To our Readers:  Wayne Jacobsen has had a great impact in our lives and here at PITFH.   We are posting the following article Wayne has written about end times because we feel it is one of the most well written and balanced approach to the subject that we have seen.  If you are interested in following Wayne’s future writings in “Letters to the Bride”, there is a link here for you to sign up.
This article will prompt you to answer the question, “Where is my focus?” concerning the second coming of Christ.

Blessings,
Roger and Gerri

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NOTE: This is the second in a series of letters written for the bride of Christ who are alive at the end of the age. I (Wayne Jacobsen) don’t know how often they will appear, but once complete, I’ll combine them into a book. If you are not already subscribed to this blog and want to make sure you don’t miss any, you can add your name here. The quotes that begin each chapter are a compilation from the many letters and conversations I receive and are not from the specific person I’ve made up to hold those words. They are designed to express the heart’s cry of those who are yearning to be part of what God is doing in our day and open the door to the content of that chapter.

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Do you really think we could be living in the last days and that Jesus still may come in your lifetime? I’ve heard all that talk for over fifty years, and I’ve got to say I’m a bit jaded at the thought and surprised to hear you joining those ranks.

—Lloyd, 77-year-old retired engineer in Texas

Lloyd,

Even Paul, the Apostle, was concerned that too many expectations of Jesus’s coming by his followers would lead to discouragement if he delayed longer than their hope could last.

Like you, I’ve lived through a lot of false predictions of the Lord’s coming. As a child, I heard there’s no way this planet could survive the anger, drugs, and open sexuality of the 1960s and that Jesus would certainly come by 1970. I hated that talk, because I would turn 17 in 1970 and I hoped for a taste of adulthood before the end of it all.

Hal Lindsay convinced many that The European Common Market would provide the seed of the one-world government as it resisted the power of Communism. Then, of course there was the 88 reasons Jesus would come in 1988, and when that failed, the same author told us he got it wrong, and he now had 89 reasons why he would come in 1989.

Many predicted Y2K at the turn of the century would lead into a worldwide depression out of which the end of the age would come. Various Rosh Hashanah dates in the 1990s and 2000s were identified as dates for his coming, usually tied to some astronomical event to affirm the date. I even had some friends quit jobs and forego their daily responsibilities convinced that his coming was a month or two away.

All those dates turned out to be dead wrong, well-intentioned though they may have been. What I learned from all of that is anyone who sets a date is a fool. They may be wealthy fools with so many buying their books and attending their seminars, but fools, nonetheless.

So, no, I don’t have any aspirations to join those ranks and I am not making any predictions about him coming in my lifetime or the next hundred years. I don’t know if the times we are living through now portend the end, I’m merely asking myself, what if they do? I don’t have a sign. I don’t have a word from Jesus. I’ve not got some new interpretation of Scripture that finally reveals the secret.

So, let me assure you up front that I’ll not be telling anyone to quit their jobs, sell their homes, stop paying taxes, give up their dreams, buy guns, move to a private island with me, or to neglect any of the regular activities your days require. We won’t need to preplan, but simply respond to him as circumstances might unfold.

When the Jewish leaders asked Jesus for a sign, he thought it remarkable that they could so easily predict the weather by the color of the sky at night but couldn’t read the signs of the times. He indicated that spiritual indicators were easier to read than the weather, and yet, Lloyd, our generation has been fooled by so many false predictions and timetables ostensibly given by God or encoded in the Scriptures.

Today, we have apps that track the weather down to the minute with surprising accuracy, and yet we seem less discerning about what Jesus is doing behind the curtain of our daily lives or in world events. And when we lose sight of the Head, we’re only left to extrapolate our interpretation of Scripture or events into conclusions that prove false.

However, it is growing more difficult for me to ignore that many of the indicators Jesus gave us are aligning in some interesting ways. I listened to a podcast called The End of the Earth, which unpacks from a purely scientific perspective the dozen or so existential threats that humanity will have to solve in the next 150 years to survive. Some of those threats come from forces outside our control, such as asteroid impacts, super volcano eruptions, stellar explosions, or the collapse of a vital ecosystem. There are man-made risks such as nuclear war or radiation from a dirty bomb, environmental damage, climate change, an engineered pandemic, or artificial intelligence. Any of these could render humanity extinct or wipe out huge numbers of people in the quantities the book of Revelation attaches to the end of the age.

To be certain, the odds of most of these risks are infinitesimally small and there is always the possibility that some technological advance may reverse or overcome some of them. More concerning, however, are the handful of these that could be unleashed by a singular rogue scientist or desperate despot. And, to overcome some of them would require a level of unselfishness across a broad swath of humanity that we’ve not seen in our history. And yet, so many people I know rarely think about how humanity has plundered the planet with so little care for future generations.

In addition, we are witnessing four significant international conflicts that are more fraught with peril than that which spawned our first two World Wars, and this time nuclear weapons are in play. Two of which are already full-scale wars with mass casualties and two others could easily escalate to that. Furthermore, the international cohesiveness needed to resolve such conflicts is currently at a low ebb.

