When the disciples pointed out the beautiful temple, Jesus used it to give a teaching on the immediate and distant future. He did not paint an optimistic picture. He spoke of large-scale apostasy: “…because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). “Most” includes lots of people. Revelation 12:9 says Satan “leads the whole world astray.”
Jesus said that the gate to destruction is wide and “many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:13,14). This didn’t keep the disciples from turning their world on its head, nor should it keep us. A take-over mentality trumps an escapist outlook that says, “Let’s get out of here before the devil creams us.” But Jesus also closed a story about prayer with a question: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
The lights in the universe will be turned out at the curtain call of history to signal the return of Christ. The earth will have been largely unrepentant with the colossal judgment poured out on humankind. The Rider on the white horse is coming to “strike down the nations” (Rev. 19:15). All the more reason to go to the nations now.
Our blessed hope is not a massive turning to Christ, but the return of Christ Himself. Paul speaks often about the day of the Lord and events preceding. Like Jesus, he says that the return catches most people off guard who are talking about “peace and safety.” The answer to the antichrist comes not from God’s people but from Christ Himself. We’ll see an upgrade of miracles near the end, but many will come from the wrong side. Paul warns Timothy that “there will be terrible times in the last days” (2 Tim. 3:1).
The book of Revelation begins with Jesus addressing seven churches, anything but an optimistic picture. The churches that have remained obedient are urged to “be faithful even to the point of death” (Rev. 2:10), suggesting persecution of the faithful and political dominance by Satan’s forces. Revelation shows God’s wrath being poured out upon the unrepentant. Plagues offer one last chance to yield to the Lordship of the King. Most resist and choose wrath.
There will be masses in heaven (Rev. 7:9) and masses sent into a Christ-less eternity. Why did God give us a book to end His book that includes sixteen chapters of judgment? God’s judgment is visited upon a stubborn earth refusing to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. It was written to warn and encourage Christians to endure to the end when things get worse before they get better, and to witness boldly, if necessary as martyrs. The call put out was for “patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” (13:10; 14:12), who go victoriouly through suffering, not escaping through a rapture.
The gospel will be preached to the ends of the earth, but it doesn’t suggest that people are rushing in to receive it. When Jesus speaks of believers being “hated by all nations,” it doesn’t sound like they are winning popularity contests. Yet it is the time for God’s people to be on the move: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever” (Dan. 12:3). “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Prov. 4:18).
Well, is revival coming? I believe so, and it will turn throngs to Jesus Christ. It will make the Jesus Movement look like a small gathering in the kitchen, impacting the family and influencing the world (Mal. 4:5,6). So regarding the question in the title, the answer is, “Yes!”
I use these principles in understanding end-time teaching:
- Progressive revelation: the New Testament interprets the Old, not vice versa.
- The book of Revelation is not a locked up book. It is given to be read and understood. We don’t know the time of Christ’s coming. We know the season by the signs. As we see the signs, we lift up our heads.
- Jesus made clear that He is returning “soon.” We live in constant readiness. Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!