December 23, 2015 | Posted in:Carter's Comments
Christmas is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated time of the year. The music is cheerful, the decorations colorful, and the food is amazing. And fattening. More important than that, it is the time we consider the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, when God entered the human race in order to redeem lost mankind. We know what day Christmas will be each year because we have calendars. Even our children have Advent calendars to help them count down the days until the 25th. It is a good thing that we have accurate ways to determine Christmas day each year.
If we relied on the weather as an indicator we would be in trouble. We reached the mid-sixties two days before Christmas. Thunderstorms are forecast for the day after Christmas. Hardly a normal weather pattern for the Christmas holidays.
If we relied on the retail industry, we would find irregularities. We might be celebrating Christmas as early as August.
Sometimes understanding the times can be confusing.
When it comes to understanding the signs of the end times, it is important to be careful and discerning. It is easy to mistakenly pick out certain events and be dogmatic in identifying them as precise fulfillment’s of biblical prophecy. However, taken as a whole, it is evident that we are living in the final days before Jesus’ Second Coming. What is especially important is that we don’t overlook the indicators.
Shortly after Jesus miraculously fed more than 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish, He was confronted by the Pharisees and Sadducees who tested Him by asking for a sign confirming His identity. They did not seek such a sign because they wanted to believe Him, but because they opposed Him and were constantly trying to trap Him. However, Jesus turned the discussion in a different direction. The record of this confrontation is found in Matthew 16:
Matthew 16:1–4 (NKJV)
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.
Jesus advised them that although they could understand the signs indicating changes in the weather, they failed to understand the more important signs of the times. Those signs were the indicators that Israel’s long-promised Messiah was on the scene. All of the factors indicated that Jesus was that Messiah, but rather than correctly interpreting the signs and recognizing Jesus for who He truly was, they opposed Him and tried to discredit His miracles at every opportunity.
Jesus’ reference to the sign of the prophet Jonah referred to Jesus coming death, burial, and resurrection. They would later reject these evidences as well.
While we acknowledge Jesus’ First Coming by keeping Him central in our celebrations, let us be just as eager and prepared in anticipating His return.
Neither the weather nor the retail industry nor even a calendar will give us clues about His sudden return. There are many prophecies in the Bible describing end time events, but His return for His Church will come secretly and in advance of those events. The fact that we now see them indicates Jesus should return soon. Christians have the responsibility to be ready at all times, and we need to be voices of warning to others of the lateness of the time.
Matthew 25:13 (NKJV)
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
Carter has been the pastor at FSBC Versailles since July, 2000. He holds a Doctor of Theology in Advanced Prophetics from Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Theology in Semitics and Old Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary. He has also been an assignment writer for Union Gospel Press since 1987.