Of course, if I had been alive in 1940, I might have been convinced that Adolf Hitler was the Antichrist and the armies of good and evil were lined up in battle. Who in history was more set on world domination and committed genocide on such a massive scale? He used people’s religious fervor and feeling inferior after the Great War to seduce a nation into his narcissism and the evils it perpetuated.

But I would have been wrong, so I am reluctant to draw any firm conclusions here, I simply have my eye on what may yet unfold. What if our democracy fails or the current animosity degenerates into civil war? What if China triggers a war over Taiwan or their claims to South Pacific shipping lanes? What if our system of law and order breaks down into the tribal alliances we toy with now or collapses with an onrush of refugees from failed states?

I also can’t ignore other troubling trends in the rise of autocratic governments, terrorist activities, gangs, and cartels as well as increasing mass delusions fed by misinformation campaigns. Leaders focus on amassing power any way they can without regard for morality and goodwill. Our societies are becoming ever-more polarized and hostile with a bent to force others into the “right” way of thinking. Journalism has given way to advocacy and click-seeking content such that there are no longer any resources that enough people trust to even begin to build a common ground.

Many of our societal systems have broken down or been corrupted by the wealthy so that people have little hope of justice. Honesty is at an all-time low since everyone spins to their own desire or profit. Mass shootings continue to proliferate, and world debt is reaching unsustainable highs.

I also find many descriptions of last-days behavior in the Scriptures, to be as current as the morning news, like this from 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV):

“There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”

Doesn’t that describe most of our social media, as well as our politicians, celebrities, and Wall Street bankers, as well as those who would be like them?

What’s intriguing to me is not any one of these things but all of them converging in our time. It is difficult to imagine a way out of all these challenges without the intervention of the One to whom all authority belongs. Is Jesus at the doorway to finalize his redemption of the Creation or are these only another set of birth pangs for a distant resolution? If these are not the beginning of those days, someday the beginning will look a lot like this.

Two thousand years ago, the early believers lived with an eye toward the day of redemption of all things, when the earth would be liberated from decay and God’s glory would make all things new. If that was true two thousand years ago, how much more today? That’s the joy growing in my heart, whether it happens in my lifetime or not.

Yet, with all the missed predictions and seemingly endless delays, I understand, Lloyd, how  hard it is not to give in to cynicism, especially when such talk has been filled with the immediacy of fear and threats of what would happen if we are an unworthy follower when he shows. These letters are for the bride, however. These are not days of gloom, but anticipation of joy. The groom just may be at the threshold and his coming is not a day of sorrow or anguish for his beloved; it’s a cause for celebration and unbridled joy. Like the Creation itself, we long for the day of the redemption of all things with expectancy and wonder.

What would it be like if Jesus’s coming comes in the next decade or two? The bride will emerge from all over the world, made ready by his love and dazzling the world with her beauty amid its chaos. That is hard to imagine if you’re thinking of Christianity as the religion it has become—broken and competing institutions trying to make people righteous with their rules and rituals. Instead, think of it as people from around the planet who are learning to live deeply in his love and are being transformed by that love to embrace others around them, both fellow-believers and those lost in the world.

I find world events curious enough to at least ask the question, “What if?” What are world events telling us? Is there a shift in the Spirit’s working to prepare hearts for that day? In the rhythm of the Spirit is there a fearless call for his bride to come closer? I’m holding those possibilities in my heart, but my expectancy is not on his second coming primarily, but how he wants to come now to share his life with me.

It’s time to lean into him more intentionally, listen to his heartbeat more carefully, and follow joyfully whatever he shows us. When I do that in light of his coming, I have greater clarity and make better decisions. I’ll not be writing here about geopolitical politics, identifying the antichrist, or decoding what the mark of the beast might be. These letters will be about who Jesus is for his bride and how we can live deeply in him so that we’re prepared for anything that may come.

I will write as if we are that generation, and if we’re not, perhaps some future generation will find these thoughts helpful. By publishing these letters, I want to put my voice alongside others who may be sensing similar things. My hope is that this spawns a wider conversation in the comment section or through emails that will allow us to look together at that which God is doing in our day and how these times may play into his purpose for the redemption of the whole Creation.

Blessed are they who don’t lose their hope in the Lord’s appearing because of the disappointed hopes of days past. And blessed are those who are not so distracted by what the future may hold that they miss his voice today. Realizing that the future of everything is in his hands, we can with delighted hearts invite him to continue to appear in us until the day he makes himself known to all.

As I’ll discuss in the next letter, this is not a time for fear. Even if the days of humanity’s indulgence are drawing to an end, Jesus will not let the world come to naught and he will not let you be devoured in the chaos. Challenging times will come at the end, but when we trust him, we will have all that we need. Our part is not figuring out the big picture, but responding each day to how he draws us to himself and that will prepare us for when the plan of redemption reaches its final page.

Then, the end will come with shouts of joy from all the beloved who have yearned for his coming.