(Honolulu, Hawaii) — I had the joy and honor of teaching for two nights at a conference here in Honolulu on the importance of Bible prophecy. To recap, here are my notes for Part 1. Now, here are my notes for Part 2.
REDISCOVERING THE POWER AND PURPOSE OF BIBLE PROPHECY — PART 2
* Tonight, I want to build on the first message and make four key points.
* First, the Bible is not shy about describing itself as the Word of the all-mighty, all-seeing, all-knowing God of the universe. Here are a few examples:
- The Lord said through the Hebrew prophet Isaiah, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.” (Isaiah 42:9)
- The Lord also said through the prophet Isaiah, “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. ‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, from the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place.” (Isaiah 44:6-7)
- The Lord also said through the prophet Isaiah, “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.'” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
- The Apostle Peter wrote, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
- The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13)
The God of the Bible is not like any other being. He sees all. He knows all. He remembers all. He is the beginning and the end. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He doesn’t guess or “predict” what will happen in the future; He knows what will happen. Remarkably, He chooses to tell us key events in advance so that we realize how great our God is.
* Second, fulfilled prophecies are one of the most important and powerful ways we know that God’s Word is true. In the Old Testament, for example, we see many prophecies fulfilled. For example, God told the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah that the Jewish people would be in exile in Babylon for 70 years and then would be released to return to Israel, and that’s exactly what happened. The Lord also told the prophet Isaiah the exact name of the Persian king who would be instrumental in the Jewish people being set free from Babylonian captivity. That name was “Cyrus” and that was, in fact, the name of the Persian king who helped the Jews go back home. What’s more, in the Old Testament, the Lord gave us dozens of clues about who the Messiah would be and what He would do. Here are a few of them:
- The prophet Micah told us the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2).
- The Hebrew prophet Isaiah told us that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14).
- The prophet Isaiah told us that the Messiah would be born as a human male child, a son, but would also be called “mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6).
- The prophet Isaiah told us that the Messiah would be a live and minister in the Galilee region of Israel (Isaiah 9:1-2)
- The prophet Zechariah told us the Messiah would enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)
- The prophet Isaiah told us that the Messiah would heal people — “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases” (Isaiah 53:4)
- King David prophesied that the Messiah would be surrounded by an evil band of men who would beat and torture him, would divide his clothing and cast lots for them, and would pierce his hands and feet and leave him “in the dust of death,” that is, kill him (Psalm 22)
- The prophet Daniel made it clear that the Messiah would come to “finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for inquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness” but to do so he would need to be “cut off” [killed] before Jersualem was destroyed and the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. (Daniel 9:24-26)
- The prophet Isaiah described the Messiah as a suffering Servant who would be beaten, tortured, mocked, pierced, and ultimately killed as a guilt offering for the sins of mankind (Isaiah 52:13 through Isaiah 53)
- The prophet Isaiah also made it clear that the Messiah would also rise from the dead — “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crusheed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed….His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death….But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.” (Isaiah 53:5,9,10)
- Through the prophet Jonah and the prophet Hosea, we were told God would raise the Messiah after three days in the grave (Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days before he was returned to the earth; in Hosea 6:2 we read, “He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him.”)
Remarkably, the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled all of these prophecies. In fact, in Luke 24:25-27 we read: “And He [Jesus] said to them [several of His disciples whom He saw after His resurrection], ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”
Just as remarkable, the Lord God chooses to declare to us through the Bible — both in the Old Testament and the New Testament — some of the key events that will happen in key countries in the “last days” before the Second Coming of the Messiah. He gives us advance warning of the “signs” that will indicate we are living the “last days.” The question is will we pay attention to His Word, will we and obey His commands?
* Third, many countries are specifically mentioned in End Times Bible prophecy — but America is not one of them. Israel is the epicenter of God’s plan and purpose in the last days. Other countries mentioned in Bible prophecy are Russia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Libya, Sudan, the revived Roman empire, and several others. The United States, however, is never mentioned directly or specifically in the Bible. In my recent book, Implosion, I go into this in greater detail. But the bottom line is that even though America is the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the face of the earth in the history of mankind, the Bible does not describe a specific role for us in the last days. Something, therefore, apparently happens to neutralize us or paralyze from played a key role in the events that lead to the return of Christ.
This could involve a financial collapse of the country, or a series of terrible natural disasters, or a series of terrible wars or terrorist attacks, or various other scenarios. While we don’t know exactly how America is neutralized, we can already see many very disturbing trends in our country that could lead to God removing His hand of favor and mercy from our country, or outright judging and punishing us. Among these are the fact that we have committed more than 53 million abortions since 1973. Violent crime has exploded by more than 460 percent since 1960. There is a terrible murder wave going on in our country today, even in small towns. Tens of millions of Americans are living in various types of sexual sins, including pornography, fornication, adulterous affairs, and homosexuality, to name just a few of the sins the Bible warns individuals and nations not to engage in. What’s more, we are addicted to spending money we don’t have. We’re about to hit $16 trillion in federal debt, and Washington is currently spending about $42,210 more every second than it receives in revenue.
These trends are terrible, and they are unsustainable. If we don’t turn around — if we don’t repent and ask Christ to forgive our sins and give us a Third Great Awakening — I believe our nation is going to implode economically and morally. This should drive us to our knees in prayer, fasting and repentance — but will it?
* Fourth, one of the reasons America is facing implosion is the epic failure of the Church to make disciples in obedience to Matthew 28:18-20. There are over 340,000 church congregations in America. These are all supposed to be spiritual “lighthouses” in the darkness, helping people find safety and refuge in Christ. But in many of our congregations, the light is dimming, or has been altogether extinguished. The Church is America is not leading the way. Too many pastors and ministry leaders are asleep. We desperately need to wake up and get back to a healthy, holy walk with Christ. And one of the biggest failures of the Church is failing to make healthy disciples who can spiritually reproduce and make other healthy disciples. Older, wiser followers of Jesus Christ in America are systematically failing to invest in the lives of younger believers and carefully transmit Christ-like character, values and disciplines from one generation to the next. American Christianity is weak and failing and in desperate need of revival because we are not obeying Jesus Christ’s Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20. Some are, but most are not making disciples of all nations (beginning with our own), or baptizing these disciples, or teaching these disciples to obey “everything” Christ taught us, or remembering that Christ promised to be with us always, even to the very end of the age.
Just twenty-four hours before I delivered this message, the man who discipled me — my pastor from college, Dr. T.E. Koshy — went home to be with the Lord after a terrible illness that lasted nearly ten months. I shared with the conference attendees a bit about my relationship with Koshy, and why we had written a new book together, The Invested Life: Making Disciples Of All Nations One Person At A Time. It’s a very practical, “how-to” type book. It shares a bit about the man who discipled Dr. Koshy, and how Koshy and his wife invested in Lynn and me, and how we have invested in the lives of younger believers. It answers many practical questions about the centrality of discipleship and how Jesus and Paul made disciples. Implosion describes the multiple crises facing America and the Church. The Invested Life describes the cure. I hope you will find them both helpful.
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