Those who do not know God, nor the prophetic nature of His Words, are often more than ignorant. They believe that they operate autonomously from the Lord, i.e. that they are independent and above any connection to Him. Little do they know that they are very wrong. God has certain purposes that must be accomplished in His plan of redemption. These can be greater or lesser purposes, but all are important. Sometimes there is a bigger stage on which certain events that God ordains will be carried out; at other times, they are things that are done in a closet, so to speak.
What was true when the apostles brought this fact to the attention of certain people is as true today. Paul and Barnabas had traveled to Antioch in Pisidia. (They had previously been to Antioch in Syria; this location was in what is today Turkey.) As they often had the opportunity, given the way the Jewish synagogues worked, they were able to address those attending to speak about Jesus. In describing His coming and His death, Paul states an indisputable fact in Acts 13:27 about people who don’t know God or His ways:
“For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him.”
Prophets had been sent by God in times past and spoke of the coming Messiah. Most famously, Isaiah described Him extremely accurately in Isaiah 53. But people were blind, deaf, and dumb. This included the religious authorities who should have known better since they were steeped in God’s Word. But despite this, when Jesus came, these men ignored the proof right before them. In their rejection of Jesus, those very acts they committed fulfilled the prophecies about Him. They did exactly what God said they would do in the very way He said they’d do it.
Continuing in his statement about this prophesied rejection of the Son of God, Paul said the following in Acts 13:29:
“And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.”
The people who crucified Jesus didn’t just do a couple of the things God had said; they did them all and completely fulfilled the prophecies. That’s so important. The prophecies we read in Scripture aren’t to be fulfilled partially; they are to be fully completed to the last detail. When we realize this, then we can see better. We can look at the world through a Biblical, prophetic lens and more accurately know the times. If a prophesied event is near based on world circumstances, for instance, when we examine the prophecy, are the conditions in place for fulfillment? If not, then we have to watch for what else may need to occur to get to that final point.
I think the upcoming prophecy of Ezekiel’s War in Ezekiel 38-39 is most clearly one that requires this examination. Ezekiel 38:11 (NIV) says:
You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars.”
In order for this to be true, we have to ask whether or not Israel today is a nation living without walls, bars, or gates. The answer is definitively no because of the situation in Gaza and the West Bank. There are many walls needed for protection; thus Israel is not living peacefully. As a result, something must happen in order to change this dynamic on the ground. Some event must be the catalyst to remove all these barriers and bring Israel into a peaceful condition. (This is not my main focus today, but I’ve written previously that I believe a Psalm 83 War must be fought to change this prophetic landscape.)
In the case of Jesus, as Paul described in Acts 13:32-33, everything that was said about His first coming was fulfilled:
“And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,
“‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ “
Jesus was the very one the prophets spoke of. That fact convicted many people. It also angered the religious Jews and did exactly what was supposed to happen according to Scripture: it filled them with jealousy. As noted above, by the very response of these men, they unwittingly fulfilled Bible prophecy.
This is what is happening today as we see so many converging events occur that are bringing us to the cusp of the Rapture and subsequent Tribulation. Not only are natural catastrophes ramping up like crazy around the world, evil men are plotting and devising ways to exactly fulfill the conditions necessary for the Antichrist to carry out his wicked schemes. These range from the conditioning of the masses to accept whatever government authority dictates, to the incredible technology advancements that must be in place during those seven years of God’s wrath.
God wants His people to know what He plans to do in these latter days. He has given us His prophetic Word for this understanding. We can believe it, or we can reject it through allegorizing and mythologizing it. Obviously, to understand the times, we must read and interpret Scripture as God has intended. When we do that, we can be prepared. We can see with eyes that the world does not. We can be ready in season and out of season with the Word of the Lord. Perhaps He’ll use us to rescue some who otherwise would perish.