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END TIMES BIBLE PROPHECY -- IS IT IMPORTANT? by Ruth Brentner

END TIMES BIBLE PROPHECY -- IS IT IMPORTANT? by Ruth Brentner

Here's what Bible prophecy does for me:

• IT EXALTS GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY by revealing it on a global scale. I see the nations coming into alignment, and the prophesied one world religion, one world economy, one world government. This commands my worship and awe and thanksgiving as few things can.

What Difference Does It Make?

What Difference Does It Make?

During the past year, I have written many articles defending my belief in premillennialism, which is the belief that Jesus will return to earth after a literal seven year tribulation, destroy the armies arrayed against Jerusalem, and rule the world for a thousand years seated on the throne of David.

At this point you may be asking, “What difference does it make?” After all, many pastors who deny these things preach the Gospel and expound the Word with great conviction. Does it really matter if they deny Israel’s place in future biblical prophecy or regard the book of Revelation as having little relevance for us today apart from the final two chapters? Yes, it absolutely matters.

Connecting the Dots of the Apocalypse

Connecting the Dots of the Apocalypse

When it comes to the book of Revelation, many divorce the opening chapters from the remainder of the book. They do so by regarding the opening chapters as “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1), but not the remainder of the apocalypse.

Jesus’ words to the seven churches, for example, represent not only Jesus’ message to a sampling of current congregations, they also reveal the future of the church. This article provides a few examples of how we can connect the dots from the introduction to the remainder of the book of Revelation.

5 Reasons to Talk about Prophecy

5 Reasons to Talk about Prophecy

Does the study of prophecy add value to the lives of believers they could not receive apart from it? Is it worth the effort talk about our future hope despite the controversy that rages over it today?

Yes, absolutely! The Lord provided us with prophecies regarding Israel, the rapture, and Second Coming throughout Scripture; the last book speaks almost exclusives on future things.

Here are five key reasons for talking about our future hope

The Expectation of the Disciples

The Expectation of the Disciples

In a previous post, I wrote about the vital place Israel has in prophecy. As we continue on this theme by looking at the scriptural foundation for this, it’s important to keep in mind why Israel’s place in prophecy matters to our hope of Jesus imminent return to take us to His Father’s house (John 14:2-3).:

With this understanding of why Israel’s future restoration to a glorious kingdom is vital for us, we will look at the disciples’ expectation regarding Israel moments before Jesus’ ascended to heaven. This, I believe, will open the door to understanding Israel’s future place in God’s prophetic program.

No Time for Snoozing

No Time for Snoozing

Caleb could scarcely believe his eyes; the Egyptian army was advancing slowly but surely toward his city. From his vantage point high on the wall, he identified their flag in the distant horizon just as the sun rose in the sky. They would be at the city walls by sunset!

Several other watchmen refused to believe Caleb’s warning or even look in the direction of the advancing army.

Does the Great Commission Exclude Teaching on Prophecy?

Does the Great Commission Exclude Teaching on Prophecy?

The prevailing mindset of many Bible-believing pastors today is that eschatology, or the study of future things, is not only separate from the preaching of Gospel but detracts from it. They maintain that our task of fulfilling the Great Commission excludes teaching on prophecy, which they believe only confuses believers and stirs up unwelcome controversy.

Is this way of thinking biblical? No, it is not. This represents a myopic way of viewing both the commands and teachings of Jesus, who highlighted “eternal life” as the result of belief in Him and commanded His followers to watch for His return.

The Biblical Basics of Our Hope

The Biblical Basics of Our Hope

We hear so many differing viewpoints today regarding our hope of forever. Some reject the notion that anything physical can be spiritual or godly and on that basis deny our hope of reigning with Christ in a physical kingdom. The Bible, however, flatly rejects such thinking.

As believers seeking God’s wisdom, what does the Bible say about our future? What are the basics that can place us on firm footing amidst the myriad of false teaching that surrounds us today?

Below I list five items that I believe are the rock bottom basics of our biblical hope. For each, I start with the words of Jesus and then provide support from what He also revealed about our future from other places in Scripture.

3 Lessons from the ER

3 Lessons from the ER

I never imagined I would spend much of my birthday in the emergency ward, but that is what happened this past week.

I called my doctor's office this past Wednesday to make an appointment as I had been experiencing dizziness and numbness on my right side on New Year's Eve and Day. The nurse feared I might be having a stroke and said I should go to the ER as soon as possible.

