What Time is it: Part 1: Introduction
What Time is it? Part 1 Intro
This week we will be starting a new series titled “What Time Is It?”
As many of you know, when I was young and starting out with the Lord, I was completely consumed with eschatology, the study of end time events. I had my walls covered with charts, timelines, and scriptures. I studied the Bible many hours every day. Eventually the Lord told me in a gentle way to “not be so concerned about the end of the book, but go back to the beginning and take another look.” In other words, let it go, so I did and I put it out of my mind.
This week, some twenty years later, I felt like He was speaking to me about the end times and I was unsure why. So I pushed it off and tried to put together another teaching, but when praying, all I could hear is “Birth Pains.” That reminded me of Matthew 24:8:
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:7–8 WEB).
Also I suddenly felt that I should fast so I began a week-long fast, from Sunday to Sunday. Thinking that I had a word from Him to go on, I began planning a two-part series based on Matthew, chapter 24. Now I was already familiar with the study of the end times, so I thought that I could just freshen up a bit and put together a message.
I began to pray, study, research and dig into the Bible and church history around ten hours a day. I watched about twenty hours of sermons by various well known preachers in the afternoons, and listened to Matthew chapters 24-25 on repeat all night.
Finally I felt ready to put my sermon together, but when I did, it became difficult. It was like building a house of cards that kept falling down. Like the other preachers, I could write something that sounded great, but deeper research would then pull the rug out from under it. I prayed some more.
By Saturday, I not only failed to complete my message, but the Lord had wrecked my understanding of the end times from one end to the other. The things that He has shown me go against all popular teachings on the subject. It began as a little speck in a verse that I began to pick at, and like a string, as I pulled on it, the whole thing began to unravel. Now I just sit here and say, “Could it be so obvious?”
We need to take Bible prophecy seriously, but prayerfully and carefully. The religious teachers alive when Jesus came, knew the scriptures well, but yet missed the coming of Jesus. Somehow they misinterpreted the prophecies concerning His coming. Could we do that again? Have we done that again?
Popular Teachings On End Time Events Go Something Like This:
1. Jesus will come secretly and snatch all the true Christians away in the rapture of the church.
2. There will then be seven years of great tribulation and terror for those that are left behind like never before on the earth.
3. One sinister man will arise -The Anti Christ- an evil master mind who will take over the world.
4. The temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt, then 3 1/2 years into the great tribulation, the anti-christ will enter that temple and claim to be God.
5. The nations of the earth will surround and attack Israel at Armageddon. Then suddenly Jesus will return and destroy the attacking armies.
This way of thinking tells us that the church of Jesus Christ will escape the tribulation, and those who miss the rapture will have a second chance to be saved.
Now suffice it to say that I have always had several questions about this but the things that the Lord has shown me this week has really thrown a wrench into the gears.
As I would watch teachings by others, scriptures would come to mind that clearly contradicted what they were saying. I believe now that this whole teaching was a divine setup by Him, an invitation to dig deeper and see what He has to show me. I feel like the time has come for Him to reveal some things, or at least remove the scales from my eyes where I can see them.
So now I need time to process this, to study, and prepare a real series on the end time events in the light of the things that He has shown me. It will be lengthy, and as usual, it will probably be controversial. I have promised to teach whatever He gives me and I am OK if I never go further than this chair. I already have the greatest achievement that a man can obtain, I know Him.
There Are Secret Things, And There Are Revealed Things:
Scripture tells us that there are somethings that are secret and only God knows. Then there are things that have been revealed to us. Deuteronomy 29:29 reads:
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29 NKJV).
We get into error when we try and guess the secret things that God has hidden away. One classic example is predicting when Jesus will return. No one knows when that will be except for the Father. Anytime that you see someone predict when Jesus will return, you can be certain that they will be wrong, yet they continue to do so.
Jesus told us that only the Father knows when the end will come in Matthew 24:36: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Matthew 24:36 NKJV). That seems pretty clear.
Then in Matthew 24:44: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44 NKJV).
In other words, if you are expecting Jesus to come on a certain day or hour, then you are wrong. When God hides something, it is hidden. On the other hand, we don’t want to get so caught up in our life, our work, and in the world, that we miss what God is doing and let that day overtake us like a thief in the night.
We want to be balanced and informed. Now with all of that out of the way, I want to use this message to lay some groundwork for the coming series and cover some basic truths of the Bible. Remember this: every time that you learn something new, it means that you were wrong about it yesterday.
The first thing that I want to make clear is that Jesus Christ is returning to earth to gather the true believers just as He said He would, and our understanding of the scriptures will not change that the least bit. Whether we are ready or not, He will come. Also know that what I believe will not affect when Jesus comes to get you, so I am not trying to take something away from you.
