Prophecy--How It Enriches Your life
A new and fascinating mood has come upon the Church in our time which the perceptive Christian will view with interest and no small concern. That mood could well be called â€śpresentism.â€ť Presentism is the idea that this present world should be the object of our fundamental concentration. It argues that too much thinking about the future would produce impractical Christians who are incapable of coping with the exegencies of today. The Church has, therefore, developed what passes for expertise concerning the problems, challenges and involvements which believers face in this age, this time and tempo world. Long would be the list of the present human concerns to which solution the Church has committed itself and about which whole ministries have been formed.
There is no doubt that we must responsibly handle our present affairs. But alas, in over-concentration on these things there lurks a great danger. The danger is that Christians could become mere pragmatists. So it was that the Apostle Paul lamented those poor myopics, â€śwho mind earthly things,â€ť and he said, â€śWhile we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternalâ€ť (2 Cor. 4:18).
So much for pragmatism. Practical people who would be truly spiritual (not merely sounding or appearing so) must turn from presentism to prophetic anticipation. They need to return to a study of the prophetic Word. Why, indeed, should we study the prophetic Word? The statement of the Apostle Peter should be enough when he said, â€śWe have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your heartsâ€ť (2 Pet. 1:19). We, therefore, need to consider several reasons why we should be more attentive to the prophetic Word. These reasons include the following:
1. It comes from God. The Scripture says, â€śFor the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spiritâ€ť (2 Peter 1:21). In similar fashion, Zacharias rejoiced in the prophetic Word saying, â€śHe spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world beganâ€ť (Luke 1:70). Remember that a very high percentage of the words of Scripture were, when they were written, prophetic Scriptures. Peter calls them, â€śa more sure word,â€ť and about them, Jesus said, â€śThe scripture cannot be brokenâ€ť (John 10:35).
Throughout its history, faithful members of the nation of Israel, even in dark hours, rejoiced in the prophetic Word given to them by the Lord. Their hearts were shored up and reassured because they were confident that what God said would surely come to pass.
As was the case with Israel, God has given to the Church many promises in the form of prophecy which can be the source of our confidence today. He has said, â€śI will build My churchâ€ť (Mt. 16:18), He will never fail to be with us (Mt. 28:20), He will cause His Word to succeed (Isa. 55:11), He will supply every need (Phil. 4:19), and He will come again (Jn. 14:3). God gave the Word, it is sure!
2. It is a light that shines in darkness. There can be no doubt that we live in a world which is watching the shadows lengthen and the gloaming of evening come upon us. In the midst of this approaching darkness, the world has for a guide only the light of perverted science and the flickering candles of absurd, humanist philosophy. Rejecting God and even natural law, the world is stumbling through the thickets of humanism, secularism and utopianism, unable to find its way. The result? Alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide and a dozen other dreadful maladies have come upon society. From these there is no deliverance because the lights of the world flicker too dimly for any remaining guidance.
For the Christian, however, there is no such problem. He can say with David, â€śThy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my pathâ€ť (Psalm 119:105). He knows in his personal experience the promise of Christ. â€śHe that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of lifeâ€ť (John 8:12). Because he has the light of the prophetic Word, the Christian realizes in his experience that â€śthe path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect dayâ€ť (Prov. 4:18). Confusion and frustration more and more characterize the world in these days of the decline of the social structure.
3. It brings the hope that purifies the soul. The pragmatists among us often level a gratuitous accusation at expectant Christians by saying, â€śThey are so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good.â€ť This type of Christian has always been rare within the Church. In our time, he is almost nonexistent. Be sure, however, that the expectation of the return of Christ creates no such irresponsible attitude in the life of the believer. John speaks about the return of Christ saying that â€śWe know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He isâ€ť (1 John 3:2). What is the result of such confidence, what type of life does the person live who loves and waits for the appearance of Jesus Christ? The answer is clear, â€śand every man that has this hope in Him purifies himself even as He is pureâ€ť (1 John 3:3). A knowledge of the prophetic Word and the consequent expectation of the return of Christ is, therefore, a marvelous purifier of the soul. The Apostle Paul says the same thing, commending people who are â€ślooking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christâ€ť (Titus 2:13). They, he says, are the same people who came to an understanding of the grace of God â€śteaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present worldâ€ť (Titus 2:12).
