PROPHECY'S EFFECT ON US
Someone read Hal Lindsay's book -"THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH" and said: "It scared the hell out of me!" Hal answered: "I hope I can take you literally."
Dwight D. Eisenhower once said: "I am interested in the future, because that is where I am going to spend the remainder of my life."
Peter was greatly interested in the future. He tells how the present world is going to be destroyed, and then replaced by new heavens and a new earth.
II Peter 3:7, 10
"PRESENT HEAVENS AND EARTH BY HIS WORD ARE BEING RESERVED FOR FIRE, KEPT FOR THE DAY OF JUDGMENT AND DESTRUCTION OF UNGODLY MEN...THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT IN WHICH THE HEAVENS SHALL PASS AWAY WITH A GREAT NOISE, AND THE ELEMENTS SHALL MELT WITH FERVENT HEAT, AND THE EARTH ALSO AND THE WORKS THAT ARE THEREIN SHALL BE BURNED UP."
There are several points made in II Peter about the end of this world and what effects they should have on us..
1. "AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT" This indicates that the world is not expecting such a terrible end to come. The world has mocked people that carried signs like -"The world ends tomorrow!" - so much that they now act like the world will go on forever as it is. Without many realizing it, the time is growing near when there will be an end to this age, and eventually the earth will be destroyed.
2."A GREAT NOISE...FERVENT HEAT..." The end of this world will not be a flood as was the case for Noah's day. No, an explosion that will burn up this earth and all its sinful works is predicted. The elements will be destroyed, as is the case in an atomic explosion - where matter is changed into energy. The elements are to be loosed by this fervent heat. The temperature of the sun is 36 million degrees fahrenheit. The temperature of the hydrogen bomb reaches 90 million degrees fahrenheit for a brief moment. Yet, God is going to create a heat, so hot, that the elements that make up this earth will disappear.
With that kind of final end coming to the earth, what are we to do? Surely, we plan to still be around after that terrible end to this earth. We, the saints, will be ruling and reigning on the new earth with Jesus. Yet, the end for this earth, is quickly approaching, and we need to be doing some things to be ready ourselves, and to help others be ready.
1. II Peter 3:1-2
"STIR UP YOUR PURE MINDS..."
The words "STIR UP" come from the Greek - "diegeiro" - meaning "to arouse and to awaken". Many are trying to ignore the prophetic message of the Bible. They would like to put prophecy into short, brief sermonettes to be heard once a year, or less. We need to wake up our minds. We need to figure out what these prophecies mean to us. What are we to do? The words "PURE MINDS" come from "eilikrine", which means "sincere." Let us truly, and sincerely face the facts of the message of one third of the Bible. Let's quit playing church, and realize that our three score and ten years here on this earth are just the preparation for an eternity with God.
2. II Peter 3:3
Beware of "SCOFFERS"
The word "SCOFFERS" is from the Greek -"empaiktai" - which means "to play with, to trifle with". There are many who use the second coming, and the rapture, etc. as a joke. The reason for this is that they follow their own desires. They are so busy with their own ambitions, and they don't want the second coming of Christ to be a serious subject. We must not be ignorant that previous judgments have come to pass, and a future one is promised.
II Peter 3:5-6
"...FOR THIS THEY WILLINGLY ARE IGNORANT OF..."
3. II Peter 3:8-9
"BE NOT IGNORANT OF THIS ONE THING, THAT ONE DAY IS WITH THE LORD AS 1000 YEARS...THE LORD IS NOT SLACK CONCERNING HIS PROMISE..."
Remember God has spelled out many details of His timing. He said that we wouldn't know the "day" or the "hour"-- but we are to know the "times and the seasons", and to know the generation. Peter even spelled out the timing plan of the Lord. We are nearing the time of the second coming. Because it has been so long since the first prophecy of a second coming does not mean that the Lord has forgotten His promise. He had a timing set originally, and He is still on track. The signs are being fulfilled around us daily.
