By Diane Caston
In the next two weeks we are going to take a look at end times prophecy and the HOPE that exploring this subject will bring. We are going to take a simplified look, so do not worry about getting bogged down here. When Jesus left this earth to return to His Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to teach us about God and His plans for His people. He inspired godly men to write, through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, the words that would bring life and freedom to all who would believe. Part of His revelation in His word is what we call prophecy. I would also like to say that much of the information in this study has been gleaned from a current authority on bible prophecy, Amir Tsarfati in his book, The Last Hour.
Definition - 1. an inspired utterance of aprophet 2. the function or vocation of a prophet specifically: the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose 3 . a prediction of something to come
It is generally believed that nearly a third of the bible is prophetic. Many people think that means that these passages are confusing or are unknowable! This is entirely untrue. Our Creator wants to be known by His creation. He has revealed Himself to men throughout history. He has made promises and warnings of things to come. Every religion has their holy book, but the bible is the only document that tells the future accurately before it happens 100 % of the time.
John 14 :29 “ And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.
God wants us to know who He is, what He is capable of doing, and what He has promised to do, because He loves all men everywhere! So, He has told us beforehand (from the beginning of creation) a small part of what His plan is for ages.
Now, knowledge brings peace whereas, confusion brings weakness. Why would God want us to know the details of His plans for the future? He wants us to know Him and learn to trust Him, to grow in faith, to give us peace.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Jn. 16:13-14 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
God wants His people to have faith, and faith comes from seeing how the Lord has worked in the past, in bible times and in our own lives. On the night Jesus died He informed His disciples what was about to happen. He told them He was going to die, but that it was not the end of the story. He told them He was going away, but would come back again, and while He was gone, they would not be alone. The Father would send the Holy Spirit. He did not just say, “Trust me I have this under control!” No, He told them, John 16:33 “ These things I have told you, that in me you may have peace.” Not knowing brings confusion, and you all know who the author of confusion is! So, God made sure to reassure us through His word!
The first step to understanding prophecy is to explain what it is. When a prophet prophesies, one of two things may be happening. He or she may either be forthtelling a message of God or foretelling the plans of God.
We see over and over in the Old Testament the prophets of God declaring the word of God to the people in a warning of what their evil ways would bring. Other times they would give a command to the people of what they needed to do, such as repent and turn away from idol worship. Forthtelling calls people out for their sins, past and present, warns of potential consequences, and gives solutions for the predicament. It also gives messages of consolation and hope for those who are obedient.
The other role of a prophet is that of a foretelling. Here the message moves from the past and the present into the future. God gives the prophet a peek behind the curtain that separates today from tomorrow. Then the prophet is expected to tell his audience what he has seen, whether he understands it or not.
Throughout the Old Testament were scriptures foretelling the coming Messiah. The very first prophecy in the whole bible refers to this event. After Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, a curse came on all mankind. However, God already had the solution. In speaking to the serpent who tricked Eve, God said in Gen. 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” God warns the serpent, the devil, that there would be hatred between the followers of Satan and the people of God. The woman, throughout scripture, refers to the Jewish people. Between his seed and her Seed, Jesus. Jesus would conquer Satan, but it would come at a cost, the very death of Jesus! All of this in one small verse, but such a glorious prophetic declaration!
Another example is
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch
shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon
Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears.
This verse refers directly to the coming of the Just one, a Rod out of the stem of Jesse, King David’s father, who would deliver His people from their sins. All of this is prophesied thousands of years before it happened. Over and over in scripture we see God foretelling who the rulers would be, what judgement was coming, what His plans for rescue would be, when judgement would be over. All of these words foretelling what would happen in the future. He prompted the prophets to speak, and woe to them if they did not speak what he had declared, or if they said ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ when the Lord hadn’t said it!
Just as there are two types of prophecy there are all two types of prophetic fulfillment –
The Near and the Far . Ezekiel 28 is one of the best examples of a near and far fulfillment of a prophecy. In verses 1-10 The prophecy begins with the Lord rebuking the nation of Tyre, and the prince of Tyre, in a very specific prophecy about what wrong they’ve done wrong and how He is going to judge them.
In Vs 11-19 The prophecy then shifts gears to reveal the real ruler of Tyre, the king of Tyre, is Satan himself, and what the future judgement will be of him and his angels when they are cast down from heaven to earth. This happens many times in bible prophecy, notably in the prophetic verses in the gospels, as Jesus starts by telling his disciples what is to happen to the Jews specifically in the near future, then pivots to prophecy about of the end of days.
There are also global prophecies and regional prophecies .
The global track is seen clearly today in the race for a global government. These things used to be discussed secretly in the various cabals - the Council of Foreign Relations, the Illuminati, the Free Masons, but today the secret is out! The global option is touted by many today including the United Nations, the World Court, the Kyoto Protocol for climate change. We see the current billionaires all vying for position, Soros, Fauci, Gates, Bezos. Globalism is probably the basis for all the Covid regulations today, pushing us closer and closer to world governance, giving up our rights because of fear of a disease. The book of Revelation is filled with descriptions of what will happen on a global scale during the Tribulation, the one world government, the one world religion, the one world ruler, the Anti-Christ.
