- Jesus commanded one generation of believers to know that His return was near. The generation that would be alive to “see all these things” (the signs that Jesus prophesied of in Matthew 24) was to know that His return was near. It is possible for those who are alive in the generation of His return to observe the biblical signs and know that they are the final generation.33When you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors… 34This generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place… 36“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Mt. 24:33-36)
- Those who are alive in the generation of His return are commanded to recognize it. The point is that only when we know it is drawing near, can we look up to see our redemption drawing near.
25There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations… 26men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth… 28Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. (Lk. 21:25-28)
- Jesus connected the timing of His return to specific events and trends. There are sign events and sign trends predicted in Scripture that alert us to the timing of Jesus’ return. As these trends accelerate at the same time, on a global level, making headline news, we are to understand that we are in a unique season in history, leading to Jesus’ return.
- For the first time in history, most of these trends and some of the necessary developments that will lead to the sign events are accelerating at the same time, and on a global basis.
THE RETURN OF JESUS
- In my opinion, we are in the early days of the generation in which Jesus will return. I believe that there are people alive today who will see the return of Jesus. It may be the 20-year-olds or it could be the 2-year-olds who see His return. Matt 24 is full of signs of the Lord’s return, I examine them in my post on the Signs of the Times.
- The Lord will raise up forerunners in the generation in which He returns. What is a forerunner? Forerunners proclaim the coming of the Lord and the unique events directly related to it.
- Isaiah prophesied about end-time forerunners who would prepare people by lifting a “banner message” to the ends of the earth that declares the full manifestation of Jesus’ salvation.10Prepare the way for the people…lift up a banner for the peoples [the nations]! Indeed the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the world: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; behold, His reward is with Him…’” (Isa. 62:10-11)
- The angel Gabriel prophesied that John the Baptist would be a forerunner who would prepare people to receive Jesus at His first coming (Lk. 1:11-19; Jn. 1:23; Isa. 40:3).17It is he [John the Baptist] who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah…so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Lk. 1:17, NAS)
- Jesus questioned the Pharisees’ responsiveness to John the Baptist, He will emphasize responsiveness to the messages of forerunners.
Matthew 11:7Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8What did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes…more than a prophet. 10This is he of whom it is written [in Mal. 3:1]:‘I send My messenger before Your [Jesus’] face, who will prepare Your way before You.’
- Mal 3:1 speaks of preparing the way for both the 1st and 2nd Comings of Jesus, Malachi 3:2 on speaks of only the 2nd Coming
“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderers’ soap. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the Lord of hosts (Mal 3:2).
- John was in the wilderness led by the Lord, just as the Lord is calling many to the wilderness of fasting and ‘unplugging,’ to get free of the tentacles of our culture. If we can get in the wilderness and be shaped and prepared ourselves, we can then prepare others, to be burning and shining lamps like Isaiah 62:1 prophesies of us being in the end-times and like Gabriel said of John.
Burning and Shining
- Jesus described John as having a burning heart and a shining lamp of ministry that clearly and boldly made known God’s ways and brought light that expelled misunderstanding about Jesus.35 He was the burning (heart) and shining lamp (ministry) and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. (Jn 5:35)1 For Jerusalem’s sake I (the Lord) will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. (Isa. 62:1)
- First, the generation of Moses when God established the old covenant.
- Second, the generation of the apostles when God established the new covenant.
- Third, ours, the generation when the Lord returns to establish the Millennium. A transitional generation is one in which God dramatically increases the way He moves in power through His people and how He relates to them. There is much more to contend for in the generation of the Lord’s return. John was more than a prophet (v. 9); his very presence was a sign that they lived in a supernatural transitional generation. Jesus asked the people if they understood the implications of this. When God releases greater measures of His power, He requires a greater dedication.
II. JESUS INTRODUCED TWO NEW IDEAS:
MORE POWER AND MORE COMMITMENT
11There has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the [new covenant era] kingdom of heaven is greater [in opportunity] than he. 12And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers [permits] violence, and the violent take it by force. (Mt. 11:11-12)
- First, Jesus revealed that greater power was available to the people of God’s kingdom. In the OT, the Spirit only rested on a small number of people (prophets, kings, judges) to “anoint” them to accomplish specific tasks. In the NT era, all can experience much more by the indwelling Spirit.
