THE CLOCK OF GOD, Part 7, PROPHECY AND REVELATION

Goodnews Christian Ministry

"From the beginning I foretold the future, and predicted beforehand what is to be." ---Isaiah 46:10

CHAPTER 26

God Declares the Future in Advance

"Does the trumpet sound in the city without the populace becoming alarmed? Does misfortune come to a city if God has not sent it? No more does the Lord God do anything without revealing his plans to his servants the prophets."
Amos 3:6-7

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There is alot of talk today about a French astrologer named Nostradamus. Did he predict the future? Many people think so. God, however, told us not to listen to him or to anyone like him. He and his kind are self-appointed prophets and the words they speak are untrue.

According to the Bible, God's secrets are not revealed to soothsayers: "You may say: the Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon, but thus says the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel: Do not be deceived by the prophets among you or by your diviners; do not listen to the dreams they dream, since they prophesy lies to you in my name. I have not sent them." (Jer.29:15).

While people like Nostradamus may on occasion appear to forecast events of the future, they don't see God who has created the future. So history continues to surprise even the most astute scholars and diviners.

Jeremiah's words apply not only to fortunetellers like Nostradamus, they include the malignant doctrine of cult leaders as well.

If so much is false, one might ask, can any vision be true?

The future goes by the Book. The major prophecies have all been made, and they were sealed long before Nostradamus was even born.

What we look forward to now is fulfillment, not new vision.

Still, the world loves its astrologers. In the supermarket tabloids it is Nostradamus that gets the ink, the prophets of scripture are usually ignored.

It is curious that so many dismiss Isaiah and the other visionaries of the Bible which God personally commissioned in the prophetic office and, instead, flock around a pagan seer from the Middle Ages -- one whose writings are so vague any interpretation is possible from the muddled sentences he uttered.

In the fifteenth Century pennings of Nostradamus, for instance, we are supposed to see Marilyn Monroe, John Kennedy, California earthquakes, flying saucers, submarines, airplanes, World War II, and just about everything else that has ever happened on earth (except, of course, the global victory of Christ -- that he ignored).

It was not in the plan of God that He instruct a 15th century magician about Marilyn Monroe. He has a much more important message for us.

God's whole purpose in prophecy is that we discover the need to repent in Jesus and save our lives.

What the Holy Spirit has revealed to us in bible prophecy is that this world is coming to an end in a 'Day of God' that is approaching us now with great speed and that we need to prepare ourselves immediately so that we do not get swept away and destroyed by this divinely driven tidal wave of wrath against evil.

Faith forestalls disaster. This is the ultimate meaning of all prophecy. When God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, He told Abraham that just a small amount of faith would stay His hand and spare the city (despite all the evil that emanated from it).

Jonah proved later that when prophecy is real it can increase a city's faith and save it from disaster. True prophecy can change the future. That is what is important to God.

The prognostications of soothsayers, on the other hand, are useless. They instil fear, not faith. Worse, they steal from the signs and portents God Himself has sanctioned and made credible.

When Nostradamus wrote of a blue-turbaned leader from the East rising up to destroy the world in war, not one word did he bring to us about God's role in that war, or why everlasting peace would follow its end.

Reading from the Bible, he stole its revelations without acknowledging his source. Instead, he tried to make himself the diviner of this vision, not God.

If prophecy is to prove true, it must be built on Christ. The words of Ezekiel, Amos, Micah, Jeremiah and all the other prophets of the Old Testament would have faded into a Hebrew oblivion had it not been discovered that they contained divine descriptions of a Christian future.

Whatever seals still remain screening the mysteries surrounding tomorrow, they can only fall to the inspection of faith. The Bible is entirely about Jesus -- and so God has empowered only those who have faith in Him to reveal its holy secrets.

Peter wrote that prophecy can have no origin outside of God. "When men spoke for God it was the Holy Spirit that moved them." (2 Peter 1:21). That same Spirit moves the congregation as well as the prophet.

God heads the Church and has sent His Holy Spirit to guide it to the truth. That is why so many look to the Church for support when they read the Bible.

The more believers who accept a prophecy in Christ, the more we can be certain that the Holy Spirit was its true author. (2 Peter 1:20).

This is why most Christians tend to hold themselves to the mainstream of faith.

God has promised that He will never take any action on earth without first warning the people beforehand (Amos 3:7).

