The Practical Prophecy Podcast: Episode 1

Why Study Bible Prophecy?

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I’m excited to announce a new resource we are making available. I have partnered with a great friend and Bible prophecy teacher Brian Thomas to bring you a weekly Bible Prophecy podcast. It’s called P3 which stands for The Practical Prophecy Podcast. Our goal is to talk about topics related to Bible prophecy in a practical and relevant way. Please share if you find it helpful in your effort to understand Bible prophecy and how it impacts your daily life.

The Top 3 Things That Keep People from Studying Bible Prophecy

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On this question from the recent survey I sent out, participants could choose more than one answer. These were the top three choices by far. Most other reasons were under 5%. These results were eye opening to me in terms of knowing what posts to write, resources to develop, and what books to recommend. They also confirm the direction and content for a book I’m currently writing which will be published by Harvest House Publishers.

I’ll share specific details about he book once I finish the content and we begin to promote it, but it will help address these three barriers that keep people from learning Bible prophecy. It will be a user-friendly resource for churches and individuals wanting to teach the basics of Bible prophecy in a simple, clear, Biblically sound manner.

My partnership with Harvest House is a huge answer to prayer. Many of the prophecy books I have studied over the years have been published by Harvest House including super-solid Bible prophecy experts such as Tim LaHaye, Ron Rhodes, Jeff Kinley, Thomas Ice, Mark Hitchcock, Ed Hindson, and Skip Heitzig. I am humbled and honored to have teamed up with such a great partner. I have worked on many creative projects before but have never felt so called (and seen so many doors open) as I do with this project. I can’t wait to share more so stay tuned!

Anyway, back to the survey. Based on the results of this question and others, two of my goals through this platform will be:

  1. To help equip churches to teach Bible prophecy in a clear and relevant way that causes spiritual and numerical growth in their local body of believers.
  2. To help everyday believers, seekers, and skeptics understand the basics of Bible prophecy and how it is the single greatest proof that the Bible is from God.

If you happen to have taken the survey, here are some initial thoughts that may help you overcome the three barriers listed above. First, be sure to check out the 5 Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation series of posts to get some clarity on barriers two and three above.

Second, be patient with your church and pray about how you may be able to help equip people by teaching a class, organizing a prophecy conference, or starting a Bible study. Its easy to complain about a need that isn’t being addressed, but perhaps you are the one God has in mind to fill that Gap! I love a verse that my pastor often cites…

Ephesians 4:16 (NIV)
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Consider yourself a ligament! Your local church needs you. Often, people with a calling in the area of Bible prophecy see things in a different way. Sometimes only the watchmen and women on the wall see what’s in the distance. It’s our job to tactfully and respectfully figure out how we can help “wake the bride” as author and friend Jeff Kinley so succinctly states in his book of the same name.

I think there are several reasons why most churches don’t teach much about Bible prophecy and I’ll talk about that in an upcoming post.

In the mean time, let me know what you think. Do the three barriers mentioned above seem to keep you from learning Bible prophecy? What resources for churches and people do you think would be helpful?

The Top 3 Things People Want to Know About Bible Prophecy

A few weeks ago I set up a Bible prophecy survey for people to take. It had 25 questions, several of which I’m going to analyze in upcoming blog posts, this one being the first.

One of the key things I wanted to do was to find out what specific areas of Bible prophecy people most wanted to learn more about so I would know what to write about and what resources to create.


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See the info graphic above and a screenshot of the survey questions and results below. Needless to say, these are the 3 areas that most future blog posts will revolve around.


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Several other questions provided some eye opening results which I’ll share in the upcoming weeks.

Is Bible Prophecy a Distraction to Real Ministry?

5 Reasons Bible Prophecy Is Extremely Relevant Today

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I just got back from a Mission trip to Haiti last night. If you’re not familiar with the conditions there, they are terrible. Everything there is broken. The government, the culture, the land, the economy, the health of the people. Everything.

It’s almost as if the land itself if cursed. Even satellite images like the one above (Haiti at left, the Dominical Republic across the border at right) tell a story. Generations of corruption and greed, voodoo practice, a lack of vision, and a lack of education, have kept this country among the poorest in the world. I have been to some of the poorest areas of Brazil and the Dominican Republic but I’ve never seen the level of poverty and brokenness that I saw in Haiti.

It has an official 80% unemployment rate, but it’s really worse than that. Even someone selling vegetables once a week is considered “employed”. It’s probably more like a 95%+ unemployment rate by real numbers. Most people in the villages eat once every other day. Starvation and malnutrition are common place.

As a prophecy student, I found myself wondering if many Christians would think that a focus on Bible-Prophecy (when there are so many basic real-life needs) might be a waste of time, not just in Haiti, but for the Church in general. More than a few times, I’ve heard that argument from fellow believers.

Here are five reasons teaching Bible prophecy is not only relevant, but vital to discipleship and evangelism.

1. IT GIVES PEOPLE A DEEPER CONFIDENCE IN SCRIPTURE

One-third of the Bible is prophetic in nature and one out of four verses in the Bible talk about prophecy. Prophecy intersects with every category of theology and progressively reveals key themes that are introduced in Genesis and converge in the book of Revelation. A study of Bible prophecy demonstrates the incredible cohesiveness and grand design of the Bible. There is no other document like it in history. A study of prophecy deepens our overall knowledge of scripture — something we are challenged to do as believers. The more we know truth, the more we will spot error and the better equipped we will be for ministry and life. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all scripture” is profitable (2 Timothy 2:15, Acts 17:11, 2 Timothy 3:16). The book of Revelation even tells in the beginning and in end of the book that there is a special blessing for those who read the words of Revelation and act on them. So, even the book of Revelation is a practical book that calls us to obedience and results in blessing for those who study it.

2. IT ANCHORS OUR FOCUS ON AN ETERNAL HOPE

We led a Bible study in Haiti with a group of people from the village our church supports and one of the verses we studied was Romans 12:12 which reads — “Rejoice in confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Think about how relevant that verse is to someone who lives in extreme poverty, not knowing when their next meal is coming or what tomorrow may bring. An old blind man in our group talked about being patient in trouble and prayer with a smile on his face. I asked the rest of the group about the first part — the part that gives the ability to be patient in trouble. I asked what the hope is that Paul talked about. “What was our confident hope?” Without skipping a beat, one of the younger men, with utmost confidence and joy in his eyes, said in creole, “When Jesus comes back for us or when we die and go to him.”  This confident hope is our anchor. In Haiti, the believers are not blinded by wealth and comfort. There, they have a raw Acts chapter 2 type of faith. They know everything else is unreliable — everything except our confident hope!

3. IT PURIFIES OUR WALK

There’s something about reminding ourselves of Jesus’ promised return that moves us from being lukewarm to regaining a faith that is on fire with passion to serve him. Since 2000 years have gone by, we’re easily lulled into sleep and complacency — or even sinful compromise — because we’ve lost any sense of urgency. When we study Bible prophecy and are reminded that He is a promise-keeper, and that many of the signs of His return have been falling into place the past 70 or so years, we begin to live with more excitement, purpose, purity, and commitment. I am thoroughly convinced that the enemy desperately wants to get our focus off of Christ’s return because he knows it leads to a victorious Christian walk and another important aspect of our faith…

4. IT PUSHES US TO SHARE OUR FAITH

We tend to share our faith more effectively and more often if there’s a sense of urgency. The Bible teaches that the rapture is imminent (can happen any moment) and we see the conditions falling into place for everything end-times related. A careful, non-sensationalistic study of Bible prophecy reminds us that there are still many people we know who have not heard the Gospel. Perhaps the Lord has brought someone to mind even as you read this. Don’t wait. Tell them about Christ.

