America the Beautiful? The United States in Bible Prophecy

by Dr. David R. Reagan

Where is the United States in Bible prophecy? It is a ques­tion I am asked wherever I go. It is only natural that we should wonder. Since the United States is not mentioned specifically by name in Bible prophecy, people have resort­ed to their ima­ginations to find our nation in the Scriptures.

A “tall and smooth people”?

Some have pointed to Isaiah 18 which speaks of a peo­ple “tall and smooth” who are “feared far and wide.” The passage further states that this is a “powerful nation whose land the rivers divide.” The chapter ends by stating that the people of this nation will bring “a gift of homage” to the Lord when He returns to reign from Mt. Zion.

Because these verses speak of a powerful nation whose land is divided by a great river, some have jumped to the conclusion that the nation is the United States since it is divided by the Mississippi River.

But the open­ing verses of this chapter indicate it is speak­ing of “Cush,” the ancient name of Ethiopia. At the time Isaiah wrote this passage, Ethiopia was a part of the Egyp­tian empire and the river referred to is undoubtedly the Nile.

A “village” of Tarshish?

Probably one of the most popular passages where peo­ple claim to have found the U.S. is in Ezekiel 38 where the pro­phet describes an invasion of Israel that will be launched in the end times by a nation “from the remote parts of the north.” The descriptive verses about the northern power make it clear that this nation is Russia. What is not so clear is where the U.S. fits into this invasion.

Those who find us in the passage point to Ezekiel 38:13 which says that “the merchants of Tarshish and all its villag­es” (or “young lions” depending on translation) will speak out against the invasion. The argument is that Tarshish is Britain and the “villages” or “young lions” are the English speaking nations like the U.S. and Australia that were foun­ded by British immigrants.

To say the least, this is a highly imaginative interpreta­tion. Its validity is seriously questioned by the fact that no one knows for certain the true identity of “Tarshish.” Fur­ther­more, recent archaeological develop­ments indicate that Tarshish was most likely Spain, not Brit­ain.

A “great eagle”?

Another favorite passage for applied imagination is Rev­ela­tion 12:13-17. These verses state that in the middle of the Tribulation God will provide a means of escape for the Jew­ish remnant in Israel. They will be carried into the wil­der­ness to a hiding place on the “wings of a great eagle.”

Some people have seized on this imagery to teach that the U.S., whose national symbol is the eagle, will supply the end time air lift that will save the Jewish remnant.

But the Bible is its own best interpreter. And when you look up the phrase, “wings of an eagle,” you will find that it is the same one that God used in Exodus 19:4 to describe how He brought the Israelites out of Egypt. God is the ea­gle, not the United States (see Deuteronomy 32:11).

“Babylon the great?”

This brings us to the final and most widely used pas­sage for identifying the U.S. in Bible prophecy. It is Revela­tion 18 where the destruction of “Babylon the great” is de­scribed.

There is no doubt that the United States shares many simi­larities with the corrupt commercial empire described in this chapter. But the U.S. is not a fulfillment of Revelation 18. That chapter is describing the last Gentile world empire that will dominate the earth at the time of the Lord’s Sec­ond Coming. It is the empire of the Antichrist.

A Conclusion

So, where is the United States in Bible prophecy? The an­swer is that we are not mentioned directly and specifical­ly. We are cov­ered by general prophecies that relate to all nations, but beyond that, our end time destiny must be a matter of spec­ulation.

General prophecies that apply to the U.S. include those that say all nations will be judged (Isaiah 34:2-3) and all na­tions will cease to exist except the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 30:11 and 46:28).

A Speculation

I personally believe that the reason the U.S. is not men­tioned in end time prophecy is because we will suddenly cease to be a world power and will therefore play no signifi­cant role in end time events.

The destruction of American power is most likely to occur in two stages. The first could be an economic catastrophe that will result from our out of control debt situation. Our god is the dollar, and the Lord is going to destroy that god when the weight of our debt collapses our economy.

