Paula Aiton.jpeg

“God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and He blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.” – Revelation 1:3 (NLT)

What do you think when your pastor starts a sermon with, “Today, we’re going to dive deep into Bible prophecy?” Do you say to yourself, “Oh joy! This’ll be fun!...NOT!” Do your eyes roll into the back of your head when he starts analyzing the book of Daniel, verse by verse? Or do you find it fascinating?

Jesus is found throughout the Bible, and He has fulfilled many, many prophecies (at least 300, by most scholarly estimates). Studying Bible prophecy is fascinating! When you have good resources for interpretation, the Bible can come alive for you in ways it never has before.

My first foray into Bible prophecy was through the classic book by Hal Lindsay, “The Late, Great Planet Earth.” It was published in 1970 and my mom picked up a copy of it a few years later in a thrift store when I was about 11 years old. An avid reader, I devoured the whole thing over a weekend and she and I had many interesting conversations about what it could all mean. That started me on a journey to find out for myself what God had to say about His plans for me, the world, and the whole of Creation.

For someone who has never studied prophecy, it can seem overwhelming and confusing; some might even say it is downright weird! Flaming clouds with strange beings in the sky (Ezekiel 1), locusts that look like horses (Revelation 9), a seven-headed beast with ten horns (Revelation 13). When you put it all together, though, Bible prophecy paints a picture of the evil of this world, the need for Jesus to redeem it, and the ultimate victory that God will have over the universe.

What is prophecy? Simply put, Bible prophecy is God revealing history in advance.

Why is Bible prophecy important for you? Fulfilled Bible prophecy is the most compelling evidence that the Bible is from God.

How will Bible prophecy help me today? In these chaotic times, so much is changing and not for the better. It is more important than ever that we keep our focus on Jesus and His Word. By reading the entirety of the Bible, including prophecy, we can be reassured that God is in control and He has the ultimate plan for our deliverance.

In chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew, Jesus speaks at great length about the “end of the age” or “the end times,” a phrase often used today. It is important to study His words, but at the same time, we are not to speculate about the details and, certainly, we aren’t to be doing any date setting based on what we see in the news today. As soon as Jesus finished speaking to the disciples about the signs of the end of the age, He told the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), ending with these words, Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

Since Jesus walked the earth, was crucified, died, and resurrected in glory, the Church has been waiting for His promised return. As Jesus ascended into Heaven in front of the apostles, two white-robed men (angels) stood among them, “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday He will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”Acts 1:11 (NLT) When the early Church greeted each other, they would say, “Maranatha!” which meant “The Lord is coming!” or “Come, O Lord!”. They were waiting with great anticipation for His return and so, today, we also continue to wait for Him because He promised.

As you study Bible prophecy, you will inevitably come to the Book of Revelation. There is a special blessing for anyone who reads, listens and studies it. “God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and He blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3 NLT). As you read through Revelation, you might be horrified! Terrifying beasts, plagues, armies, blood, a star falling from the sky, Christians persecuted and killed, and eternal judgement are all included in this book.

If the Book of Revelation paints this picture of our future, where is the hope in that? There is hope because, if we happen to be the generation who lives through the “end of the age,” God has an escape plan for His beloved, the Church. We are the bride of Christ, and Jesus is not going to let us get beat up during the end of the age. As with Noah and his family, who were protected during the flood, and the Israelites delivered from captivity in Egypt, God will rescue believers from the Tribulation of Revelation chapters 6-18. This is often referred to as The Rapture and is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18…”For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up on the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So, encourage each other with these words.”

After the Rapture, or rescue, of the Church, the rest of the world will experience a time of tribulation never before seen on the earth. Satan and the Antichrist will try their best to rule the world but, in the end, God wins. There was never any doubt of that, but it is reassuring in this day and age of so much pain, heartache and cruelty, to know that God is in charge, and He will judge the world. In Revelation 20:10, it is summed up this way, “Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Finally, in chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation, the triumphal return of Jesus Christ, His defeat of Satan and His establishment of His kingdom on earth are clearly described and showcase God’s mighty plan. Evil will not prevail. In chapter 22, Jesus says three times that He is coming soon!

“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.” (vs 7)

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (vs 12-13)

 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” (vs 20)

What should we be doing as we wait for God’s plan to be unveiled?

In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins of Matthew 25:1-13, half of the virgins were prepared while waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. They had trimmed the wicks of their lamps and had plenty of oil to keep them burning. The foolish virgins didn’t have enough oil and left to go purchase more. As a result, they weren’t ready and waiting when the bridegroom returned. We want to be people who are ready, waiting for Jesus’ return, whether that’s through his rescue before the Tribulation, or our natural death after a long life. We are to continue working and loving others as Jesus would expect us to do. In Matthew 24:40-42, Jesus is speaking about what will happen when the Church is delivered before the Tribulation…”Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. So, you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.” Please note that the people Jesus described here aren’t hiding in a bunker in the hills. They are working. We should be keeping our hands and minds busy with the things of God right up to the end.

Paula Aiton is a member of Koinonia Church and a freelance writer, musician and artist. Her blog, God’s Glory Girl, can be found at godsglorygirl.com

 

Recommended for you

Load comments