5. IT HELPS PEOPLE MAKE SENSE OF THE WORLD

There’s no denying our world is going crazy right now. I recently launched a Bible Prophecy Survey (the results of which I’ll share in upcoming posts) and one of the key areas of focus that came up again and again was global instability. It’s the elephant in the room. These are scary times. But it all makes sense when viewed through the grid of Bible prophecy. What we see today is EXACTLY what Bible prophecy unveils for the end-times.

CONCLUSION

I believe that a careful study of Bible prophecy is extremely healthy and necessary for Christians today. Focusing our attention on the Lord’s return will help move our faith from an arid wasteland to one that is growing and thriving.  An accurate view of Bible prophecy is truly relevant for everyday life and ministry.

Important Bible Prophecy Survey!

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Take the survey now!

Please help me better serve you with relevant content and resources by taking this quick (5 minute) survey to let me know what areas of Bible prophecy you would like to know more about.

If you are ready to take the survey, click here!

Thanks in advance for you help. Feel free to share the survey with others!

Three Easy Rules to Help You Study Prophecy

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Studying the Book of Revelation is intimidating and it does take some intentional work to understand it. But, it’s no where near as intimidating as you think if you keep three rules in mind (covered in detail below).  My goal with this blog is to make complex things simple in regards to end-times theology and understanding. I think most people are intimidated by the subject and many have decided that it’s too complex to figure out anyway, so they retreat to a position of just being okay with the basics — that Jesus is coming back somehow, some way, at some point.

I used to be there too. But then I read verses that say things like, “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33), and “all scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), or “not one jot or tittle (the smallest marks in the Hebrew language) shall pass from the law until all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). Even the book of Revelation itself says that whoever reads and keeps the prophecies found in Revelation will be blessed (Revelation 1:3, Revelation 22:7). It’s the capstone of the canon, the grand finale of the fireworks show, the crescendo of the symphony, the best part of the love letter, and the climax of the movie, but somehow the enemy has convinced most believers that it’s too convoluted to understand. How did this happen?

First of all, I think it’s because of spiritual warfare. Yes, it’s real. Yes, there is a real Satan and in his twisted mind, he still thinks he can usurp God’s plan and take his place. Satan lusts after the worship that only God deserves and the more he can confuse people about end-time prophecy, the more it plays to his advantage — even though we already know who wins. The enemy knows Bible prophecy. He has studied it for thousands of years. He wants to rewrite the playbook and get our eyes off of the incredible victory that is coming for Christ and for us. If the enemy can take away the biggest motivation factor for expectant living and sharing our faith (Jesus’ soon return/Rev. 22:7) then he will do just that. The enemy does not want God’s people living with the sense of purpose, clarity, and urgency that a proper understanding of end-times events provides.

Second, I think some well meaning but unwise Christians have done unnecessary damage to how people view Bible prophecy. There is never a shortage of date-setters even though Jesus himself said that, “no one knows the day or the hour…” (Matthew 24:36). That doesn’t mean we can’t know the season or general time frame however, but that’s another post for another day.

Third, considering the fact that there are a few different methods of interpretation (Idealist, Preterist, Historicist, and Futurist views) when approaching Revelation, this adds another layer of confusion. If you have 3 or 4 super intelligent authors or seminary professors who say vastly different things about how to interpret the book of Revelation, then how in the world are we supposed to know which view is accurate? Am I reading your mail? If so, please keep reading!

I should note here that the various views of the end-times is an in-house debate. It’s not a salvation issue. Some truly Godly people who love the Lord and love the word of God disagree on the order of end-time events. Through MUCH study and a great amount of conviction, I fall firmly into the futurist, pre-trib, pre-mill camp (If you don’t know what that means stay tuned for future posts on that topic), but I would never berate a brother or sister in Christ who held another view. Sadly, I see this happen way too often when Christians disagree. For some reason these believers forget all about John 13:35 that says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

There is a famous quote attributed to an early church leader that says, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things, charity.” Let’s unite around the essentials, allow for differing views in the non-essentials, and demonstrate true Christian love toward each other, even if we disagree on how the end-time pieces fall into place. But, don’t let the term “non-essential” make you think you don’t need to study and form your own convictions. Have the courage to pursue truth wherever it leads.

So, to bring it back to where we started…making complex things simple. Here are three very important rules to follow when studying prophecy and attempting to form your own conviction about the nature of Bible prophecy and of end-time events.

I. STUDY THE TOTALITY OF SCRIPTURE

If scripture is without error and of divine origin we should see a harmony and cohesiveness within it’s pages, and we do. The more I study it, the more I know that only a sovereign God could have put it together. We see lines of theology introduced in Genesis and progressively revealed throughout the Old and New Testaments. We see a divine harmonization of passages written at different times by different writers. For those who want to take the time, you’ll find that the internal and external evidence for  the reliability of scripture is overwhelming.

With those facts in view as we study prophecy, we can confidently interpret scripture with scripture and take every world literally unless it’s clearly a figure of speech. It is very easy to take verses out of context or brush them off if we don’t understand that we should let scripture shed light on other parts of scripture. When symbols are used in the book of Revelation for example, we can’t use contemporary concepts to understand them. We have to search the Old Testament for instances of those symbols. This unlocks the meaning of the symbol and harmonizes it with scripture. I’ve seen some Christians treat the Old Testament like it is obsolete and only study the New Testament in depth. This does them a disservice because, “ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and useful for teaching…” (2 Timothy 3:16). You cannot fully understand Eschatology without understanding the progression of theology from Genesis to Revelation.

II. DON’T SPIRITUALIZE

Too often, students of the Bible tend to “spiritualize” the meaning of prophecies even though they don’t do this with any other areas of scripture. For example, when the Bible talks about various people groups, we understand they are talking about specific countries, areas, or groups of people. In most cases, we can trace the history back to those people. But some prophecy teachers use “replacement theology” and replace Israel with the Church and that God is done with Israel (even though Paul spends 3 chapters in Romans [Ch. 9-11] clearly showing God is NOT done w/ Israel or the Jewish people).

Another example is with the Millennium (the 1000 year period of Christ’s rule on earth after the Tribulation period). Even though the Old Testament prophets say over and over again that the Lord will rule on a literal throne from Jerusalem, and Revelation chapter 20 says six times that there will be a 1000 year reign of Christ, many prophecy teachers say this is figurative for the Church age. The problem is no other scripture sheds light on this being figurative. No where in scripture does it say the church has replaced the Jews, nor is there any precedent for spiritualizing the meaning of the 1000 years. Everywhere else where God uses a number, that number is to be taken literally. When the Gospels tell us Jesus chose 12 disciples, it meant exactly that. Precision and accuracy are hallmarks of God’s nature.

III. USE LOGIC

We need to use our God-given ability to apply logic to compare and contrast passages of scripture to develop a framework of understanding of end-time events. For example. If the rapture where we “meet the Lord in the air” is imminent (meaning it can happen at any time with no preconditions) as taught by Paul, and if the tribulation begins with the confirming of a covenant by the anti-christ, and if the anti-Christ cannot be revealed until after the rapture occurs, then logic demands that the rapture must occur before the tribulation. Here’s another example. If the anti-Christ stands in the temple in the middle of the seven-year tribulation period and there is not currently a temple in Jerusalem, then it stands to reason that sometime between now and the middle of the tribulation, a third Jewish temple will be constructed. (BTW, did you know there’s an organization called The Temple Institute that has already constructed all of the instruments, trained priests who’s DNA traces back to the Levitical line of the Old Testament, has the building plans, and funding for the third temple?)

As you read prophetic passages without spiritualizing the meaning and recalling other related passages, you can use logic to connect the dots and develop clearer convictions and a better understanding about the nature of end-time events.

By following those rules, I have found that studying Bible prophecy and the book of Revelation to be the most exciting Bible study I’ve ever taken on — mainly because these three rules clear the fog and unlock God’s word. I am 100% convinced that God means what he says and says what he means, that the totality of scripture completely harmonizes, and that our God-given ability to use logic connects the dots.