In regional prophecies we see messages to specific areas or countries – Ezekiel 25-32 God proclaims judgement on the nations – Ammon, Moab, Seir, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and Egypt to name a few.
Ezekiel 37 reveals the resurrection of the Jewish people to life and their return to the land of Israel. Ezekiel 38 details the war of Gog and Magog and the individual nations Russian, Persia, Turkey, Libya and Ethiopia who will join together to attack Israel and take a spoil.
These are all examples of the various kinds of prophecy we will find in the scriptures.
Prophecy is also a gift of the Holy Spirit referred to in the New Testament. 1 Corinthians 14:1 lists it as one of many gifts of the Spirit. We often hear someone in church read a scripture, give a word of encouragement and even sometimes a warning. Other times, more rarely, we will hear someone foretell the future. The Lord Himself will sometimes tell us something that will happen in our futures. That kind of prophecy is not to be taken lightly. You would want to be sure that it is really the Lord speaking through you! It can be an amazing evidence of His intimacy with His people when it happens though!
The God of heaven, who created all we see and are, wants us to know how intimately involved and in control of the events of this cosmos He is. He created us to be His. He sees the end from the beginning. Sometimes I just contemplate that He already knows where we will be next, when we will die, everything about us. He wants us to realize this because He loves us so much!
Amir Tsarfati says this about bible prophecy:
“While it can be interesting and exciting, as well as scary, God did not include the prophetic elements of Scripture just to stir our emotions. The purposes God has for giving us glimpses into the end of time are twofold: He is seeking to encourage the saints and to point to the Messiah as our hope in this world. If you are scared rather than encouraged, then you are not yet reading with accuracy. If prophecy leads you anywhere other than to Jesus Christ, then you are missing the point. Through the words of the prophets, the apostles and Christ Himself, God briefly lets us see His cards – just enough of a peek to assure us that He is playing with a winning hand”.
JD Farag: “Prophecy is not meant to scare you; it is meant to prepare you.”
One of the prophecies of the bible that came to new life in the early 70’s was the Rapture of the church.
In the fall of 1971, we lived in a ramshackle house Newport Beach. Our young neighbors invited us for dinner. On their coffee table were cartoon tracts (Chick Tracts) with the gospel message and the promise of the Rapture of the church. We had never seen or heard anything like that! We had a long, interesting conversation that evening, and in the morning, Bruce said, “I think we need to go to church”! This was truly a miracle! What days those were! I would love to go back and relive them! Everywhere you went people were taking about Jesus and His soon return!
Here we are almost 50 years later, and we are still waiting! Sadly, this made some people feel ripped off, mainly people who were just looking for an escape from this crazy world. In my mind it has been one of the most motivating and hopeful encouragements throughout the years I have walked with the Lord. How many times has the hope of the Lord’s return carried us through the roughest times of life?
Today there is a lot of controversy over the issue of the Rapture, and if there is one, the timing of the Rapture of the church. You have probably all heard arguments of the pre-tribulation rapture, the mid-tribulation (or pre-wrath rapture), and the post tribulation. There is much confusion on the subject.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 Behold, I tell you a mystery:
Bible prophecy is a mystery rather that a secret. Unlike a well-kept secret, a mystery does not remain hidden. Instead, it is a truth that transforms from shadow to substance. The more we learn of the truth in his word, and the more events take place through history, the better we see the revelation of the mystery.
This word mystery is used 33 times in Scripture. Each occurrence speaks of something that can be known, such as the mystery of Jesus as the true Messiah, the mystery that Jews and Gentiles together make up the Body of Christ, the mystery of the marriage like love relations between Christ and the Church, or the mystery that there will be a day when the trumpet blows, and we will be changed and caught up to meet our Savior in the air. Praise the Lord that He has not kept these wonderful truths hidden!
1 Corinthians 15:51-54 “ Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Do you ever contemplate this event? That one day or night we will be going about our normal business, make meals, picking up kids from school, doing our shopping, or sleeping, and in a nano-second we will meet Jesus in the clouds! (I think of the car accidents that are going to happen!) We will meet our beautiful Savior in the air, and we will never be separated from Him again! This is the Rapture, a global, Church wide event when Christ gathers all believers to Himself, dead and living. In the blink of an eye our bodies will be transformed into new heavenly bodies!
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Comfort one another with these words! How many times have we done this, and will continue to do this? How many times do we say in the middle of trials, ‘but the Lord could come tomorrow’!
“Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away! To a home on God’s celestial shores, I’ll fly away.”
Don’t we long for this event? Don’t we hope and pray that our loved ones are ready?
2 Tim. 4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
1 Thess. 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
Rom.8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.