One of the new words that reflects the times is cancel culture. In cancel culture, persons are thrust out of professional and social circles for a perceived offense. Whatever else a person has said or done that might be good is canceled. Whole numbers of people in culture and time are canceled because of the offense. The Bible warns us that cancel culture will meet Biblical prophecy about the second coming of Christ. The Apostle Peter wrote about it in 2 Peter 3:3-4, “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.'” Isn’t it interesting that one of the very prophecies of the last days is that for most of the church, the teaching of the Second Coming is cancelled?
Cancel End Time teaching has long been at work with the Second Coming of Jesus. Some have canceled Israel from the future and the Second Coming of Christ. They say all the promises to Israel were either fulfilled, conditional, or will be fulfilled through the church. The miraculous establishment of the nation of Israel in our day just increases their deniability of it having any Biblical significance. Cancel End Time teaching decidedly canceled of the whole book of Revelation. Some say it was all fulfilled in the First Century, despite Revelation ending with the Lord Jesus Christ bringing His kingdom to earth for a thousand years. Some of the Cancel End Time teaching sees Revelation as a kind of guide for how Christians over the centuries should deal with evil empires. The one book of the Bible that warns not to add a word or take away a word (Revelation 22:18-19) is the book from which Cancel End Time teaching removes the meaning of all of the words.
One of the places cancel culture uses to cancel the teaching on the Second Coming of Christ and signs of His coming is Acts 1:7. In that verse, Jesus says to His Apostles on Mt Olives, as He is ready to ascend to heaven and take the position of all authority, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” So there it is, they say. Jesus has canceled all teaching and knowledge of the season of the Second Coming. Despite the fact that vast amounts of the Bible address it for the church, they say, it is canceled. Well let’s examine what Jesus said about this subject. Was He indeed canceling teaching and understanding of the season and time of His Second Coming? If this is the only time Jesus or the Bible addressed the subject there would be little or no argument.
Those who scoff at End Time teaching love to use this verse. Some have said every generation of the church thought they were the last generation. Now that is a generalization without any truth, as for vast centuries the church ignored end time teaching. There have been a few times this has happened, but we will see there was one clear and unmistakable sign that has never been true until 1980. We also know every doctrine of the New Testament both major and minor has been at some times in church history mistaught and/or misapplied. If we avoided teaching in the Bible because it has been mistaught or misapplied by others, we would have nothing left.
But what about Jesus’ statement to the twelve that they are not to know the times or the seasons? Was that in the context of the moment for the Apostles as the Church Age was just starting, or is it authoritative for all ages of the church? Jesus also told them to wait in Jerusalem for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Is that authoritative for the church as well? Should we all go to Jerusalem and wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon us? If the first part of the statement is authoritative, why not the second part? How do we decide what was specifically for the Apostles for that moment in history and what is authoritative for the church throughout her history? Fortunately, good principles of Bible interpretation give us good guidance so that we avoid the errors of Cancel End Time teaching.
One principle of Bible interpretation is that there are teaching sections of the Bible and there are history sections. We don’t get our teaching from the history sections, we interpret them through the teaching sections. Acts is a book of history. It tells how the Gospel went from these Apostles, to Jerusalem and Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth. It is exciting, dynamic and historic, but it is history, not teaching. Treating Acts as if it was a teaching book has led to vast errors in the understanding of the Holy Spirit and His work in and through our lives. Many people have looked for a baptism of the Holy Spirit after salvation which is marked by speaking in tongues. Treating history as if it were teaching is a violation of good principles of Bible interpretation.
Important to good Bible interpretation are the principles that the Bible teaches one truth and that you use the whole of the teaching of the Bible to understand any one part of it. The issue of signs and identifying the generation of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ has already been addressed by Jesus to the Apostles. In Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, Jesus answers the Apostles’ questions to a request for signs. Jesus has told them that the Temple of Israel would be destroyed with not one stone left on top of the other. The Apostles asked three questions: What will be the sign that Jerusalem will be destroyed? What will be the signs of Jesus Second Coming? What will be the signs of the end of the age? (Matthew 24:3). Jesus did not tell them it was not for them to know the signs of His return and the end of the age. He gave them detailed answers. In the Bible, a sign is something that happens in the real world, but its meaning is from God.
The sign of Jerusalem being destroyed, we know from church history, gave the early church warning. When Rome lay siege to Jerusalem, they knew to flee. We know that Rome in 70 AD burned Jerusalem and tore down the temple so that not one stone was left upon another. We know the Jewish people were dispersed to the far corners of the earth. It was for the church to know the signs and to take action as a result.
In the same way, Jesus gave the church the signs of the End of the Age and the signs of His Second Coming. The signs were multiple (all being fulfilled right now), but there was one clear and unmistakable sign that would be conclusive. There is a sign Jesus gave that made it possible for even a child to recognize that it is the end of the age and that the end of the age is coming before this generation ends. Listen to what Jesus said to the Apostles in Matthew 24:32-35, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” He also said in Luke 21:28, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” That the New Testament writers knew there would be signs to recognize the last generation is the assumption of Scriptures like Hebrews 10:25, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Thus, we see clearly Jesus and the Bible give the church signs to recognize the generation of the coming of Jesus and the end of the age.