When studying scripture with that approach and with the attitude that you will follow truth wherever it will lead, I believe you will come to the same conclusions I have (Pre-trib, Pre-Mil, Futurist Positions). But even if you don’t, you will still have a much better understanding of scripture. I hope this post will help encourage you to study prophecy with a sense of clarity and expectancy. God’s word was never meant to be boring or convoluted.

For further reading, be sure to check out the previous posts on the 5 Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation.

 

Obedience Leads to Blessing

How Jacob Became Israel

I’m using the simple S.O.A.P. method for studying God’s word and wanted to share an example here. In short, I read scripture until a particular verse jumps out at me, then I write that verse down. S is for scripture. O is for observation. A is for application. and P is for prayer. This simple method for daily devotions has worked for me for several years now. Here is my devotion from today. 


SCRIPTURE

Genesis 35:5 Reads, “Then they set out and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.”

In the preceding verses, God spoke to Jacob and told him to take his family up to Bethel to build and altar and settle there. Then, in an act of purification and dedication…and good leadership, Jacob commanded everyone to get rid of their idols. Then the text tells us they gave all of their idols and earrings to Jacob and he buried them “under the oak at Shechem.” (vs. 4) These were valuable items (at least in their eyes) that the people gave up. 

Verse five jumped out at me because it shows how God works in powerful and surprising ways when His people obey him. God worked mysteriously to provide safe travel for Jacob’s family. But that wasn’t it. The main event of this passage was still to come. Once Jacob followed through with full obedience and relocated to Bethel and built an altar there (vs. 7), God changed his name to Israel and confirmed the covenant he had made with Jacob’s father and grandfather (Abraham and Isaac) giving Israel (the person and the nation) the title deed to the land and all the other future blessings of the covenant.


OBSERVATIONS

• God responded to their act of purity, humility, submission, and dedication.

• Obedience ALWAYS shows up in concrete action.

• Obedience leads to the honor of seeing God move in powerful and unexpected ways.

• Obedience leads to protection from self-desctructive habits, and leads to future blessing.

• Leaders can make a big difference by casting an effective vision and making a bold “ask”.

• A leader’s obedience effects generations to come.


APPLICATION

• We need to simply trust and obey. God’s track record is flawless.

• What do we want more — creature comforts and a false sense of man-centered security — or the privilege of being part of God moving in powerful ways?

• Think of what Jacob and his family would have missed if they didn’t obey.

• God is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Think of what we miss if we don’t obey God’s calling.

• Our fears and sense of loss when leaving things behind are merely the enemy’s smoke screen to keep us from God’s best. Whatever we give up is ALWAYS replaced by something much better.

• Fall in love with obedience. It ALWAYS leads to future blessing.


PRAYER (Pray this for yourself and/or insert your own personal prayer)

Lord, help me obey in radical ways. I want to be part of your giant story. I want to see you move powerfully. Help me accomplish the hard task of obedience today — so I can bless you and anchor my heart and soul to future blessings.

Dim the appeal of instant gratification in the blinding light of future blessings which will never fade or disappoint. Amen.

What The Experts Are Saying

Screen Shot 2017-01-21 at 10.27.04 AMI’ve been working on a Bible prophecy book (more on that coming soon) to help everyday Christians like me understand Bible prophecy and in my research I was surprised to find so many trusted Christian teachers saying essentially the same thing…that we have more reason than any other time in history to believe Christ’s return could happen in our day. A careful study of the signs that Jesus and others in scripture point us to make me believe we are nearing these events.

Do I feel crazy for saying that? A little, yes. I’m a pretty reserved person who does not like to draw attention, but in the past few years I have become convinced that understanding and teaching Bible prophecy is part of my calling. When I look with natural eyes I want to shrug it all off, but when I prayerfully study scripture taking God at his word I look at the world have to conclude that the conditions of our day perfectly parallel the Biblical narrative for the end times.

There are several specific signs Jesus gave during the Olivet Discourse, especially in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. A careful study of these gave me the solid conviction that we are in this time frame. With this conviction, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being sensationalistic. I wanted to know what the pros thought so I intentionally researched to see if I could find clear quotes and specific stances from long trusted and non-sensationalistic prophecy experts.

What I found was astounding. Every trusted source I checked implied or boldly proclaimed that we are currently in the season of the Lord’s return. Several adamantly believe that we are the generation that will experience the rapture.

I know, I know…people have been saying that for years. I get it, and I understand the reservation. My point is, these aren’t quotes from obscure lone wolf personalities who had some special revelation or strange esoteric method for foolishly setting a date for the rapture or the end of the world. These are solid, highly respected, non-sensationalistic, credentialed experts who have been studying scripture and world events for decades and have a clear sense that the end-time events are likely closer to us than most people think.


WHAT THE PROS ARE SAYING
These are listed in no particular order. Also, this is a partial list. Since I originally compiled this list I have come across several more solid Biblical scholars who feel we are in the season of the Lord’s return including: Terry James, Pastor Tom Hughes, Pastor Greg Laurie, Hal Lindsey, etc.

DR. DAVID JEREMIAH, Author, Senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, in El Cajon, California. “Those with the discernment to read the signs of the times today (Matthew 16:2-3) recognize that the similarities between Daniel’s Babylon and today’s Western culture are signs that Daniel’s dark prophetic visions loom close on the horizon.” Dr. David Jeremiah, Agents of Babylon, (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2015), p. 10.

BILLY GRAHAM, Famous Evangelist, Minister, Author. “What a time to take the news of the day in one hand and the Bible in the other and watch the unfolding of the great drama of the ages come together. This is an exciting and thrilling time to be alive…It is not just Christians that sense something is about to happen. The world knows that things cannot go on as they are. History has reached an impasse. This world is on a collision course. Something is about to give. With increasing frequency, commentators from secular media speak of Armageddon.” Billy Graham, The Reason for My Hope

DR. JOHN F. WALVOORD, Theologian/Pastor, President of Dallas Theological Seminary from 1952 to 1986 (Died in 2002). “Just as history was prepared for Christ’s first coming, in a similar way history is preparing for the events leading up to His Second Coming… If this is the case, it leads to the inevitable conclusion that the Rapture may be excitingly near.” Armageddon, Oil, and the Middle East Crisis, rev. Ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), p. 217. J.

DWIGHT PENTECOST, Theologian, Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary (Died in 2014). “Will you imagine please, a platform that is shut off by a curtain thats drawn? There’s a lot of activity going on behind that drawn curtain. If there’s a little crack between the bottom of the curtain and the floor, you can see feet rushing around, you can hear furniture being moved, you can hear things going on. You can’t see, but you know that the stage manager is in control and is directing to make sure that every person and every prop essential to that drama is in place. I think that’s the day in which we’re living.” The Road To Armageddon, Charles R. Swindoll, John F. Walvoord, J. Dwight Pentecost, 1999, Thomas Nelson, Pg. 100.

DR. TIM LaHAYE, Pastor, Speaker, Author (Best known for the “Left Behind” Series, Died 2016). “…we have more reason than any generation before us to believe He will come in our generation. ” Are We Living In the End Times? By Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, 1999, Tyndale House, Pg. 6

THOMAS ICE, Executive Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center on the campus of Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. “We believe that God is now setting the stage for the next era of history, which is known as the Tribulation. There are signs around us that give evidence of this.” Charting the End Times, (Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers, 2001), p. 118

RON RHODES, Author, Speaker. “Do I believe we are living in the season of the Lord’s return, and if so, why? Yes. I say this because of what I call the “convergence factor.” Not only has Israel come together as a nation again, as prophesied (Ezekiel 26-27), but a number of ancient prophecies of the end times seem to be converging in our day.” (Living on Borrowed Time by Dr. David Reagan {with Ron Rhodes}, Lamb & Lion Ministries, 2013, Pg. 76.)