- Second, God requires “spiritual violence” to experience the fullness of the new privileges that we have in the new covenant. To “suffer” violence means that God permits, allows, and rewards it in our pursuit of the deep things of God. Spiritual violence is very different from physical violence. Spiritual violence points to being resolute to pay any price necessary in seeking God for more.
- It is violent because it confronts our sinful desires and pride. It reorders the way we talk, spend time and money, how we relate to our enemies, pursue comfort, success, and honor, and express our sexuality. It violently reorders our priorities and disrupts what we naturally pursue. It also disrupts the status quo in the kingdom and has a violent impact on the devil’s kingdom.
- Jesus connected spiritual violence to the lifestyle of John. He set John forth as the premier model of wholeheartedness. The measure of John’s greatness was not in the number of people that he impacted, but in his “spiritual violence” to radically seek God without compromise.
- Spiritual violence does not refer to being irresponsible. We do not need to abandon our God- given responsibilities to obey God. We must walk this out in the practical issues of real life.
- The source of our spiritual violence is the love of God and not fear.
24Take heed what you hear [believe about what God will give you]. With the same measure you use [apply to your life], it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given (Mk. 4:24)
- Take heed—be careful about—what you hear (accept or believe) as God’s measure of blessing for your heart, circumstances, and ministry. Whatever we hear determines the measure we use or apply it to in our lives and, thus, the measure that God will give us. Those easily satisfied with a small measure of experience in God will miss out on much of what God desires to give them.
- God releases more of His power and presence according to the measure of our hunger for Him. Spiritual hunger comes as we get a vision to have everything that God will give the human spirit in this age. One with spiritual hunger will alter their life to accommodate the pursuit of more.6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. (Mt. 5:6)
- Many verses speak of the power of the final generation of the Lord, forerunners are to call the church into this:
Dan 11:32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
- John 14:12 You will (one day) do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father
SEEKING THE FULLNESS OF GOD’S GRACE
- When we are born again we receive an “introduction to grace” based on our need for forgiveness and God’s compassion. God automatically gives this to all who repent and believe in Jesus.2We have obtained our introduction…into this grace in which we stand… (Rom. 5:2 NAS)
- There is “greater grace” that allows us to receive more than forgiveness. This fullness of grace is based on our hunger to have all that God will give. We must aggressively take it. God requires that we cooperate with Him in the grace of God. God will not do our part and we cannot do His part. This is an expression of His desire for intimate partnership with us.6He gives a greater grace…God…gives grace to the humble… (Jas. 4:6, NAS)
- Never let go of your vision to be mighty in the Spirit, regardless of how much you fail. “Today” is always a new day in God’s grace because His mercies are new every day (Lam. 3:22-23).
ISAIAH 40 (Forerunners live in this chapter)
- Isaiah prophesied of forerunners who would prepare the way for the Lord in the End-Times or at the time of Jesus’ Second Coming when all flesh (all nations) shall see Jesus’ glory together.3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God…5 The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh (all nations) shall see it together (at Jesus’ Second Coming). (Isa. 40:3-5)
- Undoubtedly, John knew from his youth he was a forerunner to be prepared in the wilderness as declared in the Scripture. He prepared for about 20 years for only 2 years of public ministry.
- 22 Who are you…? What do you say about yourself? 23 He said: “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord, as the prophet Isaiah said.” (Jn. 1:22-23)
- I am the voice – John prepared the people to respond to God in the unique dynamics related to Jesus’ first coming. The forerunner’s voice speaks of the things that are yet to come with clarity, power and boldness.
- One crying in the wilderness – John understood his identity in ministry as “a voice” that was to be prepared in the wilderness of fasting and prayer. A forerunner voice is always prepared and released in context to the wilderness.
- Make straight the way of the LORD – we are to make clear without any compromise what God is saying and doing. God is establishing a ‘prophetic information highway”.
- John the Baptist was a down payment of this prophecy by being only a partial fulfillment of it.23 I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness…as the prophet Isaiah said. (Jn. 1:23)
- Forerunners prepare the way for the Lord by preparing people to respond rightly to Jesus in the End-Times by making known His plans. God raises up forerunners as a “mercy ministry” to the multitudes before the intensity of the Lord’s End-Time activities begin in both positive (revival) and negative (judgment) ways. These activities express God’s love and wisdom.
