Millions know the story of "The Great Disappointment" when a denomination set a specific date for Christ's return — only to see the date pass, and their hopes frustrated. Millions know the Bible contains much prophecy, but fallible humans have time and again misinterpreted prophecies of the Bible: setting dates for specific events — only to see those dates come and go without any prophetic fulfillment! Does this mean prophecy is fallible? Or does it only mean that human beings have been all too prone to use prophecy as a badge of their own credibility, only to see their interpretations fail? It's time you knew the truth about the surest prophecy of all — and know it is not an interpretation of any man.
THE scene is the United Nations General Assembly. Speaking before the assembled dignitaries from nations all over the world, the Secretary General is soberly summarizing several days' lengthy speeches. Those addresses have covered the incredible crunch of the population explosion, global pollution, the energy crisis, the worldwide economic crisis, the threatened trend toward new international alliances and the breakup of old ones, and the ominous military build-ups by several of the major powers. Peace has been the topic. How to achieve peace in a world of chaotic unrest, squalor, disease, filth, poverty, and the threat of war. At the final "thwack" of the gavel, the Secretary General takes the rostrum, and all eyes are fixed on his graying head as he faces the huge assembly of international representatives. "Gentlemen," he begins, "we have been assembled here to assess the accomplishments of this great body through the trying period following World War II, in attempting to achieve a peaceful world where all mankind may realize the fullest benefits of personal and national development. "We have heard through the ambassadors to the United Nations a complete summary of the monumental problems facing all nations; facing this body; facing humanity itself. "It is my gravest and most seriously considered opinion...." he continues in a voice rising with emotion, causing a greater quiet to descend on the big room, "... that only one great event can ever save this world from the spectre of nuclear war...." Glances of sharpened interest are exchanged; members of the press lean forward, check their tape recorders to insure they are running properly; the U.N. secretaries pause momentarily from their dutiful, swiftly typing shorthand machines to glance up in expectancy. What is he about to say? Minds speculate; perhaps he will say something really different this time — or will it only be another of the endless speeches about the U.N. itself, or "brotherhood and cooperation among nations," or "multi-lateral diminution of the arms race," or "absolute cessation of nuclear testing, with inspections," or "demand for greater support from the big powers for the United Nations"? A few yawns are barely stifled as tired dignitaries shift position, glance at their watches, and wonder whether they're going to be late to their luncheon date. "... That only one great event can ever save this world from the spectre of nuclear war, wherein more than half of all mankind would surely die — and that great event is the return of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to this earth!"
The Obvious Reaction
A ripple of laughter softly flows through the big room, as dignitaries shift positions, cross and uncross legs, look at one another incredulously, doodle on note paper, and wonder how the Secretary General of the United Nations ever came in contact with some idiotic, "pie-in-the-sky" idea such as that. Has he gone crazy? Since when has the Secretary General of the United Nations taken up with American fundamentalist religion? Reporters snatch up recorders and notes, and dash to exits and waiting telephones. The Afro-Asian bloc stands, almost as one, and begins angrily and purposefully striding toward the exits. After all, they are mostly either the, major Oriental faiths, such as Hinduism, Shintoism, Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism, or perhaps Muslim or animist, or holding with tribal religions or Communism (and therefore atheistic). To hear a leader of a respected international body propose such a ridiculous solution to world affairs is to wonder, if the poor man has suffered a stroke. But at least they can plainly demonstrate their indignation at this terrible effrontery; that someone could inject religion — and at least what would seem to be Protestant, American, fire-and-brimstone, second-advent, Bible thumping religion at that — into the formal speech in this vast assembly, concluding days upon days of the most serious discussions of the biggest problems facing mankind. The meeting is obviously over — with several at the main dais standing in small knots gesticulating and wildly waving hands. The Secretary General's cheeks are red, as he is confronted by several other leaders who instantly surround him demanding an explanation. The throngs head for the exits, while the Secretary General's wife, who was seated in the place of honor, is slumped in her chair, with an aide vainly dipping his handkerchief into a water pitcher in futile attempt to restore her to consciousness after her dead faint following her husband's shocking words. Shouts of disbelief and anger are followed by pushing matches near at least two of the exits, which, on one occasion, erupts into a fistfight between two Muslims dressed in their Arabic robes and two "Christians." Unlikely? Sure, it is! That is: it's unlikely the Secretary General of the United Nations would ever make such a statement in public, or, for that matter, in private either — but if he should, then the reaction is very likely — though I believe I have understated the actual chaos which would occur.
