Dr. David Jeremiah Presents
Living inthe Ageof Signs
Living in the Age of Signs
When a stranger asks me, "When is your birthday?" I become a little suspicious. I don't believe they plan to send me a present. They probably want to figure out my horoscope. It's not unusual to meet people who use astrological predictions to plan their future. Some folks even spend money on fortune–tellers and New Age books. There are people who will try almost anything that promises to reveal the future.
If only these individuals knew where to look! The Word of God is the only place to find an accurate glimpse of tomorrow. Unlike psychics, God foretells the future with perfect wisdom. He knows every detail of the past, present, and future. Through the book of Revelation, He has shared a snapshot of the world's final days with us. The word revelation itself means "the unfolding of that which was previously hidden or unknown."
Sadly, the book of Revelation remains a mystery to many Christians. Some pastors have never preached about biblical prophecy from the pulpit because they fail to see its relevance in everyday life. It's no wonder so many Christians are uninformed.
Have you ever wondered whether prophecy is important? After all, if we can't know when Christ is returning, then what is the point of studying the End Times? Or maybe you've avoided the study of prophecy because it seems too difficult to understand. Perhaps you are simply uninterested in the future because the present keeps you preoccupied and overwhelmed.
I read once that we treat the book of Revelation like the priests and the Levites treated the Samaritan who was wounded on the road—we pass by it on the other side. Why do we avoid the study of prophecy? Or perhaps a better question would be, Why should we study the panorama of prophecy found in Scripture?
The Prominence of Prophecy
Out of the 216 chapters found in the entire New Testament, did you know there are 318 references to the Second Coming of Christ? That means if you were to omit passages about prophecy, you would have to remove one out of every thirty verses in the New Testament. You would also have to skip 23 of the 27 New Testament books because that's how many mention it. For every prophecy about the birth of Christ, there are eight about His Second Coming. Considering prophecy's prominence in the Bible, how could any believer call it unimportant?
Jesus not only spoke about the future on many occasions, but He also rebuked people who didn't recognize the significance of current events. He scolded those who could read the sky for weather but were unable to read the signs of the times. In Luke 12:56, Jesus said, "Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?" It was no small matter to Him that the people of His generation remained ignorant about God's prophetic Word. Jesus wants us to investigate what the Bible has to say about the future while asking God to help us determine the day and hour in which we live.
The Protection of Prophecy
Jesus knew that an understanding of prophecy would protect us from future deception. In Matthew 24:4–5, He said, "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the Christ,' and will deceive many." This instruction is so important that it is recorded for us again in Mark 13 and Luke 21.
We are living in an age of widespread deception. Almost every week, I receive an advertisement for a new doctrine or method of understanding the Bible. You and I should not be surprised to witness the spread of false teaching. Jesus said in John 16:1, "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble." In other words, knowing what Jesus says about the future keeps us from falling into the trap of wrong doctrine.
While God wants to place us under prophecy's umbrella of protection, the devil wants to keep us out. Satan knows that if we read Revelation, we'll learn of his coming doom. We'll realize that the adversary who tempts us every day has already been defeated and doomed to an eternal lake of fire. If we perceive Satan as a conquered foe in the future, it will help us claim victory over him today. Prophecy protects us from his attacks.
The Preparation of Prophecy
Jesus told many parables to illustrate the importance of being prepared for His coming. One parable was about a homeowner who had been robbed. If the homeowner had known the hour the thief would come, he surely would have watched to prevent the robbery. The lesson of the parable is simple: Be prepared. Always be ready for the Lord's return, which will be as unpredictable as a thief in the night. First Thessalonians 5:4 says, "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief." Prophecy prepares us to meet the Lord.
Prophecy prepares us for other future events as well. Hardly a day goes by without news of wars or rumors of wars, natural disasters or lawlessness. These grim headlines are discouraging. Yet Jesus told His disciples to look for such events as signs of the end of the age. In John 16:4, Jesus said, "These things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them." By studying biblical prophecy, we prepare ourselves for the days ahead. Even though a time of tribulation is approaching, the day of redemption also is drawing near.
The Practicality of Prophecy
Some Christians treat prophecy as an intellectual pursuit with no practical application. If we just walk away and feel smarter than when we started, or if we can boast of our academic studies, what useful difference does that make? The book of Revelation is not only for understanding—it is for action. We must not become so steeped in study that we forget the practicality of prophecy in our daily activities.
Taking prophecy seriously will affect the way we live. One of its most important applications is evangelism. When we live with an awareness of Christ's imminent return, our enthusiasm to share the Gospel with others is renewed. Some of the most energetic people in the Church have been transformed by their study of prophecy. They are ministry–oriented, reaching out to the lost because they understand what will happen in the future. Prophecy is a driving force behind evangelism and righteous living.
When the Bible repeats something, it should catch our attention. In Revelation 2 and 3, there is a phrase that is repeated seven times: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." In other words, this message is for everyone. God wants every Christian to study prophecy.
The Prize of Prophecy
There is something else unique about the book of Revelation: It is the only book in the Bible that promises its readers a reward. The reward is revealed at the beginning and the ending of the book. Revelation 1:3 says, "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near." The blessing is reiterated in Revelation 22:7, "Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." I don't know about you, but when God tells me how to receive a prize of blessing, I want to get in on it.
Take time to read and understand the book of Revelation. If you follow its instructions, there will be a prize of blessing for you.
Prophecy gives us a glimpse into the future so that we will know how to live in the present. That is why prophecy is prominent throughout the pages of the Bible. It protects us from deception and prepares us for Christ's return. Prophecy is not only an academic exercise; it's applicable for everyday living. At the end of our lives, we will receive a great reward of blessing if we have heeded its instructions.
