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Bible verses about End Times
(From Forerunner Commentary)

The six parables of the Olivet Prophecy can be summarized in the following six principles:

  1. Though not knowing the day or hour of Christ's return, we can know the signs.
  2. God requires us to live in expectation with vigilance and constant watchfulness.
  3. God requires faithfulness to duty and wisdom in dealing with our fellow man.
  4. God requires preparedness through spiritual development, working on our relationship with Him, and increasing the Holy Spirit.
  5. God requires us to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18).
  6. Christ will judge us by how we treat Him and our brethren. We cannot fool the King—He can discern true love from false love. Nobody will pass under the rod through hypocrisy.

Jesus understood what the end time would be like, and thus He gave commensurate instruction on how to overcome it and how not to be drawn into this world's distractions. A Christian cannot afford to succumb to these pressure-packed, enervating, and distracting times that we live in. These God-given principles apply to a multitude of specific circumstances: how we conduct our marriages and careers, how we rear our children, how we run our homes, how we drive a car, how we dress, how we talk, how we entertain ourselves. In every case—always—the Kingdom of God covers all parts of our lives. It covers everything all the time for those who are called in this age.

We look to the future, but we live in the present. Are we living by what we believe? Are we truly living by faith? We look for a city whose builder is God, and as His representatives we witness for Him in the way we live our lives. The Laodicean is distracted—he is living by what he sees—and is useless to Christ because he is not a faithful and true witness. The righteous live by faith not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). And so we must live and grow as the return of Christ nears day by day.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church and Laodiceanism


 

Isaiah 58:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Trumpets symbolize a loud, warning cry of impending danger. These verses from the prophets impart a dire warning to those living in the end time: The day of the Lord is at hand, a day of darkness, gloominess, and clouds over man's society! The prophets strongly admonish the ministry to raise their voices as trumpets to warn of sudden, terrifying destruction!

Though originally intended for Israel, these warnings apply specifically to the called-out children of God since we are the ones living in the end time with the understanding of God's plan! In fact, we have the most to lose by ignoring these stern prophecies of death and destruction. They are admonishments to prepare ourselves spiritually for the tumult ahead. Notice that these verses stress repentance, fasting, and prayer, and who but God's elect truly understand them?

Staff
Holy Days: Trumpets


 

Jeremiah 30:4-6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The period we live in is leading to the fulfillment of this prophecy. Notice that Israel and Judah are both named in it. When compared to the fact that Jeremiah lived over a hundred years after Israel went into captivity to Assyria, yet this prophecy is addressed to both Israel and Judah, it is understood that this an end-time prophecy. A time is coming when these troubles will come upon both the nation of Judah and the nations of Israel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Trumpets Is a Day of Hope


 

Ezekiel 16:27-30  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is helpful to remember that the book of Ezekiel indicates that its message applies to the end time. Clearly addressed to Israel, it was written more than a hundred years after the nation of Israel fell in warfare to Assyria and was transported into captivity. Ancient Judah heard its message, but Judah comprised only a small part of Israel. The majority of Israel never received this message, even though God addressed it to them.

Through Ezekiel, God uses what happened before the prophet's time as the basis for end-time prophecies—histories written in advance to guide the end-time church of God. Ancient Israel has regrouped in what the media frequently refer to as "the West," and most of the end-time church is located within its boundaries. Because modern Israel's conduct has closely paralleled ancient Israel's, we can learn how God evaluates us and what will happen in the years ahead.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Six): The Woman's Character


 

Daniel 11:40-42  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Students of Bible prophecy have often wondered about the role of the "king of the South" in the end time. Daniel 11 describes the back-and-forth fighting and intrigue between the Seleucid Empire based in Syria—the king of the North—and the Ptolemaic Empire of Egypt—the king of the South. Obviously, during the time of their conflict, these nations were north and south of Jerusalem, respectively, and their battlegrounds were often in the land of Israel.

Neither of these two empires exists any longer. However, verse 40 speaks of "the time of the end," meaning the period just before the return of Jesus Christ. Which nations, then, are the kings of the North and the South?

