Confessions of a Watcher
By Jonathan C. Brentner
I remember a scene from Star Trek: The Next Generation television series where Data is in his room watching water come to a boil in a flask. When someone walks in and asks what he is doing he explains that the old adage, “A watched pot never boils,” is just not true. As proof, he says that he has watched water come to a boil 23 times in a row without fail.
For those of us awaiting the imminent return of Jesus, there are days when we are tempted to wonder if a “watched for” Jesus never appears to take us home. Scripture assures us of the possibility we might see the day of His appearing before we die. But I must confess, the waiting is not easy. Knowing we live in the last moments of human history as we know it makes it all the harder to remain watchful as month after month passes and we remain earthbound.
What exactly makes it so difficult to wait for the rapture?
We See Evil Increase Exponentially
I never thought I would see such great wickedness before the rapture as I see today. I’m sure many of you like me often wonder, “How long, O Lord, before You intervene in our world.” When I read the first four verses of Habakkuk 1, it seems as though the prophet could just as easily have been looking at the United States when he spoke those words.
I know the Lord hears the anguished cries of the unborn as doctors cut them apart in the womb; He feels the terror of these precious little ones in the womb as needles with lethal poison enter their tiny bodies. He sees the torment in the faces of unwanted infants left to die after a failed abortion or just because no one wants them.
He hears the silent screams of young girls and even boys caught in the brutal nightmare of sex trafficking. Can life get anymore horrific for these young children? I don’t think so.
There is so much evil and violence in our world. How can God’s judgment not be ever so close? How can God wait much longer before He puts an end to such evil and violence?
As my weariness from waiting grows, the Lord reminds me of the approaching tribulation that will soon overspread the world. Somewhere between one half and three fourths of the world’s population will perish during this time as the Lord pours out His just wrath on a Christ-rejecting world. There will be a day of vengeance for the great wickedness we see.
It’s not that we long for people to suffer; we certainly do not. However, we long for day when the Lord judges those who are now inflicting immeasurable pain on children and murdering millions of the most innocent among us.
We Hear Others Mock our Hope in Jesus’ Imminent Appearing
Another aspect that makes waiting so hard is the ridicule we endure as we watch for Jesus’ soon appearing. It comes from a wide variety of sources. We would expect it to come from those who reject Christ, but the scoffing also comes from fellow believers as well as from pastors who falsely tell us the Lord no longer has a prophetic purpose for the nation of Israel.
Even though the apostle Peter told us such mocking would happen in the last days (2 Pet. 3:1-4), we grow weary of it at times. It helps to know that such ridicule is itself a sign of the day in which we live, but it’s sad when it comes from those who also claim to love the Lord.
I just finished reading through the book of Job again. As I read the last chapter, the Lord’s words to Eliphaz jumped out at me, “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (42:7). As one who teaches through the written word, this verse reminded me of the importance of accurately communicating God’s Word. I find it sobering to think of the responsibility of faithfully representing the Lord when I write about the end times.
I do not have all the answers and some passages still perplex me. But my passion is to accurately and clearly communicate the truths of God’s Word to the best of my ability. The Lord has used many trials and afflictions along with a lifetime of study to instill in me the confidence I have in my hope of Jesus’ imminent appearing to take me to His Father’s house in heaven, just as He promised us in John 14:2-3. I know many disagree with me, but know that my convictions come from much prayer and intensely studying the same prophetic passages again and again and again each and every year.
This is also why I spend so much time seeking to communicate a firm biblical basis for premillennialism and the pretribulation rapture. Because we live in an age where doctrines of every shape and persuasion blow our way like large snowflakes on a cold winter day, we must know what God’s Word says in order to stand firm.
The Convergence of Signs
I remember the fall of 2015 when it appeared that numerous signs were falling into place pointing to the very soon return of Jesus. I expected the rapture to occur within a year or two at the most if not that autumn. Since that time, the indicators of the approaching tribulation have greatly increased, but we still wait for Jesus’ appearing.
This also adds to the difficulty in waiting for Jesus to return, does it not? Perhaps the problem for me lies in my allowing prophetic speakers to heighten my expectations to an unrealistic level. But after all, this is the season of His appearing; why should I not live as though the rapture can happen at any moment?
The New Testament saints watched and waited eagerly for Jesus’ imminent appearing (see Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; 1 Cor. 1:7; Titus 2:11-13). It’s what they did! In addition, I believe the Lord will reward those who anticipate His return as though it could happen at any moment (2 Tim. 4:8).
On the other hand, when I hear of the multitudes coming to Christ in Iran it helps me better understand the Lord’s patience. I also know many of you are earnestly praying for children, parents, friends, and other loved ones to come to Jesus before it’s too late. I also plead with the Lord concerning the salvation of my children and grandchildren. I not want them to face the horrors of the tribulation or face eternal torment, which will be far worse.
I believe the Father knows the precise time He will tell the Son to go get His bride. He knows all who will come to faith before that moment, but I do not believe He is waiting for any specific individual to come to Him. Such scenario makes the timing of the rapture dependent on us rather than the sovereign purposes of the Father (Acts 1:7).
So while our expectation of Jesus’ soon appearing is entirely biblical and pleasing to the Lord, we must also add confidence in the Lord’s timing to our watchfulness. We must look beyond the great wickedness of our culture, the mocking of others regarding our hope, and even the convergence of signs as we rest in God’s perfect timing for all things.
Yes, He could very well come today, but He is also patient waiting for as many as possible to come to Him and I believe He’s also waiting until He has no alternative but to unleash His great wrath on a Christ-rejecting world.
When the trumpet sounds and we suddenly find ourselves in the glorious presence of our beloved Savior, we will know His timing was indeed perfect.
Until then, no one said it would be easy! Keep watching and waiting as though it could happen today!
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