Dr. J. N. Manokaran
A Civil Engineer by profession. God called him and his family to be missional leader in Haryana as cross cultural missionaries for eleven years. Since, 1997 they returned back to Tamil Nadu to help missionaries and pastors to build their capacities by teaching, training and writing.
Second Coming is the greatest event a Christian can aspire to experience as long as s/he is alive. And all Christians are expected to be waiting, watching and working (www) simultaneously. There are generally two extreme responses people tend to take regarding His Second Coming. First, some people set dates, anticipate on that date, become passive or inactive until that date and some even selling off properties. They do not understand that we are not called to predict or mark the calendar for His Second Coming. (Matthew 24:36) Second extreme is to be unconcerned, lethargic and negligent. They become spiritually dull and even dead. However, Lord Jesus taught us to discern the times (Matthew 16:3; I thess 5:4; and Luke 21:28). If we scan the history of Christianity, each generation anticipated the great event in their own life time. And all of them felt the signs provided in the Scripture for the Second Coming were almost fulfilled. It is no wonder, we also perceive from our own understanding that almost all signs of His Coming has been fulfilled.
There are some significant political, social and economical signs that are being fulfilled today. That should challenge us to lead a holy life, witness for His name and be always prepared for His coming.
Warning – Missing priorities
The Bible gives one splendid example. One of the prophecies regarding the first coming of Lord Jesus (Incarnation) is in Malachi. “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes” (Malachi 4:5). The Pharisees were expecting the fulfillment of this sign rather than waiting for the Messiah; hence their focus was Elijah. They not only mistook the prophecy and also were not able to believe in the real Messiah. Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17:11-13) In the same way, Christians today could be obsessed with the signs that would be accompanying the Second Coming and miss to be prepared for His Coming. They would be like the foolish virgins who failed to prepare, because they thought the sign was not clear enough for the bridegroom to arrive that night.
a) Age of Skeptics and Scoffers
Political skeptic statements would be made by various people. These so called intellectuals would say that the Second Coming aspiration has been in every generation and it has not happened. Hence, they will mock, tease and undermine the believers. Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (II Peter 3:3,4).
b) Age of Instability
Daniel foretold about the global history. The last kingdom before the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ would be mixture of stability and brittleness. “Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes in the statue were partly iron and partly clay so would be the kingdom which will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.” (Daniel 2:41-43) People will aspire for stability and unity, but it will not happen. Globally, there is civil unrest. There is a call and demand for tolerance, however there is violence against each community. Unity is a mirage. Many national and local governments are formed by political parties through alliances or coalition. Hence there is a danger of Governments falling before their stipulated time.
c) Age of Militarization
Defense spending has increased around the world. Nations are equipping their armies with latest gadgets and firepower. “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” (Matthew 24:6) Even the poorer nations are spending more on Defense and security budget rather than providing basic needs for its citizens. As written by John the Apostle, “The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number.” (Revelation 9:15-16). Asian countries like China are capable of fielding an army of 200 million.
a) One Global Economy
Politics and economics are interconnected. The trend is to bring one global order i.e. government and one global economy. (Revelation 18) With the Russian – Social block losing political power and economic clout, the world became uni-polar world. Now there is one global economy and all nations are expected to integrate. The countries that do not want to integrate have to suffer economic isolation. In this integrated economy, a setback in one part of the world would affect another part of the world. Greed led to closure of many banks in US which was termed as sub-prime real estate scam.
b) Mark of Anti-Christ
“It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man.[a] That number is 666.” (Revelation 13: 16-18) Many Christians believe that the mark of the beast – 666 would be a physical tattoo or microchip below the skin in the forehead or right arm. The technology is there to do this. Forehead and right hand tells us two things. (1) Do not mentally assent to the philosophy of anti-christ i.e. consumerism, materialism, spend-thrift.etc and (2) Do not shake hands with those who practice such philosophy. As the spirit of anti-Christ is already working in the world, Christians should remain different and be people of counter-culture.
a) Living For The Present
The Lord Jesus Christ said that there would be repetition of ‘the days of Noah’. A righteous preacher, Noah, tirelessly warned, shared, taught people to repent. However, the people continued to be engaged in the day to day activities with least interest in the Eternal things. Their ignorance was because of their arrogance, lack of willingness to listen or being teachable. “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:36-39)
b) Sins Approved and Celebrated by Society
In the last days, societal values would be very low. Paul terms that as ‘terrible’ times. The society and law in certain nations would approve ‘homosexual marriages’ and it would be celebrated by the media and celebrities. Earlier the society would have condemned such acts and people involved would have gone hiding. Instead of guilt and shame there is pride and rejoicing which is disgusting to our Lord. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (II Timothy 3:1-4).
c) Object of Worship
The object of worship becomes terrible. People in postmodern culture worship their own bodies first. Malls are full of items to enhance the looks or beauty of many parts of the body. Beauty treatment for nails, tattoos, spas, beauty parlours, and massage parlours fill the market places. How much time do people spend before the mirror that shows their body than they spend before the Word of God that exposes their heart and soul? (James 1:23). The second object of worship for Postmodern culture is money. Their choice of devotion is mammon and not God (Matthew 6:24). Third object of their worship is pleasure. This generation worships entertainment. It pervades mobile phones, computers, malls.etc.
When the object of worship is their own body and money, people develop a world view that is arrogant, abusive, boastful, conceited, rash.etc. Hence, they cannot love others. Naturally, they would be disobedient to parents, ill-treat one another, slanderous, unforgiving, and brutal (violent). Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest command-ment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-39). Strangely, there will be a mask of spirituality but there will not be any spiritual power.
Challenge: Watching, Waiting and Working
The Second Coming is imminent and every Christian ought to be prepared for the same any moment. Preparedness is by watching, waiting and working simultaneously. A Christian should be Watching out with discernment for the signs; Waiting patiently with holiness, alertness and expectation; and Working the Will of God by Proclaiming the Gospel in their day to day lives.