The end-times, Jesus’ return, the harvest, the destruction of the heavens and the earth by fire, the lake of fire, and the new heaven and new earth are prophecies that are part of what the apostles taught, part of what Jesus Himself taught, and a part of the Gospel we cannot ignore in order to create an easier set of beliefs. This hope keeps us going through the difficult times. It spurs on onto spread the Gospel. It inspires us to live as Jesus taught us to live and modeled for us to live. That is why the enemy uses the ignorant to discourage us, make us think that it will not happen, and makes us question why the Father is waiting so long to send Jesus back to us. Peter addressed this in his letter. Verses 1-7 read,
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
The scoffers are deliberately overlooking logic to argue their side. God is Almighty Creator, and Sovereign. God created heavens and earth long long ago by speaking. He formed the earth out of water simply by speaking. When evil became so great He could no longer tolerate it, His words used the same water to destroy the earth, save the righteous, and make it new. It has been ages, longer than any of us can accurately count. Only God knows the time. It is up to Him our Creator and He will do what He promised and by His word, He will bring about the Day of Fire, avenge us, and destroy the ungodly.
The scoffers ignore that God has always kept His word. They disregard the prophecies which came to be so very specifically. They ignore that Jesus fulfilled every prophecy about Him. The odds of one person so perfectly fulfilling those prophecies are beyond our calculations. If one looks at only 8 of 61 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled the odds are a staggering 1in 1017 or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. That’s one in one hundred quadrillion[i]! Those who mock the church have to throw logic and science out the door to deride us.
Still we wait and we ask, “Why are you waiting so long, Lord?” Peter reminds us in verses 8-9
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God wants everyone who will come to come. He is patiently waiting for them to hear His word and answer His call. But don’t think that there is nothing happening. Seals have been broken, prophecies are coming true, and The Day of the Lord is closer than ever. But not every prophecy has been fulfilled, not every person who will come has come, and not every nation has heard Jesus preached yet. Revelation describes it as angels holding back the winds that will ravage and destroy in the Day of Fire until the 144,000 remnant of Israel are sealed (Revelation 7:1-8). Angels are not the fat little babies or beautiful delicate women in white the world imagines them to be, they are fierce strong creatures whose mere appearance causes men to faint. God is waiting because there is a multitude of people, greater than can be counted who will be saved out of the Day who will live eternally with Him. Revelation 7:9-14 describes us this way,
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The Day will be awesome and wonderful for us, Believer. But it will be awesome and terrible for those who do not call Jesus Lord. Verse 10 reads,
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
That Day will come unexpectedly and suddenly, we do not know when, even Jesus does not know, only the Father. In Matthew 24 Jesus teaches about the end times, the signs, and the precursors. Matthew 24:29-31 and 36-44 read,
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Every person will be resurrected but not every person has been resurrected with Christ and that Day won’t go so well for them. In John 5:24-29 Jesus said,
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
God does not want any to perish! He wants every person to come to Him. It is every person’s ultimate destiny to answer God’s call on their lives. He chose all of us and some choose to accept His free gift by the gift of free will He gave us. Therefore, it is important for us to continue living a life that glories Him and speaks to who Jesus is. Verses 11-13 read,
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
This earth, these troubles, and this persecution is temporary. Those who mock want us to think that The Day of the Lord is a scary story. The truth is this life is short and one day will be a distant memory like our misty memories of childhood, it will seem unreal. New Jerusalem, eternity in the City of God with Jesus is more real than this short life. The Day of the Lord is not a frightening tale to the believer, it is our hope. If it is terrifying to those who don’t know Jesus, perhaps our love, our lives, and the truth of Jesus Christ will convince them that one day they will see Jesus return and they will either drop to their knees and confess He is Lord out of dread or in worship.
Knowing how awesome our God is, let’s live a life worthy of Jesus, a life that demonstrates His love through the Holy Spirit. Verses 14-18 read,
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Believer, stay diligent; do not let the words of mockers derail your walk with God. Praise God for His patience, praise God that He is waiting. Partner with Him to share the Gospel to the whole world, especially to those who are right in front of you.
I will close with this amazing, beautiful, and inspiring description of our reality which is promised and coming soon. It is also a reminder of the importance of the message of the Gospel. Revelation 21:1-8 reads,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
[i] I got this number from Professor Peter Stoner’s calculations using eight prophecies found in his paper Applying the Science of Probability to the Scriptures.