Everafter By Pete Garcia I know I know…I’m supposed to write a Christmas article because…
As We See the Day Approaching
By Pete Garcia
The Holy Bible expends a great deal of energy and effort, explaining both God and man’s relationship to time. God declares of Himself that He alone is omnipotent, omnipresent, and knows the end from the beginning. The Bible declares for man, that he is but a vapor or blade of grass compared to time, and that we are here one as if for one fleeting moment, and gone the next. God, having created time for man, has existed in power and majesty for all of eternity, and if you were to compare our current existence, whether you believe our world to be only 6,000 years, or a billion, is still all relatively short compared to the total existence of God. We simply have no way to mentally reconcile the concept of eternity, yet, at the moment of our death, we are immediately thrust into it. You see, although we cannot comprehend it while living as finite beings with finite minds, we were made with eternity built into our hearts.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11
God has existed since eternity-past and will on into eternity future. Where does God come from? What did God do before He built our universe? What will we do for the rest of eternity once the timeline God lays out in the Bible plays out to its total culmination? We don’t know. But perhaps this is why the Bible (courtesy God the Holy Spirit) spends an inordinate amount of time speaking to God’s eternal characteristics. So, although we don’t have all the answers now, we can trust that God is holy, righteous, loving, and just. We know that God is a Creator God, and I would assume, that for the rest of eternity-future, we (believers from all ages) will be in perfect fellowship with Him and doing things that He has in store for us.
“Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years…” – Genesis 1:14-15
God created time for man. God doesn’t need time to exist, nor does He need the celestial bodies to know when exactly He is. When asked by Moses who should he sends him, God told him that His name was the “I AM”, which from the Hebrew word ‘haya’ means, ‘the becoming One”. He is always in the present, no matter when He is. The best concept of how this works, is the parade in order to explain how God can always see everything simultaneously. Imagine you are watching a parade go by and you’re standing on the side of the road and along with everyone else watching the parade pass before you. You can’t see what’s coming until it’s within eyeshot and you can’t see where they go after they’ve passed. But God is like that news helicopter reporting on the parade as they fly a thousand feet over the top of it…and they can see the whole parade from start to finish all at the same time.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” – Ecclesiastes 3:1
God gave time to man as a gift so we (who are not omnipotent) could judge, measure, and understand the times in which we live. Since ancient times until today, our understanding of time has been adjusted several times through the use of varying calendars; Hebrew or prophetic, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Persian, Julian, and Gregorian to name a few. Man, through varying civilizations, has attempted to reconcile the time and seasons according to what they understood about when they were. The best and most perfect calendar though, would be the one in which God gave the Israelites, which is the 12, 30-day months equaling a 360 day year, otherwise known as the prophetic year. The point being, is that aside from the Bible, we don’t know exactly when we are on God’s calendar, but because we God’s written word, we have a pretty good general idea, which is somewhere near the six thousandth year since Creation.
According to Scripture, the Antichrist will look to change the calendar again (Daniel 7:25), but to what end we don’t fully understand. But since the Antichrist is powered by Satan, and Satan was present at Creation, he also knows when exactly we are, even if he doesn’t fully know when this all will come to an end. By the time the Antichrist gets on the scene…after the Rapture, Israel and Jerusalem (along with Judaism) will be the only remaining visible human semblance to God left on the planet. What I mean be that is, immediately after the Rapture of the Church, when all true believers are removed physically, that only leaves the unbelievers; the Jews, the pagans, and the apostate church. While Judaism is not Christian due to their inability to accept Jesus as their Messiah, God still has unfinished business with them through unfulfilled covenants that need closure. (Dan. 9:24-27; Jer. 30:7-11, 2 Sam. 7:12-16) This is the when and why the Two Witnesses (Rev. 11) begin their ministry in Jerusalem during the seven year Tribulation…testifying that Christ is the Messiah to the nation of Israel. I believe these two Witnesses that appear, are the same two who appeared with Christ at the Transfiguration. (Matt. 17:2-4; Deut. 19:15)
As believers in the 21st century, we have the luxury of not only having Scripture, but also the rapid and incredible advancements in technology and archeology, which has given us a better understanding at looking back at recorded human history to see how humanity has progressed, or rather, digressed. All throughout the New Testament, both Jesus and the various writers all contend that as time progresses, things would progressively unravel and become increasingly perilous. The fact that mankind has progressed to where we are today, with our weapons of modern warfare, advanced communications, and burgeoning global population, is fulfilling exactly what the Bible said would happen two thousand years ago. The Bible also states that we as believers should KNOW when we are, based off the evidence the Bible lays out for us. The fact that most of the major Christian denominations ignore the prophetic scriptures, even fulfills Bible prophecy.