A Man, a Wheelchair, and Overflowing Joy

A Man, a Wheelchair, and Overflowing Joy

He was perhaps the most joyous and Spirit-filled believer I had seen up to that point in my life. Though it was decades ago, I remember the joy that beamed from Paul Lundgren’s face as he sang.

I also recall the sight of Paul, bound to his wheelchair, sitting on the platform at my church. A traffic accident while delivering a piano had left him paralyzed from waist down. This did not deter him, however, from singing and talking about his expectation of walking on streets of gold.

What's God Doing in These Last Days?

What's God Doing in These Last Days?

Have you ever wondered what God is doing during these last days? Why does wickedness abound all around us? Why do believers endure so much personal sorrow and even persecution?

The Lord spoke to my heart about these things through JD Farag’s special update on October 7, 2018. Farag emphasized that the things causing us so much distress today are in reality preparing us to leave this world. That which upsets us the most, the evil around us and the frustrations we personally experience, help us release our grip on the things of this world grab onto our hope of eternity.

The Wrath of the Lamb

The Wrath of the Lamb

When John the Baptist saw Jesus he exclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Indeed, Jesus was the ultimate Passover Lamb whose sacrifice paid the debt of our sins.

Peter put it this way, “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

But who ever heard of “The Wrath of the Lamb?” Does this not sound like the strangest oxymoron you have ever heard? Although unusual, we do see this description of Jesus in the Bible.

Life's Illusions

Life's Illusions

If you have followed the news regarding Brett Kavanaugh Senate hearings, you likely feel the same frustrations I do. The false accusation of a woman, who has no proof whatsoever of her claims, could derail his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

It feels as though the wrong is winning and perhaps for a moment it is. However, Scripture tells me that any success that some may have in discrediting Kavanaugh is not the end of the story. God will have the final say in the matter.

3 Reasons Satan Hates Heaven

3 Reasons Satan Hates Heaven

If there’s anything has shocked me since I started writing about prophecy, it’s the large number of Bible teachers and Christian authors who relegate the entire book of Revelation to the past or else regard it as an allegory meant exclusively for first century believers.

So why do so many today put the fulfillment of the eternal state in past either historically or symbolically?

I believe it’s because Satan hates the idea of heaven (i.e. the new earth and New Jerusalem) and does all he can to discredit any teaching that regards Revelation 21-22 as literal future prophecy. He’s our enemy and as such loves to rip away our fondest hopes!

3 Ways John 14:1-3 Comforts Us

3 Ways John 14:1-3 Comforts Us

When I think of Jesus preparing a place for me, I visualize a majestic chamber within a gigantic castle, much like the one pictured above. Whether I’m right or wrong about this, I know the place Jesus has for me will be magnificent and spectacular beyond all we can imagine.

Once with Jesus, we will have no complaints about the accommodations or the timing of His return to take us home. Instead, we will revel in His great mercy, grace, and exceeding kindness.

What Were The Disciples Thinking?

What Were The Disciples Thinking?

In November of 1943, the USS Iowa carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a meeting with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill to discuss future plans regarding WW II. Somehow the crew of a nearby ship, the USS William D. Porter, mistook the USS Iowa for a German ship and fired a torpedo at it. Fortunately, the missile missed its target and the President continued safely to his summit. Although we do not know all the details that led to this error, we are still left wondering, “What were they thinking?”

At first glance, we might also ask this question in regard to a question the disciples posed to Jesus just moments before He ascended into heaven, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).

The Rapture, What’s to Fear? Part 3: The Joy of Jesus' Return

The Rapture, What’s to Fear? Part 3: The Joy of Jesus' Return

Weddings are typically times of excitement to which both the future husband and wife joyously anticipate.

I believe this is why Jesus used words reminiscent of the first century AD Jewish wedding customs when He first mentioned His return to take believers back to His Father’s house, known today as the rapture (see John 14:1-3). His announcement would have sparked positive and hopeful comparisons to the disciples as they listened to Him that night in the Upper Room.

. . . . Someday, perhaps soon, the Father will tell his Son to go get his bride, to go get us! What a day of rejoicing that will be for us!!

Our Dreams Versus The Rapture

Our Dreams Versus The Rapture

We all have longings and dreams for our future. It’s normal and healthy to look ahead and consider our future. But, what if Jesus comes for us before we realize our desires for the future? What if we never experience what we long for most in this life?

