I have been interested in Bible prophecy since I was a boy. I was raised with a good fundamental Bible background, and due to well-taught Sunday School classes, had a good Biblical foundation.
At the time, actual prophecies that a student could recognize as being fulfilled in real time were not very common. However, by the time I finished my college education in 1969, the unfolding of Bible prophecy began to accelerate.
Because of the relatively good times of the 1950s, most people paid little attention to prophecy. Once the 1960s came along and the cultural revolution took center stage, the Church had its hands full trying to deal with the drugs, sex, and rock and roll that began to infiltrate the culture of the Church. Yet, the prophetic voice was not completely silenced. God still had men who had a listening ear to His voice and were watching as Bible prophecy began to surface in current events of the day. One of these men was Hal Lindsey. As many will remember, Hal wrote the bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970, and it was produced as a movie narrated by Orson Wells, nine years later.
Hal Lindsey’s book helped to bring back an awareness of Bible prophecy. In fact, the book raised the subject to a level it had not been at since the days of the early Church. As a result, people were brought to the realization that there truly was a significance to the rebirth of Israel as a modern day nation. The book of Revelation, the last of the New Testament books, was one that most Bible teachers had avoided but then became the book to study, along with its Old Testament companion, the book of Daniel.
Bible prophecy began to usher in considerable excitement to many Christian communities, churches, and home fellowships. This was accentuated by the “Jesus Movement” of the 1970s, which then ran tandem with the Charismatic move of the 1980s. Prophecy writers found a market in Bible bookstores that started popping up everywhere. People were looking for the second coming of Jesus Christ, and they expected their Messiah at any moment! So-called prophets began to set dates for that imminent return, but unfortunately for them–and to the great disappointment of many believers, Jesus didn’t return by their prophesied dates. As time passed and the world did not fall into the abyss of the prophesied Apocalypse, Christians who were hanging onto end-time prophecies began to get disillusioned.
For many people, all the talk of Christ’s second coming, and in particular, the Rapture of the Church, began to feel like a non-event or anti-climax. It seemed that the Messiah was not going to return to earth for a long time after all, and so, we might as well eat, drink, and be merry. Death comes soon enough on its own; we might as well get as much from this short life as we can squeeze out of it.
As the Church began to lose sight of its true purpose, many began to fall for various deceptive teachings, or doctrines of demons, as the Apostle Paul labeled them. Others were taken by modern philosophy. A great many Catholic and Protestant ranks became caught up in the so-called “Prosperity Gospel.” Others followed the diversions of “The Emerging Church”; still others were deceived by the “Dominionists” or “Kingdom Now” belief systems. One of the greatest spiritual errors of all is what is called “Replacement Theology.” This teaching tosses the Jewish people onto the ash heap of history and hands all of the eternal promises God made to Abraham and his seed, to the Gentile Church. Then of course, there are those who are blending pagan New Age philosophies into the belief system they grew up with. Many have become outright hedonistic in their practices. It seems that the Church of Laodicea which the prophet John wrote about in Revelation 3 is doing quite well in today’s religious world of the West. This helps to understand a warning given through John’s writings to the Church of Philadelphia when he said:
“Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” Revelation 3:11
The Apostle Paul was also quite clear in his warnings to the Church. One of these warnings is found in 1 Timothy:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron. 1 Timothy 4:1-2
Jesus gave strong warnings of His own when He responded to those who asked Him about the timing of events at the end of the age.
“And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying…’” Matthew 24:4-5.
The same words are recorded in Luke 21:8 and also in Mark 13:5. The Apostle John of course was given a great deal of prophetic information about the entire Church Age in Revelation 2 and 3. Within the seven letters to the Churches, there are many detailed warnings about the deception to come.
