July 2: The Revelation of Jesus

Read Revelation 19:11-21

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Israel standing on the historic Mount Carmel. Just to my left was the supposed spot where Elijah rained down fire from heaven in front of the prophets of Baal; just in front of me was the mountainside down which the prophets fled and Elijah slew them. Off in the distance to my right was the very road on which Jesus healed the ten lepers.

However, straight in front of me was the Valley of Megiddo. I had heard about how big it was. Take it from me; it’s even bigger in person. This was probably the site I was most looking forward to seeing during my trip to Israel. In this valley, set in front of me, is where it all ends. Millions of troops will gather in this valley and get ready for the battle that will usher in eternity. On one side are the armies of man, the demons of Hell, along with Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet, and on the other side are Jesus, the saints of Heaven and believers.

Revelation 19:11 starts into the description of the General of Heaven: He is riding a white horse – symbolizing the fact that the one riding it will be victorious in battle. Victory is sure. The physical descriptions of Jesus are enough to give you chills. Just as He approaches the valley, you can’t help but think of the reactions of Satan and his army. James 2:19 tells us that demons already know their destiny. They will know their demise is at hand.

Through the crucifixion, Jesus has defeated Satan, and, here, that victory is demonstrated once again.  Ever since Jesus died for our sins, sin no longer has power (1 Corinthians 15:55). When Jesus rose from the grave, He secured for us eternal life through His sacrifice and resurrection.

The principle in all of these studies is consistent: God has a plan for the end times. The purpose of the end times is to display God’s power and justice and show us, as believers, that He knows what is to happen because He crafted it into place.

While the victory over the Enemy happens at the Valley of Megiddo, victory has already been secured as Jesus died and rose from the dead. Jesus said, “… the prince of this world now stands condemned” (John 16:11). You have victory, and He planned for it!

jdl

Posted in End in Mind, Revelation

July 1: The Time of His Return

Read Matthew 24:1-51

In the end times, even after the tribulation there will be many who will wage war with God and still curse the name of Jesus – that is, until He comes in the clouds and they see Him face to face.

Matthew 24 tells us of Jesus’ glorious return and offers warning signs so we are not led astray. These signs consist of: people will insist they know the time of Jesus’ return, people will claim to be Him, rumors of wars will spread, and wars will be rampant throughout the world. However, the Scriptures are the only true source addressing the end times. We can find encouragement in verse 6 when Jesus tells us not to be worried because of all the chaos that will take place.

We, also, are given a glimpse of what the Tribulation will be like for the Jews, “…such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.” In this time, there will still be people who mislead others by performing miraculous signs as evidence of their supposed divinity. “Behold,  I have told you in advance,” Jesus says so they are not led astray.

There will be no greater joy for Christians than when we get to be with Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says that at the Rapture we will spend eternity with Him. Is there any greater joy? For others, even if they have been led astray, they will have to suffer through the Tribulation. If they still haven’t turned to Christ, His glorious return, which occurs after the Tribulation, will again catch them off guard.

There will also be no question they waited too long – it will be too late. After the Tribulation, Jesus will return to take up His new believers. No matter how long you wait, no matter how much time you think you have, before you know it, the Tribulation will be upon you. At that point, guilt will come flooding over you because you will then realize you waited too long. Don’t allow yourself to be misled. Jesus is coming and when He does, there will be no question. You will want to be with Him then! Either you will be overjoyed or you will be filled with regret. Jesus is waiting for you today with open arms; He wants you to accept His forgiveness and make Him the Lord of your life. Don’t put it off. Secure your eternity today.

jdl

Posted in End in Mind, Matthew

June 30: Tribulation Evangelists

Read Revelation 11:1-14

One of the things I love about our God is the fact that He is forgiving. If He hadn’t been so forgiving,  we would all be destined for eternal separation from Him. Like the story of Jonah, He still forgives, even in the face of disobedience. The apostle Paul was opposed to God for a large part of his life and God still forgave him and gave him the opportunity to become one of the greatest missionaries the world has ever known.

