In this four part series – Signs for our Times – we’re looking for signs, or indications, that the Bible still has something to offer in 2021.
So far we’ve discovered that there’s a tricky road ahead but that God – creator of all things – has provided the Bible – His Word!
It’s a spiritual combination of highway code, road map and destination guide to His Kingdom.
With most journeys we have a sense of how long it will take or how far we are into the journey. So how close are we to the Kingdom?
In this final part of the series we address the age old question of travellers with young children…
“Are we nearly there yet?”
Let’s be clear from the start – no one knows exactly when Jesus will return to establish God’s Kingdom on earth… there’s not specific date or time.
Understandably, this gives a lot of people cause for concern and doubt. Surely anyone could make up a future kingdom and not be specific about when it will happen. It’s a point we could argue until kingdom come..! (if you’ll pardon the expression.)
Instead, let’s go ahead and look at what the Bible DOES tell us about the return of Jesus Christ and the start of God’s Kingdom.
To this day, Israel remains a staple of (almost) daily news. The capital city “Jerusalem” means “possession of peace” and yet it’s a constant source of trouble.
Prophecies in God’s Word foretold his:
This is a message from the Lord about Israel:
I am the Lord! ..I put the earth on its foundations and gave breath to humans. I have decided that Jerusalem will become a bowl of wine that makes the neighbouring nations drunk.
..I will turn Jerusalem into a heavy stone that crushes anyone who tries to lift it.Zechariah 12 v 1-3
I’m sure the phrase “heavy stone” will ring very true to every world leader of the last 100+ years. There is a long history of failed attempts to bring peace to the Middle East, and Israel in particular.
In the same Bible passage there’s also mention of war:
..all nations on earth surround Jerusalem, ..I will watch over Judah.Zechariah 12 v 4
This has actually happened. Google the wars that have involved Israel since 1948. They are pretty miraculous by any definition. In living memory there are countries who have wanted, and continue to want, Israel driven into the sea.
Yet despite being a tiny country the size of Wales (or New Jersey if you’re in the US), this nation won’t go away.
Could it be that it’s not in God’s plan for Israel to be destroyed?
…the Lord your God keeps his eye on this land and takes care of it all year long.Deuteronomy 11 v 12
Again, this is taken from the Old Testament. So what about the New Testament?
Jerusalem will be overrun by foreign nations until [those nation’s] time comes to an end.Luke 21 v 24
The end of foreign rule in Israel was an indication that the Kingdom was near – this happened in 1948 when Israel became a recognised state
What else should we look out for?
Well, in Jerusalem the conflicts continue because of its religious significance to so many faiths and there’s no reason to believe these conflicts will cease until Jesus return. When talking about his second coming Jesus said:
Strange things will happen to the sun, moon, and stars. The nations on earth will be afraid of the roaring sea and tides, and they won’t know what to do.Luke 21 v 25
“Roaring sea” and other similar phrases seem to be a metaphorical reference to unrest and conflict within nations… is that something the earth is familiar with today?
People will be so frightened that they will faint because of what is happening to the world. Every power in the sky will be shaken.Luke 21 v 26
Anxiety is something we hear more about for a number of reasons… people are worried, frightened because of what they see happening across the world: nations suffering famine; nations at war; nations in financial instability… not to mention the climate crisis and a world wide pandemic.
And so, justifiably, people are concerned to say the least.
But Jesus doesn’t leave us “shaken”
This message – his message – is a message of hope!
Then the Son of Man will be seen, coming in a cloud with great power and glory. When all of this starts happening, stand up straight and be brave. You will soon be set free.Luke 21 v 27-28
I hate to say it – it must be nearly worn out – however, it’s fair to say that some of the current problems in the world are genuinely “unprecedented”.
And so whatever you’ve felt about the Bible previously I hope we’ve given you a glimpse into its purpose and significance for YOU in 2021, in 2022 and beyond.
Jesus knew how bad things were going to happen before his return and so we have this message of hope that he will return to us and bring with him the “possession of peace” to Jerusalem and God’s Kingdom.
If we so choose, the teachings of Jesus are like road signs we looked at in part one.
Are there “warnings”? Yes!
But there’s also clear “direction”, “positive instruction” and assurance of peace and great joy, when the problems of the world will be addressed with true justice – once and for all.
But, are we nearly there yet?
The indications are that Jesus return is very soon. We can’t say how many days, weeks, perhaps even a few more years, but very soon. How quickly did the Covid pandemic happen and take people by surprise? The time to act is now, to understand what God wants from us.
With such a great promise ahead we hope you are encouraged to find new meaning in life in preparation for God’s Kingdom.
Encapsulated in a single verse the prophet Isaiah paints a picture of this wonderful time for Zion (an old name for Israel):
The people the Lord has rescued will come back singing as they enter Zion. Happiness will be a crown they will always wear.
They will celebrate and shout because all sorrows and worries will be gone far away.Isaiah 35 v 10