First Thessalonians 4:18 tells us, " therefore comfort one another with these words."
To understand this instruction we must back up and read verses 13-17. We quote, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord."
We once received a letter that stated we should not be watching for the Rapture, but for Jesus. We could not grasp how one could be watching for the Rapture and not be watching for Jesus, as is made clear by the verses we just quoted.
Perhaps other people also have the misconception that studying and watching for prophetic fulfillments are no more than extra curricular activities rather than a true reverence for Gods Holy Word.
It is a fact that no other religion dares to compare itself against the Bible with regard to the area of prophecy. They would have inevitably fallen or would soon fall on their failed predictions.
The Bible on the other hand is remarkable to say the least; with over a quarter to a third of its pages devoted to prophetic promises. Its record stands at 100% accuracy and continues unabated at the start of the new millennium.
Why is this significant? Because it is the tangible empirical proof which God has offered to mankind to verify that the Holy Bible is the only Divine resource to find where He has spoken.
In Isaiah 46:9-10 God declares, "Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure." When Jesus prophesied in the New Testament He did not need to substantiate that His words were the words of God by proclaiming, "Thus saith the Lord." The reason was because He Himself is the Lord and His testimony is held forth to mankind as the very Spirit of Prophecy (see Rev. 19:10).
An example can be found in Luke 21:11 when Jesus prophesied that at the end of the age, "there will be great earthquakes in various places," one can read the entire passage of Ch. 21 and not find Christ even once claiming alternative authority for His words outside of Himself.
In verse 33 Jesus claims Divine authority when He declared, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away."
Jesus did not stop there. In John 8:58, when revealing His immortal existence before Abraham, He not only declared that He was here before Abraham, but described His infinite existence by the holy name which expresses the very eternal nature of God. That is, "I AM."
Quoting from Exodus 3:14 in conjunction with Jn. 8:58 we read, "And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the Children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you" "Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."
Men can accuse Jesus of being a liar or a madman, but it is beyond dispute that He claimed to be God Almighty manifested in the flesh.
Believing as we do, that Jesus is indeed who He says He is, we find it imperative in obedience to watch for the fulfillment of His words which He had recorded for this present age in Lk. 21:11. This was not some casual remark about "Great earthquakes in various places." It was a direct response to the disciples question in verse 7. A question presented on behalf of believers across the sea of time. Cross-referenced with Matt. 24:3 we find it summed up the question, "And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
There have always been great earthquakes, but what Jesus instructed us to watch for was a steady increase in seismic activity to determine the nearness of His coming. Jesus wanted us to review the same hard, statistics which mankind so readily relies on in order to do everything from weather forecasting to preparing a financial portfolio - a listing and categorizing of facts that help determine what most likely will take place in the future.
Here are the facts concerning great earthquakes (i.e. 6.0 or greater on the Richter scale) during the last century of the previous millennium. During the first decade of the 1900s there were only 3. From 1980 through 1990 there were 310 and from 1990 through 1994 (in just 4 short years) there were 747 ("Millennium Fears-fact or fiction," PAX). The unbiased statistics in light of Gods Word declare to us that Jesus is coming back very soon.
In Lk. 21:20 another sign Jesus gave to the Jews to watch for during the final period of time called the Tribulation - will be when armies surround Jerusalem (see Zech. 12:1-6).
In order for this to take place Jesus had to know that after thousands of years of dispersion the Jews would become a nation once again in 1948 and would recapture Jerusalem from Jordan in June of 1967.
Even more astounding, the Lord did not only prophesy that the Arab nations would be livid about Jewish possession of Jerusalem, but in Zech. 12:3&9 we are told that nations from around the earth will gather against Jerusalem.
Think about it a tiny parcel of land in Israeli hands was prophesied of thousands of years ago to become the focus of a global war at the close of the age. This city still bears the same name, exists in the same location and is under the original ownership just as was prophesied and is now a byword for global discontent and impending global war. What is man that the Lord should allow us to share in His unfailing knowledge of the future? He is a blessed creation loved so much by his God that his Creator offers him friendship (John 15:15).
But are nations truly gathering against Israel? What are the facts? We already know that the Moslem world is relentlessly plotting to retake Jerusalem and that the United Nations refuses to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
But what about Israels western allies of the European Union and the United States? The EU wrote in a letter that " the EU deems Jerusalem a separate entity from Israel and that European diplomats are not constrained by Israeli political directives there."
As for the US, former US President Clinton and present President George W. Bush both determined to delay the implementation of the decision by the American Congress to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The US government still refuses to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and increasingly finds itself at odds with Israeli initiatives for self-determination.
As steady as the increase of great earthquakes, so too can we expect the worlds animosity towards Israel to grow over the issue of Jerusalem.
God does not make guesses, but shares prophecies which can only come forth from the infinite knowledge of the glorious I AM. As these things begin to happen people of faith look up with confidence that their redemption draws near, just as Jesus promised in Lk. 21:28 and are told to comfort one another.
The comfort that I Thess. 4:18 promises to every believer found covered by the atoning blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ is that final deliverance is coming. Are you ready? Are your sins forgiven?
Put your faith in Jesus Christ this moment and have peace in the knowledge that Jesus will be coming for you very soon. Jesus said in Jn. 14:3,6&9, "I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me he who has seen Me has seen the Father."
You can believe Jesus Christ, "All things were made through
Him, And without Him nothing was made that was made " (Jn.
1:3). He is the God of Genesis 1:1 Who, "In the beginning
created the heavens and the earth."