However, in talking with some friends, we were in agreement that many today, even Christians, don't know or are not interested in the prophecies of old. Why is this? Is it because people don't realize the value of the prophecies? Maybe. But if you consider what the Bible itself says about prophecy, it may clarify God's purpose in giving detailed revelations to His prophets of old. Even if you aren't a Christian, you may find these points interesting.
1. Prophecies prove the scriptures – The prophet Isaiah penned an interesting verse: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God...Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done.” (Isaiah 46:9-10) Isaiah is basically saying “Look into the prophecies - they are inspired from God. There is proof of this because they have predicted the future exactly.” In fact, they do offer solid proof for the existence of God and the authenticity of the scriptures. Some say “They changed and revised the text afterwards.” Oh really? The complete scroll of Isaiah was found in a hidden cave by the Dead Sea in 1947. It was penned by the Essenes in the 2C B.C. Seriously, read Isaiah 53 yourself and then try to present a case this is not about Jesus Christ. Jesus said that prophecies of this kind are a fool proof test to see if a person has a hard heart or an open heart, just like a litmus test a person can use to test the PH level in a swimming pool. What is your PH level? Are you “prophecy hardened?” or is your heart soft and open to spiritual truth? If people won't believe detailed prophecy, Jesus said they wouldn't even believe if a person rose from the dead right in front of them. (Luke 16.31) Christians usually know that sharing the gospel is important, but often don't realize a knowledge of the prophecies gives us proof that the Bible is true gives us added confidence as we share these truths.
2. Prophecies prepare believers – In many ways the prophecies prepare us, especially in terms of knowing the season of history we are in. Is that important? Consider Jesus, who wept as He looked out over Jerusalem, saying “Because thou knowest not the time of thy visitation.” (see Luke 19.41-44) He warned of their destruction due to a lack of knowledge. Daniel had prophesied the day of Messiah's entry into Jerusalem hundreds of years prior in Daniel Chapter 9. It seems many did actually know their king would enter on a donkey, as they shouted “Hosanna” (Zechariah 9.9), but they didn't realize there would be two visitations of Messiah, first as a suffering servant - cross bound, as a sacrifice, and then later as a conquering king and righteous judge. You see this contrast in Isaiah Chapter 11. He had fulfilled the first part, up to the middle of verse four, but then comes His righteous judgment to the end of verse five. After that, the millennial reign of Christ is described when there will be complete peace on earth. This period of a thousand years in the future is described in Revelation Chapter 20.
What is our Season of History?
According to Daniel Chapter 2, Christ's kingdom on earth won't be established until after man's kingdom's are judged through Christ's righteous judgment. This is symbolized by a stone crushing a statue of the four earthly kingdoms. As I mentioned, Christ's first mission on earth was mainly to save and not to judge, as He Himself said in John 12.4. So the reference to the crushing stone is not referring to His first coming but rather His second coming, which is also described in Revelation 19.11-12. In the big picture of history, it seems we are heading for the final chapters of the human world government that will culminate in the leadership of one known as the Antichrist. This world government, the New World Order, as it is called, is forming as you read this in an ever aggressive manner. According to prophecy, the identity of the Antichrist will not be revealed until the Church, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is out of the picture. (2 Thessalonians 2.7-8) Until then, we can expect to see the final world government coming together with all the odor of the dirty feet in the statue which symbolize it.
The Next Event
Between Christ's first coming and second coming is the mysterious event known as the rapture of the Church. This is described in Matthew 24.31, 1 Thessalonians 4.15, and Thessalonians 2.7. In Revelation 4.1, the door of heaven is opened and the Church is not mentioned again on earth. Some verses, such as Revelation 2.22 and 3.10, hint that not all believers will be taken in the rapture and warn us to be prepared. For some reason, the Catholic and Orthodox denominations, and some protestants, do not teach this event in a literal manner, but it is in fact described literally by example in the Old Testament in Genesis 5.24, as Enoch was taken up before the judgment of the flood. Though no one knows the exact day, scriptures show that anticipating the rapture has a purifying effect on one's life. (1 John 3.3) According to many scriptures, this unique event is most likely to be the next fulfillment of prophecy.
