JESUS AND THE FUTURE
"Heaven and earth will pass away,
but My words will not pass away."
There's a poignant old saying, "The future's not
what it used to be."
When we look around today, we may be
tempted, now more than ever, to agree with this analysis
of the world situation. The world today is a more
dangerous place than it's ever been. Uncertainty
abounds. We see and hear things on television that we
never thought we would live to see. The future often
But not Jesus. The future is no problem for Him.
He talked about the future with confidence, assurance,
and hope. And not just in some nebulous, general,
vague fashion. Jesus gave meticulous, detailed, specific
prophecies concerning events in the distant future.
Events that are still future in
ourday. Yet Jesus gazed
into that distant future with piercing perception and
spoke of events that were then more than two thousand
But before we jump into the details, let's get a little
more background from the four Gospels on Jesus' relationship
to the future.
Three Truths About Jesus
and the Future
Truth #1: Jesus talked a great deal about the future.
It's common nowadays to hear people say something
like, "I don't worry about the end times or Bible
prophecy-I just live each day for Jesus and leave all
that up to Him. No one knows what's going to happen
Maybe you've said something like that yourself-perhaps
But nothing could be further from the biblical
truth. Jesus wants His followers to know what's coming.
That's why He spent such a great deal of time talking
about the future. In fact, He may have talked about
the future more than any person who ever lived. Jesus
wasn't preoccupied with it in an unbalanced way, but
didemphasize its importance on many occasions.
Here's a brief list of some of Jesus' more familiar
teachings concerning the future.
The Scripture The Subject
Matthew 13:24-30, Final Judgment
Matthew 20:1-16 Rewards
Matthew 8:11-12; 22:1-4 Christ's Kingdom
Matthew 24-25 Signs of His Coming
(see also Mark 13 and Luke 21)
Luke 12:35-38 Staying Ready for
Luke 16:19-31 The Afterlife
Luke 17:22-37 onditions on Earth
at His Coming
Luke 19:11-17 Accountability
It's crystal clear from His many discussions,
debates, and discourses that Jesus wants His followers
to know what's coming. In Matthew 24:25, Jesus said,
"Behold, I have told you in advance." Again in Mark
13:23, He said, "But take heed; behold, I have told
you everything in advance."
Don't ever let anyone tell you that Jesus didn't
bother with the future.
Truth #2: Jesus sharply criticized people for not
knowing about the future.
In Matthew 16:1-3, Jesus rebuked the self-righteous
Pharisees for their blindness to the signs of the times.
Jesus was performing signs all around them that fulfilled
Old Testament prophecies and proved that He was the
The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing
[Jesus], they asked Him to show them a sign
from heaven. But He answered and said to
them, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be
fair weather, for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'There will be a storm today, for the sky is
red and threatening.' Do you know how to discern
the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern
the signs of the times?" (Matthew 16:1-3)
At Jesus' first coming, the nation of Israel as a
whole was blind to the many signs all around them
that Messiah had come. The Old Testament had
clearly prophesied many things concerning Messiah's
person and works. Yet, the people didn't put it all
together. Why? Because many of them were ignorant
of the prophetic word, or just didn't take the time and
effort to really understand what it was saying.
People back then aren't a whole lot different from
most people today. They wouldn't think of missing the
evening weather on the news, but they totally neglect
the Word and what it says about the signs of the times.
The people in Jesus' day missed the clear signs of His
first coming. Likewise, many today are oblivious of
the signs of His second coming.
What's clear is that Jesus expects us to discern the
signs of the times
wheneverwe live, and understand
what time it is in terms of what matters most.
Let us consider how to stimulate one another to
love and good deeds, not forsaking our own
assembling together, as is the habit of some, but
encouraging one another; and all the more, as you
see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Obviously, we have to be looking for Christ's coming
to carry out this exhortation. After all, how in the
world can we ever hope to "see the day drawing near"
if we aren't even looking for it, or have no idea what
we are looking for?