But Do We Believe God?
Can we get the picture? To seriously suggest that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is this world's only hope for world peace places one in the position of "religious fanaticism," instantly destroying his credibility as a member of the intelligentsia and upper-diplomatic circles of the world, and would, for all practical purposes, ruin his future political and diplomatic career, just as surely as a Justice Department indictment! He would probably be called "insane." But this is no new reaction to bold assertions of impending divine intervention. As one ad on TV goes, "They laughed at Fulton, at the Wright brothers, etc.," and, to be sure, the millions have chuckled, chortled, sniffed, and sneered, or laughed openly at either the loud Bible-belt sermons warning of Jesus' impending return, or the more-polished assertions of some such futuristic event in the more-cultured tones of accepted evangelists who are recognized by heads of state. Even during Jesus' day, when He said He would heal the girl whom He claimed was "... not dead, but sleepeth," the people "laughed him to scorn" (Matt. 9:24). Since when do people believe God? When does the general public, let alone governments, BELIEVE biblical prophecy? And, more importantly, since when does whether men believe or not believe determine the outcome of prophecy? Does the disbelief of man negate the power of God? Does the fulfillment of biblical prophecy — the SUREST prophecy of all — that of the return of a glorified, all-powerful Jesus Christ of Nazareth to this earth to rule it with a rod of iron, totally depend upon the number of human beings who ultimately believe it?
The Surest Prophecy
Is Jesus waiting in heaven, impatiently glancing at His heavenly watch, hoping against hope that more and more of the churches, evangelists, missionaries, and various denominations and sects can finally learn to cooperate together, so that a brand-new wave of second-advent evangelism can sweep the earth until finally there will be a sufficient number expecting His return that He will say, "All right then, they have talked me into it"? Again, can we get the point? Whether this article convinces you or not about the surest prophecy in the entirety of your Bible makes no difference whatsoever to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, except as it may involve His own personal desires where your life, your happiness, and your future are concerned. Your rejection or acceptance of biblical truth does not alter the divine plan of God one whit. God's Word makes this eminently clear — He has said, "Let God be true, though every man be found a liar." God also says, "I change not," and "My purpose shall stand"! Please believe one thing! The combined thousands of sermons, whether screaming, sobbing, gasping and wheezing, or whether sedate, carefully prepared, and intellectually stimulating; the tens of thousands of ceremonies occurring in churches all over the world; the missionary efforts; the millions upon millions of tons of printed literature; the combined efforts of all evangelical preaching and teaching from the time of Jesus to this day do NOT represent God's own personal struggles and God's "BEST EFFORT" to prepare this world for the second coming of Jesus Christ! Perhaps you should read that again! Jesus Christ of Nazareth speaks to you with authority from His Word — and tells you He has not tried to save this world in the past, and is not trying to save it now! Now He is only warning this world, by sending it a powerful WITNESS of the promised intention of God Almighty and Jesus Christ of Nazareth, His Son, to intervene in human affairs — but He is not begging, pleading, nagging at humankind to BELIEVE Him. I hope I have made this clear. Your belief or my belief does not change or alter the purpose or the plan of God.