We are now in that age of deception and it is all leading to what the Apostle Paul forewarned concerning in 2 Thessalonians 2:
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2: 9-12
This brings me to the reason for the title of this article, “Where Is That Wolf?” We have all heard of the boy who cried “wolf” so many times that when the wolf really did come, and he really did need help, no one believed him! Many Christians today have been hearing of the coming of the Lord for decades and have either decided not to pay any attention or refuse to hear the warning entirely. This is a dangerous place to be. The Lord has told us to be expecting His return at any given moment in time. Yes, He said this 2,000 years ago, but as I write this article, there is not one prophecy that still needs to find fulfillment today in order for this event to come to pass. In fact, there are world events unfolding today that tell us the Rapture of the Church is now truly imminent! Sadly, many in the Church have settled back into their comfortable chairs and have their minds, hearts, and priorities committed to other things.
Before going further with “the wolf”, we need to base our discussion on a Biblical foundation concerning Christ’s return. I have always seen the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 to be rather poignant. Along with the excitement that the prepared virgins experience in this parable, there is described the very sad and distressing plight of the five foolish virgins. The passage reads like this:
Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him! The all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; ann the door was shut. Afterewatrd the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” but he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
There are many that have fallen asleep in this hour; after all, it has been about 2,000 years since Jesus ascended back to the throne. But that is not where the real problem lies. The real problem is that the five foolish ones think they have an acceptable relationship with the Lord, but they’re basing it on bad theology. The oil needed for their lamps is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. A person that has a true relationship with God has more than an intellectual knowledge of God. Even the devil has that. Many seminary students today have a knowledge of God, but do not know God. There are also multitudes of people that attend a church house of any brand or denomination, and go through all the motions, week after week; yet, it is nothing more than just that, motions. There is no life in it because there is no true relationship connected to it.
How sad it will be for these foolish ones when the Messiah returns for His own, and they miss their connection! In this parable, Jesus said that He, the Bridegroom, will tell them that He does not know them. The original terminology speaks of a living, experiential, knowledge of recognition, a “knowing” that comes from relationship. In Revelation 3, we find a promise given to those who are faithful. It reads like this:
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. Revelation 3:10-11
What hour of trial is this passage speaking of? The Bible calls it “The Day of the LORD”, or “The Great Tribulation.” Some refer to it as the Apocalypse. The Bible tells us that period of time is right at the end of the age and will last seven years. It is described as the worst time of judgement, destruction, and cataclysm that this world will have experienced in its history. It is the time of God’s wrath against a wicked and defiant world. It is more than a horrible nightmare. It will prove to be as real a judgment as was the Great Flood of Noah in ancient times.
God has however provided an escape route, a remedy that was paid for through the death and resurrection of the Messiah Jesus two millennia ago. This however, is the only escape. No matter what claims world religions or their so-called prophets make, there is only one way. There is only one true Messiah. There is only one GOD, and it is through His provision, by God Himself taking the form of a man and dying the innocent sacrificial death necessary to pay the price to cover man’s fallen sinful condition. Many have come, and they continue doing so to this day, offering a way to God. God however, by taking man’s problem into His own hands, provided the way, through the true Messiah, Jesus Christ. He is the only one who then rose from the dead after having been crucified, thereby providing the one and only way for the salvation of the human race.
There is another verse, which the Spirit of God strategically inserted into the discussion of end time events in Luke 21. It was Jesus Himself who spoke these words:
Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21:36
I find it amazing how many Christian believers criticize those who believe in the Rapture of the Church happening before the Great Tribulation, with the criticism: “Oh you just believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture so that you can escape!” Actually, I do intend to escape this period of time! Why would I not look forward to this when this is an escape Jesus Himself made provision for! I can’t imagine saying to Jesus, “I know you made provision for this escape for me, but I prefer to prove my commitment to You by trying to survive the outpouring of Your wrath on this wicked and rebellious world! I’m not like Your weaker followers who want to take the easy way out!” Can you imagine His response to me if I were to try and convince Him that I had found a “more spiritual” way than the one He had already paid for with His Blood? No, I will humbly and with great thanksgiving follow His plans as He has laid out for me.