JAN MARKEL, Radio Host, Conference Leader, Founder of Olive Tree Ministries. “I think the church is headed into the homestretch of her history and I base that not on emotions or wishful thinking. I base that on what I see happening daily. Just a few examples here that tell me we’re in an actual countdown.” Radio Show: comfort one another with these words episode 8-23-16

JEFF KINLEY, Author, Speaker. “The events outlined in Scripture concerning the last days are no longer relegated to futuristic fantasies or the religious rants of wannabe prophets scurrying about the periphery of mainstream Christianity. The prototypical street-corner doomsday prophet wearing a “THE END IS NEAR” sandwich sign may still seem a bit oddball, but his message isn’t quite as absurd as it once seemed. Not since the early church first received the New Testament letters has there been such a spirit of expectancy among students of the Bible and prophecy. “ As It Was In The Days of Noah, Jeff Kinley, 2014 Harvest House Publishers, Pg. 138

AMIR TSARFATI, Bible and Prophecy Teacher from Israel, Founder “Behold Israel”. “These are the last days. We’ve come to the finish line. The rapture of the church can be any minute.”

DR. CHUCK MISSLER, Author, Speaker, Founder of Koinonia Institute. “…It appears that we are presently being plunged into a period of time that the Bible says more about than any other period of history–including the events of the New Testament.” Prophecy 20/20, Dr. Chuck Missler, 2006, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Pg. 2

ROBERT JEFFRESS, Pastor/Author. “After writing this book, I am more convinced than ever that we are living in the period of time the Bible calls ‘the last days.’ If that is true, then we may be the generation that sees the Second Coming of Christ.” (Countdown to the Apocalypse, Robert Jeffress, 2015, Faithwords, Pg. 10

ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ, Author, Speaker, Daughter of Billy Graham. “If I live out my natural lifetime, I believe I will live to see the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. I don’t say that based on my feelings. I base that on the signs the Lord gives and what I see going on in the world”

DR. DAVID REAGAN, Founder of Lamb & Lion Ministries. “The signs of the times are shouting that we are standing on the threshold of the Tribulation…The time remaining is short. The time for action is now.” The Man of Lawlessness, Dr. David Reagan, 2012, Lamb & Lion Ministries, Pg. 26

DR. MARK HITCHCOCK, Pastor, Author, Speaker. “When I look at the world today, I see events unfolding exactly as we ought to expect them to be unfolding if the Bible is true. And that gives me great confidence that although I don’t understand everything all the time that there’s someone at the wheel. That God is in control. That’s the great message of Bible prophecy and that’s the great message of hope that we have.”

BILL KOENIG, Whitehouse Correspondent, Author, Speaker. “Everything that is Biblically significant…12 or so items..that we can watch to understand where we are Biblically and prophetically are in active play right now.”

This Should Wake the Bride!

Geopolitical Convergence

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In Jeff Kinley’s amazing book, Wake the Bride: Facing These Last Days with Your Eyes Wide Open, he uses a personal story as an analogy for how to study prophecy and understand our times.

Kinley shares a story about a hiking trip he took to view a 60 year old airforce plane crash site. The crash site was so remote that officials decided to leave the wreckage after the bodies were removed from the remote mountain peak. Kinley notes that after hours of hiking he wondered if he picked the wrong spot. Just then he stumbled on one piece of debris. Then after more hiking, another piece, then another larger piece. The closer they got to the crash site, the more debris they found.

I believe this is an effective metaphor for understanding our times. There are several clear key things that must fall into place in order for Biblical end-time events to occur. The Old Testament prophets and the New Testament Gospels and letters highlight specific end-time events that will occur. We see the conditions for those events clearly in our day unlike any other time in history. All of the signs and conditions are converging in our day.

Just like the hiking trip where Kinley saw small signs, then more and more signs as he moved closer to the site of impact, we should expect the same thing prophetically as we get closer to the culmination of all things.  As I have been studying the end-time signs the past few years I’ve seen them increase in frequency and severity, just as Jesus predicted in his famous Olivet Discourse where he said the signs would be like birth pains. Older prophecy experts who have been watching and studying for decades note that there used to be one major prophetic event every decade, now we see prophetic developments WEEKLY and at times DAILY!

There are various categories of signs but in this post I want to stick with one category, the geopolitical signs. Below, I have described a few of the end-time conditions the Bible predicted, then I’d like you to ask yourself if we see those conditions today.

BIBLICAL CONDITIONS PREDICTED

I. THE RUSSIAN-IRANIAN PARTNERSHIP

Ezekiel 38 describes an end-time war against Israel led by modern day Russia and Iran and joined by Syria, Turkey and several other Arab/Muslim nations that, in our day, openly state they want Israel to be destroyed. Many Christians have never heard of this war even though it’s one of the clearest and most detailed end-time prophecies. Ezekiel 37-39 detail Israel’s return to her land followed by this end-time battle. Isis and the war in Syria have served as the means for the major players of this future war to form the unprecedented coalition.

II. NATIONS TURNING AGAINST ISREAL, FOCUS ON JERUSALEM AND BORDERS

Zechariah 12:3 tells us that Jerusalem will be the focus of conflict with surrounding countries and the focus of ALL the nations in the end times (note: “that day” in the Bible refers to the Day of the Lord, AKA the end-times when God’s judgement will fall). The description of Jerusalem as an immovable rock is a reference her borders. In ancient days, heavy boundary stones were used to mark territory. In the end-times all nations will be dead set on moving Jerusalem’s boundaries. We see that forming today (see note on UN Resolution 2334 below ). Israel is the apple of God’s eye. When people mess with Israel, they are poking God in the eye (Zechariah 2:8).

III. DESTRUCTION OF DAMASCUS, SYRIA

Isaiah 17:1 tells us about a coming day (see verse 4: “in that day”, i.e. the Day of the Lord) where Damascus, the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, will be destroyed overnight (vs. 14). This event may occur before, during, or after the Gog-Magog war referenced above. It also may occur before or after the Rapture of the Church. The Bible is not clear on the timing other than it will occur in the last days close to or in the 7 year tribulation period.

IV. INCREASE IN WARS, THREATS OF WAR, EARTHQUAKES, AND FAMINES

Matthew 24:6-8 tells us there will be a steady increase in these conditions as the Day of the Lord nears. Verse 6 tells us the end won’t follow immediately when we see these wars (WWI, WWII anyone?) but these signs will noticeably increase as the Rapture and the Tribulation draw near. I say this because Matthew compares the totality of the signs cited as birth pains in verse 8. Although we’re focusing on the geopolitical signs, since these verses also mention an increase in earthquakes I should note that earthquakes continue to climb to unprecedented levels. Consider this. In 1973 there were 4,539 earthquakes worldwide. In 2000 there were 19,131 and this trend has continued since then. In 2013 there were 89,622. In 2014 there were 118,404 and 118,955 in 2015!

V. EUROPE JOINED TOGETHER BUT UNSTABLE

Daniel 2:41-43 describes the conditions of the final kingdom or entity in the area of Europe (where the seat of the Roman Empire once was) as being united but extremely unstable. The vision talks about iron trying to mix with clay (power with fragility) which is an apt description of the European Union today.

VI. A CALL FOR “PEACE AND SAFETY”

1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 describes the conditions of the world just prior to the rapture and the tribulation period. It describes a sudden collapse of stability (I believe it will be global social and financial collapse caused by the rapture itself) to occur at a time when the world is calling for “peace and safety”. (Note: this phrase specifically shows up in the UN Resolution 2334 from 12/23/16 as well as in multiple public speeches from world leaders including several US Presidents.)

TODAY’S UNPRECEDENTED GEO-POLITICAL LANDSCAPE

In our day we see ALL of these lined up simultaneously. Russia and Iran are in partnerships with all of the key players, the nations are turning against Israel. In just a few days 70 nations (a Biblically prophetic number representing the whole world) will meet in France to take action on the horrible UN resolution cited above. Israel recently bombed a convoy carrying chemical weapons just outside of Damascus where there’s a high probability that hordes of chemical weapons are stored underground.

