What is the World Coming To?

Earlier this year, three hurricanes struck the United States causing untold misery and suffering to people in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico. In September, tensions ratcheted up between the United States and North Korea over North Korea’s efforts to develop a nuclear warhead and missile capable of reaching the United States. Lastly, a deranged gunman killed 58 people and wounded nearly 500 at a Las Vegas concert in the largest mass shooting in US history.

What is the world coming to? Jesus described our day in Luke 21:25-28 (New American Standard Bible): “men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” The Apostle Paul described our day in 2 Tim. 3:1-5 (NASB) saying, “in the last days difficult times will come.” Peter described our day in 2 Pet. 3:10 (NASB): “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”

Jesus mentioned that with his return, there would be “a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (Matt. 24:21,22 NASB) This trouble results from man’s selfishness coupled with the increase of knowledge which God has allowed (Dan. 12:4) leading to more and larger conflicts between nations, ethnic groups, classes, etc., greater numbers of casualties and more oppression beginning in the late 1800s.

This escalation continues until it reaches the climax of Jacob’s trouble when all of the nations are gathered against Israel. (Jer. 30:7,8,10,11; Joel 3:1,2,12-16) Then, a great army invades Israel to take a spoil. God through Christ fights for Israel destroying the invaders (Ezekiel chapters 38,39; Zech. 14:2,3) and triggers Armageddon (Rev. 16:16-21) which leads to all men shaking at God’s presence, every man’s hand being against his neighbor and God making himself known in the sight of many nations. (Ezek. 38:20,21,23)

This conflict will destroy the nations and selfish institutions (financial, religious, social, political) of this present evil world as Peter writes: “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (2 Pet. 3:10 NASB) This destruction will cleanse the earth and prepare mankind for the establishment of Christ’s kingdom, the “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”2 Pet. 3:13 (NASB).

Under Christ’s kingdom all mankind will be released from the grave, taught righteousness and have the opportunity to become obedient to God’s laws and live forever, on an earth restored as the garden of Eden.

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Moses led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery to the promise land. Unfortunately, Moses died while viewing the promised land from Pisgah. In his place God appointed Joshua to lead Israel into Canaan. “The LORD was angry with me (Moses) for your (Israelites) sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither. But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.”—Deut. 1:37-38

As Israel’s leader, Joshua resembles our Lord Jesus Christ. “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” (Matt. 2:6) Jesus will lead Israel and all mankind to inherit God’s promise kingdom.

During his time leading Israel, Joshua chose 12 individuals, one from every tribe to assist. (Joshua 4:4) These individuals gathered 12 stones out of the Jordan River in remembrance of God’s miracle in drying up river to allow Israel to cross over. Similarly, Jesus selected twelve disciples to assist him in proclaiming the foundation truths of the Gospel message, “And he goeth up into a mountain, … And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.”—Mark 3:13-15

Joshua and Jesus share the same name. The English name “Joshua” is a rendering of the Hebrew word “Yehoshua,” meaning “Yahweh” is Salvation. Jesus is the English word for the Greek translation of “Yehoshua” which again means Salvation.

Finally, both Joshua and Jesus, began their earthly lives as meek, unknown individuals who would rise up and become great leaders. In that role, each would fulfill God’s promise and lead the Israelites to the land that was promised. In his closing exhortation to Israel, Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) It came to pass that “after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.”—Joshua 24:29


Israel’s Passover

The final plague the LORD brought upon Egypt to force Pharaoh to let Israel go was death of the first-born. (Ex. 11:1,4-6) To protect the Israelite first-born, God instructed Moses to have Israel to implement the Passover. (Ex. 12:1-14) The Passover involved selecting a male lamb of the first year without blemish on the 10th of the month and bringing it into their household. On the 14th day of the month, the Israelites were to kill the lamb, sprinkle its blood on the lintel and side door posts of their homes, roast the lamb and then eat it with bitter herbs while remaining within their homes during the entire night and being dressed, ready to leave Egypt. Following these instructions would protect their first-born from the angel of death. “The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”—Ex. 12:13 (New American Standard Bible)

This event is a beautiful picture of how God liberates Israel and mankind from their bondage to Satan, sin and death. The man Christ Jesus is the (Passover) lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29,36) “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” for us. (1 Cor. 5:7) The followers of Jesus, the church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven, are pictured by the first-born of Israel. (Heb. 12:23; Luke 10:20) They are Christ’s body and if faithful, follow him as first-born from the dead.—Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5

They are “not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold … but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:18,19 NASB) They are protected by Jesus’ blood from God’s justice (angel of death) as they follow Jesus’ example, teachings and are conformed to his image. (Rom. 8:29,30) God justifies them through Jesus blood that they might be acceptable to Him.—Rom. 8:32-34

Following Jesus’ return, his followers are resurrected from the dead. (Rev. 20:4,6) As kings and priests with Christ, they will lead Israel and all mankind to freedom from sin, death and Satan in Christ’s earthly kingdom, pictured by Israel leaving Egypt.—Ex. 12:50,51

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Spying Out the Land

Following the Exodus, we find the account of the Israelites spying out the promised land. (Num. 13:1-33) God instructed Moses to select leaders from each of the twelve tribes to search the land of Canaan. Moses instructed them to assess the people and the land which God was giving them. They were told to see if the people were strong, numerous, and if they lived in fortified cities. They were also instructed to explore the land to see if it was good, fertile, and had abundant trees.

God promised Israel that he would give them this land. They spied out the land all the way to the far north near Mt. Hermon. The twelve spies collected a cluster of grapes that took two men to carry. Truly, this was the land of milk and honey that God had promised them.

When the spies returned after forty days, ten of them told the Israelites that the occupants of the land were numerous, of great stature, and lived in fortified cities. But Joshua and Caleb, the two remaining spies, gave a good report saying the land was bountiful and that God would deliver it to them.

The ten spies responded, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel.” (Num. 13:31,32) This stirred the people against God to the point where they cried out that it would have been better if they had been left in Egypt.—Num. 14:1-9

God was so angered that the ten spies stirred up the people, he caused the Israelites to wander the wilderness for forty years, a year for each day that the spies had spent spying out the promised land. In addition, any over the age of twenty, would die in the wilderness and would not be allowed to enter the promised land.—Num. 14:28-35

Joshua and Caleb, because of their faithfulness, led the people into the promised land forty years later. (Num. 14:30) This experience teaches us the importance of walking by faith. Only when we rest in the Lord, will we be delivered by God into his promised land. This account also illustrates God will fulfill every promise that he makes to those who faithfully follow him.

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