Where Are We Headed?
Were you one of those high school or college students who hated history, feeling it was boring and useless to learn? Not me! I love history, but I understand many people don’t think history is important.
Would it help you to think of it a little differently if you thought of history as “His-story”? That’s really what history is: the way God works among all humans to cause all his good plans and purposes for us to come to pass. Some of the ways God works in our lives are very clear; some are not so clear because He often works behind the scenes in our lives. He is often standing in the shadows working out all things for our good.
Yes, all of human history is His-story. The Bible is His-story. I’ve read hundreds of history books. I love His-story as related in the Bible. I’ve loved books all my life, but the Bible is the only book that loves me back! This month, I will continue writing about the Kingdom of God . . . and it’s King: Jesus.
Differing Views of History
I don’t know if you know this, but many other cultures and societies don’t view and perceive history as we do in the western world.
We view history as linear: as having a beginning and moving through time to an ending. Other cultures view history as cyclical—as history happening over and over and over. Still other cultures view history in other ways.
Is there a “correct” way to view history? I really don’t know. But I do know the Bible relates history as linear—as having a beginning and an ending, with the passage of time in between.
In the beginning, God . . .
In between, God . . .
In the end, God . . .
If we are believers in the Bible, we understand that God created all things “in the beginning.” If we are believers in the Bible, we understand all of the “between” times are about God and his ways and works among humans. If we are believers in the Bible we understand God will be there at the end of mortal human history . . . and beyond that in the state of being called Eternity. This issue of The Traveler will be about the end of mortal human history as we know it. Or, let’s say it will be about the end of the beginning.
Let’s Wrap It Up!
As I’ve written and taught numerous times since I began teaching the Bible and related subjects many years ago, every topic or subject in the Bible has at least one place where it is summarized or encapsulated. If I were to ask you to get your Bible right now and turn to the end of it, you would most likely turn to the last chapter of the Book of the Revelation. If you did, you’d be wrong! Revelation chapter 22 is the end of the format of the Bible, but the actual end of events among mortal humans is recorded in chapter 15 of one of the letters (books) Paul wrote to Jesus believers of his day in the city of Corinth in Greece: 1 Corinthians 15: 24 – 28. That’s the real “end” of the Bible.
Preview of “Coming Attractions”
Now I’m going to amplify and paraphrase that reference along with some related biblical references and see if we can make some clearer sense about Jesus’ return to establish his long-awaited Kingdom.
“First, people will hear a great shout accompanied by the loud blast of a trumpet heard around the world . . . loud enough to wake the dead. Then Jesus will return in the clouds over Jerusalem, from where He left earth 2,000+ years ago and ascended to heaven. As He returns in the clouds, the bodies of all believers in Jesus who have died will erupt from their burial (or cremation) places and swiftly rise to meet Jesus in the air. Right behind them will rise those Jesus believers who are living at the time He returns. After they rendezvous with Jesus in the air, they will be instantly transformed from mortal humans to immortal humans and return with him to earth to assist Him in establishing his Kingdom. They will finally be whole and complete, their bodies, minds, and spirits fully integrated, blending and working together in perfect harmony and balance. Jesus will then spend 1,000 years establishing his Kingdom until it has spread throughout the entire earth, with his headquarters in Jerusalem, Israel.
During those 1,000 years, Jesus will take over control of all the human systems on earth: political, economic, educational, military, social, etc. . . . until He finally has complete authority over all the earth. Then will come the end (the final consummation) when Jesus will turn over to the Father his fully established worldwide Kingdom. When Jesus turns over his Kingdom to the Father, He will have finally conquered the last enemy of all humans: Death. When that occurs, time shall end and be subsumed into a state of being called Eternity where God has always existed and always will. Then God will be All in all, Everything to everyone!”
You might ask: “Bill, is that the whole story? Have you got it right?” Good questions. I really don’t know. I’m a finite human being with very limited understanding writing about infinite, unlimited matters. Do I have all the answers? No! Do I know precisely how it’s all going to come together when Jesus returns? No! Being human, we can only understand matters based on our current level of understanding and state of awareness. I’m merely sharing with you what I presently understand what the Bible teaches about Jesus’ return to establish his Kingdom.
I always try to stay open to anything new and different God wants to teach me from the Bible. I never try to put God in a little religious “box” of my own understanding. He’s much “bigger” than that . . . or He wouldn’t be God! Don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you he or she has all God’s plans and purposes for humankind’s future all figured out and wrapped up in a neat little box . . . especially if they start giving future dates when things will happen! That’s especially true of various religious television personalities who cause you to feel they have it all figured out . . . and if you’ll send a donation, they’ll reveal to you precisely where you fit into God’s scheme of things. Don’t be so foolish! Don’t be so naïve!
