Wednesday, November 30, 2016
THE BIBLE DON’T MOVE: AN INTRODUCTION TO BIBLE PROPHECY BY REV. M. G. RAMEY
Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
A few years back, Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Satchel Paige was known for his skill in putting forth power-packed bits of wisdom in addition to his ability with a baseball. Out of the abundance of quotes attributed to him, one of my personal favorites has been the following: “Always throw strikes. Home plate don’t move.”
The same wisdom may also be applied to the study of Bible. “Always stick with the Bible. The Bible don’t move!”
Christians are duty bound to not only know how to read and study our Bibles; we are commanded to apply the Scriptures in our lives. Line upon line, precept upon precept. Doctrine, holy songs and proverbs. Psalms, the gospel and the epistles. Pick up the average newspaper, or turn on your local news show and you can see the last days unfolding before your eyes each and every day. Pick up your KJV Bible and turn to II Timothy, Chapter 3 and you can see that God has provided for His people to understand what is happening in our current world…and why. There is a wealth of treasure within the covers of a Bible. Treasure that covers where man has come from, where he is in our modern era, and where AND when man will ultimately face his maker, God himself.
Let me hasten to add a footnote. Only the spiritual man can receive the teachings of the Lord and understand them. The natural man or woman will look at the Scriptures as a mass of confusion. Only one who has had their life reborn by Jesus Christ, fueled by the Holy Ghost, and led in obedience to God’s Word will fully comprehend what God has for them through the study of Bible Prophecy. A true study of Bible prophecy will provide that unction in our prayer lives, strengthen our individual Christian walk, and provide our churches with the troops ready to gather in the harvest for Jesus Christ.
MAN’S ‘DOOMSDAY CLOCK’ VS GOD’S PROPHETIC CLOCK:
Of course, man always ‘thinks’ he knows more than God. The world system through the mainstream media and entertainment industry have their own ‘prophetic teachings’ as to how the world will end, and the final disposition of man. Based upon much of the recent box office and TV fare of late, the world will either end in an explosion, a massive party, or through an alien invasion…and mankind will emerge from the ashes of destruction to pick up where he left off. Religion? That’s not in the script from Hollywood.
While such fare may be mediocre entertainment, it also makes bad theology.
God has a prophetic clock, which clearly may be found in a study of the Scriptures. Man--again, in his haughtiness--has created the ‘Doomsday Clock’…a device invented by scientists in 1947 and is update as need be to determine how much ‘time’ mankind has before the hands of the clock reach midnight, and the world disappears in a nuclear cloud, climate change catastrophe, or a combination of the two. One may find the history and background of the clock at Wikipedia.org. It makes for fascinating reading, but should lead the Christian to conclude that the brilliance of man pales in comparison to the pages of Scripture.
FIRST THINGS FIRST…START WITH THE RIGHT BIBLE:
With a sizable number of Bible translations on the market right now, WHICH Bible would be the right one for a Christian to use in studying Bible prophecy?
I would start with--and stick with--the KJV Bible. Many of the really solid reference books on prophecy are ‘keyed’ to the KJV, and have stood the test of time.
If the truth be told, to use a more ‘modern’ translation is short sighted at best. The individual will eventually have to come back to the KJV, as many modern versions have proven to be weak when it comes to the ‘nitty gritty’ details of the prophetic realm.
There are other details I’d like to add for consideration:
*Its Origin and History: King James of England was used by God to authorized the translation of the available scriptures of his day into a Bible that the common person could read. A host of scholars and experts took some four years to painstakingly go over the Greek and Hebrew texts. They avoided attempts by the Roman Catholic church to ‘water down’ the gospel. ALL of the translators put their lives on the line to get the job done. In 1611, the world was introduced to the King James Version. It stood alone as THE biblical standard for more than 260 years…well before the first ‘popular translation’ (RSV) arrived in 1881!