We know what the future holds only because a chorus of voices, inspired by the word of God and moved by the Spirit, sounded in the pages of a Book and proclaimed it all in advance.

Scripture is filled with prophecies that predict the end of the world. "Come near and listen all you races, pay attention all you nations; listen earth and all that you hold; world, and all that comes from you. God is angry with all the nations...He has vowed them to destruction, and marked them down for slaughter." (Is.34:1-5).

Because of these prophecies, it is impossible to talk about Babylon without acknowledging its impending destruction.

"I mean to sweep away everything off the face of the earth. I mean to sweep away men and beasts, the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, I mean to send the wicked staggering, and wipe man off the face of the earth."
(Zeph.1:2-3).

"The man of high estate will be tinder, his handiwork a spark. Both will burn together and no one to put them out." (Is.1:31). "Is it not the will of God Almighty that the laboring of peoples should end in fire, and the toiling of nations come to nothing?" (Hab.2:13).

These statements are not vague, they are unequivocal, and because so many prophecies of this nature exist in the scriptures there is no question that they will be fulfilled.

Just as our spiritual soul has been exiled into a mortal body that is soon coming to an end, the same is true of the world itself. This world has it's own Forest Lawn, and just like us, it's life, too, is very short.

And the analogy does not end there. Everyone knows that those who decide to live a life in the fast lane pit themselves against nature and increase their odds of an early death.

This is even more true of the world itself because it is held together only by the single thread of God's treaty of life. All that is keeping our planet alive today is faith in Jesus Christ. And that is waning fast.

Scripture says that just before the End comes, the world will be enveloped, not just in armies, but in a time of intense darkness as well. The spiritual meaning of this nocturnal shroud is the collapse of faith -- the extinguishing of the light of Christ on earth.

Jesus confirmed this collapse when He described the last days as "a time of darkness when no one can work". (Jn.9:4).

Today, in the wake of growing faithlessness, we can see Christ's prediction begin to take form. And it is this loss of faith, unless reversed, that will allow all the terrible events foreseen by the prophets to come true.

The real meaning of all these signs is that the time of terror is reversible. We can change the outcome by turning back to God. But there is very little time left for us to do this.

Scripture has decreed the name 'Babylon' as the biblical cryptogram for this pagan world.

That means the 'handwriting on the wall' that appeared in ancient Babylon just hours before it was destroyed is analogous to the signs and events destined to precede the day when the earth itself is to be destroyed.

These signs were all predicted in advance and documented in terms so lucid in scripture they are impossible to misinterpret.

Because those final indicators have now begun to unfold in the events of our times, the Holy Spirit has been able to use them to show us the proof of the truth of Jesus and to warn us that we need to turn our lives over to His righteousness as quickly as we possibly can.

They show that the time for repentance has grown exceedingly short. The Book of God is true and everything we see happening around us now is going just as that Book predicted.

God has not hidden these indicators from sight so that we have to search for them. He has unveiled His portents on a world stage in full view of mankind. They come to us in the headlines of newspapers.

The restoration of Jerusalem, the rise of Persia, the missles and hydrogen bombs, the reign of violence. These are not secrets. Yet they do follow a script many people want desperately to ignore.

So the secret is our doing, not God's.

Scripture says that the end of the world will come in fire. "I have brought fire out of you to consume you." (Ez.28:18).

Because this fire has two parts, the destruction of Babylon has two parts. Babylon is to be burned twice. First spiritually and then in the end, physically.

The spiritual destruction of Babylon started two thousand years ago when the word of Christ began to spread throughout the pagan world. "His tongue is like a devouring fire." (Is.30:27).

And once Christ's message has done its job, just behind it will come the second fire -- the prelude to final Judgment called Armageddon. "I will light a fire inside her towns; it shall devour all her surroundings." (Jer.50:32).

Preached from town to town, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the spiritual fire of God which cleanses or destroys every human heart that it enters: "A crucible for silver, a furnace for gold, but the Lord for the testing of hearts!" (Pr.17:3).

Because every person on earth must pass through this torch of heaven, scripture says that those who obey the word of Christ are like brands snatched from the flames. (Zech.3:2).

"You tested us, God, you refined us like silver, you let us fall into the net, you laid heavy burdens on our backs, you let people drive over our heads; but now the ordeal by fire and water is over, and you allow us once more to draw breath." (Ps.66:10-12).