Because the Roman Empire swallowed up both of the older empires, it could at one time have been said to be both. However, Diocletian split the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western halves in AD 284, and in 324, Constantine established the eastern capital at Byzantium, renamed Constantinople (now Istanbul). The Western Empire fell in 476, to be succeeded down the centuries by several resurrections of a Holy Roman Empire.

The Eastern Empire, however, proved more enduring, lasting until 1453 when the Turks under Mahmed II took the weak and tired city of Constantinople after a 53-day siege. Once again, there were rival kings of North and South, though this event merely formalized an ongoing struggle between Christian Europe and Muslim Middle East. This situation remains intact today: Even now, we are witnessing the bitter and violent conflict between the Western and Islamic civilizations.

Notice in verse 40 that the king of the North invades and conquers "countries," suggesting that the king of the South is composed of several nations, much like the modern Middle East.

The King James Version uses "push at him" instead of "attack him," and this is to be preferred, as the Hebrew verb means "to thrust." It could be a military attack, but it could equally be an economic, religious, or cultural assault. Whatever it is, the king of the North reacts to it swiftly and forcefully.

We should also note verses 41-42. In them, God directs our attention to the area targeted by the king of the North: "the Glorious Land"—the land of Israel—Edom, Moab, Ammon (all three part of modern Jordan), and Egypt. It is clear that, if this prophecy speaks of our day, the king of the South is represented by the Arab peoples of the Middle East.

Could we be seeing this prophecy beginning to come to pass? Perhaps the waves of predominantly Muslim immigrants into Europe have woken the emerging colossus of the North to some of the troubles the clash of cultures can cause. If these problems should be combined with terrorist attacks on European soil of the magnitude of the September 11 bombings, an armed response would seem to be unavoidable.

However, the leader, the person who is the king of the North, is still lacking. No strong man has stood up in Europe to take the lead in solving some of these problems. The stage, though, is being set for such a ruler to galvanize both the leadership and citizenry of Europe to unite to fight against the enemies of their civilization (see Revelation 17:9-14).

Though it is probably not the catalyst, Europe's immigration woes could provide some of the fuel for the coming conflagration. This is an area on which Christians should keep a watchful eye (Mark 13:32-37).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Clash of Cultures


 

Hosea 4:11-12  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Undoubtedly, the Israelites of Hosea's day were literally getting drunk and involved in harlotry, but for us today the application is spiritual. At the end time, God predicts, His people will be deceived by a force near demoniacal in its deceptive power. Because of their closeness to the world, they will share the great harlot's attitude, "drunk with the wine of her fornication" (Revelation 17:2).

Hosea's word-picture illustrates the effect a drug like alcohol has on a person's mind. Under the influence of alcohol, one's reactions slow, even though the person thinks he has better control. Most fatal accidents in the United States involve automobiles and roughly half of them occur with at least one driver under the influence. In driving while intoxicated, one's ability to make right decisions is severely hampered. Alcohol obscures judgment. When one cannot think clearly, a sound judgment is nearly impossible.

Linked to this inability to make sound judgments is the destruction of inhibitions, modesty and restraint. In addition, alcohol produces a false sense of security and confidence, so people do silly and senseless things while drunk and regret them along with their hangovers.

The same process occurs to a person drunk with the wine of the wrath of this spiritual prostitute. The attitude of this world deprives people of their spiritual judgment and removes their spiritual inhibitions. Their resistance to evil weakens, and they will begin to do things that they vowed they would never do. Like a drunken man's fidelity to his wife is destroyed by wine, so is a Christian's loyalty to God when he imbibes of this world's attitudes. His judgment is shattered.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church and Laodiceanism


 

Amos 6:3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The prophet pronounces God's judgment. Notice the many parallels to Babylon and Laodicea. Also notice what Jesus says in a parable concerning the time just before His return: "But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards . . ." (Matthew 24:48-49). Amos and Christ speak about the same sequence of events. The attitude of putting off the day of Christ's return promotes violence and injustice toward one's fellow man. Appeasement, a "strength" of the Laodicean, virtually guarantees violence and war, as happened in the years leading to World War II.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church and Laodiceanism


 

Amos 7:8-9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We need to remember that this was originally given to ancient Israel, and the wording applies first of all to the physical people of Israel. However, it contains a spiritual anti-type that we can apply to the end time. In both the type and the antitype, Christ is doing the judging. In the end-time fulfillment, this occurs right before the catastrophe of the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob's Trouble when things will get really terrible. When the Lord stands on the wall, He says, "Look, this is what you have to be like. You have to be able to stand here next to this plumb line and measure yourself to the vertical to see how upright you really are."

