What Next?

Quest for Teachers

When you open this session with your stu­dents, it might be interesting to point out that there are 318 places in the New Testament that refer to the Second Coming of Christ. Anything repeated that many times is certainly an impor­tant event! Jesus went away saying, "I will come again," and today that is one of the most vital messages we can bring to our students. Jesus was here, lived, died, arose again, and ascended into Heaven, but He will come back to earth again. His words to us on this subject are,

"Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44).

Exactly when He will return, we do not know. There are many details we do not yet under­stand, but this we do know: one day soon, Jesus will return. It is repeated over and over in Scripture, "Prepare for it! Be ready!" That is the message that pertains to us, and it is the key thought you will want to develop with your students in the course of this lesson.


The students will be able to give indicators that the events of our day point to the nearness of Jesus' Second Coming. The importance of preparation may also be explained.

Key Texts

Amos 8:11; Zechariah 14:3-5; Matthew 24:3-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Revelation 6:12-16   

Questions and Suggested Responses

Question 1 - In answering His disciples, Jesus warned them to take heed so they would not be deceived by the many who would come and claim to be Christ. During the years after Jesus ascended into Heaven, this declaration has been and contin­ues to be fulfilled. People proclaiming themselves as Christ have come and gone through the years. How should the news of such fulfillment of prophecy affect us today?

Response 1- Discuss with the class that the signs of the times should make us heedful of our spiritual standing with Jesus Christ. He said, "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved .... Watch there­fore for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come .... Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:12,13,42,44). "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" (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17). As your students review these verses, have them pinpoint the specific actions which are to be taken in order to be prepared for the coming of the Lord.

Question 2 - Jesus said, "Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: .. . For nation shall rise against nation" (Matthew 24:6,7). Certainly this has been fulfilled. The past century has seen two world wars and numerous other conflicts in all parts of the world. At least three major conflicts have been fought by the soldiers of Israel since they became a nation in 1948. The United States has had soldiers fighting in Korea, in Vietnam, and in Kuwait. The United Nations has been busy trying to control the conflicts that are constantly breaking out in all parts of the world. There has been hardly a mo­ment during this time that someone, somewhere, was not fighting a war. What did Jesus say to His disciples regarding these? (See Matthew 24:6.) How can this admonition be ac­complished?

Response 2 - Jesus told His disciples that when these things come to pass, they should not be troubled. As your students discuss this, em­phasize the importance of Jesus' answer. War is a terrible thing-with so much suffering, insecu­rity, devastation, and death-yet it seems that nations cannot avoid war, no matter how hard they try. Jesus admonished His disciples that these events would surely come to pass in the end time. The natural human response is to view these circumstances with apprehension and dis­may, but Jesus said to "look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28). This is one of the joys of being a Chris­tian-we can have peace in our hearts in spite of outward turmoil. No matter how difficult the situation, as we keep our faith and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, He will see us through.

Question 3 - Jesus foretold that famines would be prevalent in the world in the last days. How true those words are! Africa has been hit especially hard by fa1nine in the last few years. In August of 1994, a massive relief effort was launched in Rwanda. It rivaled the scope of efforts made in the late 1980s in Ethiopia. An advertisement in U.S. News and World Report said, "There's no 911 in Rwanda. But there is an emergency. People are dying, and they need your help. Please give what you can" (September 26, 1994, Page 64). In Somalia, tens of thousands have died. In Zimbabwe, "the Red Cross said it saw thousands of people in terrible shape, in March 1992" (The Oregonian, October 20, 1992, Page A3). In Sudan, a Pulitzer Prize winning photo was taken of a Sudanese child, collapsed from starvation. With the billion or more to feed in China, many die of starvation every year. War is tearing up Sarajevo, and the food supply is insuffi­cient. Many people in the United States also go to bed hun­gry every night.
Summing up the immensity of this situation is a quote from U.S. News and World Report, "Famine is a worldwide problem" ( U.S. News and World Report, October 25, 1994, Page 22). In Amos 8: 11, we read of another type of famine which will be a further indication of the last days. What is that famine, and how should we individually prepare our­selves for it?

Response 3 - The Amos text refers to a famine for the hearing of the Word of God. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LoRn" (Amos 8:11). As your students discuss how we should prepare for this famine, they should conclude that it is important to hide God's Word in our hearts today. (See Psalm 119:11.) Discuss ways this can be done: regular personal devo­tions, systematic Bible memorization, careful at­tention to Bible-based sermons and to Sunday school lessons, etc.

