The end-time church is going to be marked by joy and peace. While the world is in self-destruction mode, we will be having the time of our lives as we experience the promises of God more than we ever have before.
This is not something we are waiting on. It is already coming alive on the inside of us right now. The Holy Spirit is stirring up joy and peace in the body of Christ.
This joy is not going to be some fleeting feeling of happiness. No. It is bubbling up from the inside. And we won’t even be able to express it to the degree that we experience it.
And the peace. It’s not going to come because our circumstances are ideal. No. We’re still going to pay high gas prices and deal with persecution for our beliefs. But we are going to have peace through it all. God’s peace. Unexplainable peace.
People are going to ask, “What’s wrong with you?” And your response will be, “Nothing. I just have this joy that I can’t figure out how to express! And I have so much peace it’s unexplainable.”
Confidence in God
While the world is cowering down in fear and oppression, we stand in complete confidence of almighty God. Why? Because He gave us a promise about the end times:
Luke 21:17-19 NLT – And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But not a hair of your head will perish! By standing firm, you will win your souls.
Church, you have nothing to fear. Yes, the world hates you because you are following Jesus. But they can’t do anything to you.
God, Himself is watching over you. He will protect you and provide for you no matter what is going on in the world around us. Even in extreme violence, even in famine, God takes care of you.
How to Experience Peace and Joy
So the question is, how do we experience this inexpressable joy and unexplainable peace in the end times? Because I look around and see that some believers are and some believers aren’t.
This is not an indicator of whether you are saved or not. No. Salvation is yours because Jesus Christ is your Lord. Nothing can take that away from you unless you abandon Jesus as Lord.
But there are people who are truly saved but are missing out on this joy and peace because they are unaware of what Jesus told us to do during the end times.
But after today, you are going to know what to do. And when you do it, inexpressible joy and unexplainable peace are going to rush into your life. You’ll become one of the oddballs, like me.
So, what did Jesus tell us to do during the end times?
In Luke chapter 21, Jesus lists off signs of the end times. He said there will be deception, wars, threats of wars, earthquakes, famines, and plagues. Nations will be in turmoil.
Followers of Jesus will be persecuted. Even those closest to you will betray you because you choose to follow Jesus. There will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars.
If this doesn’t describe where we’re at right now, I don’t know what does. But Jesus didn’t say to hide when these things happen. He didn’t say to store up years of food in an underground bunker.
He didn’t say we would be sad and depressed, but just hang on because you’ll be in heaven soon. Nope. That’s not what He said. Here’s what He told us to do during the end times:
Luke 21:28 NLT – So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!
Jesus made it really simple for us. There are two things we need to do during the end times: stand and look up.
You’ve probably heard this verse before. But have you ever paused to really understand what Jesus is saying here?
We get ourselves in trouble with verses like this. We read over them real quick, think we got it, and then move on. That’s why so many believers are struggling right now.
So, let’s break this down. Because understanding this one instruction from Jesus is what is going to bring peace and joy into your life during these last days.
The first thing Jesus said was to stand. What does He mean by that? Obviously, this goes beyond physically standing. Because I’ve never known simply standing up to bring great peace and joy to my life.
Do you know who explains what Jesus means when He says to stand? The Apostle Paul. Take a look:
Ephesians 6:10-11 NLT – A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
He goes on to explain how we are not fighting against flesh and blood. We are not fighting against each other, but against evil spirits and mighty powers in the dark world.
And then he breaks it down for us. What does it look like to put on all of God’s armor?
Ephesians 6:14 NLT – Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
I’ve read this scripture so many times over the years. And if you’ve been in church for long, you’ve heard it many times as well. But reading it now, as we are actually living in the end of the end times, it’s absolutely amazing how relevant it is.
I mean, he starts off telling us to put on truth and righteousness. What are the two things the enemy is trying to destroy right now? Truth and righteousness.
Lies and Evil
People actually believe it is okay to kill a baby through abortion! They really think there are more than two genders and you can’t figure out which one you are.
The unrighteousness of homosexuality has become something to be proud of. Truth and righteousness are under attack.
