It's becoming very obvious that we are nearing the time of the end. As a Christian, perhaps the question that pervades our thoughts most is this: How soon can we really expect Jesus to return? If you've ever wondered this, then you should know you're not the only one. The twelve men who followed Jesus asked Him this very question. His answer was simple: no one knows the exact date except the Father. However, in His great love for us, Jesus has given warning signs to us in His word. To His disciples, Jesus even gave some things to be on the lookout for.
Jesus likened the events that pointed to His return to a woman in the throes of pregnancy. In Matthew 24 – a chapter in the Bible that directly talks about last day events – Jesus gently warned them not to be deceived by anyone claiming to be Him. We’ve seen a lot of people claiming to be Jesus.
Then He says:
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
As any mother knows, the first trimester of pregnancy can be... difficult. Morning sickness, lethargy, and perhaps even anxiety. But the woman knows it’s not time for the baby to be delivered, because the signs are not yet there.
Later in that chapter Jesus uses another analogy:
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Even without the aid of a calendar, we know when winter is over and spring is beginning. Obvious signs, like warmer temperatures and budding of new plants, give us the certainty that spring is near and that summer will follow. The signs nature gives us gives us a complete certainty.
Even in the last days, the hour of Jesus' return will remain hidden, just as we don’t know exactly when spring will come. But we have been given signs. Our Heavenly Father loves us too much to leave us fearfully wondering and waiting.
When our children have to go through something we know that will not understand, we as parents prepare them by giving them details of what will happen. When the time comes, the child will think, “Oh, this was supposed to happen and it’s okay because my parents told me about it.” As much as we love our children, how much more does God love us?
When the pregnant woman enters the third trimester, she may have some premature labor pains. A good doctor will explain that though it is painful, it is not yet time. As she gets closer to the time of delivery, her doctor will tell her to time the contractions, and the closer they are together, the sooner the baby will be delivered.
We’ve lived through wars and heard their rumors. So have our parents, their parents, and their grandparents. We’ve seen signs in the heavens or natural disasters for many years. Men have been evil, and brother has turned against brother just as Jesus predicted. These things have been the distant contractions of premature labor.
Over the years, those signs have come closer and closer together, much like the contractions of true labor, to the point that they are now happening daily. Places that have never flooded are being washed away, fires never before seen are razing entire towns, and so many other natural disasters are occurring that the evening news cannot cover them all. Corruption and deceit in our government, shootings, and terrorism have people filled with fear--not only for now, but for the future. These, my friends, are the labor pains.
The contractions, no matter how unpleasant, have to happen so that the baby can come. When a mother first holds her glorious reward, she forgets that only seconds ago she was in great pain.
Our own reward is being prepared for us as we speak. Jesus can’t wait to show us our new home.
Take courage, friend. Bad things are happening, but in the end, it will all be worth it.
Almost Morning 2016