"The Time Is Drawing Near?"
by John D. Clark, Sr.
"Jesus will return to earth to reign with the saints for a thousand years, but he will not come
tonight, next week, or next year. His return is years away.
jdc, June 1992
Just days before Jesus was crucified, his closest disciples came to him privately as he sat on the Mount of Olives and asked him what would be the sign of his return to earth and of the end of the world. There, on the hill overlooking Jerusalem, Peter, James, John, and Andrew listened as the Lord quietly described the events which would precede his return and the end of the world. Years later, while exiled on Patmos Island, the apostle John was given a vision of the end. The events John saw were the same events Jesus had described to him on the Mount of Olives.
"The Beginning of Sorrows"
On the Mount of Olives, Jesus distinguished certain calamities as "the beginning of sorrows". They were: the proliferation of teachers who claim to be "christ" (that is, "anointed"), a dramatic increase in "wars and rumors of wars", and lastly, famines and other natural disasters on a scale not yet experienced on earth.
In Revelation 6, which parallels Jesus' words on the Mount of Olives, John describes the spirit of deceitful religion riding (like Jesus, later in Revelation) on a White Horse. There has already been just such a conquering of believers, a ruinous splintering of the family of God on earth.
Next in Revelation, a spirit on a Red Horse comes, representing the "wars and rumors of wars" mentioned by Jesus on the Mount.
Following what is perhaps a world-wide economic restructuring (John's Black Horse), the fourth horsemen comes as a spirit of "Death" riding a Pale Horse. He oversees the killing of one fourth of the earth's population by the very things Jesus said were coming: diseases, natural disasters, and wars.
This order of end-time events in Revelation coincides with Jesus' description to his disciples on the Mount of Olives. Yet, Jesus said, "the end is not yet." These events, then, horrible as they are, will only be "the beginning of sorrows."
The "Great Tribulation"
After these four events pass, the greatest revival and the greatest persecution the people of God have ever experienced will occur. It is the time when "this gospel shall be preached in all the world," and yet, it is the time when "many will be offended, and will betray one another, and shall hate one another" (Mt. 24:10, 14). Heaven will receive so great a multitude of martyred saints that John could not count them (Rev. 7:9-14). And as vengeance for the slaughter of His saints, God blackens the sun for a time, makes the moon "as blood", and casts the "stars of heaven" down on the earth (Mt. 24:29; Rev. 6:12-13). However, the rapture of the saints still does not take place.
The Seven Trumpets
Paul taught that the saints will remain on earth until "the last trumpet". Only in the book of Revelation do we learn that there are seven trumpets that will be sounded. Angels take turns blowing the trumpets, each one signaling an approaching disaster. During the first four trumpets, natural disasters on an unprecedented scale befall this bruised and distressed planet. Then, with the last three trumpets, God turns from natural disasters to the use of monstrous creatures.
At the fifth trumpet, God brings up from "the bottomless pit", terrifying creatures that will torment men for five months. "And in those days shall men seek death and shall not find it, and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them" (Rev. 9:6). God allows these frightening creatures to hurt "only those men who do not have the seal of God in their foreheads" (Rev. 9:4). Child of God, pray to escape these things!
The seal of God is the holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13), purchased for us by Jesus' sacrificial death. Do you have this precious blessing? Are you keeping it as a "pearl of great price"? Or are you neglecting your gift from God? My friend, we are "born into trouble" when we are born into this world, and nothing but God's Spirit can deliver us from it. Let us not neglect our only help.
At the sixth trumpet, one third of humanity is slain by a terrifying two-hundred-million-man army "from the East". During these days, God will send His "two witnesses" to preach in Jerusalem (Rev. 11:1-13). These prophets will be hated by men. They are slain by "the Beast", but after three days, they are revived by God's Spirit, and they ascend into heaven as men watch.
In the days of the seventh trumpet, Satan gives his power to the Beast. Long ago, Daniel spoke of this man as one who would "wear out the saints" and "destroy the mighty and the holy people" (Dan. 7:25; 8:23-24). John confirms Daniel's prophecy, saying that the Beast will "make war with the saints and overcome them" (Rev. 13:7).
Then, when the final trials of the seventh trumpet time end, John wrote, "I looked, and there was a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like the Son of man [Jesus], having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to the one who sat on the cloud, 'Thrust in your sickle and reap, for the time is come for you to reap'" (Rev. 14). This is the catching away of the faithful to be with Christ; and it takes place, just as Paul said, "at the last trump" (1Cor. 15:52).
At Any Moment?
Seeing that many prophecies have yet to be fulfilled before Jesus returns, how is it that we hear so much talk about Jesus coming back "at any moment"? Many well-known theologians have been teaching (in some cases for decades) that all the signs of Jesus' return have been fulfilled. I must ask then, "Why hasn't he come?" The obvious answer is that all the signs have not been fulfilled. If God had sent those men to teach that it is time for Jesus' return, then Jesus would already be here.
Those ministers confuse and embarrass the saints, and bring the gospel of Christ into scorn. It is not time for Jesus to return, and thank God that it is not, for were Jesus to come today, he would not have the body of Christ in its present condition. He would be ashamed to present such a divided, confused people to his Father.
When asked by his disciples concerning signs of the end, the first warning Jesus gave was this: "Many will come in my name, saying, 'I am Christ' [I am anointed], and 'THE TIME IS DRAWING NEAR'. Go not after them" (Lk. 21:8). The fact that there are now so many teachers saying that Jesus' return is imminent, when that is clearly not true, marks those men as the deceivers of whom Jesus spoke.
It is good to ask the question, "Are you ready for Jesus to return?"; but, it is more appropriate to ask, "Are you prepared for Jesus not to come yet?"