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Missing Jesus Again


 

It seemed like forever since God had spoken to His people.


Four hundred years had passed since the last Scripture had been written, and the spiritual leaders had gotten way off course. Very few of them showed they were worthy of their office.


The religious system they oversaw had become a whitewashed crypt. It looked impressive, but it was hollow and dead. It was mostly a charade to boost their personal sense of importance. They were obsessed with their status, and they loved to be recognized for it. Most of the public was fooled by the whole sham.


These religious leaders had a long leash to practice their act, and they took full advantage of it. They prayed in public to be heard by others. They talked about God without really loving Him, and they paraded their image for all to see. They esteemed certain parts of Scripture, and they generally ignored the rest. They ran the temple system as they wanted to keep the monies flowing. The spiritual health of many suffered because of the hypocrisy at the top.


To reinforce the status quo, these religious leaders wove various traditions and rules into the practices which Scripture had made plain. Eventually, these leaders came to regard their own rituals of ‘religious conduct’ to be every bit as important as God’s laws. Anyone who challenged this was harshly criticized.


Their control over the people was often politically motivated. This showed in the way some of the religious leaders mirrored the attitudes and conduct of the culture around them. They diluted all vestiges of God-centered governance because they secretly supported the ruling class. They preferred to compromise with the political establishment rather than lose their power.


Four hundred years was a long stretch. Although things were changing in a very big way, the religious leaders clung to their blindness and behavior, and they missed the signs. Callous to the times and seasons around them, they ignored the things they should have paid attention to.


It was dynamics like these that defined the conditions of Jesus Christ’s First Coming. Had these religious leaders given proper respect to the prophetic Scriptures, they would have known where and how Jesus Christ would be born, where His ministry would be centered, what He would do – and most importantly - who He would be and why He had come. Had they cared enough about the truth, they would have changed who they were and how they were acting.


But their pride suppressed a righteous response. The religious leaders were not looking for a suffering servant - someone humble, sorrowful, and acquainted with grief.  They were not looking for a spiritual Savior, a light to the Gentiles, a shepherd, one born of a virgin, or even a gentle donkey rider.


It’s hard to fathom, but the religious leaders chose to diminish hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament that detailed every nuance of Jesus’ life and death. It all happened exactly as it had been prophesied to, but these learned men opposed and scorned every detail instead. They should have known who Jesus was, but they weren’t really interested.

 

This wasn’t the Jesus they wanted.


Many of the religious leaders would have rather had a Messiah who would immediately reign. They wanted someone who would deliver on all the promises given to Israel, who would lead a military revolt against their oppressors, and who would establish an earthly kingdom. They wanted a mighty ruler - a warrior king.


But that’s not the way God planned things, and a big part of these religious leaders’ problem was they were stuck in a rear-view perspective. They held the five books of Moses in much higher regard than the prophetic Scriptures. They were focused on looking backwards in time, not forwards. They treasured the past and they ignored the future.


Because they emphasized those parts of Scripture which they were most comfortable with – the parts they perceived as giving latitude to the things they wanted to say, believe, do, and be - they didn’t see the dangers of their choices. They refused to acknowledge their desperate spiritual condition when this was pointed out to them.


They were willfully deceived. Their religious culture was much more important to them than a right relationship with Jesus Christ, and so they eagerly donned their blinders. Their senses had become dull to what was taking place because their hearts were callous to truth.


The Bible shows that most of these religious leaders didn’t recognize the signs, the times, and the seasons. Instead, they protected a system that was out of touch with the full counsel of scripture, out of touch with their Messiah, and out of touch with their own need to repent and get right with God.

 

They pushed back on seeing Jesus Christ properly. They weren’t watching for His coming, and so they missed Him.

 

Fast forward to now.

 

It seems like forever since Jesus Christ first came, was crucified for the sins of the world, and rose again. It’s been about two thousand years.

 

Almost the same time has passed since the last Scripture was written, and once again, the spiritual leaders have gotten way off course. Very few of them show they are worthy of their office.