What are some steps we can take to keep our goals in perspective when our aspirations for the future loom large in front of us?

Our Eternal Home

New jerusalem2 Recently, we went with friends to see the movie In Our Hands: Battle for Jerusalem. The movie showed the background to and the fight for the city during the Six Day Way in 1967. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the movie was the joy of the soldiers upon reaching the ancient outer wall of the temple.

Fifty years later, the city of Jerusalem remains the focus of the world’s attention and will remain so until the Lord returns. Then, the city will be miraculously restored from the ravages of the tribulation as Jesus will reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years upon the throne the David. It was David, by the way, who made Jerusalem the capital of Israel three thousand years ago.

As such, it’s fitting that our eternal dwelling place will be called the “New Jerusalem.” The Apostle John described this city in Revelation 21:9-22:5. An angel took the apostle to a mountain where he witnessed “the holy city Jerusalem coming out of heaven from God” (21:10). One commentator refers to the “New Jerusalem as “heaven’s capital” city.[1] Let’s look at a few of the features of our future and glorious eternal home:

Dwelling place of God

John first describes the New Jerusalem as the “dwelling place of God” with us as “his people” (21:3). It already seems remarkable that God’s Holy Spirit dwells in us as believers. Here, however, we will share our eternal home with the Lord himself; he will dwell with us in close physical proximity. We will belong to him as “his people” forever secure enjoying eternity with our Savior. It will be more wonderful than we can ever imagine.

As the dwelling place of God, the city will be continually illuminated by the “glory of God;” there will be “no need of the sun or the moon” (21:23). I like the phrase at the end of the verse, “its lamp is the Lamb.” Jesus came to the world as a light shining in darkness; here he will not only shine spiritually, but physically as well. The cycle of day and night will be something of the past; nighttime will not exist in the New Jerusalem (v. 25). Our future glorified bodies will not require sleep so there will be no need of darkness to help us sleep.

Absence of Pain and Sorrow

Death, pain, sorrow, and weeping will not exist in the New Jerusalem. The apostle puts it this way, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (21:4). Try to even imagine such an existence with no sorrow, no loss, and no pain. Pastor and commentator John MacArthur wrote this about the absence of pain and sorrow:

What it declares is the absence of anything to be sorry about—no sadness, no disappointment, no pain. There will be no tears of misfortune, tears over lost love, tears of remorse, tears of regret, tears over the death of loved ones, of tears for any other reason.[2]

Unimaginable Beauty and Size

We would expect such a city to be amazing in appearing and that is just what we find in John’s portrayal of it. As John saw the city descend from heaven he described its appearance as “having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (21:11). Later, the apostle listed all the jewels adorning its foundation and described its street as being of pure gold (21:18-21). This all speaks to the unimaginable beauty of the New Jerusalem. Its appearance will be spectacular beyond anything we have ever seen in our lives.

The apostle also provides the measurements of the huge city in 21:15-17. The city will be a square cube 1,364 miles long on each side and 1,364 miles tall. If superimposed upon the United States, it would take up over half of the country with just its width and length. It’s understandable why the angel took John to a high mountain to view the New Jerusalem; the apostle needed that perspective to take in the city of such incredible size.

River of Life

In contrast to the Webster dictionary definition of heaven as the dwelling place of the “blessed dead,” the New Jerusalem will be a place of life, of rich abundant and never-ending life. Revelation 22:1-2 records this about the city, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

In heaven, we will be more alive than we can now possibly imagine. Our joy will never end. Life will flow unceasingly in our eternal home.

Death will be forever banished in the New Jerusalem. We will enjoy life there to the fullest. In heaven, we will be more alive than we can now possibly imagine. Our joy will never end. Life will flow unceasingly in our eternal home.

The New Jerusalem will be spectacular beyond what we can imagine. Through the apostle John, we have a glorious picture of this amazing city. I believe we can also assume that John struggled with the limitations of human language to adequately describe the wonders and beauty of this city. I believe the New Jerusalem will be more spectacular than anything we have ever seen in our lives and the new earth will exceed the wondrous beauties of creation all around us.

We will dwell in the most beautiful home imaginable and enjoy God's creation, which will be even more breathtaking than the Rocky Mountains in all their splendor and glory.

