The Things That MUST HAPPEN Before The Lord Will Return

pexels-photo-273011.jpegPersonally, I have never believed the second coming of Christ depended on the arrival of a fixed date. That is not to say that God, in His infinite knowledge, doesn’t know the exact day when Jesus will return (Ac 1:7). THAT DAY, I believe, is determined far more by the fulfillment of God’s purposes than it is by the arrival of a date on a calendar! God’s ‘time table’ is far more a ‘task table’ than it is ‘the big hand and the little hand of a big clock in the sky striking twelve’!

Jesus promised to be with His disciples until the end of the age (Mt 28:20). This age will one day come to an end and eternal ages will begin (1Co 10:11, Heb 6:5). Below I have highlighted four things that MUST happen for this age to end. These four things provide a glimpse into the purpose of God!

1. World Evangelization

The Old Testament is replete with promises of a world-wide ingathering of peoples and people into God’s Kingdom (Gen12:2-3, Ps 22:27, Isa 49:6). The New Testament marked the launch, the outworking and the fulfillment of these promises. It makes sense that Christ’s return would come following the full ingathering of his harvest – mission accomplished!

There is no clearer answer to the question, “When will Jesus return?” than the record of Jesus’ own testimony in Mathew chapter 24. In this passage Jesus answered the three questions asked by a group of his disciples. As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Mat 24:3)

The first question, “When will this happen,” was in reference to the destruction of the Temple (verses 1 and 2). This took place in AD 70 when the Roman General Titus and his army sacked Jerusalem, destroying the temple. The second and third questions are connected. To these questions Jesus gave the signs of the approach of his coming (the beginning of birth pains :8) such as wars, famines etc, followed by the sign of his coming, the gospel having been preached in all the world and having been a testimony or witness to all nations (people groups). This would conclude the ‘task’ and the end would come (Mt 24:14).

The Apostle Peter says something similar when responding to criticism that Christ’s return had not yet happened. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2Pe 3:9). Clearly, the return of Christ is connected to world Evangelization. Peter repeats his argument several verses later by saying, “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation” (2Pe 3:15).

2. The Preparation of the Bride

The parable Jesus gave of the ten virgins – five wise and five foolish (Mt 25) tells us that the groom delayed his coming. The only logical answer as to why an excited groom would delay on such an occasion would be that the bride was unprepared! In the book of Revelation John gives us the most exciting scripture in the entire Bible, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” (Rev 19:7)

Jesus is coming back for a bride without spot or wrinkle (Eph 5:27) and for a Church having attained the ‘whole measure of the fullness of Christ’ (Eph 4:13). Personally, I believe that our participation in the ‘Great Commission’ that Jesus gave to the Church, is our pathway to maturity. It is similar to the ‘beauty preparations’ provide for Esther (Est 2) in her preparation of her marriage to King Xerxes, King of Persia.

3. The Maturity of Evil

Paul talks much about the ‘mystery of iniquity or lawlessness’ (2Thes 2:7). Lawlessness must reach its maturity before Christ can return, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” (2Th 2:1-3)

The maturing of His Church and the maturing of iniquity will coincide – both are ripening for harvest – one for glory and the other for destruction.

There is precedence for this – Abraham’s descendants had to ‘cool their heels’ in Egypt for 400 years because “the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” Gen 15:16. During those years in Egypt (world) however, a nation was being formed in readiness for a ‘promised land’ (new heavens and new earth).

4. The Ingathering of the Jewish Harvest

The end of the age will mark the end of the harvest season of the Gentiles and the beginning of the harvest season for the Jews . “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. (Ro 11:25-26)

It could be argued that Jesus, personally, will reap this harvest at His coming. When he returns they will say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” (Psa 118:26). The Jews knew that Psalm 118 was a Messianic Psalm. They knew it spoke of the coming of the Messiah, that is why they sang it when Jesus entered Jerusalem (Mat 21:9, Mk11:9, Jn 12:13). Their expectation was of a conquering King not a suffering servant, hence their later rejection of him!

