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Christ's First Coming—Prophesied in Detail. Jesus Christ—The Greatest Prophet. Focus on the Middle East. The Beast, the False Prophet and the Antichrist. Armageddon and the Day of the Lord. The Millennium and Peace on Earth! Humanity's Opportunity for Salvation! Getting to Really Know God Welcome to the "Bible and Prophecy and You" series of lessons.
We all wonder about the future, especially when we have financial or other personal problems and the global news is so gloomy. If we listen to speculations, we can become terrified and paranoid.
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Well, God has not left us in the dark. Amazingly, more than a quarter of the Bible is devoted to prophecy! Why has God revealed so much about the future? Because God wants His followers to become spiritually prepared and then they can have peace of mind. With these lessons, you'll learn about fascinating prophecies that have already been fulfilled—in fact, fulfilled perfectly —and a great deal about the important prophecies that will have a great impact on your life in the near future!
You'll see what a huge benefit and blessing it is to understand Bible prophecy! You'll also learn about things that have always fired people's curiosity, including the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, Armageddon, the Antichrist, the Beast, the mark of the Beast, the number , the end-time Babylon, Christ's second coming and the Millennium. This first lesson is: We could say that is bad news and good news. It's bad news—or sad news—that mankind's troubles and suffering will continue to get much worse! But it's also good news—in fact, great news—because it means that Jesus Christ will soon be returning to earth to solve all the problems and bring peace and prosperity for all mankind!
In the meantime, you need to know what to do so God will protect and provide for you during some terrible times ahead. What is meant by the biblical "time of the end"? How should we plan and prepare? What kind of hope is God offering us? With all that's going on in this world, do you feel it's more satanic in nature? People just don't care about other humans any more and are doing so many outrageous things to the common people. People becoming ill with syndrome X and doctors can't explain it. Our foods are not nutritious any more. Our Messiah told us about these things, and it's coming to pass.
During the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, He promised that He would come again—the next time to establish His Kingdom on earth. But He also warned that before His return, mankind's evils and suffering would dramatically increase, ending in "great tribulation" Matthew Two seemingly opposite trends were to occur in the end time.
The same curiosity can be aroused by our study of prophecy. We would like to know certain details more to satisfy our curiosity than to conform our lives to Christ. It is very easy to deceive ourselves here by the use of semantics. We may speak of prophecy as "deep" spiritual truth. Truth that is deep, in my estimation, is that which leads to mature Christian living. The writer to the Hebrews wrote:. Did you notice what the writer to the Hebrews said? Among the elementary truths which he wished to leave behind were those constituting the content of prophetic study.
The reason why others naturally those less spiritual than we cannot see the "deep truths" we see is because they are not there, not because they are on a higher spiritual plane. What is truly important, I believe, is what God says most frequently and most frankly. Prophecy provides a pretext for those who wish to practice this. We are guilty of this abuse whenever we focus on the minutia of prophecy and overlook the message.
I have already warned you that we are likely to make many mistakes in the details, just as the men of old have done. It is the clear and emphatic message of prophecy that is paramount, not the minutia. The disciples of our Lord had a problem here. They were preoccupied with the wrong things with respect to prophecy.
Are We Living in the "Time of the End"? > Free Bible Study Guides
In the first place they were preoccupied with the timing of God's program. Over and over they asked him when these things would take place Matthew How and when the kingdom would be established was almost a fetish for the disciples. Jesus consistently avoided answering their questions on "the time," focusing instead on how they ought to live in the light of His return cf. Matthew ; Acts 1: The disciples also had an unhealthy interest in their role in the kingdom.
They thought about the future in terms of their prestige, their power, and their position, an attitude which Jesus sought to correct cf. Is it any wonder that American Christians are so interested in where America fits into God's prophetic scheme?
Common sport among Christians is to play the game of "Who's who in prophecy. Is a powerful computer in Europe a part of the satanic program? Of course Satan is constantly grooming a man for the job. But we are not often profited by speculation.
Lesson 1: Are We Living in the "Time of the End"?
The same could be said for date setting. This practice has only served to make Christians a laughing stock. The words of Peter should serve to warn us about the dangers of speculation or, in his words, "private interpretations":. While we have often heard this passage applied to teaching in general, Peter wrote these words specifically regarding the interpretation of prophecy.
