The Timing of Christ’s Return (Mark 13:28-32)

Monday, December 8th, 2014

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The Timing of Christ’s Return

When does the King return?  from the gospel of Mark 13:28 to 32

 I used to wear a watch all the time–I’d never go out without it. About fifteen years ago, I stopped wearing one–not because I got something else to replace it, but because I was constantly checking my watch in the midst of conversations . . . glancing at it in the middle of tender moments, heavy counseling, and worse. “Hey boss, how is your sick wife?” Check watch–like I care?! You just revealed to me your most hurtful secret–glance?!

Today, the phone is our watch–in the midst of a discussion, BEEP. “Oh, let me get this,” meaning, “this call is more important than you.” Conversation is down, and staring at our phones is up! We may not have a watch, but we can check the time, set an alarm, start a countdown timer, begin a stop watch, and know what time it is in Singapore–all the while talking to others.

Most of us are still concerned about time, and a few of us are obsessive about time. Today, you will discover that Jesus Christ also has a schedule He’s going to keep. He is going to return to planet Earth exactly when He is scheduled to return.

Read aloud with me Mark 13:28 to 32 from your outline. “’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. 29 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 32 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.’”

When you first look at a passage of Scripture, you always want to look, think, and notice the obvious–we call it observation. The beginning of accurate exegesis is observation—so look carefully at the passage broken down for you in your outline. Notice the red phrases, verse 28, “You know that summer is near.” Then verse 29, “recognize that He is near.” Summer is near—and that truth is parallel to He is near.

Notice verse 29, the brown phrases, “when you see these things happening.” Then verse 30, “until all these things take place.” Both these things are describing the same things. Look at verse 30, “this generation will not pass away.” Verse 31, “will pass away,” then “not pass away.” Certain things will pass away, and other things will not. And you saw the timing references, in verse 28 “when”, verse 29 “when”, summer near He is near, verse 3 take place, verse 32 day or hour.

Jesus is now answering the “when will these things take place” question He was asked by His men, way back in verse 4. He answered by describing our day with the troubling birth-pains in verses 5 to 13. Next the middle point of the Tribulation, the Abomination of Desolation in verses 14 to 18. Then the Great Tribulation in verses 19 to 23, and the Second Coming in verses 24 to 27. And now, next Jesus answers the when question with . . .

#1  The ANALOGY

Learn from the trees, when summer is near. Verse 28, “Now learn the parable from the fig tree.” Jesus commands His men and you here–learn! The assumption is, you can learn, you can understand the end times. You can be certain about what Jesus says about the end. Isn’t it interesting, that the first book in your Bible, Genesis, with its 24-hour, literal six-day creation is under attack today? And the last book in your Bible, Revelation, describing a literal 7-year Tribulation, Second Coming, and 1,000-year Millennium is also under attack today?

Both the beginning and the end have been weakened in the mind of Christians. It’s like having 66 books on your shelf, but the first book and the last book, meant to hold the entire library, won’t stand up, are not strong, but are fragile, so the entire library of 66 books will not stand up, but tip over. But our Lord says, “Learn this, you can get it!”

“Learn” is a command–to understand this, embrace it! The Lord did not intend for eschatology to be obscure or confusing. This is not something you can’t figure out—learn this. Learn from the fig tree. Back in chapter 11, Jesus cursed a fig tree as an illustration of Israel. The tree was all leaves, but no fruit. Israel is spiritually empty. So when the Lord cursed the fig tree, it died on the spot–the only destructive miracle recorded in the New Testament done by Jesus.

The fig tree is a symbol of the nation of Israel, but there is no indication the Lord is referring to Israel in these verses. And Luke makes it clear Israel is not the focus in Mark in the parallel reference to this passage, when he says in Luke 21:29, “Then He told them a parable: ‘Behold the fig tree and all the trees.”

Jesus is talking about trees–fig trees and other trees, all the trees, and it’s a parable. Now learn the parable from the fig tree. This is not about Israel, it’s about a lesson from a tree. There is a lesson about the end times you can learn. A parable from the fig tree and other trees. People invent really fanciful interpretations using parables, often reading too much into them, sometimes really abusing the Scripture. But this parable is simple and easy to understand.

