Preached by Dr. Gene Scott – August 22, 1976
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men
count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing
that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come . . . “
2 Peter 3:9-10
PEOPLE ARE FOREVER LOOKING FOR THE SPECTACULAR, and from Jesus’ day until now there have been those who fixate on the subject of our Lord’s appearing. Spurgeon once said he would rather snatch one soul from the burning, one brand from the fire, than to explain all prophetic mysteries. Yet, there are some who try to set a date for the fulfillment of every prophecy. James, the brother of our Lord, almost made the mistake of setting a date. Augustine, one of the giants of the church world, was guilty on one occasion of trying to pin down a time of our Lord’s appearing. People have gathered in white robes all over the globe at various times trying to anticipate this event. I am not going to attempt to set a date. Even our Lord said that no man knoweth the hour. (Mark 13:32, Matthew 24:36) But I do want to address what we can know.
We read in 2 Peter 3 “that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” Have you ever heard someone say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” Nothing changes. “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto the earth, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” And here is the turning point, “But the day of the Lord will come . . .” Underline those words: the day of the Lord will come.
When God says something more than once, by more than one witness, pay attention. Zechariah 14 records that God’s people were being persecuted. Two young men, Haggai and Zechariah, were sent as prophets of God to encourage the children of God who were building again in their homeland. They had forgotten the truth that they were the Lord’s. Haggai and Zechariah reminded them to Whom they were accountable, and for Whom they were working. As Zechariah is closing his great prophecy, the chapter opens, “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh. . .” Literally, “the day of the LORD will come.” You can count on that.
You will never understand the prophecies concerning the Second Coming until you understand that the Scriptures are referring to more than one event. In Luke 21 and 23, Mark 13 and Matthew 24, Gospel passages in which Jesus speaks of His Second Coming, He drives home some fundamental truths. I will set no dates, but I will stand firm on these simple truths. Jesus encouraged me to look at the signs. He said that when the wind changes to a certain direction, you know that rain is on the day. He said to those people in that land, “You can read the signs of the weather, but you cannot read the signs of my coming.” (Matthew 16:2-3) That tells me that I ought to pay attention to the signs.
Jesus said that no man knoweth the hour, but He did suggest that the signs would occur in a sequence. As you read those chapters, you will see Jesus foretell an event, and then He will say, “But the end is not yet.” Then He will describe another event, and He will say, “Then the end shall come.” That tells me there is a sequence of signs we can follow. Last He says, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man,” yet, “when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” (Matthew 24:33-36)
A lot of confusion in prophecy is cleared up when you recognize that God has a pattern of encapsulating a great prophetic set of events into a single statement. Then, like a telescope unfolding as the Bible unravels the book of Genesis, God gave the prophecy of the whole conflict between the devil and God in the redemption of men. He said that the seed of the woman will bruise the serpent’s head; and in the process the serpent will bruise the heel of the seed of the woman.” (Genesis 3:15) Every time in history that the devil has suffered any defeat in his hold over man, that was a fulfillment in type of the prophesied bruising of the head of the serpent. When Jesus died on Calvary and purchased our salvation with His own blood, that crushing blow was a fulfillment of the bruising of the heel of the seed of the woman. But all of that was encapsulated in the first prophecy; God’s book unravels it.
The phrase “the Day of the Lord” is like that. “The Day of the Lord” encompasses anything that is a part of the Lordship of God in the accomplishment of His victory. The Day of the Lord and the deliverance He would bring even encompassed the first coming of Jesus, though those to whom He appeared failed to see it.
