Looking Ahead 

Joel 3:1
“For behold, in those days and at that time…”

Joel leads us to the climax of this book. Chapter one spoke of a locust army attacking Israel as a form of judgment for sin, chapter two spoke of the Babylonian army and captivity of the nation. Now chapter three speaks of the ultimate judgment upon the nations who rebel against God and come against His people. All that follows, points ahead to the time when God will restore all things. Paul wrote,

Ephesians 1:10 “. . . that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”

Martin Lloyd Jones referred to this event as “God’s Ultimate Purpose”,and Paul called it “the dispensation of the fullness of the times”, while  Joel had used the term, “Day of the Lord”. This is the event that all things are headed toward. This is the end of the road of life. All things are heading toward the time when God will restore all things, and set His kingdom upon the earth.

Joel had previously predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit. After the gift of the Spirit was given at Pentecost, the early Christians correctly viewed themselves as having entered the last days. David Guzik refers to the last days this way,

“Many have the wrong idea of the “last days”, thinking only in terms of the final years or months immediately before the return of Jesus in glory to this earth, or the rapture of the Church. Scripturally, we can think of the last days as an era, one that began with the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost. Since that time, the Church has not been rushing towards a distant edge that represents the consummation of all things. Instead, at the Day of Pentecost the Church came to the edge – and has run parallel to the brink for some 2,000 years.”

That is why the NT writers lived with an expectation of Christ’s soon return.

Revelation 22:20 “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

Romans 13:11 “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

And that is why we should be living with the same expectation. Joel went on to describe the final event in these last days. A time when all nations will gather at the valley of Jehoshaphat in one final rebellion against God only to be completely destroyed. This event is commonly referred to as the battle of Armageddon. As horrible as this event is, it is not the desire of God. He describes a glorious banquet in heaven awaiting those who receive Christ. God desires all men to be saved (2Peter 3:9). In the parable of the wedding feast He sought to persuade those who refused the invitation (Matthew 22:8-9). The desire of God is for man to beat their swords into plows, not the other way around. There will be a time when it is too late to turn to God, but today is not that day. The right response to realizing what is coming, is to refuse to remain one more day counted among those who are in rebellion against God. I am reminded of the poem by James Weldon Johnson who speaks of the folly of resisting God,

“Young man, Young man, Your arm’s too short to box with God.”

There is only one way to win in a battle against the Lord, SURRENDER!

Pastor Jim

 

I’ll Be Back 

Revelation 22:20-21
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘ Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

If you are anything like me, you have echoed the cry of John, from time to time in your walk with God. It seems whenever things become difficult, confusing or frightening, my heart cries out, “Come, Lord Jesus.” I realize, the only reason for His delay is His desire to see others come to faith in Christ. Peter wrote,

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

There is a day coming, in the not so distant future, when all the promises of Scripture will be fulfilled, and Christ will return for His church and set up His kingdom. As John sat incarcerated on the island of Patmos, his heart longed for the return of his Savior and Lord.

That being said, it has often struck me, that the final promise of Scripture takes us from the promises of the future, to those of the present. After declaring Christ will return for His church, John reminds us that we are living in a present state of grace.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

Grace can be defined as the giving nature of God. It i s expressed in His desire to save the lost, and to pour out lavish gifts upon His children. As we await the return of Christ, we live in the age of grace. The closer we get to the time of Christ’s return, the more difficult things will become on earth. As men harden their hearts to God, sin will increase and righteousness will become more and more scarce. It is vital to remember, although God will judge sin, it is His desire to save. The darker the background, the more brightly the message of the Gospel shines. Instead of becoming discrouraged by the present condition of things, let’s remember that it is in the heart of God to save. Let’s be busy praying for, and witnessing to, our friends and loved ones, until the day Christ calls us home.

Until He comes,

Pastor Jim