Parables are designed to make truth clear. Parables explain truth. They’re illustrations to clarify the truth. So what must we learn from the tree, Jesus? There is probably a fig tree close by as Jesus teaches here. He might even be pointing at a tree as He speaks. Israel has an abundance of fig trees. They’re well known, and the Lord uses them at least four separate times as an illustration.

The fig tree is unique in Israel, in that most trees are evergreen, but not the fig tree. In winter, the fig tree loses its leaves. Then in spring sap begins to flow, making the branches tender–young fruit pops out first, then the leaves begin to show. And it was this budding fruit and leaf popping in spring that informed everyone that verse 28, summer was certainly near.

Which is exactly what Jesus wanted to highlight in verse 28, “when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.” Is that simple and straightforward? When the fig tree puts forth its leaves, you know summer is near. The season is Passover, the Hebrew month Nissan (not the car)–modern day March or April.

It’s spring–it’s the season. And “when its branch has already become tender,” meaning the branches swell with sap flowing up the trunk, then you get the immature fruit, followed by verse 28, “puts forth its leaves.” In the spring, budding trees means simply this–summer is near. So now Jesus applies the analogy.

#2 The APPLICATION

Learn from these signs when the Second Coming is near. Verse 29, “Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” Jesus simply applies the analogy to the Second Coming. So one question, one key, one link here is to ask—“who is the ‘you’?” Who, who, who is the “you”, when He says, “Even so, you too, when you see.”

Who is Jesus referring to in this verse? Answer from the verse! It’s the people who see these things–that’s what Jesus says. The “you” is the people who see these things—“when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” What things? The things just described in verses 14 to 27 of Mark 13–the birth pains of anticipation leading up to the return of Christ.

All the final, extreme, severe, increasingly intense labor pains–all the signs prior to the final sign, which is Christ coming out of Heaven in blazing glory. Whoever is alive to see these things happening now knows the coming of Christ is near.

Verse 29, “recognize that He is near, right at the door.” Recognize is know, knowing by observation and experience. If you’re alive then, you will literally, continually know as a fact. So that you are not deceived during the harsh time of the Tribulation, those who are alive need to realize what is happening. Jesus says it’s as if you are home and Jesus has come to visit, and He is just outside the front door, ready to come in. When you see these things, He is ready to come in.

So if you’re alive in the future, in that generation, and you see the Abomination of Desolation of verses 14 to 18, when the Antichrist sets himself up to be God, and his faith becomes the only faith allowed, resulting in the Antichrist slaughtering the Jews and killing Christ-followers, forcing all believers to flee and go into hiding. All those still alive to see the shortened days of darkness and the very universe coming unraveled in chaos of verses 19 to 25–if you see these things, if you’re alive to witness these things, then you know He is about to return, described in verses 26 to 27.

Just like you know summer is near if the fig tree sprouts leaves, you know Christ is coming if you see all these signs Jesus just described in verses 14 to 25. This is the answer to their question. Their question was, “When will these things happen in verse 4?” His answer is, “When you see these preliminary events taking place, then the end is soon, the King is near. Christ is coming quickly. He is right at the door.”

Then Jesus adds in verse 30, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” This generation will not pass away till all these things take place. Now when you read that, there is no struggle, is there? I don’t even think you had to jump a hurdle, did you? You didn’t experience a speed bump! This passage is obvious. You understood exactly what Jesus meant–taking the plain sense. It means whatever generation sees these things happening will see Christ come. What else could it mean?

Jesus says in verse 30, “Truly I say to you.” This is a fact, undeniable, this is a reality you can bank on, a certain truth I am giving you. I say to you, this generation, the “you” who see these things happening will not pass away until all these things take place. A generation is forty to eighty years, and the Tribulation is only seven years–a lot less than forty years.

So the generation that is alive to see all these Tribulational events begin to happen can know or recognize verse 29, when they do see these things, Christ is at the door. The Tribulation will be ending soon and Christ’s return is near. The generation that’s alive during the Tribulation can know that just like a fig tree that is leafing tells us summer is near, so when you see all the Tribulational events, you know Christ’s coming is near.

