This will be a different kind of post. No links to cite or analyze. No specific current event(s) on which to offer biblical perspectives. This post is about our collective and individual attitudes toward eventual fulfillments of biblical latter-day prophecies.
While my books are about the history and modern locations of the ten tribes of Israel, many of my posts examine modern trends and events in light of biblical prophecies as these are of pressing interest to/impact on our lives and futures. Also, as any student of biblical latter-day prophecies knows, there are hosts of such prophecies which indicate that there will be times of great global and local traumas, calamities, wars, famines, etc. It is impossible to ignore that reality when blogging about latter-day prophecies. However, I thought it would be timely to comment about the attitudes that the Bible indicates Christians and believers everywhere ought to have about latter-day prophetic fulfillments. It would be possible, based on the number of my posts on apocalyptic latter-day prophecies, for readers to get the incorrect impression that I am looking forward to these latter-day traumas and calamities. I can assure you that I am not, and I am going to cite several biblical passages that warn us to not “desire” or look forward to the evils that will befall mankind and the earth at the end of our age. This may be a biblical perspective some may not have thought about, and I also am going to include a biblical prophecy at the end of this post which offers what may be unexpected hope.
To begin with, I’m sure all of us know about people or groups who seem to actually be looking forward to the evil times at the end of our age. They go to extreme ends to prepare for every evil eventuality they can think of (if they can afford to do so), and they can give the impression that they are looking forward to the time when they can look down at all their suffering contemporaries who did not prepare for hard times and say “I told you so” to all of them. One example that comes to mind is the cable-TV show, Doomsday Preppers. While reasonable preparations are not only wise, but biblically sound actions to take, this TV series showed in some episodes people who, in my opinion, had “gone off the deep end” in end-time preparedness. Nobody can prepare for everything. People can go so far that they make idols out of the items they are hoarding or stockpiling as if these “things” will guarantee their future safety, when it is only a proper reliance and dependence on God that can provide safety in future hard times.
Amos 5:18 (KJV) warns: “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.” This verse actually warns us against an attitude of desiring or looking forward to the evil times at the end of our age. Amos 6 continues this thought, but from a different perspective. In verses 1-7, Amos 6 again pronounces “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion…you that put far away the evil day…” It goes on to describe people who are “living it up’ with luxury and partying, “but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” God sees this attitude, and pronounces a curse on them by saying these people “will go captive with the first of them that go captive.” One can see that there will be people who think that they have enough money or connections or provisions stored up that they don’t have to worry about hard times. It can also apply to people who think they are in some “one true church” whose members automatically will be protected from a coming “captivity” so they relax and pursue the materialistic pursuits of this world. However, God sees that self-absorbed attitude as one that he will punish. He wants his followers to have an attitude of genuine mourning for the “people of Joseph” who are going into a time of affliction. In other words, he wants to see in his people an attitude of compassion and mercy upon their countrymen (if they dwell in the modern nations of Joseph–the birthright tribes of Israel) or whether the people of Joseph are their countrymen or not. The modern tribes of Joseph are identified in my books as the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. While the book of Amos was written at a time before the ancient kingdom of Israel went into an captivity, God does not change (Malachi 3:6), so God’s attitudes toward peoples facing an imminent time of national suffering or calamity will still be the same as in ancient times. Given the insoluble national deficit problems faced by the US federal government and a host of other problems growing steadily worse, one does not need to understand biblical prophecy or be a seer to understand that a major fiscal trauma lies in the USA’s future. In our modern times, we should also have an attitude of compassion and mercy toward our countrymen who do not see God’s judgment drawing near.
Amos himself displayed the attitude God wants us to have in Amos 7:1-6. In this passage, Amos, a prophet sent by God to the ancient kingdom of Israel, was given two private revelations from God about impending traumas that were about to strike the kingdom of Israel because of its sins. Did Amos have an attitude of: “That’s OK with me, Lord; they are just sinners who deserve it anyway. They are not righteous like me and I’ve prepared for the bad times anyway.” Not at all! Amos entreated the Lord that he would cancel out the two national traumas that only Amos knew had been pronounced on the nation. If you ever think that you have received a private revelation about a coming national disaster or you know of someone who claims to have had such a revelation from God, evaluate them in light of Amos’ reaction in Amos 7:1-6. People claiming to have private revelations from God about impending national dooms should, like Amos, “be grieved for the affliction of Joseph” and entreat God to cancel out the prophesied destruction or plague. God twice cancelled prophesied traumas upon ancient Israel simply because of Amos’ intercessions for Israel, and God can be moved to do the same thing today if he is entreated to do so. Amos 7 shows that the intercession of only one person can move God to cancel a plague or calamity.