He also says, "I will not pass by . . . any more." This means that judgment is coming, and however this judgment falls, that is it! The first six verses of chapter 7 record two other visions. In those visions, the prophet had said, "Please God, Israel is such a small people. Will you please pass us by this time?" He means, "Will you please have mercy and not punish us?" and both times God replied, "Okay, Amos. Because you have asked Me for this, I will pass by." Now, in this vision of the plumb line, He says, "This time I am going to exact My judgment. I will pass sentence and execute the penalty."

What does He pass sentence on? The "high places of Isaac" indicates idolatry, as do the "sanctuaries of Israel." He says He will "rise with the sword against the house of Jeroboam," meaning that He will wreak a great deal of vengeance upon the leadership of the nation for leading the people away from God and into disaster as they have.

This is very serious. At the time of the end, when God appears with the plumb line, the end it at hand. His judgment will come soon. He is about to react violently, exacting the sentence that He thinks is fair and necessary.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 5)


 

Habakkuk 1:5-7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This prophecy concerns the economic, political, and military machinations that will occur as the end approaches, but these maneuvers end with the return of Christ. Many parallel prophecies are fulfilled during the same period, for instance, the appearance of the Two Witnesses and their work. Even God declares that what He is going to bring to pass will be astounding, partly because it runs counter to what most believe could happen. Nonetheless, God will have His Two Witnesses expounding upon these prophecies and warning all who are willing to listen that a new world order is being ushered in through the tumultuous, worldwide events of the end-time "Axial Period."

It will not be the "New World Order" of human dreams, but Christ will return and continue to develop this new, God-devised revolution. The Babylonian image, which has governed and influenced the world since the sixth century BC, will be smashed on its feet, but the entire system will fragment into millions of pieces and be blown away into the dustbin of history, replaced by the Kingdom of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophecy and the Sixth-Century Axial Period


 

Habakkuk 2:2  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

First, God allays some of the prophet's fears by implying that what He has told him is not necessarily a revelation of doom and despair. It may seem that way, but ultimately, the vision is encouraging, hopeful, and glorious. This is why He instructs him to write it down plainly so people will understand it and be encouraged by it—and thus run.

Hebrews 12 contains a similar metaphor of running. Perhaps Paul had Habakkuk in mind as he wrote it, since he quotes Habakkuk in Hebrews 10:37-38. The apostle explains in Hebrews 12:1 that the race we run is our Christian lives. We can take the words of Habakkuk and run because we know that it all works out right in the end (Romans 8:28). Our Savior has already done His work, so if we finish our race, we will be saved. There is no doubt about this because He is not only the beginner of our faith, but He is also the finisher of our faith. So we can run with patience, just as God told Habakkuk to do. Even if it seems to tarry, patiently wait for it, because it will happen just as He has promised. His will will be done.

In Hebrews 12:5-11, Paul goes through a section on discipline, chastening, correction. This is what Habakkuk had just heard—that God would discipline, chasten, correct His people by the wicked hand of Babylon. Paul says in Hebrews that if God does not chasten us, we are bastard children! The chastening, though unpleasant, is for our good. We may not like the humiliation of it, but we can patiently endure it because it is for the best.

Our chastening is not a time to lag or worry but to strengthen ourselves through God and move forward because it is important that we endure and finish (Hebrews 12:12-13). When things get tough, the tough get going. Do not be like Esau (Hebrews 12:15-17), who had a great promise and inheritance and threw it all away for some temporary relief. We should never settle for temporary relief if it will knock us off the path! It is not worth it because it will end in bitterness, tears, disappointment, and failure.