Even the Disciples Did Not Believe Jesus
Even Jesus' own closest companions, His own disciples, didn't believe Him much of the time. They didn't really believe He would be resurrected from the dead. In the Garden of Gethsemane — on the night just before He was crucified — they so doubted Him that "... they all forsook him, and fled" (Mark 14:50). Later, even after they had all seen and recognized Jesus (John 20:19-29), Peter said, "I go a fishing," obviously meaning he was returning to his former occupation as much as to say, "What's the use? It was a good thing while it lasted, but now that they've killed Him, what's the use going on any further?" Several of the disciples followed Peter back up to Northern Palestine and the Sea of Galilee, to his fishing business (John 21:3). Likewise, others scattered to their separate ways — fully expecting to pick up the reins of their former lives. Jesus had to prove by many infallible proofs, even personally making them HANDLE Him, as in Thomas' case, before He could MAKE them believe He had even been resurrected! Then they KNEW! The disciples became believable after that; preaching in real power, and with real FAITH, and backed up by fantastic MIRACLES, because they believed! No, not just "believed" in the way YOU might believe — not just "believed" in the way people are accustomed to that word in "Christian" parlance — they didn't just "believe" the way millions claim to "believe" in God for feeling, for blessings, or "believe" on His Word today. They KNEW! They knew and knew that they knew Jesus Christ of Nazareth was alive — that He had walked out of that tomb, and that He was the glorified Son of God who was going to return to this earth just as He had said! But all during that 3 1/2 years' experience prior to their real conversion and begettal with the Holy Spirit, those disciples "believed on" Jesus. But deep down inside, they just didn't BELIEVE HIM!
Do You Just Believe "On Jesus"?
Today — it's no different. Millions of professing Christians may "believe on" Jesus; they believe He WAS the Christ; believe He was the Son of God; even believe in His shed blood for remission of their personal sins — but those same millions DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT HE SAID; don't believe HIM! What about you? If you "believe on" Jesus — believe He is your Saviour, and the only name given under heaven whereby men must be saved, do you also believe what He said? One prophecy of Christ simply towers above them all. The surest prophecy involves no dates, no special understanding of Greek or Hebrew, no inside knowledge of biblical types or symbolism, requires no knowledge of vague or obscure verses in Zechariah, Joel or Malachi. It requires no knowledge of Babylonian or Egyptian chronology, or time-cycles, or numerical meanings or the interpretations of "times and seasons." You don't need to memorize dates for the Creation, the Exodus, the Flood of Noah, memorize the ages of patriarchs, or know the dates of the fall of Babylon, or the rule of Artaxerxes. You need only BELIEVE Jesus Christ! You need only understand what He said — and believe it! You need to KNOW it is true! Jesus made one specific promise over and over again. When He was taken up to heaven, that same promise was repeated to His disciples even by angels, as the very first message ever to come down out of heaven after Jesus was taken up. That message was: "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men [angels] stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:9-11). Jesus said over and over again He would come back to this earth. He told His disciples, "For the Son of man shall COME in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works" (Matt. 16:27). He said, "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels" (Luke 9:26). Jesus said to His disciples then, and He says to all of us today, "Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching.... And this know, that if the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour [or time] when ye think not" (Luke 12:37, 39-40). There are millions upon millions of professing, churchgoing "Christian" people who have a deep affection and sentiment toward "Jesus Christ." Those millions no doubt feel they have a direct relationship with Jesus — they may have signs over their dining room tables or in their kitchens which say "God bless our home," or "Jesus is the silent guest at every meal in this home," and they may have pictures in their Bibles, and even various religious pictures or articles in their homes. And those same millions just do not believe much of what Jesus Christ of Nazareth said! Today, there seems to be a strong revival of "fundamentalist Christianity" with a resurgence of belief in the second coming of Christ on the part of many evangelists, together with large numbers of the "Jesus people," and literally dozens of other sects and churches. While this may appear to be very good on its surface — it makes one wonder if those same people really understand that the second corning of Jesus Christ is with "fury poured out" and is at the culmination of the Day of the Lord — that great day of gloominess, "a day of clouds and of thick darkness" (Joel 2:2), and that God's Word thunders a warning to all when it says, "Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord!... the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light" (Amos 5:18).
What Is Needed!
