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Booklet Medium
Author
Mark Finley
Publisher
Middle East Publishers
Page Count
20
Audience
Christian
Format (open)
18 x 14 cm
Format (closed)
9 x 14 cm
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4x1
Interior Colors
1x1
Cover Paper
C.Brilliant 200 g/m2
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Wood Free 80 g/m2
Binding
Saddle Stitch

Cover


Hope for Troubled Times

Earth’s Final Climax

Mark Finley

Copyright


Copyright © 2020 Middle East Publishers, Beirut, Lebanon

Hope for Troubled Times Series

6) Earth’s Final Climax

Authored by Mark A. Finley

Manuscript edited by GC Publishing Department

Translation by Adventist Commons

Cover and Layout Design by Adventist Commons

Cover Image by GC Publishing Department

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Text


As the world races through the twenty-first century, have you ever considered what our greatest need is? What do men and women living in the twenty-first century need most? If you were starving, it might be food. If you were homeless, it might be a place to live. If disease ravaged your body, it might be medicine. If you were lonely and discouraged, it might be love. Is there one thing more than any other that could take you through any difficulty you might face in life? Is there one thing that can make the human spirit soar? All over the world people are desperately looking for hope. Someone has well said, “What oxygen is to the lungs, hope is to the human spirit.”

Hope buoys up our spirits. It lifts our vision from what is to what will be. It is a candle in the darkness. It provides encouragement for the future. Hope is one thing that lifts the human spirit and keeps us going amid the challenges we face. What is hope? How can we define it? Hope is that intangible quality that looks beyond life’s difficulties to a better tomorrow. It leads us to live purposeful lives today because we know a new day is coming. It anticipates the best in life, even when we are facing the worst in life. It looks beyond what is to what will be. It keeps believing, trusting, anticipating, and expecting that out of today’s darkness, tomorrow’s light will shine more brightly.

The Roman statesmen Pliny the Elder once said, “Hope is the pillar that holds up the world.” He was right. Without hope, this world is on a collision course to disaster. Without hope, the foundations of society collapse. Without hope, we live our lives in silent despair.

Recently I read a story that was published in July 1991 in a little inspirational booklet titled Bits and Pieces. The story of a little boy who had been hospitalized after being badly burned illustrates the power of hope. The school system in a large city developed a program to help children keep up with their schoolwork if they needed to spend extensive time in the hospital. One of the special education teachers who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a child. She took down the child’s name and room number and talked briefly with the child’s regular class teacher. “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now,” the regular teacher said, “and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind.”

The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” When she left, she felt she had not accomplished very much at all.

But the next day a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” The teacher felt she must have done something wrong, and began to apologize. “No, no,” said the nurse. “You don’t know what I mean. We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.”

Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization. He expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?” What this badly burned child needed more than anything else was hope. Hope powerfully motivates us to look for the day after tomorrow. It paints the future in bright colors rather than dark shadows.

Rediscovering Hope

In a world that seems out of control, how can we rediscover hope? In a world that seems so uncertain, how can we hope again? In a world devastated by tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, pestilences, and pandemics, is there something certain we can base our hope on? For example, the recent coronavirus pandemic has had catastrophic consequences. People all over the world have been infected. Tens of thousands have died. The world economy has been shattered. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed. Our lives have been changed forever. Where can we find hope? How can we look beyond our present trials to a brighter future the day after tomorrow?

Millions have found hope, assurance, and peace in a personal knowledge of and relationship with God through studying His Word. They have discovered a God who loves them more than they imagined and who strengthens them to face the challenges of today and the trials of tomorrow with incredible courage. He is the God of hope.

In a time of desperation the psalmist David cried out, “For You are my hope, O Lord God” (Psalm 71:5, NKJV). Hope began for David where it begins for all of us. It began with the belief that there was a God in heaven who was bigger that his problems, greater than his difficulties, and larger than any challenge he might face. Without a knowledge of a God who cares for us, understands our pain, and heals our hurts, and who will one day defeat all the powers of hell and usher in a new world, we are left without hope to face life’s challenges alone. It is this sense of God’s presence, unconditional love, and constant care that fills our hearts with hope.

