As long as man has been on the earth, he has always wanted to know and understand the future. After Jesus shocked his disciples by telling them that there was a day coming when not one stone of the Temple would be left upon another, they came to Him and asked Him in Matthew 24:3-8:
“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
Then Jesus gives a long list of things to watch for. More people are aware of the things Jesus shared with the disciples today than ever before, but I don’t think people realize that this is the first time in history when the entirety of his list is happening at the same time.
“Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (verse 33)
Jesus then gave another specific to watch for in verses 37-44 of the same chapter:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
A fourth scripture indication of the second coming of Jesus is found in Luke 17:28:
“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.”
These are just some of the Scriptures that tell us that there is an imminence to the Lord’s return. However, after about the third generation following Christ’s ascension, the teaching of the imminent return of the Lord was gradually minimized until it nearly disappeared. But there has always been an imminence for those who were walking in close communion with Christ.
Unfortunately, it is only a small percentage of the Church that recognizes how close we really are, not only to the return of Christ, but also the Great Tribulation.
In the Old Testament, when God had something of importance to get across to His people, He would send one of His prophets. These were people like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Hosea, Daniel, Elijah, and so many more. The prophets were quite often rebuffed because their message was not a message that the people wanted to hear. Many of these Prophets paid for their obedience to the Lord in delivering an unpopular message with their lives.
Today, our world is hurtling full speed toward destruction while people fight tooth and nail to push God as far away as possible. Sadly, much of the Church is also blind or deaf to the prophecies that were given to prepare us, and is becoming apostate….. just as Jesus warned it would in the third chapter of Revelation. God, however, sends His battering rams, as He did in the Old Testament. Noah was called to preach to the world of his day and tell them that God was going to destroy the world. His grandfather Methuselah preached the same message before him, and Methuselah’s father Enoch preached it even earlier. God had told Enoch of the coming destruction by flood hundreds of years before the judgment was poured out. These men of God were ridiculed, laughed at, ignored, and threatened. Noah and his family likely would have been murdered if God had not sealed them within the ark just before the rains came.
Today, too much of the Church has little or no understanding of the ultimate and full purposes of God in and through His people. The Church today has mostly lost sight of the agenda Christ left to be completed and so it is confused and wandering in circles. Because it lacks true direction it lacks the understanding it needs. And because it does not know of or anticipate the imminence of Christ, the Church is fruitless in preparing, warning, and snatching the lost out of the impending disasters.
Today, the voices God has commissioned are shouting a strong message that most find it inconvenient or uncomfortable to hear. The Bible tells us that…
“… without a vision the people perish (Proverbs 29:18) T
The Apostle Paul said,
“If the trumpet does not give a clear call, who will get ready for battle? (I Corinthians 14:8)”
An anonymous quote says this:
“The Church needs prophets who can give this clear call to battle. At present it is losing the battle because it has no clear goal. We are surrounded by a great babble of voices, all claiming to have the truth and many Christians are tossed around by every new wave that comes along. A clear prophetic word is needed to prepare the church for battle–and a battle has already begun.”
Christians can get so caught up in the events of the world that they do not see what God is doing. This is particularly true in tumultuous times when it can be very hard to see the hand of God at work. Prophets bring the guidance of the Lord to the Church. Prophets give direction and vision in these situations, so that God’s people know what is happening, and what they should do.
In a world that is dying and a Church that is becoming stagnant there is a desperate need to hear the unadulterated voice of God. The world is not receiving the answers it is looking for from the Church, and so looks to other sources. The occult is right there, and is speaking loud and clear!. The Church is not giving answers to the world because it does not know the answers. It does not know the answers because it avoids the very issues the world recognizes and is facing. Many of these issues the world is facing are out of the comfort zone of modern Christian theology and so are avoided by the Church. Yet, has God stopped speaking? Hardly. God is still speaking and there are those who are hearing. Their voices however, just as in Noah’s day, are being ignored, ridiculed, laughed at, minimized. God’s message is “politely” truncated and therefore effectively silenced.
