GET READY, JESUS IS COMING BACK!

 

         GET READY, JESUS IS COMING! Just saying those words thrills my heart. Get ready, Jesus the Messiah is coming soon! Doesn't that make your heart beat faster? It sure does mine--Some years ago, during those crazy mixed-up 1960s when "Love" was the magic password, somebody made this saying popular-- "You don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing." Actually, that same idea had been spoken two thousand years earlier by Jesus of Nazareth who really put down the people of His day for not knowing His first coming was already here.

         In gospel of Luke, Chapter 12, Jesus speaking (Luke 12:54-56)

         "And He was also saying to the multitudes, 'When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming,' and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, 'It will be a hot day,' and it turns out that way. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?"

         Jesus chastised those folks for not knowing it was time for His first visitation. The point is, God doesn't spring surprises on His people. Just the opposite, He really loves to let us know beforehand just what He intends to do before He does it. We see that in Isaiah 42:8-9--

         "I am the LORD, that is My name;

         I will not give My glory to another,

         Nor My praise to graven images.

         "Behold, the former things have come to pass,

         Now I declare new things;

         Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you."

         Let's be really clear about this, it is God's special pleasure to make things known beforehand. That's why over one third of the entire Bible is devoted to prophesies. So for the people of God, those who love Him, seek Him and are called by His name, there should be absolutely no surprises.  For example, Isaiah 46:9-10, God tells us how He loves to tell us things before they happen--  

         "Remember the former things long past,

         For I am God, and there is no other;

         I am God, and there is no one like Me,

         Declaring the end from the beginning

         And from ancient times things which have not been done,

         Saying, 'My purpose will be established,

         And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.'"

         The point is, God never tries to fool us, He never desires to surprise us. He tells us beforehand all those things He will do, including exactly when He would send the Messiah the first time. Okay, you say, but what about His Second Coming?  Did He tell us clearly about that event beforehand? You bet your life He did.  And He promised to do just that in the New Testament, too, through the Prophet, Priest and King, Jesus Christ.  Listen to what Jesus said--

    In John 13:9, "From this time forward, I tell you before it happens, that when it happens you may believe that I AM."  And in John 14:29, "And now I have told you before it occurs, that when it  occurs, you may believe."  In John 16:4, He said "But I have spoken these things to you so that when the hour comes, you may recall them, that I told you these things.  but I did not say these things to you from the beginning because I was with you."  And finally in John 16:13, Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit to guide us "into all truth.  For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear , that He shall speak, and He will show you things to come."  These "things to come," then as now, involved the nation Israel.  And just as He used Israel as His timeclock the first time He came, in the very same way He is today using Israel as the timeclock for His return.

         Over the past two thousand years one of the most horrific wonders for the entire world was the great devastation God brought on the Promised Land as a judgment for Israel's sins. The very country that had produced the Holy Bible, Moses, King David, Solomon's Temple and Jesus Christ had been turned into a barren wasteland. For 1800 long years, a small handfull of fervent Jews scratched out a living in Palestine and daily prayed to God at the Wailing Wall, the Western Wall of the old Temple, "Have mercy on us and restore Israel to the land just as the prophets said would happen in the Last Days."

         Meanwhile, in the country renamed "Palestine" by her cynical Roman conquerors, the soil was scorched, not a thing would grow. At the beginning of this century, when Mark Twain toured Palestine, he wrote--"This is the most desolate and Godforsaken dustbowl I've ever seen. Even the grasshoppers here starve to death."

         But those who studied the Bible knew that God's curse would one day be turned into a great blessing. In 1863, English theologian John Owen wrote--"The Jews shall be gathered from all parts of the earth where they are now scattered, and brought back into their own land."

         The great English preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon yearned for the day when Israel would be reborn, because he knew the return of Jesus Christ would be marked by clear signs involving Israel, which had ceased being a nation 1800 years before. Whenever Spurgeon preached on the Second Coming of Jesus, he would say, "And may we see the day when the Jews who have been scattered all these centuries be regathered by God to become Israel once more. For then, we may expect the Lord's soon return."

         Both Owen and Spurgeon knew and believed the Scriptures. Thousands of years ago, God proclaimed this through the prophet Amos in chapter 9, verses 14-15--     

                  "Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel,

                  And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them,

                  They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine,

                  And make gardens and eat their fruit.

