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The Kingdom of God - When?

Photograph by Nigel Griffiths

I can't give you an exact date for when the "kingdoms of this world… become the kingdoms of our Lord" (Revelation 11:15) because no one can fix it precisely. Even Jesus couldn't: "of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." (Matthew 24:36)

So, anyone telling you that "the end is nigh" is almost certainly mistaken. But we're not left in the dark. We're told to watch for signs to alert us when the Kingdom of God is close.

The state of the world will be a pointer to its coming. There's a period leading up to the establishment of the Kingdom which is called "the time of the end", or "the last days". Though it's also a time of beginning, because it heralds a new and better era for the world. But how much longer must we wait? Well, here is the news: we are in the last days. The world is becoming increasingly unstable, politically, economically and socially. The veneer of civilisation is wearing thin at an alarming rate. World leaders are trusted less and less. Nations are becoming increasingly ungovernable. And each new advance in technology, ostensibly created for our convenience, enjoyment, or safety, seems to add to the general instability, as everything about life, including vital services, is moved unthinkingly to an inherently unstable and vulnerable digital location. With gathering speed, the world is becoming more precarious. The Judeo-Christian religions that helped unify society and steer progress for centuries over much of the world, have been marginalised. "The Lost World" was once just the title of a book, but now it seems more like the name of our planet. But, against the backdrop of the above cheerless observations, please read the following extracts from God's Word. Allow them to build a picture in your mind. This is a glimpse behind the curtain at what's really happening in the world, what's developing behind the headlines, regardless of the aims and ambitions of world leaders and organisations.

Jesus foresaw a time when Jerusalem would no longer belong to the Jewish people. That happened in AD 70 when the Romans, whom he referred to as Gentiles, forcibly ejected and dispersed the people of Israel. Jesus said that this situation would not be allowed to continue: "Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21:24) There was to be an end to non-Jewish occupation of Jerusalem and Israel generally. The people would return to their land. Then Jesus added the remarkable information that the generation which sees the Jewish people back in the land of Israel after their dispersion, will witness the end of this age and the commencement of a new age (Luke 21:32).

  • The Jews began returning to Israel after the land was officially declared

a homeland for them in 1948. Also significant – because "Jerusalem will be trampled ... until ..." – was the people's full possession of the city of Jerusalem after the Six Days' War in 1967. Which generation saw these things? We did. For all of us living now, our time is unmistakeably what is described biblically as "the last days". If that sounds apocalyptic, then you're absolutely right. But it's not bad news. It will be earth shaking, but the world is long overdue for a shake-up.

  • Jesus said: The period prior to his return is going to be very like the

days leading up to the big flood in Noah's day. Those days were characterised by ever increasing evil. The world was filled with violence, and most people carried on as if God didn't exist. The Apostle Peter made this comment: " ... scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of his [Jesus'] coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." (2 Peter 3:3-4) He went on to say that's how it was in Noah's day before the flood came. They all ignored Noah, heaping scorn on his insistence that an unprecedented deluge was soon to come.

  • That's how people in "the last days" will view Jesus' return.

They'll say, "That's rubbish. Nothing like that's ever going to happen. You surely don't believe that?!" Peter said that a general attitude of debunking would be another sure sign that we were in the last days. It’s certainly moving that way. And Peter saw it positively, saying, "Nevertheless we, according to His [God's] promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:13) Believers will see the state of the world as a sure sign that God's promises are about to be fulfilled: these bad times are drawing to a close, and a world "in which righteousness dwells" is about to begin.

  • Here's something from Paul's description of society in the last days.

You'll probably notice more than a few similarities with society today, or where it's heading: "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power ... ", to which he adds, "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:1-7) It's almost as if Paul could see the negative effects of social media on the world, amplifying the baser aspects of human nature.

  • Speaking of digital communication, the prophet Daniel said that during

"the time of the end many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." (Daniel 12:4) It's cryptic, but some see it as a reference to the internet which has brought an explosion of information across the world. The word "many" can also mean "much". So, the much running "to and fro" could refer to the increased traffic of knowledge. It's not certain, but I wouldn't rule it out as a reference to the global impact of technology in the last days. I'm no technophobe, but we can't turn a blind eye to the cumulative negative impact of technology, which appears to be far outstripping its benefits.

  • While we're on the subject of Daniel and his God-given ability to see

the future, we should mention that he foresaw four major world empires. Starting from Babylon, where he lived, only three more world-wide Empires would follow. After that (following the collapse of the Roman Empire) the world would become an unstable mix of strong and weak nations. This is where we still are. And in the days of these strong and weak nations, God will intervene dramatically: "And in the days of these kings [or world leaders] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." (Daniel 2:44)

  • Daniel described the final period of the last days as

"a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that time ..." (Daniel 12:1) It doesn't get any worse than that. But at the same time, for many it could hardly get any better, because he adds that "many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." (12:2) The believers who've been "sleeping" in their graves will awake because the promised Kingdom is about to happen. Jesus is back! There are two sides to Armageddon. It's a bad time for the Godless and a good time for believers.

  • Jesus described the final period as a time of

'"distress of nations, with perplexity"''. (Luke 21:25) There will be such distress that people everywhere will be utterly perplexed over how awful things have become, and probably at how quickly things have plunged into such a fearful state. He goes on to say, "men's hearts failing them from fear, and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth ..." The world will be in turmoil. Having experienced the effects of a pandemic, we know that unrest and fear can be as contagious as the virus that spawned them, and how easily instant digital communication can now create and fuel global unrest.

  • Thankfully God will intervene before mankind brings the world to a

violent, permanent end. Jesus assures us, "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened." (Matthew 24:22) For believers' sakes, God will step in. He has promised this world to them, so He is not going to allow others to destroy it.

Among the closing words of Jesus' prophecy of the last days, he offers some reassurance for believers: "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near." (Luke 21:28) When the world is in such a time of trouble, from which no escape seems possible, believers should not despair along with everyone else; they should take heart. It's a sign of the nearness of Christ. Soon they'll see what the whole world is going to see: "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." (Luke 21:27) "Son of Man" is a name by which Jesus sometimes referred to himself. He'll put down all unrest and put a halt to the madness of self-destruction that is the path we're currently on. We're told that God will "... destroy those who destroy the earth ..." (Revelation 11:18) Peace activists, ecologists, ecowarriors and the like mean well, I'm sure, but they've not seen the bigger picture. God will never allow us to destroy our planet by neglect, pollution, war, or any other means. Mock me if you will for believing such things about the events coming at this time of the end. It'll make me feel a bit like Noah. But I hope that by now you've seen enough of what's going on in this world to realise that there is something in what the Bible is telling us. And the impending upheaval is not a threat; it's a promise of better things.

This is a modified extract from the new book:
"GOD'S SECRET - What's really happening in the world" by Colin Attridge.

Front Cover
Author Colin Attridge
Source Light on a New World reprint from Volume 33.3

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