There are more wars and rumors of wars today than there have been in my lifetime. As I write this, the US recently kicked out 35 Russian diplomats and is putting troops on the Russian border just days before the inauguration of a new president. Virtually anywhere you look on the globe there is conflict or impending conflict. Insane dictators have or are close to having nuclear capabilities making for non-stop rumors of war.

The fragile global economy continues to move toward collapse, apparently only held together by God’s prophetic timing. Europe is destabilized by an influx of millions of people from the mid-east as it continues to melt down. Africa is a mess including South Africa where thousands of land owners have been killed. South America continues to decline. Various leaders continue to call specifically for “peace and security” in the context of Israel as cited above.

Ten years ago, this was not even on our radar. Think about how fast the geopolitical landscape has changed. I’m not a mathematician but I am certain that it is statistically impossible for these conditions to all line up simultaneously specifically as foretold in scripture for the end times unless the Lord showed his prophets history in advance.

Also, it defies logic to think that these conditions could fade away, then return together again at a later point in history. This demonstrates that the season of the Lord’s return is closer than most may think. There has never been a convergence of prophetic conditions similar to this. What we’re seeing is truly unprecedented and it should be getting our attention as believers.

IS THE BRIDE MOSTLY ASLEEP?

I love what Jeff says as he describes a common attitude of the day. He says, “Much like hikers, those attempting to scale “Revelation Mountain” typically fall into several categories. Some believe in last day’s prophecy, but choose to keep their distance, safely remaining in the valley below. They’ve concluded that Revelation and prophecy are far too complex for anyone to really understand. So they settle for general truth — “Jesus is coming back…I hope. And that’s enough for me!” So they remain in virtual ignorance about things to come. But this does very little for their present lives or future confidence.”

I fear that the Bride, the Church, many true believers in Christ, are mostly asleep. Somehow we’ve been convinced that His return is in the far distant future…if it’s really going to happen at all. There are many more signs and conditions than what I’ve listed above, but these alone should at least get our attention.

Every word of scripture is truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and every letter of prophecy will be fulfilled (Matthew 5:18). God means what he says and says what he means. Now more than ever before, we should take him at his word. Everything he said would happen is falling into place. All the more reason to trust every word of scripture and take it literally.

Let’s wake the Bride and allow Bible prophecy to give us a sense of urgency as we share Christ with our family and friends, and as we prayerfully consider how to live more boldly, more holy, and more intentionally for our soon coming Savior.

EXPERT INTERVIEW: Brian Thomas

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Brian Thomas and his wife Denita founded God1st.org in 2009 and have been coming along side churches to help them teach on various topics including Salvation, Christian Living, Bible Prophecy, the Biblical mandate and Importance of Blessing Israel, Marriage and Family, and Social and Moral Issues among other topics.

Brian has taught at several national prophecy conferences, is a personal friend of mine, and has an almost photographic memory of scripture as it relates to Bible prophecy. He is a great teacher and has the ability to unpack Bible prophecy in a non-sensationalistic and thoroughly Biblical way. He was kind enough to answer some questions relating to Bible prophecy. This post is long, but well worth the read. I have categorized the questions incase you would like to read it in chunks or skip to a specific topic. I guarantee you will learn a lot from this gifted teacher.


BIOGRAPHICAL

How did you become interested in Bible Prophecy?

Well believe it or not, I have had an interest in Bible prophecy from as early as about seven years old. We often hear Bible prophecy teachers point to a particular event in the world or in their life that sparked their interest in this subject, causing them to “see the light”. But I honestly never had such an event. The best answer that I can give when people ask this question is that the Holy Spirit placed the desire for the Lord’s return in my heart at a very early age. So early that I do not recall when the desire began. But one thing that I do remember is a conversation that I had with my cousins as a young boy. I was about ten years old, one was about eight and the other about seven. We were out riding bicycles, doing what most young boys do outside. We came to a stop to take a bit of a rest break and for some reason, Bible prophecy came to mind. I started speaking to them about the 7 year Tribulation that is to come, and several other future prophecy events. When I finally finished speaking after several minutes, they just sat there on their bikes in silence with the “deer in the headlights look”. It was as if I could read their minds saying, “This guy has really lost it!”

So the interest was there from my childhood but in 2007, the Lord began pouring the burden into my heart. My craving for prophecy came like a flood and in 2008, I accepted God’s call to proclaim the message of Bible prophecy to the world.

What impact has the study of prophecy had on your personal walk with the Lord?

It has caused me to live with a sense of urgency and preparedness. When a person truly believes in their heart that Christ could return at any time, it makes one want to always be ready. For example, I may be tempted to be impatient or unkind with my wife over a disagreement. But then I think, “What if Christ returns and finds me in this state?” Of course, my salvation would not be nullified but I think it would really dampen my first face to face meeting with my Lord if He were to return to find me in a sinful state.

It makes me think about the Jewish wedding tradition that Christ alludes to in the scripture. When a Jewish man and woman would become engaged for marriage during the Bible days, the groom would depart from his future bride and return to his father’s house to build a home for them. What the bride didn’t know is when he would return for her. It could be days, weeks, or months so it was critical for her to always be ready. She wanted to make sure that she got her marriage off to a great start by being prepared for him, excited to see him, looking her best, dressed in her finest clothes so that her groom would be pleased to make her his bride. It is important for me that Christ finds me in my best state as well when He returns for His bride, the church.

And lastly, studying prophecy has given me an urgency to reach the lost. So many prophecies are being fulfilled today in our lifetime that the Bible declares would be the final stages just before the return of Christ.  Many have not accepted Christ as Savior and therefore will not be ready when He returns. I have a strong burden on my heart to reach as many as possible because I truly believe our Lord will be coming back any day now.

What ministry, event, or project are you working on right now that you are excited about?

I will be speaking at a church in Baltimore, MD in December at their 2nd annual prophecy conference. Wonderful congregation there that I really enjoyed fellowship with on my first visit.

I am in the process of working out a partnership with Blessings of Israel, which is a ministry that provides food and products from the Promised Land of Israel. Our ministry Blessings to Israel emphasizes the importance of supporting God’s chosen people and their significance in Bible prophecy so I think it is a natural fit that I am excited about.

We will be launching a new podcast soon at God1st.org where listeners can find brand new shows related to current day events.

What other prophecy experts have influenced your understanding of end-times prophecy?

Dr. David Reagan – I had the pleasure of meeting him at a conference a few years ago and we immediately hit it off. He has sort of taken me under his wings and provided a lot of encouragement and support. I guess it is safe to say that he is a veteran amongst prophecy teachers and he sees the need to pass the torch to the younger generation. Upon meeting me, a young man, which is a rarity in Bible prophecy, he has been a strong advocate and encourager to assist me with reaching the young generation.

Nathan Jones – I had the privilege of interacting with Nathan online and upon meeting, we found a lot of common ground. Nathan focuses on using today’s technology (internet, social media, mobile devices, etc.) to spread the word of Bible prophecy. I have developed a great relationship with him in that we often bounce ideas and new discoveries off one another concerning avenues for sharing Bible prophecy with the world.

Dr. Tim LaHaye – Like millions of others, I have been a longtime fan of his Left Behind series. His work has had a great influence on me for teaching Bible prophecy as many have been saved through reading his books and watching his movies. I have an excellent commentary that he created, Revelation Unveiled that is a frequent go-to resource when I study and teach Bible prophecy.

Others like Donald Perkins and Grant Jeffrey are individuals that I have gleaned much knowledge through their teachings.

What would you say is your unique calling in the area of Bible prophecy?