I even saw last week where Kamala Harris said that the Supreme Court protecting our right to carry guns defies the Constitution. Let me read you the Second Amendment:
“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
So, it’s not only the truth of the Word of God that is under attack. Truth in general is under attack. The woman claiming to be our Vice President lies about the constitution and people believe it.
And that’s why you must put on truth and you must put on God’s righteousness. Because if you don’t, the enemy will clothe you in lies and unrighteousness. Ain’t no peace and joy there.
Persecution of Faith
Next, the Apostle Paul said to put on your shoes of peace. I am going to talk about peace here in a bit. But in addition to truth, righteousness, and peace, we are to hold up the shield of faith.
Again, so relevant to where we are right now. Consider the pandemic. You were told to mask up and distance yourself and hide in your house for months upon months.
Along the way, there were Christians who decided to lift up their shield of faith. And man were they slandered. Whoa, buddy.
We found out that faith in God and His Word is no longer seen as a virtue. It is seen as unloving and irresponsible.
But now you know. The enemy was just trying to get you to put down your shield of faith so he could hit you with his fiery arrow called COVID.
Lift up your shield of faith, people of God! It is how you protect yourself from the attacks of the enemy.
How does faith come? By hearing and hearing the Word of God. Y’all. You must get in the Word of God every single day. It’s more important now than ever.
Finally, put on your helmet of salvation. Remembering your salvation in Jesus Christ is what protects the part of you that controls every other part of your being.
Your words are a weapon
Now that you have your armor on, pull out that sword of the spirit which is the Word of God coming out of your mouth to defeat the enemy.
How did Jesus defeat the enemy in the wilderness? By speaking the Word of God. How are you going to defeat the enemy? By speaking the Word of God.
The Apostle Paul ends by giving us a bonus tip:
Ephesians 6:18 NLT – Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
If you have received your prayer language from the Holy Spirit, you need to pray in tongues daily in these last days. If you haven’t received it, ask for it. He will give it to you.
So, when Jesus said to stand, this is what He was talking about. He was saying, “Listen, the enemy is going to be on a rampage in the last days. Stand firm against all the strategies of the devil by arming yourself with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Stand firm. Do not be deceived.”
If you are hiding out while the enemy is on a rampage, you will not have peace and joy. If you cower under the pressure and threats of ungodly and self-righteous people, you will not have peace and joy.
But if you want to experience this inexpressable joy and unexplainable peace available to you during these last days, you must stand firm. Plant your feet on the Word of God and don’t give an inch.
#2 Look up!
The second thing Jesus tells us to do is look up. Once again, this is figurative, not literal. He’s not saying to walk around looking at the sky. So, what is He saying?
Let me tell you about a man of God named Stephen who demonstrated this for us in the book of Acts.
Stephen came on the scene in Acts chapter 6 to help the apostles solve a problem. People in the church were complaining because they believed the daily food distribution favored some over others.
Everyone wanted the apostles to get in the middle of the issue, but the apostles called a meeting instead and explained how someone else should take care of this so they could focus on teaching the Word of God.
They appointed seven men who were well respected and full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit to handle issues like these. One of these men was Stephen.
Most would assume since Stephen was on the hospitality team instead of teaching the Word of God like the apostles, that he must have been unable to do things like working miracles. But take a look:
Acts 6:8 NLT – Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.
A word for hospitality team members
I want this to encourage those of you who work in hospitality or the kids’ ministry at church. Your role does not disqualify you from demonstrating God’s grace and power through miracles.
Stephen, the guy appointed to oversee the daily food distribution, was performing amazing miracles while he was fulfilling his role in hospitality.
Actually, he was so bold in his faith that some of the Jews started to debate with him. But none of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.
Since they couldn’t win the debate, they lied about Stephen saying that he blasphemed Moses and even God. He was then arrested and brought before the high council.
The high priest asked Stephen, “Are the accusations true?” And Stephen responded with a lengthy sermon about the history of Israel. He started with Abraham and went all the way to Solomon.
I’m sure they were pleased with his wisdom from the Old Testament. He had yet to say anything they would disagree with. But then Stephen let loose with a stern rebuke.
Acts 7:51-53 NLT – You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.
Whoa! Stephen, come on man. That’s not very Christian. We’re supposed to be calm and permissive. Most importantly, we are not supposed to judge, and that was pretty judgy.
