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Fire in My Bones
Prophecy - Signs
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Pete Garcia

Most everyone I meet at church or work tends to not get as excited about the Rapture and other end-times events as I do.  For that matter, apologetics and end-times prophecy as a whole are not the most popular subjects of our day. 

I think the main reason is that it hits too close to home.  People don’t want to think about the world they’ve come to know and love, is actually in its death throes.  Most well-meaning people want to be pampered these days with kind, sweet sermons and feel-good theology.  They want to be told that God is just itching to bless them financially and physically.  They’re told that true spiritual growth is based on emotional experiences, not in studying their dusty Bibles.

The growing trend within Christendom today is to have large, theatrical styled church services.  The focus is on making the attendee feel, rather than know.  The sheer number of these churches and the amount of money they generate do not lie.  The problem in this, is that these seeker –friendly, purpose-driven churches thrive on making the experience of the attendee, memorable and enjoyable, regardless of what they actually walk away knowing.

Their philosophy is that we have to tailor the message around the culture, not the culture around the timeless Gospel message.  Don’t worry studying about the prophetic word, the Rapture or the 2nd Coming, because that is way down the road, and we have work to do now.  So the impetus shifts from the eternal Gospel, to the social gospel.  It feeds the belly, but starves the soul.

"Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them." (Luke 12:37 NKJV)

Just take a stroll through your local bookstore.  Notice that in the Christian section, there are dedicated shelves upon shelves filled with book after book, all about making you a better a you.  Pastor and teachers, feeding the flock humanistic feel-good philosophy.  They’re all basically the same book as Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”, but just with a different face on the cover.  Now, compare them to your favorite eschatological teacher and you’d see the vast difference in the sheer number of books that move off the shelves. 

Woe Woe Woe

I realize that a lot of what I write is in the arena of rebuking a fallen nation.  As Jimmy DeYoung often says, ‘I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet’, so my rebuke does not carry the same weight as say Jeremiah’s or Isaiah’s.  Although I am not a prophet, I certainly can empathize with Jeremiah and his very unpopular message from God.

"O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed.  I am in derision daily; Everyone mocks me." (Jeremiah 20:7)

scroll surrounded by fireJeremiah's message was the impending judgment that was coming upon the prosperous and backslidden nation of Judah.  The Babylonians were coming, and all of King Manasseh’s prophets were giving him nothing but good news.  They were the ultimate ‘yes-men’ and they intensely disliked Jeremiah’s message of ‘doom & gloom’.  But history bears out that it happened exactly as Jeremiah said it would.  If the Jews had tried to fight Nebuchadnezzar, they would be crushed.  If they surrendered, they would still be imprisoned, but God put a 70 year time table for that penance.  After 70 years, they would be allowed to return by a Persian king.

Many of us today who have heeded God’s calling to pray, read, write, teach, and preach, are gaining nothing but an increase of vitriol and ridicule from those whom the message is directed…both “Christian” and otherwise.

Dave Hunt wrote an article akin to this back in 1991, entitled “Are We Too Negative”.  In it, he was saying that even back then, apologists and discernment ministries were receiving much flak from the so-called “Christian” ministries for being too ‘divisive and negative’ for simply holding to a Biblical standard…and that was 22 years ago!

Apostasy brings about our failure to perceive the danger until it is too late.  We tend to think that apostasy will come in this gigantic wave of evil, marked full of red-flags and warning flares that will go off like firecrackers and alert the Christians to wake up.

Realistically, it comes in small steps of compromise, and moves a believer and those who would come to Christ just a little bit further away via incrementalism.  Like wading out into the ocean at low tide under the bravado of false confidence, you inch forward with each step until you pass a point of no-return, by then you’re too far out to make it back to shore safely before the waves overtake you.

Many of our modern day denominational churches dismiss the study of Bible prophecy as a sensational distraction to the work at hand that must be done.  They say that Christ will return when He returns, and we don’t need to waste our time focusing on that.  They also say that teaching prophecy is divisive and the church already has enough issues to deal with.  They say we should be focused on feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless, evangelizing, and building missions around the world, not pie in the sky stuff that may not happen for another 1,000 years. 

What I don’t understand is, why does it have to be an either/or proposition?  Can they not teach the soon return of Christ and help the needy?  I mean, they can still teach the parables and the Sermon on the Mount and help the needy. Why not the Olivet Discourse?  Can a church simply not teach a third of the Bible without fear of dividing that church?

According to the Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (J. Barton Payne), there are 1,239 prophecies found in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New which totals 1,817 prophecies.  These 1,817 are dispersed in 8,352 verses which make up 27% of the 31,124 verses in the Bible.

As to the sensational nature of prophecy, I agree that there have been those that have greatly abused it for personal gain.  But LOTS of doctrines have been abused by many wandering stars, so we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater on this.

As to the divisive nature of Bible prophecy, there is none.  What is divisive is how we choose to interpret that information and I would further argue, that if you simply took the Bible for what it says, in context, it would be the least divisive doctrine we hold too.  Besides, I’ve personally known MANY churches who have argued or split over much more trivial things like the color of the carpet, where money should be spent, hiring a new pastor, or whether they should build a bigger church or not.  So if a church is so inclined to argue, at least make it something worth arguing over.

When Gideon went up against the Midianites and the Amelekites, God had him select his army based on a simple standard of criteria.  Select those who never let their guard down and stopped watching.  Out of the 10,000 remaining, Gideon went into battle with just 300 and God gave him the victory even though they were vastly outnumbered.

We are to do good works in the here and now, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop looking up in hopeful expectation that today might be the day Jesus returns for His bride.

Jesus instructs us multiple times to be watching and to be watchful for His return.  The Apostle Paul reiterates this in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 as not even needing to explain the when, because we who are watching would already know.

I think those of us today who are watching, would whole-heartedly agree that we are indeed at the last hour.  I don’t know if there is any prophetic significance to this, but we see this played out in the very last hour of Christ’s life;

"Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:40-4)

If we are not fixated on looking up for His return, we will become fixated on the cares of this life.

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly." (Luke 21:34)

Ministries who refuse to teach Christ’s soon return, do so because they are fixated on the things of this earth.  They are fixated on building their own little kingdoms here instead of looking for that city whose builder and maker is God.  Jesus warns us ahead of time what the consequence would be if we don’t:

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

So our message is not popular.  Our message is not politically correct.  One day, our message will be considered hate-speech.  Our job is not to be man-pleasers, but God pleasers.  Were we to have that ‘fire in our bones’ to keep preaching the word, regardless of the cost.

It caused Jeremiah to have a ministry of torment and persecution, and ultimately cost him his life.  But that was 2,500 years ago.  He has been in glory all this time, and still has eternity to look forward too.  May our prayer be that we be found worthy and accounted for the calling God has laid before us for our lives. 

Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.  (Jeremiah 20:9)

About Pete Garcia

Last week: The Plausible Impossible



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