When one is first presented with the specifics and details of eschatological Bible prophecy the individual is left with one of two reactions providing that the person hasn’t rejected it completely. They are either comforted by it or frightened by it.
If they are a saved believers that has fully put their trust in Jesus Christ, they can find comfort knowing that the Lord God has lovingly informed them of things to come so that they may know how to conduct their lives and properly assert themselves into His plan while preparing for the future.
Then there are those who view the biblical end time prophecies in a negative light. They may feel threatened or terrorized by the prophecies of the Lord’s Judgment Day that all of the Lord’s prophets have declared is sure to come. The people in this view want to hold their hands over their ears and put their heads in the sand when Bible prophecy is even mentioned.
It is this group of people that consider prophecy nothing but doom and gloom but it is much more than that. Sadly this group does not just consist of unbelievers either. There are many professing Christians and even pastors and church leaders that disregard and shun Bible prophecy and only focus on the cheery feel good messages of the gospel not realizing that they are extracting God’s most protective warnings to mankind.
The irony of these people is that they do not realize that you cannot extract prophecy from the Bible because it is ALL prophetic in one way or another. The more one studies the Bible the more one will see prophecy unveil itself all throughout the Scriptures and that it is not just reserved in the books of the prophets or the book of Revelation.
If a professing Christian views Bible prophecy as nothing but gloom and doom then they are missing out on one of the most divine blessings that the Lord provides in His Word. The Book of Revelation begins and ends with a blessing for those that “hear and keep the words of the prophecy” (Revelation 1:3; 22:7). Prophecy is a blessing!
THE PURPOSE OF THE O.T. PROPHETS
Prophecy is a means by which God has used to communicate to His people that dates back for many centuries. God raised up Prophets from among His people Israel and Judah during the days of the kings approximately between 850 BC – 400 BC to warn the nation that impending judgment was about to come upon them for their many long going sins that they were committing against God. They were entrusted to represent God to the other nations and instead they embraced the heathen idolatrous ways of the pagan nations around them.
These prophets spoke on behalf of God to the heart and conscience of Israel and Judah. The prophetic messages of the prophets had a twofold character. The first being that which was local and immediate to the prophet’s time and the second being that which was predictive to the divine purpose of all of time culminating into the last days. There was also an underlying message of the coming of the Messiah throughout the prophetic word as well. The prophets saw and foretold both the first and second advents of the Messiah.
The purpose of the prophets of Old Testament times was not only to expose sin and announce judgment but also to provide consolation and hope for those that would receive their message and turn to God. They consoled the people to repent and receive God’s forgiveness or else be subjected to God’s wrath. Jesus consoles us of the same message (John 3:18; 3:36). Consolation without the offer of true repentance would only be giving a false hope. That is why the prophets often screamed for repentance.
The false prophets of their time were telling the people that God wouldn’t chastise them because they were God’s people and spoke nothing of repentance. They claimed “peace, peace, when there is no peace”, (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11). John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets, even though he is found in the beginning of the New Testament, for he cried out for repentance, baptized in repentance and prepared the way for the Messiah.
Almost all of the Old Testament prophets always ended their prophecies with a glimpse into the future of the glorious one thousand year kingdom age where the Lord will reign out of Jerusalem in true righteousness and there will be true peace and harmony on earth. They always provided hope with their consolation because consolation without hope only creates hopelessness and God is certainly not about hopelessness.
THE JUDGMENT OF GOD
When we read about God’s judgment in the Bible we must remember that it is not God’s desire to bring down His mighty hammer on lowly mortal man. The Lord God loves us more than we can possibly imagine. However, He hates sin and sin is what has to be judged or else God wouldn’t be a just and fair God. Because we are all under the curse of sin He has provided a deliverance from His judgment. That is the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ in our place.
Since sin is a supernatural curse it requires a supernatural cure and that is Jesus Christ – God in the flesh. He is the only One that is possible to free us from the bondage of sin. God’s anger against our sin was laid upon His Son Jesus Christ. This reveals two great truths. God really despises sin but really loves us, so much so, that He would turn His back on His only Son so they we all could be set free.
This is the ultimate proof that sin absolutely has to be dealt with. All sin has to be judged one way or another. God does not cause judgment, He is simply the Judge. Human sin causes the judgment but God has given us the means to avoid His judgment and it is within our free will to accept it.