Our Role in Jesus’ Kingdom
What, if anything, should we be doing in the meantime before we die or before Jesus returns? Is his return just going to happen automatically without us doing anything about it? Yes . . . and No! Each time someone hears the Good News about what God has done for them through Jesus and then invites Jesus into his or her life, Jesus comes into their life in his “unbodied form” of the Holy Spirit and permanently occupies the “inner throne” of their life. In an instant of time—an atomic moment!—they are born2. That’s how the future Kingdom of God is established in our lives NOW in the real, day-to-day world in which we each live. That’s how we become bi-locational. As
I’ve previously stated, Jesus is not only preparing a place for each of us in his coming Kingdom, He is also preparing us for that place!
Jesus said when the Good News about his coming Kingdom is proclaimed to all 7,000 people groups on this planet, then He will return to establish his Kingdom. Meanwhile, we are the ones who should be proclaiming that Good News to others . . . at home, in our towns, cities, regions, in our states or provinces, in our nations, and around the world. That’s our principal job; everything else is secondary, no matter who we are or where we are. When we tell that Good News to others, God empowers us from within to be bold and courageous in being his witnesses about all the good things He has done for all humanity through Jesus. Yes, our principal task is to be God’s witnesses about all the great and good things God has done for us in and through Jesus.
Let’s ‘Do the Stuff’
A few years ago, a man invited Jesus into his life, was born2, and began attending a church. As he sat in the pews of the church each Sunday morning for a few weeks, he became very perplexed. You see, he had begun reading his Bible and learning all about God’s signs, wonders, and miracles in the life of the early church 2,000 years ago. A few weeks after he had invited Jesus into his life and began reading the Bible, he made an appointment with his new Pastor. As they talked during the appointment, that new believer in Jesus asked the Pastor: “When do we do the stuff?” The Pastor asked what he meant by that question. The young man replied, “I’ve been reading my Bible. In the Bible all sorts of signs, wonders, and miracles happened in the lives of the early believers in Jesus.
Why do we just come to church, sit in neat little rows, sing a few songs, and listen to you talk? When do we do what Jesus told us to do about telling others the Good News? When do we have signs, wonders and miracles in our lives instead of just coming to church once a week? When do we do the stuff?”
How would you answer that young man’s question about doing the stuff? Are you seeing signs, wonders and miracles occur in your life and in the life of your church? If not, why not? When are you and your church going to begin doing the stuff? Signs, wonders, and miracles should be occurring regularly and consistently in your life and in the life of your church . . . if you are faithfully telling others the Good News about Jesus and his Kingdom. As I wrote last month, this is what signs, wonders, and miracles are: They are God-caused events beyond all bounds of human reason and logic, defying comprehension, experience, and expectations . . . for the purpose of God drawing people to Himself through Jesus! Why are we even here if those are not occurring regularly and consistently in our lives and in our churches? What good are we doing ourselves or anyone else if we’re just “doing religious church stuff” and not “doing the real stuff?”
As for me, I don’t want to make buttprints in the sands of time; I want to make footprints in the sands of time! And the sands of time are sinking all too quickly.
Being Instead of Doing
In the Bible, the word “witness” is never a verb; it is always a noun. The Bible never tells us to go out and witness (verb) to other people about Jesus’ Kingdom. Instead, we simply are witnesses (noun). God simply wants other people to see Jesus in us . . . wrapped in our skin. If Jesus can be seen clearly wrapped in our skin, then people will be drawn to God through Jesus in a natural, free-flowing and spontaneous manner, without a lot of grunting, groaning, and scheming by us to go out and witness to other people . . . using the latest “witnessing techniques.” Relax! Quit working so hard at witnessing . . . and just be a witness. When that happens, God’s Kingdom realities are displayed in your life and God will draw people to Himself through Jesus . . . with signs, wonders, and miracles occurring!
“When He returns to earth, Jesus will ‘touch down’ on the Mount of Olive in Jerusalem. He’ll take over running the world, ruling from the ancient throne of his forefather, King David. He’ll put his Kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going with fair dealing and right living. His ruling authority will never cease to grow and expand until He finally turns it over to God who will then be All in all, Everything to everyone!” –paraphrased from various biblical references
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Revised and Updated March 2019