Can you see what a powerful influence a focus on our eternal home can have on our daily lives? If we know Christ as our Savior, this is our future. We will spend eternity in a spectacularly beautiful home with access to God’s new created order on earth totally free from all the effects of sin and the curse. We will literally have the best of both worlds. We will dwell in the most beautiful home imaginable and enjoy God's creation, which will be even more breathtaking than the Rocky Mountains in all their splendor and glory.

This is our eternal and living hope in midst of all the aches and pains and disappointments of this life. Such hope sustains us in the midst of suffering, heals the deep wounds of our past, and gives us courage to face an uncertain future. Jesus rose from the dead to prove that He is who He claimed to be and that His promised return is just as sure as the rising of sun tomorrow morning.

Jesus will not fail to keep any of His many promises to us.

_____________

[1] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Revelation 12-22 (Chicago: Moody Press, 2000), p. 265)

[2] Ibid, p. 269

Eternity

pexels-photo-25996-large In his book Desire, John Eldredge quoted Pascal as saying, “Our imagination so powerfully magnifies time, by continual reflections upon it, and so diminishes eternity . . . for want of reflection . . . we make a nothing of eternity and an eternity of nothing.” Eldredge then expanded on that sentiment, “We make a nothing of eternity by enlarging the significance of this life and by diminishing the reality of what the next life is all about.”[i] We all fight this tendency. It’s all too easy to think this moment as all we have and ignore eternity or "make a nothing" of our glorious hope.

Scripture, however, continually points the eyes of our hearts to the joy that awaits us in eternity.

Let’s look at some verses from Isaiah 25:

6      On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,

of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

7      And he will swallow up on this mountain

the covering that is cast over all peoples,

the veil that is spread over all nations.

8     He will swallow up death forever;

and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,

and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the Lord has spoken.

9      It will be said on that day,

“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.

This is the Lord; we have waited for him;

let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Does feasting with the best wine and food imaginable match your picture of eternity? Do you envision a time with no more death, sorrow, suffering, pain, or tears? Someday we will be the ones uttering the words of verse 9 above rejoicing because being with the Lord will so far exceed our wildest expectations. With sheer delight in our voices we will cry out, “This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” I see much emotion and excitement here; we will someday express our gladness and celebrate forever with the One who saved us and gave us eternal life.

Our lives in eternity will not disappoint even our most imaginative or fanciful pictures of what it will be like. Jesus has great plans in eternity for me and for everyone who believes and thus hopes in Jesus, our wonderful Savior.

The Isaiah passage dispels our inclinations to dismiss eternity as nothing and solely focus on the joys of this life. We have so much to look forward to in eternity. Our future life will be marked with ever increasing joy and unimaginable blessings. We will rejoice in our great salvation as we realize its full extent. Our waiting will not be in vain.

We will never experience sadness over anything lost from this life. Jesus’ promise to “make all things new” in Revelation 21:5 brings wonderful assurance of the joy ahead for us. We will never mourn the loss of our current life. The newness of eternity will never fade; we will always bask in it joy.

Revelation 21:9-26 describes the new Jerusalem where we will dwell for all eternity. This immense and beautiful city will be our home forevermore. Scripture also speaks of a new earth, one where creation will restored to its intended glory before sin entered into the world. It will be spectacular beyond what we cam imagine!

My eternal focus did not include a restored earth until I read John Eldredge’s book Desire several years ago and began to think about the new earth mentioned in Revelation 21. Eldredge said this about it, “How wondrous this will be! Creation can be so breathtaking now. What shall it be like when it is released to it full glory?”[ii] I love to explore nature and enjoy all the wonderful views of the mountains, lakes, and oceans. I recently drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway enjoying the vast beauty of God’s creation. If this earth now can show forth God's glory with such majesty, what will it be like in eternity? I can only imagine.

Our view of eternity can be so terribly dismal compared to what God has revealed about it in Scripture. The new earth will be amazing beyond anything we can comprehend. Although we do not know everything of what our eternal existence will be like, what we know it is far more than enough for us to cease making “a nothing of eternity and an eternity of nothing.”

The grandeur of what lies ahead will be so much greater than anything we could ever conceive. We will reign with Christ during the millennium and then throughout eternity. We will forever have kingdom responsibilities perfectly tailored for us. We will not feel one second of boredom or frustration in eternity. The newness of eternity will never cease. Its joys and pleasures never end.

[i] Eldredge, John, Desire, p.110-111

[ii] Ibid. p 119