There is nothing I hope for more in this world, than to see the second coming of Jesus. I hope I will see this event with my own eyes, and I am praying for this event, and that's why I am here this morning - because I want to be ready, and I want you to be ready, and I am sure you want to see your loved ones, your neighbors, your friends, in Heaven. And this is our topic for this morning.
One day the disciples approached Jesus and asked him, "But tell us, Lord, how can we know that your coming is about to take place? Because we don't want to be taken by surprise. What signs do we have of the nearness of your coming?" And Jesus then proceeded with a long series of signs of the times.
And Jesus said, "When you see them, you should know that my coming is at hand - is very near." So he said "Well, for instance, there will be many earthquakes." And well, to our Japanese friends visiting today, this was in Kobe not long ago.
But we do not need to go too far to see signs. There is pollution everywhere, and even though the United States are doing quite well in order to avoid pollution, the United States are accused of making a good contribution to damage to the environment worldwide.
What about broken homes? More than half of all couples in the United States will end up in divorce. Oh, this is a sign! Jesus says, "As it was in the days of Noah the same will happen when the Son of man is about to come."
I would not dare to walk in certain neighborhoods on certain streets during the night. It's quite dangerous! Some years ago maybe you left your door unlocked. Not any more. And what is going on just now with that sniper around Washington DC. In ten days he has shot ten people. He has killed eight until yesterday. Well, this is a sign - just a little clue - it's a fulfilment. It's part of the larger picture.
And everywhere we see that even Nature is upset and has changed. And we see calamities all around the world - some near, some far, but Jesus said, "When you see all this, you should know that my coming is at hand."
Two weeks ago Isidore hit Cuba and then hit New Orleans. One week later, almost following the same pattern, Lily came and hit exactly the same places of the previous hurricane. Well, it's part of the big picture - the larger picture that tells us that something is about to take place. Too much water or too little water, floods and droughts, all these indicate that something wrong is going on.
Some of us may need to lose a few pounds here and there, you know what I mean. But we don't know what it is to be hungry. There is no reason in this wonderful country of ours to be hungry, but by millions people are dying every day just because they don't have enough food to eat. And Jesus said, "There will be famines around the world."
Of course you have heard about the West Nile Virus. More than 100 people have died this year in the United States because of a mosquito bite, many in Tennessee. Well, pestilences are part of the same trend. Jesus said, "When you see all these things, you should know that I am coming."
And there are natural disasters - yes, but there are also manmade problems. Because we are burning forests. Because of our covetousness - yes, we are creating wars and we are making many people suffer for sure. And Jesus said, "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars." Well, all of us are acquainted with a war on terror - against invisible enemies.
Some of them have become quite visible because they are causing damage, but the war isn't finished.
Just yesterday the two houses approved to give Mr Bush full authority to do something in Iraq. It is already finalized, and voted yesterday. So the United States is ready. It is not imminent, the president said in his discourse that it is not necessarily imminent, not unavoidable, but he has been already granted full authority to launch a major war if necessary.
But the problem is not one man or one country. It's an area. There are more than one billion Muslims very anxious over what is going on in Jerusalem. Because of this building - this building is the root of the problem. This is a mosque. Solomon's temple was here, on top of Mount Zion. Here, exactly on that spot. And, from the very same spot, Mohammed ascended to Heaven 600 years after Christ.
And Muslims have built a mosque - the dome mosque - on Mount Zion. And Jews say, "This is our place!" And Muslims say, "No, this is our place!" Well, that's the root of the war in the Middle East.
Peoples' hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth.
Maybe you remember this picture. At this very moment the Twin Towers were falling in New York. Peoples' hearts failing from fear and the expectation of things which are taking place, or those things which are about to take place.
Yes, knowledge is increasing. And we see all the other long list of signs telling us that Jesus is coming. The golden morning is about to come. This night of terror, this night of pain, is about to finish, and a new day is coming - a golden morning. Jesus is about to come. And this is what I want to share with you in the next few minutes.
I don't want to see our present; I don't want to see our past. I want to take a look into the future. And I will make use of two sources. Of course the Bible is the only rule of faith and practice in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But we have also been blessed with additional and wonderful information, and I will make use of it.
