Are Your Bags Packed Yet?
I find it interesting at how many posts I see on Facebook declaring the soon return of Christ. Often the photos say, “Jesus is coming soon!” Yet, as a believer and follower of Christ, I am kind of bothered by all of these. Not because I don’t want to see Jesus soon, but because there are still so many who desperately need Him. While I might want Him to come for my sake, truly, there is still work to be done. The earth is filled with people who are still chosen by God to be part of His Kingdom. So, what is it that bothers me about all these posts? It’s that they are declaring something that is vague and sets up the Christian to just sit and wait on Jesus. We should know what the scriptures teach us before we make blatant statements that are in error.
Before I go on, let me say this; many Christians are hoping with all they have in them that Jesus is coming within the next year or so. Some believe He could show up even now. I personally do not believe this to be true and I want to teach you what the Bible says about this subject.
Whether Jesus comes today or in twenty years, we need to be busy doing His work
The rapture is an area of doctrine and theology that has brought much controversy into the church over the years. One Pastor declares He is around the corner and next declares He comes after tribulation. What I don’t get is why the disparity in teaching. Jesus made it clear to His disciples that certain things had to take place before He returned to get His bride. When I study the Word of God, I like to pull out a piece of paper and outline the whole chapter. I pull out all the pertinent scriptures and let them build the story one precept upon the other. To find the truth about the rapture, we need to find where the subject is spoken of in the scriptures. This happens to be in Matthew chapter 24. So, lets spend five minutes and read what Jesus said about His coming return.
Matthew 24:6-8 (NKJV)
6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
I would say we are surely at the beginning of sorrows. We have had world war 1 and 2. We are currently in the middle of many famines, pestilences and earthquakes. With what I see happening around the world today, we could probably all agree we are the beginning of sorrows. But notice what the scripture said; ‘These are the beginning of sorrows’. Not the middle or end of them, the beginning.
Matthew 24:9 (NKJV)
9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
Christians are surely being persecuted today, but I do not believe ‘all’ nations hate Christians. Are we close to that being fulfilled today? Let’s just say we are inching closer to it every day. Let’s keep reading…
Matthew 24:10 (NKJV)
10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
We surely see this happening today, but I believe it will get much worse. Truly, I have never witnessed so many people who are always offended with each that what I see now. Does that mean Jesus is about to come down with a trumpet blast and retrieve us tomorrow? No. He told us that this is the beginning of sorrows.
Matthew 24:11 (NKJV)
11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
I can assure you there are many prophets today speaking out words that aren’t of God today. Even big names. Last year alone I read an article where three major prophets had spoken out in agreement that there was going to be a major event in Washington state. They even named the month. That date came and went with no event. Yet where were the people who heard the prophetic words who then asked the prophets why the event didn’t come to pass? I hear Christians say that the event didn’t happen because of prayer. The Bible I read doesn’t build that pattern. What it does do is show that God speaks to the people and does what he says He is going to do.
Matthew 24:12 (NKJV)
12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
Truly lawlessness is abounding around the world. In America, now we are shooting the very people who are in place by God to physically protect us. Is lawlessness at it’s fruition yet? No. We are still at the beginning of sorrows.
Matthew 24:14 (NKJV)
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
The gospel has not been preached throughout the world yet. There are still many areas on the earth that haven’t been reached quite yet. But we are close. Jesus said that we would have to see this fulfilled before He returns. Often believers read the end of that verse; “Then the end will come” and think reason in themselves that Christ is about to return. But we are still in the beginning of sorrows. We haven’t even entered tribulation yet. In fact, what we do read is Jesus declaring what has to happen next before He comes back. Read on…
Matthew 24:15-16 (NKJV)
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),
16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
The ‘therefore’ is a pivot word in all of this. It is also the beginning of instruction by Him as to what we should do when the abomination of desolation takes place. In order for the abomination to take place, there has to be a temple built. That hasn’t happened yet. The Jews have everything in place to build it, but it hasn’t begun yet. If the Jews started construction in Israel tomorrow, I am guessing it might take five to ten years to complete it. Some people say that all of the materials are already in place to erect this building. That could be and the time to build it would be shortened. Nevertheless, the temple has to be built first.
In the book of Matthew, we are up to the point of the beginning of sorrows. I believe we are in that time frame now. Are we in the tribulation yet? No. Many Christians have been taught that we will not have to go through the tribulation. That is not what Jesus teaches us in the Scriptures. Let’s see what He did say…
Matthew 24:21 (NKJV)
21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Let’s skip through about twenty verses and see what Jesus says will happen after tribulation.
Matthew 24:33-34 (NKJV)
33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near–at the doors!
34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
Jesus is telling every believer that they are not going to miss out on the tribulation. “This generation” is not going to pass away until these things take place.
It isn’t until verse 40 when Jesus talks about the rapture. If we were going to be raptured out early, Jesus would have told us that. But it is at the bottom of the chapter when Jesus speaks out the truth about the rapture.
Matthew 24:40-42 (NKJV)
40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.
42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
My precious believer in Christ, it is time to unpack your bags and get back to the business at hand with Christ. He wants each of us to be going about the business of His Father. We should be preaching Christ, saving souls, healing the sick, walking in miracles. We should be setting the captives free (spiritually) and opening up the gates of the prison doors where Satan has people bound. If you are found not doing these things when Jesus returns, it won’t go well for you.
Do not think for a moment that your attendance at church is going to buy anything for you or your family. Church is where you get built back up, healed and delivered so that you can go back out into the world and help others. Anything else is foolishness. Just know that battle is on to keep you from fulfilling your destiny in Christ. That is a whole different subject matter.
Jesus spoke out a parable regarding the talents. For the person who buried their gifts in the dirt, he was tossed out of the Kingdom of God. Don’t let that be found of you. The rewards for doing this thing called life right are huge if we will just do what He has commanded us to do. Look to see what the Father is doing and go do it.
I hope this helps you have a better view of your life and future in Christ.
In His love for you
Pastor Jeff Mauer