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Friday, July 26, 2013

 

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CONTENTS | LETTER 24

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What's The Time?

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At this very moment the time on the clock is different in different parts of the world. Noon in London is 7 in the morning in New York City and 10 at night in Sydney. World travellers by air have to accustom themselves to changes of the clock which can give them two dinners in one day! But not only are the times of day different in different zones of the world but the time of year is often different too! While the northern climes may be shivering in sub-zero temperatures others are basking in long sunny days on the beaches. What a strange thing time is.

But there is another way of looking at time. As the masterbuilder looks at his plans or the engineer at his blue print or the musician at his score so the man who reads his Bible knows that the plan of God represents a development through time. Six thousand years ago Adam and Eve walked in the garden of Eden: four thousand four hundred years ago the Flood came: less than four thousand years ago Abraham walked through Palestine: three thousand years ago David was King in Jerusalem: two thousand years ago or less Jesus lived and died. Six thousand years of God's programme have gone by. How long will it be before the completion of it? Who knows?

The key event of the future is the return of Jesus Christ. If we could pinpoint that date then we could gauge things accordingly. But can we? Can anyone? The first thing to remember is what Jesus himself has told us about the moment of his return:

 

"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (Matthew 24:42).

"Therefore, be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 24:44).

These are two of many verses in the New Testament which teach us two lessons: (a) that we do not know the hour of the return to earth of the Lord Jesus Christ, and (b) that the return will be a surprise. Therefore, it is useless for us trying to fix the time according to God's timetable.

However, that need not deter us from having a look at the rest of Scripture concerning the divine calendar. In the same way that there are times of day -- and we cannot fix that so far as Christ's coming is concerned -- there are also seasons. Do we know the season when Jesus will come back if by the word "season" we mean the world condition when Jesus will come, the answer is Yes.

What are the facts? What will the ordinary people of the world be like before the last Day overtakes them?

(1) They will be very interested in themselves:

"Eating and drinking," "marrying and giving in marriage" and "buying and selling" and "planting and building." See Matthew 24:38 and Luke 17:28.

(2) They will have forgotten God and many of them will be downright wicked:

"Lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." (2 Timothy 3:2-4).

(3) They will not believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:

"Walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?" (2 Peter 3-4).

What about the condition of the world generally in the time which heralds the coming of Jesus? What will world events and world affairs be like?

(1) There will be world unrest and trouble:

"Upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity ... men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth." (Luke 21:25-26).

(2) Nations will be at strife one with another:

"Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles ... let all the men of war draw near . . . " (Joel 3:9).

"There shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation". (Daniel 12:1).

Does the Bible say anything about the land of Palestine and the Jews at the time when Jesus will return?

(1) There will have been a regathering of Jews in the land of Palestine after years of desolation:

"My people Israel and Judah . . . I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it." (Jeremiah 30:3).

"Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land." (Ezekiel 37:21).

"For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land." (Ezekiel 36:24).

These are some of the signs which the Bible gives concerning the world and the return of Jesus to the earth. Do these signs fit our world today? Is it not remarkable that the twentieth century has produced --

(a) A wave of self-interest, of pleasure seeking God-neglecting people, people who while not denying the teaching of Jesus by word of mouth deny Him by having little interest in Him:

(b) The invention of the world's most devilish weapons. Kruschev has said that a nuclear war would destroy 700 - 800 million people in the first onslaught! One nuclear bomb can kill 10,000,000 people! It is too terrible to think about and our minds cannot comprehend the magnitude of power and destruction involved in these things:

(c) The return of the Jews to Palestine. In 1900 there were 50,000 Jews in that land. Today there are 2 to 3,000,000. The return of the Jews to Palestine after 1900 years of absence is one of the wonders of the age. In 1948, in the face of untold opposition from the nations around, Israel established her own state and nation. Today they flourish as one of the most progressive and industrious of the nations of the Middle East. This is the greatest sign that the return of Jesus is getting near.

It cannot be merely a coincidence that the two great prophecies of the Bible --

(1) A time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, and

(2) The return of the Jews to Palestine should have been brought together in our age, in our lifetime, by the invention of atomic weapons and by the establishment of the State of Israel after nineteen hundred years of barrenness and absence, in the land where Jesus was born.

What time is it? It is time we all began to take notice. The divine clock is moving up to the hour when Jesus will leave heaven and return to earth.

What time is it? Why not let Jesus speak for Himself? When He stood in the streets of Jerusalem, long before the Jews were driven out of their own land, He foretold two things:

(1) The scattering of the Jews from Palestine; and

(2) Their regathering to that land.

Listen to his own words:

"And they (the Jews) shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." (Luke 21:24)

The words of Jesus have been remarkably fulfilled. Forty years after His death the Jews suffered defeat at the hands of the Romans. Their nation was broken up and the Jews were scattered throughout the earth. Gradually Palestine sank into a wilderness and all her fruitfulness ceased.

Things continued in this fashion until the present century. There were Jews in every country of the world as living witnesses that God had led them away captive into all nations. And then came the great awakening. Not from any religious urge or because the Jews had repented of their sins, but from a great longing for Palestine. Slowly the movement gathered strength until it become a powerful tide. In the nineteen thirties and fifties the Jews returned to Palestine in hundreds of thousands.

Today Jerusalem belongs half to Jews and half to Arabs. [Jews took Jerusalem in 1967] What did Jesus say? "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Gentiles (non Jews) would control Jerusalem UNTIL their own opportunity would come to an end. And now the world is poised on the brink of great change. Half Jerusalem is in Jewish hands and half is Gentile. The Gentiles times are runnings out. The time switch is set. The warning lights are shining.

What time is it? Time to prepare for the return of Christ. It was just at this time that Jesus said:

"Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." (Luke 21:27).

This is the season when Jesus is due. The day, the hour, the year are beyond our computation. But the season, the climate of world affairs, is upon us. Let us then listen again to Him as he gives the warning:

"Therefore, be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matt. 24:44).

 


Questions on Letter 23 (answers)

1. What is the Key event of the future?

2. Can we fix the exact time of Christ's return? Why?

3. What does the Bible say about the condition of the world at the return of Christ?

4. What does the Bible say about the Land of Palestine and the Jews when Christ returns?

5. Does the description the Bible gives of world conditions at the time for Christ to return to this earth fit the world of today?

6. What are the two most brilliant signs in the world today that point to the imminent return of Christ?

7. What season is this, according to Letter 23?

CONTENTS | LETTER 24

 

 

 


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