God's Right to Set the End of Time
As humans, we gladly proclaim our rights, but in doing so, we claim rights that belong only to God. We do not have the right to make laws that oppose God’s laws. God’s law says “Thou shalt not kill,” but we have made it legal to kill unborn babies. Two times in history, governments have decreed the killing of innocent children. The Egyptian Pharaoh ordered the killing of children under two years of age when he began to fear that the Hebrew children were growing in population and would soon outnumber the Egyptians who would no longer be able to enslave them. What did God do? God raised up Moses who delivered his people and God destroyed the Egyptian army. Two thousand years ago, Herod decreed the killing of innocent children because he feared the coming of a child who would become King of the Jews. What did God do? Again, He raised up one who would deliver his people from bondage. To date, we have murdered over 50 million innocent children in the womb. What will God do? He will send His son once again to deliver his people, and the rest will face the judgment. Whether man likes it or not, God’s law always supersedes man’s laws. Sin is disobedience to God’s law. God has the right to remit sin; that simply means that He has the right to determine what it will take to return one who has broken his laws to a right relationship with Him. It is God’s right to decide who He will forgive, so in exercising that right, God chose a people before time began to be the recipients of His redemptive plan. It is also God’s right to separate those he has chosen and justified from those who remain unrighteous and wicked and to determine their final destiny. Jesus tells His sheep, “Come ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” And to the goats He says, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Today we’re going to examine God’s right to bring this world to an end according to His own purpose and pleasure. Men have long tried to set this time. Throughout the centuries, men have attempted to set the time that the world would come to an end, but this is clearly one of God's "rights." 2 Peter 3:10 says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
At Jesus’ ascension, the disciples watched, straining to catch one last glimpse of Him whom they loved. Suddenly the silence was broken. Two men in white appeared at their side, sent to bring a word of comfort and confidence to those who were watching. The men in white said in Acts 1:11, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” The very One who went away is the One who is coming back again. The Bible indicates that when Christ returns the world will not be looking for Him. The nations of the world will still be looking to their own devices and searching for new master plans to save the human race. The Apostle Peter declared in 2 Peter 3:3-4, “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of His coming?’”
The Apostle Paul mentions the return of our Lord more in the letters to the church at Thessalonica more than in any other letters. The Thessalonians had become susceptible to false teaching claiming that they were already in the day of the Lord. He tells them in 1Thessalonians 5:2, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” He goes on to tell them in verse 4, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” God’s children, who are not in darkness, will not be surprised at Christ’s coming. And in verse 9 Paul says, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” He assures the Thessalonians that Christ’s return will not be a day of wrath for them because they have obtained salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. But by the time Second Thessalonians was written, these Christians had become even more concerned. Paul deals with the problem in the first chapter verses 1-3, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” As Christians looked forward to the return of the Lord, there were many scoffers, non-believers, who made fun of them. These scoffers were ridiculing the Christian’s faith in the return of Christ. They were asking, “If he’s coming back, where is he?” The Christians at Thessalonica were getting discouraged and being deceived and Paul was reassuring them.
Since Jesus was crucified, rose from the grave, and ascended into heaven, from the year 30 AD right after his ascension to 1988, there have been 63 failed predictions of his second coming. Men of all ages and all religious denominations have attempted to determine the time of the end of the world. In 1179, John of Toledo predicted the end of the world during 1186. This estimate was based on the alignment of many planets. Pope Innocent III predicted the end of the world would be in 1284. He computed this date by adding 666 years onto the date the Islam was founded. The Old Believers in Russia believed that the end of the world would occur in 1669. 20 thousand burned themselves to death between 1669 and 1690 to protect themselves from the Antichrist. 1792 was the date of the end of the world calculated by some believers in the Shaker movement. Charles Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, thought Doomsday would be in 1794. William Miller, founder of the Millerite movement, predicted that Jesus would return on March 21, 1843. A very large number of Christians accepted his prophecy. When Jesus did not return, Miller predicted Jesus would return on October 22, 1844. In an event which is now called "The Great Disappointment," many Christians sold their property and possessions, quit their jobs and prepared themselves for the second coming. Nothing happened; the day came and went without incident. In 1850, Ellen White, founder of the Seventh Day Adventist movement, made many predictions of the timing of the end of the world. All failed. On June 27, 1850, she prophesied that only a few months remained before the end.
