With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday and the crushing pace of Christmas behind us, the annual question now arises. As the calendar arrives at the start of a new year, that question believers ask is: “will this be the year that Jesus will return?” Now, since even the angels of heaven apparently are unable to answer this (Matt. 24:36), we probably can’t either. But that does not mean that there is not solid evidence that 2022 could be the year. Consider the following.
First and foremost, as prophesied, Israel has returned to the land of their fathers and are established as a nation. Their physical restoration is the necessary step preceding their spiritual restoration back to the Lord Jehovah (Ezek. 34-39), which takes place in the Tribulation period. If the physical number is sufficient in 2022, then the Tribulation will begin, which will then bring Israel back to Him. The issue is simply a matter of whether the number needed has been reached. If so, the end times will break forth.
Second, and connected with the first, is the critical Gog/Magog battle (Ezek. 38-39). It seems most likely that this battle will take place after the Rapture and prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. That battle is highly significant since it is the “trigger” event which begins the spiritual restoration of the nation (Ezek. 39:22). And the main players in this battle are, at this very moment, in place. Almost every day we hear about Iran, Russia and certain countries hostile to Israel and their continuing ominous activities in the middle east. Very little, if anything, needs to take place before that war could come about. God will be the One who brings it about in His timing, which could be in 2022.
A third theological fact is that the Rapture is a sudden and sign less event. Most reading this would agree that there is no reason why Jesus could not come for His church in 2022. There is no event (including the Tribulation) which must come to pass before the Rapture. It is true that for many years, “no” has been the answer to the question: “will this be the year for the Lord Jesus to return”. But this blessed hope of the Church can be fulfilled in 2022, as no biblical truth is blocking this event. But as we wait to see if this is the year, what should we be doing?
What to do in ’22? Some Insights and Reminders from the Apostle Peter.
So many in our culture are nervous, depressed and fearful about what 2022 might bring their way. And, if one’s future happiness is dependent on the Supreme Court or politicians or the stock market or covid, then anxiety is understandable. Even some of those who are believers in Jesus have an “unease” deep inside about the coming year. Quite recently my wife and I were reading from 1 Peter 1, and we were impressed with Peter’s wise, relevant, encouraging and challenging words, which seem to fit well as we head into 2022. Let’s look at four of them.
- Our future is certain and it is wonderful (1:3-4). This is to be our focus in ’22. Peter revealed that believers have a guaranteed inheritance. God Himself protects it, and it is based on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. Over time its magnificence does not diminish in any way. It will not decay or become contaminated. It is this prophetic focus that really helps us as we live in a fallen world and a decaying culture. Our best days are ahead of us; and Peter counsels us to focus there.
- 2022 will have difficult times for us (1:6-7). Like James, Peter is a realist and knows personally that trials will come and these trials will likely bring “distress” with them. But these are not random events, but ones that the Lord God knows about and has allowed for His purposes. And also, like James, Peter reminds us that we can do well in these times, particularly if we will focus on what lies ahead in our futures. He states that our final, glorious deliverance and provision of the Lord (1:5b) gives believers an ability to rejoice (1:6). The distressing trials don’t cause us to rejoice but rather a focus on what God has promised, on oath, to bring to His children. (And, who said biblical prophecy is irrelevant?).
- What we do in ’22 counts forever (1:7). God is very focused on making us look more like Jesus in our character (Rom. 8:29). This reality not only impacts our spiritual growth here and now, but will help determine our place and opportunities in the coming kingdom of God. Note that Peter says that trials passed will “result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:7). Jesus declared that when He returns, He brings His rewards for believers with Him (Rev. 22:12). Here Peter references that truth. “Praise” is the commendation from the King, most often encapsulated in His “well done, good servant.” Nothing will rival those words from King Jesus to believers who have been faithful to Him. “Glory” looks at the character of God, and, this word looks at the sharing of that in a close relationship with Him. In numerous places, the NT is clear that faithful believers will enjoy a very unique fellowship with the King in His kingdom. There will be a special sharing of life with Jesus. And “honor” has to do with the rank that a person will have in the coming messianic kingdom. There will be significant differences among believers in the kingdom of King Jesus. So, what is done, or not, in 2022 will count in that future kingdom. Note that Peter again speaks of our future evaluation in 1:17, and how this truth ought to impact the way we live right now. 2022 should be the year to emphasize our greatest ability—our availability to the coming king.
- The coming of Jesus Christ is certain. Twice in the first chapter, Peter speaks of Christ’s return (1:7, 13). This brings us back to the “annual question” about if this will be the year that Jesus returns. Peter speaks of those who ridicule the truth of the Lord’s return, noting that they see life on this planet going on and on and on, without any divine intervention (2 Pet. 3-4). These chuckle at the question, “will Jesus return this year?” They would doubt that 2022, or any year for that matter, would see Christ’s return. Now, I am sure that no one reading this would be like these false teachers. But we can become dull and disconnected to this great truth. As Jesus finished His prophetic discourse, He warned His apostles to “be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42). Very good advice for us today, is it not? There is simply no possibility whatsoever that Jesus will fail to return to this planet and establish His kingdom for 1,000 years. This is so because of the One who said that these things will take place.
The fulfillment of all biblical prophecy is dependent solely on the character of God. God revealed these important prophetic truths through the Apostles and Prophets, but it is because of who He is that guarantees that these prophecies will be fulfilled. Consider just a few of God’s attributes.
- God is truth. Truth is that which conforms to fact or reality. God sees all things as they really are. His revelations about Himself, and prophecy, are consistent and totally accurate. He can be trusted and He does not lie or deceive. If He says something will take place, it will.
- God is sovereign. He is supreme over all creation. No individual or group can thwart Him. So, those prophetic events that He says will take place, will indeed take place because there is no person or force that is capable of resisting His plans or His power.
- God is omniscient. He knows everything actual and possible. He does not learn new things and He never discovers anything or is surprised by anything. He will never need to adjust His prophetic statements because of some new information. Never will we hear Him say: “I never saw that one coming”.
- God is omnipotent. He is the Almighty One. His power never diminishes over time. He won’t become weak and infirmed so that He will not be able to fulfill His promises. When God reveals that He is going to do amazing, supernatural and miraculous things in the future, He indeed has all the power to do so.
So, for me and you in ’22, we are able to live intentionally and meaningfully for our coming King Jesus. We do not know what any day will have for us in 2022, but we do have the promises of our good, sovereign and wise God. With the help of the powerful indwelling Holy Spirit of God, we can day by day live well for Him, making 2022 an eternally significant year. We can faithfully serve Him and yet say with the Apostle John, “come Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). Maybe He will.