- As intense events begin to happen, many tend to lose their perspective and objectivity in seeing God’s love and wisdom. Those who see what God is doing as biblical and as expressing His love and wisdom are able to set their heart to be resolved to participate with the Lord in His purposes instead of resisting or neglecting them in fear, confusion and offense.
- The highway God travels on is the voluntary agreement of His people as they partner with Him. Forerunners make sense of what is to happen (revival, judgment, etc.) before the Spirit releases it in a worldwide way. They are messengers who proclaim “now” what the Spirit is “soon” to emphasize in a universal way. They are one short step ahead of what the Spirit is soon to openly release. Forerunners bring new understanding or paradigms of God and His End-Time activities.5 If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? If in the land of peace…they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? (Jer. 12:5)
- The forerunner ministry does not make sense to the multitudes until the intense activities begin. The wisdom of Noah’s ark was not apparent until it began to rain.
JESUS WOOS US WITH THE WEDDING SONG AND WARNS US WITH THE DIRGE
16To what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, 17and saying: “We played the flute [wedding song] for you, and you did not dance; we mourned [sang a dirge, NAS, NIV] to you, and you did not lament.” (Mt. 11:16-17)
- Jesus rebuked that generation, telling them that neither the wooing of God’s love (the flute), nor the warnings of judgment (mourned) moved them. We live in the paradox of two messages: the wedding song (bridal paradigm) and the funeral dirge (end-time judgments).
- These represent the two sides of wholeheartedness, the paradox of loving God, yet carrying His burden of judgment. On one hand we rejoice; on the other hand we enter into His burden.
- John the Baptist had the bridal paradigm, as a shadow of the church at the end of the age which will, in preparation for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, have a bridal paradigm, or a full understanding of the Bridegroom Jesus. This fiery love will be key to not being offended at God’s judgments.
- The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.
BEARING REPROACH FOR THE FASTED LIFESTYLE
- John also proclaimed the coming of Jesus to his generation, and the baptism that few have, but we should ask for. 16One mightier than I is coming…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire. (Lk. 3:16-17)God is fire – the intensity of His holiness and glory means that He is incapable of dwelling in fullness with anything that is impure or wicked. The degree of His awesome holiness and incredible glory is related to the intensity of the purifying fire that comes to the earth when He does. The reality of life on the sea of glass is that we will stand in the fire of His love and delight in His beauty. But the issue stands, ‘if He is this zealous about cleansing sin from the earth, how much more should we run from it?’
- We will proclaim the 2nd Coming of Jesus to our generation with the same intensity and even greater power, Isaiah 40 and Mal 3 give us the path to prepare the way. But we also lead them to the sermon on the mouth, of which Jesus said is the lifestyle that will stand, a house founded on the rock, that will stand the coming end-time flood (Matthew 7). In Matthew 24 Jesus said the end times will be like the Days of Noah. Forerunners lead others to prepare and build the ‘ark’ of their hearts by doing the wisdom of Matthew 25, getting oil or getting the Holy Spirit, cultivating wisdom and revelation (Eph 1;17) and the knowledge of God.
- Forerunners also call people to wait on the Lord to gain strength for their hearts. Many feel that their life is hidden from God and overlooked by Him. Waiting on God is the primary exhortation that Jesus gave to those preparing for the end times (Mt. 24:42-43; 25:13; Mk. 13:33-38; Lk. 21:36; Rev. 3:3; 16:15). Waiting on God is dialoguing with the Word and living in righteousness.
- John the Baptist and the apostles were first-century forerunners who prepared people to receive from Jesus. When we look at the first-century forerunners, it gives us insight into the life and role of forerunners in the end times. Just as the first-century forerunners proclaimed the first coming of Jesus ahead of time, so also the end-time forerunners will proclaim the second coming of Jesus ahead of time.
