By Nathele Graham
Probably the most neglected Bible study is prophecy. The entire Bible is inspired by God and not meant to confuse, but to inform and guide. When Christmas comes around we know a few prophetic Scriptures from the Old Testament regarding the birth of Jesus, such as Micah 5:2 which says He would be born in Bethlehem, or Isaiah 7:14 that says a virgin will give birth to the Messiah. Other than that most Christians don’t dig deeper into what God wants us to know. The world headlines of today show that Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled, but if you aren’t informed you can’t see that God’s prophetic word is coming to pass just as He said. For instance, are you watching what’s happening in Syria, and more particularly in Damascus? “The burden of Damascus, Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” Isaiah 17:1. This prophecy is being fulfilled today, but keep reading in that chapter to see more. Viewing world events through Scripture will open your eyes to just how urgent it is to get out there and share the Gospel. The end of time is coming fast and God has given us a guide to these end times. It’s up to us to study and be informed. Daniel prophesied 70 weeks of years leading to the end of time and the final week is rapidly approaching. Only Christians will be snatched away and protected from the events of that week. Be sure of your own salvation and be a bold witness to others.
Many people don’t understand that most of the Bible is centered around Israel. The Old Testament tells of the creation, the Flood, and then moves on to describe how God called Abraham out of the pagan culture in which he lived to become the father of the nation of Israel. God’s chosen people weren’t always obedient and moved in and out of favor with God. God spoke through the prophets and gave plenty of warning before judgment came. When the Southern Kingdom had been defeated, Daniel was a young man who was taken as a captive to Babylon. Because he studied the words of the prophet Jeremiah he was able to know when the captivity was about to end. “In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:2. Even though he had been young when taken captive and had lived in that very pagan city for 70 years, Daniel honored God and respected prophecy. Jeremiah’s prophecy said: “And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” Jeremiah 25:11. Daniel was paying attention. He walked close to the Lord and knew a true prophet from a false one. Jeremiah was a true prophet of God. God wants His people to know what’s coming. Christians need to get our heads out of the sand and pay attention to prophecy in order to understand the times in which we live.
God gave us prophecy regarding the end times so that we, like Daniel, can know the signs of the times. “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: ” Isaiah 46:9-10. God is eternal. He has always existed and always will exist. He’s not confined to the time dimension in which we live and sees what will happen in the future. He spoke through the prophets of old and it’s up to us to pay attention. I hear many Christians who are confounded by what’s happening in the world, but only see isolated headlines and don’t put the events together in light of prophecy. The world situation is about to explode and soon there will be Tribulation like never seen before. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Matthew 24:21. Jesus said that; He had been talking about events leading up to Daniel’s final week. Study His words carefully and you will see that we are fast approaching that week.
Tensions are rising around the world, especially in the Middle East and specifically against Israel. Some misinformed people think that Christians have replaced Israel in God’s heart. Wrong. God is not done with Israel and He will see them through to the end. He knew they would be dispersed, but He also knew they would be re-gathered. The prophet Ezekiel was given many interesting prophecies and God showed him that the whole house of Israel would one day be reunited. Ezekiel was carried by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with dry bones. Those dry bones came together and flesh was on them, but there was no breath in them. As Ezekiel watched the bones were given breath and they lived.”Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.” Ezekiel 37:11. Today we are watching the dry bones come together. It’s exciting to see them return to the land that God gave them forever. There’s also stirring in their spirits, and slowly they are truly coming alive, not only returning to the land but returning to God. Look up http://www.templeinstitute.org to read articles about what’s happening in the spirits of the Jewish people and the effort to rebuild the Temple. God will put His spirit in them. “And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.” Ezekiel 37:14. We live in exciting times, but only those who study Bible prophecy can see what’s really happening today. Only those who study Bible prophecy have pulled their heads out of the sand and have their eyes open.
Anyone who thinks that God has turned away from His promises to Israel is blind. Daniel was given a prophecy regarding the end times. It’s specifically about Israel and it discloses that the Temple will be rebuilt. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” Daniel 9:24. The words “thy people” and “thy city”, can only mean Jewish people and Jerusalem. Daniel wasn’t a Christian so that lets out the replacement theology lie. The prophecy goes on to tell of a man who will come into power and seemingly bring peace. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Daniel 9:27. The Jewish Temple will be rebuilt very soon because sacrifice and oblation will be happening there and this man of sin will cause them to stop. Then he will break the covenant and place an abomination in the Temple. “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” Daniel 12:11. Jesus confirms this when He talks of the end times. “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:” Matthew 24:15-16. Jesus taught prophecy, but most pastors today are very lax when it comes to equipping the saints by not teaching prophecy. Most Christians just don’t care anyway.
When Jesus told His disciples of the end times He told of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famine, and disease. We see an increase in all that Jesus spoke of and it will continue to get worse, but Christians have the promise that we won’t be on earth for the final seven years of Daniel’s seventy week prophecy. The harpazō (Rapture) will happen prior to the final week, also known as the time of Jacob’s troubles (not the time of Gentiles troubles). Go back to Daniel 9:24 to see that this is about Israel. Christians will be caught up to be with Jesus and won’t be subjected to the judgment which will come upon the earth. The Book of Revelation goes into much detail regarding the end times, but it’s also clear that Christians will be called home before it all starts. Jesus dictated 7 letters to John that were to be delivered to 7 congregations. These letters are recorded in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation and summarize the history of the ekklēsia (translated “church”). After this history is finished there is a call for us to go Home. “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Revelation 4:1. The words “after this” and “hereafter” both are translated from the Greek words “meta tauta” which denotes a sequence. The seventh letter was written and then the voice said come up hither, then the rest of Revelation takes place. Simple to understand, but complicated by those who don’t take God’s word seriously. Are you afraid of the Rapture? A Christian should find great comfort knowing we will be with Jesus and not face Daniel’s 70th week.
There will always be scoffers who doubt God’s word or complicate it by trying to interpret what God “meant to say” rather than accepting what He really said. That doesn’t surprise God. The Holy Spirit inspired Peter to address this. “That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:” 2 Peter 3:2-5. Things have changed since the day of creation. There was a judgment by flood and prophecy says that there will soon be another judgment. This time it will be the final judgment. The only way to not face the wrath of God is to accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour. We can’t know exactly when the harpazō will take place, but looking at the signs of the times we can be sure that it will happen very soon. Do you know someone who hasn’t made the choice to follow Jesus? Study prophecy and explain to them what’s about to happen and that only through the blood of Jesus can they escape God’s judgment.
A good way to put the various prophecies together is to study Revelation in a Bible with cross references. Also study Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah to name a few. Then go to the Olivet Discourse.
It’s time to get your head out of the sand. God gave us prophecy and He expects us to study it.