Those who studied the Old Testament in Jesus’ day, those elect ones whom God had chosen to be His oracle and His instruments of revelation, became unbalanced in their view of Scripture. They loved to camp on the book of Daniel and on the apocryphal book of Enoch, which was a part of their Scriptures, on those pictures of the Son of Man coming in clouds of glory to set up a righteous kingdom and to rule over all men. They loved to read and dwell on that picture of their King, out of the seed of David, coming to rule on this Earth. Yet they completely missed God’s revelation of the suffering servant Messiah in the book of Isaiah. Had they paid as much attention to the book of Isaiah as they did to Zechariah, Daniel and Enoch, they would have known what God had said concerning the Messiah, which simply means Deliverer. He will be “bruised for our iniquities,” and “the LORD will lay on him the transgression of all of us,” and He will come as “a man acquainted with griefs and sorrows.” (Isaiah 53:3-6)
I think that God has a sense of humor in the way He draws attention to that prophetic book. The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered at the Qumran caves on the west and north side of the Dead Sea, are among the greatest archaeological discoveries of the modern day. Which manuscript of the Dead Sea Scrolls is the clearest and most complete? Isaiah. And in Jerusalem, stones from the original temple were uncovered as they dug down after the Six-Day War. An inscription was discovered on a major stone found deep under the ground. Who do you think was quoted in that inscription? Isaiah. God likes to make His point in repeatables.
Many failed to see that a part of God’s deliverance involved the snatching of the keys to death, hell and the grave from Satan. I have heard some evangelists talk of the imps of hell jumping up and down with glee, and the devil clapping his hands when Jesus went to Calvary. Nothing could be further from the truth! The one thing Satan tried to keep Jesus from doing was going to Calvary. Satan knew he was defeated when that happened. That event was also a part of the Day of the Lord. But many fixed their gaze on the part they liked, the returning King, and missed the interim phase of the suffering servant. Both were part of the whole fabric. People are still doing the same thing today. There are people who comfortably lean back and say, “Well, the time is not yet. I am still going to make it in if I keep my antenna up high enough and my radar just right and listen closely. There are a couple more things that have to happen first, and I will make things right then.”
We can read in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 the glorious exclamation of Paul where we are told that we who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet Him in the air. So one part of those events still unfolding, called “the Second Coming” and “the Day of the Lord,” consists of a meeting in the air. The Lord doesn’t touch down here on Earth; we meet Him up there. Zechariah 14 and Revelation 19 have the Lord touching the Mount of Olives so that it cleaves in half, and a great valley appears in the middle. So already you see three events: an appearing, a meeting in the air and a touching of the Earth.
Furthermore, we have the promise in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 that we are not appointed unto wrath. We are to escape wrath; so there is a “catching away,” a removal of those who are not appointed unto wrath. In Revelation 19 we see that the saints are already with the Lord, for the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place. Then, Jesus comes with the saints with Him on white horses and clothed in fine linen and treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:7, there is an old English word, letteth. If you have played tennis for a long time, you know there is a classical phrase still used when the ball hits the net: “let ball.” It is a carry-over from the days when “to let” meant “to restrain.” So you say “Let ball” because the ball has been restrained by the net. In that frame, the King James Version says that the “man of sin” cannot be revealed until he that letteth, or hindereth, is “taken out of the way.” Something restrains the revelation of the spirit of antichrist, this last ruler who is the final expression of opposition, the culmination and the worst embodiment of sin. The Holy Spirit could not be that restraining force, because the Holy Spirit is still here in the presence of the two witnesses in Revelation 11. Common logic tells us that the church, the bride of Christ, is the restraining force that is removed. The antichrist comes during that interval between the church being caught up, and the Lord returning with His saints to execute vengeance.
While I have no certainty about the exact timing of any of these signs, since we can say that the end itself is “even at the doors,” how much closer is the uncertain event, “the appearing?” This is why in New Testament days, before God could unroll the whole calendar, they could live with an expectancy of the appearing. God can put His mighty outstretched hand into the stream of history. For the first time in 1990-plus years, those events that remain to be fulfilled before the end occurs can be encompassed within the least amount of time, regardless of your theological and eschatological position on how much time is between these two points. That tells me the appearing is at the door because the end is at the door.
The appearing could be instant. That’s why Paul told the Philippians they ought not to be so hard-headed in their dealings. You ought not to be so upset at what people are doing to you because, he said, maranatha, “The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:5) That means if you really expect Him to come this afternoon, how much of what you are now worrying about would bother you? I just don’t believe most Christians expect Him this afternoon. And I am honest enough to know I forget it a lot of days. But He is very close.
