Keep Hope Alive

Nasty headlines are hitting home hard. Radical attacks on our institutions, our heroes, our Constitution, our financial system, our cities, our property, our fellow citizens, our rights, our freedoms.

Attacks on those few virtues that remain in our nations. Still, there is great cause to hold your head high. World events are hurtling toward the greatest news story ever to occur.

Jesus provided a detailed description of what would transpire globally just before this event. The Bible contains dozens of major prophetic events to watch for, and hundreds of additional events.

Toward the end of His ministry, Christ delivered the “Mount Olivet” prophecy as recorded in Matthew 24; Mark 13; and Luke 21. It was His response to the disciples’ earthshaking question, “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3).

This was Christ’s explanation of the world conditions that would precede His Second Coming.

Jesus began by describing the four horsemen of the apocalypse, which bring false religion, wars, famines and disease epidemics (verses 4-8) (Revelation 6:1-8) and other horrific events (Matthew 24:9-11). He then spoke about a falling away within His own Church in this end time which puts the time frame right into our day today.

Christ also tells us how to survive these events: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (verse 12, 13).

According to Jesus, there will be people spared from these nightmares. And then, verse 14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Right in the middle of these crises is a prophecy about a work of God. Whether or not you believe it, this prophecy has already been fulfilled. In Matthew 24:30, we see what all these signs lead to: “Christ’s return.”

Yes, world conditions are bad, and getting worse. But we should aim to focus on the connection between all the bad news and this most spectacular, “hope” filled event ever.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.” (verses 32-33). Christ says that we will know the end of this age is near by watching as the specific signs He has given us are fulfilled step by step.

Why would God give us all these prophecies and then tell us to watch for them? To warn us. God isn’t just going to spring these calamities on this world, He is giving plenty of warning.

That warning includes God’s admonition to repent, to turn from the sin that is causing all these disasters: “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11).

We are told, individually, to watch. Christ’s prophecy as recorded in Luke 21 concludes, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (verse 36). To escape these nightmares coming on the world, we must watch and pray always.

What can happen to one who is not vigilant? Read Matthew 24: 48 -51. Our attitude about Christ’s return—our urgency and excitement about those signs He has given us—has a direct relationship with our personal conduct. Looking for the day of Christ’s return gives us a perspective that should translate into a desire to seek God’s way of life. It spurs us to actively prepare for what is coming (verse 46).

Current conditions make plain that the prophesied “Great Tribulation” might be coming soon. Conditions are only beginning to worsen, and already many people recognize that something is dangerously wrong. The worse events become, the more people will despair. But God tells us to maintain a broader perspective.

As conditions decay, we must not become depressed. Always remember where it is all leading: “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27-28).

Keep a posture of vigilant, “hope” filled anticipation. The worse things get, the greater should be our hope. The more vigilant we are—the more diligently we watch and pray—the more filled with hope we will become. All this bad news is pointing toward the event this world desperately needs.

Lift up your head—Jesus Christ is about to return!