By Dr. Roger Barrier, Crosswalk.com
It seems like the world is falling apart. I’m scared. My friends and I talk about what is happening to the global economy and I just get more scared. My house is worth less now than when I bought it. I feel stuck. I couldn’t sell it now even if I wanted to. The coronavirus pandemic, unrest in Iran, political division in America, disastrous wildfires in Australia...what do you think is going to happen? Is this the end? Is the Book of Revelation being fulfilled now? Will things ever return to normal? Will the earthquakes, revolutions, and genocide increase?
I know I am asking a lot of questions and you don’t have to answer them all but I would appreciate it if you’d share some thoughts on the current crises.
A Concerned Christian
Waiting for a wedding can be almost as tough as waiting for the Second Coming. Remember, Jesus compares himself to a bridegroom coming for his bride. My youngest daughter went to look at wedding dresses just for fun. She found just the one that she wanted at a price we could afford. Bronwyn was so anxious that she bought hers early.
I said, “Bronwyn, you don’t even have a boyfriend!
She said, “Dad, this dress is so pretty it will go well with any guy!”
Concerned, here's why you may be at peace:
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Rapture Will Occur before Tribulation
But I can tell that you are saying:
“If I just knew what’s coming, I wouldn’t be so stressed out!”
The rapture, the event that occurs when Jesus takes his bride out of the earth and up to heaven’s glory, occurs before the time of great tribulation when all hell breaks loose on earth.
But the "signs of the times" are not quite here yet, even though it might look like it! (Matthew 24:1-3).
We will never know until it actually comes. By the way, God has promised a crown for all of us who “love and look forward to the second coming of Christ.”
Jesus said, “Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, there will be famines and earthquakes in various places all these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:1-3)
Jesus said, “You will hear of rumors and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places and these are the beginning of birth pains (Matthew 24:6-8).
We see today all of the things he mentioned and many more.
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Many Disturbing Occurrences Are Seen Today
- an increasing global temperature
- the destruction of seafood in the oceans
- an attempt at a worldwide government to deal with the crises of the end times
- a double invasion of “Rosh from the North” (Russia?) and a horde of “200 million red army soldiers” from the East into the Middle East, Palestine, Israel and Lebanon
- a nuclear holocaust in Israel
Earthquakes in Haiti, New Zealand, Mexico, Nepal, and Turkey slaughter thousands. These are not supernatural. They are the normal movement of Continental Plates that have occurred for millennia.
Tsunamis in Indonesia, Japan, and Hawaii are not usually unusual supernatural acts of God. They are the natural results of earthquakes.
We’ve lost the battle with global warming. Greenhouse gases will continue to heat the earth like what happened to Venus (it’s a little more complicated than that).
The Middle East is in unbelievable turmoil. Try as we might, the Scriptures tell us that there will never be peace in the Middle East.
Of course, we have wars, genocide, and totalitarian governments killing millions people.
Lack of water, famine, and disease in Africa break our hearts.
Nuclear meltdowns are upon us from Nevada and Three Mile Island in America, to the devastating tragedy in Japan (with 100 square miles so decimated by radiation that no one can even walk there), to Chernobyl in the Ukraine that spread radiation all over northern Europe.
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The Worst Is Still Yet to Come
I believe the worst is not now, but still to come. All of these traumas are explicitly mentioned by Jesus and Revelation as well as in the Bible books listed above.
Jesus says in Matthew that we are now in the beginning of the “birth pains.”
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?" Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” – Matthew 24:1-8
What do we know about birth pains? They increase in intensity and frequency. What else do we know? When the Baby comes, no one cares about birth pains!
Julie, my wife, confided in me that she was afraid of going into labor. I calmly reassured her: “Julie, it is no big deal! You will get over it! We’ll have the Baby!”
That’s easy for the father to say!
The world is having birth pains. We’ll have to feel the labor pains.
But then will come Christ’s return, the New Heavens and the New Earth.
At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. – Matthew 24:30
So how do we prepare for Jesus’ return? Here are five ways:
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1. Don’t Lose Hope
Remember Jesus is waiting. Imagine Christ saying to you, “I’m proud of you; you never gave up; you never stopped looking for my return; I have a special blessing for you. Well, done!”
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place...Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near – Revelation 1:1- 3
The blessing is that we can be at peace. Don’t worry. God is there and everything is under control.
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2. Invest in Heavenly (Not Earthly) Treasures
Imagine Jesus putting His arm around you and saying , “I’m so proud of you, you handled well the money and possessions that I placed in your hands!”
This is a really big deal. Jesus often spoke about money. He’s very concerned about how we handle the possessions that he has placed in our care.
To the person who manages God’s money well, Jesus gives great commendation: “Well done, faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master’s happiness!” Think of the Christian who makes more than he/she spends and thus has extra to help people in need and to advance the Kingdom of God on earth.
On the other hand, to the person who manages God’s money poorly, Jesus has great condemnation: “you wicked, lazy servant! Take the money away from him and give to those who know how to use it well.” (Matthew 25:1-30).
Watch Jesus with a calculator as he examines your checkbook or online savings. Hopefully he’s smiling.
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3. Be Sure You Trust Jesus as Your Lord and Savior
I see Jesus grinning as he opens the Book of Life. A big smile crosses his face as he finds your name among those who have surrendered their lives to him as Lord and Savior.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life...For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. – John 3:16-17
Rapture day is the wedding day. Listen as he tells us that he is coming for his bride, the Church.
Like a bride is pure, holy, and submissive to her husband, so we are to be pure and holy and submissive to Jesus.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. – 2 Peter 3:11-14
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4. Be Ready to Collect Your Crowns in Heaven
Collect your crowns. Imagine Jesus smiling with open arms as you lay your heavenly crowns at His feet. God has promised a crown all who “love and look forward to His coming,” but there are other crowns to give Jesus.
These crown-rewards are not “treasures” we lay up in Heaven for our future use (Matthew 6:19-21). Nor are they determiners of just how much responsibility we will or won’t have in Heaven (Matthew 25:14-30). They are objects that we will receive and then lay at the feet of Jesus:
- The Crown of Righteousness or the Crown of Loving the Lord’s Coming (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
- The Crown of Glory or the Shepherd’s Crown (1 Peter 5:1-4)
We can earn any one or all the rewards. Just as the Greeks won laurel wreaths, Christians win crowns. There are five of them. I want all of them—except one.
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5. Pray the Lord’s Prayer
We can help the Kingdom of God to come on earth sooner than later.
Final word as we depart.
Don’t ever doubt whether or not the train will be on time as it comes into the station! The second coming is right on time!
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 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. – 2 Peter 3:8-9
Live as if Christ is coming in the next 10 minutes. Plan as if He is not coming for 1,000 years.
Dear Concerned, I hope you find this helpful.
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Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at [email protected].
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.