The second stage could occur when Russia launches its invasion of Israel (pro­phesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39). I believe it is very likely that they will launch a preemptive nuclear at­tack against our nation, since we are the only country in the world that might possi­bly come to Israel’s defense. This attack may be hinted at in Ezekiel 39:6 where it says that fire will fall on “those who inhabit the coastlands in safety.”

The Russian attack will prob­ably come from sub­marines deployed off our East and West coasts. Each Rus­sian sub carries more fire pow­er than all the bombs dropped in World War II. Such an attack would give us only seven minutes warn­ing, not even enou­gh time to launch a counter attack.

With the U.S. immobilized, the Russians will then attack Israel and, according to Ezekiel, their army will be wiped out su­pernaturally by God on the hills of Israel (Ezekiel 39:1­4). The greatest power vacuum in the history of mankind will be created almost overnight. The world will be gripped by panic.

Into that vacuum will step a dynamic, charismatic Euro­pean political personality who will be energized by Satan. He will begin to rally the world to his support through his brilliant proposals for world peace. The world will be mes­merized by him (Revelation 13:8).

An Objection

Some argue that since the collapse of the Soviet gov­ernment, Russia is now too weak to launch any attack against Israel or the Untied States. It is true that the econo­my of Russia is in shambles, but the military power is intact, including thousands of nuclear warheads!

In fact, Russia is far more dangerous to the world today than before the Soviet collapse. The increased danger is rooted in the instability of the government.

There is no hope for de­mocracy in Russia because the societal values that are es­sential for the working of a demo­cratic system do not exist. Nor is there any histori­cal expe­rience with democracy. Be­fore the Commissars were the Czars.

The current experiment with democracy will not last long. It will be overthrown, most likely by a coup that will produce a military dictatorship. That new tyranny will then most likely resort to one of the oldest techniques of govern­ment — namely, stirring up trouble abroad to divert people’s attention away from their domestic problems. That foreign trouble will be the invasion of Israel.

The Parallel of Habakkuk

I admit that I do not like this speculative scenario. But it seems the most likely chain of events to me. When it first occurred to me, I was particularly repelled by the idea of God using Russia to judge our nation. I asked, “How can a holy God punish those who are evil with those who are more evil?”

My quest for an answer to that ques­tion led me to the book of Habakkuk. I discovered that Habakkuk asked God the same question when God re­vealed to him that Judah would be judged by an invasion of the Chalde­ans.

God never answered Habakkuk’s question. He just called on Habakkuk to proceed in faith, believing that God knew best (Habakkuk 2:4). After a difficult spiritual struggle, Ha­bak­kuk stepped out in faith and said, “Lord, even if the Chaldeans complete­ly destroy us, I will continue to exalt Your name” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

The Chaldeans came. They destroyed the nation of Judah and the Temple of God. But where are the Chalde­ans to­day? In the dust bin of history. Where are the Jews? Re­gathered to their land.

The point is that God has the wis­dom and power to or­chestrate the evil of Man to the tri­umph of His holy will in history. It is not for us to question His ways. Rather, it is for us to trust Him.

A Sobering Conclusion

But there is another point to consider. Are we really more righteous than the Russians? I think not.

In fact, I be­lieve we are far more dangerous to the world spiritually than the Russians have ever been, for we are the world’s moral polluter through the export of our sleazy television pro­grams, our filthy mov­ies, our satanic music, and our de­grading pornog­raphy.

We are a people who have turned our back on God. The day of judgment for us will be far more severe than for the Russians, for “to those to whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12:48).

Another Possibility

There is another possible fate for the United States. If the Rapture were to occur today, we would be devastated because our nation contains more born again Christians than any other nation in the world — more than all of Western Europe combined. Further, we have many born again Christians in high positions of commerce and government. The Rapture would reduce our nation to chaos, removing us from the international scene as the world’s dominant power.

We can hope and pray that this will be the destiny of our nation, because if it is not, we are headed toward outright destruction due to our rebellion against a gracious God who has blessed us more than any other nation that has ever existed.