Of course, we should never engage in wild speculation
or set dates for Christ's coming. But we should
do the best we can to understand the signs of the
times. To determine as best we can the season-the
day and hour-in which we live. Jesus calls us to
investigate His prophecies and to know our times.
Truth #3: Jesus always talked about the future to
change the way we live in the present.
Jesus was no pie-in-the-sky prophet. He always related
future events to the present. We must never forget this
important truth. Jesus' teaching on the future always
placed present demands upon His hearers. If we study
Jesus' teaching about earth's final days just to have our
imaginations tantalized, to fill our minds with time
charts, or to satisfy our curiosity, we have completely
missed His intent.
Jesus' pronouncements about the future always
carry specific application for the here and now.
Three Reasons Why We
Can Trust Jesus' Forecast
of the Future
Clearly, Jesus talked a lot about the future. About His
second coming. About man's eternal destiny. About
earth's final days. But there have been many prophets
professing to know the future.
Edward Cayce (known as the "Sleeping Prophet")
Jeane Dixon (the self-proclaimed modern
Why should we listen to Jesus? What makes His
voice rise above all the rest? There are three key things
that make Jesus utterly unique.
Reason #1: His Person
Very simply, Jesus is God. Yes, He's also fully man. But
He is God.
As God and man in one person, Jesus has one foot
in eternity, one foot in time and space. He knows the
beginning from the end. But He also walked on this
earth and revealed to us what is coming for this planet.
If you are ever tempted to doubt whether Jesus
knows the future, just stop and think about how Jesus
is described in the book of Revelation.
The Names and Titles of Christ in Revelation
1. Jesus Christ (1:1)
2. Faithful Witness (1:5)
3. Firstborn of the Dead (1:5)
4. Ruler of the Kings of the Earth (1:5)
5. Alpha and Omega (1:8)
6. The One Who Is and Who Was and Who Is to
7. The Almighty (1:8)
8. Son of Man (1:13)
9. The First and the Last (1:17; 2:8)
10. The Living One (2:8)
11. The One Who Holds the Seven Stars in His Right
12. The One Who Walks Among the Seven Golden
13. The One Who Has the Sharp Two-Edged Sword
14. The Son of God (2:18)
15. The One Who Has Eyes like a Flame of Fire
16. The One Whose Feet Are like Burnished Bronze
17. The One Who Has the Seven Spirits of God and
the Seven Stars (3:1)
18. He Who Is Holy, Who Is True (3:7)
19. The One Who Has the Key of David (3:7)
20. The Amen (3:14)
21. The Faithful and True Witness (3:14)
22. The Beginning of the Creation of God (3:14)
23. The Lion from the Tribe of Judah (5:5)
24. The Root of David (5:5)
25. The Lamb (5:6)
26. O Lord, Holy and True (6:10)
27. Their Lord (11:8)
28. A Son, a Male Child, Who Is to Rule All the
Nations with a Rod of Iron(12:5)
29. Her Child (12:5)
30. O Lord God, the Almighty (15:3)
31. King of the Nations (15:3)
32. Faithful and True (19:11)
33. The Word of God (19:13)
34. King of Kings, and Lord of Lords (19:16)
35. The Bright Morning Star (22:16)
The Bible also makes it absolutely clear that only
God knows the future.
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his
Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: "I am the first
and I am the last, and there is no God besides
Me. Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and
declare it; yes, let him recount it to Me in order, from the time that I established the ancient
nation. And let them declare to them the things
that are coming and the events that are going to
take place. Do not tremble and do not be
afraid; have I not long since announced it to
you and declared it? And you are My witnesses.
Is there any God besides Me, or is there any
other Rock? I know of none." (Isaiah 44:6-8)
"Remember this, and be assured; recall it to
mind, you transgressors. Remember the former
things long past, for I am God, and there
is no other; I am God, and there is no one like
Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not
been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.'"