Putting the match to God's crucible, Jesus said, "I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!" (Lk.12:49). And the only pain we feel from this divine flame burning in our hearts is the pang of decision.

The image of God's word blazing across the earth like a great fire was echoed by almost every ancient prophet of the past: "The light of Israel will become a fire and its Holy One a flame -- burning and devouring thorns and briars in a single day." (Is.10:17).

This unquenchable flame is the word that Jesus spoke: "Now I will make my words a fire in your mouth, and make this people wood, for the fire to devour." (Jer.5:14).

These prophecies show that the world lives now only for the purpose of Jesus Christ. God is saving those who will leave wickedness, and He is doing it at the last minute, just ahead of a cataclysmic, world-ending catastrophe that has been fore-ordained in the heavens.

The land itself is doomed. But we can live.

The message from God is irrefutable: the salvation of Christ or fiery death are the only two options we have. God has given us a choice. Either we follow in the footsteps of Jesus to a land of everlasting life, or we end up in an eternal furnace of death and disgrace.

In scripture, the fire of God and the sword of God are equivalent terms: "Son of man...prophesy...and say: The Lord God says this: Listen; I am about to kindle a fire in you that will burn up every green tree as well as every dry one; it will be an unquenchable blaze and every face will be scorched by it from the Negeb to the North. "

"All mankind will see that it was I, God, who kindled it, and it will not be put out...All mankind is going to learn that I, God, am the one who has drawn the sword from it sheath; it will not go back again."
(Ez.21:1-5).

The decision we make with respect to the Gospel puts us on either one side or the other of God's sword.

When the spiritual fire of God's Gospel has completed its burning across the world, the sixth trumpet will sound. Then the floodgates of the east will be thrown open at the Euphrates, allowing a vast horde of eastern forces to overrun the 'Babylon' we now inhabit.

These forces will initiate the terminal fires that Jeremiah predicted. (Jer.51:58).

It was not Nostradamus that first told us of these things, it was the prophets of scripture.

Serving as a prelude for the final days, the twentieth century has produced events which have brought all the citizens of the world -- not just Christians -- to the certain knowledge that the world could come to a flaming end within minutes at any time.

Such a catastrophe is now only a push-button away and only the power of God holds it back. The fact that the physical fires have started already -- the vaporizing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Bikini, and Eniwetok, for instance -- gives telling evidence to the terrible truth of the Bible's prophecies.

Most of us are familiar with pictures which document the fiery terror these atomic devices unleash when they are exploded, and tens of thousands of them sit right now on top of cocked missles in hidden silo's all across the earth, quietly awaiting a moment to erupt.

Coinciding with the reconstruction of Jerusalem and all the other portents of termination (nature, for instance, in preparation for these events has even begun to arm even the skies over our heads), we can only conclude that God's Last Day has drawn very close to us.

The times themselves have become so compelling that mortal prophets can add little to what we can all see for ourselves.

Had Saddam Hussein risen to power in the Soviet Union instead of in Iraq, or had the appearance of Adolph Hitler and the atomic arsenal of today been reversed -- had Hitler come just twenty years later -- Armageddon might well have come and gone already. That is how close we really are.

And with more and more countries clamoring to become 'nuclear', it is the whole world which now must depend on faith -- not just Christians -- because it is not mankind's logic that is holding back the wrath, it is only the power of God.

Some Christians believe that all prophecy ended with Jesus -- that the Bible alone is the final revelation of God on earth. There can be no doubt that God's message of salvation is perfectly contained in the Bible, but the revelation of God concerning this redemption has continued to unfold to this present day.

Jesus said, "I have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you now. But when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking as from himself but will say only what he has learnt; and he will tell you of the things to come." (Jn.16:12-13).

In 'telling us about the things to come' the Holy Spirit has revealed the future to us in advance. Everything pre-announced by the scriptures is going to come true. This includes revelations given before Christ appeared and afterward as well -- every prophecy God has decreed.

Even the mistake in the Christian calendar has divine significance. The importance of the year 2000 is not known yet, but we can be certain that it has a divine implication which will soon be seen.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Christian Church has received a flood of vision and prophecy since the time of the Apostles -- revelations which the Holy Spirit has brought to the Church through the words of Christian prophets.