The Ark of the Covenant Will it ever be found?

by Dr. David Reagan

It was in the mid-eighties, and I was hosting a pilgrimage group on a tour of the Holy Land. We had made the long drive from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem and had arrived in "the city of the Great King" exhausted.

It seemed like I had hardly gone to sleep when I was jolted awake by the telephone. Assuming it was my wake up call, I lifted the receiver and mumbled, "Thank you."

I was surprised to hear a familiar voice on the other end. "Hello, David, I'm calling from Texas!"

"From Texas!" I replied. "All the way from Texas?"

"Yep," answered my friend, "and guess what? They've found the ark!"

"The what?"

"The ark!"


"No, dummy, the Ark of the Covenant."

Needless to say, that statement really woke me up.

A Startling Discovery

My friend proceeded to explain that he had just read in the Dallas Morning News about the discovery of the lost Ark of the Covenant. It had supposedly been found on Mount Pisgah (Mt. Nebo) in Jordan by a religious group from Kansas.

It all sounded a little far out to me. I suspected that someone had lost touch with reality after having seen the currently popular movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Nonetheless, I rushed down to the hotel lobby to get the latest copy of The Jerusalem Post. Sure enough, there on the first page was the story. The writer evidently shared my skepticism because the headline read: "Thar's an Ark in Them Thar Hills!"

A Suspect Discovery

The story was right out of Alice in Wonderland. Some end-time sect from Winfield, Kansas, calling itself the Institute for Restoring Ancient History International, had issued astatement claiming to have discovered the Ark in a sealed passageway inside Mt. Pisgah.

They offered no evidence, even though they claimed to have taken photographs. They also refused to reveal the exact location of their find.

The leader of the group, who had a reputation for being anti-Semitic, said he was going to prove his good will toward the Jews by turning all his evidence over to David Rothschild.

When asked why he had selected Rothschild, he replied that he considered Rothschild to be the leader of the Jews (an old anti-Semitic attitude!). He also explained that he felt Rothschild had the power to help his group in dealing with the Jordanian government and the Vatican.

A Provocative Discovery

The headlines have since subsided. The Kansas group has returned to its anonymity in the wheat fields. And the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, has become an adventure classic.

But the incident and movie motivated a lot of questions, some of which relate to end time events. What was the Ark of the Covenant? Why was it so important to the Jews? What happened to it? Will it be found again? Is it essential for the rebuilding of the Jewish temple?

The Bible and the Ark

The origin of the Ark is to be found in Exodus 25:10-22. God ordered the Ark to be built to house the tablets of stone on which He had written the ten commandments. The Ark was a box approximately four feet long, two feet wide, and two feet high. It was made of acacia wood and was overlaid with gold inside and out.

The lid that covered the box was called the "mercy seat." It was made of pure gold. Two gold cherubim were mounted on the lid, one on each end. The cherubim faced each other, and their wings were spread out toward each other, overshadowing the mercy seat.

According to Hebrews 9:4, two other items were later added to the contents of the Ark. One of these was a pot of manna, the miraculous food that God supplied the children of Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16). The other item was Aaron's rod that budded (Numbers 17).

The Ark was housed in the Holy of Holies, the innermost chamber of the Tabernacle of Moses. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest entered that Holy of Holies and sprinkled blood on the mercy seat to atone for his sins and the sins of the nation of Israel (Leviticus 16 and Hebrews 9). Because God had promised Moses that He would commune with Israel "from above the mercy seat" (Exodus 25: 22), the concept developed that the Lord of Hosts was enthroned on the cherubim of the Ark (see 1 Samuel 4:4 and Isaiah 37: 16).

The Symbolism of the Ark

Much has been made of the symbolism of the Ark, and rightfully so. Suffice it to say that every aspect of the Ark pointed to Jesus.

