The last time this happened, people huddled in the churches waiting anxiously for the sounding of trumpets and the return of Christ. At least that’s what some historians say about the end of the first millennium. One monk1 wrote that the decades surrounding the year 1000 were full of earthquakes, volcanoes, comets, famines, and the worst outbreak of cults that the world of his time had seen. The official teaching of the day was that the Millennium of Christ’s Kingdom had already arrived spiritually, because Christians were in control of their society. And hardly anyone questioned the idea, except for some of the poor people, and a few misfits.
So we don’t know whether the churches were packed with trembling crowds on New Year’s Eve, 999, or only the usual devotees showed up. But we do know one thing for sure: Christ didn’t come, and the age didn’t end. The same kind of thing has happened so many times that people are used to it by now. Every so often, when things get really bad, or when a new century comes along, or even when somebody gets really worked up about the prophecies in the Bible, the story repeats itself. The “faithful” gather together to anxiously wait for Jesus. But He doesn’t come.
Some people wonder why. After all, His disciples asked Him a point blank question, “What sign will announce your coming and the end of this age?”2 And it seemed like He gave a point blank answer. Maybe you’ve heard of some of the things He talked about: false prophets, false Messiahs, false miracles, wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution of His followers, many deserting His cause, people betraying even their own family members, and so on… Most of these things have happened repeatedly, but He never showed up, and the world didn’t end. Why?
Well, for one thing, He said that when those things happened it wouldn’t be the end yet. Those signs would be like a pregnant woman’s first mild contractions. The hard labor pains would still be a long way off. But He didn’t just leave His followers with a vague answer. He actually went on to tell them when the end would come.
And yet His answer is usually overlooked, even though it’s listed right there along with all the other prophecies. You’ve probably never even heard about it. The writers of Christian end-time books don’t mention it, maybe because they don’t understand it – or maybe because it’s not sensational enough to sell any books. Here’s what He said:
This Good News of the Kingdom shall be proclaimed throughout the whole world to set the evidence before all the gentiles; and then the End will come. (Matthew 24:14)
So it has to be this Good News… a specific message… not just any old “gospel,” but the message of the Kingdom… And it has to be proclaimed in every nation. And it can’t just be a bunch of words; it has to actually produce some evidence. And then, finally, the End will come.
That message obviously hasn’t been proclaimed everywhere yet, because the End hasn’t come. In fact, the Kingdom has hardly even been mentioned in the last 2000 years 3. And since the Son of God always meant exactly what He said, He’s not going to show up until His message gets preached and obeyed4 and all the people who don’t know God (gentiles) get to take a look at the evidence.
The story is told that when Messiah rose from the dead none of His disciples would believe that He was alive until they had seen Him with their own eyes.
Do you know how He responded to their unbelief? He showed Himself to them and gave them many convincing proofs of His resurrection.5 Yes, that’s right, He didn’t curse them for not believing. Instead, He gave them visible evidence of His triumph over death. And He isn’t going to treat the rest of the world any different. He’s not going to require them to believe unless He shows them something.
The way it works is simple. Messiah Yahshua’s message is made up mainly of commands.6 That is why the Bible speaks of obeying the good news.7 Those commands teach His disciples how to love each other the way He loved them. Only when His disciples love like He loved, will the world “get the connection.” Only then will the world know that He was sent from heaven to take their place in death. Only then will they know that God loved them just as much as He loved His own Son.8
You see, obeying His commands results in a radical life, one that differs starkly from the self-preserving existence of the world. The evil spirit who rules the world holds all its people under his power by the fear of death, but obeying Yahshua frees a person from that power. Such a life of obedience actually brings a person into another kingdom – placing him under the authority of heaven.9
When the world sees Yahshua’s disciples dwelling together in unity, denying themselves for the good of their brothers, it proves something. It shows that there is a power at work on the earth greater than man’s natural ability. Man can naturally be tolerant of others, or even help those less fortunate than himself, but he can’t forsake his own interests to live entirely for others. The spirits that work in the unseen realm won’t let him.
The power to love as Yahshua loved is the power of the age to come. It is the power of an unshakable kingdom that is going to bring this present age to an end.10 This kingdom will fill the earth in the next millennium, but that millennium can’t start yet. It won’t start until that power is demonstrated in this age so that people can choose what power they want to be under – the power of love or the power of death. That is what Messiah is waiting for. He is the invincible King who rules the unshakable kingdom.
By the power of love, He took the sin of all mankind on Himself and suffered the agony of death we all deserved. By the power of love, He shook off the shackles of death and rose victorious. By that same power He is coming to take over the earth. When He finally comes, no one will be able to withstand His power, no matter how hard they try. They also won’t have any excuse for refusing to face the evidence.