When you come to chapter 11 of Revelation, imagine what the world has just been through. The Tribulation is in full swing which includes plagues, falling stars, death, famines and more. It seems like, at this point, the world is groaning, having barely survived. Those that have survived may be mortified as to what they have seen. They lived their lives opposed to God and they witnessed firsthand the potential of God’s wrath.

But Micah prophesied (Micah 4:4-6) that God would give unbelievers one more chance despite everything His people did to defy Him. Revelation 11 tells us the two witnesses will prophesy and do miracles for 42 months and they are going to be protected by God; if anyone tries to harm them, they will die.

In verse 7, we are told that, after they have finished their testimony, the Antichrist (beast) will come and kill the two witnesses. The two witnesses weren’t allowed to be killed until their testimony was complete. This is yet another indication that God indeed has a plan for the end times and everything will go according to that plan.

After they are killed, the bodies of the two witnesses are left in the streets for 3 ½ days. This is proof that there are people who rejected even these two and their message. There are still going to be people who reject Christ, even after all they would see and experience.

People might question what kind of a god would allow people to go through hard times as the Tribulation. You have found through your study that we, as humans, bring punishment upon ourselves for not trusting in Jesus as the One true Messiah. The bottom line is:  God, after His wrath is taken out on the earth, will give all people one last chance to be saved. God created you to have a relationship with Him and He wants you to choose Him. He’s giving you a chance today to experience His salvation.  Will you?

jdl

Posted in End in Mind, Revelation

June 29: The Judgments

Read Revelation 5:1-6:2, 8:1-7 , 16:1-12

What makes the Tribulation so horrible and so epic is the series of judgments the God of heaven completes on the earth. These judgments are divided into three groups:  seals, trumpets, and bowls. With each seal that is broken, trumpet that is blown, and bowl that is poured out on the earth, a specific judgment occurs. While these judgments may sound strange, they are to be taken very literally. These judgments are going to be the worst event that has ever happened to the people still on earth. They are going to be victims of God’s wrath with no way out.

With there being exactly 7 of each judgment, it tells us that this account of the absolute destruction of the entire world is real and far worse than we could ever imagine. The fact that each group of judgments includes 7 more judgments plays a significant role in the end times. The number 7 is significant in the Bible; it often refers to perfection or completion.

The application of these judgments comes in the last half of the bowl judgments.  The people are experiencing extreme pain caused by sores on their bodies and are experiencing the severity of God’s wrath.  Yet, in verses 15:9 and 11 we are told that,  through it all, they will not repent of their sins. Remarkably, unbelievably, until their final breath, there will be people who will not repent and will not put their trust in Jesus.

If you trust in Jesus as the One Messiah; the Way, the Truth and the Life, the forgiver of your sins, you will not have to experience the horrid judgment that John writes about and describes in the book of Revelation. While most of this appears harsh on God’s part, this is His righteous wrath. Sin against a holy God requires the judgment of a righteous God.

All of us reading this understand that there are consequences for rejecting Jesus.  Yet, some people, even in their dying breaths, will, in their pride, reject Him.  If you have not trusted Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, trust Him now. If you know Him, ask God to use you to testify about Him to others who are without hope.

jdl

Posted in End in Mind, Revelation

June 28: Abomination of Desolation

Read Daniel 11:29-35 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Why is the Antichrist so bad? Why is he such an enemy to God? What does he do that gets him on God’s bad side? You just learned about the covenant he makes with Israel and how he breaks it halfway through the Tribulation. History verifies that, if you mess with Israel, there will be consequences. A lot of people will try to take out Israel, and they will always be unsuccessful.

Along with that, Daniel 9 and 11 tells us about another pivotal part of the end times timeline, the Abomination of Desolation. The abomination is the thing that clearly sets the Anti-Christ apart as a direct enemy to God. In Daniel 11:29, “At the appointed time”, gives us the ultimate perspective, the key to understanding the implications of this act, and the continued hope that this horrendous act isn’t going to happen without God’s approval. Just as the cross and the persecution of the church were a part of His plan, the Abomination of Desolation happens at the appointed time that only God approves.