Godly living what a sore need in our permissive time. Remember, however, that godliness is seldom produced by unctuous admonitions. It is more often produced by an appointment with the Judge. The person who expects the return of Jesus Christ when He comes for His church will be the more likely liver of a godly life. He wants not to be found anywhere, doing anything, believing anything of which he will be ashamed on the occasion of the return of the Lord, the judge of all things. For this precise reason, we are told neither the day nor the hour of our Lordâ€™s return. Rather, we are admonished to be ready at all times. The Christian who wonders why he can never â€śget victory over his sinsâ€ť needs a good dose of prophetic expectation. If one believes the King is coming, he will not run around the swamps or the sewers, he will go home and put on his best outfit and pay attention to spiritual preparedness.
4. It is the great motivation to present, productive activity. The Apostle Paul wrote to his friends at Thessalonica and congratulated them because they had given themselves â€śto serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to comeâ€ť (1 Thess. 1:10). Here were people who were filled with prophetic expectations! They looked up into the sky and anticipated that moment when Christ would return to take them home to be with Himself. What, however, did they do in the light of that expectation? Were they irrelevant? Detached? Inconsequential? They were not!
Paul gives us several characteristics of these people who were looking forward to the return of Christ:
Quite obviously, here were Christians who were forceful, energetic and effective! They were doing those truly â€śpracticalâ€ť things that were most sensible in the light of the promise of the return of Christ. While they waited, while they watched, they also worked.
Despite insistent propaganda to the contrary, practical people are often rather ineffective. It is spiritual people, expectant people, heavenly-minded people, and prophetically-interested people who labor assiduously for Christ in a world which they know full well to be a quickly passing thing. Spiritual people believe that the world is passing away and, therefore, they want to apply their hearts to wisdom, witnessing, and working effectively for the Savior.
5. It is the bridge from time to eternity. While Christians live in time, the greater truth about them is that they are creatures of eternity. Therefore, they rejoice in the promise concerning Jesus Christ that He â€śhas abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospelâ€ť (2 Tim. 1:10). In writing to the Colossians, Paul thanked God â€śfor the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world, and brings forth fruit, as it does also in you, since the day you heard of it, and you knew the grace of God in truthâ€ť (Col. 1:5,6).
Nowhere in the Bible is the Christian told that he will be without pain, without problems, without sickness, without disappointments, without physical death. Indeed, the â€śexternal circumstancesâ€ť of the Christian are many times similar and occasionally inferior to the economic and human circumstances of the person of this world. Prosperity is not necessarily promised to the saint of this present age. So Oswald Chambers said, â€śThe blessing of the Old Testament is prosperity, the blessing of the New Testament is adversity.â€ť Jesus told those who believe in Him, â€śIn the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the worldâ€ť (John 16:33).
Why, then, does a Christian not succumb to the pressures of this life? It is because he believes the prophetic Word. He knows that adversity is temporary but joy is eternal. He knows that pain will pass and perfect fulfillment will come upon him with the golden dawn of eternityâ€™s morn. His citizenship is in heaven! This is the source of his confidence. For him, death is not death. Rather, it is the bridge from the shadows of this world to the sunlight of the world to come. A Christian does not die (John 11:26).
The study of the prophetic Word is, therefore, an immensely profitable activity. We rejoice anew that â€śwe have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well to take heedâ€ť (2 Peter 1:19).
From the writings of Dave Breese
SYMPOSIUMYour Questions Answered
Q. Following the Millennial Reign of Christ, what is the case with Israel for all of eternity?
The Old Testament had intimations of the resurrection of Israel, believing Jews, on the earth for eternity. The contrast is that the Church will inherit the universe: â€śHe that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?â€ť (Romans 8:32).
This is the promise God makes to the Church. So Israel and the Church are both saved by faith, but each has a different destiny. The Bible is very clear on this subject:
â€śThus says the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, where they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land... Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all of their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God...And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelled; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their childrenâ€™s children forever: and My servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore...And the nations shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermoreâ€ť (Ezekiel 37:21-28).
Israel will be redeemed, protected during the Tribulation, ruling during the millennial reign of Christ, and then be the master of earth forever. This is what the Bible teaches is the beautiful destiny of the nation of Israel.
Q. â€śWHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CHRISTIAN ZIONIST?
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