While a converted Christian can earnestly desire the second coming of Jesus Christ to once and for all solve this world's problems, and bring the world peace, as well as save that individual by putting him into God's Kingdom — a converted Christian will also know that the glorified Jesus Christ is going to come, followed by "armies" (Rev. 19:14) and that He is coming as a powerful, war-making and conquering KING, not as a sweet and kindly "humble carpenter from Nazareth." In order to really UNDERSTAND the second coming of Jesus Christ as a pragmatic and practical FACT, you simply MUST allow God's Spirit to wash out of your mind all the cobwebs of past sentimentality and "doctrine" in the sense of accepting and believing in the second coming of Jesus Christ only as a "tenet of faith." You need to look out your window at the landscape around your own home, the hills and mountains where you live, thinking of the entirety of the country around you, the state, the county, or nation in which you reside — this broad earth with all of its continents and its vast, heaving seas. Focus your mind on the fact of the earth as being a little pinpoint of light out in the midst of the blackness of the universe, our bright little spaceship upon which all we human beings depend in our narrow ecosphere for our very day-to-day sustenance, and come to KNOW in your mind that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is coming to this earth just as surely as you may have witnessed the return of a space capsule from a lunar landing! You need to UNDERSTAND the second coming of Jesus Christ as a practical fact of future world history, just around the corner from you, as a great EVENT, and not just as a biblical "argument" or something you "believe," as you believe some moral dogma, political slogan or historical fact. You need to capture a personal vision of what the second coming of Jesus Christ will really be LIKE — just as surely as Jesus in His transfiguration gave His own disciples a foretaste of what He would be like and who would be there during His millennial reign.
The Reality of Jesus' Second Coming
Jesus continually tried to get His disciples' minds to focus on the reality of His second coming as a pragmatic FACT of future history. He said, "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory!" (Luke 21:27). When Jesus was on trial for His life, knowing that He would have to endure a brutal and wretched beating, coupled with having spikes driven through his hands and feet into an upright pale, having Himself "raised up" as the prophecies implied, naked, bleeding, before men — and then to die with the thrust of a huge Roman spear into His side, He said, looking levelly into the eyes of the High Priest, "... Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matt. 26:64). Not only did Jesus know He would inspire those words to be preserved for you and for me to read today, but I'm sure He also wanted the impact of those words to burn deeply into the consciousness of that super-critical priest, searing, like a hot knife into his vitals, so that at some future day when he is resurrected and beholds that very same personage, only this time with His eyes blazing as the sun, he too will fall to his knees in complete and total repentance and say, "Behold, my King and my God." Jesus did a great deal of His own personal "witnessing," but it was not like the kind of "witnessing" you see prated about today — such as a nagging, wheedling "Won't you please believe?" or "Do you know what the Lord has done for me?" or "Smile, Jesus loves you!" There is not a single writer of the New Testament who does not allude to or directly talk about the second coming of Jesus Christ. (See the many New Testament scriptures on page 2.) The Apostle Paul referred to it again and again, and his entire fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians deals with the second coming of Jesus Christ and the resurrection. He wrote to the Church at Thessalonica, "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord... for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God..." (I Thess. 4:15-16). And also he used that great event as a SURE PROPHECY — even as if it were something to be used as in a vow or "oath," though Jesus commands that we swear no oath. The Apostle Paul said, "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ...." (II Thess. 2:1), just as someone might earnestly urge someone by some great fact or event which is as immovable as the Rock of Gibraltar! Paul told Timothy, "I give thee charge in the sight of God... that you keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Tim. 6:l3-14). Later, when Paul knew his own martyrdom was impending, he wrote to Timothy, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand... henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but all them also that love his appearing" (II Tim. 4:6, 8).
The Book of Revelation
The Apostle John, that disciple "whom Jesus loved," wrote of the second coming of Jesus Christ continually, He said, "... But we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (I John 3:2). The closing idea — the next to last verse — of the entirety of the New Testament summarizes the most vital impact of all the New Testament by saying, "He [Jesus] which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20). The book of Revelation, inspired to be written of John on the Island of Patmos, is a book which gives such shocking and mind-boggling pictures of the last plagues and the effects upon land, crops, cattle, fish in the sea, mankind, and our entire ecosphere or biosphere, that it seems there could be hardly any human beings surviving at the culmination of all these events. The book of Revelation does not give any "sentimentality" to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Rather, it shows the arrival of Jesus Christ at the last moment of such hugely destructive plagues — many of them brought about directly by man himself, and others as a result of the divine wrath and intervention of God, that one wonders in reading of those shocking biblical symbolisms, whether there could be a man, woman, or child left alive. It is only through Jesus' own promise that "for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:22), that you can know that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is going to cut short the awful global conflict which could spell cosmocide.
