Near/Far prophetic

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“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” (Luke 17:26 NIV)

Video of the beheading of twenty-one Coptic Christian men was released last weekend. The Jihadist assassins vowed not to rest until they spilled Christian blood in Rome. This was happening while two were dying from gunshot wounds in Copenhagen, one, a Jew attending synagogue.

Rising antisemitism and the murder of four other Jews in Paris last month convinced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take action. Yahoo News reported Monday in the post “Netanyahu urges Jews to move to Israel” the Israeli leader has called for an absorption of mass immigration from Europe.

Would the migration of Jews to the their homeland be a sign? Are these latest atrocities against Christians and Jews also a sign of the last days? Most assuredly they are!

The promise to the souls under the altar needs to be heeded. In Revelation 6 God comforted the martyrs with an assurance of his vengeance: “Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer until the number of their fellow servants who were to be killed as they had been was completed.” (6:11 NIV)

If we are to know what day it is on the prophetic calendar, we must apply one of Biblical interpretation’s five major rules: “Look for the near/far in prophecy.”

An example of “near/far prophecy”, and the deeper understanding it offers, is in Genesis 6. There the Lord tells Noah what he is about to do and why. “So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’ ” (Genesis 6:13 NIV) Were these prophetic words just for Noah or were they also for us who live at the end of this present age?

God sent a great flood in order to put an end to all godlessness and violence. Jesus informed his disciples (top) that when the Son of Man comes (future) the world will be in the same godless and violent condition as before the flood. The principle of “near/far prophecy” tells us what to look for in Genesis 6 that will be repeated before Our Lord returns. The word “violence” shouts at us.

When the blood of innocent Jews and Christians covers the ground–which is what we are witnessing–our Deliverer will arise. He will come forth in righteousness to save his people. “For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 37:32, 2 Kings 19:31 NIV) All violence will end. The Lord God Almighty will see to it.

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Who Cares?

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Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! (Amos 6:1 NIV)

Writing on Bible prophecy that does not reflect the “Eat, Drink and Be Merry” attitude of the day is not the way to sell books. On the subject of the disaster God says is coming, it is rare to encounter a Christian who cares. The level of interest matters not, for the Word says, “Tell them anyway!”

The Prophet Ezekiel was among Judah’s first to go into captivity in Babylon. In exile, the Lord called saying,

“Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people I am sending you to are obstinate and stubborn… And whether they listen or fail to listen–for they are a rebellious house–they will know that a prophet has been among them… You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” (Ezekiel 2:3-4a, 5, 7 NIV)

It should be mentioned that five generations earlier, Israel, the ten tribes making up the northern kingdom, were scattered by God in the Diaspora. Ezekiel was a Levite, a citizen of Judah. So why not say “I am sending you to the people of Judah”? To whom was Ezekiel called to prophesy?

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had already invaded Ezekiel’s land. Still many inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea remained. If the people of Judah acknowledged their sin and turned to God, the Lord would be gracious and show mercy. Jeremiah warned them, yet they would not listen.

This prophecy is a prime example of a major rule for accurate Bible interpretation: “Look for the near/far prophetic.” Was Ezekiel prophesying to America’s last days? The profile fits. The U.S. was born in rebellion. Today we listen only to what we consider “positive and encouraging”. So the prophet’s words fall on deaf ears. We warm to the false message of “Peace and Safety”.

Nevertheless, truth will be spoken by the prophets of God. Though few Israelites heed God’s warnings, they will be spoken or written anyway.

Who cares? God does or he wouldn’t be so insistent on calling his people to repent.

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Within Christianity there are true God-fearing, Bible believing individuals who are ill-prepared for what soon must happen. The reason is simple: there is little understanding of prophecy. Many shy away from the prophetic by claiming that it’s too difficult to comprehend. This is a lie from Satan.

“Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10b NRSV).

Everything that Jesus says should be understood from a prophetic context. If it is not, than its true meaning will elude even the most devout follower. Properly interpreting prophecy becomes much easier when a person submits to the teaching of the Holy Spirit and employs “The 5 Rules of Interpretation”. (See “Rules of Interpretation” under “Book Excerpts” category).

Case in point: Jesus is carrying His cross and the women of Jerusalem are beating their breasts and wailing for Him. The King of Kings tells them to cry for themselves and their children because the time is coming where they will say: “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed. Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and the hills, ‘Cover us.’ (Luke 23:29-30 NRSV)

History shows that in 70 AD the Roman General Titus tore down Jerusalem’s temple prompting a great exodus of the Judean people from the Holy Land. The scattering meant great hardship for pregnant women and nursing mothers. This event was a “near” fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24.

“So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the Holy Place, as was spoken by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days!” (Matthew 24:15-19 NRSV).

The “far” fulfillment is understood in light of Daniel 9:27. In this verse we learn that the beast (anti-Christ) causes Jewish sacrifice to cease at the mid-point of the final seven years. This is the catalyst for women to say that the barren are blessed. People will be crying for the mountains to hide them. Hide them from what? Revelation 6:15-17 provides the answer. They want to hide from the One seated on the throne and from the Lamb. After the opening of the 6th seal, the year long Day of the Lord will begin.

When prophecy is properly interpreted, Christians with a true love for Jesus and the heart of an overcomer will be prepared for dark days to come. EJ

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When you think of Revelation what comes to mind? Our answer is critical since our grasp of this prophecy is critical.

As a student then teacher, I’ve learned there are incredible blessings if we dig deep into this book (Revelation 1:3). After the first chapter’s introduction of the glorified Christ, the Lord begins letters to seven churches in Asia Minor.

My brother and blog partner, Elijah, is pouring over every word in Chapter Two. In a recent discussion, we reminded each other of the five major rules of Bible interpretation. One rule is: “Look for the near/far prophetic in Scripture”. This phrase describes the way prophecy has dual applications; one near in time and the other far (ex. the end of this age). So, when Christ told Smyrna’s believers, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer… Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown (2:10 NIrV)” his words echo all the way down the corridors of time. As Smyrna’s faithful were encouraged, 1900 plus years later their persecuted counterparts will also be encouraged. Likewise, as the Ephesians received warning they had forsaken their first love, some reading Revelation 2:4 will experience the Spirit convicting their heart.

Consider the content of Revelation 2 and 3. Remember the entire scroll was read in each church. The letters reveal Jesus’ intimate knowledge and concern for his household. He is the True and Faithful Judge. He’s the Light as well as the Good Shepherd. In truth, he walks among his flock. He wants all people everywhere to be saved (John 12:46-50, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4).  

In the next segment, we will look at the context of Revelation‘s letters. Hopefully, the meaning of our Judge’s judgments will become crystal clear.

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