We have all heard preaching on the signs of the times as all over the world earthquakes are occurring, there are wars and rumors of war, pestilence and famine, signs in the heavens, and men crying for peace and finding none. But in recent years, what used to be prophecy has become history. Three things have happened that had to happen before the end can occur, that have brought me face to face with the fresh realization that the appearing could be instant. These three things convinced me: fulfilled prophecies that some historians call “accidents in history.”
First, we have seen the persecution and scattering of the Jewish people, and the restoration of the state of Israel. In Ezekiel 6, God said to the prophet, “Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them,” and there unfolds a prophecy of devastation against the land of Israel. The land will be laid desolate, and the people will be destroyed. Only a remnant will remain; they are to be scattered, and persecution is to become synonymous with their name.
We all know that when Titus’ hoards descended, the Jewish people were slain in great numbers, and they were scattered worldwide. Many times God’s people had been carried into bondage to the east, and there was a great bondage to the south and west in Egypt, but never before had they been subjected to horrible persecutions. But God said a time would come when it would end.
In Ezekiel 34, God says, “Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered . . . and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers . . .”
God says in Isaiah 43, “I will bring thy seed from the east and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” Never in history did they come back from all directions, but God is very precise in verses 5 and 6: He names the east, the west, the north, the south, and then adds: “From the ends of the earth I will bring them.” In Ezekiel 36, the land which had been smitten with desolation is described as suddenly beginning to blossom again.
The people returned to the land in droves. Against all odds, out of Yemen they flew, in “Operation Magic Carpet.” Isaiah in wonderment looks and says, “Who are these that fly . . . as the doves to their windows?” (Isaiah 60:8) “Who had heard such a thing? . . . shall a nation be born at once?” (Isaiah 66:8) These are only a few of the many prophecies where God said a time would come when His people would come back again. We all know the history of that occurring.
Prior to World War I, the Palestinian area was tacked onto the old Ottoman Empire and nobody dreamed that the Jewish people would ever again have it as their homeland except a few hopeful desperate people. Then World War I occurred. Lord Rothschild and Dr. Chaim Weizmann were at the right place at the right time, and they became key advisors to the British war office. Because of the contribution they made to the British war office at that particular time in history, at the close of the war the Palestinian area was given as a mandate to Britain. They were able to influence Lord Balfour to open up the land for the first time in 1900 years via the Balfour Declaration. You can call it an accident of history if you want. Ezekiel 35:3 says, “I will stretch out mine hand . . .” In five successive waves that you can plot in history, they plowed into that land. We have read the prophecies in our Bibles. They have been fulfilled: we have seen a nation born in a day when the United States took that step in 1948 of recognizing Israel as a state, and nothing could control the floodgates thereafter.
There are people who say the promises to Abraham have long been fulfilled, and we are the seed of Abraham, and that is true. But Paul spends chapters 9 through 11 in Romans driving home the truth that if God could work the miracle of grafting a wild olive branch onto a natural olive tree, we Gentiles best not become arrogant about it. Because the same God who grafted on the wild olive branch is not done with the original limb, and He will put the old branch on and finish He work there, too. (Romans 11:17-24) God made promises to Abraham and his seed. God made promises to the remnant that was scattered, and “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)
Visiting that nation, I rode out of northern Israel around the Sea of Galilee across the Daughters of Jerusalem Bridge and up the Golan Heights shortly after the Six-Day War. Our driver was one of those in the commando team that assailed the guns hanging over the converted Hula Swamp area that had been lobbing shells down for years. Military men had looked at those entrenchments that had been dug in for 20 years and said they were impregnable. The artillery, however, only pointed in one direction. A commando team of Israeli soldiers breached the line and came in from behind and took the guns.
We rode through the ruins and our driver talked to us of the days that followed. Between those high areas of the Golan Heights and Damascus lay one key city: Quneitra. Quneitra was in front of the Israelis but no Israelis had entered the city. The Russians had said that if the Israelis pushed on into Quneitra, the Russians would enter the fray. The Syrian radio began to broadcast that Quneitra had fallen and that the Israelis had come in. The Syrians had hoped to motivate the Russians to intervene as they had said. Papers subsequent to the war reveal it was never a part of the Israeli battle plan to go inside Quneitra. All they wanted to do was to take those guns on the top of the hill and secure them.