On February 14, 1835, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, attended a meeting of church leaders. He said that the meeting had been called because God had commanded it. He announced that Jesus would return within 56 years – that would have been before February 5, 1891. 1914 was one of the more important estimates of the start of the war of Armageddon by the Jehovah's Witnesses. They based their prophecy of 1914 from prophecy in the book of Daniel, Chapter 4. The writings referred to "seven times". When 1914 passed, they changed their prediction to say that 1914 became the year that Jesus invisibly began his rule. Herbert W Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, predicted that the Day of the Lord would happen sometime in 1936. A Bible teacher from Australia, Leonard Sale-Harrison, held a series of prophesies conferences across North America in the 1930's. He predicted that the end of the world would happen in 1940 or 1941. During 1948, the state of Israel was founded. Some Christians believed that this event was the final prerequisite for the second coming of Jesus. Various end of the world predictions were made in the range 1888 to 2048. Moses David of The Children of God faith group predicted that the Battle of Armageddon would take place in 1986. Then in 1993, Christ would return to earth. Hal Lindsey had predicted in his book "The Late, Great Planet Earth" that the Rapture was coming in 1988 - one generation or 40 years after the creation of the state of Israel. This failed prophecy did not appear to damage his reputation. He continues to write books of prophecy which sell very well indeed. On October 11, 1988, Edgar Whisenaut, a NASA scientist, had published the book "88 Reasons why the Rapture will Occur in 1988." It sold over 4 million copies. Peter Ruckman concluded from his analysis of the Bible that the rapture would come within a few years of 1990.
In 1998, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins stirred up interest in end times with their 16 Left Behind novels. Although they were sold as novels, they put forth a version of events of the end times and many who read the novels were deceived into believing that the doctrine promoted in this fiction series was actually fact. Now, Doomsayers have found a new source of prophecy: the Mayan Calendar which mysteriously ends with the year 2012. What has been the result of all of man’s efforts to try to figure out when the end will come? Failure—absolute failure—over 2000 years of nothing but failure.
What do all these predictions have to do with the second coming of Jesus Christ? Not a single thing. Over the years, many books have been written promoting end times theories and all they have succeeded in doing is padding the bank accounts of the authors. And why are these end times prophecy books so popular that they become best sellers and make millionaires out of the authors? Because all of the theories proclaimed in these modern end times prophecies describe how God’s people will escape persecution and trouble by being raptured before a seven year tribulation. Well, if God’s people escape persecution, it will be the first time. Look in the New Testament and tell me when did Christians escape persecution? Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Jesus warned his disciples that the world would hate them. They were all persecuted, and all but the Apostle John were martyred for standing up for their Lord and Savior. God’s people have always been persecuted and will always be persecuted. They have sacrificed their lives for the God they could not betray and the truth they could not deny. They will escape judgment because Christ has paid the price for their sins. Those who are not persecuted in this world are evil people who prey on the poor and downtrodden. They will not suffer in this world, but in the end, they will face the judgment.
Those who are waiting for Jesus to return and set up an earthly kingdom have been given a false hope. When Jesus came 2000 years ago, he repeatedly proclaimed that His kingdom was not of this world, and I don’t believe that He has changed his mind. God never changes. In the 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives and spoke of things to come. He tells his disciples there would be wars, and rumors of wars. He said false prophets would come and claim to be the Messiah. Then he describes a situation that many take to mean the end of time. Jesus says in Matthew 24:16-21, “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Jesus is not talking about the end of the world in this passage. If He were, why would he tell people in the field not to return to get their clothes? Why would he say, “Let him on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house?” What difference would it make if their flight were in winter or on the Sabbath day? When the end comes, no one will be thinking about returning to the house to get clothes, or whether it is winter, or whether it is the Sabbath. When the end comes, it will do no good to flee anywhere or to think about returning to your house to get your clothes. In verse 24, Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” The question for people who are trying to determine when the end will come is “which generation Jesus is talking about?” He plainly says “this generation” and he’s talking to his disciples. Which generation do you think his disciples would think he was talking about? It had to be their generation—they knew no other generation and would understand no other generation as “this generation” that Jesus spoke of. All the things Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24 and the things Daniel spoke of would take place in the disciples’ generation when Jerusalem would be destroyed in 70 AD and the temple would be destroyed. Up to that time, the Jews were still making animal sacrifices in the temple even though the Messiah had become the perfect sacrifice for the sins of His people. Even the book of Revelation, which was written around the year 68 AD was a warning to the seven churches and to all those Christians living then that the destruction of Jerusalem was at hand. It was an imminent warning to those living in that generation. All those who claim to be able figure out the time of the tribulation and the rapture are making much ado about nothing. God’s prophecy in the book of Daniel and Revelation is for the people of the 1st century generation. Both books are warnings to His people about the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Many people are looking for Jesus to come and set up a kingdom on this earth. When you consider the foretaste of Glory Divine that God has given his children, who in his right mind would welcome a kingdom of this earthly world -- Only those who love this world. The Apostle John describes those people in 1 John 2:15: If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. The true child of God knows that this world is not his home. Christ’s kingdom is already in this world in His church, where he rules and reigns in the hearts of true believers. Christ reigns at the right hand of God, and he will return to claim his bride, and that will be the end. Jesus will return to claim those he paid for. Not one of His children will be left behind to face the judgment because of something they failed to do. Jesus paid for His and all He paid for will be with Him in glory. God’s children have a longing for their heavenly home—this earth is not their home and never will be.