“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.” For this they willfully forget…” – 2 Peter 3:3-5
Jesus told the Pharisees in His day that they should have recognized the season, meaning, the Old Testament Scripture was replete with evidence for who, when, and where their Messiah would arrive. (Matt. 16:1-4) Jesus told Jerusalem that they should have recognized the time of their visitation, and specifically hones in on the day…this your day….that day being Palm Sunday as the day their Messiah was foretold to visit them. (Luke 19:41-44) After explaining for the first time in Scripture what the mystery of the Rapture was (harpazo-catching up), Paul tells the believers in Thessalonica (and by extension us) that we wouldn’t be caught unawares to the season of our Lord’s return.
4 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 5 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 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. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thess. 4:15-5:4)
The unfortunate chapter break between 1 Thess. 4, and 1 Thess. 5 has led many to dissect these as two separate trains of thought. If you read vs. 4:18 on into 5:1 without stopping, you see that the comfort in vs. 18, directly correlates with the knowledge that Paul is given them about what is going to happen. IOW, knowledge of said event = comfort for the believer. There is no ambiguity and uncertainty (both of which breed fear), because Paul is telling them what their fate is should they live to see the return of the Lord.
In Luke 17:24-30, Jesus describes the time of His return as being like the days of Noah and Lot. What’s unique about this passage though, is that Jesus (who as God is thoroughly familiar with the events of both Noah and Lot’s day) remained purposefully generic in His description, not dismissing the wickedness of those particular periods of time, but noting the normality of it all. In Luke 17, Jesus doesn’t mention the violence and wickedness, but only speaks to the average, ordinary, every-day events such as buying and selling, marrying, and given in marriage, etc.
What this tells me, is that by the time Christ is set to return, great violence, wickedness, greed, and sexual perversion have become so common place in the world that people just accept it as the new normal. (Gen. 6, 19; Ezek. 16:49-50) Think about our day today, in which abortion (50 million plus), murder, rape, divorce, terrorism, euthanasia, gay marriage, drug use, slavery, adultery, government and economic corruption, war, crime, racial tensions, genetic manipulation, corporate influence flood our news and information outlets. These collectively, are simply signposts pointing to the nearness of the end of the age, which means they soon herald His return for the Church and the start of the final seven-year Tribulation which will rock the world to its very foundation.
God didn’t tell us all these things prophetically for His benefit as mentioned before, He transcends time. He told us through Scripture so we wouldn’t be in the dark about what His plans are for the future, and to comfort us when times grow dark and perilous. Imagine a Bible with no mention of what happens in the future. What if the book of Revelation consisted of only one verse: In the end, God wins. How comforting is that? How reassuring is that? Sadly, that is how a lot of modern Christians, churches, and denominations treat the Bible already, and you can see that their focus (since it’s not on Christ’s return) is centered on earthly things. These would also be those who are caught up in every changing tide a culture goes through. These are they who believe that Christianity can evolve, and can embrace the things the Bible states God abhors.
The tendency of many is to give up, or give in as the culture around us falls apart. Know and trust, that God has seen the end from the beginning. (Isaiah 46:9-10) Known to God from eternity are all His works. (Acts 15:18). Let us rest assured in one thing, the more we look up, the less time we have to fixate on a world that is falling apart. The more we look up, the less likely we will be shaken in our faith, despite what the world says. The more we look up, the more we will want to share that news with those who are lost and going to an eternal hell. The last thing Satan wants anyone to do, is to have a sincere, biblically based understanding of when Christ is going to return…because that ingrains in that believer, the finality of God’s holy prophetic word.
It reinforces that God has not abandoned us. It reinforces that Jesus loves us and will return again. (John 14:1-3) This fallen world is pressing us to quit, give in, give up…and it seems to have no end in sight. But we find strength in His word which says there is an end, and the end is nigh. Although it’s getting harder and harder to find like-minded believers to encourage and build each other up, we must realize, we might be growing smaller in number (also foretold in Rev. 3:8-10), we don’t walk alone. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25