The Bible: The Book of Hope

The Bible is a book filled with hope. Its stories are about people like you and me. Sometimes they were strong and conquered mightily for God. At other times they were weak and failed miserably, but in each of these instances God was there to give them hope to face tomorrow. The word “hope” is used more than 125 times in the Bible. The apostle Paul, who faced so many challenging situations, used it more than 40 times. He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and imprisoned, yet he was filled with hope. Writing to his friends living in Rome, he declared, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). As we place our hope in a God who is bigger than any problem we ever face, our hearts are filled with “joy and peace in believing.” The confidence that there is a God who loves us beyond what we can ever understand fills us with hope. There is never a circumstance that we face in life that God is not prepared to handle.

Hope That Does Not Disappoint

In Christ there is hope. There is never a challenge we find ourselves facing when there is not hope in Christ. There is an old hymn that says, “Just when I need Him, Jesus is near ... just when I need Him most.” This Christ, who has created us and cares for us, has redeemed us. We are twice His. When the beings He perfectly created rebelled against His will in Eden’s garden, Love provided a way. There was hope for Adam’s race. Jesus is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Heaven’s plan of salvation echoed throughout the entire universe. God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, left heaven and came to this rebel planet to reveal God’s love to unnumbered worlds and satisfy the demands of justice. Where Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. In His life and death, He revealed the Father’s love. He met the demands of the law and resisted Satan’s most vicious temptations. He lived the perfect life we should have lived, and died the death we should have died. Although “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). His grace, forgiveness, and mercy flow from His heart of infinite love. Billy Graham put it well when he said, “God’s mercy and grace give me hope—for myself, and for our world.” As the song says: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

There is hope in Christ—hope that our sins are not too great to be forgiven, hope that our temptations are not too great to be overcome, hope that our challenges are not too great to be conquered, and hope that our tomorrows will be much better than today. Still Christ offers us more—much more—than the assurance that He is with us today. The hope that Christ offers is a hope that looks beyond this world to the next. It is the hope of His soon return. The apostle Paul beautifully blends Christ’s first coming to earth to redeem us with His second coming to take us home. In an encouraging letter to his young friend Titus, the apostle declares that we are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13, 14). Jesus came once to reveal the Father’s love and to earn the legal right to redeem us. He is coming a second time to claim His purchased possession.

Hope Beyond Tomorrow

Murdo Ewen MacDonald, a prisoner of war in Germany and chaplain to American soldiers, explained how he learned of the Normandy invasion. Early on D-Day he was awakened and told that a Scotsman in the British prisoner-of-war camp wanted to see him. MacDonald ran to the barbed wire that separated the two camps. The Scot, who was in touch with the BBC by underground radio, spoke two words in Gaelic, meaning “They have come!” MacDonald ran back to the American camp and spread the news: “They have come! They have come!” And everyone knew the Allied troops had landed at Normandy. The reaction was incredible. Men jumped and shouted, hugged each other, even rolled on the ground. Outwardly they were still captives, but inwardly they were free. That’s the hope that changes our lives. One day we too will be delivered from this prison camp of sin and suffering. We will cry out, “He has come, He has come!” The Bible is filled with the best hope of all—the hope of our Lord’s return. In more than 1,500 places the Bible speaks about the return of Christ. It is emphasized once in every 25 verses in the New Testament and for every prophecy about the first coming of Christ in the Old Testament, there are eight highlighting the second coming of Christ or the return of Christ to this world in glory. Here are just a few examples of the hopeful promises throughout the Bible of Christ’s soon return.

Bible Predictions of Christ’s Return

The first prediction of the return of Christ to this world is given by Enoch. There is no book of Enoch in the Bible, but in the New Testament the small book of Jude, just before Revelation, quotes Enoch. Enoch lived just before the great worldwide Flood. God took this righteous man to heaven bodily when he was 365 years old. Don’t let Enoch’s age surprise you, because before the Flood many biblical characters lived for more than 700 years, and some, including Adam and Methuselah, lived for more than 900 years. Adam was created by God with enormous vital force and was designed to live forever, so Enoch’s 365 years was far less than average for that time. Enoch is a type of those who will ascend to heaven in the sky when Jesus comes. Here is what the Bible says about Enoch’s prediction of the coming of Christ.