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
For those that have never had a chance to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, God is just and fair and they will then be held accountable to what they do know, (see Romans 1:18-2:16), but it is far better to have been graced by God to have heard, received and accepted the gospel and salvation of Jesus Christ.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
God is ever so merciful and “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). God’s judgment isn’t always about condemnation either, especially when it is in reference to His redeemed children. For instance, believers will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive rewards for the things they have done in the body (2 Corinthians 5:10).
This is very much like the judgment we see during the Olympic games. The judgment is not of condemnation or even disqualification but is an award ceremony of placement. The Judgment Seat of Christ will be our award ceremony for our placement in the kingdom of heaven. This is based on everything we’ve done in His name after we got saved by grace through faith.
We currently live in a dispensation known as the Age of Grace where God’s grace of forgiveness is available to everyone at anytime through faith in Christ, but this era of grace will soon end someday and then history will enter into the appointed time known as “The Day of the Lord.”
THE DAY OF THE LORD
The biblical term “Day of the Lord” is not referring to a 24 hour day but rather a period of time in which God will personally and abruptly intervene into the history of man’s affairs to directly orchestrate the climax of His overall plan for planet earth and fulfill all that He has promised He would do in His written Word. While God individually intervenes with each of us today on a personal basis through the work of His Holy Spirit, this “Day of the Lord” will be a much different type of intervention as it will be on a global scale.
Most of the details about what will transpire during this period are recorded in the book of Revelation, particularly in chapters 4 through 19. This period is also known as Daniel’s 70th week or “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), in which all the nations left in the world will come against Israel and the Lord will physically return to deliver Israel from her enemies and the from the Antichrist.
He will destroy them and then judge the remaining world. All of Israel will come to know Jesus Christ as their Messiah during this period as well. Throughout it all this will be a period of God’s wrath upon a sinful Christ rejecting world. But first the Rapture of the Church will take place.
WE ARE NOT APPOINTED TO WRATH
In the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians he is addressing the issue that the believers in Thessalonica thought they had missed the return of Christ. Right after Paul reveals to them (and us), the mystery of the Rapture in chapter 4:13-18 he then goes on in chapter five to confirm that those of us who are in Christ are NOT appointed to wrath and therefore we should “comfort one another.”
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11).
This is the comfort of prophecy. Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is telling us that we who are redeemed by Christ are not going to be subjected to His wrath when He judges the world in the coming Day of the Lord. It is important to note that Paul revealed the Rapture first, then the message that we are not appointed to wrath second.
Paul is also revealing to us the sequence of events, the removal of the redeemed and then the administering of God’s wrath afterwards. Furthermore, Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit for the Day of redemption, (Ephesians 4:30). That “Day” of redemption is none other than the Day of the Rapture. To redeem something is to receive something that has previously been paid for. Christ is the one doing the redeeming on the Day of redemption and He is receiving those that He died for at Calvary.
How do we receive this “seal’ of the Holy Spirit so that we know we are among the redeemed? Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:13-14:
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
That verse says it all. Notice it says that in Him whom you trusted after hearing the word and believed. It is at the moment that you put all your heartfelt honest faith and trust in Jesus Christ that you become “sealed” with the Holy Spirit. It is all through faith. There are no works involved in being sealed. Then there are some very comforting words about His part of the deal. Notice, they are: promise, guarantee, and redemption. These are indeed words of great comfort.
THE PURPOSE OF REVELATION
The book of Revelation is the revealing of the things that are to come in the last days given to us by Jesus Christ through the visions that He revealed to the apostle John so that we may know. Just as we raise our children with warnings of how to avoid the snares and evils of the world, our heavenly Father reveals how the sinful world will endure His judgment in the last days so that we may know how to be exempt from His wrath that is to come.
This is a message of love and protection. Could you imagine if the Lord did not inform us of these things and they came to pass upon a completely unsuspecting world? Unfortunately there will be a great number of people to whom it will come unexpectedly because they choose to disregard the book of Revelation and the prophets or they just don’t take it seriously.
To them that Day will come upon them like a snare. To those that revere God’s word and have embraced His promises with faith then they can actually look forward to that blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:13), because we know that we have an inheritance in His coming kingdom.
Many look upon the book of Revelation with terror and fear but Jesus is always telling us to fear not. As If you have an open and honest relationship with Jesus Christ and you’re living your life with Him as your personal Savior then you are prepared. You have nothing to fear and you can look forward to His coming.
“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).