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The Last Hour - Part 2 (Various Scriptures)

The Last Hour is the age or period of time, synonymous with "the last days" and "the Day of the Lord", extending from the days of the apostles until now, in which the Lord Jesus returns and all the events immediately preceding the end of the world come to fruition. Specifically, it includes in a relatively short period of time, the second coming of the Lord, the general resurrection and the final judgement.

1 John 2:28; Acts 1:6-11; Matthew 24:3-4,9-14,29-31,25:31; John 5:25-29; 1 Corinthians 15:22-24; 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13, 4:13-18, 5:23-24; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2,8; Mark 5:6-7; James 5:7-8; 2 Peter 3:1-13; Revelation 1:4-8

Jun 15, 2014 12:00 AM

Today we are going to delve into the topic of eschatology, or the study of the end of the world.  In 1 John 2:28 we read,

[28] And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. (1 John 2:28 ESV)

Back in the 1940s and 50s and 60s talk about the end of the world was the exclusive purview of preachers and teachers of prophecy at Bible Conferences, and specifically, teaching in regard to Christ’s Second Coming and the Rapture of the Church.  But today, end of the world scenarios are promoted by scientists and doomsday conspiracy theorists everywhere.  The phrase, “The End Of The World As We Know It”, is commonly abbreviated as TEOTWAWKI on prepper web sites.  Multitudes of people are stocking up for whatever version of Armageddon they believe is most likely to strike.

So what was once considered a strictly religious/Christian topic is now almost common knowledge.  People everywhere are wondering how the world will end.  Will it be a massive Electro-Magnetic Pulse from a nuclear detonation by Iran or North Korea or China that destroys the entire US electrical grid and shuts down everything, killing millions?  Or will it be a giant asteroid that strikes the earth, kills nearly every living thing and brings a new ice age?  Or will it be global warming?  Or space aliens?

My vote is for aliens from outer space.  Or something very similar.  I even have Bible verses to support my position:

[6] So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” [7] He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. [8] But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [9] And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. [10] And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, [11] and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?  This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. (Acts 1:6-11 ESV)

The end will come when Jesus returns from outer space.  I think that makes Him a “space alien” of sorts.  Then we read in Matthew 25,

[31] “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. (Matthew 25:31 ESV)

Angels are most definitely space aliens!  They aren’t human, and they come from heaven.  Space aliens!  Of a sort.  So we know the world does not end by an asteroid or global warming.  It ends when Jesus Christ returns to rule the world from His glorious throne as King and the Judge of all men.  Notice Matthew 24.

[3] As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” [4] And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. (Matthew 24:3-4 ESV)

The disciples wanted to know when they should look for Jesus to take over the world.  They wanted to know how long it would be until He put an end to the rulers of Rome and the world and set up His own kingdom.  I believe Jesus and the disciples were talking about two different things.  The disciples were talking about the end of Roman rule.  Jesus was talking about the end of the world.

[9] “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. [10] And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. [11] And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. [12] And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. [13] But the one who endures to the end will be saved. [14] And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:9-14 ESV)

[29] “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. [30] Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. [31] And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31 ESV)

The end of the world is not nearly as mysterious as many Christians thin it is.  We don’t know the exact time when Jesus will return, and there are a lot of other details the Bible does not reveal to us.  But we know from this that the world as we have known it will end when Jesus appears with all of His holy angels who gather together all the Christians from all over the world.

[25] “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. [26] For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. [27] And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.  [28] Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice [29] and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:25-29 ESV)

This is why John said in 1John 2, “It is the last hour.”  Jesus Himself said they were living in the last hour of history.  He points to the day of His own return when all the dead will hear His voiceIt is Judgment Day.  The saved and the lost, believers and unbelievers who have died will all hear Him when He comes again, and they will all rise from their graves in order to face judgment and Hell, or to enter into Heaven.

[22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. [24] Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15:22-24 ESV)

All shall be made alive when Jesus returns.  First, those who belong to Him, the believers.  Then the end takes place when all others will be destroyed by Christ.  He will abolish everything opposed to Him.

