Saturday, November 19, 2005

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? 

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
(Rom 13:11)

A former NASA rocket engineer turned prophecy teacher by the name of Edgar Whisenant gained quite some notoriety nearly 20 years ago with a publication titled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be In 1998.  In this booklet, Whisenant predicted that Jesus would return to rapture His church sometime during the Jewish holiday of Rosh-Hashanah in 1988.  When that did not happen, the prevalent joke was that he was working on a sequel to be titled 89 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be In 1999.

But beyond that, Bible teachers and prophecy proponents fell back to their default position:  “Matthew 24:36 teaches that we can not anticipate when the Lord might return.”  And this in spite of Paul’s clear teaching:

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
(1Th 5:1-4)

So there you have it.  No man knoweth the day or the hour, but you have no need to question the times (year) and the seasons (month).  For if you are prepared for the month and the year, that day will not overtake you unexpectedly!  In the minds of the simple or the careless, this passes for a contradiction that must somehow be resolved, which is generally achieved by denying that we can know the month and/or the year of the Lord’s return based on Mathew 24:36!

This type of sloppy and inconsistent exegesis has been successfully passed off on the Body of Christ as “Christian scholarship” with the same aplomb with which John Tetzel was able to hawk indulgences in Luther’s Germany in the early 16th century.  

Having said all that, do I claim to know the year and the month of the Lord’s soon return?

I don’t claim to have a handle on that, but that is a far cry from saying that no could ever know because somehow the Scripture prohibits it.

And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…
(1Ch 12:32)

Ah—an understanding “of the times” in which one moves and has his or her being is a rare thing indeed.  It is much easier to look back and claim to have a clear understanding of the whens, whys, and wherefores of events past.  To have and understanding of what ought to be done in the present, which is of much more crucial importance, is a much less prevalent gift.  For the clearest example possible, see the Congressional Democrats braying that the war in Iraq was a big mistake and Bush lied, etc.  Not one of them has set forth what the U.S. should do now that we are involved up to the neck in the conflict.

So here is the bottom line.  We are much closer to that day than we have ever been before, and we ought not to be surprised, shocked, or offended by anything that might be around the corner that would signal the great, final shaking has begun.  It is also a time when apostasy and deception will abound.  This deception may very well take the form of a great revival marked by unprecedented “signs and wonders.”  How does one prepare for that!?

Not by sloppy, silly, and inconsistent exegesis of the God-given prophecies intended to reveal the mystery of the eternal purposes and intents of the Almighty to those who “love His appearing,” (This, by the way, is the basic immunization against the coming deception.  It is those who love something else, whatever that may be including healing, signs, miracles, revival, more than they love His appearing.

God help us.  Lord, please raise up even a handful of prophets and teachers who have an understanding of the times we are in and who will deal straight with the brothers and sisters.

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