*Its Linguistic Authority and Purity: Some might think that this is a small point, but whenever the Scripture states: ‘Thus Saith the Lord…’ it does something to the spirit of the believer. It is written in the same King’s English language used by Shakespeare. One KNOWS what happens when you try to ‘modernize’ the Bard. The same can be said for attempts to tamper with the KJV! Translations that have come since the KJV lose something when they use modern terminology, and eventually ‘run back’ to the KJV for ‘clarification’. Start with the ‘olde booke’, stay with the ‘olde booke’.
*For African Americans It Represents An Unbreakable Tie To Our Ancestry And History In The USA: Our fore parents had it right when they INSISTED to be taught how to read out of the bible, rather than out of ‘just another reading book’. THIS is why our fore parents were wise beyond their years! Though the penalty to teach a Black man or Black woman how to read during the time of slavery was death, our fore parents risked death to learn about eternal life in the Scriptures. The KJV helps one properly reverence God, and God blesses them with wisdom and understanding BEYOND normal education standards. One major Christian book chain put out a comparison chart of the various Bible translations and versions on the market years ago. The KJV was held to give a person a reading comprehension level of someone ABOVE the twelfth grade, and scored at the top of Bible translations.
THREE IMMEDIATE BENEFITS OF STUDYING BIBLE PROPHECY:
Here are three immediate benefits of studying Bible prophecy:
1. Christians WILL Be Readily Shaken Out Of Their Apathy: One of the key facts of the Scriptures is that Jesus Christ IS coming back. His imminent return is well documented in the Scriptures, and is a central teaching of Bible prophecy. The Bible well documents the FIRST coming of Jesus. There are many markers in the Bible that point to the Lord’s second coming. Further, there is no prophetic event which must occur before the rapture of the church takes place (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).
2. Christians WILL Desire To Return To A ‘Be About It’ Holiness: There is something about appearing before one’s boss for a performance evaluation that will tend to encourage even the most stubborn employee to straighten up. Christians will be brought before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give Him a DIRECT account of our activities as Christians; to receive rewards for what we have accomplished for Him on earth, among other things. A clear teaching of this part of Bible Prophecy and the future of Christians (Saints) will serve to ‘spark’ some individual revival AND holiness in Christian lives.
3. Christians WILL Want To Return To REAL Soul Winning: Just a curious reading of the Book of Revelation concerning what will happen on earth after the removal of the church should paint such a panoramic view of stark terror (ie the mark of the beast) that a Christian will a strong foundation in coming biblical events would be more than motivated to share their faith with sinners and backsliders. After all, sheep win sheep, but only after they are sure where there is good pasture available.
WHY THERE IS A NEED TO UNDERSTAND BIBLE PROPHECY:
Mention the words ‘Bible prophecy’ to a group of Christians, and you will have a variety of reactions, ranging from apathy to extreme concern. This article seeks to provide a basic introduction to the subject in order to take some of the ‘perceived mystery’ out of it. Once some of the basic components, or tools involved with Bible prophecy are examined, it is hoped that the reader will be able to put this knowledge to use and continue their investigation into the subject.
Jesus, in Matthew 16:1-3, chided the Pharisees and Sadducees for being wise enough to understand certain truths about the weather, but remain blissfully ignorant of the signs of the times. Many Christians are the same way today…majoring on the minors, and missing out on meaningful biblical study, comprehension and wisdom. While many hours of careful prayer, study, and research go into many of the lessons that are a part of a Sunday School lesson, or a Wednesday night Bible lesson, there seems to be little in the way of Christian growth by the average Christian. The Word of God seems to ‘bounce’ off, and hit the ground unused, week after week. Meanwhile, many Christians expect the Pastor to have all the answers, when they themselves have not bothered to crack their OWN Bibles.
Bible prophecy can be one of the ways to ‘re-tool’ Christian education.
Baptists have long been mocked and held up to public ridicule by other denominations for being people of ‘the book’ (the KJV Bible). The belief that Bible prophecy is ‘too hard to comprehend’ because there is ‘too much work’ involved in its study is merely a clever means to duck to quality time with God’s book.