So don’t waste your hard-earned money on books that claim to be able to describe when and how the world will end. Not one of them brings us any closer to knowing when Christ will return and not a single one of them glorifies the Almighty creator of the Universe who ALONE can determine the day of the return of Christ and the end of the world. There are two things that are useless for man to argue about or develop theories about: First, when and how was the world created? No one was there but God. Man wastes his time and breath considering nonsense like evolution and the Big Bang Theory. What’s the use—none of it can be proven. All man’s attempts to figure out how the world was created are nothing more than theories—man guessing at something he can’t possibly know for sure. God knows exactly how creation happened and He describes all man needs to know about it in the book of Genesis. But on July 21, just a week ago, a group of U.S. and Canadian universities announced it has decided to build the world's largest telescope in Hawaii. The $1.2 billion telescope should allow scientists to see some 13 billion light years away — a distance so great and so far back in time that researchers should be able to watch the first stars and galaxies forming. Can you imagine the uselessness of spending 1.2 billion dollars on a telescope to look billions of years in the past thinking you will be able to watch the galaxies forming in the beginning of time! This past Sunday in Parade magazine, there was an article entitled, “The Race for the Secret of the Universe.” Physicists believe that there is a special subatomic particle that allows all of the other particles in the universe to have mass and come together to form basically everything that's around us. They call this particle they are looking for the “god particle.” Without so-called God particles "atoms would have no integrity, so there would be no chemical bonding, no stable structures—no liquids or solids. The price tag on this search for the elusive God particle is a whopping 9 billion dollars. What a waste of time and money. It is both laughable and pitiful that man would waste such vast amounts of money on something so useless.
The second question that is useless for man to spend time developing theories on is when and how will the world end? No one knows except God and not only is He’s not telling, but He hasn’t given anyone enough information to be able to figure out when it will happen or how it will happen. God has exercised his right as God in creation and He is exercising His right to set the end of time—a time that no man can know.
God has made His laws clear and man has no right to change them. As creator of the universe and our ultimate authority, God did not give us laws that are merely suggestions. God commands and mankind is expected to obey or suffer the consequences. A righteous judge does not negotiate with a criminal, no matter what kind of terrible childhood the criminal had. A righteous judge hands down a ruling, and the criminal has to live with it. A great master does not beg his servants to obey him, he commands it. A mighty king does not bargain with his subjects, and a Holy God does not suggest that sinners repent and walk before him in holiness; he doesn’t suggest it or invite them to, he commands it. God speaks with authority. He speaks by way of commandment in keeping with the character of a holy God, and if you take it any other way, you compromise the character of God.
As the Sovereign Creator of the Universe, God has the right to enter into covenants according to His own pleasure. The covenant of Grace made between God the Father and Christ the Son before the world began determined every heir of the promise (every recipient of God’s Salvation). In that Covenant of Grace, God wrote the name of every one of His children in the Lamb’s book of life and gave it to the Son. In Revelation 5, the angel asks “Who is worthy to open the book?” Only Christ the Son, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, the redeemer of the elect of God was found worthy. Revelations 5:9 says, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” All of those whose names are found written in the Lamb’s book of life were written there before the foundation of the world. God gave them to Christ in the everlasting covenant. Not one name will be added nor will one name be removed. When Christ comes to claim his bride, they will all be present and accounted for.
As creator of the universe God has the right to make laws that govern the moral actions of mankind. And when man sins or transgresses God’s law, He has the right to determine the penalty and to determine what it will take for him to pardon or remit sin. He also has the right to decide whom he will pardon and whom he will leave under the death penalty. In pardoning those He has chosen and leaving the rest under the penalty of death, God is exercising His sovereign right to determine man’s eternal destiny. And finally, one day God will exercise his right to bring an end to this world. The wicked will face the judgement and everlasting torment, but God’s children will be called home to be with Him forever. What a glorious hope we have that the Almighty Sovereign God of the Universe is able to do all he has promised.