Paul shows in Hebrews 12:28 how we should approach God, even when things do not seem to be going the right way. We must serve Him acceptably with reverence and godly fear, just as Habakkuk did. Yes, he questioned Him, but he said, "You are God, and You know something that I do not understand, so I will wait patiently. I will see this through, and then I will respond." If we do not approach God properly, we may find ourselves caught under the heel of the Chaldean with the sinners.

"That he may run who reads it" suggests a herald, like in medieval times, who went from place to place with a message from one person to another. God is instructing Habakkuk to put the revelation down clearly so that someone in the future can take it and deliver it into the right hands, those who need to hear it. Anyone in the end time who is speaking God's words fulfills this.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Habakkuk


 

Zechariah 4:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This is interesting in terms of Matthew 25 and the Ten Virgins, who were asleep. The angel comes and has to waken the prophet out of sleep. Could there be some sort of a parallel? Perhaps. Yet, at this point, the prophet himself had to be awoken out of sleep. Maybe it is a key to the timing of the revelation of the Two Witnesses and the other events of the end time.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 4)


 

Matthew 7:22  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The "day" He is most specifically talking about is likely our day right now, because "in that day" is a common biblical phrase to indicate the end time.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wisdom of Men and Faith


 

Matthew 13:24-30  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"End of the age" (verse 39) refers to the time of Christ's second coming and the resurrection of the dead when God will reap the firstfruits of His harvest! The fifty days between the wavesheaf offering and Pentecost symbolize the time from the founding of the church to the end of the age when the small harvest of the firstfruits occurs.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Pentecost


 

Matthew 24:3-5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is no coincidence that the first warning Jesus gives about "the sign of [His] coming and the end of the age" is, "Take heed that no one deceives you" (Matthew 24:3-4). In fact, warnings about deception are frequent throughout His Olivet Prophecy (verses 4-5, 11, 23-26, 48). The time of the end, it seems, will be one of falsehood and deceit.

In the book of Revelation, this same warning appears as the first seal, also known as the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

Now I [John] saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see." And I looked, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. (Revelation 6:1-2)

Comparing Jesus' comments in Matthew 24 with these verses in Revelation 6, it becomes apparent that this horseman is not Christ proclaiming the true gospel but a counterfeit spreading the news of a false Messiah. For instance, this horseman carries a bow, but in every case, Christ is pictured with a sword (see Revelation 1:16; 19:15). Jesus interprets this horseman for us in Matthew 24:5: "For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Let No One Deceive You


 

Matthew 24:22  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This verse provides the most provable of the signs that we are living in the last days. It is instructive to see the clause, "no flesh would be saved," in other translations:

James Moffatt: "not a soul would be saved alive."
The Four Gospels by E.V. Rieu: "no living thing would have escaped."
Amplified Bible: "no human being would endure and survive."
Revised English Bible: "no living thing could survive."
The New Testament by Kenneth Wuest: "all flesh would not be saved from destruction."

We can infer a concrete meaning from this verse: The last days will be marked by mankind's ability to annihilate every living thing from the face of planet earth! If God does not step in, if He does not intervene in world affairs, the nations will fight until all life perishes!

Is this possible today? The U.S. and Soviet Union just fought a 45-year Cold War during which both sides stockpiled enough nuclear weapons to erase life from earth 50 times over. That is overkill! Though the nations have reduced nuclear stockpiles in recent years, the current overkill factor is still more than enough to kill all flesh. Statistics from 1995 show that 40,640 nuclear weapons are still available to the five major nuclear powers: the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China. Several other nations are known or thought to have nuclear capabilities: Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea, South Africa, Iran, Ukraine, and others.

Today, the nations do not have just nuclear weapons at their disposal. Now they have chemical weapons, biological weapons, neutron bombs, and who knows how many secret weapons systems still yet unearthed by the media.

Are we living in the last days? Yes, indeed! This one sign proves it conclusively, for at no other time in history has this been possible! Only since the advent of the atomic bomb in 1945 or the hydrogen bomb in 1952 has man had the knowledge and ability to wipe himself out!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are These the Last Days? (Part 1)


 

Matthew 24:32-33  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A parable is a story drawn from human experience that has a higher spiritual meaning. This is its principal purpose, just as a psalm is primarily intended to praise God. This does not exclude its use for other ends. God creates most things with multiple functions, and the various parts of His Word are not exceptions.

