What is this world coming to? Often that question is given rhetorically as a response to some news item we hear or read. While in Springfield I spoke with a pastor friend who lives in Massachusetts. One of the first things out of his mouth was an apology for the decision to allow same sex marriages in his state. We might consider that and say, 'What is this world coming to?'
Well, let me answer that tonight. It is coming to an END! No. That isn't a joke or a smart aleck answer; it is the truth according to God's Word! Even the secularists have fearful expectations. People who have no allegiance to the Scripture realize the potential for the end of the world, as we know it. The increasing escalation of war in the Middle East, nuclear attacks or accidents, energy crises, ecological disasters, killer viruses, earthquakes, droughts, terrorist attacks, or the effects of global warming all have people thinking about the end of the world. But as believers in Jesus Christ, we do not have to fear.
2Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Before we get very far into this study, it is important that we note a few dangers to avoid when studying prophecy.
I. Setting Dates and Making Predictions.
A. Not long ago people were predicting all sorts of things on the eve of 2000.
2Pe 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
1. Some were declaring that Jesus would return, it sounded exciting, and it almost made sense.
2. 4000 years from Adam - Jesus
3. 2000 years since Jesus
4. 1000 years for the millennial reign
5. So it must be true!
6. Jesus is coming back sometime in the 20th century.
7. There is only one problem with that kind of thinking…it was wrong!
B. Jesus made it very clear that the time of His return rests with God and God alone.
Mr 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
1. Men have often tried to date His return.
2. Some believed WWI was the end. Others proclaimed Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin as the antichrist.
3. Hal Lindsey said the end would come within a generation or 40 years of the return of Israel to Palestine in 1948.
4. Edgar Whisenant wrote a widely distributed booklet called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.
II. Interpreting Scripture in light of Headlines.
A. Have you seen the news style TV shows of self-proclaimed prophecy experts?
1. They try to fit every major news story to a verse of Scripture.
2. While a student I was certain that the European common market was the revived Roman Empire.
3. As and as soon as the 10th country was added it would signal the end. [The ten toes of the great image of Daniel and the dreadful and terrible ten-horned beast of Daniel 10]
4. But now there are more than 10 and so it doesn't make sense.
5. I remember discussing the prophetic implication of the break up of the Soviet Union and the removal of the 'iron curtain'.
6. Russia is no longer a great power in the world, so it doesn't make sense prophetically.
B. The point is that we cannot allow ourselves to interpret Scripture in light of the headlines.
1. It should be the other way around.
2. We should be interpreting the headlines in light of Scripture.
3. We need to have an understanding the signs of the times.
2Ti 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
III. Trying to Answer Unanswerable Questions.
A. We just don't have the answers to all the questions.
1. Prophecy is enveloped in mystery.
2. If you have a question, write it down, or email me, and I'll try to answer it.
3. However, be prepared for me responding with, 'I just don't know'.
4. There are some things that we will just have to wait until we get to heaven to figure out.
5. I think that most of them will probably not be all that important then anyway.
Ac 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
B. It is not for you to know…
1. We may not like that, but there are things that the Lord chose NOT to reveal to us!
2. He wants us to live by faith, not by sight
3. And that means we must trust Him when we don't understand or know all of the answers.
IV. Ignoring the Practical Application of Scripture.
A. Perhaps the greatest danger in the study of prophecy is this.
1. We get so excited about what will happen tomorrow that we fail to live for Jesus today.
2. There is much interest in what will take place in the future…but our focus needs to be on the here and now.
3. We need to live for God today in light of our understanding of prophecy!
4. When we understand that the coming of Christ is nearing…we should also understand that our time to serve Him is coming to a close.
Ec 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
Ro 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
Eph 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
B. Prophetic studies should do more than just stimulate us intellectually.
1. They should wake us up to the reality that we don't have forever…
2. What we do for Christ must be done quickly, before He comes!
3. Sometimes we spend too much time debating points of prophecy instead of declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
4. No is saved because of their position on a particular point of prophecy…salvation is only available to those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!
5. Let's not lose sight of what is truly important…Jesus is coming soon.
6. We must share that truth with others that we might see them come to Him in faith.
There are some real dangers for us as we begin to study prophecy. We need to be aware of them and avoid them. As we study about the future of this world let us consider ourselves and our ministries. Let's not allow ourselves to become so caught up in coming events that we forget about our responsibility to those around us. Jesus is coming again, and that thought should bring an urgency to our minds concerning the need of those who are without Him. It is exciting to think of all the wonderful things that await the faithful child of God, but it is also sobering to realize what awaits those who have never trusted Him as Savior. What is this world coming to? It is coming to an END, and what we do for the Lord we must do quickly. The eternal destiny of souls are in the balance!