It’s simple–let me prove it to you. Look again at verse 29. No one doubts the “these things” of verse 29 is actually describing the Tribulational events just described in Mark 13. “Even so, you too, when you see these [Tribulational] things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” And contextually, that demands that the “these things” of verse 30 are also describing the Tribulational events just described by Christ in Mark 13. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these [Tribulational] things take place.”

Plus, the “you” of verse 30, second person plural, does not have to be describing the disciples–see it? “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” That’s not the disciples–Mark already makes certain we know Jesus is actually speaking to others, and not merely His disciples–you remember Mark 13:14, “’But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.’”

Jesus has already indicated in Mark 13, He is not merely talking to the disciples, but to the later readers of the gospel. Plus Jesus was just talking to His elect who are alive during the Tribulation, who must flee as soon as they see the Abomination of Desolation—right? That generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

So the Lord is thinking about future saints, and particularly those alive during the Tribulation who must flee for the hills the moment the Abomination of Desolation occurs. That unique generation will not pass away until they see the coming of Christ. Notice verses 19 and 24–both speak of those days.

Verse 19, “For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred.” This is not the disciples’ days, but very unique future days. Notice verse 24, “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.” Not the disciples’ days, but those future days. It is in those future days, where the “these things” of verse 29 and 30 take place. The future days that are coming–the generation that’s alive during the Tribulation can know, that just like a fig tree that is leafing tells us summer is near, so when you see all the Tribulational events you know Christ’s return is near.

I’m making a big point about this because you’d be astounded by all the crazy views that I’ve studied on verse 30. What does verse 30, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”—what does that mean to others? Some think it’s the disciples. That this very generation I am speaking to will not pass away until all these things I described about the Tribulation come to pass. That Jesus is saying to them, “I will return before you die.” That “this generation” is you guys–you’re going to live to see the Second Coming.

How could anybody possibly believe that? These are the people who believe the Second Coming was fulfilled in 70 AD, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. That was the Second Coming to them, and because some of the disciples were still alive they think it fits. So they say Jesus was literally saying to His men, you will see Me return in your lifetime. That’s impossible.

The only way you come up with that view is if you totally ignore the Bible. Why? Because the description of the events during the time of Tribulation are so detailed in the book of Revelation–all marine life die, all fresh water is gone, the sun burns the skin, utter darkness and slaughter everywhere. That certainly didn’t occur in Israel in AD 70.

Others say, “This generation will not pass away till all these things take place,” refers to the Jewish race–that the Jews are going to survive. This race of people, this generation, Israel will not pass away until all these things will be done. Well that’s true, the Jews have and will survive. But that’s not the issue in these verses.

God did say He’d never forget Israel, the apple of His eye–that’s not in question. So why make a promise here to people who already know they have everlasting promises? And in what way is that a sign? The perpetuity of the Jews is not a sign, and is not the focus of these verses.

Still others say this generation refers to sinners, that there are always going to be sinners. Well that’s obvious–why say that? Of course there are always going to be sinners. They think Jesus is saying there will always be evil people until He comes. That’s no sign of anything, because that’s the way it always is. And all those truths are foreign to this context.

Others say this is a reference to the people who will see the regathering of the nation Israel. Well where does it say that? It doesn’t. But that’s a popular view–it came from Hal Lindsey, who wrote a popular, now old, book about the end times, The Late Great Planet Earth. They add, the fig tree is a symbol of Israel (and it is in many verses, but not all). But the gospel of Luke reminded us, Jesus is just referring to trees in general in this passage.

And there is nothing in these verses that speaks about Israel. But because in 1948, Israel became a state and a generation is 40 or 60 or 80 years, so many have said Christ will come before 1988, 2008 or 2028–only one option left. But ya’ll are smart–you can interpret what it says, no problem. What Jesus is saying here is, the generation that sees the signs of the Tribulation leading up to the Second Coming will see Christ come. Those who see the Abomination of Desolation–that generation will see the return of Christ.