The acacia wood symbolized our Lord's humanity. The gold overlay denoted His deity. The Law inside the Ark pictured Jesus with the Law of God in His heart, living in perfect obedience to it. The pot of manna spoke of Jesus as the Bread of Life or our life sustainer. Aaron's rod that budded obviously prophesied the resurrection.

The mercy seat was also a symbol that pointed to the Messiah. It was representative of the fact that the work of Jesus on the Cross would cover the Law of God with His mercy. It is an illustration of how the divine throne was transformed from a throne of judgment into a throne of grace by the atoning blood that was sprinkled on it.

The Ark's Pilgrimage

As the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, the Ark was carried before them on golden poles by the priests, following "the cloud of the Lord" in order "to seek out a resting place for them" (Numbers 10:33). The Ark was carried into Canaan when the Israelites crossed the Jordan, and it was instrumental in their victory over Jericho (Joshua 6). During the 400 year period of the Judges, the Ark was housed in the Holy of Holies at the Tabernacle that was erected at the religious center of Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:3, 3:3).

During the latter part of the period of the Judges, when apostasy was rampant in Israel, the decision was made to carry the Ark into a battle against the Philistines as a good luck charm (1 Samuel 4:1-4). This desecration of the sacred Ark enraged the Lord, and He allowed the Philistines to win the battle and capture the Ark (1 Samuel 4:5-11).

But the Ark proved to be a hot box for the Philistines. When all sorts of calamities began to afflict them, they decided to return the Ark (1 Samuel 5 and 6).

It was first taken to a small village called Bethshemesh which was located on the border between Philistia and Judah. When the people of that town ventured out of curiosity to look inside the Ark, a great number were struck dead (1 Samuel 6:19-21). They quickly decided to pass the Ark on to the village of Kiriath-jearim, located just a few miles northwest of Jerusalem (1 Samuel 7:1-2). It remained there for almost 70 years in the house of Abinadab. (The 70 years were the last 20 years of Samuel's judgeship, the 40 years of Saul's kingship, and the first seven years of David's reign in Hebron, before he moved to Jerusalem).

When David arrived in Jerusalem, the first priority of his administration was to provide the Ark a proper resting place because He was anxious to bring the symbol of the presence of God back into the life of the nation (Psalm 132:1-5). The Ark's return was an occasion for great rejoicing (1 Chronicles 15). David placed it in a tent on Mt. Moriah where it remained until his son Solomon built the Temple. The Holy of Holies in that Temple became the final resting place of the Ark (1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5).

The Lost Ark

No one knows for sure what happened to the Ark. The last time it is mentioned in Scripture is in 2 Chronicles 35:3. That passage makes it clear that the Ark was still in existence at the time of the spiritual revival led by the boy king, Josiah. Within 22 years after Josiah died, Judah fell to the Babylonians (586 B.C.), and the Ark disappeared.

Some scholars believe it was simply destroyed when the Temple was burned. Others believe it was captured as a prize of war, taken to Babylon, and probably melted down for its gold.

But the strongest tradition is that it was taken out of the Temple by Jeremiah and hidden. Some are convinced he hid it in the ground on the Temple Mount. But most who hold to the Jeremiah rescue theory believe he either hid the Ark in a great cavern beneath the Temple Mount (known today as Solomon's Quarry) or that he hid it somewhere near Mt. Nebo in the modern day nation of Jordan.

The latter theory finds support in the apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees. The narrative in that book says, "the prophet, warned by an oracle, gave orders for the tabernacle and the ark to go with him when he set out for the mountain which Moses had climbed to survey God's heritage. On his arrival, Jeremiah found a cave-dwelling, into which he brought the tabernacle, the ark, and the altar of incense, afterwards blocking up the entrance" (2 Maccabees 2:4-5).

Another theory regarding the fate of the Ark is that it was translated or raptured, being taken up to Heaven to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Chaldeans. This theory is based upon a reference to the Ark in Revelation 11:15. This passage is a flash-forward to the end of the Tribulation when Heaven opens and Jesus returns in wrath. The writer states that when Heaven opened "the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple." Those who reject this theory argue that the Ark seen in Heaven in this passage is the heavenly reality of which the Ark of the Covenant was only an earthly shadow or copy (Hebrews 8:5).

