Your Redemption Draweth Nigh
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28).
This verse naturally raises the question, "What things will come to pass?" In order to understand, we must read Luke 21 and Matthew 24. Jesus was speaking to His disciples about His return. Virtually the entire chapter is a response to the disciples' questions "...when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?" (verse 7). Matthew 24:3 reveals more details: "...Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Jesus then lists the events that will take place. In Matthew 24 the word "shall" is repeated 59 times. He talks about war between nations, mentions great earthquakes, speaks about famines and pestilences, then emphasizes that first there shall be great persecution
We all know that the true Church has always been persecuted. The very first Church in Jerusalem suffered great persecution "...at that time there was a great persecution against the church" (Acts 8:1). This continued throughout the centuries. It climaxed under the religious/political rulership of the Catholic Church where hundreds of thousands, even millions, were executed for their faith in Jesus. Persecution continues until this very day. While physical persecution is limited to some African, Middle Eastern and Asian nations, we must never think that we have been spared from persecution. However, persecution in the western world is not physical. Countries, like us, with a constitution or Declaration of Independence built on ancient Roman laws have citizens who enjoy religious freedom and the right to assemble. In other words, the government is not after us.
The persecution we experience is more subtle and it is taking place in the midst of the Church. I am speaking of the persecution against those who boldly proclaim the whole truth of the Scriptures. For example, you will find that the overwhelming majority of Christian churches reject any attempt of practical interpretation. We are being considered odd balls. It is not my intention to give you details on this matter but there are numerous important truths taught in Scripture which are being deliberately stifled or openly denied by many theologians. Truth is being persecuted. The persecution Jesus was speaking of is primarily targeted to Israel. How do we know? The Lord provides us with a geographical reference: "...ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies...let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains...Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:20, 21, 24). This is tribulation in the land of Israel.
We know that Jerusalem was surrounded by armies and destroyed in 70 A.D. There is evidence in historic writings that many Jews escaped to the mountains of Judea for safety. Indeed, the Jews were "...led away captive into all nations...." Therefore, we know that Jesus is not speaking of a short time period such as the seven-year Great Tribulation, but He describes a time period of about 2,000 years.
How can we know that we are in the endtimes? By looking at the geographic reference Jesus gave Jerusalem. He said: "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles." This is happening today. Whether Americans or Russians, Arabs or Africans, Europeans or Asians, each and every nation on the face of the earth is trampling down the city of Jerusalem in their hate and fury. Let me explain. This doesn't mean that the nations are literally and physically trampling down the city of Jerusalem, but if we were to ask the United States, for example, if they recognized Jerusalem as the united capital city of the state of Israel, the U.S. would answer with an unqualified "no." In fact, every single nation would have the same answer. That is Bible prophecy fulfillment and its happening in our day.
Almost 2,500 years ago the prophet Zechariah said this about Jerusalem: "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it" (Zechariah 12:3). Interestingly, he doesn't identify a certain group of people such as Arab settlers in the land of Israel but literally says "All the people of the earth."
What are Christians to do in view of these events? "Look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Although these words were spoken to the Jewish people, we who grasp the truth of the prophetic Word know it also applies to the Church spiritually. True believers have no future here on earth. Our home is in heaven and our redemption lies in the completion of the Church. At that moment, when the last from among the Gentiles has been added to the Church, 1st Thessalonians 4:16-17 will be fulfilled: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."