“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints’ ” (Jude 14). More than 3,000 years before the first coming of Jesus, Enoch predicted that the Messiah would come not only as the suffering servant to die for our sins, but also as the conquering king who would come to deliver us from this sinful world and vanquish all evil.

The psalmist David adds his testimony by declaring, “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all around Him” (Psalm 50:3).

The prophet Isaiah encourages us all to have hope. There is coming a day when Christ will return, and the forces of hell that cause so much disaster in our world will be defeated forever. In Isaiah 35 the prophet states, “Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you’ ” (verse 4). The biblical prophets lived in hope, not despair. They looked beyond the challenges, trials, and difficulties they faced in their lives to a brand-new tomorrow. With prophetic insight and divine eyesight their view penetrated the future. They had absolute confidence that Christ would return, and that sin, suffering, heartache, sorrow, disease, and death would be no more.

Jesus’ Own Promise

Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He assured His followers, “I will come again”. The fact that Jesus is coming to the world a second time is as certain as the reality that He lived on this earth 2,000 years ago. There is hope on the way. The promise of Christ’s return rings with reassurance. The Savior encouraged His disciples with this promise: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).

Christ’s comforting words are like a promissory note: Jesus said He would return—and we can bank on it! The second coming of Christ is not based on idle speculation. It is not based on a vain wish or human philosophy. It is based on the unchangeable, reliable, certain promises of God’s Word. The second coming of Christ reveals the tremendous truth that all of history is moving toward one glorious climax. We have a final destiny. Life is going somewhere, and we are to meet Someone who has the ultimate answer to all of life’s problems—and without this conviction, there is little left to live for.

Jesus’ words come echoing down the centuries: “Let not your heart be troubled.” Stop worrying. There is no need to be anxious. This world is not all there is. Cling to My promise. Trust My word. “You believe in God, believe also in Me. ...I go to prepare a place for you. And ...I will come again.” The promise of Christ’s soon return lifts our spirits. It encourages our hearts. It brightens our days. It illumines our nights. It makes every mountain we climb easier.

Notice a few expressions in this passage. They are going to encourage your heart. Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions”. The word “mansions” is better translated “abodes,” “dwelling places,” or “residences”. Here is what Jesus is saying: “There is plenty of room in My eternal kingdom. There is no shortage of space. There is room for you.”

The apostle John echoes these words in the Bible’s last book, in Revelation 7:9: “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues.” Heaven has enough room for all. The sacrifice of Christ is enough for all. The cross of Calvary provides redemption for all who will receive it. Jesus is assuring His disciples that there is plenty of room in heaven for each one of them and that He will come back to take them to Himself. What does it mean that Jesus is preparing a place for us? It certainly does not mean that He is a construction foreman directing the angels how to build our heavenly mansions. Jesus ascends to heaven and, in the presence of the Father, receives the assurance that His sacrifice is accepted. The gates of heaven are opened for all humankind.

In light of the great controversy between good and evil in the universe, Jesus assures us that, through His grace and because of His death on the cross, we can live eternally with Him. He assures us that He will be our advocate, our defense attorney, in heaven’s final judgment. Daniel 7 describes this cosmic judgment. There are 10,000 times 10,000 heavenly beings that gather around God’s throne. Heaven’s eternal records are open to the universe. With all-absorbing interest the entire universe watches. The destinies of the entire human race are now to be settled. Men and women will be eternally saved or eternally lost. Jesus steps forth in the judgment and declares that all those who by genuine faith have accepted His sacrifice and are transformed by His grace have both their title and fitness for heaven. The prophet Daniel triumphantly declares that “judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:22). We are filled with hope because the One who died for us lives for us. Our joy overflows because the One who died for us and lives for us is coming again for us.