The Forgotten Ark

Regardless of what happened to the Ark, the Scriptures suggest that it will never be found again. This comes as quite a shock to some Christians who have assumed that the Ark must be found before the Tribulation Temple can be built and animal sacrifice reinstituted. Others have simply assumed that the Ark would be replaced in the Holy of Holies when the Lord's Millennial Temple is built.

But Jeremiah says point blank that "the ark of the covenant of the Lord . . . shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again" (Jeremiah 3:16). The context of this passage is the Millennial reign of Jesus, so it does not rule out the possibility of a discovery prior to that time. Conceivably, the Ark could be discovered, and Satan could use its discovery to incite the rebuilding of a Temple where an apostate sacrificial system would be reinstituted. We know that such a Temple will be built, but I doubt if its construction will be motivated by the discovery of the Ark.

The important point to keep in mind here is that the rediscovery of the Ark is not essential to the rebuilding of the Temple. After all, the Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel following the Babylonian captivity, and the Ark had already been lost by that time. There was no Ark in the Holy of Holies during the time when Jesus worshiped in the Temple.

Nor is the Ark needed for the Millennial Temple. Ezekiel describes the Temple in great detail (chapters 40-42), and he never mentions the Ark. There is a Holy of Holies (Ezekiel 41:4), but it is empty, and it is not separated from the Holy Place by a veil.

Jesus has already entered the heavenly Holy of Holies in our behalf (Hebrews 4:14-16, 8:1-6). He has torn away the veil that separated us from God, and He serves as our High Priest, having offered His own blood as the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:11-16). He serves as our Mediator before the Father's throne (Hebrews 9:24-28).

Thus, during the Millennium, there will be no need for a human high priest or an Ark with a mercy seat. Jesus will continue to function as mankind's High Priest, just as He will continue to serve as humanity's Mercy Seat (Haggai 2:20-23).

The True Ark

With regard to this concept of Christ as our mercy seat, let me add a penetrating insight which I picked up from John MacArthur, one of this country's greatest preachers. He pointed to a simple historical verse that contains a profound truth about Jesus being our mercy seat.

The verse is John 20:12. Speaking of Mary looking into the empty tomb of Jesus, the verse says, "she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying." What Mary saw, MacArthur observed, was the new mercy seat, the perfect mercy seat.

Consider again what Mary saw. She witnessed two angels sitting at each end of the slab which had held the broken body of our Lord. That scene points us back to the Ark of the Covenant where two cherubim hovered over its blood splattered mercy seat!

There is no more need for the Ark. Jesus has fulfilled all that the Ark stood for. He was deity who took on flesh. He rendered complete obedience to the Law, being made perfect and becoming the source of our salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9). His blood was shed for our sins, and His victory is attested by the fact and the power of His resurrection.

Just as the Ark was designed to be a symbol of the presence of God in the midst of His people, Jesus is the ultimate expression of God's love and care and presence. He is our Ark. He is our Law. He is our Manna. He is our Budded Rod. And, thank God, He is our Mercy Seat.

Six Reasons Why All Christians Should Desire the Soon Return of Jesus

by Dr. David R. Reagan

As every new year dawns, I find myself earnestly yearning that it will be the year that will initiate the end time events that will lead to the Lord's return to this earth.

The first of those events will be the Rapture of the Church. That will be followed by the Great Tribulation of seven years, a period of unparalleled horror that will culminate in the return of Jesus to reign over all the world.

The writings of the early Church Fathers (100 to 300 A.D.) reveal that one of the earliest prayers of the Church was "Maranatha!" (1 Corinthians 16:22). That word is actually an Aramaic phrase that means "Our Lord come!"

This prayer expresses a fact that is confirmed by many other scriptures; namely, that the First Century Church had an ardent desire for the soon return of Jesus.

