The world is entering a time unlike any we have ever seen. No, we are not just entering it, we are neck-deep in it. I have been watching, waiting, analyzing, and digging into prophetic studies for decades.
But not everyone embraces this often weighty topic with joy; in fact, more and more, I get a reaction resembling fear and even panic. The ‘fear factor’ as it relates to prophecy is a very real condition, and I don’t want to make light of it because I don’t take it lightly. Prophetic passages can be very sobering in that human suffering will be ramped up considerably.
But I do want to offer some gentle suggestions to those who struggle with a very real sense of foreboding at the thought that ‘the end is near,’ with its accompanying birth pangs and global tragedies as outlined in the Scriptures.
Over time, I have learned that there are only two responses that stir in the heart of a believer when they hear that time is short, and that the human race is headed for certain “unpleasant” events on our way to redemption and the consummation of all things.
Suppose a believer grew up in a denominational tradition that never acknowledged the Bible’s tendency to predict the future with 100% accuracy. In that case, these Christians tend to react with the most incredulity that they were kept out of the future loop for so long. I was one of those who were religious but spoon-fed only those things my denomination deemed palatable or necessary for my possible redemption at my last breath. Note I said ‘possible’ redemption. The landscape has no shortage of churches that don’t even understand the gospel, let alone a vast subject such as prophecy.
Here, I want to address those who feel great discomfort at the mention of certain events on the prophetic horizon, things like global government and the accompanying dictatorship, famine, pestilences, wars, and financial insecurities or all-out ruin. The natural response to threats such as these would be fear, as we are all hard-wired to survive and give all we have for our lives. The Bible says that those on the earth at that season will literally experience their hearts failing out of fear of what is coming on the planet.
But the key phrase here is ‘natural response.’ To all those Christians who struggle with a fear response to any solid case presented for prophetic fulfillment, you need to know that while your reaction is natural and understandable, it is not Biblical.
There are many things in life that scare us out of our wits, and we will feel fear, sometimes daily. But feeling it and acting on that fear or living by it is not the proper choice for the believer in Jesus Christ, who long to see His face and be relieved of any and all suffering from a fallen existence. This world is passing away rapidly, and we look forward to the One wherein righteousness dwells. This should be good news to all those who are vexed by the lack of righteousness and justice in this life.
But in order for that to happen, God has deemed it necessary that planet earth endure some serious birth pangs as the sin of mankind reaches its fullness, making His judgments righteous and pure, to His praise and glory. I greatly look forward to the day Christ returns in His glory.
Let me propose a perspective that might help anyone struggling with this ‘fear factor.’
Let’s say, for the sake of my case here, that there are people that God has given the task of sounding the trumpet and letting folks know just how late the hour is, and in exercising these gifts, also exhorts them to live their lives in such a way that they genuinely believe that time is short.
2 Peter 3:11 suggests that this is exactly what the correct perspective should be when we see the handwriting on the wall. “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” In other words, when we realize that things could be winding down, we should live like we believe it and thus accomplish even more for the kingdom than if we believe we have all the time in the world.
Now let’s say you have a chance to hear a well-thought-out prophecy presentation, one that brings forth ample evidence, based on Scripture and solid research, that we are edging closer and closer to that time of which the Bible speaks. But perhaps you are one of those who tends to keep your distance from prophetic topics because it is distressing. But maybe on that day, someone – perhaps a friend or relative of yours – is listening in who sees their lost state, understands that they don’t have all the time in the world after all, and receives Christ before it’s too late. Would you say then that the presentation was meant to terrify or that the Holy Spirit was truly convicting and working?
I have no doubt that countless people have gotten saved thanks to a well-timed and well-done prophetic Bible study. I know many myself, as a matter of fact. I had the “hell” scared out of me reading the Book of Revelation. Chapter 3, to be exact. Thank you, faithful pastor, for teaching that book even though you knew it might be frightening to someone.
But if you still think prophecy is merely frightening and has no other value that you can see, think about this: what if no one was watching these things? What if no one was warning? What would the Church be like? Even as fewer and fewer give heed to the times, we can see a great lukewarmness and social gospel of ‘purpose’ infiltrating and taking over the body of Christ, to her great peril.
But what if no one bothered to address the times in any way? Would you feel more comfortable, or would you at some point be indignant that no one told you in love which end was up? If you want to send a loved one to hear a church service in the hopes they will give their lives to Christ, where do you send them? If all they got was a feel-good seeker doughnut instead of a full breakfast of the gospel, would you be angry that your loved one was not challenged spiritually and simply allowed to simmer in their own sin? It seems more and more that even believers fail to understand what the Church of Jesus Christ even exists for.
As we get closer, more signs will be in place, and more and more evidence will present itself that the Bible is the pure word of truth. This is a guarantee. It is not meant to make us feel good, however. So what should our response be as children of the One who has all things in His grasp?
The Bible warns us of these things so we can know what to expect. We are told that when we see these things BEGIN to take place (implying we will be watching all along if we are believers), we are to look up, lift up our heads (not bow them down in fear) and rejoice because our redemption is nigh. We are told to comfort one another with the blessed hope. Fear indicates we do not trust our Lord with the events coming upon the earth, that He should come up with a different method or plan as this one does not suit us or keep our comfort zone intact. And remember, people – our kids, too – are watching us for our responses to such things.
So if you are one of those who react with fear instead of excitement or joy, I would encourage you to set your affections above and count all things loss for the sake of Christ. This life is but a vapor; eternity is, well, forever. And only by keeping our eyes on Jesus daily can we keep a proper perspective between what is temporal and what is eternal.