The importance of the nation of Israel. Our Lord placed a strong, almost unexplainable desire in my heart for the Jewish people which is spelled out in our mission statement:
Our mission is proclaiming the soon return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The nation of Israel lies in the center of events that point to the second coming of our Messiah. Therefore, this ministry seeks to raise awareness as to why all Christians should place a special focus on the Jewish nation while anticipating the return of our Lord.
We encourage all Christians to pray without ceasing for Israel and bless their great nation. The Lord told Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:3.

Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share?

People often find it puzzling that I am a mathematician in that I received a BA degree in Mathematics. What’s the connection to Bible prophecy? None whatsoever as far as I can tell…I’m just one of those strange individuals that loves math!

What is your favorite Bible prophecy resource or study tool?

Revelation Unveiled by Dr. Tim LaHaye. If you want to really understand the prophecies of the book of Revelation, this resource is a must-have for your library.

HERMANEUTICAL (Proper Biblical Interpretation)

What are some important things to keep in mind when studying Bible prophecy?

Always keep the word literal in the forefront of your mind when studying and interpreting Bible prophecy. There are numerous belief systems that sprung up all do to overly symbolizing scriptures. Of course we know that there is symbolism in Bible prophecy and we are called to seek the meaning when detected. But I love to refer to a saying that my friend Dr. David Reagan coined which states, “When the plain sense makes sense, look for no other sense or else you end up with nonsense!” This is a very true statement. The eschatological view Preterism, for example, is the belief that all prophecies of the Bible have already taken place. Obviously Jesus Christ has not returned to earth but Preterism explains everything away by way of spiritualizing passages which leads to a circus of interpretations and belief systems. So in summary, always first look to interpret Bible prophecy for its literal meaning. When a literal interpretation is not possible, we then look to symbolic meanings. This way, we avoid interjecting our own preconceived notions onto the meaning of scriptures.

What errors of interpretation have you seen that make Bible prophecy inaccurate, inaccessible, or confusing?

Allegorical interpretation. This approach has led to all kinds of wild theories. Harold Camping is a classic example. Camping insisted that the real meaning of any passage is to be found in its hidden spiritual meaning that can only be decoded by true believers. By doing this, Camping could impose whatever meaning he wanted upon scriptures, which is what he did. He is infamous for having numerous failed predictions concerning the return of Christ. He also taught that the two witnesses of Revelation 11 represent the Church which is far from the truth.

Allegorical interpretation has led to the rise of false doctrines like Replacement Theology which argues that the Church has replaced Israel in the eyes of God. A quick reading of Roman 9 -11 clearly proves Replacement Theology to be incorrect. Preterism, the belief that all prophecy of the Bible has been fulfilled, is another false teaching that came about due to allegorical interpretation.

What is the most compelling reason (or two) that you see for a Pre-Tribulation rapture?

This is one of my favorite points of discussion. There certainly are many compelling reasons for the Pre-Tribulation rapture but I will narrow it down to what I believe are the two most compelling: (1) Imminence (2) Primary Purpose of the Tribulation.

Imminence

The Apostle Paul gave an account of being taken from earth to be with the Lord in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed”. We see that Paul is speaking of a resurrection that will occur quickly, in the twinkling of an eye. When the dead in Christ rise, there will be no corruption associated with their bodies. They will have glorified bodies at that point.

This account from Paul continues a common theme in the scriptures: Imminence. Post-Tribulation & Mid-Tribulation raptures do not have the imminent tone because calculations on timing can be easily made. We know that the seven year Tribulation will begin when the Antichrist makes a covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:27). If the rapture only occurs at the midpoint or end of the Tribulation, we could easily calculate the event to the day based on when the Antichrist makes the covenant with Israel. Imminence is displayed in the message that Christ gave to the church at Sardis, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you”. – Revelation 3:2-3.Other accounts of this being an imminent event are found in Matthew 24:27-28, 42-51; Luke 12:35-40. The recurring theme is to watch and be ready.

Primary Purpose of the Tribulation

Symbolism is found between the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, Marriage Supper, and the Jewish wedding. The marriage supper is spoken of in the book of Revelation, “Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” – Revelation 19:9. The marriage supper will occur in heaven. Those who are invited will be called blessed because it means they have received eternal salvation through Jesus Christ and have gone to live with the Lord in the eternal state. This event is called a marriage supper that will celebrate being joined with Christ just as we have earthly wedding receptions between husband and wife. There was a Jewish wedding tradition during the time of Jesus on earth. Once an engagement period ended, the groom would go to his father’s house and prepare a wedding chamber. When the chamber was ready, he would go to get his bride to bring her to the chamber. The bride would know he would come for her at some point but did not know when so she had to be ready at all times. When the groom returned for his bride, he would take her to the wedding chamber where they were sealed for seven days. After the seven days, the bride and groom would exit to a large wedding celebration. It may very well be that this same event will occur in a spiritual sense when Jesus raptures the Church. He told us He will return but at a time unknown, so we must be ready. He will take us into heaven to wait out the seven year Tribulation that will be taking place on earth. At the end of the seven years, all those that were raptured will participate in the marriage supper in heaven. At the completion of the supper, we will return with the Lord to earth to defeat Satan (Revelation 19:11-21). I think the Rapture/Marriage Supper will parallel the Jewish wedding tradition.

Confusion surrounding the rapture is settled once it is determined who the event is for. Is it for Israel, the Church, or both? The Rapture is an event that was promised to the Church of the New Testament. For this reason, it was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets. A review of the Old Testament reveals that the focus was on the Jews. But with the New Testament, the focus shifts to the Gentiles and the establishment of the Church. The reason for this shift was because God temporarily suspended His plan for Israel due to their continuous rebellion. In reference to their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, Apostle Paul wrote, “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” – Romans 11:11. This verse reveals that God presented salvation to the Gentiles when the Jews rejected Jesus. The Gentiles did what the Jews did not do by accepting Jesus as the Son of God believing that He died and rose again. For this, their reward is recorded in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 as being caught up to meet the Lord. The “dead in Christ” refers to the Church Age Saints (Christians). This is a reward because it means Jesus will take Christians out of the earth before having to suffer through the Tribulation.

Some incorrectly believe the Church permanently took Israel’s place in the eyes of God due to Romans 11:11. But as stated in the verse, even though the Jews stumbled, they did not fall meaning that God will restore them and fulfill His promise to Abraham once His plan for the Church is completed. We are seeing that fulfillment in this generation as God returned the Jews to partially claim their Promised Land in 1948 when Israel officially became a re-born nation. But there is more land that He promised them that they do not yet have. Once the Church (Christians) is removed, God will complete His plan for Israel during the seven year Tribulation when they will finally accept Jesus as the Messiah and enter the Millennium with all of the land promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18). Daniel 12:2 reveals that the Jews will be resurrected at the end of the Tribulation.

The Rapture occurring before the Tribulation becomes apparent after carefully studying the Seventy Sevens prophecy from the book of Daniel. Daniel received this prophecy from an angel over 500 years before Christ would first come to earth. The Jews were in captivity at the time to a foreign nation. Their captivity began when King Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian empire invaded Israel. The Babylonian empire was later conquered by the Medo-Persians where the Jews remained under oppression. God had allowed this as punishment to the Jews for repeatedly rebelling against Him through sin and worshipping idol gods. The angel Gabriel came to Daniel and revealed that God would give the nation of Israel seventy weeks to accomplish certain tasks. These seventy prophetic weeks are actually 490 literal years. The seventy weeks were broken into three segments (7 weeks, 62 weeks, 1 week). One of the tasks was to repent of their rebellion. The angel revealed to Daniel that Jesus Christ would come someday but would be crucified because the Jews would continue to rebel and display their rebellion in rejection of God’s Son. This would occur after the 62 week segment, meaning one week (7 literal years) would be left of the prophecy. Christ was crucified almost 2000 years ago but the events detailed in the last week have not yet occurred. The last week is the seven year Tribulation that is still to come. The time between the end of the 62 week segment and the beginning of the last week is known as a prophetic gap. This gap was filled by the Church age. God brought salvation to the Gentiles as a result of the Jews rejecting His Son Jesus (Romans 11:11). His plan for Israel was put on hold as a result of this. But once the Gentiles (Church) is removed by way of the Rapture, God will complete His plan for Israel. When the Church age is removed from the timeline, the seventy sevens prophecy of Daniel perfectly continues from the end of the 69th week (62 week segment) into the 70th week (Tribulation) without a break. God still has a “score” to settle with the nation of Israel and with Satan. Since the Church was not involved in the rejection of Jesus when He first came to earth, it makes sense that the Church will be taken out of the way so as to not get “caught up in the cross fire”. The purpose of the Tribulation (70th week of Daniel’s prophecy) is to bring the Jews to repentance and finally accept Jesus as the Messiah that they have rejected for hundreds of years.

