In a recent newsletter, Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries, spoke of a woman calling in to a Christian radio program. She told the minister hosting the show that the prophetic implications of current events terrify her.
The host said, “For over 50-years, ever since the establishing of the State of Israel every six months we hear, it’s all coming down this week, and to me, it’s a just a huge distraction…. I would stop listening to and watching that, and just get into your Bible, and that will make you happy.”
I didn’t hear the program and have no idea of the radio minister’s identity. That’s not what’s important here. What’s important is that evangelical leaders across America are encouraging people to stop studying prophecy. And in times like these, that’s a terrible mistake.
In many cases, their reasoning sounds like the people in 2 Peter 3:4. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’
Peter gave a profound answer, including this statement in verses eight and nine. “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
The radio preacher encouraged the woman to stop looking at signs of the times. But God put those signs in His word. Jesus pointed out many of them, and with great specificity. He told them to us because He wants us to pay attention to them.
If the man on the radio wants the caller to avoid prophecy, telling her to “get into your Bible” is poor advice. At least a quarter of the Bible is prophecy. One of the primary messages of Jesus is that He will come again. Old Testament prophecies foretell a suffering Messiah and a Messiah coming in glory to rule and reign forever. It’s the same Messiah, but two advents. Jesus suffered the first time, but He will return in glory to rule and reign. We cannot give a full account of the Lord’s purpose on earth if leave out His second coming.
When the preacher says that in the fifty years since Israel’s re-establishment, we’ve been told to watch for the Lord’s return, he’s understating it. We’ve been hearing that for two thousand years. Philippians 3:20 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Joyful expectation of the Lord’s return is not a distraction. 2 Timothy 4:8 says, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
I’m concerned when Christian ministers tell people to stay away from the topic of prophecy. But I’m also concerned when precious brothers and sisters in Christ look at prophecy with terror. Notice the words of Paul in the verses above. How do we wait for the Lord? Eagerly! How do we feel about the Lord’s appearing? We love it! Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come.” A kingdom must have a king. In other words, when we earnestly pray the Lord’s prayer, we’re earnestly praying for the return of Jesus.
We know from the signs that this age is near its end. That’s good news! We live in days most excellent! The next to the last verse in the Bible says, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
We pray that prayer still. We pray it with joyful expectation! “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”