Blow the trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the Lord is coming,
For it is at hand:
A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.
A people come, great and strong,
The like of whom has never been;
Nor will there ever be any such after them,
Even for many successive generations. – Joel 2:1-2
Did you hear the sound of the trumpet in Zion? It is an alarm to warn God’s people of an impending war. The trumpet has a clear and distinct sound like no other instrument of brass. It is the sound of royalty. It is a sound announcing the approach of the soon coming King! In the Old Testament history of the Jews it was the priests’ business to sound the trumpet, both as an appeal to God in the day of their distress and a summons to the people to come together to seek his face. Likewise, it should be the work of ministers today to give warning from the word of God of the fatal consequences of sin, and to reveal his wrath from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
Did you hear the sound of the trumpet on New Year’s Eve or from any church or pulpit at the beginning of year 2020? It is the day of the Lord, the day of his judgment, in which he will both manifest and magnify himself. To God be the glory!
The purpose for me writing this blog is not an attempt to write anything new that hasn’t already been written about the end times, nor about the events prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. There are literally a plethora of books and media of every kind and type available for anyone interested in what the Bible says about the future of the church, the end of the world and mankind, as we know it. Eschatological theories, religious beliefs, church doctrines, sermons, information (as well as misinformation), ad nauseam, abound.
Research sources and materials written and published by theologians, so-called “last days” prophets, Bible teachers, seminarians, preachers, church leaders—Christian and non-Christian alike—fill personal and professional libraries and bookshelves. Anyone interesting in the events surrounding our Savior’s return to earth for His Church need not look very far. All one needs to do is turn on his or her personal computer and the Internet will provide anyone with information and data they may be looking for—on any topic or subject.
There have even been movies and Broadway theatrical productions made and produced depicting what might possibly transpire during and just before Jesus returns again. My wife, Tiffany and I, have recently been watching a Netflix movie and television series called, Messiah. We have both been intrigued and captive in watching each episode together during our evening recline. The premise of the movie is the series focuses on the modern world’s reaction to a man, who first appears in the Middle East claiming to be the eschatological return of ‘Isa (Jesus). His sudden appearance and apparent miracles spark a growing international following, casting doubts around who he really is, a case investigated by a CIA officer. I must confess that I really like watching the show.
Sadly, the truth of our Savior’s return has been turned into fiction by some; however, I have a personal and private appreciation (and dislike) for the secular media for making an attempt in telling the story of our Lord’s return, even though it’s often told from a nonbeliever’s point of view. However, much of what is written and portrayed on screen is untrue, misleading, and false. The world, unfortunately, has turn the truth of God’s Word and his return into a fanciful event.
The Apostle Paul instructs his son in the gospel, Timothy to “preach the word” and to be ready “in season and out of season.” He exhorts him, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Do We Still Believe?
While writing this blog, several questions came to mind that I hope believers and those interested students of Scripture, and spiritual leaders would consider: First, considering the times and days in which we now live, why aren’t we sharing, teaching, and preaching more about the Lord’s return? Second, does the Church even believe in the Second Coming and the return of Jesus Christ for his Church any longer? Third, do Christians even believe there is a heaven or hell as taught in the Bible?
There was an article recently written by David Bentley Hart, in the New York Times titled, “Why Do People Believe in Hell?”, which tends to suggest that what Christians believe specifically about hell is basically a myth, and that somehow through time, tradition, culture, fear launched during the Christian Roman Empire (c. 313) by Constantine, and its spiritual leaders, we have been somehow coerced into believing in the existence of hell as a reality. Hart states, “No truly accomplished New Testament scholar, for instance, believes that later Christianity’s opulent mythology of God’s eternal torture chamber is clearly present in the scriptural texts.” If what this author suggests and states is true, then what should Christians believe about the existence of heaven?
Christianity Today (January 14, 2020) published a provocative research article by Aaron Earls, titled, “Most Pastors Say Middle East Politics Won’t Speed Up the Second Coming,” a survey conducted by LifeWay Research showing that only 1 in 8 pastors link geo-political events with Christ’s return. LifeWay did a phone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors, ministers, or priests who were asked a series of questions regarding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Lifeway’s primary interest was to show whether or not Christians can play a role in bringing about or hasten the return of Jesus Christ sooner? What was surprising and revealing to me was the fact that so few believers feel or believer their witness about Jesus Christ has little or no affect upon his return. Jesus clearly states in the Bible that the evangelism and witness of his followers to the gospel has very much to do with hastening his return. “And this gospel,” He says, “of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Woefully, there seems to be just a casual mentioning of Christ’s return in many of our sermons, songs, and writings by church leaders, musicians, teachers, and pastors today. More attention and time seem to be given to the topic of heaven and going to be with Jesus usually occurs when someone dies or at a funeral service.
Rarely do we hear of someone speaking or delivering a sermon entirely on the subject or topic of the return of Jesus Christ. (I must confess that I, too, am guilty of this neglect.) However, no one was more faithful and consistent in preaching about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ than the late and popular televangelist, Jack Van Impe. Impe would read the latest headlines and explained how they connected to prophecy about the Antichrist, one-world government, and the rapture of true believers that might happen at any moment.