I use sarcasm to make a point. True love does not stay silent about things that lead people away from Jesus. True love confronts these things with truth and boldness, without apology.
Remember, Stephen was full of God’s grace and power. So this is what God’s grace and power sound like. Probably not what you expected, huh?
How do you think the Jewish religious leaders responded to such a rebuke coming from someone on the Christian hospitality team?
Rage of the Religious
As you can imagine, they were infuriated. They even shook their fists at him in rage. If you want to see a modern example of this, post on social media, “If you side with abortion, you side with Satan” and watch the people rage in the comments.
What did Stephen do while they were raging? Take a look:
Acts 7:55 KJV – But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.
Stephen Looked Up.
There it is. While everyone around him was raging, Stephen looked up. And he didn’t just glance. He looked up steadfastly, which means he blocked out everything else and focused on heaven.
Stephen was so focused on heaven that when they killed him shortly thereafter, the last thing he did was fall to his knees and say, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!”
I can just imagine him saying that with a smile on his face. There he was, being stoned to death for speaking truth, and he wasn’t mad. He wasn’t upset. He was full of peace and joy because he was focused on heaven.
So, look up! Don’t look around you. Don’t focus on the shootings, and the sin that’s so rampant, and the violence, and the rejection of God. Do not give your focus to those things.
Instead, focus on heaven. Your redemption is right in front of you. And you don’t even have to go through a stoning first! Because, very soon, we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Then, we will be with the Lord forever.
The more I study the end times, the more excited I get. It’s encouraging to know that the return of Jesus is so near. It’s right at the door. We’re about to see Him face-to-face.
The Imminent Return of Christ
I want to help you look up by explaining something that will help you understand how near the return of Jesus really is. You might as well start imagining heaven because it’s about time to go.
I am going to preface this by saying that I am not predicting the date of His return. I am simply looking at the signs, like Jesus told us to, to determine how close we really are.
One of the ways Jesus explained the signs of the end times was by comparing them to birth pangs. When they first start, you don’t know how long they are going to last.
For example. It is common for women to have contractions on and off for several weeks before the baby is born. At this point, its really hard to determine what day the baby will be born.
But, they eventually hit this stage called transition. It’s when they are fully dilated and the baby has dropped down into the birth canal. At this point, you know it’s just a few minutes away.
That’s where we are. Watching all the signs of the end times converge and intensify is revealing that we are right there at the end. It’s transition time. So we can look around and know how soon it really is.
Understanding Jewish culture explains missing context
One of the things that can help us understand this is taking time to understand Jewish culture. There are many things that go over our heads in the Bible because we don’t understand Jewish customs.
For example, the Jewish people use a different calendar than we do. We function on the Gregorian calendar. They function on the Jewish calendar, which was designed by God in the Old Testament.
The Jewish calendar is dictated by the lunar cycle, whereas our calendar is dictated by the solar cycle. Their work week starts on Sunday, whereas ours starts on Monday.
Their new year starts in the fall, ours starts in January. There are lots of other differences, but the thing I want to teach you today is called the Shemitah Cycle.
The Shemitah Cycle
The Jewish calendar puts years into groups of seven. This seven-year cycle is called the Shemitah Cycle.
The Shemitah is the seventh year in the cycle. You’ll often hear it referred to as a Sabbatical year, where they let the land rest for an entire year as mandated by God in the Old Testament.
We are currently in year seven. We are in a Shemitah year and it ends in September. At this point, a new Shemitah cycle will begin with year one in the next cycle.
If you look back in history, you’ll find that something significant tends to happen in the Shemitah year. Here are a few examples:
- 2015 – 2016: Stock Market Crash
- 2007 – 2008: Global Recession
- 2001 – 2002: 9/11 Terror Attack
Notice that these things are financial catastrophes. Many believe this is a result of American not honoring the Sabbatical year. We just work right through it. No rest. Work, work, work.
It’s pretty easy to see that we are experiencing the same outcome during the Shemitah year we are currently in. The stock market is suffering right now and inflation is out of control.
Interesting, right? But it gets even more interesting. What else is seven years in length? The tribulation.