4. II Peter 3:9
"NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH"
The Lord is patient. He has chosen to carefully, and to slowly work out a plan that gave us much time to win souls. He is carrying out His end of the plan. He is desirous to see us win the souls before it is too late.
5. II Peter 3:11-12
"WHAT SORT OF PEOPLE OUGHT...HOLY CONDUCT...GODLINESS..."
The Christian should have a few traits that make him different from those who do not know or understand the prophetic message of the Lord.
[1.] Personal holiness (3:11,14)"HOLY CONVERSATION AND GODLINESS...WITHOUT SPOT AND BLAMELESS"
[2.] Inner peace (3:14)"BE FOUND OF HIM IN PEACE"
[3.] Evangelistic zeal (3:15)" AND ACCOUNT THAT THE LONGSUFFERING OF OUR LORD IS SALVATION"
[4.] Doctrinal steadfastness (3:15-16) "ACCORDING TO THE WISDOM GIVEN"
[5.] Growth in grace and knowledge (3:18)"GROW IN GRACE AND IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD"
Many people don't want to "GROW". They are content with the little bit that they know. They don't want to learn, because it means that they have to pay the price of that learning. There is a difference between being a believer, and in being a disciple.
To believe is cheap, to be a disciple is costly. To be a believer saves one's soul. To be a disciple glorifies Jesus. Believers go to heaven, and disciples are greatly rewarded in heaven.
Once prophecy is understood, it changes us from believers into disciples. We can no longer idly stand by, if the end is so near. In Revelation 10, John is given the book with the facts of that prophetic revelation. He is told to "TAKE IT, AND EAT IT UP..." Once John did, he found that in his mouth it was sweet, but in his belly, it was bitter. (Rev. 10:8-10) This is like us when we learn prophecy. At first, we find it fascinating, and pleasant to know what God is intending to do. Then, as the prophecy becomes part of us, we find it has a heavy responsibility with it. Now, our lives must change, because of the knowledge we possess. Ezekiel also had a similar experience. God gave him a book with his message to Israel to eat. In the mouth of Ezekiel, this was sweet as honey. Then as Ezekiel went to give the message, it says that he went "IN BITTERNESS..." (Ezekiel 3:11-4,14) The message that you have digested into your mind, as you have studied God's prophetic word, now will give you a heavy responsibility. It has changed your life. You will never be the same, even if you run from the message as Jonah tried.
In I Peter we find another list of what we are to be doing with the end so near.
Let's examine these.
I Peter 4:7
"THE END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HAND..."
There is a "THEREFORE" that follows that phrase. As my father taught to his congregations so often, "Whenever you see a 'wherefore' or a 'therefore', see what it is there for!" This "THEREFORE" is to tell us what to do.
1. Pray (vs 7) "WATCH UNTO PRAYER"
This means to be alert, awake, prayerful... Don't get caught up in the frivolity of life and forget the seriousness of the coming judgments.
2. Love (vs. 8) "ABOVE ALL THINGS HAVE FERVENT CHARITY."
Love doesn't publicize the sins of others. Love forgives and forgets. The word "FERVENT" is "ektenes", which means "stretching out as a runner near the finish line." Sometimes it is hard to love. Some are so unlovely. Some hurt us as we try to love them. We tire of trying. Like the runner that is near the end of the race, we need to realize that the end is near. So stretch out and push on through the final few steps till you have finished the race.
3. Hospitality (vs. 9) "USE HOSPITALITY ONE TO ANOTHER WITHOUT GRUDGING."
The word "GRUDGING" is "goggusmos", and means "murmuring". Many will try to do nice things, but then complain or murmur about all they had to do. We don't have time to do it that way. We must get on with our good works, and quit the murmuring. The word "hospitable" is from the word "philxenoi", meaning "to be friendly to strangers."
