Why is it that so many people (even Christians) have tuned out Bible Prophecy from their lives?
Podcast Transcript: To listen to full episode click Here
When you think about Bible Prophecy – what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
Cryptic symbols? Sensational headlines? Fanatical fundamentalists? Most likely a little bit of all three. Despite the confusion and disappointment surrounding modern-day interpretations of Bible Prophecy it is hard to shake free from the idea that things are not right in our world and that maybe – just maybe – the Bible has the answers to the questions surrounding the uncertain future we are facing
However, if you are one of the skeptical ones regarding the reliability of Bible prophecy in our world today – I can hardly blame you. There are plenty of good reasons to stay home when you receive that flyer in the mail inviting you to the local church teaching out of the book of Revelation.
So many people have been wrong for so long – that it can feel almost cultish to even open yourself up to the possibility that those symbols have real meaning that can be understood in a logical, systematic way.
Here on this podcast though – especially over the next dozen or so episodes – We are going to lean in a little to Bible prophecy to test for ourselves if it can be reliably understood or not.
It may be that the problem isn’t with the text but with application of the text that has too often been misapplied.
Of course this misapplication has had devastating affects that can best be illustrated through one of Aesop’s classic fables – “the boy who cried wolf”
You remember the story don’t you?
There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, “Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!”
The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf, only the boy laughing fiendishly over the success of his deception.
On another day, the boy sang out again, “Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!” To his delight, he once again watched the villagers frantically run up the hill to help him drive the wolf away.
However one day soon after that he saw a REAL wolf prowling about his flock. Alarmed, he leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, “Wolf! Wolf!”
But the villagers thought he was trying to fool them again, and so they ignored the warning.
And By the time they realized he was telling the truth it was too late, and the sheep were gone – no doubt scattered all over the countryside.
Could this story be spiritually playing out in our world today?
Have the lies and the false cries we have heard throughout our lives numbed us to the reality that there is actually a wolf prowling around us and the wolf will eventually come for us wearing sheep’s clothing?
No wonder Jesus said, “““Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 NKJV)
Friends, the wolf is smart. He knows if he can get enough faulty information into our minds then not only will we stop believing he is dangerous but we may even begin to question his very existence. And if that takes place he has free reign to come in and go out among us without ever having to worry about being detected.
Could the age of information inadvertently be producing a new age of ignorance? Could too much information dilute the truth today in the same way not enough information kept it hidden during the dark ages.
However the wolf might try keep the truth hidden – the Bible promises to expose him in the last days and one of the ways God accomplishes that task is through Bible Prophecy.
Notice what Peter says about the importance of Bible Prophecy in the life of the believer:
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19–21 NKJV)
You see to deny prophecy is essentially to deny the work of the Holy Spirit. True Bible prophecy was never inspired by the will of man – but always initiated by God to bring light to his people.
In fact here it is compared to the light of the sun rising up on a darkened planet. Who wouldn’t welcome the morning sun? Only those who want to continue to live in darkness. And that is essentially what Peter is saying here. Those who often fight the most against what Bible Prophecy teaches often stand to lose the most if what is revealed is accepted.
Thus we should not be afraid to step into the light if we really want to know the truth. Even still at some point this light will shine on all whether they are seeking it or not.
Revelation 18:1-2 tells us:
“After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen” (Revelation 18:1–2 NKJV)
It will be at this time that no one will have an excuse to remain in the darkness and superstition of Babylon – the light of truth will shine and the world will be divided into two distinct camps – those who have accepted the prophetic light of God and those who have rejected it.
Each of these camps has a city to represent it.
On the one side New Jerusalem and on the other side Babylon
Although I have never had the opportunity to visit the ruins of Babylon in located today in Iraq – I did have the privilege several years ago to visit Jerusalem while on a Holy Land tour in Israel.
I have to admit it was quite humbling to walk literally the same ground that Jesus did and see the landscape as he would have seen it when he was here on earth. This was especially the case when I got the chance to visit the Temple Mount and see with my own eyes the the giant hewn stones that were throne down from the Temple Mount when the city was sacked by Titus and the Roman army in 70 AD.
Interestingly, this too happened in fulfillment of prophecy – one that Jesus himself had made. Speaking to his disciples, he said:
““Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”” (Matthew 24:2 NKJV)
Of course his disciples were shocked and could only imagine such a scenario being connected to the end of the world, and so Jesus followed this prophecy with a discourse about the signs of his coming (We discussed these signs in detail in episodes 7 and 14).
But the reality is the temple really was destroyed just as Jesus said it would be – and has been ever since.
So will this temple ever be rebuilt?
Will the prayers of the Jews who have made their pilgrimage to the weeping wall be answered before Jesus comes again?
I have to admit – when I stepped up to that wall to pay my respects – I too was overcome with emotion.
But then I remembered that Jesus too wept over it before he was crucified saying:
““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ ”(Matthew 23:37–39 NKJV)
You see in rejecting Jesus the Jews were in fact rejecting the only one who could fill their temple. But now their temple was left desolate although it would be 40 more years until the desolation became evident to the world – the Jewish nation itself was left in darkness.
