disturbing – both in terms of unholy social/political constructs as well as contra-Kingdom attitudes of the heart. Both are deeply influencing the heart of the crossless, harlot Church.
3. Israel. The fact that this tiny nation exists at all is nothing short of phenomenal. The fact that it has prospered so amazingly, and the fact that every nation on earth has a hot opinion about this nation, is a loud beacon to the whole world: The God of the Bible is true and faithful to His Word. His Son is returning to Israel, and will rule all the nations of the earth from His capital city: Jerusalem.
4. Technology. We have all the technology the world needs to implement the economic and social systems that the Bible has warned us about. What was the stuff of science fiction and comic books a generation ago is common-place infrastructure being employed by the governments of the world, today. We also now have the military technology to match the destructive capacities described in the Bible.
5. The Groan of Creation. The atmosphere, our oceans, the animals, our resources, and the explosion of the world’s 7.4 billion population is straining the limitations of humanity’s ability to adequately manage the earth we’ve been given.
6. World Unity. We live in an age when there is great willingness within the nations to collaborate and endorse common values, social-causes, political and economic ambitions. The ability of one nation to be influenced, and “brought into alignment” with the norms of other nations has never been greater, nor more expedient and feasible.
7. The Great Commission. Jesus declared that the gospel of His Kingdom MUST be preached to the ends of the earth before His day of return. Missions experts estimate that of the thousands of people-groups in the world today, barely a handful do not have an indigenous church in their midst, or a translation of the Bible in their language.
8. Prayer. Prior to Jesus’ second coming, the Church will operate with great, Bridal faithfulness, partnering with the Spirit of Jesus in intercession, filled with wholehearted first commandment love. The degree to which this dynamic, and the Church’s understanding of this dynamic is increasing around the world is mind-boggling. The Holy Spirit is purifying the Church, and the Bride is making herself ready through the prioritization of worship-filled corporate prayer. Again, around the world, the growth of this reality in even the last 20 years is simply off-the-charts.
It’s occurred to me recently that of the top 8-10 signs that need to be in place before Jesus returns, 2 or 3 of the features that most need to be brought into symmetry with the Biblical picture of “the last days” are conditions that exist within the will and control of the Church. As Peter observes, the Church has incredible power to “hasten the Lord’s return” (2 Peter 3:12).
What’s Jesus’ prescription for His disciples in the hours before He returns?
Again and again, it’s the same admonition:“Watch and pray.” (Matthew 26:41)
JSB • March, 2021