But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:25
Now that we have reviewed various signs which must precede the return of our Lord, we may well ask the question, what is the purpose of these signs? Are they revealed merely to satisfy our curiousity? God has practised a strict economy with his revelation. He has given us no more than necessary, but has also given us enough. We would gladly have heard of the other signs which Jesus did (John 20:30) but we have enough to know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. It therefore appears that the signs of the times were more important for us than “the other things which Jesus did.”
When we look for the purpose of these signs, there are some things which immediately come to our attention. Each one is a wanting to the unbeliever that time is running out. The fulfillment of the prophecy of each one is a reminder that God is in complete control of history and that be sees the end from the beginning. All of them also make clear that, though the powers of evil may seem to win, Jesus Christ is the ultimate Victor.
However, what is the purpose of these signs for God’s people? Some of us become afraid when the signs of the times are mentioned. Difficult days are in store for the people of God. The world will not become better and better until Christ comes again on the clouds of heaven. It is only through tribulation that we shall be ushered into glory. Yet, these signs of the times are not given us in order to frighten us! That is never God’s purpose with his people. He has come to allay our fears. He has spoken to us to remove fear. He speaks peace to his people.
When Jesus spoke to his disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem, he also spoke to them about the signs preceding the end of the world. He spoke of the great signs in nature and then, says he, the Son of man will return. Then he declares that when the disciples see these things begin to come to pass, “look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draweth nigh.” Here is the contrast between the attitude of the unbeliever (vs. 26) and the believer (vs.28).
When the believer sees the beginning of these signs he realizes that a difficult period is at hand, for he has been told about the evils which will come. Yet, despite these outward difficulties, he is to look up and lift up his head. Joyful hope is to fill his heart. Though life may become difficult he has every reason to rejoice. His hopes are not dashed; on the contrary, the realization of all his hopes is coming close. Here is the paradox: evil seems to be winning the day and the unbeliever faints for fear; the believers are oppressed and persecuted and they go forth with their heads held high.
How is this possible? Very simple: ” … your redemption draweth nigh.” That redemption must be valuable if it can inspire con6dent hope even in such times! That redemption means that true believers will be freed from all the hardships and misery which they have endured here. The strife is almost past, therefore lift up your heads! Not only is that redemption negative, it also has a very positive character. For the believer redemption means being in the presence of his Lord. There he will enjoy such benefits as he bas never known or thought possible. This is a state which will last forever. No suffering can be compared to that glory.
That redemption is already present. The believer possesses it now. Yet, it is not complete in this life. The complete redemption will be his only when his Lord retwns to take him unto himself.
These signs are warnings and indications of grievous times. But these are not the last things. Christ stands at the end. Hence there is sufficient reason for joyful hope.
1. Why do the Scriptures contain long genealogies but not all the works or words of Christ?
2. Why does the unbeliever faint for fear while his cause seems to be winning? Why is it necessary to tell the believers to look up and lift up their heads when these things begin to appear?
3. In how far is our present redemption incomplete? When Paul says that we shall all be changed, what and how great will be that change?