A Waning of the Zeal

The Twentieth Century Church seems to have lost that desire. Most professing Christians today do not pray "Maranatha!" They do not yearn for the return of the Lord. Instead of yearning, they are yawning.

Christendom at large is caught up in apathy regarding the return of Jesus. And that is sad, for the Word says that the return of the Lord is our "Blessed Hope" (Titus 2:13).

Also, we are constantly admonished in Scripture to watch for the Lord's coming and to be ready. Jesus Himself said, "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight . . . for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect" (Luke 12:35,40). Paul exhorted Titus to live "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13). And as Paul faced death in prison, he wrote:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. — 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Think of it, Paul says that a special reward — "a crown of righteousness," will be given to any person who lives his or her life loving the appearing of the Lord.

Are you a candidate for this reward? Do you have a zealous yearning in your heart for the Lord's soon return? Do you pray daily, "Maranatha!"?

Looking for Jesus

There are at least six reasons why every Christian should earnestly desire the soon return of Jesus:

1) Jesus — When Jesus returns He will get what He deserves — honor, glory and power.

When He came the first time, He was repudiated by the Jews, rejected by His home town, and spurned by his family. He was persecuted by the religious leaders, betrayed by a friend, denied by another friend, deserted by His disciples, and mocked by the masses. He had no place to lay His head. His only possession was a robe.

He was born in a stable, raised in poverty, nailed to a tree, and buried in a borrowed tomb. Today, people scoff at Him and ridicule Him. His name is used as a curse word.

That is not what He deserves!

It is going to be different when He returns. The first time He came as a gentle and helpless baby. He is going to return as a mighty warrior. He came the first time as a suffering lamb to die for the sins of the world, but He will return as a conquering lion who will pour out the wrath of God on those who have rejected the love, mercy and grace of God. His first coming was marked by compassion, humility, and a willingness to be judged and to die. He will return in triumph and in wrath to judge and make war against the enemies of God. He came the first time as a Servant; He is returning as a Monarch.

Jesus was humiliated in history. I want to see Him vindicated and glorified in history. And He will be because His Father has promised Him that He will reign over all the earth (Psalm 2:7-9). He has also been promised that He will manifest His glory before His saints (Isaiah 24:21-23) and before the nations of the earth (Isaiah 66:18 & Psalm 22:27-31). Paul says He is returning "to be glorified in His saints . . . and to be marveled at among all who have believed" (2 Thessalonians 1:10).

2) Satan — When Jesus returns, Satan will receive what he deserves — defeat, dishonor and humiliation.

I'm sick of Satan. I'm tired of his plots and schemes and lies and deceptions. I'm fed up with his sicknesses and temptations. I'm weary of his physical, emotional and spiritual pollution. I'm disgusted with his wrecking of marriages and homes. I loath his wars and terrorism. I despise His ceaseless attacks on the Church.

I often feel like the martyrs portrayed in Revelation who cry out day and night before the throne of God, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood?" (Revelation 6:10) Like Isaiah, I want to cry out to God, "Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down!" (Isaiah 64:1).

The fate of Satan was sealed by the Cross, but his nefarious activities will not cease until the Lord returns. At that time, the Word says that God will deal with Satan decisively. Luke 18:7 says that God will vindicate His elect who cry out to Him day and night by providing them justice. Romans 16:20 says that Satan will be "crushed." The book of Revelation says he will then be thrown into the lake of fire where he "will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10 — see also, Isaiah 14:12-17).

But Satan doesn't want to go to Hell alone. He's working overtime to take as many people with him as he can. And I want that work stopped! I want Satan to get what he deserves.

3) The Creation — When Jesus returns, the creation will receive what it has been promised — restoration.

The material universe was originally created in beauty and perfection. There were no poisonous plants or animals, nor were there any meat eating animals. There were no natural cataclysms like earthquakes and tornados. Mankind lived in perfect harmony with nature.