I believe that he strongly warned us about speculation here. The theological study of prophecy is known in academic circles as "eschatology," the study of last things. Evangelicals are often divided and strongly debate with each other over the issue of the rapture. Does the rapture come before, during, or after the great tribulation?
Some don't think there even is a rapture at all. Others say there is no millennium. While all these matters are important, they are not critical. The primary message of prophecy is often the same, regardless of one's eschatology: Jesus Christ is coming soon to judge the earth, to rid it of evil, and to establish His kingdom. That truth should transform our lives, even though we will disagree about the details. Let us beware of "straining gnats and swallowing camels. Any doctrine can be twisted in such a way that our actions are an abuse of truth. So, too, even a correct interpretation of prophecy can result because of our own sinfulness in an ungodly response on our part.
Those of us who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture could misapply this doctrine by rejoicing because of man's evil surely this proves that the Lord's return is near , rather than by actively resisting it even though it won't usher in the kingdom. Every eschatological position, whether right or wrong, has it own forms of applicational heresy.
Wrong doctrine leads to wrong practice, it is true. But right doctrine can also lead to wrong practice if we are not careful. Having warned us to be cautious in the light of the problems which have plagued Christians through the years, let me conclude this lesson by highlighting the purposes of prophecy. If we are to correctly interpret and apply the prophecies of the Book of Revelation, we must study this book in the light of the purposes of prophecy as described in the Scriptures. Fulfilled prophecy authenticates the Word of God.
The Old Testament prophet would sometimes give a distant prophecy, accompanied by a near prophecy. The purpose for the near prophecy was to authenticate both the prophet and his distant prophecy. Our Lord staked His entire ministry and message on His ability to fulfill the prophecy that He would rise from the grave cf. In both the Gospels and Acts the message of the gospel was proclaimed on the basis of the authentication of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection in fulfillment of prophecy cf.
Prophecy is a powerful authentication of the Word of God. It is little wonder that many in our time have been won to Christ through the instrumentality of books such as The Late Great Planet Earth, or more recently, the Left Behind series. Prophecy gives credibility to the proclamation of the gospel. If one would dispute the Word of God he or she must first disprove the Bible's claim of fulfilled prophecy.
This is one of the predominant themes of prophecy in the Bible. If God's word is true and God's promises are sure, then we to pursue purity:. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. If God judges sin, which fulfilled prophecy demonstrates, we dare not persist in willful sin:. For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less shall we, if we reject the one who warns from heaven? The assurance and hope which prophecy produces should cause us to live in this world as though its pleasures were temporary, and to invest in the world to come, where its blessings are eternal 2 Peter 3: Prophecy encourages the saint to persevere in resisting evil and in pursuing what is righteous:.
If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord 1 Corinthians Prophecy tells us where God is going in history.
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It informs man of God's purposes and exhorts men to conform their lives to God's goals. If we would desire to serve God we must seek to work toward His goals. Prophecy gives us a goal which causes us to renounce former ambitions, shun what we used to seek, and live in the light of our ultimate purpose and calling in Christ:. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, 14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus Philippians 3: One of the most common maladies of the Christian life is apathy.
Unbelieving scoffers reject the warnings of future judgment, secure in their self-delusion that everything is continuing on as it has from the beginning 2 Peter 3: Prophecy is given to stir us up, to be ready for the Lord's return, and even to hasten its coming:. We are not of the night nor of the darkness. As we approach our study of the Book of Revelation, let us study this prophecy in a way that is consistent with the principles of prophecy that can be learned from the prophecies of the past.
We should understand that God has not told us everything that will happen, and that we will not fully understand even what has been revealed. Let us seek to avoid the pitfalls which Satan would use to distort or distract us from the purpose God has for us in this prophecy. And let this prophecy stir our souls to worship, obedience, and perseverance.
May the person of Christ and our reunion with Him be our goal and our consuming desire. This is the edited manuscript of a message delivered by Robert L. Deffinbaugh, teacher and elder at Community Bible Chapel many years ago, and revised on May 17, Anyone is at liberty to use this edited manuscript for educational purposes only, with or without credit.
The publication of this material is a grace ministry of Community Bible Chapel.
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