Prepared for Christ’s return

FROM THE NATIONAL DIRECTOR: Jesus calls us to be ready for his second coming

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In the book of Ecclesiastes, we read that there is a time for this and a time for that. At the beginning of a new year, we often think in terms of it being time to do this or that. Maybe it’s to change what we’ve been doing that hasn’t been good for us or to add something to our life that could be of benefit. We’re looking to the future.

In Ecclesiastes 3:8 the author, likely Solomon, writes that there is “a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” That’s not one of our favorite Anabaptist verses. But this is definitely a time for war in our world.

The Bible mentions war over 400 times. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, wars are cautionary tales about the consequence of turning away from God. In the New Testament as recorded by Matthew, Jesus says that when his time is near, “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”

As I write this, Israel is attempting to remove Hamas from Gaza. Other nations appear to be preparing for battle against Israel. By the time you read this, much, much more could have happened. Is this prophesy being fulfilled in our lifetime? Are these events and wars signs of the end times?

I don’t know for sure, but they could be. I do know that Jesus tells us to be prepared for his coming as expressed in the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25. We’re to keep watch. I’m grieved when I hear God’s people say it’s not important to study the end times or the book of Revelation. “It’ll all just take care of itself,” they say. “It’s too confusing,” say others. I don’t think these are good answers.

Approximately one-fourth of the Bible was prophetic at the time it was written. So, if God determined that it was important to provide prophetic exhortations and cautions in his Word, shouldn’t we take quite seriously prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled? One of the reasons the Jews didn’t recognize the first coming of Jesus was because most didn’t make the effort to truly understand the many prophecies about his coming. Are we, in our day, in the same boat about Jesus’ second coming?

I realize that there are all kinds of explanations about the end times and how it relates to the events of today. There are countless “theologians” expressing their views on YouTube or other media with sensational theories about what is happening in the Middle East. It can get weird at times. But thoughtful, meaningful studies are available, including our personal study of Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians and the book of Revelation and other pertinent Scriptures.

This is a time to be in the Word. It’s a time to be watching. It’s a time for serious students of the Bible to read carefully what has been written for our benefit. The future will be the “now” at some point. Maybe that time is upon us, maybe it’s yet far off. But every generation is taught to be vigilant.

I confess that studying the end times has been a passion of mine for over 40 years. I think I’ve read every theory about how it all comes to pass. I’ve read countless explanations pertaining to the Antichrist, the beast and what will be the mark of the beast. What I know for sure is that Jesus is coming back! And when he does, I want to be ready.

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