So what is the Abomination of Desolation? Daniel 11:31 tells us that the Antichrist will “desecrate the sanctuary fortress (temple) and do away with the regular sacrifice.” In the end times, the temple will be rebuilt (some Jews are preparing for it now) and sacrifices will be re instituted. The desecration is described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” He goes into God’s holy place of worship and denounces all other gods and claims that he is our God.

Again, none of this happens without the “okay” from God. All of this plays into His master plan for humanity which includes your life. God knows what’s going to happen to you and how to get you through that. He is forever our Hope! We need to be confident that whatever takes place in the end times is for His glory!

jdl

Posted in Daniel, End in Mind | Tagged

June 27: Satan during the Tribulation

Read Revelation 12:1-17

I recently watched the new Left Behind movie starring Nicholas Cage. It actually portrayed the rapture very well. It was breathtaking; out of nowhere *FWOOP* millions of people are instantly taken off this earth and into Heaven. At the end of the movie, the characters stand overlooking a burning city; one saying, “Well I’m glad that’s all over”. “No,” another responds, “it’s only the beginning.” The rapture, indeed, is only the beginning because following the rapture comes the Tribulation. The Tribulation is such a big act in the play of the end times. Some may ask, “What about the Prince of Darkness?” If God is taking out his wrath on the earth, where is Satan during all this?

Revelation 12 gives us a very specific account of Satan’s actions both during the Tribulation and throughout history. As he was powerful over the course of history, he will be equally powerful in the end times. The reality is, during this time, Satan WILL have the power to be very active in the world, persecuting and torturing the entire human race.

Another scene in the chapter is that which occurs in Heaven. There is a great battle in Heaven and the dragon is ultimately thrown out. Think of this as the war of the 4th dimension. Everything you cannot see, the entire spiritual realm, is up for grabs. As you sit reading this devotional, there are armies of angels protecting you from the influence of demons. In all reality, there is a war going on in your very room, a war for your soul. Revelation 12 shows us the climax of this war and, at the end of it, Heaven comes out victorious.

If you die without trusting in Jesus, the chaos of billions vanishing at the rapture will soon subside; but that is just the beginning. The darkest time the world has ever known comes next, when Satan will be unleashed to do his worst on the earth. If you have yet to place your trust in Jesus for your forgiveness, now is the time to begin your relationship with Him. If you are a Christ follower, I am sure you know people who don’t know Jesus. What are you doing to reach them before it’s too late? To everyone, God offers a free gift of salvation that will get you out of the Tribulation.

jdl

Posted in End in Mind, Revelation

June 26: Resurgence of Israel

Read Romans 11:1-36

Why do you have salvation? What would you say if I told you that in Matthew 15:24 Jesus said that He only came for the lost sheep of Israel? The people of Israel are God’s chosen people. He loves them and Christ’s earthly ministry was primarily directed toward them. Think of all they had going for them: the God of the universe loved them and wanted them to enter into eternity with Him. And yet, reading the gospels will quickly reveal that the Jews largely wanted nothing to do with Jesus as their Savior, and the Messiah.

During the early days of the church, the apostles’ ministry was also directed toward the “lost sheep of Israel.” However, the Jews continued rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, and at Acts 13:46, Paul tells the Jews that, because they consistently rejected Jesus as the Messiah, he was now turning his focus to the Gentiles. It is at this point that all of us gained the opportunity for eternal life; the Jews rejected Christ and you have benefitted from it.

Throughout history, the Jews have been viewed as antagonistic to the gospel. They constantly sought to eliminate threats to their religion. In Romans 11:1, however, Paul describes how God has not rejected them as a people; what a display of grace! The very people that rejected Him and crucified Him, He has NOT rejected. Romans 11 talks about how, even though they discarded Christ and were an enemy to the gospel, they will be revived and saved as a nation. This is not to say every single Jew will be saved, but the nation of Israel will be reconciled to Christ.

Verse 12 is key; “…but by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.” God intended the Jews to become jealous because they blew their chance at salvation by rejecting both Jesus and Paul. After all, it was because of their rejection we have been offered eternal life. Are you living a life worth being jealous of? Do people look at your life and want to emulate it? Are you showing Jesus to people? If you aren’t living this way, remember that it was only by the grace of God that salvation has been offered to all.

jdl

 

Posted in End in Mind, Romans