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Last week I shared about signs, specifically the need to be paying attention to the signs of Jesus’ soon return for His Bride, the Church. Today, I want to ask a simple question, “Can you hear it?”
Since the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, when I began to see the apathetic mindsets of some Christians towards the return of Jesus for His followers and the need to be living right in His sight, I have had a burden to remind Christians that Jesus could return at any given moment, and that they needed to make sure they are ready when that does take place. It is with that backdrop that I believe God wants me to share my heart with you today. If you have this apathetic mentality, I hope today will awaken you to break free of it. If you don’t have this apathetic mentality, I hope you will be more aware of those around you that are apathetic, and with that be more active in helping to shake them out of their lethargy.
I’m titling this broadcast simply, “Can you hear it?” It’s a phrase that I pull from the parable in Matthew 25:1-13 of the ten virgins, a parable that is well known by most of us. This is a parable about our relationship with Jesus, how that He is coming back for us, and how it is vitally important for us to be ready when He does. I am not going to dig into this parable today, but the title of this study comes from verse 6 which says; “And at midnight a cry was heard: Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!”
The midnight cry was just one part of the marriage custom for Jews of the Old and New Testaments. When the father of the groom gave the go-ahead for the groom to go and receive his bride too himself, someone would go ahead of the groom announcing that the groom was on his way. My question for you is this, what is the “midnight cry” for us as Christians as it pertains to our Lord’s return? And, “can you hear it?”
There is no doubt many different ideas as to what that midnight cry is, and there is really no way to know for sure what it is, but I have an idea as to what that cry is for us as followers of Jesus. As I think about this, I believe the midnight cry must be something that only God can control. Only the Father knows when Jesus is to return, and therefore it is up to Him to determine when and how that cry is to go out letting us know our Groom is on His way for us. I believe that the midnight cry God would, and is even now sounding, is the fulfillment of Biblical end-time prophecies. It is something we can not control, and it’s something that cannot be denied.
It’s been said that when you walk into a store on November 1st and see the Christmas decorations coming out and Christmas music being played, you know that Christmas is near. But you also know that if Christmas is near, then Thanksgiving is that much closer. In like manner, when we see Bible prophecies being fulfilled that are connected to the Tribulation Period, we can be assured that the Rapture of the Church is that much closer. So, how close are we to the return of Jesus for us, His Bride?
When we look at prophecy, we need to remember that the nation of Israel is God’s prophetic timepiece. It’s not America, it’s not any particular group of people, and it’s definitely not even the shadow governments frequently talked about by some (Deep State, Illuminati, the Bilderberg’s, etc.). If you want to know where we are on God’s timetable for humanity, then you must look first and foremost at Israel and what is going on with them. To ignore them is to ignore what God is doing, and where we are at.
In Matthew 16:1-4, we read about one of the occasions that the Pharisees and the Sadducees approached Jesus to test Him. In this passage, Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day because they could discern the signs of the weather, but they could not discern the signs of the times. In a lot of ways, Christians today can be discerning in areas like politics, society, culture, just to name a few, but more and more Christians are unable to accurately discern the signs of the times prophetically speaking. And why is that? I believe, as others do, that the main reason for this is because Bible prophecy is not being preached or taught from the pulpits, and surprisingly I’ve recently heard that the topic of eschatology, the study of the end-times, is being dropped more and more from Bible schools and seminaries. More and more ministers are graduating from colleges and seminaries with very little to no instruction on this vital subject. It seems that the growing trend around America is to ignore or discount any discussion on the subject out of the fear of offending someone or being divisive, or that giving will drop, or that it would instill confusion and fear within their congregations. For some ministers, perhaps it’s because they don’t know enough about it and the subject intimidates them. As a result, very little is taught on the subject of end-time Bible prophecies and how they relate to followers of Christ. Is it any wonder, under those circumstances, that so many Christians are not accurately discerning the times we’re in or hearing the cry going out?
