A reader emailed me… saying, “the closer I look at prophecy and fulfillment, on an every-day basis, the gloomier it all seems. I know I can’t be the only one feeling that – we all must struggle with that…”
The prophecies of the Bible for the last days ARE a lot of doom and gloom — the very purpose of the Tribulation is to judge a Christ-rejecting world. It is called the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, the Day of Wrath, etc.
It is the time of God’s judgment on the world — and there isn’t much cheering going on. Three-quarters of the world will die of the plagues and judgments during this period (Revelation 6). One third of the trees on earth will burn up (Revelation 8:7), a third of all sea life will die, a third part of the ships will be destroyed in a sea turned one-third to blood (v.9).
The judgment extends from the earth to the heavens: “And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise” (Revelation 8:12).
It isn’t a pretty picture to contemplate. Especially in light of the very next verse:
“And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!” (Revelation 8:13).
No wonder much of the Church prefers the replacement theologian’s view that all prophecy was fulfilled with the Destruction of the Temple in AD 70 and that Revelation and Daniel are figurative or allegorical rather than predictive.
Sir Isaac Newton is reputed to have observed, “About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamour and opposition.”
Now that we live in that time, Newton’s observation sounds almost prophetic. There is a HUGE clamor surrounding the study of Bible prophecy. And any of you who’ve read the forum debates over replacement theology know how strongly they oppose studying Bible prophecy.
In any case, the prophecies for the last days are so terrifying, many would rather allegorize them away.
We are not living during the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. But our world is preparing itself for that time as we sit back as astonished eyewitnesses. The chaos that seizes the planet during the Tribulation has its beginnings during the last days of the Church Age.
Jesus warned that there would come wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences and so on. He warned that, “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).
The signs of the times are all around us, and they are scary. They are scary even to many saved Christians who know the signs mean the Day of the Lord is at hand. They are scary to Christians who believe the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation begins.
There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that the Church Age will escape bad things in the last days — just that it will be removed before the beginning of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.
Bad things are already happening. The wars. The rumors of wars. Famines. Earthquakes and pestilences. All on an ever-increasing scale of frequency and intensity. But Jesus said, “all these things MUST come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6). The ‘end’ He refers to is the ‘end of the [Church] age’ (Matthew 24:3), so we know it’s going to get uglier.
Those are all good reasons to get depressed with the ‘doom and gloom’ of Bible prophecy. It’s easy to get caught up in it — especially when examining the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how things fit together, and what Scripture says should be next on the global agenda. Since nothing particularly pleasant is prophesied to come upon the earth, studying it in detail gets pretty depressing.
And there are all the people we know that are not yet saved — we know that time is running out, that they won’t listen, and that is even more depressing.
We see all the tiniest details of God’s plan being played out before our eyes, but the details obscure the bigger picture.
This is GOD’S PLAN! Before the world began, God knew exactly how things would play out. He told us in advance of each event. He told us that fulfilled prophecy was His Signature;
“Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me” (Isaiah 45:21).
Also, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1).
In this generation, we live in an age of miracles. There appears that there is nothing that science won’t be able to accomplish eventually, thanks to the advent of computers. We can replicate almost any miracle except one.
We cannot predict the future. It simply can’t be done. No computer could calculate every detail of every life in advance, which is what would be necessary. Should one person do something unexpected, then the whole course of future history would change.
Bible prophecy was given to the Church in the last days for the same reason that the Apostles were given miracles, signs and wonders following Pentecost.
In both instances, God’s Authority is proved by God-given signs.
It was by the Authority of God, authenticated by miracles, that the Apostles proclaimed the birth of the Church Age at Pentecost.
It is by the Authority of God, authenticated by fulfilled prophecy, that the Bible proclaims the end of the Church Age in this generation.
Taking into account the bigger picture, Bible prophecy isn’t ‘doom and gloom’ at all. It is incontrovertible evidence that cannot be shaken by modern scientific ‘miracles.’
When the skeptic argues for evolution and random selection, trotting out fossils, skeletons and diagrams, it seems pretty convincing – maybe the Bible isn’t all that literal, after all. Maybe science has got something there…maybe…(!)
But when one compares the accuracy of the Bible’s account of the unknowable future to the ever-changing scientific ‘explanations’ for the distant past, doubts melt away. The skeptic has multiple explanations for static events that have already happened.
The Bible gives a single explanation for a fluid, changeable series of events predicted to happen thousands of years in the future — the events that define our present day. Which is more convincing?
Bible prophecy proves Jesus was the Son of God, regardless of the latest scientific, archeological or historical discovery. No matter what else might be offered as ‘evidence’ to the contrary, there is no other explanation for Bible prophecy. It is our generation’s unique miracle.
It proves that He remains in charge of the affairs of men. Scripture records His Promise in all three Gospel accounts: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).
Bible prophecy is proof positive that God remains on the Throne, that His Word will NOT return to Him void, and that all the chaos and terror of the world notwithstanding, all continues to go according to His plan.
Given the unbeliever’s explanation of uncontrolled chaos, Bible prophecy isn’t all that depressing, after all. What WOULD be depressing would be to be among the lost, not knowing what this world is coming to, and believing the world is in a state of uncontrolled chaos.
For the believer, Bible prophecy can be pretty encouraging, which is what the Lord intended for the last days’ Church all along:
“But these things have I told you, that WHEN THE TIME SHALL COME, ye may remember that I told you of them” (John 16:4).