I find it interesting that people associated with the New Age Baca Ranch in Colorado have some prophecies of their own that seem to dovetail with this biblical one. These could provide the world's explanation for the Church's rapture. In 1978, it seems, a mystic told Maurice Strong and his wife, the ranch founders, "the Baca would become the center for a new planetary order which would evolve from the economic collapse and environmental catastrophes that would sweep the globe in the years to come." People have claimed the Baca is a site known for common extra-terrestrial activity. Also, the local American Navajo Indians have a legend of “a cleansing period of the earth” by “star people” and have warned of "upcoming cataclysms by 'sky katchinas' (sky spirits)." Before you write off Strong and the people at the ranch as fringe nutcases, do some research at this link, where the alien information is sourced. Though fairly old now, Strong is still quite influential and the United Nations, over which he has had great influence, is increasing its own powers slowly but surely. Another influential person, Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion" offered that aliens may have been responsible for life on earth, as documented in an interview in film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." Who is really deluded? ...Those who believe in an intelligent Creator God or those who believe aliens are the likely reason for life and for our existence?
3. Prophecies prevent false doctrine – A basic knowledge of the major prophetic events in context helps keep people out of doctrinal errors. Paul prophesied and warned that there would be a lot of false doctrine in the last days. He said teachers would be very popular who cater to people's greed. (2 Timothy 4.3) He considered the “prosperity doctrine” error so serious he warned people to turn away from teachers who emphasize that “godliness is gain,” a way to get rich, (1 Timothy 6.5). But rather than turn away, people follow these types of teachings blindly. One of the largest churches in Ukraine, and possibly Europe, emphasizes the prosperity doctrine. I saw a book in Russian in a Christian bookstore in Kyiv “How to Become a Millionaire” by the pastor Sunday Adelaja. At the church website, a description of the “1,000 Millionaires” club is enthusiastically endorsed: “The opening of the club '1000 millionaires' is not just a gathering of the rich. It is a strategically important course in the history of the last days.” The idea of the club seems to be based on a doctrine known as "dominion theology,” the idea that Christians should control society in order to prepare for Christ’s return. This, apparently, is also an emphasis of his book “Church Shift” which came out last year. This shift towards dominion theology and the prosperity doctrine, according to Paul's epistles, is a shift towards apostasy and, ironically, helps to fulfill the prophecy of the great “falling away”described in 2 Thessalonians 2.3.
Ultimately, it seems dominion theology is based on a misinterpretation of prophecy. In Revelation 5.10 it says God “has made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign on the earth.” Grammatically, the future tense “shall reign” points to the millennial reign in Revelation 20.4, where it says people will rule with Christ: “And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” People who have come from backgrounds of financial poverty are especially vulnerable to false teachings that promise easy riches. In contrast, Paul showed how the Bereans were a good example because they did their own research in the Bible to know if what was being taught to them was true. (Acts 17.11)
Though Adelaja's church has done some great things, such as helping to set many drug addicts free, the errors of the doctrine seem pretty serious and, it seems, the prosperity doctrine has been the root cause for massive investments in a company called Kings Capital, which apparently bankrupted many Ukrainian church members who invested in it, actually taking out loans to invest. Charisma Magazine published articles last year revealing how Kings Capital leader, Aleksandr Bandurchenko, was arrested on fraud charges and how Adelaja’s legal accountability and actions were in question. When it comes to motive and character, I give Sunday Adelaja the benefit of the doubt. I don't judge him because only God really knows his heart. But when it comes to the doctrines he proposes, that's another story, they are open to question by anyone who considers doctrine an important issue today. Hosea 4.6 states “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” This seems to apply to those people who got caught up in the Kings Capital hype, without checking the biblical basis for all the optimism, and lost their life savings and more on credit.
As a youngster, I can't remember any churches that our family attended that gave serious time to teaching about prophecy, or the Old Testament for that matter. It wasn't until I found some books by Clarence Larkin that my interest in prophecy began to grow. I found his visual charts especially helpful in understanding the big picture and key prophetic events, though I have some slight differences of opinion now. We live in a time when apostasy is on the increase and it's important to search out and wrestle with questions of doctrine based on the whole context of scripture, not just pastors and teachers, but all believers, in order to live with true wisdom. One of the reasons I like the Calvary Chapel movement is because it does place a high priority on knowing all of the scriptures in context. For the holiday season, and the time of the New Year holiday, why not take some time to reflect on the big picture of life by looking into what the prophets of old predicted? Why not look at what's around the corner in the prophetic timetable? The following are some questions to consider:
Are the prophecies important to me? Why, or why not? Does the church I attend teach the whole Bible, including the “sayings of old” as Isaiah advised? Do I have a desire to study and learn on my own or do I tend to simply follow the opinions of others?
(Clarence Larkin images are linked in the preceding conclusion and are presently considered public domain and may be freely duplicated. In my opinion, they are an excellent resource for understanding the big picture of history)