April 21, 2014

Years ago there was a catchy television commercial touting a new margarine spread. Apparently it was so good it replicated the taste of butter. The memorable punch line of the piece was a god/woman who was peeved over the counterfeit and who announced with some distain, that “wasn’t good to fool ‘Mother Nature’”.

Fortunately we need not fear ‘mother nature’ as there is no such person, but there is a God who created the universe and who controls the timing of both its instigation as well as its consummation. Which brings me to the same point as the margarine commercial; “it’s not good to mock God, either.

Yet that is exactly what is happening when it comes to the topic, or better, the special promulgation, of biblical “Prophecy”. We moderns, In America, ca. 2000, are mocking God’s pure word of prophecy from two distinct sources. One you would imagine – the skeptical world. The other will surprise you; the pre-occupied church. The first is by commission, the last by omission.

Let me explain, briefly, by first giving definition to the concept of prophecy, and “end times”, and then providing a contemporary example.

“Prophecy” as defined by scripture is both the accurate forth telling of God’s word (pronouncement, preaching or teaching) as well as the accurate fore telling (predicting future events). Further, scripture gives us only one test to ascertain the veracity of the prophet – 100% accuracy (see Dt 18:18-22; Jeremiah 28:9).

And, “end times”, which is what we are addressing as the primary prophetical focus today, is defined as the final chapter of life on the planet as we know it. It is a world wind down, when God commences His judgment of mankind for rejecting His authority and His redemptive offer of salvation through grace, through Christ.

A sample of biblical passages that present this “event” are the following three from the Old Testament prophet Joel.

“Alas for the day of the Lord is near and it will come as destruction from the Almighty”…the day of the Lord is great and very awesome, and who can endure it?… I will gather all the nations, and will bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there.” (Joel 1:15; 2:11; and 3:2)

Today, it seems to me that people today are doing nothing more and asking nothing less of prophecy experts than what the original disciples asked Jesus, one day on the Mount of Olives. Remember? One account of that moment is found in Matthew 24; 3-8.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs

Now, what I have observed is this – today’s currents events, especially the upheavals – economic, geo political, technology, security, terrorism, famine, extreme weather, etc, are causing many people to re-look at end times prophecies. This includes both bible believing people and non-believers. In fact, maybe you, too, have found yourself rethinking about this issue and maybe even revisiting some passages that pertain to “the end”? But there is a disconnect.

The first disconnect is the absolute disrespect the sceptics have on religion. Though they are free to believe what they want, and say what they want, they go too far when they denounce the few courageous proclaimers of end time’s studies, “Prophecy”, as “dubious, publishers of superstitious fabrications, of the human mind”. And when they do – voila! They fulfill prophecy by mocking the veracity of scripture, the Words of God and the intent of prophetical pronouncements – that is, God’s intent to call out a holy people living in sober preparation of meeting the Lord and the coming judgment. In fact, this is how 2 Peter 3, reads…

3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 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.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…
11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…

An example of skeptical mockers is the recent MSN, online article, about the upcoming astronomical phenomenon (April 13th story) about “blood moons”. MSN dealt with the phenomenon cursorily, from a scientific perspective, but spent a lot of ink, unfortunately, on mocking a prophecy teacher. The article simply diverted any reader, who was an honest seeker of truth, someone looking for a spiritual explanation of world events, by mocking Pastor John Hagee’s viewpoint – his studied thoughts as to how the upcoming “blood moons”, might relate, as a sign, to the end times prophecies of scripture (Joel chapter 2, for example). In my view it was unnecessary, did a disservice to broad minded people and took pot shot at a religious issue for millions of people, worldwide. Plus it confused a “sign” for an event.

Think of it, we all pay attention to signs, in order to find our way, correctly, to a desired destination. If you want to drive from Dallas to Houston, you will watch for the road markers, “signs” along the route giving you a sense of direction, timing and distance – right? Heaven’s sake, folks, even when you’re in a restaurant and want to use the bathroom you will pay attention to the signs in order not to use the wrong lavatory – right?

The issue with signs is that they are not to be confused with the destination, they point to it. Don’t miss that. And that is all pastor, John Hagge was trying to point out, as a faithful proclaimer of God’s truth; a “prophet” in the sense of forth telling his congregation that the blood moon is a sign of a coming judgment, not the judgment itself. And that it would “coincidentally” fall on one of Israel’s holiest days, which was no coincidence at all, but an exclamation point to the sign.

You see, believers in a sovereign God, creator and redeemer don’t believe in coincidence, they believe in providence. So this first of the “tetrad” of unusual total lunar eclipses was significant – a red light to believers looking for the second coming of Christ – not a yellow or green light/sign. No 4 tetrads in two years, all of which land on one of Israel’s holiest days, is a sign to “stop” and look around, at your life, at your faith, at your readiness to meet God in judgment.

And, as to science, what is the mathematical probability of that above scenario – four in a row, in two years, all on Israel’s holiest days? Has that ever happened in recorded scientific history? Coincidence – no, providence!

Therefore, just like when you are driving down the road, looking at signs in order to get successfully and safely to your destination – and the traffic light turns from green to yellow, you naturally slow down. But when it turns red, a mature motorist will stop and look around – before proceeding any further.

So, may I ask you, what does this tetrad say to you now? I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mock it.

Jim Cote’

(See Part 2)