Question 4 - Among other things that Jesus said would come about in the last days, is pestilence. This condition naturally follows wars and famines, but it can appear without those. The question seems no longer to be, "When will infectious diseases be wiped out?" but, "Where will the next deadly plague appear?" Faced with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and an ever-increasing number of antibi­otic-resistant bacteria, the medical profession has had to marshal its forces again and again in the battle against germs and viruses. For all the vaunted power of modern medicine, deadly infections are an ever-growing threat.
Scientists are watching the lethal viruses particularly in Africa and in South America. Germs once confined to cer­tain areas may now hitchhike to all parts of the world. Name some conditions and diseases that could be consid­ered pestilences in today's world.

Response 4 - In talking over this information, the students should be able to come up with a number of other diseases and conditions that could be labeled pestilences. AIDS has been named. Coronary heart disease (CHD) causes an enormous percentage of deaths each year. It is estimated that 538,000 will die annually of can­cer in the United States. Diabetes, Alzheimer's, tuberculosis, and many other plague-type dis­eases could be mentioned in this response.

Question 5 - The frequency and magnitude of earthquakes in re­cent years is another indication of the fact that what Jesus said is true. On Tuesday, January 17, 1995, Kobe, Japan was shattered by a 7 .2 magnitude earthquake. The list of re­ported casualties includes: 5,068 dead, 60 missing, 26,508 injured, and 307,000 homeless (The Oregonian, Wednesday, January 25, 1995 ).
In the United States, in October 1992, a major quake struck the San Francisco Bay area during a World Series baseball game. The shaking stopped just in time to spare Candlestick Park, and the thousands of fans in the stands, from a horrible catastrophe.
Los Angeles and southern California were rocked, in January of 1994, by a 6. 7 earthquake that left the people with untold damage and a nightmare of destruction to face and repair.
Such earthquakes are happening frequently around the world, and scientists are predicting more quakes in many different places in the near future. What are some refer­ences the Bible gives concerning earthquakes during the Tribulation? See Zechariah 14:3-5; Revelation 6:12-16.

Response 5 - Discuss with your students that earthquakes are not only a sign of the times in which we live, but also will be a part of the Tribulation that will come upon people because of their sins. Earthquakes are a fearsome event, and they will be no less so during the Tribula­tion. In the Revelation account, people from all walks of life will flee to the dens and rocks of the mountains to hide themselves from the faces of God and of Jesus Christ. Zechariah describes what will happen when Jesus reveals Himself to the Jewish people at the end of the Tribulation. He will stand upon the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. The Mount will cleave in the midst, with half moved toward the north and half to­ward the south, and with a very great valley be­tween. Imagine the tremendous force of nature exerted to accomplish this!  

Question 6 - When writing to the Christians in Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul said they were well aware of the times and the seasons. In spite of this, he admonished them, "Let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:6). Although they might call themselves Christians, the careless and indifferent are in grave danger of being left behind when the Trumpet of God sounds. Indi­viduals need not remain in ignorance as to the events that are taking place around us. The "signs of the times" are writ­ten in God's Word so that men and women will prepare themselves for the day Jesus raptures His Church. Based on the 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-9 text, write at least five admoni­tions that will help a person prepare for the end times.

Response 6 - Encourage your students to give their answers. Among their responses, no doubt the thought of Jesus coming as a thief in the night will be mentioned. If we knew a thief was coming, we would take every precaution pos­sible to protect ourselves. Taking note of the phrase, "Peace and safety," might be another item on the list. When the world says peace and safety, God's Word says that sudden destruction is imminent. The Apostle said also that Chris­tians are children of light and of the day, not children of darkness and night. We must remain aware and expectant of the Lord's returning. We should not be sleeping spiritually, but should ''be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." Finally, God has not appointed His people to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Question 7 - In the 2 Timothy 3:1-5 portion of our text, we study a further description of conditions prevalent in the last days. Look the world over today, and you will find a fulfillment of these words of Scripture. The age in which we live is a boastful age. Men are boasting of their scientific discovery and development, boasting of their theories and of the preparations they are making for space travel and investiga­tion of planets in the faraway heavens. Few things seem de­nied to the wisdom of man today, but with one stroke God can reduce man's wisdom to confusion, as He did to the builders of the Tower of Babel. The social fabric in these days is breaking down in a marked way. Moral standards are being compromised to the point of almost nonexistence. The Apostle Paul declares that, in the last days, "perilous times" shall come. The last days are here! What are we to do about it?

Response 7 - It should not be difficult to main­tain a discussion about conditions in the world today. No doubt most of your students will agree that the signs of the times are being rapidly ful­filled. The last verse of our text tells us that many live, "having a form of godliness, but deny­ing the power thereof." The verse goes on to say, "from such turn away." There is much religion in the world today, but so much of it is hindered by the conditions described in this text. We read of the Laodicean church, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15,16). The remedy for the Laodiceans was repentance. In these last days it is prudent to take inventory of our spiri­tual condition. "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves" (2 Corin­thians 13:5).