In Jerusalem, several days later, Jesus lamented his rejection by the Jews and wept over Jerusalem expressing his longing to have gathered them as a hen gathers her chicks but they would not so he says, “Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (Mt 23:38-39)

In summary, Christ will return when God’s full agenda for this age is complete. Of that agenda our part is world evangelization, people group by people group and our preparation as Christ’s Bride to be his companion throughout eternal ages! The other components of His agenda, in my opinion, are in His sovereign hands!

When we survey the global Church today, it is of grave concern to see the Church, in general, majoring on minors and minoring on majors! The reason for this is plain and simple – absent from the ministries in the Church has been the ministry of the Prophets. Until Mobilizers become a recognized and functioning Tribe within the Holy Nation – the chances are, sadly, not a lot is going to change!

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10 Responses to The Things That MUST HAPPEN Before The Lord Will Return

  1. Claris van der Merwe says:

    Very good and very clear!

    Like

  2. mina says:

    I was asking this question on that Sunday morning (19 Aug)
    ” LORD, when will you return?”

    Thank you for your reflections.

    Like

  3. BabaeLaraw says:

    Dear Sir – I have been researching the Kairos Course – its roots, its development, its core beliefs, etc. – because a former Youth member from my days in the Philippines has recently graduated from the course given at his church. I recognized the “Perspectives” course as one that was often referred to in my early mission training – exciting to see that it's available online now, by the way!

    At any rate, I very much appreciated your blog entry here. I have always tried to remind people that while so many Believers today are saying that Jesus could return at any moment because of so much evil running rampant today, our job to bring the Gospel to “the whole world…all nations…” (Matt. 24:14) must first be completed for that to happen. They are usually shocked to learn that there are still so many unreached people groups in the world!

    You propose here that the reason so much of this task is still unaccomplished is due to the absence of the ministry of “Prophets” today. I agree that the office of Prophet is part of the 5-fold ministry given by God but there is such a range of definitions for it in the Body across the world today, that I believe many avoid it altogether because of confusion as to what is Biblical.

    What is your definition of a modern-day Prophet, and what role do you feel they should play in the Church, especially as it relates to Mission?

    Thank you!

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  4. speakforth says:

    Thanks, Max. Very concise, to the point, and sound.
    I've copied your post into my Bible software for later reference.

    Like

  5. Max Chismon says:

    Thrilled to hear this has been helpful!

    Like

  6. Max Chismon says:

    Hi Mina, thrilled that this reflection has helped your reflection on this topic! Blessings Max

    Like

  7. Max Chismon says:

    Hi BabaeLaraw and please accept my apologies for this very late reply! The Kairos course is part of the Perspectives family of courses and we are delighted to be championing, along with PSP the cause of world mission!

    Indeed, you hit the nail on the head! Such a range of definitions – and I think this has brought a level of confusion or created a no-go area re this ministry! If we look into the ministry of prophets in the O/T (where we get the clearest insight) we discover that most majored on bringing God's people back and to live for the reason why they were called God's chosen people! Predicting future events was the minor ministry! Prophets of Eph 4:11 would be expected to do the same. My short answer – if u go back over my blog series I discuss this issue in depth! God is raising up a 'tribe' today of 'mobilizers' these mobilizers will express the prophetic ministry as Jesus intended in Eph 4:11 to help build up the Body of Christ and prepare it for works of (GC) service! Blessings!

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  8. Dear Max
    I agree completely with the statement of faith of Kairos and especially the following:
    • Certainly Jesus' command is not a recommendation, but an assignment to do and it is addressed to all of us who are saved
    • Our justification before God is not something we can do or acquired; it has been done by Jesus' death on the cross and His free gift of salvation
    • God is trustworthy and faithful and His plans are NOT dependent on people.
    • The Bible is the only truth and by His Spirit revealed to us.
    • We are part of the Body of Christ and thus His feet, hands, etc. in this world.

    There are two aspects that confuse me in your article.