Please understand that the rejection of Jesus by the Jews does not mean that every single Jew rejected Him. All of Jesus’ disciples were Jews and there are many Jewish Christians throughout the world today. But the majority of them have never accepted Jesus as the Messiah. God will unleash tremendous wrath on them during the Tribulation and allow the Antichrist to bring down the worst persecution the world has ever seen. Two-thirds of them will be killed and at that point they will finally turn to God who will open their spiritual eyes to realize Jesus is the Messiah they have always looked for. The scripture states that the remaining one-third will accept Christ and be purified at that point (Daniel 11:35; Daniel 12:10; Zechariah 13:9). Jesus will return to earth at the end of the Tribulation and they will then mourn for Him whom they pierced (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7), finally realizing their mistake of crucifying Jesus. Satan will be imprisoned in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years at that point. He will be released at the end of the 1,000 year period to receive his final defeat (Revelation 20:1-10).

So it is clear that the Tribulation is designed to bring the Jews to repentance. God will do this out of love, in the same way a parent disciplines a child when he or she is disobedient. This is why Matthew warned the Jews to watch for the Antichrist (Matthew 24:15). They will be on earth when the Antichrist comes to power. The Church is not warned to look for the Antichrist but is told repeatedly to watch for Jesus. The reason being that Jesus will come for the Church before the Tribulation begins. Although the Tribulation is to bring the Jews to accept Christ, non-Jews should NOT be complacent. If a living Gentile has not accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, they too will suffer through the Tribulation period. So it is important that all immediately accept Jesus and become a born again Christian if you have not done so already.

STATE OF PROPHECY IN THE CHURCH

How would you encourage a pastor or church to begin teaching on prophecy?

I recommend that a pastor or church bring in a Bible prophecy expert to hold a weekend conference. God has raised up numerous individuals that have dedicated their lives to studying and teaching Bible prophecy, meaning Bible prophecy is their area of focus. I will admit that understanding and teaching Bible prophecy requires a tremendous amount of preparation and study. Many pastors are already stretched thin with juggling the demands of shepherding their flocks and therefore find it somewhat difficult to get motivated to delve into Bible prophecy (not that I’m making an excuse for so many pastors that dismiss it, just stating that I am understanding to a degree). So I recommend that they bring in a Bible prophecy teacher on at least a quarterly basis to present a conference. But the teaching should not only occur during the conference weekends. In between conferences, the pastor should piggyback on what was presented by being a student of the information himself while expounding on it to his congregation. Many people are perplexed by things that are going on in the world today. I think that pastors will be pleasantly surprised to find that parishioners are eager to learn and will be intrigued upon learning that events in our world today are prophesied in the Bible. So to summarize, (1) bring in a Bible prophecy expert to get the ball rolling, (2) expound on information from the conference, (3) relate current world events to prophecies of the Bible.

Do you think the teaching of prophecy will lead to church growth (in numbers and maturity)? Why or why not?

I do believe it will lead to church growth in numbers and maturity. I think this will happen because a lot of people have questions concerning why certain things are taking place in the world. Many wondered why terrorists intentionally flew planes into buildings on September 11, 2001, why the Palestinians and Jews are in constant conflict, why marriages are failing at a high rate, to give a few examples. Well the answers to these questions are found in Bible prophecy and I think the hunger for these answers and for what the future holds will draw people to the church. I think the 12th chapter of Daniel alludes to this. We find in Daniel 12:4, “…many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” I believe this is referring to the Tribulation. As devastating calamities are coming upon the earth during that time, people will seek out answers as to why the events are taking place. Many will “run to and fro” to the Bible trying to figure out what is happening and knowledge of end times events will increase.

What do you see as the top reason churches should consider teaching Bible prophecy?

Bible prophecy gives hope for the future. People often portray prophecy as gloom and doom and I have often heard pastors say prophecy is just a distraction. But to those individuals, I say God must have wanted us to have a lot of distractions because He placed lots of prophecy in the Bible. Nearly a third of the Bible is Bible prophecy. And I think pastors are doing a great disservice to their congregations when they choose to ignore Bible prophecy because what hope, what true hope can one have if you take away Bible prophecy? For example, think of a person who has lost a loved one who is a Christian. That person has died. You can have great hope and the grieving is not so devastating when you know that at the return of Christ, prophecy says that person will be resurrected, they will rise again and you will be reunited. I’ve heard pastors dismiss prophecy in many ways such as they must focus on issues of today like immorality with children, rebellious children, problems in marriages, unemployment, financial troubles, sickness, etc. But what better hope can you give a person then to say when Christ returns, instantly all these problems will come to an end? So I say that Bible prophecy is where we get hope, we get incentive that we can keep pressing forward even through the struggles of today. Bible prophecy lets us know that in the end, Jesus wins and therefore we as His followers win as well. Trouble will not last always. A perfect existence is coming.

Do you think talking about prophecy and end-time events will make a church seem weird or scare away seekers? Why or why not?

I do think that unfortunately some will view a church that teaches prophecy as weird and scare some people away. The reason for this is directly due to people like Harold Camping. Camping, who recently passed away, claimed to be a Christian and authority on Bible prophecy. He made numerous failed predictions concerning the return of Christ. Many in the world laughed at him and laughed at us as Christians, putting us all into the same “company” when it comes to Christian beliefs. Any true Bible believing Christian knows that we cannot predict the return of Christ. The Bible makes that very clear. But Camping has caused many to view all Christians as quacks. But on the flip side, true seekers, meaning those that truly hunger for God’s word will not be turned off by a Church that teaches prophecy. They will be drawn to it and not be afraid of being ridiculed by non-believers for an association with a prophecy believing church. Just like the Apostle Paul, true seekers will be excited about the return of Christ and look forward to that event.

What topics or common mistakes should churches avoid when teaching Bible prophecy?

Avoid the temptation to view & interpret Bible prophecy based on one’s own personal experience. One mistake concerning interpreting the Bible in general is that many do not view it through the eyes of the culture of the day in which it was written. The Bible has numerous parables that directly relate to the Jewish culture of that day. For example, to get a clear meaning of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, one must understand the Jewish wedding tradition and how it relates to the return of Christ. Understanding the Feasts of the Lord that were commanded for the Jews to observe is critical for understanding the correlation to Bible prophecy. But many in the western world, read the Bible through the eyes of our western culture and we therefore miss interpretations.

Another common mistake is reading news headlines into prophecy. It is good to view current events in light of Bible prophecy as many prophecies are being fulfilled in our day. But some go overboard and try to make everything a sign of the times or fulfillment of prophecy when it really is not.

And lastly, a common mistake that has led to all kinds of false interpretations is Replacement Theology. The fact that Israel rejected Jesus as the Messiah resulting in their world-wide dispersion, has led to a great satanic deception which has invaded the Christian Church with many teaching that God’s covenant with Israel no longer exists. This is known as Replacement Theology – the view that the church is the new or true Israel that has permanently replaced or superseded Israel as the people of God. This belief causes one to misunderstand the Tribulation, end time events concerning Israel, etc. Romans 9 – 11 makes it clear that the church has not replaced the nation of Israel.

