The Last Prayer in the Bible – Part 1

Norbert Lieth

“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly” (Revelation 22:20).

The theologian Samuel Keller was once traveling on a train and reading in the Bible. A fellow-traveler said to him, “That book is old-fashioned and outdated.” Keller answered him, “Just imagine that one day a book appeared that had an incredible number of prophecies for the next four years in it. Everybody would laugh at this book, but then a year later the first prophecies are fulfilled. People would say it was a coincidence. But then the second and third year are fulfilled. What would you conclude from this?” The fellow-traveler answered, “I would conclude that this book is true and the rest of the prophecies would also be fulfilled.” Keller said, “That is how it is with the Bible, only the prophecies have been being fulfilled for more than four years, namely a few thousand years. Around three quarters of all Biblical prophecies have already been fulfilled. I would not say that this book is outdated, but I would look on it as sure that the last quarter will be fulfilled.”

Jesus, who testified to the prophecy of the Bible, said, “Surely I come quickly (soon).” A reaction to this is the last prayer in the Bible, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

A testament, the last will is, under consideration of the legal conditions, basically binding. It expresses what was on the heart of the deceased person, and must be considered and implemented by the heirs under all circumstances. The last prayer in the Bible expresses what is basically important for the almighty God, and what we as the Church should always bear in mind.

All the prophecies and promises, all the Biblical revelations, the whole plan of salvation of God with man, the complete divine counsel, and all human developments over thousands of years, culminate in the fulfillment of this event, “Surely I come quickly.” And for the Church of the Lord Jesus, there can only be one answer, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

The whole of creation longs for His coming; the heavenly host are fixed on this day, the demonic world trembles at the thought of it, and the events of the time call for it. It is a fact that we have more reason today to believe in the soon return of the Lord Jesus than ever before. The situation is similar now as at the time of the first coming of Jesus. In the first century, after the birth of Christ, many things took place which are happening again today—and this is not without reason.

Thanks to Daniel’s vision, the Jews knew at the time of Jesus that the kingdom of God was imminent. Many lived in faith that this would be soon.

The pagan wise men from the Babylonian kingdom probably knew also of Daniel’s prophecy, and after seeing the star, they traveled to Jerusalem searching for the Messiah.

The old man Simeon awaited the comfort of Israel (Luke 2:25).

The prophetess Anna spoke on the basis of the presentation and circumcision of Jesus in the temple, to all those who were waiting for redemption (Luke 2:36-38).

God had revealed to Daniel through the vision of the statue (Daniel 2) and the vision of the kingdoms of the beasts (Daniel 7), that after the first three world empires (Babylonian, Medo-Persian and Greek) a fourth, much mightier empire would appear on the world stage—Rome—and that during this fourth empire the kingdom of God would dawn.

The Jews knew that three world empires were already history. Babylon, Persia and Greece lay behind them, and the current one was Rome, the fourth empire. From this they knew that the kingdom of God would soon dawn, and that was the message of John the Baptist, the message of Jesus and the apostles, “Repent…” They proclaimed the expectation of the kingdom of heaven soon, for with Jesus the Messiah, the King of the kingdom of heaven was present (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Acts 3:19-21).

Thus, at the first coming of Jesus Christ, the end times began. The apostles proclaimed the return of Jesus as imminent (1 Corinthians 7:29; 10:11; Philippians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 1 Timothy 6:14; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 10:25; James 5:8-9; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 John 2:18). Due to the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish people, however, and in accordance with God’s unfathomable plan, the apostle Paul calls it a “mystery.” The visible empire was postponed, and the Church of Jesus Christ was inserted.

Today, 2,000 years after these events, we are living at the end of the end times, and the circumstances are similar to those of the first century at the first coming of Jesus.

In the days when our Lord was on the earth, there was a united Roman Empire. There was a large economic zone, which enabled unprecedented global trade. There were practically no borders. Whoever was a Roman had access to all countries—a sort of Schengen treaty. Greek was, so to speak, the “English” of the ancient world. And there existed at that time unprecedented traffic structure, communication and infrastructure. Post and legal systems, as well as the exchange of culture, were exemplary. At that time within the Roman Empire, prosperity was such as has only been reached in our end times. The modern legal system in the Western world is founded now as then on Roman philosophy.