Before we see the one clear and undeniable sign, let’s consider the meaning of Acts 1:7. Why did Jesus say it is not for you to know times or seasons? First, Jesus had given them the signs. He didn’t need to repeat the signs to them. But one key sign is that the Gospel was to be preached to the ends of the earth (Matthew 24:14). The Age of the Apostles was the beginning of the age, not the end. Jesus is like a coach telling the team, ‘Focus!’. Ten days later the Holy Spirit came upon them in power, and the age of the Church began. They were to be focused on advancing the Gospel to Jerusalem and Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. All but one, the Apostle John, would be martyred for the Gospel. They were to establish the church upon the truth of the Word of God, which we now have as the New Testament. Jesus knew as He spoke to them that it would be almost two thousand years before the signs of the end of the age. Thus in the context of the history of Acts, Jesus says it is not for your generation to see the end. You are the beginning of the Church Age.
Let us see the one unmistakable sign that Jesus gave that makes it so clear and obvious that we are the last generation, the end of the age. In this sign, we see the culmination of the plans of God. In this sign, we see how the Old Testament and the New Testament join together in prophecy. The key sign is the Jewish nation of Israel and Jerusalem. Jesus said in Luke 21:24 referring to the Jewish people and Jerusalem, “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” We know that Jerusalem fell by the edge of the sword in 70 AD. We also know that in 1967 the Jewish nation of Israel took control of Jerusalem, and Gentile control ended. We know that in 1980, Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital. This is the unmistakable sign of the Second Coming of Jesus and the end of the age. No generation has seen this since Jesus spoke this prophecy. We are now forty years from Israel passing the Jerusalem Law declaring Jerusalem as its capital.
It is the Apostle Paul who was used by the Holy Spirit to bring this prophecy about the Church and Israel together. In Romans 11:25-27 he talks about a mystery. A mystery is something known to man only by the revelation of God. The mystery is that there is a time in the future when God will turn His saving work in the world from the church to Israel. There is a time when the Gospel will stop going to the ends of the earth and will come back to Jerusalem with a focus on the Jewish people of the nation of Israel. Paul writes, “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob’; ‘and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’”
We are in the moment in time when the fullness of the Gospel work among Gentiles is being completed. God has brought the Jewish people back to the land of Israel. They have providentially made Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish nation of Israel. There are Jewish people in Israel who are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, but Israel is not a nation whose King is Jesus. That is coming. What is next is for Jesus to take the church home, and send the two witnesses of Revelation 11 to Jerusalem and by the power of the Holy Spirit to save Jewish people who will name Jesus as Messiah, Savior, Lord, and King. It will be they at the end of the age who welcome to earth Jesus as the redeemed nation of Israel.
The Bible teaches that God is a promise keeper. He made a promise to Abraham, renewed with Isaac and Jacob that one day He would make of Abraham a great nation. Now, it is true that the seed of Abraham, the Lord Jesus, would bless all nations. It is in Jesus that all the people of all nations are blessed. It is through Jesus that the Gentiles become part of the everlasting kingdom. But God made a promise to Abraham that from his seed would come a great nation. That nation is Israel, with its capital being Jerusalem. God has a love for the Jewish people and for Jerusalem that is irrevocable. God will fulfill His promise. We are the eyewitnesses as the age ends that God is a promise keeper. But just as the Bible warned us, there will be the scoffers, those who will cancel the End Time teaching of the Bible, even as it is undeniably fulfilled before their eyes.
Please don’t miss this startling evidence that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, that His faithfulness is great, and that His mercies are new every morning. God is not doing this because the Jewish people have called out to Him in repentance. He is doing it for the sake of His name, which the Jewish people bear. God is known as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel is His covenant people. He promised that Israel would become great and that the glory of the Lord would reside in Jerusalem. We are witnesses to the great truth that even when we as people are faithless, God is faithful. Let’s hear from His Word what He is doing before our very eyes. Ezekiel 36:22-28, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord (YAHWEH), declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all you uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
How blind the Cancel End Time teachers are to the wonder of seeing before our very eyes, God accomplishing His purpose among the nations and now coming to Israel. The times of the Gentiles are all but done. The mission of taking the Gospel to all nations is accomplished. We are now finishing the gathering of the harvest. The time for the church to go home with Jesus is at hand. The time for Israel to be saved as a nation is soon to be accomplished. All anxieties and fears about the future are canceled. Even the threat of civil war and violence in the USA is in His prophecy (Jeremiah 51:46). We are the peacemakers proclaiming the Gospel of Peace. Put down your weapons. Look up, church. Watch and pray. He is coming soon. Even so Lord Jesus come.