But when Man rebelled against God, one of the consequences of his sin was that God placed a curse on the creation. Poisonous plants and animals suddenly appeared. The animal kingdom turned against itself and Man as some of the animals became meat eaters. And the natural cataclysms began to take their toll. Man now had to strive against nature to survive.

But the moment God placed the curse on the creation, He promised that one day it would be lifted through "the seed of woman" (Genesis 3:15). That promise is repeated throughout the Scriptures. For example, in Isaiah 11, the prophet says that when the Messiah comes to reign, "the wolf will dwell with the lamb" and "the lion will eat straw like the ox." He further states that "the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra" because the snake will no longer be poisonous.

Paul reaffirms this promise in the New Testament in the eighth chapter of Romans. He pictures the whole creation as being like a pregnant woman gripped by birth pains, crying out for the moment of delivery. He says that moment will come when "the sons of God are revealed." In other words, it will occur at the resurrection when the Lord returns (Romans 8:18-23).

On the day the Lord returns, the earth will be renovated by earthquakes and supernatural phenomena in the heavens (Revelation 6:12-17). The result will be a refreshed and beautified earth. The destructive forces of nature will be curtailed. Deserts will bloom. The plant and animal kingdoms will be redeemed. Poisonous plants and animals will cease to be poisonous. The carnivorous animals will become herbivorous. All of nature will cease to strive against itself. Instead, it will work together harmoniously to the benefit of Man. (Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 35:1-10; Isaiah 65:17-25; Acts 3:19-21; and Romans 8:18-23)

4) The Nations — When Jesus returns, the nations will receive what they have been promised — peace, righteousness and justice.

Mankind has dreamed of world peace throughout history. Disarmament treaties have been negotiated, peace treaties have been signed, international organizations have been created, but true peace has remained elusive.

The Bible says that permanent world peace will never be achieved until the Prince of Peace, the Messiah, returns. Both Isaiah and Micah prophesied that when the Lord returns, the nations "will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks" and that "nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war" (Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3).

The hope of the world for peace will never be realized in summit conferences between heads of state. The only hope is the return of Jesus who will rule the world with "a rod of iron" (Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 2:26-27).

5) The Jews — When Jesus returns, the Jews will receive what they have been promised — salvation and primacy.

God has made many wonderful promises to His chosen people, the nation of Israel. Most of these are unfulfilled and will not be fulfilled until a remnant of the Jews turn to Jesus and accept Him as their Messiah. The prophetic scriptures tell us this will happen at the end of the Tribulation when the Jews who are left alive have come to the end of themselves and decide to turn to God.

Zechariah says this remnant will "look upon Him whom they have pierced and will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son" (Zechariah 12:10). The prophet also says that on that day of repentance, "a fountain of salvation will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity" (Zechariah 13:1).

This believing remnant will then be regathered to the land of Israel to receive the blessings that God has promised the nation. Those incredible blessings are described in great detail in chapters 60 through 62 of Isaiah. God's Shekinah glory will return (60:2) to a rebuilt Temple (60:7). The nations will send all kinds of assistance (60:10), including their wealth (60:5). The land of Israel will be reclaimed (60:13), the nation will receive respect (60:15), the people will enjoy peace (60: 18), and the Messiah will live in their presence (60:13,19). All the ruins will be rebuilt (61:4) and the land will be filled with joy (61:7-8) and praise (61:10-11). The nation will be a beacon of righteousness, and its glory will be witnessed all over the world (62:1-3). To sum it up, Isaiah says the nation of Israel will be "a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of God" (62:3).

In effect, the world will be turned upside down regarding its relationship to the Jews. Today the Jewish people are despised and persecuted. They are the butt of jokes and ridicule. But a day is coming when all that will cease. Zechariah says that during the Lord's millennial reign the Jewish people will be so honored that when a Jew walks by, ten Gentiles will grab his clothing and say, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you" (Zechariah 8:23).

6) The Saints — Some of the promises to the Saints — to those who are member's of the Lord's Church — will be fulfilled at the time of the Rapture. The Rapture is an event that could occur any moment. It will precede the Second Coming.