The Parable of the Fig Tree is a good example. It both teaches a universal principle and prophesies of the coming Kingdom of God. As further proof of this parable's prophetic nature, Jesus gives it in the midst of the Olivet Prophecy! He has just listed several signs of His second coming, and He presents this parable to key us in on their time element. Notice He says, "when they are already budding," meaning that the events that signal His return will be happening—in motion—before we realize how close we are to the end!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables and Prophecy


 

Matthew 24:36  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Just a few verses later, He tells His disciples, "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect" (verse 44, emphasis ours throughout). This is a massive hint that our understanding of biblical prophecy—as much as it has expanded over the last few decades—will still not be enough to remove the element of surprise from Christ's return!

Paul also warns us in I Corinthians 13:9, 12, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part. . . . For now we see in a mirror, dimly." This principle suggests that we will not know for certain how things will work out as the end approaches. We understand in part, meaning we have a vague-to-rough idea of the course of events because of our insight into God's plan, but we cannot honestly be dogmatic about any speculative scenarios we devise. Every interpretation of end-time biblical prophecy should be accompanied with a proviso such as, "This is how things seem to be headed from what we understand right now."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Prophecy's Place


 

Matthew 25:1-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Because of its abundance of well-known symbols, the Parable of the Ten Virgins is perhaps the easiest to understand in a prophetic light. The Bridegroom, of course, is Christ. Virgins are often symbols of churches or individual Christians, most likely the latter in this case. Lamps are vessels that contain oil, a common symbol of God's Spirit, thus they represent our minds, which, when filled with the Holy Spirit, provide illumination for the path to the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 2:10-16). The wedding refers to the marriage of the Lamb to the church (Revelation 19:7).

Jesus flatly states that this parable deals with conditions just before His second coming (verse 13). It does not take much interpretation, then, to understand what will happen - maybe has happened in part. All of God's people will go to sleep spiritually, but only half of them have enough spiritual strength to prepare for Christ's return. When He does return, our Savior shuts the door on the other half, proclaiming that He has no relationship with them (compare Revelation 3:7, 20). The warning to us is to draw close to God now because we do not know when Christ will come back.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables and Prophecy


 

Luke 17:20-37  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The original question posed by the Pharisees was, "When is the Kingdom of God coming?" (verse 20). The long section from the end of verse 20 to verse 37 is Jesus' answer, first to the Pharisees (verses 20-21) and then to His disciples (verses 22-37). His reply to the Pharisees is rather curt: "You won't be able to discern the coming of the Kingdom because you haven't recognized that I am its chief representative, though I have been among you."

In His longer explanation to His disciples, Jesus goes into quite a bit more detail about the timing and conditions of establishing His Kingdom. First, He says, do not be deceived when people tell you Christ has come (verses 22-23). We will know very well when He returns; it will be like a flash of lightning that everyone will see (verse 24). However, before this can happen, Jesus must be tortured and crucified as man's Redeemer (verse 25). From our vantage point, which the disciples did not have, we know that this condition has already been met at Golgotha or Calvary.

Then He gives details about the conditions in the world when He returns. It will be as it was in the days of Noah and Lot (verses 26-30). He highlights two major signs of the end here:

1. He will come suddenly when people do not expect Him to return. Most people will be going about their normal activities, unaware of the times.

2. When He returns, society will be degenerate and wicked just as it was before the Flood came and before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis 6:5-7; 18:20; 19:1-11).

Luke 17:31-33 shows that, for His disciples, His coming will result in a test of faith. They will have to be willing to leave everything behind—their homes, their possessions, even their loved ones—in order to obey the call of God. Lot's wife turned back in longing for what she had left behind, and God's judgment fell swiftly upon her. We may have to be willing even to give up our lives for salvation, because in trying to save our physical lives, we would have to renounce our beliefs.

Verses 34-36 illustrate three scenes of judgment. These show that Christ will judge us individually, and despite how close we may be to another—a spouse, a neighbor, a co-worker—our obedience and good works will not deliver anyone else (see Ezekiel 14:12-20). We will have to prove ourselves to the righteous Judge of all (Acts 17:31; Romans 14:10).

