Some Thoughts on the Second Advent of Jesus Christ (part 2)

(Author’s note: I apologize to any of my regular readers who were expecting the second installment of this series earlier. Almost two weeks ago I said I’d have it for you “next week” but life happened and I got distracted. I apologize for keeping you in suspense, and I hope this second installment blesses you.)

At this time of year when so many people are thinking about the First Advent of Jesus Christ to this earth (actually, just a few kilometers away from where I’m sitting writing this blog in my southern Jerusalem apartment) it’s a good time to spare some time to think about His Second Advent.

In the Gospel of Luke chapter 21, verses 10-12, Jesus answers a question from His disciples about what to look for just before His return to this earth for what theologians would later refer to as His Second Advent thusly; “Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be massive earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrible sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, turning you over to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors on account of My name.

As I said in my previous blog, which focused on the prophetic warning about earthquakes, I’m not sure we will be able to be certain when any one of these signs, taken by itself, is really an indication that this really is “it” because there have been earthquakes, and famines, and plagues, and persecution, and all the rest all throughout human history.

However, it’s just a theory of mine that I have no proof to support, but I think it’s possible that Jesus was referring to a time in human history when all of these things were happening at once and it was possible for people to know about them all happening at once.

This theory is based on the obvious fact that 2,000 years ago, there was no means of mass communication. There was no internet, newspapers, radio, TV, or anything even remotely comparable. The Roman Empire DID have an incredibly efficient and well-run mail system which allowed the government and the army to distribute relevant information far and wide relatively quickly. But few of the common, ordinary people had access to this system and even if they did, not many of them could read and write. So there could be, for instance, a severe famine in southern Spain one year and people living in Egypt might not even hear rumors about it until years later. Or there could be a really bad earthquake in Greece and people living in Britain wouldn’t hear about it for years, if at all, unless they worked for some organ of the government which made it necessary for them to be aware of it.

But today, that’s changed. Events that would have been considered of only minor, local importance even a few decades ago are today featured on news websites on the other side of the world within minutes of their occurrence. Things of global importance, such as the outbreak of a particularly dangerous disease or a war or a court case dealing with issues of widely held concern are reported on and discussed globally, often in real-time.

So I think it’s at least possible that this is a relevant aspect of this prophetic passage, that ordinary people would hear about all these various things that were happening around the world all at once and know that the time for His Second Advent was drawing close.

Another thought worth examining in relation to this passage of Scripture is that the first line is somewhat puzzling to modern readers. “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” sounds a little redundant to modern readers. But in this case, it’s easy to explain, as the Greek word translated here as “nation” is “ethnos” which barely even requires translation. The word “kingdom” used here more likely refers to the modern nation-state with a government, army, and all the rest. There are certainly many examples of that phenomenon going on all over the world today. But “nation shall rise against nation” is a concept that one also doesn’t have to look far to see examples of.

Derek Prince, one of my favorite Bible teachers, gave a message once (probably more than once) back in the early 1990s in which he advised Americans to pray fervently against the rise of ethnic/racial tensions in their country, because of the devastation that would be sure to follow. Back when he was giving that advice, most Western European countries were still fairly homogeneous, ethnically and racially speaking. Today that’s no longer the case, and so I think it’s wise for Believers in every country to heed the advice Derek Prince gave to Americans decades ago.

Finally, another thought that’s definitely worth taking a look at in relation to this passage is that persecution of Believers all over the world is definitely on the rise. It’s been a serious problem faced by our brothers and sisters in the faith for many years in places like Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and China. But now there are increasing reports about it occurring in Western countries, very much including the United States and the UK.

Here in Israel, there are concerns among our community that the new government which includes some MKs with ties to Lehava and other anti-missionary groups might mean that we’re about to face increased levels of persecution here. Only time will tell if this turns out to be the case. 

My personal opinion is that the individuals who we’re most concerned about are going to provoke so much pushback from so many sectors of society that this might actually be a catalyst for a major breakthrough of the Gospel in this country. I’m definitely not looking forward to the hardships and trouble that this process could bring to me and my family and friends, but I AM hopeful that the results will be a revival like nothing we’ve ever seen before. In this context, it’s worth mentioning that revival often follows persecution and there’s countries where this is happening right in front of our eyes, places that we’d never expect it to happen including Iran and Turkey but also including France, where a population which has seen so much bad fruit from centuries of Catholic cultural dominance and secular political dominance are turning in large numbers to Evangelical Protestant churches. The same thing is also happening in many countries in Latin America. As I’m sure you know, it’s also happening in China and India.

So, indeed, these are some of the very signs that Jesus told us we’d see just before His Second Advent, and it should fill us with hope for better times that are very near, even at the door.

That’s what I’ve got for you this week brothers and sisters. I hope it blessed someone.