Current Events Create Question
The political struggles of the Middle East are nothing new. Not one of us living today has seen anything that remotely resembles “peace” in the region, nor is there any “peace” on the horizon. The television debates being seen from Libya, to Israel, to Gaza, to Iran, to Iraq, to Lebanon, to Syria, to Egypt, to Susan Rice, to our President’s own behavior, to the vote of the United Nations table granting a Palestinian state “non-member observer” status has caused a renewed interest in Biblical prophecy. Daniel Chapter 11 is being read and commentary is being offered by many regarding its relevance in the “real” world of today.
Make no mistake, I am an unabashed Christian. I believe the Bible’s veracity from its cover all the way to “Maps” so my views are no doubt as unbiased and objective as any reporter from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, or the New York Times. What differentiates me is that I disclose my bias instead of hiding behind a report of “the news.” When I learned journalism, that disclosure was required. Now, it seems that the line between journalism and marketing has become very muddled at best.
Because so many of you are wondering, “Are these the last days?” “Is Jesus Coming Soon?” “Should We Be Afraid?” Let’s see if we can answer some of your questions and allay some of your fears. Let’s talk about The Second Coming of Christ.
There are 1845 references to the Second Coming of Christ contained in the Old and New Testaments. It is a subject of prominence. There are 318 references to the Second Coming contained in the 260 chapters of the New Testament, roughly 1 in every 30 verses. In fact, for every reference to the initial birth of Christ, there are 8 references to His return. It is a subject of significance. 23 of the 27 Books in the New Testament allude to the event, and of the four that do not, 3 are single chapter letters written to individuals for a specific purpose. It is a subject of preeminence.
The Second Coming of Christ is still one of the most debated theological subjects. Biblical scholars are divided as to the method of His coming, the manner of His coming, and the moment of His coming. Fundamentally, one must ask, “Is the Christ Really Coming?”
While I am certain that we will not resolve every argument in this space, I want to give you the “Miller Theology” on the subject. I will not take the space to quote every complete Scripture that I reference, but will give you the “address” so you can look into it for yourself. I believe you receive the instruction given to the Bereans and look into matters on your own.
Asserted, Attested, and Anticipated
Jesus, Himself, asserted that He would return. In the Gospel of John, chapter 14:1-2, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his crucifixion and death. Some have suggested that this passage refers to His crucifixion and resurrection, but that interpretation is impossible on its face. His words of comfort spoke of a time when He would take us to the place He prepared for us so that we would be with Him forever. No one ascended with Him. His words were of a future event. This message is consistent with the message of redemption delivered from Genesis forward. So, we begin with a direct promise that He would return.
Then, there is the testimony of the angels at the ascension in Acts 1:1-11. Their words, “this same Jesus” are literal. The words are significant. There are some who believe in a “spiritual” return of Christ, meaning that His work continues or whenever someone adopts His lifestyle, He has “come again, “ but “this same Jesus” denies the viability of such a theology. He is expected in a literal, physical, return.
His coming has been anticipated since the Ascension. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (I Thess 4:13-18) to encourage their faith and perseverance. He reminded them that we do not grieve at the death of those we love like “those who have no hope.” Believers have a hope that extends beyond this life. It is anticipated that we will live beyond this life and it will be eternally “with” Christ.
Secular humanists are existential because they hold no hope of life beyond their last breath on this earth. We, on the other hand, are clear that this life will be full of challenges, but life exists beyond this plane.
Is This “THE” Time?
Many theologians and scholars accede to the Second Coming of Christ, but spend their time and energy trying to answer the question, “When?????” The renewed interest in Daniel chapter 11 comes about whenever timing becomes a popular issue.
I do believe that there will be war in the Middle East that will be beyond anything we have ever witnessed. I believe the war will be for dominance in the Muslim world and will occur between “The King of the North” and “The King of the South” with Israel being both the scapegoat and the prize in the battle. Daniel, chapter 11, gives context not only to the historical division of the Kingdoms referenced when the prophecy was given, but also to the cataclysmic events at the return of Christ. You may reference “The NuZ” article, Will The Gaza Peace Hold? to read more on the subject.
But, are these the last days?
The simple and direct answer is, “We don’t know.” Jesus was asked the essentially same question by His disciples in Matthew 24. His answer was unequivocal. “No one knows about that day or hour….” Any time (including now) that you hear or read about someone fixing a date for His return, RUN!!! The person is a false prophet, I care not his credentials. The Bible is clear that we are NOT to do such. But, in that same discourse, Jesus did give us a couple of descriptions of the times that we could recognize.
When He said it would be “as it was in the days of Noah” (v. 37-42), His message was that the people who were lost in the flood didn’t think that would happen. Noah was considered an alarmist nut. Society at large had no time for Noah’s message of impending judgment….and then it happened. Christ’s return will occur to a society that will not listen, much less heed the message.
Jesus gives a bit more detail earlier in the conversation (v9-14). He told His disciples, and us, that apostasy will be rampant. He describes ridicule, rejection, and martyrdom. He describes a time when the Gospel would be preached throughout the world, but that the opposition would be so strong that even those who have professed “love” would grow “cold” in their faith.
Any cogent analysis of the world situation would indicate that the indicators of His Coming are obvious, but that does not mean we should expect Him by December 21. We are looking for His return, but not vacating our responsibilities to share the Gospel.
Israel is God’s chosen people. The Palestinian issue has been ongoing since Ishmael and Isaac. It will not conclude with Israel being annihilated. Neither will there ever be a politically negotiated permanent solution in the Middle East. The prophecies of Daniel will come to pass. Only when Christ returns will peace be achieved.
The fact that Israel is becoming more and more isolated, even by the United States, is, in and of itself, an indicator of “the last days,” but we don’t know if these “last days” are THE last days. There have been many times in history when the “last days” were proclaimed, all were obviously erroneous.
What We Do Know
Here’s what we can say, “If these are not the last days, when the last days come, they will look just like this!”
Will there be a ground war in the Gaza Strip? Will there be an invasion of Israel? The answer to both questions is ultimately, “Yes.” Turkey needs Gaza for easy entrance into Egypt and Egypt needs to defend Gaza for that reason and others. Both will use the Gaza conflict with Israel for their own political ends. Will America abandon Israel? Unfortunately, yes. Will Israel cease to exist as a political entity? Perhaps it will, for a time, but God is in Israel’s corner and they cannot “lose.”
Whatever the situation, we do not live in fear. Our faith and hope is in the Prince of Peace, and that gives us peace. Whether He comes before we exhale our current breath or does not come for another 1000 years does not affect the truth of the Gospel and the hope that we have in Him.
Jesus proclaimed that His Kingdom was not of this world. Our citizenship is ultimately in His Kingdom so it is not profitable nor necessary to be worried about the political situation of this world. Make sure that your citizenship in the Kingdom to come is assured.