Do you want protection from prophesied hard times, plagues and calamities? If so, we should consider the lesson found in Ezekiel 9. This is a prophecy about a time when sin was multiplying in the ancient kingdom of Judah, and God was not going to defer his judgment this time. However, he noted in verse 4 that God determined to spare those people who “sighed and cried for all the abomination” that was done in Jerusalem. He sent an angel to put a “mark” on the foreheads of those people who had righteous attitudes and were grieving about the sins in their nation, not partying it up with wealth and unconcern for others. So, as you consider the latter-day prophecies and how they will affect you and your family, remember the above lessons from scripture to see what the correct attitude that God wants to see in all of us.
Is it wrong to prepare for hard times when you see them coming? Of course not. Please read, if you have not done so already, my article, Should Christians Prepare for Future Hard Times? That article documents that the Bible instructs Believers to make reasonable preparations for foreseeable hard times, but they should prepare with an eye toward helping others, not just themselves. I believe that this article outlining biblical principles to keep in mind while preparing for future hard times provides a balanced viewpoint for you to consider. Jesus Christ’s parable in Matthew 25:31-46 about the “sheep and the goats” also reveals that Jesus will harshly judge those who claim to be his followers but are in such a condescending attitude toward fellow Christians who they think are “the least” of Jesus’ brethren that they refuse to assist fellow believers during hard times. My article, A New Look at the Seven Churches of Revelation, would also be very appropriate reading on this point.
Finally, I want to close with a latter-day prophecy which offers us real hope. It is the parable of the “ten virgins” in Matthew 25:1-13. In that parable, the “virgins” symbolize the believers who will be living in the latter-days just before Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. Jesus is depicted as the expected “bridegroom” in the parable. Most interestingly, the “virgins” have all gone to sleep thinking that there is a lot of time before the “bridegroom” comes in the morning. However, they are all shocked that the “bridegroom” suddenly comes for them far earlier than any of them expected. In the parable, half are not ready for his return as they thought they had a lot more time to “sleep” and prepare for his Coming later. Why would all the “virgins” (latter-day Believers) be surprised Jesus returns much earlier than any of them expected? I suggest one obvious reason is that they all assumed Jesus Christ couldn’t return yet because “all the bad stuff” in the latter-day prophecies hadn’t yet happened or it happened on a scale much less than they expected so they missed the fulfillments. Another possible meaning of the parable could be that Jesus Christ comes for his “bride” (the church) much earlier in the latter-day time sequence of events than any of the “virgins” expected. This could happen if God the Father sends Jesus Christ sooner than the latter-day prophetic timetables indicated would occur and cancels out much of the really bad stuff prophesied for the latter days. After all, if the prayer of one man, Amos, could move a merciful Creator God to cancel out two major prophesied traumas in ancient times, why couldn’t the massed prayers of all of God’s people in our time also move the same merciful Creator to also cancel out a number of the latter-day traumas?
Do you think this is impossible? Think again. Jesus Christ told us in Matthew 24:22 that the timetable of prophetic “days” allotted for the latter-day sequence of traumatic events will be “shortened.” That is good news that should give us all hope. The term “days” is plural, which could mean prophetic timetables could be shortened by as few as two days or by as many as a thousand or more days. Either would be a “plural” fulfillment. Daniel 12:11-12 mention prophetic timetables of 1290 and 1335 “days,” respectively, and Revelation 11:3 refers to a period of 1260 “days” in a latter-day timetable of events while Revelation 13:5 refers to a latter-day timetable of “42 months” (almost the same as 1260 days). These prophetic timetables will be shortened, according to Matthew 24:22.
Jesus told us in advance that the latter-day sequence of events will be “cut short,” but the prophecy in Matthew 24:22 gives God a lot of leeway as to how many “days” will be dropped from the prophetic timetable of latter-day traumas. Maybe God left it deliberately vague, as he wanted to wait and see how many of his people pray for that timetable of traumatic events to be shortened. If you are a person who “sighs and cries” for the iniquity that is permeating our national and global societies and if you are also a person who is “grieved for the affliction of Joseph,” you will be praying for God to mercifully cut short the latter-day timetable of allotted time by as many “days” as possible. As far as I’m concerned, I hope the prophetic “days” are shortened to a far greater degree than any of us expect. If I read Matthew 25:1-13 correctly, Jesus Christ told us that is exactly what will happen.