By Joe Southerland
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
In hindsight, looking upon the numerous Old Testament Scriptures that predicted Christ’s First Advent, it is fascinating that nearly no one foresaw the timing of the Messiah’s birth.
Here is the Lord God’s greatest focal point in mankind’s history and despite the hundreds of verses pointing to the Messiah’s coming, even the eminent scholars and holy men who dedicated their lives to studying the Scriptures failed to recognize Jesus Christ’s First Advent.
To our knowledge no one living at that time fully perceived His arrival time, let alone the wondrous, miraculous nature of God’s redemptive plan for mankind through our Savior Jesus Christ, with the potential exception of Magi from the East who were executing the final will of the prophet Daniel.
Even Satan, the most perfect and intelligent of God’s creations, despite all his unearthly powers and his centuries-long vigilant watching over Israel so he could crush the seed of Eve, failed to see Christ’s long-predicted birth (Ezekiel 28:12; Revelation 12:4).
Had any of us lived during that time, would our watching have yielded anything different? No.
Were these people unable to see the Messiah’s coming because the Old Testament Bible believers prior to Christ were less intelligent or devoted than believers today? No.
Why? What was the reason no one saw it coming?
The reason for the world’s complete blindness was because God willed it to be so!
The entire world failed to see the Messiah’s First Coming because God wanted His arrival to be accomplished in humble glory, veiled in mystery; sealed in a time and space known only by the Lord God Himself.
It was only after God lifted the veil could a Spirit-filled man look upon the Scriptures and fully know how God wondrously, and miraculously fulfilled the prophecies concerning the birth, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 2:7).
Today, we set upon another threshold…
But before I continue, let me firmly state I believe that the most solid scripturally and spiritually based understanding of God’s Word and plan for mankind is the Dispensationalist, Futurist, Pre-tribulation Rapture, Millennialist interpretation. It is that biblical lens with which I view this fallen world, and it is from that perspective I teach.
As I was saying…today, we set upon another threshold in the Lord God’s unfolding plan.
With God’s Holy Word in our hands, we await the Blessed Hope, the Rapture, and watch for signs of the pending Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But today we are doubly blessed because we not only have the Bible, we have the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
However, even with that, as with the First Advent, the exact timing and sequencing of events preceding the Second Advent (the Rapture, Psalm 83, Isaiah 17 Oracle, the battle of Ezekiel 38-39, Daniel’s Seventieth Week) though they are in the Scriptures right before our eyes, the details and timing of these events remain intentionally, partially veiled from us by our Lord God.
The Unfolding Will Remain Partially Veiled
I believe it is the Lord God’s will that the fullness of these events are sealed in time and space known by Him alone, and their exact unfolding will remain unknowable to both mankind and Satan’s kind. We watchers will watch only through a glass darkly because that is God’s intent.
Our Lord God alone holds eternity in His hands and no one in heaven or earth has His full council; no one. Yes we can know the rough outline of end-time events by careful study of God’s Word, but no one man, or group, knows all of God’s end of days’ mysteries. Only when God has executed His plan will all the individual scriptural threads be able to be woven into the unified and radiant tapestry of God’s perfect plan for the final days of the redemption of mankind.
Accordingly, as the days draw near Church Age believers will continue to be mouth agape, awe- struck as God continues to pull away the veil leading up to the end of the Church Age at the Rapture. We will continue to be surprised until in the blink of an eye we are changed and are taken home.
Likewise following the Rapture, the entire world will be equally dumbfounded with the gradual unveiling of the seven years of tribulation, a time like no other since the beginning of the world nor ever shall be. With the end result being every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord.
What God has prepared for the Church and the world will be far more awesome yet tumultuous, wondrous yet devastating, and miraculous yet horrifying; more than any created being can envision from the limited glimpses our Lord God has provided us in His Scriptures.
Be Careful My Brothers and Sisters
As time draws closer we can anticipate increased spiritual activity spilling over into our physical world, and that many of Satan’s spiritual minions and those who fall under his influences will present false messages and interpretations. Many of those messengers will claim to be believers in Christ, or they may be just misguided Christians following their own selfish desires versus the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Therefore, we must be very careful, weary in fact, of those who claim to know precisely when, where, how and by whom end-time events shall occur. We must be on vigilant guard against those who readily provide unique insights into the details of God’s plan.
Paramount is knowing how these individuals view Jesus Christ and God’s Holy Word. For anyone to provide valid insight into God’s planning they must first openly confess belief in Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, and must revere God’s Word. If these criteria are not met their words are to be dismissed.
We must know if these people are professing revelation, interpretation or speculation; these are very different things.
If anyone is declaring direct revelation from the Lord God, Jesus said, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19).
The cannon is closed, and no private revelation apart from the Scripture is valid (2 Peter 1:20). Any valid interpretation must be rooted in, and not conflict with any of God’s Word. The Triune God has built the prophetic foundation, and we can neither remove stones, nor expand the foundations; we can only explain how things may be built upon the holy truth found in the Bible.
Our key weapon in discerning end times truth is the Bible. Many have and will try to pass off their self-derived mere speculation as inspired interpretation, or even revelation. God’s Word cautions us to test the spirits against Holy Scripture (1 John 4:1), for the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). And, It is better to trust in the LORD [and His Word, if I may add] than to put confidence in man (Psalm 118:8).
As we watch we must constantly check men’s assertions against the Word, be in close fellowship with the Holy Spirit, pray for discernment, and be in concert with others who believe in God’s full scriptural council, but we must remember…
No one has the complete picture of what will unfold in the end-times but our Lord God!
God bless! Come Lord Jesus, come!