End of the World as We Know It - Part 2

As we continue to observe the state of our world today, we will first tackle the question of “Why even study prophecies of the Bible? What does it really have to do with me today?” That’s probably the most common question that goes unaddressed or insufficiently answered at times. However as we’ll see, the Bible is clear in its instruction on this matter. Here are a few pointed reasons not to ignore God’s Word in trying to understand our world today.
One, prophecy comprises nearly 1/3 of the Bible. Clearly God deems our understanding of the future as important. The vast majority of prophecies have already been fulfilled with 100 percent accuracy, therefore placing a major stamp of validity on the remaining prophecies to come.
Two, the prophetic book of Revelation is the only book of the Bible with the promise of a blessing to study its contents (Rev. 1:3).
Three, previously validated prophecies are what separates Christianity from all other religions. Studying and understanding these scriptures in conjunction with world history can be used as a great apologetic tool for the skeptic. Many, including me, need to weigh the evidence in order to truly believe and follow.
Four, Jesus commanded it (Mark 13:29, Mat 24: 33, Luke 21:36).
Five, Peter, Paul, John, commanded it (numerous passages).
Six, it provides us our “blessed hope” for understanding the chaos in our world today.
Without question, the greatest teacher of all time was Jesus himself. He spoke in great detail about the future. Jesus alluded to His return many times, and even the parables He told often had Last Days undertones. However, He was direct, to the point, and blunt when He addressed the disciples’ questions about the future in the Olivet Discourse. This account is found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Matthew’s account was directed to a Jewish audience; therefore the focus is more on Jewish history, the Temple, and the future of the Jews. Mark and Luke’s account was written to a non-Jewish audience, therefore focuses less on Jewish traditions and the Temple. The focus on those depictions of the story, especially Luke’s, focused on the persecution that Christ-followers would face from the first century on; up until the more specific signs of the End begin. We will come back to these passages over and over throughout the course of our study.
In order to properly understand the significance of some things we read in our daily headlines, we must understand the importance of the nation of Israel, biblically speaking. Israel was a nation divinely created by God through Abraham. God promised to bless any nation that blesses Abraham and his offspring, and that ultimately, all nations would be blessed through him (Gen. 12: 3). Jacob (later, Israel) was the grandson of Abraham, and therefore inherited this promise.  We also need to understand that this covenant with Israel is everlasting, and not a thing of yesteryear as some have tried to suppose (Gen. 12:7). Since God cannot lie (Num. 23:19, Tit. 1:2, Heb. 6:18), we know that the covenant with the Jews still stands. 
After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70, which Jesus predicted (Mat. 24:2), the nation of Israel ceased to exist for the next 1900 years. They were scattered among the nations and thought to be a thing of the past. But God revived them on May 14, 1948 as was prophesied in numerous Old Testament scriptures (Ez. 36-37, Is. 66: 7-8, and others). Jesus also predicted that the Jews would retake control of Jerusalem at some point (Luke 21: 24). This happened in June of 1967.
The return of the Jews to their homeland in 1948 and taking back the control of Jerusalem in 1967 are two of the most awe-inspiring prophecies to have ever unfolded. Many believe that Jesus was referring specifically to the nation of Israel in the Parable of the Fig tree in Matthew 24: 32-34.  
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”
Various Old Testament texts symbolically refer to Israel as being a fig tree (Jer. 24:5-7, Hosea 9:10), therefore, when Israel became a nation again, many took that to mean that the sign of all signs had appeared and that Christ’s kingdom would soon arrive.
This is where many have failed in reading and presenting God’s Word in its totality. We’ve had many that tried to set dates and make predictions, only to fail every time. This is absolutely, 100%, against the teaching of Jesus. Those guilty of doing this have only turned many skeptics further from the Truth, when this type of study should turn people towards the Truth. Sadly, this is why this subject has gone largely ignored. We have absolutely been given a roadmap and command to “Watch!” (Mat 24:42). We clearly will know when His Kingdom is near, even at the door (Mat 24: 33). However, we will never know the day nor the hour (Mat 24: 36). That’s why Jesus gave us the imperative command to watch for Him so that we’re always ready when He returns.
On our next blog post we’ll turn to more specific signs that Jesus spoke of as we attempt to understand the every growing tension, war, and bloodshed in the Middle East. We will look at an old prophecy in the book of Ezekiel that might be unfolding before our eyes. This will tie in with what Jesus referred to as “wars and rumors of wars.
Stay tuned….

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