the Bible describes God’s plan for this world and gives signs of the soon return of Jesus Christ
Looking around the world today we see selfless acts for others, beauty, the arts, amazing progress in science and technology, and countless people just getting on with their lives, doing good where they can. But we also see misery, injustice, pollution, betrayal, theft, killing and war.
It seems we have this wonderful capacity to shine, while at the same time living with a shadow on our souls. This plays out individually, and it plays out at the level of cultures, peoples and nations. God has shown his wonderful plan for the individual, but does God have any interest in the affairs of mankind at this broader level?
God is also interested in nations. In Old Testament times He dealt with Egypt, and He dealt with numerous other tribes and peoples that came into contact with Israel. He also dealt in detail with Israel itself, His “peculiar [special] treasure”, and made promises to that nation, some of which are still to be fulfilled. Israel figures prominently in the Bible. God made many promises to the patriarchs of this nation – promises that must be fulfilled, if God keeps His promises. In terms of space allocated in the Bible, the unfolding unfinished story of Israel is significant.
The Israel of the Bible was to become a large fraternity of nations and peoples: a “company of nations” and a “great” nation (Genesis 35:11, Genesis 48:19). We can trace the history of Israel, its scattering among other nations (Deuteronomy 4:27) and God’s promises that its people will be “gathered” again (Ezekiel 11:16-17). But looking to the modern nation of Israel, it is clear that not all prophecies concerning the Old Testament nation of Israel can be fulfilled there. So is there a broader fulfilment? Has God kept all His promises? The story is fascinating and intricate, covering many Bible prophecies and history over many centuries up until our modern time. See the links below to explore these themes.
What does this mean? It means we have a God who keeps His promises – that the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Old Testament remain true. It means that the plan and promises outlined in the beginning stages of the Bible are still being worked through by God. It allows us to see the coming of Jesus in a broader context (Matthew 15:24, John 1:11); the opening up of salvation to all mankind in context (Romans 11); and the next item on the agenda, the return of Jesus Christ, as part of an unfolding plan for the ages.
return of Jesus
The angel that told Mary of Jesus’ birth also said that He would reign (as a King), and that He would have a kingdom (see Luke 1:32-33). The only crown Jesus received while on earth was the crown of thorns jammed onto His head prior to being crucified. But there is a kingdom to come. In the Lord’s prayer we read: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Jesus spoke of the signs that would herald His return (Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21). In summary, these were: false religious ideas, warfare, famines, pestilence (rampant disease), earthquakes, persecution of His people, a lukewarm approach by many of His followers, an increase in lawlessness, fearful sights, Jerusalem surrounded by armies, signs in space, distress of nations with no way out, the powers of heaven (Greek: ouranos, from which we get the word “uranium”) will be shaken (agitated, incited), and that the gospel would be published in all nations. In addition, Old Testament prophets gave other signs: an increase in knowledge, an increase in travel, and descriptions of modern warfare.
Do we know when? Jesus said: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Many have tried to predict the coming of Jesus. All have failed. The advice of Jesus is to watch.
more on God’s plan
more on the return of Jesus