- God is beginning to prepare forerunners from many different streams in the Body of Christ worldwide. These forerunners will function in many different ways. They include those called as evangelists, pastors, teachers, media missionaries, artists, singers, musicians, actors, writers, and those in the marketplace. Many will focus on making disciples by leading small groups in their church, university, or workplace. Some homeschooling moms are effective forerunners, teaching their children about Jesus’ second coming and its implications. The forerunner ministry is not reserved for some elite group—it is a calling available to any who are willing to prepare for it.
JUDGMENTS OF THE END TIMES
- The purpose of God’s judgments against the Antichrist’s empire is to remove all that hinders love. Those who misunderstand God’s judgments will be offended and angry with Him. One thing that forerunners do is to help people understand Jesus’ love in the midst of His judgments.
- It is not enough to make known the fact that God’s judgments will be against the Antichrist’s empire. We must give the reason for them. We give the why behind the what.
- God’s judgments will deliver the oppressed and stop oppressors. Think of the implications of a God who would not intervene to stop oppressors. The church will be avenged. Think of a father who would not intervene to prevent a man harming his children. God’s judgments are an expression of His love for His children. In the midst of His judgments, God offers mercy to the oppressors if they will repent and receive it. The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness through judgment (Isa. 26:9).
ONE GENERATION WILL KEEP THE PROPHECY
3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. (Rev. 1:3)
7 I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book…9. I (angel) am your fellow servant…and of those who keep the words of this book. (Rev. 22:7-9)
- The 2-fold “keeping” of this Book is by engaging in the battle plan and preserving it in obedience even unto death. There is one generation will have the mandate to hasten the Day of the Lord by engaging in the uniqueness of the eschatological battle plan as faithful witnesses. There is one generation of believers who will keep the Book of Revelation. It is the generation that intentionally prepares as His Bride to make herself ready.7 Shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night…8 Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith (agreement) on the earth? (Lk. 18:7-8)
- There is only one generation that is prepared to follow through on keeping the Book by having the character, skilful insight and anointing in prayer to release its contents. Only one generation rises up to challenge to keep the Book. They fast food in order to eat the scroll (Rev. 10).
FORERUNNERS PREPARE THEMSELVES IN THE WORD
- Forerunners prepare themselves by going deep in God through studying the Word in the context of prayer with fasting, ministering to people, and learning to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. “EAT THE SCROLL” was the instruction to Ezekiel and John by angels regarding the End-Times Message. Daniel received end-time revelation after fasting.
- Forerunners must grow in their understanding of the Scripture. There are over 150 chapters in the Bible that focus on Jesus’ second coming and the events associated with it. In comparison, the four gospels that give us a record of Jesus’ ministry at His first coming total 89 chapters. The gospels focus on Jesus’ ministry that redeemed us from our sins. The 150 chapters on the end times focus on His ministry when He will fully manifest His rule over all the nations.
- Many of God’s people neglect these 150 chapters without considering that they come from the same Bible, reveal the same Jesus, and manifest the same power of the Spirit as the gospels. For free notes on the “150 chapters on the end times,” see http://www.MikeBickle.org.
- Forerunners will take time to gain understanding of what the Scriptures say about the end times so that they may declare it to others (Isa. 62:10-12; Jer. 23:20; 30:24; Dan. 11:33-35; 12:9-10; Joel 2:28-29; Mal. 4:5-6; Mt. 17:11; Acts 2:17-21; Rev. 11:3-6; 13:18).
- Jeremiah prophesied that in the last days God would give His people a supernatural understanding to perceive His loving purposes in sending His judgments (Jer. 23:20).20The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly. (Jer. 23:20)
- Jeremiah went on to prophesy that God’s messengers (forerunners) would consider, or search out, the Word to gain understanding of God’s heart behind His end-time judgments (Jer. 30:24).24The anger of the LORD will not return until He has done it, and until He has performed the intents of His heart. In the latter days you will consider [search out] it. (Jer. 30:24)
- God is raising up forerunners who will be a voice and not merely an echo.
- There are 4 distinct applications of being in the wilderness in Scripture.2 The people…found grace in the wilderness– Israel, when I went to give him rest. (Jer. 31:2)14 I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. 15…She shall sing there…16 It shall be, in that day…that you will call Me “My Husband”… (Hos. 2:14-16)
- Posture of heart – the fasted lifestyle that seeks to encounter God in the wilderness. John lived a “wilderness lifestyle” (reading the Word with prayer and fasting).