Let the others mock and laugh. To be identified as one who is a committed to the study of God’s word is not a negative, but the mark of a wise soldier in the army of their Lord. IF one daily continues in the Word, it will yield much fruit in terms of application, and understanding in these last days. IF one yields themselves to the study of the prophetic works of the Bible, they won’t be ‘shook up’ when they see things unfolding in society that may confuse the natural man. Proverbs 22:3 and 27:12 both read: A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
WHERE WE ARE ON GOD’S PROPHETIC CLOCK:
Here are a few major road marks of prophecy which are active, and of major importance.
1. Israel was born in one day as a nation May 14th, 1948. Thus, we are closer to the end of the Church Age than ever before. Israel is the ONLY nation that was created in ONE day, according to the Scriptures.
2. Hostility towards Christians is increasing--even in the United States. From the political system, the media, sports and entertainment kabal, and in the academic and business sectors. The common ‘mantra’ seems to be: “You can practice your religion, but leave it at the church.”
3. The rapture of the church (I Thes. 4:13-18) can take place at any time. As I mentioned before, there is no ‘prophetic bar’ to its occurrence.
4. The ‘explosion’ of knowledge via technology. In the late 1940s, television was just underway as a viable commercial product. In the late 1950s, satellites were being shot into space. Now look at where we are concerning technology. There is more information storage and computing power available in many a Smartphone than in a middle school library.
THE THREE MAIN VIEWS OF THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST:
There are three main views on the second coming of Jesus Christ of which the Christian must be aware. These three views, Pre-millennial, A-millennial and Post-millennial, center upon Christ’s reign upon the earth for 1,000 years, or a millennium. Millennium means thousand years. While the word millennium itself does not appear in the Bible, it refers to the thousand years mentioned six times in Revelation, Chapter 20. If you understand the meaning behind the basic terminology, you will be able to accurately trace any of the sub-groups should they surface. “The Millennial Kingdom” by John E. Walvoord, provides extensive details on these three main views, of which I will provide a brief summary:
1. Pre-millennial View: This view is the oldest of the millennial views, and is held to be more controversial that the other two. This system of interpretation of Scripture interprets prophecy in the same way as other Scripture. It does not separate the interpretation of prophetic, and regular Scriptures. It holds to a literal interpretation method of Scripture. In the ordering of events, the rapture of the church is placed before the Great Tribulation period, thus sparing the saints from the wrath of God as He pours it out upon the earth. The rapture of the believers in Jesus Christ can happen at any time. There is no prophetic ‘trigger’ needed for it to occur. Since the event of the rapture of the saints is a key doctrine in the Baptist church, this is the millennial view to which traditional Baptists hold.
2. A-millennial View: This is believed to be the most popular millennial view. It’s most general characteristic is that of a denial of a literal reign of Christ upon the earth. It does not recognize a literal interpretation of Scripture, does not hold to a clear view of the return of Jesus Christ to this earth, and does not hold to the rapture of the saints before the wrath of God is poured out during the Great Tribulation period. This view holds to the spiritualizing method of the interpretation of Scripture, which robs the second advent of its prophetic significance. This view is held in high esteem in the Roman Catholic Church and among those of a liberal Protestant theological view.
3. Post-millennial View: This viewpoint holds that the present age will end with a period of great spiritual blessing corresponding to the millennial promises accomplished through the preaching of the gospel. Also, there is a belief in this view that the entire world would become ‘Christianized’. This viewpoint has its roots in the Unitarian church movement, which places much emphasis upon the inherent ‘good’ of man being coupled with God’s mercy to the extent of a lack of sin on man’s part and no true need of salvation or holiness under Jesus Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross. It is also based upon the figurative interpretation of prophecy. Some Bible prophecy scholars believe that the Post-millennial view is watered-down A-millennialism. In this view, Christians will go through the Great Tribulation period, and will be hit by the rapture towards the end of the Great Tribulation.
WHAT ABOUT ISRAEL & ‘REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY’?
