On the Edge of Eternity
Thinking men and women everywhere wonder what the future holds for those who live on this planet. World leaders struggle with overwhelming problems. In many parts of the world political instability leads to the constant threat of war. In other countries hunger, poverty, and diseases such as HIV and AIDS devastate large segments of the population. Natural disasters destroy entire cities. Energy prices are rapidly rising. Crime is out of control. Divorce is common. Pornography stares us in the face. Nations continually build more sophisticated weapons of mass destruction. And we are polluting our atmosphere at frightening levels. What does all this mean about the nearness of our Lord’s return?
1. Although no one knows the day or hour of Christ’s return, what can we know about the times when Jesus will come? Read the following text and write the answer in your own words.
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” (Matt. 24:32, 33).
2. What prediction did Jesus make regarding political conditions before His return? Circle the key words in the following text.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. . . . For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (verses 6, 7).
Our world has always been plagued by wars. In the twentieth century we had World Wars I and II. And in the first few years of the twenty-first century armed conflicts have exploded in many countries in the form of tribal conflicts, sectarian violence, international turmoil, and civil wars.
3. How are today’s conflicts different from those that came before? What can humankind do to our planet today that it could not do 100 years ago? Write the phrase that best answers the questions on the lines below.
“The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:18).
Never before in the history of the human race has humankind had the potential, because of nuclear weapons, to destroy life on this planet.
4. At the same time nations arm themselves for war, what will they talk about? Circle the two words that describe the motto of many nations at the end time.
“For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them” (1 Thess. 5:3).
Nations talking about peace and security but arming for war is a clear fulfillment of the apostle Paul’s words.
5. Jesus predicted a cluster or group of signs in the natural world before His return. Read the texts below and list at least five signs in the natural world that point to the Lord’s return.
“And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (Matt. 24:7).
“And on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25).
6. With what other time in this world’s history does Jesus compare His coming to? Read the text and fill in the blanks below.
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matt. 24:37).
Jesus compared His coming to _________________________________________________________________
7. Why has Jesus given us these signs? Read the text and circle the answer that shows what Jesus desires for your life when He comes.
“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (verse 44).
Beyond knowing and understanding the signs of His coming, Jesus wants us to be ready for His return. He’s coming for us. He loves us too much to leave us in this world of sorrow and suffering much longer. Soon He is coming for us. This is the blessed hope of each child of God.
Next month we will continue our study about the signs of Jesus’ return with the lesson “End-Time Living.”
–By Mark A. Finley