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(Part 158)


November 15, 2015

Today’s readings:
Daniel 12:1-3
Psalm 16:5-11
Hebrews 10:11-18
Mark 13:24-32

There has just been a horrid massacre of innocents by Islamic terrorists in Paris, France. A Russian jetliner was shot down over the Sinai. This is just the start. Islamic radicals have waged war on so-called infidels (even their own Shia fellow Muslims). Some are calling this already the start of World War III. The whole world is in tribulation and we are already in the end times.

The end will be a cosmic event, “in those days after that tribulation” (Mk 13:24a). Could it be by a cataclysmic natural calamity, such as a huge volcanic eruption, triggering massive earthquakes and tsunamis? With tons of volcanic ash spewed out, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light” (Mk 13:24b). Could it be asteroids slamming into the earth, as in “the stars will be falling from the sky (Mk 13:25a)? Could it be global war among the nuclear powers, employing weapons that orbit the earth? With such Star Wars, “the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” (Mk 13:25b). One thing for sure, “it shall be at time unsurpassed in distress since the nations began” (Dn 12:12b).

This is the time of the second coming of our Lord Jesus. “And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory” (Mk 13:26). What an awesome event that would be!

Then comes the final judgment. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, others to reproach and everlasting disgrace.” (Dn 12:2). Some will go to heaven, and others to the eternal fires of hell. Jesus “will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” (Mk 13:27). The angels will be led by “Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people” (Dn 12:1a).

How is it decided who goes to heaven or to hell? Those who go to heaven are those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross, as he “offered one sacrifice for sins” (Heb 10:12a). Jesus then “took his seat forever at the right hand of God” (Heb 10:12b), where he wants to bring us. If we have repented, turned to faith in Jesus, and tried to live righteous lives, then our names are in the book of life. “At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book” (Dn 12:1c). Thus, by his sacrificial death and resurrection, Jesus “made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.” (Heb 10:14).

Further, God entered into covenant with us as His people, and Jesus and the Holy Spirit taught us God’s ways. “The holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying: ‘This is the covenant I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord: ‘I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them upon their minds’” (Heb 10:15-16). If we live out our covenant with God, if we obey God’s laws, if we turn our minds and hearts over to God’s ways, then “he also says: ‘Their sins and their evildoing I will remember no more.’” (Heb 10:17). As such, “where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.” (Heb 10:18).

Now here is an interesting thing. Jesus won salvation for all and would like all to make it to heaven. This is what they deserve, as God’s children and as the Lord’s redeemed. To them, justice­getting what is their due­is making it to heaven. But they first need to accept what Jesus has done for them. For that to happen they need to meet Christ and start to live Christ. For that to happen, others need to share Christ with them. This is the work of evangelization. “And those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” (Dn 12:3b). Evangelizers and missionaries who live God’s ways and follow God’s commission and who thus help bring more souls back to God are destined for eternal life in heaven!

If we accept Jesus and live his way of life, if we live our covenant with God, if we obey God’s commands including the command to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus, then we need never fear the Lord’s second coming, for we know what our destiny already is. “Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure.” (Ps 16:5).

So we do not know when Jesus will return. “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mk 13:32). But we know, if we are faithful and true, what will happen to us when he does return. We know what we need to do. “I keep the Lord always before me; with him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken.” (Ps 16:8).

While we do not know when Jesus will return, he did tell us what the signs at the end will be. So, brethren, read the signs of the times. “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.” (Mk 13:28-29).

Continue to grow in holiness. Continue to give yourself in God’s service, especially the work of evangelization and mission. Continue to be watchful. And rejoice in the return of the Lord. “Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure, for you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor let your devout one see the pit. You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” (Ps 16:9-11).

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