Old Testament Prophecies
Christ's second coming is virtually the whole THEME of the New Testament, and, in practical fact, is a main part of all of the Old Testament prophecies, including whole chapters in the book of Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and others in Hosea, Amos, and the whole book of Zephaniah, as well as much of Zechariah and Malachi. (See page 2 for detailed biblical quotes.) Factually, the obvious impact of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the arrival of a conquering KING to RULE is the reason why the Jewish leadership of Jesus' day completely misunderstood, in their carnal vanity, the prophecies concerning "Emmanuel," and that concerning "a virgin shall conceive," and those concerning Jesus' earthly ministry and messiahship. They so firmly expected a great conquering King that they overlooked the obvious prophecies concerning God sending His Son to this earth to qualify for its future world rulership — but appearing the first time to "magnify the Law and make it honorable," as well as to die for the sins of the world which, after all, was the workmanship of His own hands (see John I).
A Warning and a Witness
The purpose of this article is not to "nag" you into "believing" the strongest and surest prophecy in all the Bible! It is, rather, to warn you that the second coming of Jesus Christ is a soon-to-be-accomplished fact of history — to be the proper WITNESS to you, as Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, and to let you do whatever you will with this knowledge. It is the commission of Jesus Christ's servants on this earth today to "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their sins"! There can be no mistaking the absolute and incontrovertible FACT of the soon coming intervention of Almighty God by sending Jesus Christ to this earth. It is not our job to use persuasive psychology, repetition, pleadings or beggings, or any "gimmicks" of man to get more and more people to "believe" that great fact of future history. It is, rather, our commission to "preach this Gospel of the Kingdom of God," that Jesus is the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary, that He lived a righteous and perfect life as an example for us, died to shed His blood for our own past guilt, was resurrected and ascended to the right hand of God the Father, where He awaits the "time of restoration of all things" — and after we preach this Gospel of the Kingdom of God, "THEN shall the end come." Remember, understanding the fact of Jesus' future arrival on this earth (and the countdown has no doubt already begun in heaven!) does not depend upon the clever interpretation of some "lost" or obscure portion of Holy Writ, scholarly knowledge of other languages, or the use of various "signs and symbols." It was the entire message of the early New Testament apostles, and the very reason they died. It is the entire message of God's true Church today, and the very reason we live — and may yet still die. Jesus Christ IS coming back to this earth — the real earth upon which you walk, eat, sleep and breathe. Are you going to DO anything about your own life now — or will you claim, even after reading an article such as this, when you look into the face of Jesus Christ of Nazareth in future years, "But I didn't know — no one ever told me"?
Mal. 3:1-2 "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant.... But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap." Jer. 23:5 "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth." Dan. 7:13-14 "I saw in the night visions, and behold one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days... And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away...." Psa. 96:13 "Before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth." Isa. 40:10 "Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him." Micah 1:3 "For, behold, the Lord cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth." Isa. 26:21 "For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." Isa. 13:9-11 "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate.... And I will punish the world for their evil...." Zech. 14:1-4 "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.... And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives...." Job 19:25 "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." Dan. 2:34-35 "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces... and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth."
Acts 1:9-11 "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.... this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Heb. 9:28 "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." I Cor. 11:26 "For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. " I Pet. 5:4 "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." Luke 12:37-40 "Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching.... Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not." I Cor. 4:5 "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." Matt. 26:64 "... Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." Matt. 24:27 "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Matt. 16:27 "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." Matt. 24:30 "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Luke 9:26 "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels." I Thes. 4:16-17 "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."