One of the other hot button issues of Bible prophecy concerns the nation of Israel and its fate in the last days. Some believe that the church has ‘replaced’ Israel in the eyes of God, and ‘no longer is important’ to Him.
This could not be further from the truth.
The Apostle Paul, who was a Jew, and wrote nearly half of the New Testament, through the mercies of God was the Apostle to the Gentiles. He notes in Romans, Chapter 11 how the mercies of God have ‘grafted’ Gentiles into the vine of blessing (Romans 11:11-14, 17, 19, 23-24) by Jesus Christ. We were first called Christians at Antioch. It was his call to bring believers ‘into the beloved’. Just as the Lord protects Christians, He still protects Israel and the Jews. Paul makes this fact clear in Romans 11, and in other segments of the New Testament.
God has not forgotten Israel. God has not replaced Israel with the church. Israel has always been the apple of God’s eye. The Jewish people have always been under God’s protection. Bible history records that those who have sought their hurt, either as individuals; a group, or a nation need merely to turn to the tragic ends of Pharaoh, Haman, and other Old Testament and New Testament figures who sought to exterminate them.
Their ends were NOT pretty.
What about our modern day? Recent World History illustrates what was done to the Jews in the Holocaust during World War II at the hands of the Nazi Reich plays a major role in current events as to the downward spiral of modern Germany. “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3 (KJV). This Word from the Lord is just as living when it was first impressed upon Moses by the Holy Ghost, centuries ago.
Germany is not the only nation which has suffered from God’s wrath because of its treatment of the Jewish people. In a quick examination of various nations, Egypt, the UK, France, the former Soviet Union and the United States--among others--have all suffered various judgments from the hand of God based upon their treatment of Israel and the Jewish people. There will be a day of reckoning before the Lord as to how nations treated the tiny land of Israel. That day is not that far off.
Currently, governments, universities, members of the European Union and even the United Nations are being swept with another ‘lie’ from the pit of Hell against God’s people called the BDS movement. BDS stands for ‘Boycott, Divest and Sanction’ and is being used by some to ‘bully’ other institutions to dump their association with and purchase of goods and services associated with the nation of Israel. Again, examine your Bible and Genesis 12:3. What is happening to those who are staking their economic claims against Israel and her people? The Bible tells you so!
AN ADDITIONAL BLESSING OF STUDYING BIBLE PROPHECY:
As I bring this article to a close, there is yet another additional blessing of studying Bible prophecy: Having a solid answer to false prophets and false religious groups. One might say that this is an extra arrow in the quiver of the Christian soul winner; however, the argument could be made for following the command of the Apostle Peter to have an answer to those who ask you about the hope that you display in your daily life (I Peter 3:15). Other religions can only ‘guess’ as to where they will spend eternity. We who believe have hope and assurance as to where we be going.
Liftoff can happen off this pad called earth, at any moment.
Satchel Paige had no ‘guarantee’ that he would ever be though of as a major leaguer; but he kept on throwing strikes wherever, and whenever he had the opportunity to play the game of baseball. Home plate never moved. Christians should be of the same determined spirit by examining the wealth and treasures of the world to come with an examination of Bible prophecy in the pulpit…and the pew. We who are saved have an eternal hope, and an eternal destination that is not going to move. We should be about our father’s business, and take as many along with us as we can.
These are keyed to the King James Version of the Bible:
“The Millennial Kingdom” by John E. Walvoord.
“The Interpretation of Prophecy” by Dr. Paul Lee Tan.
“Dispensational Truth: Or God’s Plan and Purpose in the Ages” by Clarence Larkin.
“The Revelation Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Prophetic Book of the End Times” by Henry M. Morris.
“Dictionary of Premillennial Theology: A Practical Guide to the People, Viewpoints and History of Prophetic Studies” Edited by Mal Couch.
Rev. M. G. Ramey is a Minister, Syndicated Columnist and Book Reviewer who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. (c) 2016 Barnstorm Communications.
Lift up Christ and lay the sinner low. --C. H. Spurgeon