Creation occurred in six plus one day–seven days. And the destruction of creation will occur in a seven-year period. And if you’re in that future generation, you will see Christ come. The one who sees the leaves of the tree, verse 28, will see the summer. And the generation that experiences the birth pains verse 29 to 30, will see the birth of the Kingdom. But how do we know we can trust you Jesus? How certain are you? Can we actually know this for a fact? Is this an absolute? Yes we can, because of point #3, and verse 31.

#3  The AUTHORITY

Listen to Christ’s words over every other voice. This message of the end times comes with authority. Jesus gives His word in verse 30–the generation alive during the Tribulation will not pass away before they see all these things I have just talked about. I give you My word–and just to remind you as to what is permanent and what is not, what is secure and what is not, what is eternal and what is not. Verse 31, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

Do you believe Heaven and Earth will pass away? Do you believe this planet is not a permanent planet? Do you own the truth that all we have here is temporary? Have you considered the very short life of planet Earth? You say, “Wait a minute, isn’t the earth billions of years old?” No, that’s the lie of evolution.

The earth is close to 6,000 years old, and we don’t know just how much longer it will exist. But we have every reason to believe it will not exist much longer–certainly not thousands, millions, or billions of years more. Heaven and Earth will pass away. Heaven and Earth as we know it will pass away–it’s true. This universe will be devastated in the judgments we’ve been studying in Mark 13 and Revelation 6 to 19.

What will it be like? Evolutionists think everything will go on just, they say, as it always has. But God says, “No.” It wasn’t uniform at the beginning, nor will it be at the end. Second Peter 3:3 to 7, “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

They forgot the cataclysm of creation and the cataclysm of the flood, which literally covered the entire world with water, which is evidenced all over the highest mountains on earth. But next, God will judge with fire–the earth will be burned up. Everything will be destroyed. Talk about global warming–that’s what I call hot!

And now 2 Peter 3:13, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” It’s not merely your room that gets redone, the entire planet gets a makeover. Think differently about planet Earth, Christian. All those environmental concerns about what’s going to happen to our planet if you use hairspray, drive a gas guzzler, mow your lawn, drive your boat in a lake–please get over it. Stop the pressure. Don’t try to save this planet–God intends to burn it and redo it.

So ask for plastic not paper, walk on grass, burn some wood, shoot a deer, take a long hot shower and use hairspray. Okay? Okay! Be a good steward and obey the laws, but do not invest a minute nor a nickel trying to save this Titanic, this doomed dying planet. “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” God is going to do this–He will keep His Word.

Amillennnialists say the end times will not happen literally. Post-millennialists say we will make the Kingdom happen ourselves. Pre-millennialists say God is going to make this all happen. And Jesus says God will do it, and He keeps His word. How do we know all what you are saying is true, Jesus? If this world is going to burn up, then what do we trust in? Verse 31, “My words will not pass away.”

“All that I have told you is more certain than what you see–My Word is the ultimate authority. I am the truth! My Word is based on my character, my person, my attributes of truth, veracity, I cannot lie, faithfulness, and all power to keep my Words and all wisdom to make sure my Words are right and best.” As Isaiah 40:8 adds, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”

Do you trust God’s Word over your feelings, thoughts and opinions? Are you trusting God’s Word over your fears? Are you relying on God’s promises? Come on today, with the burdens you brought with you right now, with the trials you are wearing today, with the pains and struggles–are you trusting God’s promises?

Psalm 139:17 and 18, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.” Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Galatians 6:9, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

God’s word is absolutely true, unequivocally true. And what Jesus says in Mark 13 is going to happen just as He said. It is not an analogy of some bad time, it was not fulfilled in AD 70, it is not symbolic of some future bad time–it’s exactly as He said. Seven years of God’s wrath in the Tribulation, the Abomination of Desolation in the middle, and the worst judgments that have ever been dispensed will be poured out on this planet, and the generation alive will see it. My Word confirms it–My words will not pass away. But exactly how many days after the Tribulation will You come? Tell us Jesus.

#4  The ABSOLUTE

Line up with the Father’s plan for that coming day. Verse 32, “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Oh no! How many days after? Nobody knows except the Father! True, yet that has not stopped people from making ridiculous predictions. I battle with being cynical over certain things, and that’s one. Whenever someone predicts the day for the coming of Christ, I want to throw a party, cause that’s not the day.