A very prominent and influential pastor, someone whose name I believe most of you would readily recognize if I were to mention it, or the name of a book he wrote about 25 years ago, makes the following statement in one of his books. In Acts chapter one, the disciples asked Jesus when He would restore the kingdom back to Israel, and according to this pastor Jesus’ response to them was, “the details of my return are none of your business.” He further goes on to imply that anyone who gets distracted with Bible prophecy is not fit for the Kingdom of God. In the past 20+ years or so, this pastor and his teachings have played a major, and perhaps pioneering role in current “Seeker Friendly” and “Church Growth” movements, a clear contributor to the absence of the teaching and preaching of Bible end-times prophecies. While there is good that has come from his book, one would be hard pressed to deny his comments about Bible prophecy having an impact on churches today. Again, is it any wonder why less and less churches are teaching and preaching on the subject? More and more Christians are becoming illiterate when it comes to Bible prophecy, or should I say that more and more churches are raising up Biblically illiterate Christians who know very little if any Bible prophecy and what it means to them.
More than a fourth of the Bible, almost a third, is filled with Bible prophecy. And, contrary to what that minister says regarding Bible prophecy and the end-times, Jesus Himself gives us signs to watch for regarding His return. In fact, Jesus even commands us in Mark 13:32-37, among other places, to be watching the signs, and in Revelation 3:1-6 He rebukes those who are not watching to the extent that they will miss Him when He does return. Jesus adds an exclamation point of sorts to this in Revelation 16:15, too.
Bible prophecy is one of the key elements of the Gospel message, and without it the Gospel message is incomplete. I recently heard someone say that 100,000’s of people, if not more than that, have come to salvation as a result of Bible prophecy. As I thought about that, I am one of those individuals that was greatly influenced to surrender my life to Jesus as a result of Bible prophecy. Not only that, but when we keep in mind that Jesus could return at any given moment, we will be more motivated to live in a way that is honoring and right in the sight of God. When we truly believe that Jesus could return at any moment, we will be more serious and proactive in living right and making sure we’re ready for when Jesus does return.
Now that I’ve touched on the importance of knowing and following Bible prophecy, let me highlight some of the Biblical signs that are being fulfilled right before our eyes, and as I do ask yourself if you were aware of these before today. In other words, have you been hearing the cry going out?
The Gog/Magog war; Ezekiel 38-39
We are beginning to see the final pieces of this prophetic war come together. Despite some of the differences they may have, Russia, Turkey, and Iran have formed an alliance and are working together in the region. While it can be argued that Russia is a friend of Israel at this time, they are allowing Iran who is bent on Israel’s complete destruction to establish a foothold in the region. The economies of these three countries is tanking right now, and this is driving them even more into the area. Turkey and Russia are both eyeing the eastern part of Syria, the area that the United States is currently controlling, to take control of the rich natural resources located there. The scene and the many dynamics in the region are continually changing, but with every change it seems to solidify the near fulfillment of Bible prophecy regarding this war that is on the horizon. The stage is being set as never before for the fulfillment of this war to take place, a war that many scholars of Bible prophecy believe takes place right before or right after the start of the Tribulation Period, and it could take place at any time in the very near future.
One world religion; Revelation 13:11-18
The Pope and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb (the most important imam in Sunni Islam), on Monday, February 11, 2019, signed a historic covenant with each other to encourage believers from all religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and other faiths) to “shake hands, embrace one another, kiss one another, and even pray” with one another. No where in the document does it make any mention of Jesus, and each time the word God is mentioned it is used simultaneously to identify Allah and the God of Christianity. There has been a push for several years, and especially within the past few years, to merge the not only Christianity and Islam together, but in fact all the religions of the world together. There have even been prominent Evangelical pastors and leaders who have participated in this attempt under the guise of being ecumenical with religious leaders of other faiths, including the minister I mentioned earlier, this all being done under the pretext of sharing the same desire to “love God” and “love thy neighbor”. What happened just a few weeks ago is considered by many as the official start of the One World Religion as prophesied in Scripture. This is no small thing, and we need to be watching as it develops more knowing this could be the beginning fulfillment of the One World Religion prophesied in Revelation 13.
Peace and Security; Daniel 9:23-27 (vs. 27); 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan is a BIG thing. A couple weeks ago, Jared Kushner, President Trumps son-in-law, spoke at the Warsaw conference addressing in part the peace plan that will be unveiled in its entirety after the Israeli elections on April 9, 2019. This conference was focused on peace in the Middle East and dealing with Iran, and the backdrop shown behind the speakers had the statement “Peace and Security in the Middle East”. Apparently only five or six people know the contents of this “Deal of the Century” peace plan, but some of the details that have been supposedly leaked surrounding this peace deal seem to suggest it could include possibly a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, with the issue of borders and the potential dividing up of Jerusalem as parts of this deal. There is a lot of speculation regarding what all is contained within this peace plan, but scuttlebutt is that there are some MAJOR points that will be unexpected and out of the norm, that countries will find parts that they absolutely don’t like and parts that they love, and there is a major push for all parties involved to cooperate with the plan. Who knows, perhaps this peace plan will include the building of the third temple? No matter what it contains, if this is the seven-year peace treaty prophesied in Daniel 9:27, we are very, very close to the return of Jesus for us, His followers. We know that the Anti-Christ will not be revealed until after the Rapture, and that his revealing will be through his signing of a seven-year treaty with Israel, which starts the seven-year Tribulation period, and which further points to the imminent return of Jesus.