    You state that we are responsible for World Evangelism and the preparation of the Bride before Jesus will return. These are the two aspects of confusion when I look at the Bible.

    1.Are we the Bride of Christ or the Body of Christ?
    In Revelation 21, the Bride of Christ are shown to John and it is not the same as the Body of Christ as described,by among others Paul in his letters. Nowhere in the Bible could I find the Church described as the Bride of Christ. Paul would surely have mentioned it, but he only speaks of the Church as the Body of Christ.
    The problems that occur as we see the Church as Bride of Christ, is the Commission that the bride herself must prepare and decorate herself to be spotless for her Bridegroom, Jesus. Can we do anything to make ourselves spotless for God? Did Jesus not already do this for us? What happens to the commission to go out and tell? Should we not rather be busy with the Great Commission than to attempt to get ready for God ourselves?
    Here's how I see it according to the Word: the Church is the Body of Christ and Jesus commanded us that we as His hands, feet, mouths, etc. must go out and tell the good news of salvation to the lost world.
    The Bride, according to Revelation 21, is the city of Jerusalem, and we share in this reconciliation meal as part of the guests (like the five wise virgins-they were not the Bride, but part of the marriage feast. Likewise, the people in Jesus' parable gathered to participate in this wedding festival, after the guests who were invited did not show up- Luke 14).
    Jesus ascended to heaven to prepare a place for us in the New Jerusalem or the Bride.
    The Bride is God's gift to Jesus. He will decorate and make the Bride spotless :Himself (no sin will be allowed!)for His only Son.

    2.In Matt.24 Jesus tells His disciples what to look out for as signs of the end and in Revelation John sees exactly the same, but with more detail. In Matt. 24:14 Jesus said “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.” Jesus doesn't say WHO will perform this task, but read Revelation 14:6 “And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth and to EVERY NATION and kindred, and tongue, and people “.
    That does not sound to me like God's plan for the end at all depends on our work. Thankfully not!
    There are many testimonies of people all over the world coming to Christ, because of visions, etc..

    My point is ……… We GET to work with God and part of our obedience and gratitude leads us to tell the lost of Jesus Christ. Also there is a reward in the form of crowns for us if we do. My opinion is that this should be our focus and motivation for the Great Commission; Let's stick to what the Bible clearly says and let us not make our own conclusions. We definitely do not know everything.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Great article, thanks!

    Like

  10. Anonymous says:

    “What does it mean that the church is the bride of Christ?”

    Answer: The imagery and symbolism of marriage is applied to Christ and the body of believers known as the church. These are those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal savior and have received eternal life. In the New Testament, Christ, the Bridegroom, has sacrificially and lovingly chosen the church to be His bride (Ephesians 5:25-27). Just as there was a betrothal period in biblical times during which the bride and groom were separated until the wedding, so is the bride of Christ separate from her Bridegroom during the church age. Her responsibility during the betrothal period is to be faithful to Him (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:24). At the Second Coming of Christ, the church will be united with the Bridegroom, the official “wedding ceremony” will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will be actualized (Revelation 19:7-9; 21:1-2).

    At that time, all believers will inhabit the heavenly city known as New Jerusalem, also called “the holy city” in Revelation 21:2 and 10. The New Jerusalem is not the church, but it takes on the church’s characteristics. In his vision of the end of the age, the Apostle John sees the city coming down from heaven adorned “as a bride,” meaning that the inhabitants of the city, the redeemed of the Lord, will be holy and pure, wearing white garments of holiness and righteousness. Some have misinterpreted verse 9 to mean the holy city is the bride of Christ, but that cannot be because Christ died for His people, not for a city. The city is called the bride because it encompasses all who are the bride, just as all the students of a school are sometimes called “the school.”

    As believers in Jesus Christ, we who are the bride of Christ wait with great anticipation for the day when we will be united with our Bridegroom. Until then, we remain faithful to Him and say with all the redeemed of the Lord, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)

    Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/bride-of-Christ.html#ixzz34pfETXO7

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