In the Black church experience what is often considered “good preaching” or a great sermon is a powerful closing. During an arousing climax or ending of a sermon the preacher or speaker might interpose within his or her homily his or her thoughts concerning our Lord’s return and what it might look like; which brings to mind one of my early childhood experiences:
When I was a little boy, I can remember hearing some of the most powerful sermons of Christ’s return from revivalists, evangelists, prophets, and teachers who were invited to our church in West Oakland by my father, the late Bishop Ulysses S. King, Sr. They were called fanatics or “doomsday preachers.” Many of them would preach so powerfully and convincingly that Jesus was returning soon—and at any day or time—that after the service was over, we would rush outside and look up into the heavens to see if we could see Him coming! Sermons like the ones I heard as a child frightened me but later in life made me curious about the teachings of Scripture.
Reading out of the book of Revelation when I was growing up was like reading a mystery novel, and at other times a horror story. Who was the Beast, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet? What were the Seven Seals, the 144,000, the Great Tribulation, and other symbolisms, visions, and metaphors mentioned in the Bible about the End Times? One popular book I remember reading (and still on my bookshelf) during my youth that intrigued me was, The Late Great Planet Earth(1970) by Hal Lindsey. Lindsey compared end-time prophecies in the Bible with then-current events in an attempt to predict future scenarios resulting in the rapture of believers before the tribulation and Second Coming of Christ to establish his thousand-year (i.e. millennial) Kingdom on Earth. The book became so popular that it was turned into a movie.
Living In Expectation
The world lives as though they plan to stay here on this earth forever. Sadly, many Christians are no longer living in expectation of our Savior’s return. Jesus clearly taught his disciples (and the Church) to live in expectation of his return. In Luke 21:27-28, Jesus says, “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
The announcement and proclamation of our Lord’s soon return should not be spoken of in tones of gloom and doom or sorrow but rather with rejoicing, excitement, and anticipation! The Apostle Paul tells us that we do not sorrow as others, “as if there is no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). He spoke a word of comfort to the church saying, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Can’t you hear the sound of the trumpet?
Is the Church fearful of speaking about the imminent return of Jesus Christ today? People who attend many of our church services most often come to hear trendy or popular themes, topics, or sermons preached by popular ministers they follow on tv, radio, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Topics on health and wealth, prosperity, politics, marriage and family, and a long list of others. While many of these topics are well and good—and needed—they should never precede or replace our Savior’s Great Commission and command to “go tell” and make disciples of the nations: The Lord is soon to return.
Is the Church fearful of losing members if it speaks with conviction about sin and repentance in preparation to His glorious appearing? Church growth specialists would even suggest that some youths may not be receptive to the message of a Final Judgment or where one might spend eternity. Others may feel preaching and teaching on the end times may not be relevant to where people are in meeting their felt needs and may turn them away from the Church.
Christian and secular polls, surveys, and research journals and magazines, like the Pew Research Center (2019) and the Galli Report (2019), have all recently reported on church growth and Christianity’s decline in America. These reports show that people are leaving the church in great numbers today, and many no longer consider themselves Christians. Jesus asked this question of his disciples, “When the Son of Man comes, will he really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). The Apostle Paul also speaks of a time of great apostasy that would come during the last days in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first . . .”. So then, what should be our message to the world? And, to whom then are we called to serve?
I Am Coming Quickly
For a long time now America, including Christians, have been living in a season of blessing and prosperity—hidden by a false security. Churches are so driven to sound, look, and be like everyone else that it’s loss its authentic uniqueness witness and identity, particularly the Black church. Churches are in competition with one another to have the biggest church, the best choirs, and most popular minister. I was in Dallas, Texas a month ago and a dear and close friend pointed out to me that there were four megachurches within the radius of ten miles of one another. Not to mention there was another megachurch that had recently appointed a new pastor and gifted singer who is popular in the gospel music field and has a worldwide following, only 30 miles away in the City of Fort Worth. Is there anything wrong with being a part of a megachurch ministry? Not at all! Christians, however, should understand their purpose and that they are called to be sent into all the world to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and his soon return.
Finally, I do not consider myself to be a prophet, millennialist (post or pre-), at least not in the traditional or classical sense or usage of the term that’s most commonly heard among Pentecostals and Charismatic believers. Nor do I consider myself as having the gift of prophesy or speak with the gift of prophesy. I do believe however, that I have a prophetic anointing to share this word from the Lord to deliver to you during this time and season. The church—the body of Christ—must wake up. You don’t need a special anointing to see what is about to come. These are the last days. It really bothers and disturbs me greatly that we have stop preaching, and in many cases believing, the Lord is soon to return.
Hear, ye, the word of the Lord:
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father … Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with the hand mill; one will be taken and the other left … Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:36, 40, 42, italics mine).
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
1. Hart, D.B., Why Do People Believe in Hell?, in The New York Times. 2020, The New York Times: New York.
2. Earls, A., Most Pastors Say Middle East Politics Won’t Speed Up the Second Coming, in Christianity Today. 2020, LifeWay Research: Carol Stream, IL.
3. Silliman, D., Died: Jack Van Impe, Televangelist Who Saw Signs of the End Times, in Christianity Today. 2020, Christianity Today: Carol Stream, IL.
4. In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace. 2019
5. Lee, M., What to Understand About Christianity’s Decline in America in Christianity Today. 2019, Christianity Today: Carol Stream, IL.
 Numbers 10:8
 Messiah, a Netflix tv series (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah_(American_TV_series))
 David Bentley Hart is a philosopher, scholar of religion and cultural critic.
 See also vss. 25-26.
 Matthew 28:18-20.