Finally, the disciples ask Jesus where these things will take place (Luke 17:37). His reply is better translated in the Revised English Bible: "Where the carcass is, there will the vultures gather." This seems somewhat enigmatic, but if we take what He says literally, He implies that He will return at a place of great carnage. This would parallel the scenarios prophesied in Zechariah 14:1-5 and Revelation 19:11-21 (see especially verses 17-18, 21b).

All through this section Jesus is describing real circumstances, real people, and real places. He speaks of a literal Kingdom to be established at His return "with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30).

Since the context of Luke 17:21 is Christ's second coming, and Jesus is speaking in great detail about the time, place, and conditions of His return, we must see His Kingdom as a literal government—just as real as any government of man. We cannot divorce "the Kingdom of God is among you" from this larger topic. Doing so distorts the true meaning of a literal, soon-coming Kingdom ruled by Jesus Christ that will grow to fill the whole earth after His return.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Is the Kingdom of God Within You?


 

Luke 21:7-28  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In verses 7-19, Jesus informs us about the visible signs of world events which signal that the end is near. In verses 20-24, He is still talking about these visible signs, but specifically about those that involve Jerusalem. Verses 25-28 describe the cataclysmic events in the sky and on the earth, heralding His imminent return. Thus, through verse 28, our Savior reveals to us the events presaging His return in the world (verses 7-19), in Jerusalem (verses 20-24), and in the sky and earth (verses 25-28).

Pat Higgins
Praying Always (Part One)


 

Luke 21:32  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Which generation is "this generation"? Obviously, if we are to believe Scripture, it could not have been the generation of the apostles because "all these things" were not fulfilled in their lifetimes. By putting verses 31-32 together, we can conclude that "this generation" is the one that "see[s] these things happening." That is, the generation that recognizes the signs of the Olivet Prophecy being fulfilled is "this generation."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are These the Last Days? (Part 1)


 

2 Thessalonians 3:10-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This was a primary problem in the first century church—growing weary in doing well.

The foundation of this problem was the people's perception that the return of Jesus Christ was being delayed. They were weary from suffering, persecution, and other hardships associated with being a Christian. These hardships were social, because their friends, relatives, and others who were not Christians ostracized them. Their persecution was economic as well, in that it was difficult for them to get jobs, just as it is today because of Sabbath and holy day obligations. The combination of these trials brought to them to the point that they were tired of doing well.

We are close to the return of Jesus Christ; the world is filled with all kinds of signs of the end. They wear at us and worry us. We see them on television and hear them on the radio—everywhere we look, we see signs of the times. It is a stressful situation to be in, and still, Christ does not come. We say, "How long, Lord, will it be 'til You come?"

We can become neglectful. We can let our focus slip. We need to be exhorted and stirred.

Christ gives the first-century church a warning in Revelation 2:1-7, His message to the Ephesian church. He points out their problem. He gives them advice as to what they should do, and then at the end, He provides incentive for them to correct the situation that they had allowed themselves to deteriorate into.

John W. Ritenbaugh
How to Know We Love Christ


 

2 Timothy 3:1-5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Self-centeredness will produce the crisis at the close of this age. Its evils will reach a climax that can be compared to the time just before the Flood or to Sodom and Gomorrah. Self-centeredness, everyone having his own perception of beauty and pursuing it to the nth degree, is the driving force behind the perilous time of the end. It will be a time that fits the description in Judges 21:25 when "everyone did what was right in his own eyes." During the period of the judges no one could provide central leadership because people said, "This is what I believe; this is what I'm going to follow."

So it will be at the end. People will abuse one another to possess the things they hold to be beautiful, like money or power. "[Men will be] . . . lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good" (II Timothy 3:2-3).

The concept of "men will be lovers of themselves" (verse 2) continues in verse 5: "[H]aving a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" Verse 7 identifies them further: these people are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Within God's warning of what it will be like at the end, He lists the traits that Christians must fight against when self-centeredness reaches its peak. But the Laodicean does not resist as he should, and that is his problem! Though converted, he has an attitude of self-centeredness, strong enough that his mind is diverted from more important spiritual concerns!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church and Laodiceanism


 

Revelation 1:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The margin says shortly means "quickly" or "swiftly." This must be understood in terms of what the book of Revelation was designed to reveal. Verse 10 tells us that the book was designed for the Day of the Lord. "Shortly" has to be seen in light of verse 10.