Before we see the second coming of Jesus, you have to be aware the fact that you and I will experience the worst period of tribulation of history. We call it the great tribulation. There will be a great persecution. There will be a time of trouble. Yes, there will be a death degree, and I don't have time to explain this. I am teaching the class, Last-Day Events. If you want to know the details, attend my class, attend my class. But I will stop here because I am not afraid of all this. No, no I am not afraid because I have assurances. I know that all my sins are forgiven. I know that Jesus is coming soon. I know this will take only a short time.
But I look with confidence to the future because I know that one day very soon as I look up, as I raise my eyes to the clouds, I will see the sign of the Son of Man, indicating that something is about to take place. Soon there appears in the East a small black cloud. What is this here? There. Where? Where is the East. There, there, there. Okay. So, look outside the exit door. Open the door and look to the East. Maybe you will see the cloud one of these days very soon. Very soon there appears in the East a small black cloud about half the size of a man's hand. It is the cloud which surrounds the Saviour and which seems in the distance to be shrouded in darkness. The people of God know this to be the sign of the Son of Man. In solemn silence they gaze upon it as grows near the earth, becoming lighter and becoming more glorious until it is a great white cloud. It's base, like glory, like consuming fire and above it the rainbow of the covenant. So, this is it. Finally our prayers have been answered. We have prayed for so much time, saying, "Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come..." And finally the Lord has answered our prayers and is sending His Son to establish that kingdom which we lost forever. And the people of God, God's people, will be happy as they know that God is coming to take them home.
The Lord is coming. Oh someone even much more important than the President that Pastor Krutcher saw in Knoxville. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The King of the Universe is coming with all his holy angels in the clouds of heaven. It is not yet. It is just approaching. He is getting very near. He has not yet arrived but before He arrives, there will be two special resurrections. Not yet the general ressurection of the righteous. Nope. Two special groups will come out of the tomb before Jesus comes. First, according to Revelation 1:8, those who pierced Him--Caiphus, Pilate, Herod, soldiers. Those who pierced Him will see the one whom they sent to the cross coming in glory with all His holy angels. But also those who died in the faith under the third angel's message. Many preachers, many pastors, many believers since 1844 have been announcing Jesus is Coming, the hour of the judgment is come and they have proclaimed the Three Angels' Message. And God will honor them by giving them a chance to see the whole process of the Second Coming. Before it takes place they will be taken out of the tombs. What a glorious day will that be.
The Bible describes it as an audible event, as a noisy event, as a glorious event. With anthems of celistial melody, the holy angels, a vast unnumbered throng of them escort Him on His way. The firmaments fill with radiant forms. No human pen can portray the scene. No mortal mind is adequate to conceive its splendor. Ah, what a relief. Today He is coming. Now the whole world knows that something is about to take place. Amid the reeling of the earth, the flash of the lightening and the roll of thunder, the Voice of the Son of God calls for the sleeping saints. For the Lord, himself, will descend from heaven with a shout, with the Voice of an Archangel and with a trumpet of God. Then the living in Christ will rise first. The Lord will not send an ambassador. He, Himself, will come in the clouds of heaven. And I say that it will be noisy, an audible event. Notice that at least there are three noises here. The Lord will come with a shout. The Lord will come with a voice. The Lord will come with a sound of trumpets, announcing that the King is coming. The same voice that commanded "Lazarus--Come forth" with the same command the Lord will call those who died having believed in Him. "Come forth." And they will come forth.
The others, the non believers, will come forth later. They will not rise until one thousand years are fulfilled. But, the Bible describes that Jesus will give this order and we read now from The Great Controversy, by EG White, "He looks upon the graves of the righteous, then raising His hands to heaven, He cries, 'Come forth! Awake! Awake! Awake ye that sleep in the dust and rise.' Throughout the length and breadth of the earth the dead shall hear the voice and they that hear shall live. And the whole earth shall ring with the tread of an exceedingly great army of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people."
My father died more than 45 years ago. But I remember that day. I remember that night when my mother said to his five children, "Daddy's not coming home tonight. But we will see him again very soon. Imagine that he's on a journey, but one day we will see Daddy again."
And I will challenge the law of gravity, and I will begin to float, and I will leave this earth, and I will go up in the air to the clouds. And in the clouds I will see my father. I think I will remember him. He won't remember me. "So you are Carlitos(little Carlos). You have changed so much. Carlos, where is your mother. There she comes and my brother will come from Argentina, the other from Ooltewah, and the other from Bangledash. What a family reunion that will be. When we will meet as a family. When the Lord sends His angels with a great sound of trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds. From one corner of the earth; from one end of the heaven to the other. The children, His children will be reunited. The dead in Christ will rise first. "Little children are borne by holy angels to their mother's arms. Friends long separated by death are united nevermore to part." Families which were separated by death will be reunited. And we read that "with songs of gladness now they ascend together to the City of God" - (Great Controversy, 645) never to be separated again.