Even though many of these prophets are unknown to us, their visions have impacted every Church.

Due to the scattered nature of God's Church, these prophecies are spread throughout the world and encompass every denomination.

That God would scatter these revelations throughout the entire Body can be seen in the prophets of old. Elijah, for instance, was not Jewish. Elisha was not Jewish either. Nor were Amos or Hosea.

These prophets, along with others, belonged to the northern tribes. Yet Jews today cling to their words as if the blood that ran through their veins were as Jewish as their own.

It is the same now. There is true prophecy in every church. While some of these visions are recognized by very few, there are other revelations which have been embraced by almost every Christian.

The concept of the Trinity for instance is an idea that came to the Church through prophecy. The dual nature of the person of Christ -- true man and true God -- is another.

There are thousands of examples like this in the history of the Church, including all the truths revealed by Paul, yet none of these prophecies have altered in any way the nature or structure of the message Jesus preached in the land of Palestine.

Prophecy has added to our understanding of God but it has not changed our pathway to salvation. This proves that the Gospel can never be changed by prophecy, only brought into clearer focus by it.

The greatest prophecy of all is that Jesus is Lord -- and anyone who makes this declaration is a prophet.

This statement is a prediction because the Lord's coronation has not yet taken place. Daniel foresaw that God would bestow the kingship of New Jerusalem on Jesus at the day of the End, just before the Judgment.

But that day is still ahead of us, so the only definitive regarding this coronation is the promise of scripture. Therefore we live now in a time of mystery. That is why our faith is the greatest prophecy of all.

It is God's intention that all the truths He has designated for revelation be disclosed (Jn.16:12-13), and He has set a limit on their unveiling. (Dn.9:24). Since the end cannot occur until this disclosure has been completed, the sounds of divine revelation still continue.

For the same reason, it is not always important to God that revealed prophecy be accepted by the Church; only that it be publicly stated. Because once published, scripture is fulfilled.

It is man's own law that legal declarations be published. Few have to read them to make these disclosures legal. They just have to be made available to read. It is exactly the same with the declarations of prophecy.

The source of all sound prophecy is the Holy Spirit. Many argue that the final combatants of prophecy who try to hammer these visions into Church theology are the sources. That is not true.

Moses, when he was leading the Israelites through the desert of the Negeb struck dead stone and water poured out from it. The Holy Spirit, the source of Moses' power, can strike any dead stone and make the water of God flood from it.

Since scripture shows that human beings are merely the dust of dead rock rising up to contemplate existance, the action of Moses applies as much to us as it does to the stones of the Negeb.

Jesus had scathing things to say about many of the ministers who stand at the summit of the church -- the very people who often rule on matters of doctrine. Yet, no matter how dead the rock, if the Holy Spirit chooses to strike it, living water will pour out.

Usually, though, prophecy does not originate at the top. It only ends there.

To whom did the Holy Spirit first reveal the doctrines of Christianity's major prophecies? Often we do not know. Nor do we know the initial web of Christians through which those prophecies traveled on their way to the ears of the church leaders who later argued them into doctrine.

Such prophecies are the 'many things that Jesus had to tell us' which He said were too much for the disciples to contemplate during the infancy of the Church. (John 16:12-15). It is this unfolding revelation that has brought the Church to its diverse understanding in our time. And it is an unveiling that is still going on.

Just as the 'manna from heaven' continued to fall from the sky to feed the Israelite's throughout their whole journey across Sinai, and did not stop until they came to the river Jordan, so will the unfolding revelation of the Holy Spirit continue to be a part of the Christian message until the journey of mankind to Christ has been accomplished.

God has sprinkled His insights throughout the Church. Some here, some there. No church receives it all, but all the churches receive a part.

The word 'prophecy' simply means a revelation from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it is about the future; other times the past. Sometimes it is about the nature of God and sometimes it is about the nature of man.

For this reason, we can see the prophecy of God unfold in the discoveries of science: especially in the secrets of nature and of the universe. God made all these things, too.

Yet, most of us are aware of prophecy only when it concerns what is still to come. This is why we are compelled to search the words of the Book of Revelation and the other writings of scripture that point to the time of the end -- especially now when the fulfillment of these prophecies is so close at hand.

NEXT
Clock of God, Chapter 27,
"The Book of Daniel Unsealed"

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