[13] But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. [14] For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. [15] For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. [18] Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV)

Many Christians say this text is talking about two different events: First, the Rapture of the Church when Jesus comes back half way to the earth and gathers all the Christians to meet Him up in the sky, and then seven years later the Second Coming of the Lord when He comes back to set up His kingdom here on earth for 1000 years.  They say the Lord comes and takes all the believers to Heaven during seven years of great tribulation here on earth.  Then, the Lord returns to earth with His saints: God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. But notice this passage:

[11] Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, [12] and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, [13] so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 ESV)

This doesn’t fit the Dispensational system.  According to them, Jesus first comes FOR the saints.  Then seven years later He comes WITH all His saints.  But Paul says here very clearly that the Lord is preparing the Thessalonian believers for the day when Jesus returns WITH His saints.  Well, is Jesus coming FOR us or WITH us?

It depends on what the word “saints” means.  It could mean He is coming with the angels.  The word literally means “holy ones”.  Jesus clearly said when He comes again He will come with the holy angels.  But Paul also said this:

[6] So we are always of good courage.  We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, [7] for we walk by faith, not by sight. [8] Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. [9] So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. [10] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:6-10 ESV)

When we as believers die, Paul says we are away from the body and at home with the Lord.  As long as we are still living here, we are at home in the body and away from the Lord.  So, if when we die we are separated from our bodies and we go to heaven to be with the Lord, what happens when Jesus comes back to earth and resurrects our bodies?  Do our souls stay in Heaven while He goes back to earth to get our bodies?  Or does He bring us, namely our souls, with Him from Heaven to be reunited to our resurrection bodies?

Here are some more passages that teach us about the Lord’s coming:

[23] Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [24] He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 ESV)

Who is “He”?  And what will He surely do?  “He” is God the Father.  He is the One who has called us to salvation.  And He will surely keep us blameless for the day when the Lord Jesus returns.  He who saved us will keep us.  He is faithful, so we can trust Him to save us and keep us to the end.

[2:1] Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, [2] not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 ESV)

What happens to us when the Lord returns?  We will be gathered together to Him by His angels.  He will send out His angels for us.  He will resurrect those who have died, reunite their souls which He has brought with Him from Heaven, with their bodies.  And Paul says not to worry about Jesus’ return.  When He comes, NO ONE, dead or alive, will miss it.

[8] And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV)

Also, when He returns, He will destroy the Devil, the lawless one. When Jesus returns, Satan dies.  That is why the demon named Legion in the Gadarene demoniac was so terrified of Jesus when he and the 6000 other demons saw Him.

[6] And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. [7] And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” (Mark 5:6-7 ESV)

They thought their time was up!  They thought Jesus had come to send them to Hell forever!  That is exactly what He will do when He comes again.  And it will be a good day for us when He does.  But until He comes, we must be patient as we wait for Him:

[7] Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. [8] You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7-8 ESV)

Be prepared for His return.  He will come exactly on time.  It is the last hour, so don’t stop trusting in Him now.  But sometimes people think it is foolish to expect Jesus to come again.  There have always been people who mock us when we talk about the return of Christ.  Peter wrote about that:

[3:1] This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, [2] that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, [3] knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. [4] They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” [5] For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, [6] and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. [7] But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Here, the day of the Lord’s coming again is understood to also be the day of judgment and the destruction of the ungodly. When Jesus comes, it will be the end of the world as we have known it.  It will be the beginning of our heavenly life with Him forever.  So be patient.

[8] But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

[9] The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise [that He would come again] as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. [10] But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

[11] Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, [12] waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! [13] But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:1-13 ESV)

It finally dawned on me that no one has been waiting for the Lord’s return for 1000 years.  Every person who has been looking for Christ to come again is either waiting now, or they are already with Him because they have died.  No one has been waiting for 200 years.  The Lord will come, and He will either meet us in death or He will come for us while we are still alive.  But regardless, our time of waiting is relatively brief.  It is never a long time, maybe 100 years at most, until all of His people see Him.

But His actual bodily return to earth with His angels will take place right on time.  We will not wait a day longer than necessary, nor will He be early.  There will be time enough for every one of His elect people to repent and believe.  But He will keep His promise, He will come, and He will make a new heaven and a new earth.

[4] John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, [5] and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood [6] and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. [7] Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.  Even so.  Amen.

[8] “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:4-8 ESV)

Jesus will come again.  We are to be watching and ready so that we are not ashamed when He returns for us.  He will come with His angels who will gather us all to Himself.  There will be no sheep left behind.  Satan will be destroyed.  All of Christ’s enemies will be destroyed.  The world will be destroyed.  And a new heavens and earth will be created, a place where there is no sin, no temptations, no sorrow or pain or death or dying.  A place where there is only righteousness and goodness and holiness and joy.  That is why we look forward to the second coming of the Lord Jesus.



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