Apocalypse Soon? Part Two

If you haven’t read Apocalypse Soon? – Part One yet, please do so, because the teachings are constructed one upon the other.

Part Two: The Signs of Noah and Jonah

The time is growing shorter and shorter until the end-days commence and some of us are feeling a swelling up within of an imminent explosion about to hit the world.

  • These days are akin to when Noah was asked to build the ark in preparation for the flood that would destroy all life in the land – except for the people and animals on the ark

(Matthew 24:37-39) But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

  • In today’s world, most people (and many Christians) are going about their lives (eating, drinking, marrying) as though nothing else mattered, as though the world would simply continue going on as is for at least the rest of their lives – but, Jesus says otherwise.
  • Most people will not realize what is going on until it’s too late – unless, we tell them and explain that the terrible things happening to and on the earth are signs that Jesus is about to shake and break this world and then replace it with the New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem prophesied in Revelation 21.

People likely mocked Noah and called him a fool, especially since there had never been rain on the earth up until that point in time

  • Prior to that, there had only been a mist that arose from the ground
    • (Genesis 2:6) For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.

The Bible also prophesies that scoffers and mockers will come in the last days, and we already see that today, with people increasingly putting down all things Christian, even labeling Christians as haters:

  • (2Peter 3:3-4) Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

So, when will the last days begin? When the disciples asked Jesus when the time of the end would be, He said:

  • But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven but My Father only. (Matthew 24:36)

Only God the Father knows when the right time will be.

  • However, notice that Jesus says no one will know the day or the hour

Jesus tells us directly to watch for the signs of His coming:

  • (Matthew 24:42) Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
    • He wouldn’t tell us to watch if there wasn’t something to watch for.
    • As discussed in Part One, many signs are close to fulfillment, so Jesus could come back in the next 10 to 20 years or so.

Jesus told us to watch for these things much as we would watch the seasons – we looked at this in Part One, People Get Ready, but now we’re going to examine another important lesson from this parable:

  • (Matthew 24:32-34) Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer isSo you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
    • The Greek word translated as ‘generation’ can also be translated as ‘age’ and this is the meaning of this sign, for that generation who lived at that time passed away a long time ago. Jesus is referring to the entire generation of believers through the age between His first and second coming.
    • Unfortunately, some have used this expression to claim that the end-times have already occurred and that Jesus was referring to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD when Titus, the son of Roman Emperor Vespasian overran Jerusalem with his army
      • But that hat was only a foreshadowing of the true end of the age

Jesus also says to also keep watch as we do with the weather:

  • (Matthew 16:1-4) Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
    • Here, Jesus was speaking directly to the Pharisees who had come to challenge Him. Jesus had already performed many miracles, including the feeding of the 4,000, which should have been enough to prove to them that He was who He said He was.
      • He was not saying that it was wrong to seek after a sign, because elsewhere (as above), He told us to look for signs.

Jesus not only tells us to discern the times as we would the weather, but He introduces another sign – the sign of Jonah. He explains this Himself in Matthew 12:40-41:

  • For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is

Jesus was dead and buried in the earth for three days before rising up like Jonah did from the belly of the beast and the people of Nineveh took it as a sign from God that Jonah was miraculously saved after being in the great fish for three days, and they repented and turned to God.

  • Like them, we should accept Jesus’ resurrection as not only a fulfillment of these verses but also as sign that everything He says about His Second Coming is true

There will also be unmistakable signs in the Heavens, but this occurs well along into the Great Tribulation:

  • (Luke 21:25-27) And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
    • The sea and the waves have certainly been roaring as we’ve seen with the increasing strength of the hurricanes striking the U.S. And, more and more distress is coming upon the earth.

The heavenly signs alluded to above (“the powers of the heavens will be shaken”) regarding the sun and moon happen quite late in the Great Tribulation, perhaps the last sign and the last hope any have of salvation

  • (Acts 2:20) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
  • (Revelation 6:12) I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.

We may not know the day or the hour of His Coming, but like the sons of Issachar, we are supposed to be aware of approximately when that time is ready to come upon us

  • (1Chronicles 12:32) “The sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.

In the days of Noah, it was too late for them to do anything to avoid the coming destruction as soon as the rain started to fall, because Noah was already safely tucked away inside the ark

  • If they had hearkened to the signs, they could also have built arks or boats of some kind to survive – or, better yet, repented of their evil and wicked ways

But now, following Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have been given signs and instructions directly from God in His Word, the Bible, which tells us what to do

  • For believers, this means being prepared and living as though Jesus could come at any moment, because when He comes it will be quickly, instantaneously as He said in Revelation 22:12. He further explains what this will be like in Matthew 24:40-43
    • Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

Being “taken” refers to the rapture in which believers will rise to meet Jesus in the air (i.e. the heavenly places) and be saved from the further destruction of the earth

  • The rapture is described in 1Thessalonians 4:17: Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord.
    • Some say the word ‘rapture’ isn’t in the Bible and so they don’t believe in it. But the word ‘bible’ isn’t in the Bible either, so that’s a spurious objection
      • Our English word rapture comes from the Latin word ‘raptura’ which means ‘carrying off’ and is the word translated as ‘caught up” in our English translations

The Apostle Paul further instructed us on how to get ready for the end of the age:

  • (1Thessalonians 5:1-11) But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another.
    • Being sober and not drunk are metaphors for being alert and watchful, and not taken in by the dark ways of the world, instead remaining vigilant and spiritually prepared for Christ to come at any moment.
    • Paul also calls upon us to put on the “breastplate of love” so that we can love and comfort one another through these difficult and perilous times –not just other Christians, but unbelievers as well, so that our love, comfort and witness can save many souls.
    • For Christians, this is not the time to just dig in and try to just survive, but rather it is an opportunity to reach out to unbelievers with their last chance for eternal salvation
    • People are more open to hearing the Gospel message when things are not going well, especially during the fearful times to come

The Apostle Peter also recommends being sober, but also hopeful and holy:

  • (1Peter 1:13-16) Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
    • Even as we hope for Jesus’ coming to be soon, we must gird up our loins and be prepared to endure for however long it takes, remaining obedient and holy, not conforming to the lusts of the world

Then we will be prepared for when the end-times start to unfold, as Luke advises:

(Luke 21:28) Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

However, for unbelievers, the time is being lengthened so that everyone has every opportunity to receive God’s free gift of salvation

  • (2Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
    • Repentance precedes salvation, which is why John the Baptist and Jesus both said to, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17)

The word repent means more than just being sorry – there must be deep, Godly sorrow and a commitment to turn away from sinfulness and resist temptation so that it does not reoccur.

  • For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2Corinthians 7:10)
    • The sorrow of the world is merely mouthing the word ‘sorry’ with no true sorrow nor any commitment to do better

But with Godly sorrow and true repentance, unbelievers can turn to God and receive the free gift of salvation and eternal life in Heaven by declaring (from their mind, heart and spirit) that Jesus Christ is their Savior and Lord of their life

  • (Acts 3:19) Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
  • (Isaiah 45:22)Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

So the Signs of Noah and Jonah tell us not just to be watchful, but also to be prepared to love, comfort and lead unbelievers to repent and be saved.

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