God's End Game - Part 38

Series: God's End Game

September 15, 2019
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

We are in a series called God’s End Game, and in this series we are trying to figure what God is up to with us and the world, where all this is headed, and how God will one day set all things back to rights.

This study started in the beginning and now has brought us to The End, the doctrine of last things. God’s End Game is really last things put another way.

A week ago we looked at how important the kingdom of God is in understanding God’s End Game and the End Times. God’s End Game and the End Times are about God re-establishing the kingdom he set up in the beginning.

I have fretted over where to go from here. There are so many elements of the End Times to cover it would take another 50 messages or maybe even a 100. Many of these elements are interpreted in a variety of ways, and it’s hard not to get bogged down.

So I decided to follow the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Saints) and stick to the stuff that’s pretty clear and part of the bigger picture.

We can talk about the millennial reign of Christ, the tribulation, the rapture, and such on Wednesday nights maybe.

I’m going to go forward in talking about the end by going backwards. Let’s go back to the ascension…

Acts 1:6–11 (ESV) — 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 

In other words, is this it? Is this the end when you set all things to rights and set up your forever kingdom on earth?

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.”

In verse 11 the angels inform us of something very important. Jesus will come back the same way he left! So there is a second coming of Jesus, and when he returns it will be just like when he ascended, with a cloud. If you remember, the cloud mentioned in this text is not so much related to atmosphere as it is an indication of the presence of God. And when it talks about it taking him out of their sight it has not so much to do with altitude but dimension. One Bible scholar explains…

Jesus is ‘lifted up’, indicating to the disciples not that he was heading out somewhere beyond the moon, beyond Mars, or wherever, but that he was going into ‘God’s space’, God’s dimension. The cloud, as so often in the Bible, is the sign of God’s presence (think of the pillar of cloud and fire as the children of Israel wandered through the desert, or the cloud and smoke that filled the Temple when God became suddenly present in a new way). Jesus has gone into God’s dimension of reality; but he’ll be back on the day when that dimension and our present one are brought together once and for all. That promise hangs in the air over the whole of Christian history from that day to this. That is what we mean by the ‘second coming’.

This doctrine describes the expected return of Jesus Christ at the end of time, when he will come to judge the world and usher in the fullness of his kingdom.

Jesus discusses the exact same thing the angels refer to in Acts 1:11, in Matthew 24…

Matthew 24:1–13 (ESV) — 1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 

The temple of Jesus’ day, called Herod’s temple because he built, was one of the wonders of the ancient world. It was huge (27 football fields) and ornate (some parts were adorned with real gold).

The disciples wondered over it.

2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 

The disciples assumed the wrecking of the temple accompanied the end of all things. But Jesus actually predicted the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple that would come about forty years later in 70AD.

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?” 

That really is the $64,000 question isn’t it. Most everyone is aware Jesus is coming back, but what they don’t know and desperately want to know is when, when comes the end?

4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 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.

In the interest of time and subject matter we are going to skip around a bit…

Matthew 24:29–31 (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.

Much of what Jesus foretells in this chapter can be linked to the destruction of the temple in 70AD, but at the same time some of it can’t.

The now and not yet principle is super important here. It’s easy to figure out the now and not yet when looking backwards (such as the Messiah who is a suffering servant). But it’s not so easy looking ahead.

Two hills and how straight on it looks like Jesus is talking about events that happen at the same time (one hill). But from the side we realize there are two hills and a great distance between them.

Like I said we could break all this down and have a fascinating study, but I’m convinced God never intended for us to use the words of Jesus, the prophecies of Daniel, or the visions of John in Revelation to create a timeline.

But folks do it anyway. One fellow way back said it would happen in 1843; it didn’t. Then he adjusted it to 1844; nope. Another fellow wrote a best selling book and said it would happen in the 1980s; it didn’t. Yet another fellow wrote a book saying it would happen in 1994; It didn’t. That same fellow then said it would happen May 2011, exactly 7,000 years after the flood according to his calculations; it didn’t.

What kills me is, all these fellows used Matthew 24 to formulate these predictions and completely ignored what Jesus said in the text…

Matthew 24:36–44 (ESV) — 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 

If Jesus does not know, do we really think there’s enough info in Daniel and Revelation to make any definitive statements about a day or time?

Here’s one thing I do know. You mark these predictions on your calendar, and when that day comes you can for sure go fishing, buy a new car, hang out at the mall with confidence because Jesus will not be coming that day.

The words of Jesus here, the prophecies of Daniel, and the book of Revelation were never intended to be used like this. They were given to help us discern the times but not predict dates or people for that matter.

Let me show you something else Jesus said…

Matthew 16:1–3 (ESV) — 1 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

The discerning of the times is done in a Farmers Almanac kind of way not Doppler radar.

Jesus does give us a Farmer’s Almanac sense of what to look for back in our Matthew 24 text…

37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

The point is Jesus is coming back. It will be at a time you won’t expect. So be ready.

If you look at the graphic, you’ll notice it looks just like the one of his ascension except for the crown. Jesus comes back to set up God’s kingdom on earth and rule as king, restoring things back to the way they were in the beginning.

So we could call this part of God’s End Game plan the return of the King, which is a shameless but awesome play off the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

That’s awesome and all, but it’s been 2,000 years. That’s a long time to ask folks to wait. Did he forget? Was he just messing with us? Could this not be true? 

Just 30 years after Jesus spoke those words — I’m coming back, be ready — Christians were worried, wondering where he was. Peter wrote this to them…

2 Peter 3:1–13 (ESV) — 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. 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 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.

Conclusion: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the return of the king is what signals the end. And he is coming to defeat all the players in the present counterfeit kingdom Satan and all his minions have set   up. He’s coming to rule the new heavens and earth, the whole universe forever. That COSMIC truth alone is worth shouting about! 

But it’s also the occasion for something very important to us we’ve already spent quite a bit of time studying…

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (ESV) — 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.

Of course, this is the resurrection of which Jesus was the firstfruits and we are the harvest. And that’s what we’ll look at next time.

Are you ready?

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