 

The church today is lukewarm. It looks impressive - but looks deceive. It is mostly naked, pitiful, poor, blind, and wretched. It has devolved into a social charade that boosts its leaders’ personal sense of relevance. Many of them are obsessed with their image and credentials. They get plenty of positive strokes since most people are fooled by a good show, a few platitudes, and some alphabet soup after a name.


Today’s ‘Christian’ leaders have a long leash to practice their act, and they take full advantage of it. They publicly tolerate sin to appear attractive and nonjudgemental to a depraved culture. They talk about God without really loving Him. They esteem certain parts of Scripture and mostly ignore the rest. They run their churches however they choose to keep the monies flowing. The spiritual health of many suffers because of the apostasy at the top.


To preserve the status quo, these ‘Christian leaders’ cling to petty and irrelevant church traditions. As they ignore the examples of early believers, these church leaders elevate big programs, elaborate buildings, bloated budgets, surface worship,’ and ear-tickling sermonettes instead. Many of them behave as though the constructs of modern ‘Christian culture ’ are on par with God’s Word. Anyone who disagrees with their views and methods is unceremoniously maligned.


Their control over the people is often politically motivated. This is clear in the way many church leaders support the liberal views and woke trends of the culture around them. They avoid pointing their congregants to sound principles of God-centered governance because their minds have conformed too much to godless agendas. They prefer to hold a wet finger in the air, to promote socially acceptable themes, to enforce patently deceptive mandates, and to compromise with the political establishment rather than lose their power and position.


Two thousand years is a long stretch. Although things are about to change in a very big way, many church leaders today rigorously defend their blind spots. They persist in clinging to their tepid ways, and most of them are anything but awake and alert. Callous to the rapidly changing times and seasons around them, they ignore the very things they should be paying most attention to.


These dynamics define what is happening now as we stand upon the threshold of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. If these church leaders repented, humbled themselves, and gave proper respect to the prophetic Scriptures, they would quickly recognize their own condition - and the signs.


If they responsibly taught the full counsel of God’s Word, they would know how Jesus Christ will return. They would know where His kingdom will be centered, what He will do when He returns – and most importantly, who He will be the second time around. If they cared about the truth, they would promptly change who they are and how they act.


But their pride is suppressing a righteous response. With few exceptions, church leaders today are not looking for an omnipotent ruler with an iron scepter - one who will show righteous justice. They’ve not adequately comprehended a King of Kings and Lord of Lords who will dash the nations to pieces, who will deliver on all the promises given to Israel, and who will lead military campaigns against rebels. Very few church leaders know Jesus will harshly judge those who treat the Jews poorly and who support a two-state solution. Even fewer grasp that Jesus will return in fury as a warrior king on a war horse – that He will slay his enemies and become soaked with their blood.


It’s hard to fathom, but most church leaders today deliberately choose to diminish a huge record of prophecies that detail every nuance of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. Over 1500 of the prophecies in the Bible are devoted to Christ’s Second Coming. For every prophecy in the Old Testament about Jesus’ First Coming, there are eight about His Second Coming. Jesus Christ’s return also comprises one of every five verses in the New Testament.

 

Frankly, there’s no excuse for this apostasy – for this willful departure from truth. The church leaders of today might be more irresponsible than the religious leaders of yesterday.

 

It’s all going to happen exactly as it’s prophesied to, but many of today’s ‘learned’ church leaders mock and scoff at these prophetic details instead. They refuse to endure sound doctrine and they’ve conditioned their followers to respond the same way. While they’re accountable to teach about Jesus’ return, they aren’t really interested.

 

It’s not the Jesus they want.


Truth be told, most church leaders today much prefer to focus on Jesus Christ as a suffering servant - someone humble, sorrowful, and acquainted with grief. They really like the baby in a manger thing, that donkey ride, all those palm branches, and how He fed a huge hungry crowd and washed a couple dozen dirty feet. They thrill in how Jesus ate with sinners rather than judging their sin. “It shows He loves us, and He accepts us just as we are,” they say.


