Conversions Wont Hasten Christ’s Coming
A faulty theology is becoming prevalent today. It claims that Christians must “convert” Jewish people to Christianity so that Jesus Christ can return to Earth.
True, Bible-believing Christians are commanded to make salvation through Jesus known to all (Mt. 28:19–20). Jesus Himself gave that mandate, called the Great Commission, after His resurrection and prior to His ascension into heaven.
The problem is not in the commission but in how it is being interpreted and applied. Even if the church effectively reached out to and successfully evangelized the entire world, it would have no effect on the timing of Jesus’ return.
Even if believers led hundreds of thousands to Christ and saw those people become baptized into the church, it could not accelerate the Lord’s promised return in any way. Nowhere does the Bible give Christians anything we can say or do, institute, or implement that will hasten the return of the Lord to planet Earth.
A misunderstanding of several verses in particular has led to the flawed position that assumes the church can usher in the Second Coming through evangelization. These passages are Romans 1:16 and Revelation 7:4–8.
Romans 1:16 states, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Some claim this verse gives Christians a mandate to “convert” everyone, especially Jewish people.
Although competent scholars have varying views on how to interpret this passage, the preponderance of opinion is that it refers to the order in which salvation came to lost humanity. As noted commentator Matthew Henry suggested,
The lost sheep of the house of Israel had the first offer made them, both by Christ and his apostles. . . . But upon their refusal the apostles turned to the Gentiles. . . . Jews and Gentiles now stand upon the same level, both equally miserable without a Saviour, and both equally welcome to the Saviour.1
At Pentecost (Shavuot), three thousand Jewish people came to faith in the Messiah (Acts 2:1–41); and days later, another five thousand believed (Acts 4:4). And the gospel had not even gone to the Gentiles yet.
The other misunderstood passage, Revelation 7:4–8, states that 144,000 Jewish men will come to faith during the Tribulation. Some take this passage to mean that Jesus’ Second Coming depends on these men converting to Christianity; and afterward, all remaining Jewish people will die.
The Bible, however, teaches that God seals 144,000 Jewish believers in the Messiah (twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, Rev. 7:4–8) to protect them during the Tribulation, also called the seventieth week of Daniel (Dan.9:24–27) and the time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jer. 30:7).
Their protection, or sealing, has nothing to do with the church. The church will not even be present because it will have been removed through the Rapture prior to this event. It is likely, however, that the testimony of believers before the Rapture will have an influence on the 144,000 accepting the Messiah.
The 144,000 are supernaturally protected by God to prove that God is able to sustain and deliver the Jewish people from Satan, who is trying to destroy them. The seal also protects them from God’s awful Tribulation judgments falling on Earth, ultimately to rout Satan from power.
The 144,000 are also God’s guarantee that Israel will never be destroyed, as He promised (Jer. 30:11; 31:35–37; 46:28; Zech. 13:8–9).
While Jesus was yet on Earth, His disciples asked, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).
His response was gentle and clear: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7). Jesus explained that His return is in the Father’s timetable, not ours.
It is noteworthy that the question was not so much about when the Lord will return but why: He will return to restore the Davidic kingdom to Israel. When Jesus returns, He will judge the world then reign over it from Jerusalem, which will be its capital. Restoration of the Jewish kingdom, with Messiah as King, is what the Second Advent is all about. Christ’s return does not hinge on anything the church can do while it remains here on Earth. The Lord’s return is totally in the hands of Almighty God.
1. Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, 1721; [www.ccel.org/h/henry/mhc2/MHC45001.HTM].