“and the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.” v. 10
As you await the coming of Jesus, are you spending your time watching signs or directing traffic? Too many of us are wasting the closing hours of this age speculating about peripheral matters when we ought to be directing people to the savior. The return of Christ is linked to the great commission. Jesus was asked, by his disciples, “Tell us when will these things be and what will be the sign when all these things will be accomplished?”
From there he went on to list what will happen between his resurrection and his return. In this section we see a short list, most of which has already been fulfilled:
- False Christs appear.
- War, famine, earthquakes.
- Christians on trial for their faith.
If you notice these signs grow in levels of intensity or severity as the time of his appearing draws nearer. But there is a dramatic shift in intensity after verse 10 “The gospel…proclaimed to all nations.” It seems like once the gospel has reached every nation the reaction of darkness increases exponentially. We move quickly from general persecution and trouble to;
- Betrayal by family.
- Worldwide hatred of the church.
- The rise of the antichrist.
- Great time of tribulation before Christ returns.
I’m not interested in affirming or negating anyone’s millennial perspective. What I want to do is show that the centerpiece of it all is the fulfillment of the great commission. It seems that once the gospel has finally touched every tongue, tribe and nation it’s as if the short fuse is lit, the switch is flipped, the accelerator hits the floor of time and Christ appears in glory and power as he promised. Why is this important?
- It shows us God’s desire to save people from all nations. Many speak as if the gospel were a luxury offered to only a select few. But God is calling people from every nation, every tribe, every language to repent and believe the gospel. Of all the signs of the end of the age this is the one I believe we Christians should be most concerned about. Which leads to the next point.
- It shows what our Lord wants us putting our energy into in the mean time. When you hear a great number of believers talk about the end of the age they seem to focus on a host of things;
– Who is the antichrist? Go online and see how many presidents, popes, and rock stars have been given this title throughout history, better yet, don’t.
– What nations will do what? Everybody wants to know what nation is going to start world war three. What’s going to happen to the United States? Israel? Russia? There’s a theory for every persuasion.
– Will there be a rapture? Are we going up in a flash, or down in a flush? Will we escape tribulation? Or will we all fall away?
– What about the millennium? Are you Pre, post, or A millennial? It’s almost amusing the way people will measure your spirituality by your answer to that question. Some will even question your salvation if you don’t answer correctly. Seriously?
Why don’t we all step back from our charts and theories for just a minute and think. While there may be a place for asking the questions listed above, it seems to me that the greater issue is the great commission. After all, when Jesus ascended he didn’t say, “Go therefore and build a bomb shelter.” He didn’t say, “Go therefore and expose the antichrist.” He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
Listen. I think I speak on good authority when I say this. Understanding the signs of Christ’s return is important to help us see how close his return is. But the sign that we should be most concerned with is the movement of the gospel to all nations. Are you helping make that happen? Let’s be honest, it’s easier…
…to figure out which nations will go to war with each other, than it is to go to war for the nations, on your knees.
… to ask people about their millennial views, than it is to ask if they have eternal life.
… to build a bunker for the “apocalypse”, than it is to build a church in a needy community.
…to sit in our rooms, scanning the internet for the antichrist, than it is to get out into the world and preach the coming Christ.
The Lord gave us clear instructions about what we are to do with our lives. Every believer is called to help get the gospel to those who have yet to hear it. Instead of asking God what he’s going to do about all those who haven’t heard, ask yourself what you’re going to do. God will handle his part. Your job is to pray, give, and go until he comes. When our Lord comes, will he find you watching signs or directing traffic?