4. Be good stewards with your spiritual gifts (4:10-11)
We all have received gifts to use for the Lord. To be a "steward" means to be a manager. We must manage the gifts that God has given us. We are not to use them for self-glorification. We are to edify others with our gifts. We must constantly remember that God is the Giver of these gifts. They are still God's property. We are simply the bearer of them, and will someday give an account for what we did with them.
There are many asleep spiritually. In the parable of the 10 virgins, there were five wise and five foolish. Yet, when you read that parable, a certain fact often slips by us... that is - that "ALL" of them "SLUMBERED AND SLEPT." Even the wise virgins slept as they awaited the bridegroom. Are we awake? Maybe we are ready to go, should the rapture happen this minute, -- but are we asleep and not doing much about the soon coming of the Lord. Had the 5 wise virgins been awake, perhaps they could have warned the 5 foolish that their lamps had gone out! Many are not at work for the Lord, though they may be ready themselves, they are not watching and praying as they await the rapture.
In Noah's day, only 8 were spared. Eight heeded the prophecy, and built the boat. In Sodom, only Lot and his daughters were spared, and even Lot's wife was lost... because she didn't listen fully to the prophecy. Ananias and Sapphira lived during a revival period. They had a partial change in their lives. Yet, they were under judgment because they didn't expect judgment for their lacking spiritually. Remember the warning of Peter...
I Peter 4:17
"RIGHTEOUS SHALL SCARCELY BE SAVED"
The last days will contain a trap of the devil for the saints. He has planned to trick many into not being fully ready for the rapture. Though they may, themselves be raptured, they will be caught in a "SNARE" of the devil at the end. Jesus warned us about this "SNARE".
"FOR AS A SNARE SHALL IT COME...WATCH YE THEREFORE AND PRAY ALWAYS THAT YE MAY BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS THAT SHALL COME TO PASS AND TO STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN..."
Jesus described the "SNARE" that could make us to be not fully ready...
He said we must beware of:
1. "HEARTS" being "OVERCHARGED" This means that our minds may be weighed down with an overload of problems and distresses that we are carrying.
2. "SURFEITING" This refers to over-indulgence of other
activities. Some people fill their lives with so many activities that they cannot find time for God and His call on our lives.
3. "DRUNKENNESS" Intoxication may come through alcohol, or through drugs (prescription or illegal). Whenever our minds are not clear, and God may want to use us evangelistically or in intercession, we have made ourselves (through the "intoxication") to be useless to Him.
4. "CARES OF THIS LIFE" There are many things and people in life that we should love. Yet, the Lord warned us that we have to love even our family less than Him, or we are not worthy to be used. God wants first place in our lives. He will not call us to mistreat our families, but He may call us to choose between pleasing their whims, or God's call.
Too many treat each other as we do a car. If a car quits working, we take something apart in an attempt to fix it. Until we find what is wrong, we may take many things apart in the car. In some Christian circles, people of the church are taking each other apart trying to find out what is wrong with them. Let us remember that we are not the mechanic. The Holy Spirit is the mechanic. He will take us apart and discover our faults and failures. Allow Him to work on you. Don't look around the church, now that you realize what God has been trying to say prophetically. Don't look for others that you can "take apart." No! Listen to the Word of God with a RAKE, not with a PITCHFORK. A rake is used to draw in the crop, a pitchfork is used to throw it elsewhere. Draw in what you have learned from the Word. Use it in your life. Let the Holy Spirit work on your neighbor. Don't get critical.
Now that you have learned some prophetic truths, and realize that in the past you weren't functioning quite properly, you could get "hung up" on your past lacking and be quite miserable. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you a future goal.
Start moving toward that goal. If life revolves around a future goal, you will be happy. Prophecy gives us a future goal to anticipate.
Turn your eyes from the past faults (now repented), and accept God's forgiveness.
Then "LOOK UP, AND LIFT UP YOUR HEADS, FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH."(Luke 21:28)