Finally, the Lord has fulfilled His promise, the promise we read about in the Scripture reading, "In my Father's house there are many mansions... I will come again to take you with Me so that where I am, there ye may be also."
In that day there will be two groups of people--and only two. Those who will be ready, and they will raise their hands to heaven and shout with joy, "This is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us...We rejoice in His salvation." (Isa.25:9)
Yes the family of God finally will be reunited together. We will be together forever, and I want to be ready for that day. But then something will happen with those who are alive and remain. Those who survived the great tribulation shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (I Thes. 4:16).
But some will not make it and they will pray to the rocks and to the mountains, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For who shall stand?" And they will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming. They will be left behind. They are not left alive. The earth and everything in it will be burned to death. But you and I will not be here. We will leave this earth. Oh, when destruction comes, you and I will be on our way to heaven--far beyond the clouds, far beyond the stars.
"On each side of the cloudy chariot are wings, and beneath it are living wheels; and as the chariot rolls upward, the wheels cry, (remember living wheels, it's a cloud of angels) and the wheels cry 'Holy' and the wings, as they move, cry, 'Holy,' and the retinue of angels cry, 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.' And the redeemed shout, 'Alleluia!' as the chariot moves onward toward the New Jerusalem." (Great Controversy, 645.)
What a journey! What a long ride! Angels fly very fast, much faster than sound and even light. They fly at the speed of thought. Immediately in the blink of an eye they go from one extreme of the universe to the other at God's command. But you know what? The trip to heaven will take a little more than the blinking of an eye. We will go far beyond the sun; far beyond the stars. I got this picture--well this picture was taken by Hubble telescope--the most powerful telescope on earth earlier this year. We will go far beyond the stars. "We will enter the cloud together and we are seven days ascending to the sea of glass." (Early Writings, 16 by EG White) Now you know how long will our journey to heaven take. Our journey to heaven will take seven days.
Notice what the Bible says. The Bible says that when the seventh trumpet was blown, was heard, there "was silence in heaven for half an hour." (Rev. 8:1) Silence in heaven? How is that possible? Because, you know, heaven is a noisy place. Angels shout day and night, "Glory! Glory! Glory!" Another group shouts and sings, "Holy! Holy! Holy!" And they don't rest day nor night singing praises to the Lord God Almighty. But when Jesus comes, there will be silence in heaven. You know why? Because according to Matthew 25 verse 31 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, He will come with all his holy angels." There will be silence in heaven when Jesus comes. And the silence will last for half an hour.
Well, if you know prophecies, and I am sure you do, you know that in prophecy one day equals one year. If you divide 360 (one Biblical year) in 24, 24 prophetic hours, you will arrive to the conclusion that one hour is two weeks. And guess how much is half an hour? Ha, ha--one week--seven days. This is why there will be silence in heaven for one week--because our trip to heaven will take how long? You already know--seven days.
And, by the way, it means that if we depart from earth, let us say, on Tuesday, we will arrive one week later. There will be a Sabbath in between. If we leave on Thursay, there will be a Sabbath in between. Everybody must even keep a Sabbath before we arrive in heaven. That's incredible. And I guess that the chariot will stop. Okay let us stretch our legs. Let us walk around. It is a long trip, no. And so you are... Oh, you are Solomon. Glad to meet you. You are William Miller! What a privilege, Brother Miller. John Andrews, wow. My name is Carlos Martin. Oh, and then there will be a nice Sabbath School program. I am confident that they will ask the Apostle Paul to lead us in the Sabbath School lesson study. And I am sure, well maybe, David can sing a special music. What about that. Or in worship a choir of angels will lead us. What if Jesus, Himself, leads us in worship. Well that will be nice trip during our trip to heaven.
