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  • Israel - Mount Nebo | Photo by Berthold Werner - CC 3.0
Teachings

Living in the expectation of God’s future

Frank van Oordt - 6 January 2021

God’s Word sheds light on the future and that is not free of obligation. How do we apply the Bible in our days? And how specific is the Bible in this? To what extent can we interpret the present time?

The Gospel and the End of Times
Jesus said: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” (Luke 12:54-56). It is important that we can interpret the time, that we know what time it is on God’s clock. In three of the four Gospels our Lord gives an extensive summary of the signs that will precede His coming. They are signs of the impending redemption. The Gospel is aimed at the Kingdom, in which Jesus establishes His Kingship in the midst of His people. The high priests knew the Scriptures. They knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. They could interpret the Scriptures, but they didn’t prepare them for the coming of the Messiah. Simeon and Anna belonged to those who expected the consolation of Jerusalem. Anna never left the Temple. When baby Jesus was carried into the Temple, Simeon recognized the time.

“God’s Word sheds light on the future and that is not free of obligation”

Christians are privileged
What a blessing it is to live in the light of the Scriptures. Jesus says: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me…” (John 5:39). He says that to the Jews, who know the Scriptures. With them Jesus enters into conversation. The Scriptures testify about Jesus and Jesus testifies about God. The Bible is the foundation of our knowledge. It is a privilege to read the Bible as a message of God to us. We may apply this in person, but we are also permitted to see the big picture. He goes His way with His congregation. He goes His way with Israel. He goes His way with the world. Our citizenship is already in heaven, from where we also expect our Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20). Enlightened by the Holy Spirit we are allowed to look at the world with the eyes of Jesus. Then the worldly events get another perspective, but even our own circumstances receive the light of God’s Kingdom. It is about the glorification of His name. We can live accordingly. Knowing that our earth will be glorified as well, when He comes to establish His kingdom of peace.

“The Scriptures testify about Jesus and Jesus testifies about God”

Living with the prophetic word
In the Bible we can find so much about the end of times! Paul says: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12). That is so true. What we see is what the Lord reveals to us in His Word. Sometimes God’s light breaks through in our reality. When you drive through Austria or Switzerland and you see the mountaintops from afar for the first time, you get a very special feeling. It looks as if you enter a new world. When you come closer, then you see the size and the height of these enormous mountains. All that time the mountains look like one. It is not clear what the real distance and relationship is. Not until you start walking you experience the reality. Sometimes you reach the next height in a few hours, quite often it takes days. There are numerous circumstances that determine progress, but also the resources you have. God’s revelation is sufficient for each day. And every time when we study God’s Word, there is a new ray of light. God’s revelation is rich, i.e., very interesting and full of variety. It produces light, sufficient for every moment we live. And sometimes, a corner of the veil is lifted of the eternity that comes after that. In Christ we get enough to retain the hope and no more than we can handle with our small intellect.

“Enlightened by the Holy Spirit we are allowed to look at the world with the eyes of Jesus”

End of Times scenarios
Sometimes people know exactly what the situation is. They know the Scriptures. They have read books about it and outlined everything in a chart. All the words from the Scriptures about the End of Times are united into a coherent, organized whole. The Bible does not provide such a scenario. Who are we to set God’s time? Who are we to determine whether prophecies are fulfilled or not? Is Isaiah 9 fulfilled? “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” (Isaiah 9:6a). There are many more future oriented things in the prophecy. That’s how it is with all the prophecies in the Bible. We cannot determine what, how and even if things must happen and certainly not in which order. I think that every scenario distracts us from the core. Israel and the congregation are on their way to His future. The Bible says a lot about that. That is important. It is good to study that and to let the Word speak every time.

What a lot we don’t know
We are ignorant about so many things. And what we do know is through revelation. The light that God gives is confirmed by worldly events. You can see that when you read Ezekiel 37, 38 and 39. These chapters also deal with a major attack at Israel. Gog and Magog. It is something you often see in charts at the end of the great tribulation or at the end of the Millennium. Or do we perhaps see that it is developing today, with the emergence of Russia, Turkey and Iran? And how are you supposed to interpret that? Can the peace with the Arab countries be placed in these chapters? And should we oppose that? And this is only one Bible section. We have more questions than answers. Still, we have the prophetic message as something completely reliable. (2 Peter 1:19). God asks us to live with Him and to know His Word. Then He will enlighten us in the steps He will take.

Then what is it?
“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-24). We are on our way to the Kingdom. Jesus is our guide. He leads us along the right paths. He will come. We prepare ourselves for that by studying His Word. We are allowed to see how God is working with Israel. Our preparation is focused on the revelation of the Son of Man. He comes. And He will appear at some point unexpectedly. May we meet Him cheerfully!

 

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