When was the apostle John on the island of Patmos? All indications are that he received this vision somewhere in the AD 90s—somewhere between AD 90 and 100. The Temple in Jerusalem had already been destroyed by the Romans under Titus.

Think about this word "shortly" in reference to the time in which the prophecy was given. Did Jesus Christ mean shortly after He gave it? What happened historically quickly or shortly after Christ gave this prophecy to the apostle John? Nothing. Nothing happened. By and large, almost 20 centuries later, very little in Revelation has yet happened.

What does this say about the design of the book of Revelation? It says that its primary intent is for the time we are living in right now! When Christ said that these things must shortly come to pass, what He meant was that once the things in Revelation begin to occur, they will happen very quickly in historical terms. They will begin unfolding so fast, it will take our breath away!

To whom was this book written? Verse 11 says that it was written to the churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. If the book was written to the end-time people, then we have to conclude that the message as delivered to the actual churches in Asia Minor was only secondary. The attitudes, the conduct, the events occuring in those seven congregations were only models of what was going to happen later.

However, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea are somewhere extant on earth today. Not just in the form of attitudes, but maybe also in the form of true-church organizations. All seven churches must be in existence at the end. This only makes sense because the book is concerned primarily with the end-time.

Does it not seem reasonable and logical that, if Christ wanted to get a message to each of the churches, and He only had a moment to spend with each one, He would be extremely selective in what He had to say? He would carefully design His message to contain the nucleus of what He wanted to get across. It would be quick, concise, and hit the nail right on the head. What He said would be of the utmost importance to them in regard to their responsibilities at the end time.

If His church were to be in existence at the end—and surely it is because He says that the gates of the grave would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18)—then He would give His church what it needed most of all to survive and endure that period of time. He would not waste His opportunity speaking on trivial matters!

He would get to things that are essential to His people to get them through the trouble and into the Kingdom with as much growth as possible! This is the essence of those seven messages. It is the reason why they were written.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 2-3 and Works


 

Revelation 2:10  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The sense is that tribulation is right over the horizon. We need to consider this personally. Is this the end time? Is tribulation very likely right over the horizon?

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

Revelation 3:10-11  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It seems that some of the Philadelphia church will be around at Christ's return. Otherwise, there would be no need to mention the hour of temptation or trial that would come upon the whole earth—this is not some minor tribulation taking place in a corner of Asia Minor but an event happening all over the world. That has not happened yet. However, the message to Philadelphia indicates that elements of the Philadelphia church will be extant when that hour of temptation is occurring.

Compare this example with the message to Pergamos, where a certain individual is named Antipas. His is not a name one would associate with the end time; Antipas is a Greek name from the time this book was written (about AD 95). It is possible that Antipas had died shortly before this was written. Little details like this suggest a movement of time within Revelation 2-3.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church


 

Revelation 3:14-22  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The seventh and last of the attitudes within the church, Laodiceanism is the attitude that dominates the era of the end time. It seems more natural to think that this attitude would be the least likely to dominate in such terrible times—that it ought to be obvious that the return of Christ is near. Though it seems contradictory for the church to become lukewarm during such a stimulating period, Christ prophesies that it will occur. It indicates the power of Babylon! Spiritually, she is so very alluring. To our eyes, the world may look ugly, but its spiritual charm distracts us from more important things. Why does Babylon dominate the church in the end time? It dominates the world, and the Christian permits it to dominate him!

In August 1987, a well-known evangelist in the church of God said, "You would be surprised how often the Work internally mirrors the world externally. I don't think we realize how often this is true." Why? Church members bring the world's ways into the body. Laodiceanism is so subtle that those who seemingly are best-equipped to detect it are blind to it! This is Christ's major concern for these people. It is not only that they are Laodicean, but also that they are blind to their own state!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church and Laodiceanism


 

 




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