Powerful Prophecies, Pt. 7
Study Guide (Draft form), April 23, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
We could not conclude our short series on Powerful Prophecies throughout the Bible without celebrating one of the most powerful prophecies of all: The Return of the King, the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! In fact, every Christmas, Christ’s first coming, first advent, is a pronouncement to the world of Christ’s second advent, His second coming. Many of you have probably enjoyed the ministry of Jack Van Impe, a fascinating Bible prophecy teacher. One of his publications was a magazine, which had the best title: ‘Perhaps Today!’ Maybe we should have a plague over our front doors with that, and when we leave our house each day, we look up and see: ‘Perhaps Today!’ Really, unless we go to see Him first, one day will be that day that it’s time for the King to return for His Bride, the Church, and to begin reclaiming the world for His Kingdom.
Jesus told a parable to His disciples that was specifically about His return in Mark 13:34-37- “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. Don’t let Him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for Him!” NLT
The master of the house, the rightful owner, is coming back to reclaim His house, the Earth. And we, the stewards of God’s house, have been given instructions to carry out in living out our stewardship through our worship and service. And we are to faithfully be about our Father’s business as we faithfully watch for the King’s return. For remember, along with Jesus return for His people is Jesus’ subsequent review of His people; review of what we did as stewards of the time, the talents, and the treasures He entrusted to us for carrying out our works of worship and service while we wait for the Master to return.
Actually we just need to remember that the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. And not only are Jesus’ disciples accountable for what we have done with all that God owns, everyone on Earth is going to give an account for what they did with the things God owns. You know, One of the most ignored truths about whatever people have produced, built, bought, and temporarily own, the fact remains: None of it belongs to them. That’s the message from the Psalmist to everyone in the world about whatever they think is theirs: “None of it belongs to you. For the Earth is the Lord’s and all it contains.” (Ps 24:1) Every person on Earth is a ‘steward’ of that which belongs to the Lord.
Part of the coming judgment of mankind concerns a review of what each person did with the things that belong to God; beginning with a person’s very body and soul. It’s like that completely foolish notion you often hear people say that they have a right to do whatever they want with their own body. No they don’t! Of course they don’t…because they don’t own their own body. It belongs to the Creator! By creation every body and soul belongs to God. The problem is that sin killed the spiritual life within that body and soul. Therefore, the person who has not yet had their spirit born again through repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ is separated from spiritual life with God and under condemnation of sin in their body and soul, but again, every person’s body and soul belongs to God by creation. However, the only way they have a relationship with their Creator and then live eternally in the presence of God in Heaven is by conversion; having their spirit reunited to Christ and their body and soul re-purposed by the Holy Spirit to be a temple of the living God. Remember; until a person is born again, his or her body is a ‘spiritual tomb’, dead in trespasses and sin. But when a person receives Jesus Christ into their life the Holy Spirit then converts their ‘spiritual tomb’ into a ‘spiritual temple’ of the living God.
Think of it this way: Besides the Earth being a prison of spiritual inmates who are under the condemnation of sin; Earth is also a spiritual graveyard, filled with people, who although are physically living, they are spiritually dead in trespasses and sin. What God is doing is for each repentant sinner who comes to Christ for salvation is that He converts them into born again children of God and temples of God the Holy Spirit. And one day, in the day of the Rapture, He’s coming back to remove all of His living temples from out of the graveyard of Earth and He will then begin His work of renovating the Earth from being a graveyard to being a paradise. He will begin renovating and restoring the Earth to be His Kingdom upon Earth.
And all of these things are now just on the horizon. No wonder we call these prophecies ‘powerful’! We are living on the verge of Jesus’ return for His church and His preparations for ushering in His promised Millennial Kingdom. So whenever you are a little bit down about one thing or another, remember to look up and by faith, see Jesus standing at the door of Heaven, just waiting for word from the Father: “It’s time!” And then it begins: 1 Thess 4:16-18- “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will 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.” NASU
Even the word ‘Rapture’ is an exciting word. We get the word from the Greek word, ‘harpazo’, which is translated as ‘caught up’ in the passage here. And from ‘harpazo’ is the Latin word ‘rapturo’, from which we get the English word ‘rapture’. So whenever you are talking with others about this great prophecy you could tell others that, officially, you are looking for and waiting for the great ‘harpazo’ of the church; the ‘catching away’ or the ‘gathering’ of the church.
And here is something else that is exciting. In fact, it reinforces just how anxious Jesus is to return to gather His church. In the Greek there are two different words for ‘air’. One is ‘aer’ which referred to the lower atmosphere around the earth, and the other was ‘aither’, which referred to everything beyond that, reaching into the stars and the heavens. Okay, to reinforce just how much our Lord Jesus is longing to come for His church, the word that the Holy Spirit had the Apostle Paul choose is ‘aer’! Jesus could call us Home right from where He is in Heaven. But no, instead, Jesus is coming for us; coming into the atmosphere of Earth to gather, to ‘rapture’ His church. How like our God, our Lord Jesus, to come for us when He could just call for us. That’s how much He loves us.
