The ‘new normal’ people are talking about falls within God’s eternal plan – not outside of it, but within it. What is God doing today?
- God the Father is ruling over the universe
- God the Son is building His Church and Advocating for His followers
- God the Holy Spirit is convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and calling, cleansing, gifting and empowering people who respond to His gracious call by faith
Nothing has changed since January 2020. We are not all doomed. Nothing is out of kilter from God’s perspective. Covid-19 didn’t interfere with God’s eternal plan. In fact, the virus fits into His plan. What could that be, we ask?
The Return of Jesus Christ
Jesus told His disciples almost 2,000 years ago that He would return for them after He prepared a very special place for them to live in Heaven.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”John 14:1-3
Jesus returned to Heaven after finishing the work His Father had sent Him to earth to accomplish: live a perfect, sinless life, die for our sins, and rise from the dead that we might be reconciled to God and receive the gift of eternal life.
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”Romans 5:6-11
We are reconciled to God! We have peace with God Almighty! Our future is salvation from God’s wrath through Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace through faith on earth and will be raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6-9)
It’s just a matter of time before all of the saved will stand together physically before God in Heaven. So, what’s a virus got to do with that? It’s much bigger than a virus.
Jesus Christ is returning to the earth soon and He will execute extreme judgment on our planet and the people living on it. The Hebrew prophets looked forward to the day –
“Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved,Jeremiah 23:5-6
And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Jesus Christ is THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS! His disciples knew it and asked Jesus when He would set up the prophesied earthly Kingdom. They posed the question on each side of the Cross and empty tomb (before and after Jesus died and rose again).
Jesus gave them several warnings in Matthew 24:
- “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
- And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
- And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
- Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
- And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
- Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
- And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
- But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
- And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Jesus then quoted from Daniel’s prophecy and referred to the Great Tribulation. Jesus said the Great Tribulation would be “such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” He said that unless the days of the Great Tribulation were shortened, “no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”
Jesus continued to warn His disciples and said that many false christs and false prophets would rise and “show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Then Jesus spoke about what His coming from Heaven to earth would look like –
“For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”
Jesus will return to earth to finish what He started 2,000 years ago –
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”Matthew 24:29-31
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.”Mark 13:24-27
What we read in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 is consistent with what we read in The Revelation Jesus gave to the Apostle John at the end of the 1st century. It also fits with other descriptions of His coming revealed by the apostles.
“… since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.”1 Thessalonians 1:6-10
So, what about the disciples’ original question: “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Are you ready for the answer?
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only … Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”Matthew 24
That’s how Jesus answered the disciples’ question before He died on the Cross and rose from the dead. What about after He died and rose? Did His answer change?
“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”Acts 1:6-8
Jesus said that God the Father had “put in His own authority” the knowledge of the time of Christ’s return. It was not for the disciples to know then and it’s still not for us to know either. We have much work to do with God the Spirit to preach the Gospel throughout the world.
We do have some strong clues about what to watch for leading up to Christ’s Return and we’ll look at them closely in the next part of our special study. Might we be getting very close to Christ’s return to establish His Kingdom on earth? We’ll see.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.