July 27, 2017
Many sermons today are wishy-washy. There, I’ve said it. It seems as if they’re designed to tickle the ears of the congregation and not to offend anyone. Preachers skip around the Bible and pull out simple subjects that don’t cause controversy. These subjects are important to teach about but often lack depth. When Scripture is taught verse by verse from Genesis through Revelation, no topic will be skipped and God’s truth won’t be compromised. When verses in Genesis are shown to directly relate to verses in Revelation it’s easy to see that the Bible is one book instead of many small books. Both the Old and New Testaments are inspired by the Holy Spirit speaking through men to teach us God’s truth. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3:16. The word “all” is translated from the word “pas” and means “each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything”. It doesn’t mean that only the easy Scriptures are profitable, but the difficult ones too. Prophecy for instance. When was the last time your pastor taught about Bible prophecy? It probably wasn’t last week or the week before. Most likely it won’t be any time in the near future. Since so much of God’s word has to do with prophecy most congregations aren’t being fed on some important points of Scripture.
Prophecy can be confusing, which is why many people don’t study it. Why is it confusing? One reason is that some prophecy was given for a future time and the events couldn’t be understood by the generations coming before the fulfillment. In other words, Daniel probably didn’t fully understand the 70 week prophecy but knew it was from God. Another example is a prophecy concerning the birth of the Messiah which said that a virgin would give birth. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. ” Isaiah 7:14. Instead of believing that all things are possible with God, some people say instead of “virgin” it really means “young woman”. Think about it. From the time the prophecy was given to the birth of Jesus, how many young women do you think gave birth to a son? It has to mean that a virgin would give birth, otherwise, it would be meaningless. Indeed Mary was a virgin until after Jesus was born and she subsequently became pregnant by her husband Joseph. Prophecy was fulfilled just as it was written. There are many more prophecies about where the Messiah would be born, how He would die, who would betray Him, the day He would ride into Jerusalem, and so on. Had the religious leaders of the day believed what they read in Scripture they would have recognized Jesus as the Messiah and the world would be very different now. But, they didn’t believe what God said in prophecy.
Had the Jewish leaders recognized their Messiah they would have avoided tragedy. As Jesus rode the donkey colt into Jerusalem (as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9) on the exact day foretold in Daniel (Daniel 9:25), He prophesied what the result of their rejection would be…the destruction of Jerusalem. “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” Luke 19:41-44. It all happened just as Jesus said. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. God gives us prophecy to warn us of what’s coming. We can either deny it or we can pay attention and know the hour is getting late. The signs of the times are all around and Jesus will soon call Christians home.
A good reason to study prophecy is that Jesus recognized its importance. Had the disciples understood prophecy they wouldn’t have been so confused on Resurrection Day! They saw Jesus die and saw His body placed in the tomb. Their hopes that He had been the one who would drive out their oppressors were squashed and they grieved. Jesus didn’t come to free them from Roman rule, but to conquer death for all people who accept His sacrifice. David wrote about the fact that when he died God would not leave his soul in hell, but beyond that he looked to the Resurrection of Jesus. “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Psalm 16:10, and that He would ascend into Heaven “Thou has ascended on high, thou has led captivity captive: thou has received gifts for men; yea for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.” Psalm 68:18. On that glorious first day of the week when the tomb was found to be empty, there was much confusion among the disciples. Two of these men left to go to Emmaus and as they walked along they discussed the events of the previous few days. We can only imagine their conversation. “We saw Him crucified and buried”…”His tomb was sealed and a Roman guard was stationed there”…”Who took His body”, and so on. As they walked along a stranger joined them. He wasn’t actually a stranger but they didn’t recognize Him. “And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another as ye walk, and are sad?” Luke 24:17. They told Him of the events of the previous days and that their hopes had been shattered. “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. ” Luke 24:21. Had they understood prophecy they would have known what had happened. “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:25-27.What a study that would have been! I’m sure He explained the symbolism behind Adam joining Eve in sin in order to be with his bride just as Jesus became sin to save His bride. Did He talk about when Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac but God provided the sacrifice in place of Isaac and how that was a picture of Jesus, the Son of God, being the sacrificial Lamb? I’m sure He spoke about the meaning behind Passover and what the symbolism behind the brass serpent that healed the Israelites in the wilderness. Did He explain how the Book of Ruth is about the true Kinsman Redeemer? Every “picture” and every prophecy concerning Jesus was explained. Prophecy is included in Scripture to inform us about where we are on God’s timeline. That should be enough to encourage everyone to study prophecy to learn about what is in our near future.
Jesus also talked of the end of the age and told His disciples of earthquakes, wars, persecution, and more that would be the signs of the end of the age. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:28. The things Jesus said would come to pass are found in the previous verses. If you pay attention it’s easy to see that earthquakes are happening more frequently and with greater magnitude, famine and disease are killing many people, and wars are gripping most countries. These events make news headlines but most people don’t see the prophetic significance. So many fail to study prophecy and scoff at the idea that we are getting very near to the Rapture. That attitude is also a fulfillment of prophecy. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4. The scoffers are wrong. Study God’s word and be aware of the rapid changes in the world and what that means in terms of end times prophecy.
If you study prophecy and watch the news you’ll become aware that the events described in Revelation (beginning in chapter 6) are being set up. That can be very frightening. As we draw ever closer to that final 7 year time period there will be more and more problems with disease, famine, persecution, wars, and other huge challenges in life. Today we see many men trying to bring peace to the Middle East and there’s a good chance one of them will accomplish that task, but then turn around and show his true character as the Anti-Christ. The dry bones of Ezekiel 37 came back together in 1948 when Israel was reestablished as a nation and life is being breathed into them. The nations named as a part of the Gog/Magog war in Ezekiel 38 are lining up against Israel. Isaiah 17:1 tells us that Damascus will be a ruinous heap. Have you seen pictures of Damascus lately? The good news is that Christians can be assured that we will not be on earth to suffer the wrath of God in Daniel’s 70th week. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9.That doesn’t mean that Christians won’t see troublesome times, but the Rapture will occur prior to the onset of Daniel’s 70th week.
Yes, the end-time events are coming together quickly. Study Revelation and if you’re a Christian you will find much hope in the first five chapters. If you aren’t a Christian, then you will experience the following chapters and the wrath of God. John tells us that there’s a blessing in reading Revelation. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Revelation 1:3. When you study the things that will happen on earth after the Rapture of the ekklēsia (Christians) you should feel an urgency to tell everyone you can about Jesus. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only protection we have. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. Whether a person dies a normal death or is taken in the Rapture, it’s faith in Jesus Christ for salvation that matters. It’s the difference between eternal life and eternal death.
God has given us prophecy in order that we will be aware of where we are in history. If it’s important enough to Him that He included so much prophecy in Scripture, shouldn’t that make it important to us?
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.