                  "I will also plant them on their land,

                  And they will not again be rooted out from their land

                  Which I have given them," says the LORD your God.

 

          Even earlier God had prophesied that same return of the scattered Jews by the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 36:22-24 --"Therefore, say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord God, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name.. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land."

         On the very next page, Ezekiel chapter 37 in the famous "dry bones" portion describes how God says He will put sinews and flesh and skin on those dry bones and breathe life into them. Then in verse 11, He explains what those dry bones are--"Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off. Therefore prophesy to them and say, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel."

         Now for those of us old enough to have been alive during World War 2, or even if we didn't live through that time most of us have seen newsreel footage of the WW2 concentration camps, where millions of Jews were slaughtered. When those camps were liberated, hundreds of thousands of living skeletons walked out. Anyone who has ever seen those pictures can never forget them! Those Jewish survivors really fit Ezekiel's vision of "dry bones". Many of those Holocaust survivors played a key role in the most prophetically significant event in nineteen centuries.

         That event was the rebirth of the Nation of Israel after 2,000 years as a scattered people without a land. Just as God had promised, He had brought His chosen people back into the land that He had given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their offspring as an eternal inheritance.

         On May 11, 1949, Israel was formally admitted as the fifty-ninth member of the United Nations. That event signaled what many Bible scholars had been praying for for hundreds of years. The rebirth of Israel was the certain prophetic sign that the world had entered the Last Days. Please turn with me to the Book of Jeremiah, chapter 23: 7-8--              

         "Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "when they will no longer say, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,' 8but, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.' Then they will live on their own soil."

         Since its rebirth in 1948, four million Jews from all over the world have made "aliyah" to the Holy Land. They pulled up stakes, gave up homes and businesses, and took on new identities as modern Israelites. I know, because 22 years ago, my own family did exactly that. They sold a lovely home in Philadelphia, traded it for a tiny apartment in Tel Aviv, took Israeli passports and joined their lives and destinies with the nation of Israel.

         Now, the old barren wasteland has been transformed into a Mideast garden of Eden. Tiny Israel, a nation of 5 million people, is today the third largest food exporter in the world! What happened? Because rainfall, which had been so rare for so many centuries, suddenly returned. The Pilgrim Bible recorded this amazing change--"There always used to be two rainy seasons in Palestine, one in the spring, the other in the fall. The second rain God withheld while Israel was scattered, but He promised in Joel 2 to send it again when Israel would be returning. The fall rain began again, lightly, at the beginning of the 20th century, and it has been increasing ever since."

          Let's check out that prophesy in the Book of Joel, chapter 2: 23-25--  

                  So rejoice, O sons of Zion,

                  And be glad in the LORD your God;

                  For He has given you the early rain for your vindication.

                  And He has poured down for you the rain,

                  The early and latter rain as before.

                  And the threshing floors will be full of grain,

                  And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil.

                  "Then I will make up to you for the years

                  That the swarming locust has eaten,

                  The creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the                      gnawing locust,

                  My great army which I sent among you.

 

         Recently the Jerusalem Post ran a front-page headline proclaiming THE RAINIEST WEEK IN 50 YEARS. Six people, including two soldiers, were killed by the floods. When Juneau and I were last in Jerusalem, our Israeli guide told us that it was uncanny how many times when it rained, the rainfall stopped at the Palestinian side of the west bank. "It is like there is a wall between us," he said. "On one side, rain--on the other, no rain.!

         What a fulfillment in our time! Israel today is a nation composed of Jews from 125 different lands speaking 85 different languages, gathered just as God said He would do. Not only that! He restored the Hebrew language, just as He said He would in Jer.31:23. And not only that, The Lord also told us that this return to the land was part of a sequence that would conclude with the Messiah's return and the salvation of all Israel.

         That last part hasn't happened yet. Israel today is a mostly secular country, where those who believe fervently in God and the Bible are looked at as oddballs. But God even prophesied that would be the case. He said He would first bring the Jews back to the land in state of unbelief, through the prophet Hosea, chapter 3:4-5--

         "For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, and without ephod or household idols. 5Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days."

         Has that last part happened yet? No, not yet! Because before that happens, something awesome must happen to Israel and to the entire world. We read about that in JOEL 2:1 -

         "Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy   mountain!

         Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,

         For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near,

         A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick    darkness.

         As the dawn is spread over the mountains,

         So there is a great and mighty people;

         There has never been anything like it,

         Nor will there be again after it to the years of many                   generations."