The Disciples Died Triumphantly in Hope

Think of the deaths of the disciples. It is commonly believed that each of them suffered a martyr’s death, except John, but this is what we know for sure.

James was beheaded by Herod. Filled with hope, he wrote, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7). Martyrdom did not quench his spirit or destroy his hope.

Peter was crucified upside down, likely in A.D. 66 by Nero’s Roman guard. He died in hope. Here are his words: “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).

The apostle Paul spent years in a damp Roman dungeon and then was likely beheaded about the same time as Peter was martyred by Nero in A.D. 66. Yet filled with hope and assurance, he looked beyond what was to what will be. He believed that Christ had conquered the tomb and that one day Jesus would return as He had promised, to deliver him from the stranglehold of death. This courageous disciple of Christ clung to the promises of God’s Word. He believed that “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 shall 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” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17). The apostle Paul did not die a defeated, broken man. He was buoyed up by the promise of Christ’s return, and died in hope.

Consider the apostle John. He was burned in a cauldron of boiling oil and as an old man in his 90s exiled to the island of Patmos by the emperor Domitian. During his exile on this lonely isle, Jesus Christ gave John a vision of His return. He wrote about that vision in the Bible’s last book, Revelation. John’s words are filled with hope: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7). Jesus’ return to this world will certainly not be a secret event. Every eye will see Jesus when He returns. The eyes of the young, and the eyes of the old. The eyes of the educated, and the eyes of the uneducated; the eyes of the rich, and the eyes of the poor. People from all cultures, nationalities, languages, groups, and countries will see Him come.

Both the first chapter of Revelation and the last chapter ring with the certainty of Christ’s return. On the last page of the Bible—in the last chapter of the last book—Jesus promises further: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12).

Each one of the disciples, except John, died a martyr’s death, yet they were triumphant. They were faithful in the face of incredibly challenging circumstances. They were filled with an inner peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). They clung to Christ’s Word. They believed Christ’s promise: “I will come again!” The words of the angels at Christ’s ascension rang in their ears. “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men [angels] stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’ ” (Acts 1:9-11).

Don’t miss the fact that on this occasion angels, as heavenly messengers from God, confirmed Christ’s promise and testified to its literal truthfulness: “This same Jesus” was not a ghostly spirit, but had “flesh and bones,” to use Jesus’ own words (Luke 24:39). He “will so come in like manner” as He ascended to heaven. Jesus’ ascension to heaven was a real, literal event. His return will again be a very real, literal event. Soon He is coming again to take us home.

Every challenge you face, every difficulty you experience, every trial you meet, will soon be over. Cling to the promise of Jesus’ soon return, let your heart soar with hope, and let peace flood your soul. The Bible is a book of hope, because there is a day after the day after tomorrow. There is something beyond this life. We have this hope that burns within our hearts—the hope of the coming of our Lord. And that hope is enough to see us through all of life’s challenges.

“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30, 31).

The Bible constantly points us to a better tomorrow. It holds out the promise that one day Jesus Christ will return. Evil will be destroyed. Righteousness will reign forever. Sin, sickness, and suffering will be no more. Disease, disaster, and death will be vanquished. Wickedness, war, and worry will vanish away. The apostle Paul calls this glorious event “the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). What a hope! Jesus Christ will return. Death will not have the last word; Jesus will. One day soon our loved ones who have died believing in and living for Christ will be resurrected from their graves to see Him face to face. One day soon the hopes of all the ages will be realized. Jesus Christ will return, and we who are alive to experience this spectacular, glorious event will be caught up to meet Him in the air. We will travel with Him on the most amazing space journey ever to the most amazing place in the universe and live with Him throughout all eternity.

We need not worry about the future. We do not have to let fear grip our hearts and strangle our joy. Christ has created us. Christ has redeemed us. Christ cares for us. Christ sustains us, and Christ is coming again to take us home. Now, that is something to be hopeful about.

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In a world that seems out of control, how can we rediscover hope? Where can we find hope? We need not worry about the future. Read more and discover a hope that can carry you through to eternity.

6. Earth’s Final Climax

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