In addition, since Jesus is God we know that He
cannot lie. There is absolutely no falsehood in Him.
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son
of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and
will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)
In the hope of eternal life, which God, who
cannot lie, promised long ages ago. (Titus 1:2)
Jesus knows the future, and everything He says
about it is totally trustworthy!
Reason #2: His Prophecies
During His earthly ministry, Jesus was recognized over
and over again as a prophet (Matthew 21:11; Mark
6:15; Luke 7:16; John 4:19). Jesus knew things and
said things that astonished His listeners. But how can
we be sure that His prophecies concerning the future
will come true?
The only surefire way is to look at His track record.
Consider just a few of the prophecies that Jesus gave
while He was on earth that have already been fulfilled:
1. Jesus predicted the manner of His death (Matthew
2. Jesus predicted the exact day of His death
3. Jesus predicted Judas's betrayal (Matthew 26:20-25).
4. Jesus predicted Peter's denial (Matthew 26:33-34).
5. Jesus predicted the apostles' desertion of Him
6. Jesus predicted His resurrection (Matthew 12:40; 16:21; 17:9).
7. Jesus predicted the exact day of His resurrection
(Matthew 12:40; 16:21; 20:19).
8. Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem
Jesus was 100 percent accurate, 100 percent of the
time! Quite a record. He was the prophet
par excellencethat Moses said would one day come (Deuteronomy
Reason #3: His Passion
We should listen to Jesus not only because of who He
is and what He said, but because of what He did for us.
But God demonstrates His own love toward
us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Jesus is not only the Alpha and the Omega, the
Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the
Lion of the tribe of Judah, and the Word of God, but
He is also the pure, spotless Lamb of God who willingly
laid down His life and purchased our pardon.
Do you know what the number one title for Jesus
is, in the book of Revelation?
Jesus is referred to as the lamb twenty-eight times
in the last book of the Bible. Amid all the conquest,
victory, judgment, and majesty in the book of
Revelation, God never wants us to lose sight of His
lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything in Revelation
is made possible because of the Lamb of God who
takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Surely we can trust the word of the One who
forus, who laid down His life for His
sheep. He would never lead us astray.
So again-why should you and I listen to Jesus
and what He says about earth's final days?
Because He's God in human flesh. He knows
what's coming. He lives in the future. And because
every one of His prophecies that's come to pass so far
was fulfilled exactly as He said it would be,
just as the
remainder will be fulfilled!
But most of all, because He died and rose again for
us and would never lead us astray.
"He Who Has Ears to Hear!"
One of my favorite lines from the lips of Jesus is His
oft-repeated statement, "He who has ears to hear, let
him hear." Jesus is saying, "Look, if you have a set of
ears on your head you'd better use them and listen up
to what I'm about to say." It's a direct challenge to us
to be spiritually sensitive to the words of Jesus. The
responsibility to listen carefully to Him is serious.
As we move into a careful study of Jesus' forecast
for the future, I can't think of a better reminder. Let's
listen carefully and willingly to the mighty Master as
He leads us down the corridors of time to the end of
the age. And be ready to follow His instructions about
how to live while we wait for that day to come.
OF THE END
Other than the book of Revelation, the longest,
most important passage in the New Testament
on end-time prophecy is Matthew 24-25. It's
often referred to as the Olivet Discourse because these
chapters are the record of a great sermon Jesus
preached from the Mount of Olives.
Sometimes this final sermon of Jesus is called the
"mini apocalypse" because it's almost like the
Digestcondensed version of the apocalypse, or book of
Revelation. In this sermon, Jesus distilled the end
times down to their most basic elements.
In His great prophetic sermon in Matthew 24-25,
Jesus gave the basic outline of the events that will
immediately precede His coming. It's Jesus' forecast of
the future. And there is no place in the Bible that gives
a clearer, more concise overview of what's going to
happen during earth's final days.
The Setting of the Sermon
The setting was Jesus' farewell message to His confused
band of disciples.