There are some number of us who lament the fact that few in the church today take an interest in Bible prophecy. We see that as a lack of teaching and preaching from the pulpit, and the subsequent disinterest in the congregation because they’re not inspired to search deeper into the Word of God in order to understand the times. Most people appear to be content with the sermon the pastor preaches, perhaps think on that for a few hours, then after that neglect what God determined should be their daily approach to life.
As Joshua was about to lead the Israelites over the Jordan to take the Promised Land, Yahweh implored the people to do the following, as stated in Joshua 1:7-8. His purpose was to prepare His people so that He could continue to guide them in all their ways:
“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
All that Moses commanded the Israelites was contained in the Book of the Law. They were to read and study the Words of God every day, throughout the day. Its Words – God’s Words – were to be constantly present in their minds and hearts and on their lips. This was one of those implied conditional statements that Yahweh inevitably told His children. The effective “if” was that if they kept God’s Word always before them and were obedient to all it said, then He would bring them prosperity and success in all they did.
It was a simple condition for living well. In fact, God had previously stated that when they had a king ruling over them, upon his taking the throne, he was to write out the Law and keep it with him, reading it daily, so that he would be righteous in the sight of the Lord and rule justly.
As time passes and the Israelites achieve victory over the inhabitants of the land and they settle into it, as ease and comfort overtake them, they quickly forget the One who brought them to the dance. The book of Judges follows that of Joshua, and that sad chronicle depicts this problem acutely.
How different is it for the church today? As noted above, not much. The majority of those who sit in the pews don’t read their Bibles regularly or deeply. Pastors by and large haven’t encouraged that practice. Another part of the problem is that in this void, Bible prophecy and its understanding have also suffered. Seminaries and Bible colleges somewhere along the way ceased to teach all of the Bible; in that process much of God’s Word was spiritualized. Yes, we must be careful not to take Scripture too literally where the Biblical writers didn’t intend that; such an approach can result in foolish misunderstandings. But, to relegate the 30% of the Bible that is prophecy to a spiritual purpose only, or just to past events, neglects what God intended to accomplish. This has caused much ignorance and apathy regarding Bible prophecy.
In the New Testament we’re given a singular result of someone who diligently believed and applied God’s Word to her life. Mary, the soon-to-be mother of Jesus was hailed by the angel Gabriel when he came to her. In Luke 1:28 look at what he said:
“Greetings, O favored one; the Lord is with you.”
Goodness, that’s a strong and positive message from God. To be given these words was troubling to Mary. Who was she to gain such favor? She was nothing but a young girl who had been faithful to the Lord; but why did that make her special?
I think that the verse before her Magnificat, where she bursts out in prophetic praise, is significant in this regard. In Luke 1:45, Mary herself provides the answer:
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
We know that Mary had to be found faithful in her life for the Lord to notice her and bring this blessing. Faithfulness would have meant doing what God said His children should do. What was that? Exactly that which was noted earlier: Mary meditated on the Law and was careful to follow it. It was this that brought God’s favor, even as He had declared.
Mary believed what God had spoken in the past and spoke now through Gabriel. She believed in the fulfillment of God’s Word. To put it another way, she believed and accepted the prophetic Word of God. As far as she was concerned, Bible prophecy was real and alive; Mary actually encountered its fulfillment.
If people today – pastors and pew sitters – don’t take such a view as Mary did, and neither are they reading the Word – especially all the Word – how can God pour out His favor? Many in the church seek revival, i.e. a move of God in their midst, but will He do that if they haven’t prepared? The first chapter of Luke brings us the story of John the Baptist, who God brought into the world to prepare the way of the Lord. Without John first proclaiming God’s Word, and it subsequently softening the hearts of the people to bring them to repentance, would they have been ready for Jesus to come? In the same manner, how can the church be ready for a move of God if they haven’t consecrated their hearts and repented?
God wants His people to be ready for all He has. He continually warns us to watch and to be alert. The people perish for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). How many will perish who haven’t come to truly know Jesus as Lord and Savior, perhaps because they never were taught Bible prophecy that confirms God is real and all that He says will come to pass?