OPENING ACTIVITY: Signs in the Sky
Ask your class this question as they arrive: Did the recent total solar eclipse impact your faith in any way? If so, how?
Some people have claimed that the eclipse, as well as other recent phenomena, are the signs of something to come, as this week’s article explains.
OPENING STORY: [Read the story aloud or make copies and pass them around.]
BILLY GRAHAM DISCUSSES THE END TIMES
In recent days, there’s been a great deal of attention about signs in the sky, nature’s fury, and political turmoil—all of which remind us that Jesus will return one day to judge the quick and the dead. One thing that has characterized true followers of Jesus throughout church history is the unwavering belief that He could return at any time.
The total solar eclipse that happened a couple of months ago prompted a few leaders in the church to remind us that God’s judgment is coming. Since the path of the eclipse seemed to cut a path through the U.S., a few of these leaders saw the cosmological event as a sign of God’s impending judgment on this country.
Renowned evangelist Billy Graham has often shared his thoughts on the End Times and what the Bible tells us about living in the last days. As he lives quietly and peacefully in his home in North Carolina, he continues to encourage the Body of Christ through his blog.
The 98-year-old founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said in a recent “My Answers” blog post, “The Bible warns us against making precise predictions about the exact time of Jesus’ return—but His return is certain, and we may well be living in the last days before He comes again. The Bible says, ‘The night is nearly over; the day is almost here’ (Rom. 13:12).”
“Shortly before returning to Heaven, Jesus told His disciples that someday He would come back to establish His Kingdom. But first, certain things had to happen, and we are, in fact seeing many of those things today,” Graham said.
“For example, He said that before His return the Gospel must be preached throughout the world (see Mark 13:10). Never before has this been possible—but now it is, through radio and the Internet and other modern means of communication.”
“It’s important for the world to remember that the future is firmly in God’s hands, and the world as we know it will only pass away when God intervenes to bring it to an end.”
Mr. Graham went on to explain, “Does that mean we’ll never experience wars, plagues, or natural disasters that look like they might bring life to an end (just as they have in the past)? It’s certainly possible; God hasn’t promised to deliver us from such tragedies. But they aren’t the end, and even in the midst of these we can trust God’s promise to be with us. Jesus said, ‘Such things must happen, but the end is still to come’ (Matt. 24:6).”
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, now headed by Franklin Graham, added, “All Christians do not agree on every detail of what will occur in the final events of this world’s history. Some of these events and their order of occurrence have simply not been made clear in the Bible. What is important is that all Christians hold in common that Christ will ultimately return bodily, visibly, and gloriously to reign and rule with His resurrected and transformed saints forever and ever. The details of this great event will be made known in God’s own time.”
Now ask your students to form small groups and discuss their answers to these questions.
- What causes you the greatest concern about the future?
- Has God miraculously delivered you in some way in the past? Explain your answer.
- Is there any evidence that God will act differently (on your behalf) in the future than He has in the past? Explain.
- How does placing our confidence in God (for the future) free us to accomplish more for the Kingdom now?
Let’s take a look at how Abram (in the Old Testament) trusted God with his family’s future so he could accomplish the assignment the Lord had placed in his hands.
(When you are finished with the questions, go on to Step 2 in your Adult Teacher’s Guide.)
Solar Eclipse 2017
Why do some people get all wrapped up in trying to predict the end of the world?
Looking for Steps 2 & 3?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide; your Step 4 appears below. To purchase a teacher's guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes
HE HOLDS THE FUTURE
While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of possible signs of Christ’s return, one thing never changes: The future is in God’s hands. Jesus is going to return the moment that the Father decides, and not a second sooner.
So what are we to do in the meantime? If you knew the exact day of Jesus’ return, would you live your life any differently? Hopefully not. While we are to anticipate the Second Coming of Christ with passion and enthusiasm, we are to keep our hearts and hands busy with the Kingdom assignments God has given us—and leave whatever is going to happen in the future to our heavenly Father.
The Lord knows what He is doing, from the beginning to the end—the only questions that remain are: What is your role in God’s plans? How will you carry that role out—either until you draw your final breath, or you look to the sky and see Jesus coming to get you? Since the future in God’s hands, we are free to focus on our present service and relationships.
Have your students return to their Step 1 groups and discuss these questions.
- How can we responsibly plan for the future without putting our ultimate security in our own plans?
- How will knowing that the future is in His hands affect your life this next week?
Close the class in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to increase your confidence in God’s sovereignty when it comes to taking care of you all in the future.
THE BIBLE IN THE NEWS
Overwhelming evidence confirms the existence of two Jewish temples in Jerusalem
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