 

         So all these signs--the Jewish nation restored, renewed rain and fruitful plains are clear signs that the Day of the Lord is right on the doorsteps! Now the Day of the Lord is hardly a matter for celebration. It will be a time of worldwide distress, heavy persecution of the people of Israel, and an outpouring of horrible judgments and bowls of God's wrath that will be poured out on the entire world. You can read all about it in JEREMIAH 30 and Revelation CHAPTERS 8 THROUGH 19.

         At the very end of this terrible time, the armies of the world will gather in Israel, ostensibly to destroy the Jewish nation but in reality making war against God Himself. But glory be to God, He will Himself return with His saints, the believing Church of Jesus Christ, to defeat His foes in the great battle called Armageddon. You can read about that in Zechariah 12, 9-10 , and in the Book of Romans 11:26--"And thus all Israel will be saved, just as it is written."

         Now, this Tribulation time can't take place until the "times of the Gentiles" are completed. The time of the Gentiles began in 605 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and took the Jews captive into Babylonian exile. Jesus referred to this "time of the Gentiles" when He told the disciples about the signs of His return. Let's read that now in LUKE 21:24--

         "..and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

 

         When will this "time of the gentiles" be fulfilled? When Jersusalem is no longer trodden under--or ruled over--by gentiles. But wait! That great prophetic event has already happened, many years ago during the six-day war of 1967. In June of 1967, Israel recaptured the Old City from Jordan and made the united city of Jerusalem its "everlasting capitol."

         Scarcely a day goes by now when we do not hear of more "developments" in the peace negotiations between Israel and the Arabs. Our Secretary of State is right in the thick of things and there are reports that a peace treaty will include the right of Jews to worship on the old Temple mount. This is really exciting, because we know from Daniel 9:27 that there will be a false peace treaty between Israel and her enemies just seven years before the Lord returns to set up His earthly reign. And in 1 Thess. 5:3, it is written, "While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."

         So what does that mean now, to Christians and non-Christians who are even now being drawn to Messiah Jesus? Jesus Himself tells us in 13:28-30--

         "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. "Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away."

         He says, When we see these things happening. What things? When we see all the events He has listed that will signal the time of His Second Coming. You can read about those in our article END TIMES SIGNS.

         Jesus also said, Behold the fig tree!. Why the fig tree? Because the fig tree is the Biblical symbol for Israel. So that generation that sees the fig tree put forth its leaves--in other words, sees Israel come back to life--and the generation that sees Jerusalem no longer trod under by Gentiles or be under Gentile rule--that generation, my friends, "will not pass away until all things take place."

         Without any question, we are that generation. Some of us were already alive in 1948 when Israel was reborn, and most of us were surely alive in 1967 when Jerusalem was returned into Jewish hands. Friends, brothers and sisters, please hear me--we are now in the Last Days. We are that generation who will not die out until we see the awful events of the Tribulation and the return of Jesus as our glorified Lord. When He came before, it was as the Lamb of God who shed His blood for the sins of the world. He came then to die for us. Now He is about to come as the Lion of Judah, the Lord who will judge the world. Those who refuse to accept His mercy by His sacrifice for them will receive His perfect justice, which will be terrible for those who choose that. As Thomas Jefferson said, "When I look at my nation and realize that God is a just God, I tremble."

         What an amazing time and blessing it is to be alive just now. There is still time for anyone who hasn't said "yes" to Jesus to do that now! Just ask Him in the quietness of your heart to come into your life and show Himself to you, to show you the truth of who He is. And when He does, just tell Him that you believe in Him and Who He is and what He did for you on the cross. If you do that, the Bible says you shall be saved. Not just for eternal life in heaven in the by and by, but from the wrath of God that will soon be unleashed on the world.

         At any moment, even now as you sit reading this article, suddenly, without warning, we may experience the last prophesy left for the Church of Jesus Christ, namely the fulfillment of 1 Thess.4:16-17--"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout! with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus shall we always be with the Lord!"

         This is the Last Hour.. and the One who is coming soon, and very very soon, is Jesus Christ, the First and the Last, the Aleph and the Tov, the Alpha and Omega, Yeshua the Messiah--our Creator, Lord, God, and Savior. So get ready by opening your heart and mind, and trusting in and receiving our Moschiach, our Messiah, Yeshua-Jesus as your own ticket to heaven.

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