Today is the day that I begin to study for the prophecy update. It usually takes about a month to prepare for the teaching on the first Sunday of the new year. This year should prove to be very interesting. I find myself not only drawn to thoughts of how prophecy may be coming together with the events of this past year - but also with a question that many have asked over the years. That question is where the United States of America fits into the scenarios of the Bible concerning the return of Christ.
Some have endeavored to "find" scripture passages that would support the United States being a player in the end times scenario - but in all honesty - I do not concur. The passages people pull out of Scripture are just that - passages usually pulled out of context. The fact is that over 18 years of studying and preparing for these prophecy updates - I've yet to see one clear reference to the United States anywhere in the prophetic scenario. What I do see is a focus on Israel, on a revived Roman empire which most likely will involve a European superstate, and on what seems to be references that fit China being a player in the very last day's scenario. These nation-states are not too difficult to discern from the texts we have - but as for any kind of reference to America - that would involve some pretty serious theological and textual gymnastics.
I say all this to point out that this year, I want to spend a little time dealing with that very question as to whether the United States is anywhere in the prophetic record. We will also investigate what that may possibly mean to us - and what is happening to our nation under the three most recent administrations that have governed the U.S. - with an emphasis on what has happened over the past 2 years.
Once again, I truly look forward to this time of intense study - and the opporutnity that this precious fellowship affords to me to be able to present this material every year. I realize that to some this is the annual "scare the living daylights out of the saints" message. But please know that my heart is never just to freak people out - but rather prepare our hearts for the eventual return of our Lord. He is coming - and part of the reality of that fact is knowing that your hope should not be in this world and the things of this world. Until then, may God bless you . . . and Maranatha!
Sitting here in my office a couple of days after the most recent election, please forgive me if I do not share the same sense of uphoria about our current situation. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad that conservatives have been elected to Washington - and that the voice of our nation has resounded in the halls of power. But if I could, I'd like to comment on a few things that were not on the ballot on November 2nd.
#1 - Jesus is Lord . . . Please do not mistake the vote Tuesday as a vote for the gospel of Jesus Christ and a statement that we've once again embraced the faith of our fathers. I fear that much of the vote was due to the economic distress people are experiencing or due to the out of control spending that is happening in Washington for the past 50 years. There are some who are concerned about constitutional liberties being infringed as well. But . . . even though these are good things in the temporal world of today, the truth is that for the most part the gospel of Jesus Christ is rejected in our nation currently.
I'm not saying this to rain upon anyone's parade. I am saying it because we need to keep the main thing the main thing. We've been called to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of our nation. The first century church did not see its role being to bring political freedom to the Roman empire. The took their marching orders from Matthew 28:18-19. They knew they were to make disciples of all the nations, identifying them with Jesus through baptism and teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded them.
My concern today is that too many Christians will see our struggle as a political one - and not enough of them will realize that whether we have an abundance of freedom or none at all - our duty will not change. We are to share Jesus Christ with the lost - and work with those who come to repentance so that they become disciples who live out that same duty as well.
2. Godliness . . . In some ways this might have been a part of decision making among the electorate. There were some candidates who ran on a strong pro-life, pro-marriage stance. They opposed abortion and were not for legalizing homosexual marriage. I am grateful for those who are going to Washington to defend life and biblical marriage. But, I am under no delusion that godliness received a resounding "yes" vote in this or any of our recent election cycles.
We've allowed ourselves to be gradually moved from biblical ground on moral issues. At present we are trying to stop homosexual marriage from being declared legal. The problem though is not gay marriage - but a moral decay that has been going on since the late 1950's. Homosexuality is a "death-throes" issue. Biblically, we should be grieving over heterosexual immmorality. Sexuality is clearly defined in the Bible as relations between one woman and one man - for life. That almost isn't an issue any longer - not just in the world, but even in the church. We are steadily being incrementally moved away from biblically based morality. If the result of this election is that we set the moral bar afresh at gay marriage - deciding to make that our stand - we've lost far worse than we can ever win. Our stand has to be on biblical morality - whether that is popular or not. We cannot allow the world of politics to frame that debate.
3. The Kingdom of God . . . Jesus made it very clear that His kingdom is not of this world. Although I strongly believe that I should speak out in the political context on moral issues and the wisdom of what we are doing financially as a nation, my hope is not in these things. When the mid-term elections came about the way they did, I was glad. But in no way do I think that my future rests on the policies that are going to be set in Washington. They will do what they do - which too often involves compromises with which I'm very uncomfortable - but my direction comes from another kingdom. That kingdom is not of this world. History will continue to move toward the return of Christ. The world will continue to grow more and more ungodly in the run up to the coming of the antichrist. Israel will be more and more isolated - with even the United States turning against her in the end. The church is to stand in the midst of all this and faithfully proclaim that there is a kingdom to come - the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. The decisions of that kingdom will stand forever - and are not, nor have they ever been subject to the political activities of men and women here on earth. That kingdom was not put into power in this last election - it has always been in power - and will always be in power.
May God give us wisdom and grace to know these things - and to base our choices and lifestyles upon them. May we see and realize that this was truth before these elections - and will be truth long after all earthly elections cease. Am I glad at the results of the mid-term elections in 2010? Yes, for the most part I am - but regardless of whether I won or lost in my votes - this election mattered very little in my choices previous to it - or subsequently after it. Those choices were set in motion a long time ago when God graciously drew me to Himself and granted me repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. From that moment forward, I've been saved - and from that point a path has been laid out for me - to walk with and glorify Jesus Christ regardless of what administration or regime is in power.
What is the Prophecy/News Update?
At Calvary Chapel of Jonesboro, we believe that history is moving toward fulfilling God's plans and purposes. In an effort to help us be prepared for His appearing - and also to chronicle news items you just won't see in the national media - this page is devoted to sharing those items and their possible significance to
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