But this misses the bigger picture that God has planned, and a major part of these church leaders’ problem is they are stuck in a rear-view perspective. They hold certain parts of the New Testament in much higher regard than the Old Testament or any prophetic passages. They are focused on looking backwards, not forwards. They like the past Jesus, and they ignore the future Jesus.


As they swim endless laps in those parts of Scripture they are most comfortable – the parts they feel give latitude to things they want to say, believe, do, and be - they don’t perceive the dangers of their choices. They refuse to see their desperate spiritual condition when this is pointed out to them.


They are deliberately deluded. Their trappings of ‘Christian culture’ have become much more important to them than a right relationship with God. They celebrate their blindness and nakedness because they’re obsessed with looking good in the world’s eyes.


They routinely claim, “It’s all about Jesus,” but they couldn’t be more wrong. The Bible says, instead, that Jesus is knocking at their door and trying to get in. Their senses have become dull to their dire condition and to what is taking place because their hearts are callous to truth.


The Bible warns that many of these ‘Christian’ leaders won't recognize the signs and seasons. It states that they will revel in a system that is out of touch with the full counsel of God’s Word, out of touch with the complete person and work of Jesus Christ, and out of touch with their own need to repent and get right with God.

 

Because they push back on seeing Jesus Christ properly, because they only want a part of Him and not all of Him, and because they refuse to give attention to the myriad signs of His coming, they are in grave danger of missing Him when He returns. It’s happened before.

 

The parallels between the past and the present are real – and alarming. In both cases, those most responsible for the spiritual welfare of others willfully fail to understand their own calamity and blindness (Matt. 15:14; Rev. 3:17-18, Et al.). Any accountability they may receive is often regarded as a personal threat. In both cases, their obstinate “I do not need a thing” posture (Rev. 3:17) pushes back against the obvious fact they need a reality check.

 

So, what are we to do?

 

Do we stick our heads in the sand and pretend the gravity of this problem does not exist?  Do we spar in constant discord with shallow and obstinate leaders who refuse to submit to and teach the full counsel of God’s Word? Do we resign ourselves to the conclusion that the problem is so big and pervasive that there’s nothing we can do?  

 

Of course not. People make their own choices, and they will face the consequences of them (Matt. 7:21-23; Rev. 20:12-13; Et al.)  But that doesn’t mean we should hitch our wagon to their folly.

 

The wise response is to take personal responsibility for spiritual growth. The importance of this cannot be overstated. In 2 Tim. 2:15, the instruction is given to personally “study” God’s Word. It’s a command, not an option. Moreover, properly studying the Scriptures qualifies for God’s approval, and as noted with the Bereans (Acts 17:11), it is also a distinction of nobility. Applying what is learned in this discipline results in blessing (James 1:25).

 

Taking personal responsibility for understanding the times and seasons holds significant benefit. It enables one to properly perceive rapidly unfolding prophetic events - the understanding of which eludes all who have subordinated Biblical truth to their own ego, agenda, and position. It is this sort of spiritual discipline which keeps one eagerly watching and waiting for the return of Jesus Christ.

 

Two examples of this righteous personal discipline are found when we look back once more to the time of Jesus Christ’s first coming. There, we find two little-known figures which are presented in Luke 2:25-38: Simeon and Anna.

 

While Anna receives the distinction of being a ‘prophetess,’ and Simeon is noted to be ‘righteous and devout,’ neither appears to have had any formal role with the religious leadership of that time. In other words, they were laypeople – probably ordinary folks like most of us.

 

But both recognized Jesus Christ as Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. In other words, they clearly grasped what the learned religious leaders failed to understand. Why? What can we learn from Simeon and Anna’s example?