- Spiritual condition – dryness before the breakthrough of the Holy Spirit. Nations, cities, churches and ministries speak of experiencing the “wilderness years” before revival.
- Difficult circumstances – an unusual season of pain before the release of God’s promises
- Geographic location – John lived in an actual wilderness, the desert of Judea.
JOHN THE BAPTIST’S VIEW: HIS LIFE, MINISTRY AND PARADIGM OF JESUS
29 He who has the Bride is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice…this joy of mine is fulfilled. (Jn. 3:29)
- John described what Jesus felt emotionally in saying “He who has the Bride is the Bridegroom”. To understand John, they had to know who He lived before.7 The marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. (Rev. 19:7)
- He that has the Bride – Jesus has a bride in His heart because God promised Him a prepared Bride at the end of natural history.
- He is the Bridegroom – He has tender love and burns with desire for His people.
- John described his ministry and lifestyle as a friend the Bridegroom who stands and hears Him.
- The friend of the Bridegroom – the best man in a wedding does not seek to draw the bride’s attention and affections to himself but to prepare her to receive the embrace of the Bridegroom. Paul spoke of ministries who preached or showcased ‘themselves’ (2 Cor 4:5; Phil 2:19-21). Friends of the Bridegroom prepare people to receive Jesus’ embrace as the Bridegroom God empowering them to walk out the first commandment.
- Who stands – diligent attentiveness to stand in God’s presence in prayer and the Word 18 For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, and has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it? (Jer. 23:18)2 The seven angels who stand before God…to them were given 7 trumpets. (Rev. 8:2)
- Who hears him – to respond with obedience regardless of the price
- John described the joyful emotional impact that hearing the Bridegroom’s voice had on him.
- Because of the Bridegroom’s voice – growing in revelation of Jesus as a Bridegroom
- Rejoices greatly…this joy of mine is fulfilled – empowered with joy by receiving the revelation of the Bridegroom even in the difficulty of a desert lifestyle
B. Premise #2: The Holy Spirit will emphasize the revelation of the Father in the End-Times.
C. Premise #3: The Holy Spirit will emphasize 3 facets of the beauty of Jesus as a passionate Bridegroom (with tenderness and deep desire for His people), as a powerful King who confronts darkness and wins the lost and as a righteous Judge who upholds God’s standards (holiness).
D. Premise #4: Forerunners participate in 3 unprecedented activities of the Spirit: restoring the First Commandment, gathering the Harvest and releasing God’s judgments (Rev. 6; 8-9; 16).
E. Premise #5: God is preparing forerunner ministries ahead of time in the wilderness that they may prepare others for the Day of the Lord activities. It takes a clear sense of mandate and identity as a forerunner to stay faithful long term to grow in understanding (Dan. 11:33-35).
F. Premise #6: Forerunners must live a fasted lifestyle in the grace of God as seen in Mt. 6:1-18.
G. Premise #7: Forerunners are best trained in context to the End-Time prayer movement. They understand the role of the prayer movement in End-Time prophecy and therefore, build houses of prayer. (Rev. 22:17; 5:8; 8:4; Lk. 18:7-8; Isa. 24:14-16; 26:8-9; 30:18-19; 42:10-13; 62:6-7).
THREE RESPONSES OF THE CHURCH TO GOD’S END-TIME JUDGMENTS:
- Offense (fear, confusion, anger) will be the first reaction of believers with an unrenewed mind. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me. (Mt. 11:6)
- Understanding will be given by the Holy Spirit to the End-Time Church.19 Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD has gone forth in fury — a violent whirlwind (Great Tribulation)! It will fall violently on the head of the wicked. 20 The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly. (Jer. 23:19-20)24 The fierce anger of the LORD will not return until He has done it, and until He has performed the intents of His heart. In the latter days you will consider it. (Jer. 30:24)33 Those of the people who understand shall instruct many… they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering….35 Some of those of understanding shall fall (martyrdom), to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time. (Dan. 11:33-35)
- Partnership with Jesus in intercession that releases God’s judgments in the way that Moses did.6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth… 7 to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples…9 To execute on them the written judgment (written in the End- Time Scriptures)– This honor have all His saints. (Ps. 149:6-9)