A fascinating, almost haunting thing for me that Jesus said is this: “When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) The circumstances in which Jesus made this statement were not at a time when He was talking about His return to earth at the end of this age. But it’s clear that He is referring to that time.
If He is omnipotent and omniscient, why would He ask a question like that? It’s almost like the feeling is that it’s going to get so bad on earth before His return that He asks this question of whether or not there’ll even be faith left on the earth at His return.
What is the context of all this? At the beginning of Luke 18, “He spoke a parable to them that men ought always to pray and not to faint.” He went on to tell about the woman who kept coming to a judge in her city to get justice for a wrong done to her. Jesus said the judge was unjust and didn’t fear God or man. But finally he just wanted the woman to stop bugging him about the matter so he tended to it. Then Jesus asked His listeners, “Won’t God answer His own elect who cry to Him daily?”
It’s all about prayer and having the faith that God will answer. If that unjust judge took action just because that woman kept after him, won’t the God of heaven hear and answer the prayers of His people? But then Jesus asked, “When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Here are a few other verses from the Bible that bring light on that time and seem to indicate the dire straits the world will be in then.
In Matthew 24:12, where Jesus was speaking about the time just before His return, He said, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold.” Boundless iniquity and a growing lack of love throughout the earth. Then in II Thessalonians 2:3 Paul said about the second coming of the Lord, “that day shall not come except there come a falling away first.” A falling away from faith in God throughout the earth. Maybe you haven’t fallen away or you live in a community where faith is still vibrant. But on a national and international scale, faith in God has declined dramatically in the last century or so, especially throughout the nations of the Western world.
But these are just the beginning of sorrows. In II Thessalonians 2:3 that I quoted above, the full verse says “That day shall not come except there come a falling away first and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” This is something that’s not happened yet but it may happen in our lifetimes. Here and elsewhere the Bible predicts that, in the very last days before the return of Jesus, a devil-possessed dictator will try to rule the world in a new world order.
The people this dictator will fight against the most are the people of faith, those with faith in the God of Abraham, you and me. In a sense there is good and bad news. The good news is that the Bible makes clear that this man will have a time strictly limited by God. Repeatedly in the books of Daniel and Revelation this time is given as a 3½ year period.
But the bad news is that during that time there is going to be “great tribulation” such as the world has never seen (Matthew 24:21). It says this Antichrist will “wear out the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25) during that 3½ year period. Other verses indicate that there will be people of faith on earth who “will be strong and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32). But by the end of this 3½ year period, the Bible says this Antichrist will have “scattered the power of the holy people” (Daniel 12:7), just before the return of Jesus.
Maybe that’s why Jesus asked that question, “When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” It’s going to be the toughest time in the history of the world for the people of faith. But a thorough reading of Scriptures indicates there will be those who will be transformed at His return, whose bodies will be instantly changed from our present nature to the supernatural bodies that we’ll have for eternity.
Will Jesus find faith on earth? The answer seems to be yes. God help us all to hold on to our crowns and to keep the faith unto the end, whatever that will be for each of us.