As the Syrian radio began to broadcast Quneitra was falling and being invaded, the only people who believed the broadcast were the people in Quneitra. Whoosh! They exited. You could still see their goods on the shelves as we drove through the town. The Russians didn’t intervene and the Syrians left the city, so the Israelis went in. They took Quneitra without firing a shot. That sounds like a page out of the Old Testament to me.
When Abram walked every inch of that land, God made a promise. The promise was not conditioned on man’s performance. God responded to a man of faith, and God counted it as salvation unto him. God kept that promise, and we have seen that land come alive. That had to happen before the end could come.
Second, we have seen the beginning of an alignment of world power that must occur. Before the end can come, the world balance of power has to take a three-pronged focus. In my university days I wanted to concentrate on Middle East studies. My professor told me to pick another area of the world that would have a more permanent influence on world affairs! The world was changing: shipping would not be as important, the Dardanelles would be less important, the Middle East would lose its importance. That is what I was told. God says the Middle East will be the center, and before the end can come, with the Middle East as the focus, world balance of power will jostle itself into three prongs.
Ezekiel 38: “Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him . . .” These are old names for Moscow and rivers in the area now occupied by Russia. I am not saying the focus of Ezekiel 38 is the Russian nation. God’s book talks about geography and a people that occupy land, and if this is the end of time then the nation called Russia now occupies that place geographically. The prophet says to Gog and Magog, “I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth,” and God establishing His control says, “and all thine army.” “Persia” refers to the Iraq and Iran of today. “Ethiopia and Libya” are named. “Gomer, and all his bands” refers to Germany, or at least a part of Germany that must be involved. “The house of Togarmah of the northern part” means that Turkey, in its long-standing alliance with the United States, must somehow be linked with this northern confederacy.
Ezekiel 38 has this northern confederacy looking down on the land that has been redeemed out of desolation and the people that have been brought out of dispersion. They look south to a restored Israel and will “come like a storm.” They will be like a cloud to cover the land, and they will say, “We are going to take a spoil.” Then certain Mediterranean nations to the west are named. These western Mediterranean nations and their offspring, “with all the young lions thereof,” will look eastwardly to Israel. They will see the northern confederacy looking down offensively and they will, on the defensive, ask the question, “Art thou come to take a spoil?” (Ezekiel 38:13)
Then in Revelation 16, the sixth angel pours out his vial toward the end of the events described: that the river Euphrates might be dried up, so “that a way might be provided for the kings of the east.” Not many years ago, people would have laughed at the thought of “kings of the east” playing a prominent role in the balance of world power. We have seen it happen in our day; we have seen the lion, the United States, start to feel the strength of the Far East. Only in the last decade or so has the Far East begun to play a prominent role in the world balance of power.
If you cross the river Euphrates and head due west, you are at Megiddo, the scene of that last great battle. I don’t think that God lets us clearly know the timing of this event. Like a master painter using great broad strokes, God shows His hand reaching down into history that He controls. For the first time in 1900 years, the world is poised so that, as God fills in the details, He could bring the thrust of world power to culminate in that last great battle of Armageddon, and the end is even at the doors.
Third, there have been some jarring technological happenings in the last few years. Revelation 13 speaks of a last ruler. Verse 15 says, “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast.” Worship was demanded. “He causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” I am not focusing on numerology. This verse simply says that buying and selling and existence demands a number in the hand or in the forehead.
Without computers, without lasers, without other new technology, and without years of conditioning to numbers, this could not happen overnight. We are now ready for it. We are seeing the encroachment into our freedom in this great land: computerized banks, and the elimination of ordinary money. We are at the point where sales transactions consist of just debiting your account and crediting the grocer’s account. The monumental flow of numerical encroachment into our lives cannot be avoided. We had to be prepared for it and it took computers to make it possible.