WITHIN THE CHURCH
Deception; Matthew 24:3-4, 2 Timothy 4:1-5
A lot of times when we talk of deception in the last days, we usually think of it as something evident in the world we live in, but Jesus’ warning to not be deceived was not to those who were not following Him, but to those who were. Whether you see it or not, deception through false doctrine is growing. Teachings that tickle the ears, that sound and feel good, that avoids any accountability for sin and unrighteous living, is drawing Christians left and right away from the truth, and deception then wins their hearts. The deceptions many Christians are falling into isn’t just in what is being taught, but it’s also becoming increasingly more prevalent within the Christian music being played on Christian radio, the same songs that are used in churches for their praise and worship times. Some of these songs and those who sing them, not only do the words promote some of the false teachings that are widespread within church circles, but some of those who sing them have roots in churches and movements that embrace such teachings. These songs promote the false teachings of Kingdom Now, the New Apostolic Reformation, as well as the “seeker friendly” and some “church growth” movements. We already know that we are to take any and everything that is being taught by anyone, even if it was Billy Graham or your favorite pastor or teacher, or even me, and hold it up to Scripture to see if what they say lines up, but we should also be doing that with the music we sing and listen to. Sometimes it’s the music we hear and sing that is more impacting on our life than the words someone has said. From the words of Jesus, “Take heed that no one deceives you.”
Falling away; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; 1 Timothy 4:1-2
As we see, the Bible clearly says that in the last days, the days leading up to the return of Jesus, will be a time when many will fall away from the faith. It does not talk of revival and the building up and purifying of the Church leading up to the return of Jesus, but the contrary, and we are seeing that happen more and more. Part of this is due to the deception we find in the church at large, some due to the deception found in the world, and some of it is due to people making conscious choices that reject God’s word in their life or to be subject to Him. I heard a report a few years ago that stated over 90% of professing Christians don’t even have a Biblical world view. About a year or so ago, the Barna group came out and said a recent study showed that 51% of professing Christians had no clue of what the Great Commission is, where it comes from, or what it means. Within a few weeks ago, the Barna group released another report that showed 47% of PRACTICING Christian Millennials believe it is wrong to share your faith with others, especially with the hope that someone else will embrace your belief. Wow! Numerically speaking, there are conflicting reports as to whether or not Christianity in America is growing or shrinking, but it would appear from these statistics, as well as the choices and priorities some Christians are exhibiting, that coupled with the deception I spoke of a moment ago, while pews are being filled there is a growing number who are falling from the faith and the truth of the Gospel while filling those same pews.
Mocking and scoffing; 2 Peter 3:1-7
Growing up in church, I remember hearing a lot of talk about the end-times, the Tribulation Period, the judgements of God, and the Rapture, especially the pre-tribulation Rapture. In recent years, I’ve been amazed at how many of those who once believed in the Rapture now discount it as not true, or they deny that it will happen any time soon despite what we are seeing in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It’s one thing for unbelievers to mock the teaching of the Rapture, but we’re seeing more and more of that within church circles. One well known prophecy teacher has actually taught how the Blessed Hope, which is the Rapture, has now become the Blasted Hope within Christianity as led by some influential Christian leaders. What these people fail to realize, or they simply discount because they don’t believe in it, is that they are actually fulfilling Bible prophecy with these attitudes of mocking the Rapture teachings as they have. When you hear of people, of Christians, who are mocking and ridiculing teachings on the Rapture, know that it is a sign that Jesus’ return is that much closer.
These are just some of the Bible end-times prophecies that are being fulfilled these days. So, the question to be asked is, Can You Hear It? It’s been said that we are “one minute before midnight” in regard to the start of the Tribulation Period, but I think it is safe to say that we are now just seconds, prophetically speaking, from that happening. Are you watching? Are you ready for Him?