At the Rapture, the dead in Christ will be resurrected and the living will be translated to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It is at this time that both the living and dead in Christ will receive their glorified bodies. These will be immortal, perfected bodies — like the body that Jesus had after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:42-53 and Philippians 3:21).

When Jesus returns to this earth, the Saints will come with Him and will witness His glorious victory over the Antichrist and his forces (Revelation 19:11-21). The Saints will then receive what they have been promised — a redeemed earth and ruling power over the nations (Matthew 5:5 and Revelation 2:26-27).

Jesus will reign from Mount Zion in Jerusalem as King of kings and Lord of lords (Isaiah 24:21-23). David in his glorified body will reign as king of Israel (Jeremiah 30:9 and Ezekiel 34:23-24). The Saints in their glorified bodies will be scattered all over the world to assist with the Lord's reign (2 Timothy 2:12 and Revelation 2:26-27). Some will serve as administrators (mayors, governors, presidents, and kings), others will serve as judges, but most will serve as teachers, for the entire educational system of the world will be in the hands of glorified Saints. It will be their responsibility to teach those who are in the flesh about the Lord. There will be no legislators (thank God!), for Jesus Himself will give the law. (See Isaiah 2:1-4; Isaiah 66:19-21; Jeremiah 3:12-18; and Luke 19:11-27.)

These six reasons make it clear that every Christian should be earnestly desiring the return of the Lord. Yet apathy prevails. Why?

Yawning about Jesus

I have found four reasons for the apathy and indifference that characterize the Christian community concerning the return of Jesus: unbelief, ignorance, fear, and carnality.

Unbelief — Regarding unbelief, many professing Christians simply do not believe that Jesus will ever return. Most of these are people with a liberal view of Scripture. They have spiritualized away the meaning of the Second Coming, just as they have spiritualized the virgin birth and the miracles. To them, the Second Coming is nothing more than a fairy tale. In 2 Peter 3:3-4 we are told that the end times will be characterized by scoffers who will mock the Lord's promise to return. The tragedy is that many of these are people who profess to be Christians.

Ignorance — I think most of the Christians who are apathetic about the Lord's return are just ignorant about what will happen when He comes back. As a result, they cannot get excited about an event they know nothing about. I was in this category for thirty years. Although I attended church faithfully, my church ignored the teaching and preaching of God's Prophetic Word. I didn't have the foggiest idea about what would happen when the Lord came back, and the result was apathy about His return. But when I began studying Bible prophecy and learned what is in store for believers when the Lord returns, I started jumping pews and shouting "Maranatha!" I have never been apathetic since that time.

Fear — The apathy of some Christians is due to the fact that they fear the Lord's return. Because of that fear, they try to repress the thought that He might break from the Heavens at any moment. They fear He might return on one of their "bad" days or when they have an "unconfessed sin" on their conscience. These people are caught up in works salvation. They do not understand that they are saved by grace and that "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

Carnality — Finally, there are many carnal Christians who cannot get excited about the coming of the Lord because they are in love with the world. They are walking with one foot in the church and one foot in the country club. They want the Lord to come, but they want Him to come when they are 80 years old and have experienced all that this world has to offer. In other words, they want Him to come, but they don't want Him to mess up their lives.

A Seventh Reason

Let me conclude with a personal note. There is another reason I want Jesus to return. It has to do with the fact that when you love someone, you want to be with them. I love to fellowship with Jesus in worship, in prayer, and in His Word. But these forms of fellowship are no substitute for being with Him. I love Him, and therefore . . .

I want to be with Him.
I want to bask in the presence of His love and
I want to see the glory of God in His face.
I want to kiss His nail-scarred hands and say,
"Thank you!"
Thank you for . . .
dying for me,
forgiving me,
changing me,
guiding me,
comforting me,
and for giving my life meaning and purpose.
And I want to join the Saints and the Heavenly
Host in singing, "Worthy is the Lamb!"