Everything was about to change.
The temple and the nation who worshiped in it were about to move out of the physical realm into the spiritual realm
Jesus foreshadowed this reality early in his ministry when he boldly stated:
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” (John 2:19–21 NKJV)
Here we see another prophecy of Jesus – confounding as it was to those who heard it – but absolutely clear as we look back on it today.
Jesus is the temple! He is the way, the truth, and the life – no one can come to the Father accept through him.
Thus everything that happens in the temple and its services represents him and what he does for us. The irony is that when the nation rejected him they rejected everything their whole economy was built upon.
Another time speaking to this same irony Jesus said,
“Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’S doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” (Matthew 21:42–44 NKJV)
The prophetic significance of this statement is unmistakeable.
The one whom the nation rejected and was on verge of crucifying was to be the cornerstone of a new nation. One that would no longer be identified by the color of their skin, the language that they speak or lineage of their ancestry.
The wall of separation between jew and gentile, slave and free, and male and female was to be taken away.
This is an amazing Truth that Paul builds upon in his letter to the Ephesians:
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19–22 NKJV)
You see those who still are going to the wall in Jerusalem to weep over its destruction have unfortunately missed this truth.
The Temple is no longer destroyed!
It was raised up on the third day and “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)
In other words, anyone who is in Christ becomes apart of Christ. And since Christ is the chief cornerstone of this new temple – everyone who becomes one with him also become a part of the temple as well – living stones – that together house the spirit of God.
Thus when Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God being taken away from the Jews and given to another nation he was speaking of the church.
Not a physical nation but a spiritual one.
Building on this prophetic key the apostle Peter wrote to the church saying:
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9–10 NKJV)
The book of Revelation builds on the imagery of a royal priesthood when describing the redeemed during the millennium after the 2nd coming of Jesus we discussed in episode 9, saying…
“they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6 NKJV)
This prophetic key alone unlocks so much of the mystery surrounding the book of revelation. Revelation is not a book about literal nations and cities but spiritual ones.
Revelation is not describing literal beasts and a literal battle of Armageddon but a spiritual one.
Thus Revelation should be interpreted symbolically
It is a symbolic unfolding of history – much of which today we have the privilege to look back on. And it is as we look back and see prophecies fulfilled in our history we can have the confidence to look ahead to a uncertain future with certainty.
It is interesting when we think back on what God was teaching us through the model of the earthly temple that was destroyed.
Of course the entrance to the temple was the courtyard where the lamb was slain upon the altar of sacrifice – the next compartment was the holy place where the table of shewbread, seven golden candlesticks and the altar of incense were located – and beyond that was the innermost compartment of the temple – the most holy place – a perfect cube in which the presence of God dwelt in shekinah glory upon the ark of the covenant – in which of course housed the Ten Commandments that had been written on tables of stone by the finger of God.
It was the breaking of the law that had separated God from man in the garden of eden and it was the sinless son of God who took the weight of human transgression upon himself in the garden of Gethsemane that reconciled us back together again.
Speaking of his sacrifice at the last supper with his disciples, what did he say?
““This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:20 NKJV)
The blood represented the power of the New Covenant – not so that we could stay in the courtyard looking into the temple – not to bring us only part way to God into the holy place – but to clear the way so that we could literally live in his present in the Most Holy.
And how does he do that? We only need to go back to the New Covenant itself and read it for ourselves to find out. The book of Hebrews
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Hebrews 8:10 NKJV)
Thus becoming royal priesthood here on earth – we eventually are transported into his very presence.
However in heaven – the Ten Commandments will no longer be written on stone – they will be written on our hearts.
This is the grand restoration Bible Prophecy points us to.
And the significance of the demensions of the New Jerusalem there should not be overlooked.
“The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.” (Revelation 21:16 NKJV)
As you can see a perfect cube just as the Most Holy Place on earth was.
This is where God and his people become one and stay one forever.
the consistent description of the remnant are those who keep the commandments of God and Testimony of Jesus.
You can be apart of that temple today!
But it can only happen if you follow the one condition Jesus laid out of for us all – To be ready for Jesus you must fall on him first and be broken.
To be ready is to be broken.
Because one day soon – everyone who hasn’t been broken by the stone will be grounded into powder by it. The sheep’s clothes on the wolf will be removed and The lying shepherds will be exposed and everyone else will be lost
These are Jesus words and he is clearly alluding to a prophecy in Daniel 2 we will studying in our next episode.
It all comes back to Jesus in the end doesn’t it?
And what is the testimony of Jesus – the Spirit of Prophecy.
As I hope you can see prophecy is not something we should ignore of be ashamed. Prophecy itself is how the testimony of Jesus is shared with all the world.
Revelation is not a book about Bessts
It is a book about Jesus
It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ!
Will you accept his revelation into your heart today?
Will you choose to fall on him and be broken?