Please keep an open mind and don’t be so busy defending your verses, that you no longer see what they have to say. Too many times we are so busy defending a doctrine or belief during a teaching, that we can no longer see what the Bible has to say about it. We believe it a certain way, and that is sealed. It can mean nothing else.
In Acts 7:57, when Stephen was preaching to the Jews, filled with the Holy Spirit, and his face glowing like an angel. They covered their ears, began screaming, and stoned him to death. Apparently they did not want to hear what God had to say…let us not be like them.
We have to remember that the Bible is a living, inspired book, and that we will still be learning about God in heaven. Thinking that you know it all is nothing but pride, and will all but guarantee deception. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. The word of God never needs to be corrected, but our understanding of it does.
What we see depends mainly on what we look for.
We Need To Be Mindful of Eternity:
We need to keep eternity in mind and remember that this earth, and all that we see around us, is temporary. This is not our permanent home. Paul wrote us in 2 Corinthians 4:18:
“For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NKJV).
He also wrote: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NKJV).
In other words: “If there is no eternity to inherit, then what is the point of all of this. We could just live like everyone else.” The truth is how we live now, will affect our time in eternity. Jesus Christ is returning to the earth just as He said and there will be a reward for the faithful. We “Live like no one else now, so that we can live like no one else in the coming kingdom.”
Literal Prophecies About Jesus:
Many people try and “spiritualize” the things that they don’t understand in the Bible, and some things are certainly symbolism, like in the book of Revelation, and of course no thinks the King of Greece in Daniel was an actual goat.
The prophecies about Jesus coming though are completely literal, actual facts, that came to pass. Here are five prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus that came to pass exactly as they had been written:
1) Jesus would be born from a virgin: Isaiah 7:14 reads “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14 NKJV). This was fulfilled in Matthew 1:23. He was a real baby, born from a real virgin, not a spiritual baby, nor a spiritual virgin.
2) Jesus would be born in Bethlehem: Micah 5:2 reads: “But you, Bethlehem, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” (Micah 5:2 NKJV). This was fulfilled in Matthew 2:6. Joseph had to return to his hometown, and Mary went into labor there, so Jesus was born in the small town of Bethlehem.
3) Jesus was called “Out of Egypt”: Hosea 11:1 reads: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.” (Hosea 11:1 NKJV). This was fulfilled in Matthew 2:15. Joseph took Mary and Jesus and fled to Egypt to escape Herod, who then began to slaughter all the children under two years old. Herod feared that Jesus would replace him as king and tried to find and kill Him. When it was over, God called His Son out of Egypt.
4) Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt: Zechariah 9:9 reads: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9 NKJV). This was fulfilled in Matthew 21:4 on Palm Sunday when Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt.
5) Jesus would be betrayed by a friend: Psalms 41:9 reads: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalms 41:9 NKJV). This was fulfilled in John 13:18 when Judas Iscariot, one of the inner twelve disciples, betrayed Jesus with a kiss after the last supper. He sold Jesus out to the religious leaders for thirty pieces of silver.
All of these prophecies about Jesus were fulfilled exactly as they were written. They were not “spiritual” but they were actual historical events that took place.
Because of this, I believe that the prophecies concerning the next coming of Jesus and the end times are just that literal. They will be actual events that will take place, or have already taken place on the earth. As I began studying, I found that many things that we are waiting on to happen, already have, but we missed it. Just as the scribes and pharisees waited on the Messiah, but missed Him.
We are living during a time of rapidly increasing knowledge. When I think of the changes that have happened just over the last decade, the computers and phones that we are using today, it is amazing. I am in my 40s, but I remember when we didn’t have cell phones at all, or computers, or the Internet. There was no Windows operating system, no Google, Facebook or Twitter. Social media had not been invented yet. This is all new in my lifetime.
When my Dad was a kid, they had no electricity, refrigeration, or telephones. When my Granddad was a kid, they had no cars or planes. For thousands of years mankind cooked with fire. My dad’s family cooked on a wood stove when he was growing up, now we have a microwave. There has been a surge of technology over the last 100 years like never before in history.
For thousands of years, warfare remained largely the same. Horses, spears, swords, bows and campfires. The term “World War” did not exist. Now suddenly in the last one hundred years we have seen everything change in a way that our grandparents would hardly believe.
We have fought two world wars that affected the entire earth. We have sent people into space, and for the first time have enough mega bombs to destroy the entire earth many times over. A 100 years ago this verse would have sounded strange:
Zechariah 14:12: “And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, Their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, And their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths.” (Zechariah 14:12 NKJV).
Now that verse just sounds like modern warfare.
I am excited about what I feel that the Lord is showing me and will share it in upcoming teachings. If you love Jesus, the end times are nothing to be afraid of. He says, “Lift up your head for your redemption draws near.”
We were put here for such a time as this. Let us get our head in the game, take this seriously, and live our lives for Jesus.Read more at: www.refreshinghope.org