2009-02-22_1157_Church

I’m writing this post in light of the recent Easter bomb attack in Pakistan, which killed around seventy Christians and injured hundreds.

However, this article is not specifically about that tragedy.

It is about the Last Days.

And the Lord’s Prayer.

What do these three things have in common?

A little background.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told us to pray, “Your kingdom come.” So, when Christians pray this part of the prayer, what are they praying for?

When Jesus began His ministry, the first recorded proclamation to come from His lips after His temptation in the wilderness was that the kingdom of heaven had arrived: “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17).1

In Luke 17:21, Jesus said that the kingdom of God was “in the midst” of those who were listening to His teaching. He was referring to Himself.

If the kingdom of heaven arrived with Jesus, why did He tell us to pray that it should come?

The answer is that, yes, it arrived with Jesus, but it is also yet to come. It will not fully arrive in reality until some unknown future time. “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever’” (Revelation 11:15). This announcent was made after many terrible things had happened on the earth.

I do not understand the chronology of the events in the Book of Revelation. However, some definite statements occur in other letters that may help clear things up for us concerning the return of Jesus and the coming of His kingdom.

For instance, Paul wrote that the day of the Lord’s return will not happen until after the man of lawlessness is revealed.

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:1–4).

Then Paul wrote about this lawless man, the son of destruction: “And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:6–8).

There is something or someone who is restraining the appearance of the lawless one, also called the anti-Christ. What or who that restrainer is, is not known, in spite of our speculations.

We also see here that the “rebellion” or “falling away” of the Church must occur before the Lord returns.

This is not good news.

We will continue this subject in the next article, next week.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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