 

First, Simeon and Anna knew the Scriptures for themselves. Specifically, they knew and understood God’s prophetic Word. The Bible says they were both actively waiting for the ‘consolation of Israel,’ and the ‘redemption of Jerusalem.’ These phrases refer directly to Jesus Christ. Simeon and Anna knew He was coming because this promise had been repeated in Scripture. Because they personally studied and knew God’s Word, they knew their Savior was due any moment, and they were watching for Him. They didn’t miss Him.

 

Second, they both maintained an expectant anticipation. The Bible says of Simeon: “This man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Luke 2:25). It says of Anna: “And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of the child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38).

 

So, Simeon was faithfully waiting for Jesus’ arrival, and Anna was faithfully teaching about Jesus’ arrival. God blessed both for their faithful endurance in one direction. Both Simeon and Anna were alert, prayerful, and ready. They persevered in righteous and expectant anticipation.

 

And lastly, both Simeon and Anna never gave up on believing in God’s promises. Each of them knew what God had said, and they believed it. They demonstrated great faith in God’s Word. Each of them embraced the truth even when few around them were doing the same.

 

Satan’s tactics always cause us to wonder, fear, and doubt. It’s been that way since the beginning when the serpent asked Eve, “Did God really say…?” (Gen. 3:1). Simeon and Anna were unmoved by the currents of their time, and unfazed by the vacuous and self-absorbed religious leadership. They remained steadfast in their personal patience and endurance.

 

The Bible shows that many people missed Jesus the first time. It also says many will miss Him the second time. It’s vital that we connect the dots between the two eras and avoid making the same mistakes.

 

While the dysfunctions of the modern church contribute greatly to this dilemma, faithful hearts will continue to study God’s Word and eagerly anticipate Jesus Christ’s return.


You can reach Steve at

 

 

 

 

 

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Such a great article comparing the first appearance of the Messiah and the coming Rapture. Great things to think about and roll around in my brain!LOL I, as well as many others, live among those 'scoffers' that are too busy doing what they believe is the main thing while missing all the prophecies being fulfilled all around us. But the sad thing is most are not asking the questions or seeking the answers or even aware of the signs. This article encourages me to speak of these things. Praying for opportunities and the readiness of spirit to rise to the occasion. On another note the eclipse happened yesterday and it remains to be seen if this was prophetic or not…

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Thank you for this wonderful article! It sure underlines the importance of understanding the full counsel of God’s Word. No doubt, even in OT days, the influence and role the Holy Spirit played in the creation of each author’s addition to what would become the Bible. Each of these authors held a strong faith used by the Holy Spirit to record God’s true account of His redemptive narrative. Conversely, the Jewish leadership operated, befitting their motives, under the checklist of the law. Makes you ponder if Jesus would have returned at that time if the Jewish leadership were more Berean in their knowledge and understanding of scripture?


Today’s church really has no excuse for its actions as we’ve been given…

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What a Great spot on discernment of where the Church is today not all but probably 98%. You mention your excitement he is soon returning to professing Christians and they look at you with a dazed look not comprehending what you mean or like a Lady we know who said she sure hoped he wasn't coming soon she had so much she wanted to do in this world, anyway hope you send in more articles this one was Wonderful

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Totally excellent article, Steve. Your description of the church today really spoke to me. I've had guilt for quite a number of years that we do not have a church. Our kids were raised in Assemblies of God. But we moved to a remote area and never found a church there.

As you pointed out, most churches today are not talking about the season, the prophecies, the 2nd advent. They are not encouraging their congregations to watch and wait while keeping their lamps trimmed. But my household is doing these things. And we worry that church attendance will negatively affect our excitement and anticipation.


I know it was not your intention to discourage fellowship. It's not mine either. I totall…

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darktimber007
darktimber007
4月02日
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I have nothing to add to this excellent perspective. It is apropos to our times. I've been trying to figure out a way to say it. But this writer has done the job for me. Yes, people missed Jesus 2000 years ago. They are still missing him today. But then, "Enter ye in at the strait (stenos in the original Greek) gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow (thlibo)is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7:13,14.

"Stenos" in the original Greek means narrow.

"Thlibo" in the original Greek also…


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