Now a trip to Orion because Ellen White says, "I saw an open space in Orion." (Early Writings, 41) and astronomers have confirmed that Orion looks like a big umbrella. What is 36 followed by 6 zeros? Wide, wide. No, 12 zeros, wide, big. What would be that number? Several billion, trillion miles wide? Well, from that open space, Jesus will come. Is that the access to heaven? I don't know. I don't care about these little details of 36 trillion miles. Ah that is not... What I want to know for sure. I want to make sure that I will go there. Before entering the City. Ah, we are getting ready, now, near I mean, we are approaching heaven. Before entering the city, things were arranged in a perfect square with Jesus in the midst. And the prophet says, "I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over the image, over the mark of the beast, and over the number of his name, I saw them all standing on the sea of glass having harps of gold." They were granted not only harps, but also a new name and a crown. Before entering the city of God the Savior bestows upon His followers the emblems of victory and invests them with the insignia of the royal state. Because you know, wake up, the reality is that we are children of God!
You may not believe it, but I have royal blood. The president... Prince Charles in England, hah! Charles is Carlos, you know, in Spanish. I am Prince Charles! But prince Charles of England is the son of the queen. I am the son of the King of the universe! On that day I will receive the symbols of my royal condition. I will receive a crown.
And the book says some crowns have many stars. In the old hymnal there was a song about a crown with many stars, for the souls you and I have led to Jesus. Will you have stars in your crown? Yeah, I hope so. And then the most wonderful thing will happen when the Lord will open the pearly gates and say, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." What a day, what a glory!
In other circumstances I would read for you the description of Revelation 21 and 22. There will be no more pain, no more tears. There will be no more churches. There will be no need of electricity because the glory of God illuminates everything. The most wonderful thing is that we will be with Jesus.
The lion will eat straw like an ox. Even lions will be vegetarians in heaven, can you believe that? And they will not harm. And the Bible says that children will play with lions and with wolves. Even animals will change on that day!
But again, the most wonderful thing is that you and I, children of every kindred, tongue, and people, will be with Jesus forever in the Heavenly mansions. And then the Bible says - the prophet says - "I saw the holy city with towers..." Imagine, much taller than the former twin towers. The towers of this city go more than 300 miles up in the air. 300 miles - wonderful! No human architect can even think of something like that.
We try to call up our greatest trials on earth, but they look so small compared with the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory that surrounded us, that we could not speak them out. And we all call out, "Heaven is cheap enough!" Anything we could have suffered on earth was nothing. It paid to be faithful. It paid to suffer persecution - even, Jesus says, "Be faithful even to death and you will receive a crown of life." On that day we will understand that anything we may suffer on this earth is nothing in comparison to the glories of Heaven. Things which eyes have not seen nor even have come to the imagination of men, are the things that God is preparing for those who love Him.
And I will go now to the last page, to the last paragraph of that book entitled, The Great Controversy. It says, "The great controversy has ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all flow life and light and gladness throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love." The controversy is ended.
This is the end of the book, Great Controversy.
In the midst of the joys of Heaven, I will experience three surprises.
First, I will be surprised not to see, not to find, some people I was sure they were going to be there. "Have you seen my friend? No?" And I walk about the streets, up and down the streets of gold, searching for my friend. He was a holy man. He always came to church on Sabbath. Why is he not here? Uh-oh, maybe there are some things that I did not know. He seemed to be ready, but he was not. What a surprise. What a disappointment!
There will be a second surprise. The opposite will be to see many people that I never imagined would be there. "Hah! Look at that woman! I had never even imagined her in heaven. Oh, she had a big mouth. Oh, she insulted me so many times. And look at her, she's in heaven! Now, God, how is it possible that You brought her here? I had to move to another neighborhood because of her."
"You know what? After you moved out of that neighborhood, she began attending church. Apparently you were the problem! And you know what, she got converted - she accepted my forgiveness. Look at her now." Wow, what a surprise!
But my greatest surprise will be that I will get there. "How is it possible that I am here? I know I don't deserve Heaven. I know I am a sinner. I will never, ever - eternity will not be long enough for me to understand such a great love."
Yes, Jesus is coming, and He is coming soon. I know when He is coming. You ask me how long until He is coming? I know how long! Not long, that's the answer, not long. For yet a little while and we are going home. For yet a little while and He who is coming will come and not tarry. Very soon, Jesus will take us home with Him, to be with Him forever.
But there is a condition - one condition. You must surrender your life to Jesus. There is no other way. There is no other name under heaven by which you must--we must, be saved. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through Me." If you have not yet accepted Jesus as your Savior I ask you, I beg you, I invite you in Jesus' name, accept God's forgiveness. Now, because tomorrow may be too late.
Hymn of Praise: #12, Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee Scripture: John 14:1-3 Hymn of Response: #309, All to Jesus I Surrneder
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last updated 10/14/2002 by Bob Beckett.