Revelation 11:8 speaks about the two last witnesses. There are many who spiritualize everything in the book of Revelation. I have followed a simple philosophy of Biblical interpretation for years, and that is to believe the Bible means what it says most of the time; that is your starting point. There has been much speculation regarding the identity of these witnesses. They are the only witnesses, so the church has to be gone. When they have finished their testimony, “their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” That pins down the exact location where this will occur. “And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.” Until we launched communication satellites, that couldn’t happen. God’s hand is even in the technological development that must occur before the end.
We have witnessed the restoration of Israel. We have seen the world balance of power take a three-pronged flow until we are trying to figure out who we should align with, China or Russia. We have watched the continual aggressive look of the north. We have watched the never-ending defensive posture of the west. We have watched the mystery of the kings of the east, not knowing when they are going to act. We have seen technological developments necessary to facilitate details that must occur before the end can come. The end is at the door. How much closer the appearing?
I never deal with uncertainties in God’s book. I want to dwell on the certainties. I know the Lord is making up a bride and that there is an abundance of Scripture that the church is His bride, the redeemed ones. I want to be eating when the hors d’ oeuvres come along. That’s where I feel sure and safe, if I am at that meal!
The traditional application of this message is, if the end is at the door, how much closer the appearing? You can be made ready this instant. All you have to do is sing from your heart He is Lord. When the jailor at Philippi, calloused and full of sin, said, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 16:31) I want to be ready, and I am ready not on my merits but because I have taken Him at His Word, the same Word that holds these worlds together. He said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sings, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) The Lord of glory is ready to make it all right with you right now.
But that is not the fundamental message. The whole message is this: a God that can control the ebb and flow of history like that must be in charge. The God who controls the ebb and flow of history is the Lord of hosts! He is our Lord!
What about our problems? The same Lord who steers the whole course of history holds us in His hand; we are the candlestick. And God is winning the victory on all fronts. In the midst of my trials, even this day, peace came when I said, “Lord, You are still in charge.” Isn’t a God who is capable of doing all this capable of handling your problems? Isn’t a God capable of channeling the flow of world history like this able to take care of you and yours?
From the book, The Pulpit, Volume 2, by Dr. Gene Scott
Re-printed with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott
Many of you responded positively to last month’s message on the last days and the Lord’s return, but many did not even respond. I trust that it’s not because your spirit has become hardened in unbelief. To wake you all up to the importance of this subject, we are publishing one of Dr. Scott’s teaching on the Second Coming.
Paul writing to Titus uses this phrase: “. . . looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13). The Lord’s coming has always been thought of as a BLESSED HOPE. And in 1st Thessalonians 4:18 we are told to “comfort one another with these words.”
To some, the Lord’s coming is not a blessed hope or a comfort; it should be if you call yourself a Christian. 2nd Timothy 1:7 tells us that God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. And John says, “There is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. He who fears has not been made perfect in love, I would add.
As our faith and trust in God grows, our fear of the unknown diminishes.
Prayer Requests for April, 2014
For Judy Oakley’s grandbaby (Lincoln, Arkansas), who has a breathing problem.
For Gary David & His family (Oklahoma): His wife, Shelly needs to find work; and his daughter, Brooklyn suffers from anxiety and adhd.
For Ponnell Buchanan (Illinois).
For Robin Harris’ Dad (Oklahoma) who needs a kidney transplant.
For Paul Jones (Menard, Illinois), that he gets to visit with his mother.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas), that he gets his good time back.
For Michael Small’s Mom, Suzanne (Illinois), who just had hip surgery.
For Willie Harper (Joliet, Illinois) & family, & Ella Watson.
For Isaiah Robinson (Menard, Illinois).
For William Holland (Joliet, Illinois), for health. He has Sciatica nerve pain and needs cataract eye surgery, also.
For Frank Williams, Jr. (Death Row, Grady, Arkansas). His new trial has been set for July.
For Anthony Grayson (Elmira, New York), that his health gets better, and that he finds legal assistance.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Sister Ann & the Carmelite nuns in Little Rock.
For Freddie Lee Lott (Robinson, Illinois), to stay “cancer free.”
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence in his case will be tested.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread.
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