Whoa–of that day, or the exact hour, no one knows. It is coming, it is certain, Jesus says, “I give you my Word.” But the precise timing is hidden from all but the Father. Jesus is saying that exact moment cannot be determined. This should stop everyone and anyone from setting a date. “But of that day or hour no one knows.”

That day or hour is the Second Coming of Christ, and may also include the broader reference to the end times, called the Day of the Lord, which is not a single day but includes this entire period, Rapture, then Tribulation, Second Coming, and Millennial Kingdom. Although there’ll be cataclysmic, supernatural, worldwide events during the Tribulation that have been revealed clearly in Scripture, the exact timing of His coming is a mystery to all but the Father.

The general timeframe of His appearing will be known, but the precise date or hour no one knows except God the Father. What do we know? We know the seventieth week, the Tribulation, is seven years in duration. We know the Tribulation is divided in two–3½ years of Tribulation, then the Abomination of Desolation at the middle point launching us into the Great Tribulation which will last 3½ years.

But no one knows the exact day or time of Christ’s glorious return. The generation that sees the leaves of God’s judgment, the Tribulation, will see His return and begin the 1,000-year Kingdom. So how come we can’t take our calendar, calculate 3½ years from the Abomination of Desolation and check that day for Christ’s return? Two reasons . . .

ONE  Christ just got finished telling us He is going to mess with the universe in order to shorten the days so His elect will live through the Tribulation. And,

TWO  Because Daniel tells us there’re some extra days between the Tribulation proper and the beginning of the Millennium.

At the end of his prophecy in Daniel chapter 12, the prophet adds 75 days–a period of 75 days after the three-and-a-half years, 1260 days, 42 months. Somewhere in there, in those days, in those hours which no one knows Christ will return. The Second Coming is certain, but the precise day and exact hour are not, have not and will not be revealed.

Look again at verse 32, “not even [to] the angels in Heaven.” The holy angels who enjoy great intimacy with God, surround the throne of God continually beholding the presence of God–they are even the gatherers of the elect in verses 24 to 27, but even they do not know the exact time of His Second Coming. You’d think those closest to the King might know, but they don’t.

And the shocker, do you see it in verse 32? Nor the Son–whoa! How can the One with all knowledge not know the exact time of His own return? How is it that Jesus Christ, who is God, can not know anything? I believe it’s rather easily explained, if you understand the meaning of His incarnation. Jesus Christ is fully God, very God of very Gods, the only God–He is fully and totally God, not part God, all God. But when Christ became a man–conceived, born and grew into a true man, Christ had added humanity to His deity. And in doing so, He voluntarily restricted the use of His divine attributes.

In no way did Christ lay aside His attributes. He never became less God, or not God. He didn’t set His deity aside. But what Christ did do was restrict and veil the use of His divine attributes in order to experience full and true humanity. He always had His attributes as His instruments, but He chose not to pick them up and use them.

Many of us believe Christ actually lived His life by the Spirit, depending on the Spirit to accomplish His miracles and ministry. Though fully capable of manifesting all His attributes, He chose not to. So He lived, as it were, as a man without using His omniscience, as is the case with the exact date of His return. Verse 32 clarifies this, “But the Father alone.” At the time of the Olivet Discourse, before the cross and before His resurrection, only God the Father knew the date when Christ would return. It is not for us to know, but for us to trust that the Father knows best.

Did you notice something unique in verse 32, “nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Jesus is called here, “the Son”. It is the only place in Mark where Jesus is called, “the Son”. It is the only time in Mark where Christ calls Himself “the Son”. Usually Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of Man”, but here He calls Himself “the Son”, revealing His deity and divine Sonship. Jesus is clearly declaring Himself here as God the Son.

The angels don’t know the date of the Second Coming, the Son doesn’t know the date of His return in His humanity, only the Father knows. But Jesus is coming–and He is coming soon. He will rapture His church, judge the world for seven years, return from Heaven with His glorified bride, separate the believer sheep from the rejecting goats, begin His Kingdom with believers, and will rule this planet using His glorified saints to help. Are you ready?

You ask, “Chris, these verses are really directed at a future generation of believers and not us. How does this apply to us today?”