Before we end today’s podcast, I must again ask each of you two questions. First, if you were to die within the next few minutes, do you know whether you would go to heaven or not? This is an important question that each of us need to ask ourselves. Second, and this is a bit more thought provoking, if you were to die within the next few minutes and find yourself face to face with Jesus, and I’m not saying that is how it would be, but if He were to ask you why He should let you into heaven, what would your answer be? Some people believe that everyone will eventually make it to heaven, and others believe that just because they’ve been good then that should automatically afford them eternal access into heaven, but that is not so. In Ephesians 2:8-9 we’re told that salvation is simply a gift of God, something that is obtained by His grace and through faith.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
If salvation is something nobody can earn or deserve, then how can one be saved, not just in this life but in the life to come on the other side of eternity? Well, let’s keep this as simple as “ABC”, because it is simple.
Unlike other religions, Christianity does not require you to do works to receive salvation because it’s a gift from God. Rather, it’s as simple as “ABC”. To begin with, “A” stands for your need to “ADMIT” that you are a sinner. Romans 3:10 tells us that no one is righteous, no, not one. And why is that? In Romans 3:23 we’re told that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This means that nobody is good enough, no matter how good they may be. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of our sin is death, but the gift of God, the gift of God, is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Like we mentioned earlier, in Ephesians 2:8-9 we’re told that this gift of salvation is nothing that any of us can earn or deserve. It’s simply a gift that He offers us by grace and through faith. So, the first thing one needs to do is to admit that they are a sinner.
The second thing a person must do, and this is “B” in the “ABC’s”, is to “BELIEVE” in their heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised Him from the dead. Romans 10:9-10 tells us that if we confess with our mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. It’s not just a mental believing as some would like it to be, but rather a believing that dictates the way one lives their life. It’s a way of life that reflects and supports what they say they believe. In James 2:19 were told that even the demons believe, and they tremble, but salvation is not available to them. Just having a head knowledge is not enough.
The third thing a person must do, and this is “C” in the “ABC’s”, is to “CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD.” You need to call Jesus Lord, and to do so means one must surrender their life to Him. There is coming a time when every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue will confess to God that He is Lord. Now is the time for salvation, and now is the time to voluntarily surrender your life to Him. The eternal rewards for surrendering your life to Jesus is far greater than anything this world could ever hope to give you.
Is a relationship with Jesus like I’ve described important and worth it? YES! Yes, it is. I won’t say that life will be easier or with less problems, but it will be more fulfilling, and with that there is a Blessed Hope for all Christians to embrace and pursue. More and more people are beginning to feel hopeless with life, especially when they see everything that is happening around them and around the world, but as Christians we have a hope that is solid and independent of anything this world could ever hope to offer us. The signs we are seeing across the news headlines now days only energizes the hope we have of Jesus’ ever imminent return for us. It is that same hope, that Blessed Hope, that encourages Christians to keep the faith and to continue living for Him and Him alone. Are you one of those who place their trust and hope in Jesus?
If you do not have a saving relationship with Jesus, and you would like to, I encourage you to talk to God right now. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or eloquent, just a sharing of your heart to Him. If that is you, and you’re ready to give your life to Jesus, then say this prayer from your heart and to Him. Again, it’s not a formula, just a sharing of your heart to Him.
“O God, I am a sinner. I’m sorry for my sin. I want to turn from my sin. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son; I believe that He died on the cross for my sin, that He was buried, that You raised Him to life, and that He’s coming to take me back to His house in heaven very soon. I have decided to place my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, trusting only in His shed blood as more than sufficient to save my soul and to take me to heaven. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for saving me. Amen.”
Now that you have entered into this relationship with Jesus, I strongly encourage you to find a Bible and start reading it, and to find and get plugged into a solid Bible-believing church that teaches and preaches the full Gospel of Jesus, which includes Bible prophecy and the need to be living righteously and holy before the Lord in all your ways.
In closing, if you haven’t been doing so already, you need to start listening for the cry that is even now pointing to the very near return of Jesus for His followers. This “cry”, is seen in the fulfillment of Biblical end-time events, and while some may become depressed or discouraged with what they are seeing, and while others get their focus misdirected off of Jesus and His imminent return to focus on things here on earth, this is truly the most exciting times to be living in as Christians, as followers of Christ! Watch the signs! Listen to the “Cry”!