THE BIBLE teaches clearly that God will set up an everlasting kingdom which will destroy and replace all others. In a prophetic vision which explained to an ancient monarch that his political kingdom would be replaced by other mighty empires, the prophet Daniel saw the end of this process as follows:
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the king- dom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).
It is not difficult to see this as the time of which God’s prophet wrote when
he said this: “… when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).
Notice what the prophet said: “when (God’s) judgments are in the earth”. That is due to happen when God’s kingdom is established here, and when God’s people are rewarded on earth. Thus King David advised his people to be patient and to trust in God, who will set all things right, giving them this assurance:
“For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the
wicked shall be no more; indeed, you will look diligently for his place, But it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:9-11).
These prospects link up in Scripture with God’s promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David of a coming descendant through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. The identity of that descendant was made clear by the angel
to Mary, the mother of Jesus, for she was told:
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the High- est; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).
Coming Judgement Jesus himself taught about his return to the earth as
Judge and King in several of his parables. Here is part of one of them:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:31-34).
That was the consistent teaching of Jesus. So when Pilate, for example, the Roman Governor Pilate, asked Jesus if he was indeed a king, he replied:
“… You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear wit- ness to the truth. Every- one who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37).
Pilate understood only too clearly the implications of that statement which might have been why he was so anxious to get Jesus released.
WHEN Jesus will return is of tremen-
dous importance to us but it is not pre- cisely stated. Jesus said: “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Then he proceeded to give a general sign which indicates that people will be taken by surprise. He said that they will be carrying on life as if it will always be so and then will come a sudden and unexpected interruption to it all. For this is how the Matthew 24 passage con- tinues:
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and
giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took
them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the oth- er left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other
It took Noah something like
120 years to build the ark but this practi- cal and visible warning of what was to come was not heeded and was to
no avail. Only Noah and his family were saved
from the flood, so the advice Jesus gave is very important to us all:
“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect him” (24:44).
Signs of the Times
There are many signs given in the Bible to indicate that the return of Jesus is near but it is well to ponder this lack of expec- tation, for now, as in the case of Noah’s day, the warnings of coming judgements seem to be generally ignored. That in itself is a sign of the times. Paul wrote to believ- ers in these terms about the unexpected nature of Jesus’ return to the earth:
“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape”
(1 Thessalonians 5: 2,3).
Peter also in colourful language refers to the great changes which are coming in earth’s affairs when the rule of man will be brought to an end, and he too shows that it will take people by surprise:
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the ele- ments will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
Watch and be Ready!
The message is always the same. The coming of Jesus will catch out the unwary and will come as a surprise to the heed- less and the unbelieving. Thus it was that in his final message Jesus said:
“Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you” (Revela- tion 3:3).
It can be fairly said that the world does not expect and is in no way making ready for Jesus’ return. The world is full of its own affairs. How rarely do we meet any- one who even believes that Jesus will return, let alone thinks that Jesus will be coming back very soon. How few people there are who tell us that believers have any hope of a reward in the earth, or that their promised reward depends upon Jesus’ return to the earth. The aspirations of the religious are mainly focused on some place other than the earth, which is to ignore the authentic and authoritative promise of the Lord:
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).