Now, you may be realizing at this point that in talking about the Second Coming, which includes both the Rapture of the Church and the final return by Jesus with the Church to the Earth…that we have entered an area of prophecy where various groups within the family of God hold different positions about all of this. In fact, there are a lot of different positions and teachings about prophecy, particularly the Rapture and the Tribulation and the Millennium. And why is that? Well, think about it.
Something we need to realize is that God has a reason and a purpose for everything He does. And He not only has a reason and a purpose for everything He does, He also has a reason and a purpose for everything He does not do. For example: When it comes to the doctrine of Salvation, about how people can have a saved relationship with God, He made it crystal clear in the Bible, that it is by God’s grace through our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior that we become born again children of God. God clearly and plainly spelled the way of Salvation out for all the world to understand, for salvation is about how to have a relationship with God.
So we could put it this way: Salvation is primarily about how we are going to get along with God, whereas Prophecy is partly now about we are going to get along with each other. Salvation is primarily our testimony of God’s children having a relationship with God. Prophecy is, in part, a test of how God’s children are now going to get along in their relationship with each other. Remember, God said something very specifically to all His children about how He expected them to now relate to and treat each other. In fact, this last Passion Week included what’s referred to as ‘Maundy Thursday’. ‘Maundy’ is a shortened from of the Latin word ‘mandatum’, which means ‘command’, as in ‘mandate’. It was in connection with the Lord’s Supper when Jesus was illustrating how His disciples should love and serve one another that Jesus then gave them this commandment, or ‘mandate’: John 13:34-35- “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” NASU
Jesus was raising the purpose of ‘love’ to a higher standard here. And I want to commend our Chapel family on this, as there is a generous spirit of love toward one another as we and grow and sharpen one another as we continue to try to learn more and more about the great teachings of the Scriptures, like about prophecy and such. So well done! It’s a pleasure and so encouraging and refreshing to dig into all of these great doctrines with the Chapel family. We patiently learn from each other, and sometimes adjust our former ideas or positions about some teaching or another. And that’s how it’s supposed to work in the family of God.
But you are no doubt aware of and have probably experienced spiteful attitudes and even rude and condescending treatment from some Christians who hold to other doctrinal positions than you hold to on things like prophecy, and even differing Creation models and such. Some Christians have even accused others of following teachings of Satan because they held a different position of the timing of the Rapture than they did.
These things ought not to be within the family of God. We need to remind our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that we need to pay attention to what Jesus said about how we are to treat each other. Christ’s followers are commanded by Christ to be patient toward other believers who hold to different positions about things like the prophetic time-line and such. Again, we are to learn all we can and hold to what we find to be the most consistent teachings of the Scriptures about all these amazing prophecies. But at the same time, there are people all around us dying in their sins and will be eternally lost and condemned in their sins that need to find out about the love and salvation of Christ. And sometimes they get their first promptings about trying to learn more about salvation through getting a glimpse of it all in how they see Christ’s children treating one another. Jesus Himself revealed that how Christian’s treated each other would be one of the most powerful witnesses to the lost world that these people really were saved children of God’s. That’s why He called it ‘a commandment’ and not a ‘suggestion’.
Remember, God is more concerned about how Christians treat their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, who may have different understandings about doctrines that do not determine our eternal salvation, than He is about how much you have come to know and understand the details of things like prophecy and such. Do you remember what the Apostle Paul, who recorded these wonderful prophetic Scriptures for us, said about treating others in the family of God? 1 Cor 13:1-3- “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.” NLT And one more time from the Amplified Version for further clarification: 1 Cor 13:1-2- “IF I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody).”AMP
God is serious about how the world sees His children treating each other. When we realize it’s part of the testimony God uses to convince the world that we really are children of God, then God’s people can’t fight like cats and dogs about their different positions on prophetic events and such and expect the watching world to go, “Yeah, I think I want in on that. Such a loving and peaceful people they are.” No, let’s learn all we can about these great doctrines that develop our maturity, but then let’s really be committed to our witness and testimony of the saving grace and love of Christ to the watching world concerning how we treat our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now, speaking of the Great Tribulation…We’ll come back to the Rapture, but just some more groundwork here…The question often arises as to if any will be saved during this time, or during this Great Tribulation period on Earth. Well, the Apostle John answers that with some astonishing revelation: Rev 7:1-4- “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads. And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel…” 9-15- After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” NASU
That’s quite an answer isn’t it? Not only will there be people getting saved from every nation and from all tribes and people groups in the Great Tribulation period, but this astonishing evangelistic harvest will commence with an amazing evangelistic team: 100, 000 Messianic Jews from every tribe of ancient Israel! Whoa! And also, What? What about the lost tribes of Israel? Well, apparently God found them! And He not only found them, He’s got a great evangelistic work for them to do in this last period of man’s history before Jesus’ second coming to the Earth.
And this is what we’ll get further into in our next study, as well as more about the Rapture.