The true Church is a most unique entity, especially in the day and hour in which we live. We know that we are very near the time when the Bridegroom is going to retrieve His Bride. But, “who” is the Church? Jesus used the Greek word “ekklesia” to describe the Church in a way that had never been used before. “Ekklesia” means: “A called out assembly of people.” Jesus was the first to use it in its new sense in Matthew 16:18. Watch how this conversation between Jesus and His disciples unfolded:
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church (ekklesia), and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
Before these words were spoken, this word had never been used in this special way. We have here Peter’s public confession of Jesus, as Lord of all…”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This confession was the foundation of the Church. It was not a confession of Peter, the disciple, becoming the foundation of the Church, but rather the confession he made of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the reason He had come to this earth. It is by this very confession of faith that a person becomes a member of the Body of Christ.
This in effect brings us right back to the parable of the ten virgins, and the tragic statement Jesus made to the five foolish virgins when He, the Bridegroom, came to snatch His Bride out of this world. The private revelation Jesus made to the disciples of His Lordship and His intent to build His Church (the ekklesia), was a revelation of the intimate relationship the Bridegroom intended to have with the Church, His betrothed Bride while she was waiting and preparingto be stolen away, usually during the night, and being carried to the groom’s father’s house where he had spent the last year or so building her a house.
At the time that Jesus was having this discussion with the disciples, the Church could not be built yet because Israel had not yet made its final rejection of the Messiah. The Church would officially be launched when the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, would come down upon the gathered believers on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit would gather all of the true believers together and empower them to fulfill the Great Commission, which was to preach and teach this Good News of the Gospel to the whole world. The promise of the Holy Spirit is found in John 14:
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him: but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you…At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. John 14: 16-17, 20
Take a close look at those last few words. It says…you in Me, and I in you. This is the real relationship of the ekklesia with the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. This is why the five foolish virgins were rejected. They did not have that relationship. Sadly, the majority of those who think they are going to heaven, will miss the “great escape” described in Luke 21:36, and promised in Revelation 3:10, and other places in God’s Word.
There are of course many references made about the Church in the New Testament. One of them is found in Ephesians 5. The Apostle Paul said this:
For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of his bones…I speak concerning Christ and the Church. Ephesians 5:30, 32b
Once again, we find a description of an intimate relationship between Messiah Jesus and His true Church. Contrary to what is taught by many religious leaders today, the road Jesus asks His followers to walk is a narrow one. This is not a popular teaching, but it is what Jesus said, nonetheless. Neither are there many roads to heaven, as many say. There is only one, and it is through Jesus, the only true Messiah. Not only is He the only Way, but entry is by His rules and requirements. Jesus’ words found in Luke 13 make it clear.
Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, “Lord, Lord, open for us, and He will answer and say to you, “I do not know you, where you are from”, then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.” But He will say, “I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.” There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last. Luke 13: 24-30
Is the way Jesus described here, a narrow-minded way? Yes, it is. But, it has to be. There is only one true Messiah, the Son of God Himself. It is only by His Blood that mankind can be saved from eternal destruction. Not only did He really die on the cross He was crucified on, but He also rose from the dead. Roman and Jewish historians have recorded this event and there were hundreds of witnesses to the fact. The entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament was replaced by His once and for all time sacrificial death as the perfect Lamb of God. This is why the road is a narrow one, and the gate through is a narrow gate. Jesus was more than just a great man–more than just a great prophet, He was in fact the promised Seed of Genesis 3:15, that was to ultimately crush the head of the deceiving Serpent, Satan. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was in fact, GOD in the flesh.
At the time of Jesus’ death on the cross, there was a great earthquake, which not only was felt in the entire region, splitting great rocks into pieces, but the 6” thick x 30’ wide, and 60’ high veil in front of the holy of holies in the Jewish Temple was torn in two. God caused this to happen to show that the holy of holies was now open to everyone through the Blood of the Lamb of God, not just the High Priest, once a year on the Day of Atonement.
The reason I went into all this detail about Jesus, His death, resurrection, and the significance of His Blood, is because this same Jesus, the Son of God, who walked in the sandals of a man, providing the only means of hope for mankind’s lost condition through His Blood, also warned us about the signs of the last days, and the fact that we need to recognize them.
This brings us right back to the question, “Where Is That Wolf?”
To Be Continued in Part 2