A  EVERYONE IS GOING TO DIE

You’re going to die–you don’t know when, so you’d better be ready. What’s the reason for the 15,000 who have died from the Fukushima nuclear disaster? What’s the purpose of the planes flying into the Twin Towers and killing just under 3,000 people? What’s the message? The message is this—everyone is going to die, and you are not in control of when you do. That’s the message. Nobody died in those disasters who was not going to die already.

Every single one of you is going to die. Friends, you are not in control of when. Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” So the motivation from Tribulation and the certain but sudden return of Christ is–you’d better be ready. Even though we’re not raptured yet, and the Tribulation has not hit yet, the things that characterize the Tribulation don’t seem as if they are that far away, do they?

We’re seeing natural disasters. We know the killing power of armies. We now know how a third of the world could be destroyed. Unique to our day, the world’s end could happen many different ways–nuclear, economic, EMP, viral pandemics. Now all the things that will take place in the end times can actually take place now. Revelation talks about an army of two-hundred million from the east. That’s not a stretch to believe anymore.

Everything in Revelation and Mark focus on Israel and the Middle East, which is the growing hot spot of our day. We know that the Messiah Islam is waiting for is the biblical Antichrist, and all the nations who support the Antichrist in the Bible are Islamic nations today. And the Bible speaks of the martyrs of the Tribulation being beheaded, which seemed bizarre until recently. So the generation who will see these things after the Rapture of the Church could be very soon–it could be this generation.

The entire eschatological era–the day of the Lord could begin at any time. Are you ready to face judgment? Every single person is judged. If you have given your life to Christ in faith and repentance, then you stand secure in His perfect righteousness. But if you have not turned from your sin and are not following Christ, then you will be judged for your sin, which will condemn you to eternal Hell. Turn to Christ–get ready. He is coming.

B  EVERY TRUE BELIEVER IS CHANGED BY THE END TIMES

Waiting is good for us–God wants us to look for Him daily. It is watching and waiting for Him that helps our heart live right. First John 3:2 and 3, “We are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Those who know Christ, and believe He doesn’t lie but is truth, faithful and trustworthy, God the Son and in total control, know He’s truly coming. They seek to live in such a way as to be ready for His return every day. They say, “Come, Lord Jesus, and let me live in such a way that pleases you.”

Real believers look at sunrises and sunsets with awe. They read the international news seeking to understand the great and awesome chess master as He moves everything into place. They desire to flee from this world, which is filled with the lesser, and long to come home to Heaven which is filled with the greater.

C  EVERY BELIEVER KNOWS GOD HAS A PERFECT PLAN

The God who designed the entire plan also has a plan for you. There is no trial, no pain, no bad relationship, no stress, no challenge, no hurt, no suffering, no health issue, no age problem, no ministry tension, no marital issue, no wayward child that does not have a specific purpose for your life. Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Everything that happens to you is initiated or allowed by God. And everything that happens to you is for your good and His glory. God is at work in your life, using trials as a knife, and blessings as a test to mold you into someone specific. Romans 8:29 tells us, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” He is molding you into the image of His Son. Nothing can bring you greater joy, peace, love and purpose than to be made more like Christ.

D  EVERY BELIEVER SHOULD REMAIN WATCHFUL

Don’t lose your heart to watch. Four times in these verses, Jesus tells His people to open their eyes and remain on guard. Don’t get lulled into indifference because you are really involved in sports or school or work or family or children. Stay in touch, praying, asking, waiting, trusting, alert, on guard, and hopeful. My dog Cali always waits for me, and greets me at the door with enthusiasm. Sometimes I say, “I’ve only been gone thirty minutes,” but it doesn’t matter to her. She wants to see her master.

The watchful heart is the tender heart, the Spirit-filled heart. It is the heart Christ wants from you–a watchful, waiting heart. Christ is glorious, majestic, mighty and awesome. He is worthy of you watching for Him to come. “Come, Lord Jesus.” More on this next week, and a focus on the very first step in God’s eschatological plan–you don’t want to miss it. Literally, you don’t–so you’d better be here next week. Let’s pray.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church – Murrieta.

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