Because of this, Jewish scholars believe that the tribulation will align with a Shemitah cycle.
So, when does the next Shemitah cycle begin? It is marked by the Jewish new year called Rosh HaShana, which is a two-day feast that starts on sundown September 25, and ends on sundown September 27 of this year.
For the tribulation to align with a Shemitah cycle, it would have to start this September or wait until seven years later.
Something else you’ll find interesting is the Jewish feasts.
They celebrate seven feasts every year. And so far, Jesus has been fulfilling prophecies about himself on a feast day. He has fulfilled four feasts so far. And he fulfilled them in order.
The Springtime Feasts
The first feast Jesus fulfilled was Passover. The day He died on the cross was Passover. The Lamb of God sacrificed for our sins.
Next was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus was buried on the first day of this seven-day feast, representing a kernel of wheat being planted into the ground that would soon burst forth as the bread of life.
Next was the Feast of Firstfruits. Jesus rose from the dead during this feast, signifying that He was the first of many who will be saved from eternal death.
Next was the Feast of Weeks, also referred to as Pentecost. The body of Christ was filled with the Holy Spirit 50 days after Christ rose from the dead, during the Feast of Weeks.
All four of the feasts I just listed are clustered together in the springtime. Then there is a break during the summer before the final three feasts of the year take place in the fall.
Remember when Jesus referred to summer when He spoke of the end times?
Matthew 24:32-33 NLT – Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door.
The fig tree represents Israel becoming a nation, which happened in 1948. According to this parable, that was the beginning of summer. And summer is the break between the feasts.
So far, Jesus has fulfilled these feasts in order. All four spring feasts have been fulfilled. And now we are just waiting on the three fall feasts to be fulfilled.
The Fall Feasts
The next is the Feast of Trumpets. We don’t know for sure how Jesus will fulfill this, but He left a couple of clues that lead us to believe it is the catching away of the church, aka the rapture.
The first clue is Jesus’ reference to the trumpet call of God when He talked about the rapture. The second is when Jesus said, “No one knows the day or the hour.”
This is actually a Hebrew idiom referring to the appearance of the new moon. When the old moon disappears until nothing is left, the new moon appears anywhere from a day and a half to three and a half days later.
The only feast celebrated at the new moon is the Feast of Trumpets. They have to go out in the evening and look for the new moon. If they don’t see it, they have to wait until the next evening and do the same.
The Feast of Trumpets does not begin until the new moon is clearly seen. In other words, they don’t know the day or hour of the feast because they have to wait for the new moon to be verified.
So, was Jesus telling us that we won’t have any idea about the timing of His coming? Or was He revealing it will take place during the Feast of Trumpets?
Either way, we don’t know the day or hour because the new moon has to be verified first. But can we know the two-day window of His coming?
Will we be surprised?
Well, the Apostle Paul said that He will come like a thief in the night. It will be unexpected. Let me take you there:
1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 NLT – For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.
Hm. Sounds like we are going to have to wait and be surprised. Or, will we? Let’s keep reading.
1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 NLT – When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape. But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief.
You won’t be surprised. The rest of the world will be. But believers who have taken time to understand what the Word of God reveals about the end times will not be surprised.
So, can we know the two-day window of His coming? I’ll leave that up to you. I’m not trying to tell you how to think. I am just trying to get you thinking about the imminent return of Christ.
Oh, one more thing. The Feast of Trumpets is the Jewish New Year feast, also referred to as Rosh HaShana. Like I said earlier, this year it starts on sundown September 25, and ends on sundown September 27.
I am not giving you the date of Jesus’ return. But you should definitely be alert. Don’t be unaware like the rest of the world. Live expecting Jesus to return.
Why do I tell you all of this? Because I want to motivate you to look up. Focus on heaven. Don’t get caught up in what is going on around you. Fix your gaze on heaven as Stephen did.
The end-time church is going to be marked by joy and peace. While the world is in self-destruction mode, we will be having the time of our lives as we experience the promises of God more than we ever have before.
Protection. Provision. Healing. Deliverance. Freedom.
The way you take part in this is by being obedient to what Jesus told you to do during the last days. Number one, stand firm in the Word of God. Do not give an inch. Number two, look up. Fix your gaze on heaven.