How can we best reach Millennials with the message of Bible prophecy?

I must admit that I have found reaching Millennials with the message of Bible prophecy to be a real challenge. The majority of Millennials have bought into the belief that morality is based on feelings rather than the truth of God’s word. Many deem that what is right or wrong in life is determined by whether it feels good or not. Being a follower of Christ requires that we deny our own agendas. Jesus in Mark 8:34 tells us whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Accepting Bible prophecy means being willing to be ridiculed and persecuted for standing for what’s right. We already see persecution of Christians in the world today and it will climax during the Tribulation when all on earth will have to make the decision to choose Jesus Christ or the Antichrist. Choosing Jesus Christ may mean, going hungry because we may not be able to buy food or missing out on a job for refusing to compromise on a moral issue. So the first thing we must do is get Millennials to accept the “denial of self” frame of mind.

Secondly, Millennials are much less likely to read a 200+ page book on Bible prophecy. Social media, text messaging, smart phones have sort of conditioned us to only digest things in bite sized pieces. Anything that takes more than a few minutes to listen to or read, the Millennials likely will bypass. So I think the message of prophecy needs to be delivered to that generation in bite sized pieces via social media. I have found that video / animation social media posts that run 30 seconds to a minute seem to be effective in reaching the short attention span that we often see in Millennials. There are always exceptions to the rule but this seems to be the common theme.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

What is the most compelling end-time sign you see taking place in our day?

The rebirth of the nation of Israel. Jesus gave the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-35 in His Olivet Discourse. A day earlier in Matthew 21:18-19, He had put a curse on a fruitless fig tree and immediately the tree withered away. He did this as a prophetic symbol that God’s wrath would be poured out on the Jewish nation due to their spiritual rebellion against Jesus Christ. Many Jews did not believe Jesus was the Messiah at that time and most present day Jews still reject Him as the Son of God. But they will realize He is the Messiah at the end of the Great Tribulation.

So Jesus told the disciples to watch the fig tree. When they saw it bloom again, it would mark His soon return. The fig tree is a symbol of the nation of Israel (Hosea 9:10; Jeremiah 24:1-10; Joel 1:7; Luke 13:6-9). The blossoming of the fig tree was symbolic of Israel “blooming” into a nation again. Jesus stated when they saw these things to know that His return is near and that He would be waiting at the gate of heaven, waiting for the command from the Father to return (Matthew 24:33).  He went on to say that this generation shall not pass until all these things happen (Matthew 24:34). He was referring to the generation that sees the fig tree blossom. The wrath of God was poured out on the Jews in 70 AD and they were driven into exile away from the Promised Land. But after 1878 years, Israel blossomed into a nation again on May 14, 1948 as fulfillment of this prophecy. Jesus told us what to look for, therefore prepare yourself because our Messiah is coming for us soon!

How do you think Christians should respond to what we’re seeing in the world today?

The late Pastor Adrian Rogers coined a phrase that I really love when it comes to prophecy and the conditions of the world today. He would state, “It is getting gloriously dark”. It is getting dark in that immorality continues to get worse and worse and our hearts grieve as we see the rebelliousness to God and the tremendous suffering that it is causing in people’s lives. But the flip side of that is that the Bible declares things would happen this way just prior to the return of our Lord. So we Christians should not be discouraged. Yes, our hearts break for the darkness that is occurring and we do not delight in people’s suffering. But we should be extremely excited over the idea that our Lord may be returning for His people any day now. And I truly believe we are the generation that will witness the return of our Messiah to earth.

What is the most encouraging advice you can give to Christians right now regarding the times we live in?

Bible prophecy is a message of hope & comfort. We find that in the words of Apostle Paul: But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Notice that Apostle Paul concluded his message by stating to comfort one another. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture is an event of comfort knowing that we will rise to be with our Lord and saved loved ones. Paul wrote the above text to the Church at Thessilonica in response to their sorrow/concern. The people there were troubled believing they had missed the second coming of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). Apparently an imposter had written to the Church stating that Christ’s return to earth had come and gone. This imposter signed Paul’s name to the letter. So Paul is comforting them to let them know that day has not come. In verse 13, Paul refers to those that have died as “those who have fallen asleep”. He is instructing the Church to not be sorrowful as if there is no hope for them. He continues in verse 14 by stating that if they believed Jesus died and rose from the dead (meaning they were Christians), God would also resurrect those who had accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah before their death. These people will be resurrected and taken up to live with the Lord. Paul then speaks of the sequence of the events. There will be the sounding of a trumpet, the Lord will descend from heaven, the dead in Christ (Christians) will rise from the grave first, then those who are alive will be caught up (raptured) with them into the clouds where all will meet the Lord in the air. From that point forward, Christians will always be with the Lord. Paul gave these words so that we would comfort each other knowing that we will be with our Christian loved ones that have passed on and we will all dwell with the Lord forever.

The Apostle Paul preached about hope in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. He was addressing those who said there was no resurrection and told them that we know there is a resurrection because Christ rose from the dead. Since Christ was resurrected, we have hope knowing that all who have died in Christ (Christians) will be resurrected also to eternal joy. This pertains to the raising of the dead when the rapture occurs. Christians who are alive will be caught up to the Lord in the air after the dead rise (1 Corinthians 15:23). The unsaved will also rise from the dead (Acts 24:15; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29). But their resurrection will occur at the end of Christ’s 1,000 year reign on earth. They will face the opposite fate of resurrected Christians, “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire”. – Revelation 20:13-15.

1 Corinthians 15 makes it crystal clear that Paul is referring to those that have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior when he wrote “the dead in Christ”, which is the Church of the New Testament. This does not apply to the Old Testament Saints (Israel) because Christ had not yet come to earth during their time. Therefore, they did not yet have an opportunity to receive Him.

Jesus stated that He would return from heaven for those who believed in God and accepted Him as the Son of God, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” – John 14:1-4. I believe Jesus is referring to the Rapture before the Tribulation with these words. So although times may look very dark for Christians today, it seems that every segment of society is pushing against the ways of God and promoting immorality, great things are on the horizon for those of us that put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

How close do you feel we are to the Lord’s return and why?

I feel we are extremely close to the return of our Lord. I am cautious to not make a prediction because the Bible makes it very clear that we cannot know the day of His return. But the Bible makes it clear that we can know the season. Jesus told us in the parable of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32-35) that the season of His return would be marked by the blossoming of the fig tree. I believe this fig tree is the nation of Israel (Hosea 9:10; Jeremiah 24:1-10; Joel 1:7; Luke 13:6-9). The generation that sees it reborn as we did in 1948, would be the generation to see His return (Matthew 24:34). Israel’s rebirth happened 68 years ago. How long is a generation? Well, it is up for debate. Depending upon context, 40, 70, 100 are all cited as length of years in the scripture for a generation. But I think it is important to not get caught up in the exact number. But instead, realize and recognize what Christ told us to look for. We are excitingly close!

OTHER

Is there anything else you would like to share or comment on regarding Bible prophecy?

Bible prophecy is a message of joy and happiness. I feel so disappointed when I hear people describe Bible prophecy as gloom and doom and I often hear people in the church portray it that way. But I can honestly say that when I go to Bible prophecy conferences and have fellowship with attendees, that those are some of the most joyous events that I have ever seen. You want to see a group of happy people? Go to a Bible prophecy conference. Why are so many of the people there so filled with joy? It is because we all know the end of the story. And the end is that Jesus returns to proclaim the earth. Satan will be defeated and we will live in a perfect world right here on this earth for all eternity, living in the presence of our Lord! What a great picture to have in our minds of what is yet to come!