A distinctive feature of our time is that so few representing the Church have a distinctive message. There is a painful lack of a clear word of authority for the times. While there are many good preachers of the Gospel, and while we’re not lacking theologians, we are sadly in need of the Prophet with his “Thus saith the Lord’, which he has received due to a commission from the Master Himself. We receive many generalizations of the Word but little distinct direction, or warnings of the dangers ahead. When the warnings are given, too often it is a message that is uncomfortable or “taboo.”
The prophet sees the sweep and purpose of God, the larger picture, the panoramic view. Without the overview, fellowships will be fixed on the present moment. Without the prophetic overview, people get stuck in the immediate programming which often is birthed out of the here and now flesh, not the eternal Spirit.
In our time of history, it is important that we make ourselves available to everything God has provided for use by the Church. Just having vision is not near enough. We can have vision for the poor; we can have vision for the abused; we can have vision for housing for those that are without. We can have vision for dealing with every ill in society. We can also have vision for dealing with every evil in the world! All of these things sound great and they all pull the heartstrings of people. But, with all of the “good” that has been done by organizations of one kind or another, has the world become a better place? No. Will we ever be able to make it a better place? No.
The answer to all of the evils in our world are solved when Jesus Christ comes back and rules as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over the entire earth. But we are not there yet. What we need in the meantime is more than just a short term vision, but a clear understanding of what the Spirit of God is urgently saying, and has been saying to his Church for thousands of years.
The most important thing on God’s agenda today is the harvest of souls. He doesn’t care much about denominational boundaries or constraints. He also doesn’t care about who gets credit for what. He is after souls. We each need to be more absorbed with that same passion to win people to Christ. That’s God’s agenda for us. And He asks us to break out of our little boxes and join His agenda! God doesn’t care about protecting personalities or personal claims to fame. If He did, He wouldn’t have picked someone like John the Baptist to be the forerunner or the Messiah! God picks those He wants to use and whether we accept them or not, doesn’t change His mind. The Baptists; the Isaiahs; the Ezekiels; the Elijahs; the Enochs; these all were men who didn’t really care if they were accepted or not–not because they were rebellious, but because they heard the voice of God and spoke His word, no matter if it was received or not.
What the church needs today is men and women that care more for obedience to the command of God.
God expects unquestioning obedience from those He asks to speak in his name, to proclaim, Thus says the Lord. The true prophet of God only answers to One. He is interested in strict obedience to the commands of his Master, even if that means confronting people to illuminate a powerless or fruitless direction, or to expose sin. The prophet is likely to be the cause of great discomfort to many. Why? Because he is under constraint of the Spirit of God. Jeremiah 1:4-8; 17-19 tells us how God commissioned Jeremiah, and gives us an illustration of what kind of covenant God has with those He calls to this unpopular calling.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Ah, Sovereign Lord’” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child’, You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land–against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Are there modern day prophets? Yes. Some prophets function as pastors. Others as teachers. Still others, as theologians. Many are everyday, ordinary people who are committed heart and soul to the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus. They are God Seekers. No other title is necessary. The common denominator for all, however, is they have the Spirit of God and they preach, teach and proclaim the FULL counsel of God through his Word to anyone and everyone they can….regardless of whether or not they are heard.
As we look around and see the things that Jesus called signs of the end of the age coming to pass all around us, it would behoove us to confirm and conform all of our actions to the purposes and plans of the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ! His purpose: Save souls! His plan: Know what is coming so that you can tell others; and when these things do happen, they will believe in the only One who can save.
If we do spread His Word, we will experience His blessings in manifest form. If we avoid God’s agenda but advance our own, we will fail to reach the goal that God has put before us. We cannot afford to remain deaf and blind to the Word of God rather than to participate in proclaiming it to those who have not heard.
Let’s get in line with God’s plan during the time that is left as the age comes to an end.