The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:1-3)
Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do… (1 Chronicles 12:32)
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)
“Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,
they would be regarded as a strange thing.” (Hosea 8:12)
God in His Word has given us prophetic insight of that which is to come. In times past, He sent His prophets to make His will and intentions known. In these latter days, He has provided His written Word to show us what will soon come to pass. Through Scripture, God has given us the knowledge of what happened to Israel and Judah – His very own Chosen People – when they persistently transgressed His Law. Although He warned them continually, they would not listen. They wouldn’t heed the signs He gave them. Regardless of what God did to awaken His children to the dangers of following other gods, it made no difference. The people, from the highest to the lowest within their society, disregarded the cries of the prophets and followed their own wickedness. They disdained their God – the One who called them by His Name – and heaped wrath and judgment upon themselves. As a result, both nations in their divided kingdom came crashing down as God rained His punishment upon them.
Why do we continually believe that America will have a different fate than that which God demonstrated would happen to those in the past who chose to cast Him aside? His simple warning in Hosea 4:14 says it all:
… and a people without understanding shall come to ruin.”
Consider this verse in light of the ones quoted above. There is a common theme. God’s people are to understand the times and heed the signs He gives; that is the Godly approach to life and how we who believe are to operate. Jesus says to listen to the Words of prophecy. We never know how close they are to fulfillment, so stay alert. The men of Issachar who did so were lauded for that effort. When the Bereans searched the Scriptures to find the truth, God loved that. When the Israelites ignored His Word, all God could do was shake His head in dismay. His own people considered what He spoke through the prophets and gave as written commands as something foreign to them. When the rebellion against God’s way had risen to such a high level in Israel among all peoples, He finally determined that enough was enough; their willful ignorance was abominable to the Lord, and He purposed to bring them to ruin.
What does God want? Hosea 6:6 tells us:
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Is it such a strange thing that the One who created us and made us in His image would want us to love Him in return for all that He has given us?
Sadly, the response of most people is that they would rather glorify themselves than Him who gave us life. Because of that, God says in Hosea 7:2:
“But they do not consider
that I remember all their evil.
Now their deeds surround them;
they are before my face.”
This wayward, apostate thinking on the part of God’s children caused Him to declare through His prophet in Hosea 8:7:
For they sow the wind,
and they shall reap the whirlwind…
You can see how I used this prophetic Word in my fictional Christian thriller Whirlwind Series beginning with Sow the Wind: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LBCMN78/
The point I made in that book, and the issue I wish to bring to your attention in this essay, is that America is very much in the same place as Israel was back in the day. Yet what we have is a large swath of God’s people totally ignorant of that fact. Before the written Word was widespread, God brought it verbally through His prophets. Today we have the Bible as the sure Word of God. By and large, God doesn’t send prophets to warn us because we should be reading His Word and taking our cue from Scripture.
The church should know and understand the times. We of all people should be like the men of Issachar in the OT and the Bereans in the NT. But are we? I would say definitely NOT! Although Bible prophecy comprises up to 1/3 of Scripture, pastors and their churches generally ignore it. They’ve essentially concluded that it’s not relevant. Despite all signs of the end of this world as we know it flashing red, the church continues on as it always has; worse, because of the infiltration of false teachers and doctrine, it is moving further away from God rather than toward Him. The doctrine of imminence taught through the concept of the pre-Tribulation Rapture is mocked. At the best, people simply don’t want to embrace it because they:
- Don’t want to get their hopes up
- Have been convinced it’s a false teaching that isn’t Biblical
- Think because of #1 and #2 that they must gird themselves to go through the Tribulation.
What this thinking does is cause those in the church to grasp hold of this world rather than let it go. We are to be temporary aliens here, not permanent residents.
The gathering darkness in America and the world is no different in essence than what it was in ancient Israel. God had determined the time of punishment was at hand because the people had rejected Him. No amount of false sacrifices or flowery words would change this. He knew the people’s hearts back then; He knows our hearts today.
Evil has permeated every level of society, just as it did in Israel. What is there to redeem? Jumping ahead to Hosea 9:7, we see the outcome that was Israel’s fate and is surely ours very soon:
The days of punishment have come;
the days of recompense have come;
Israel shall know it.
The prophet is a fool;
the man of the spirit is mad,
because of your great iniquity
and great hatred.
When God determines to snatch true believers from this lost and dying world before He unleashes His wrath upon it, I wonder how many in the church will be surprised? Worse, I wonder how many will be left behind?