Contender Ministries

 Many people take an intense interest in studying end-times prophecy.  Your local bookstore, be it Christian or secular, will have many titles on end-times prophecy.  The trend extends to fiction as well, with the "Left Behind" series of books, the "Christ Clone Trilogy" books, and others flying off the shelves.  More websites than ever are dedicated to the study of end times, and Christian movies have moved in on the action as well.  Why are people so interested?  Should they be?  You'll find people making passionate arguments for and against.  I believe the answer, as it usually does, lies in scripture.

The usual argument I hear against the study of end-time prophecy is that no one will know when the Lord will return for the saints, and we shouldn’t try to predict when that will occur.  I can’t say I disagree with that.  As we shall see, that’s a Biblically sounds viewpoint.  However I would counter that familiarizing yourself with end-times prophecy, and keeping an eye on current world events from that perspective, is not the same as trying to predict the return of Christ.  In fact, analyzing the signs of the times is a directive from Jesus Himself. 

The other argument I hear against the study of end-time prophecy is this: for two thousand year, people have been anticipating the return of Christ in their generation, and they were all wrong.  Once again, I cannot disagree with that statement – it’s absolutely true.  In fact, the Bible predicts that very thing (hey, another prophecy fulfilled).  2 Peter 3:3-6 says, 3First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.”   However, that is not a reason to not keep watch.  I do think it prudent – not to mention, Biblical – to not obsess on signs and wonders to bolster your faith.  To base one’s faith on signs and wonders makes them an easy mark for the attacks of the evil one.  In the last days (yes, this is another end-times prophecy), many false prophets will go out into the world performing various signs and wonders “…to deceive even the elect”(Matthew 24:24).   That others before us were wrong about the nearness of the Lord’s return should not deter us from searching the scriptures, now that many of the end-time prophecies have been fulfilled (Israel reestablished as a nation, hatred of Israel by other nations, steps taken by the United Nations to create a one-world government, etc.).

As I stated before, to be watchful of the signs of the last days is scriptural.  Jesus himself told us to keep watch.  Consider the following passage, Matthew 24:36-51: 

36"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and 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. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.   42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But 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. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.   45"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [Emphasis mine]

As you can see, Jesus expressly stated that we will not know the day when He will return.  It is my belief then, that we should not try to predict it.  It is equally clear from this passage though, that we are expected to be watchful for His glorious return.  How do we do that if we do not study the prophecies of scripture and look for their fulfillment?  Let us examine some more passages from The Word.   

40You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him…54He said to the crowd: "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. 55And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. 56Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?”  Luke 12:40, 54-56 [Emphasis mine]

 3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”  Revelation 3:3

 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.   4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Thessalonians 5:2-9

I would like to single out a few key points from the passages above: 1) we will not know when Christ will return, 2) we must keep watch, 3) we must learn how to discern the signs of the time, and 4) we must guard against being deceived by the signs and wonders of the evil one.  Obviously I am not saying that everyone should stock up on books or videos on end-time prophecy.  I do contend that in order to discern the signs of the times and keep watch for the return of the Lord, we must study scripture and the prophecies therein, and we must be observant of the events around us, as they may be a fulfillment of prophecy – a “sign” of the time. 

As a student of Bible prophecy, I believe that the return of Christ to claim His bride is imminent.  I believe I will see it occur during my lifetime.  I say this in light of the rapid fulfillment of end-time prophecy.  I may be wrong (and often am).  If the Lord, in his infinite wisdom, should choose to “tarry another day”, then so be it.  His will – not mine, be done.  I heard someone refer to the rapture of the saints as a “scare tactic” used by Christianity to keep people in line.  What this person failed to grasp is that Christians need not fear the rapture.  Indeed, we eagerly await the day when we finally come face to face with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and feel his warm and loving embrace.  Until that day comes, let us not be like the servant caught off-guard.  Let us be watchful as we go about the work of the Lord.  There are many souls out there who need to be brought into the fold.  May the Lord bless you as you cast your eyes toward heaven, keep your feet on the ground, and contend for the faith! 


Contender Ministries