Today, the world is striving to produce an empire that has an even greater extent than Rome. Rome is to rise again, and it looks as though the developments in our time are headed in this direction.

At the head of the Roman Empire of that time was a man who was honored as god, the Emperor Caesar. When Jesus Christ came into the world for the first time, Caesar Augustus reigned, with whom the 200 year so-called Roman peace began. Actually, he was called Julius Caesar Octavianus. He was proclaimed as the first emperor and was given the honorary name Augustus, which means “exalted” or “worthy of worship.” He was called the first Roman sole ruler and described as “god descended from god.”

It was during the time of his rule that the Messiah came into the world, the true Son of God or “God descended from God.” This is what Daniel prophesied. Now the fulfillment was imminent.

We know from the connections of biblical prophecy that this will be repeated. A kingdom that is about to become an empire will produce a world ruler, who will come from the sea of nations (Revelation 13). Only through him will the actual last kingdom of world history come. Then the time will be ripe for the visible return of Jesus and the setting up of His kingdom (Revelation 17:12-13).

At the first coming of our Lord, a Jewish state existed in the Jewish land. The Jews had returned from the 70 years of exile, had survived all the enemy’s attempts at destruction, and were waiting for the Messiah. It was a divine miracle that this people even existed. God alone had preserved them and brought them back to their homeland. Now the time was ripe for the coming of the Messiah.

If there is something beyond a miracle, then it is the miracle of Israel in the 20th and 21st centuries. This miracle can be ascribed to none other than the living God Himself. The Jewish people have survived almost two thousand years of enmity, the Inquisition, pogroms and the Holocaust. Under the “Final Solution” of Hitler, 76% of all 8.86 million European Jews met a cruel death. But God kept a remnant as a seed. He led His people back to their homeland, where they became an independent nation again (cf. Isaiah 6:13). With this, the time for the appearing of the Messiah became ripe once more (cf. Acts 1:11).

According to Leviticus 23, the Feast of Pentecost was followed by the Feast of Trumpets, which is interpreted as the gathering of the dispersed Jewish people (Leviticus 23:23-25; 25:8-13). After that came the great Day of Atonement, in which Israel humbled herself and waited for the divine high priest. Then came the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, which was seen as the feast of royal rest in Israel in the Messianic kingdom.

It is interesting in this connection that Israel has introduced a new feast day: “The Day of the New Immigrants,” the “Aliyah Day.” Prime Minister Netanyahu said of this, “Aliyah is the foundation of the state of Israel and a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy of the Jewish people returning to her land and rebuilding it.”—Is this day perhaps the fulfillment of a prophetic feast, similar to the other preceding feasts?

In the first century after Christ, Messianic churches arose in and around Israel. These were afflicted and persecuted, first by the Jews. The Acts of the Apostles tells of this. Later, the persecution extended to the whole of Christianity, comprising Messianic believing Jews and Gentiles who had come to believe.

Today, there is a Messianic church again which is growing relatively fast, and is exposed to much enmity, above all by the Orthodox Jews. They are marginalized because missionary work among the Jews is frowned on. Today, we are seeing that the first beginning of fundamental Christianity is producing rejection. Whoever stands up for his faith and wants to pass it on experiences hostility.

When the Church of Jesus grew in the Roman Empire, Christianity experienced a general apostasy. The apostles had warned of this in connection with the imminent return of the Lord. During the course of the centuries, God gave new revivals and reformations. Today, we are being confronted with the same—maybe even stronger—denial of Biblical doctrines and turning to demonic ones (1 Timothy 4:1).

The first centuries after Christ were moreover characterized by persecution of the Jews and Christians. This was repeatedly the case in the Roman Empire, until Constantine the Great came to power in the fourth century.

Today, about 2 million Christians are persecuted in around 60 countries. The persecution and disadvantages that Christians experience in many communist countries, dictatorships and Islamic nations of the Middle and Far East speak volumes.

In the first century, there was already a general hatred of the Jewish state. Repeatedly, the threat took on an apocalyptical extent, and finally the Jewish state was destroyed and the nation of Israel dispersed. Today, 70 years since the founding of the State of Israel, this threat is very present. A worldwide political battle against Israel is taking place. Also, Christians are beginning to reject Israel and develop replacement theology, just as in the past.

Midnight Call - 03/2018

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