“It can’t get much worse. The last of the last days must be upon us. Jesus must be coming back soon!”
Have you heard it . . . or something similar?
In a world that seems to be getting crazier by the minute, it is inevitable that Christ-followers would be looking to the skies expecting, hoping, even longing for Jesus to return at any moment. But, could He?
Not according to Matthew 24:14.
In Matthew 24:3, Jesus’s disciples asked Him directly, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
In answer to their questions, Jesus gave a description of the types of things that must happen before He returns. The last, the one final thing that must occur before Jesus returns, is spelled out in verse 14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
In all of the speculating about the return of Christ in these “last of the last days”, with all of the Pre-Trib, Post-Trib, Mid-Trib, No-Trib, here’s-my-charts-to-prove-my-point positions, the one thing end times speculators seem to agree on is the fact that until the gospel is preached to every nation, every tribe and tongue, every people group, Jesus cannot return.
That begs the question: Hasn’t every nation, tribe and tongue and people group been reached?
In a word, No.
About a year ago, a friend of mine (who will remain nameless for security purposes) told me of an international team of missiologists who, by using the most advanced technology available, has identified every remaining people group on earth who have not yet been exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Assuming they are correct (and it is possible they are not!), every remaining unreached people group will not be reached with the gospel until 2032 at the earliest. But, they believe that is a reasonable target to shoot for.
That means, as of this writing, we have at least 9-10 years before Jesus can return according to His requirement in Matthew 24:14. We are also told in Scripture that God is willing that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9) and there is a time when all of the Gentiles who will enter God’s kingdom will be fulfilled (Romans 11:25). Unfortunately, some will perish eternally (see 2 Thessalonians 1:9). But not all the Gentiles who are destined for salvation have been reached. . .yet.
So, what is a Christian to do in the meantime?
“Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13 KJV).
What does this really mean?
The Greek word for “occupy” is pragmateusasthe from the verb pragmateuomai (sorry about that!). It is used only once in all of the New Testament, right here in Luke 19:13. According to the Greek scholarly reference works “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT)” and “Strong’s Concordance” pragmateuomai means “to be occupied with, with a reference to affairs of state, literary composition, or business; to busy oneself with, to trade – occupy.” In the context of Luke 19, the only obvious meaning according to these scholars relates to trading, or as most of the newer English translations express, to “do business” or “engage in business until I come” (ESV, NIV, NASB, NKJV, CSB, Geneva Bible and The Passion Translation, aka TPT).
When we drop down to verse 15, the prefix “dia” is added to pragmateuomai which intensifies the meaning not only to engaging in business, but engaging in such a way that the business grows in profitability.
So, if we put it all together, when Jesus was asked about His return, His answer was more like
“Lots of stuff has to happen before I come back. In the meantime, I have an assignment for each of you. Focus – occupy your mind – with your assignment, not with My return. And make your assignment grow and prosper.”
When you read the mission statement for Restore Minnesota (see our website, RestoreMN.org) and when you study our 5-point framework for creating impactful Community Action Teams (CATs), you’ll begin to understand that at the core our job is to help you discover, pursue and fulfill God’s call on your life. We want to partner with you in doing “profitable business until Christ returns”. That business is helping all to hear and follow the gospel of Jesus Christ in all 7 Mission Fields of Culture, and restore righteousness “in our own backyards”. That is how we’ll grow county by county, community by community and family by family.
Focus. Engage. Do business until He returns. That’s what it means to “occupy”.
We have a lot of “occupying” yet to do!