Should Christians be Engaged in End-Time Prophecy?
What should Jesus' followers focus their attention on?
On our heavenly Father, of course, and on Yahusha (Jesus).
On God's Word, the Bible.
On love and charity.
Is that all?
„And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.“ (Hebrews 10:24,25 KJV)
The Day of the Lord automatically draws nearer in time, but that is not what is meant here. We are to see that the Day of the Second Coming is drawing nearer. How? And is this just a suggestion by Paul to the recipients of his letter?
No; our Lord Yahusha (Jesus) Himself gave the same instruction in Mark chapter 13:
"Watch out that no one deceives you ... You must be on your guard ... So be on your guard ... Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come ... Therefore keep watch ..." (Mark 13: 5, 9, 23, 33, 35)
What did he mean by "watch out"? Normally, to keep one's eyes open, to be attentive, to perceive:
"But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their powers of discernment (or perceptive powers) trained to distinguish both right and wrong." (Hebrews 5:14 NWT)
The Greek vocabulary suggests that we should train our sense organs like an athlete to distinguish right from wrong. This exercised perceiving, seeing, hearing, discerning, classifying in the light of the Bible is called a characteristic of Christian maturity: a goal worth striving for. This is mentioned as a condition for progressing from "milk" (the elementary things of faith, Heb. 5:11-14) towards "solid food".
Watching out or staying awake also means observing processes in one's environment. Yahusha (Jesus) said:
"From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.
So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates." (Mark 13:28, 29)
"Those things"? What things?
He enumerated (after the initial stage of the tribulation pangs): persecution of Christians, the abomination of desolation in the holy place, false Christs, false prophets, false signs and wonders, deceiving the elect. "Behold! I warned you in advance," said Jesus(Matthew 24:25).
Distribution of Tasks Through Our Head
Returning to Mark chapter 13, in verse 34 our Lord Yahusha indicates a division of tasks:
"For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch."
The job of a doorkeeper is to watch, peep, report what he sees, warn and ward off evil(s). He should be especially vigilant – but not only he:
„But what I say to you, I say to all: Keep on the watch.” (Mark 13:37 NWT)
Parable of the Five Wise and the Five Foolish Virgins ... and Unknown Guards ;-)
„The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.“ (Matthew 25:3-5 NIV)
Did you notice? Everyone fell asleep! No matter how much lamp oil they had with them (which can stand for holy spirit or strength of faith).
„At midnight someone cried out, ‘Here's the groom! Come out to meet him!“ (Verse 6)
Who was shouting? Obviously someone else had stayed awake and alert!
The wise, provident virgins are admitted to the bridegroom's wedding feast, the foolish are not. Our Lord Yahusha (Jesus) concluded the parable with the following words:
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." (Matthew 25:13)
A "different gospel" ...?
Is this a "different gospel" when you compare current events with the prophecies of the Bible? The apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians full of concern:
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed!" (Galatians 1:6-9)
What was this "other", contradictory gospel about?
Here is a comment by F. B. Hole: "The troublemakers were evidently certain Jews who professed to be converted to Christianity, and yet were more zealous for the Law than for Christ.... [thereby] touching the foundation of the Gospel which they had first heard from Paul himself" - namely, they were zealous for the alleged salvation by righteous works, not by grace and faith in Jesus Christ!
Even Angels Long to Look Into Those Things
The Spirit showed the prophets in advance the sufferings that would come upon Christ and the glories that would follow:
"Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. [...] Even angels long to look into these things." (1. Peter 1:10, 11, 12b NIV)
The Jewish people were also occupied with these prophecies during Yahusha's lifetime on earth; therefore they were full of expectation for their Saviour:
"As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, ..." (Luke 3:15 ESV)
Christ Himself showed John in Revelation in advance prophetic pictures of the sufferings that will come upon Christians on the "Day of the Lord" (in the end times) and the glories that will follow. Is it unreasonable to assume that even now angels are eager to get a glimpse of these things? How much more we who are directly concerned?
"The word of the prophets is made more certain. We have that word. You must pay attention to it. It is like a light shining in a dark place. It will shine until the day Jesus comes. Then the Morning Star will rise in your hearts. Above all, here is what you must understand. No prophecy in Scripture ever came from a prophet's own understanding. It never came simply because a prophet wanted it to. Instead, the Holy Spirit guided the prophets as they spoke. So prophecy comes from God." (2 Peter 1:19-21 NIRV)
Prophecies (especially in the dark end times) have the function of a lamp:
Especially the prophecies in the Book of Revelation, which were given by YHWH God Himself through Jesus via an angel to the faithful apostle John. This can only be done by studying the prophecies, comparing them with world events and asking God for wisdom and insight.
Should we put the "lamp" of the prophecies under a bushel by excluding them or only pay attention to them when they are "up" according to the reading plan, not according to topicality and again and again? Should we only deal with them when everything is over?
The prophet Daniel also received prophetic images that reach into our time and our future. An angel assured Daniel that the meaning would be sealed until the time of the end:
„But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.“ (Daniel 12:4, 9, 10, ESV)
In other words, these symbolically encoded predictions should be able to be unsealed and decoded in the time of the end, by those who search them out and are given the understanding by God's Spirit.
Is This a Must?
Does everyone have to do it? No, only whom the Spirit urges to do so. There will be "many", but not all, because in the "Body of Christ" there is division of tasks. There is also no room here for a thirst for recognition or special positions. Those who research and recognise connections should respectfully present their findings to their brothers and sisters in Christ, as an offer of information, not as dogma. And prophecies and their interpretation must never push the very core of our faith, the relationship with our Lord Yahusha-ha-Mashiach (Jesus Christ) and with our wonderful heavenly Father YHWH, out of the focus – on the contrary: it becomes deeper and richer.
Our Lord Jesus said:
"Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.“ (Matthew 10:26, 27 KJV)
What is done in secret shall be made manifest and shouted from the housetops. By whom?
Division of tasks in the "Body of Christ"
What does the herding dog think? What are the sheep saying?
Finally: Avoid Creating Dogmas!
We must be careful not to elevate our own observations, whether in the Bible or in world events, and our logical conclusions to dogma – even if they seem as clear as mud to ourselves at the moment. We can only expect the final confirmation when a specific prophecy has been completely fulfilled, and / or by confirmation of our wonderful Lord and King Yahusha (Jesus) Himself:
"For we knowin part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears." (1 Corinthians 13:9, 10 NIV)
"For now we see in hazy outline by means of a metal mirror, but then it will be face-to-face. At present I know partially, but then I will know accurately, just as I am accurately known. Now, however, these three remain: faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13: 12, 13 NWT)
In this sense, humility is in order so as not to become a missionary of one's own ideas (for that would be a "new gospel") and also loving tact towards one's Christian brothers and sisters, for by nature not everyone has the strong urge to engage in these things. Everyone has their own facet, their own place, their own God-given talent in the "Body of Christ", the Christian community. This is how we want to perceive, appreciate and love each other.
Personally, we post our findings and reflections here for discussion, for anyone who is also curious about them, and as always, we welcome sharing and discussion.