The book of Revelation is not an imaginative piece of fiction designed for intrigue. No, it is an essential guidebook that teaches us the sequence of events leading up to the victorious return of Jesus Christ.
Being Like Jesus
Today's Devotion: Being Like Jesus
The Today Show tracked down identical twin sisters, 33 years old, who had been adopted by different families when they were infants. They had never met. The show brought them together on live TV, and it was a gripping moment as two women who looked exactly alike met for the first time. They were amazed to find they have the same mannerisms and share many of the same preferences and emotions.
The Bible tells us we should increasingly look like Jesus and be conformed to His image. We should mirror Him. As we grow in Christ, we’re to grow more like Christ. We’re to love what He loves and hate what He hates. We should develop His mindset and reflect His values to our culture. His joy, peace, patience, gentleness, wisdom, and servanthood should become ingrained into our personalities.
We should respond to provocations as He did and react to interruptions as we read Him doing in the Gospels. In all things, we should grow to be like Him—our older brother and everlasting Lord.
Strive to be like Christ…. Often put the question, Would Christ have done as I am doing—spoken as I am speaking, felt as I am feeling? Am I like Christ in this?
James Hood Wilson
Based on my readings in the New Testament epistles, there are ten ways we as Christians should be different as a result of our prophetic knowledge. In each of the following Scripture passages, I have italicized the words connecting the admonition with the promise of Christ's return.
Refrain from judging others: "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God" (1 Corinthians 4:5).
Remember the Lord's Table: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Respond to life spiritually: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:1–4).
Relate to one another in love: "And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:12–13).
Restore the bereaved: "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).
Recommit ourselves to the ministry: "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:1–2).
Refuse to neglect church: "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24–25).
Remain steadfast: "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5:7–8).
Renounce sin in our lives: "And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him" (1 John 2:28–29).
Reach the lost: "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Jude 21–23).
The Bible reveals everything we need to know about the End Times. It tells us Jesus could return at any moment! But knowing what Scripture says is not enough. Knowledge is only helpful if it leads us to action. Each day is a new opportunity to love Him, to serve Him, and to invite others to share in His inheritance with us. This possibility should transform every aspect of our lives … until the Lord returns or calls us home.
This list is excerpted from The Book of Signs—31 Undeniable Prophecies of the Apocalypse, pages 420–422. Order your copy today!
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Doom and gloom. That's how many people regard the book of Revelation. Oftentimes, Christians shy away from it because they believe prophecy is irrelevant or too complex to spend time examining. They are mistaken. The book of Revelation provides insight into events that will come to pass and helps us make sense of the events that are happening already in our world. It elevates our perspective. Deciphering prophecy offers us hope despite the chaos surrounding us in our culture today.
Most people have questions about the Bible's prophecies. While it can be perplexing, prophecy is the key to understanding the days ahead. Here are just a few benefits of delving into the study of Revelation:
#1: The Study of Prophecy Activates God's Blessing
Twice, the book of Revelation tells us, "Blessed are those who read this book." If you want to be blessed, you should read and study the book of Revelation. The Bible promises that if you do, you will experience God's blessing. Revelation is the only book to offer such a reward. Learning about God's sovereignty and His wonderful promises through the study of His Word have blessed me beyond measure. I know He's in control even though it looks like everything around me is spinning out of control.
#2: Prophecy Affirms the Accuracy of the Bible
A wonderful truth about prophecy is that it demonstrates the integrity of the rest of the Bible. In the Old Testament, there are over three hundred prophecies regarding the first coming of Christ. These passages predicted His birthplace and what would happen to Him as a child. Now we have the perspective of history to go back and to see how prophecies were fulfilled just as they were promised hundreds of years before.
Did you realize there are twice as many prophecies about the Second Coming of Christ as there are about the first? If the Bible accurately predicted His first coming, will it not be as accurate about the Second Coming? When we study prophecy, we discover God's blueprint for the future—and we observe the significance of events like the reemergence of Israel as a nation and the coalescence of nations in Europe. We have a preview of what is coming next, and current events continually confirm the Bible's prophetic accuracy.
#3: Prophecy Assures Us Jesus Will Return
If you want to be discouraged, there are plenty of reasons to be. But anyone who really understands prophecy can't be discouraged. Because when you understand prophecy, you realize that whatever you are experiencing right now will last only for a short time compared to the better days that are coming. In the words of Jesus, "Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:28).
Jesus doesn't tell you to look down, bend your shoulders, walk stooped over, and act discouraged. No, He tells you to hold your head high because your redemption is drawing near. After teaching us about the Second Coming of Christ, Paul says, "Comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:18). With what words? With words of assurance that Jesus Christ will return.
#4: Prophecy Anticipates a Hopeful Future
When people wonder about the events that are happening in our world today, they ask, Where is this all going? That's a valid question. But those who know the Bible know where it's going. Everything is leading to a better place. History ends with our hands raised in victory. We don't have to be afraid of the future if we know the future God has planned for us.
And God has given us this book so that we can be confident about what is going to happen. The book of Revelation is filled with the mercy of God along with the judgment of God. Almost every time God metes out judgment upon this earth, which is deserved, there is a parenthesis nearby that shows His mercy and His grace.
Did you realize that God never leaves Himself without a witness, no matter how dark things might be? With everything that's happening in our world today, we must guard our hearts and our minds. If we don't, we will focus on all the gloom. Did you know that in the darkness of this world there are many places where the light of the Gospel is shining very brightly? And the darker the night, the brighter the light, amen?
#5: Prophecy Accentuates Our Need for a Savior
Only one Truth saves. Only one Gospel brings eternal life. There is only one escape from hell. We need to take the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ to men, women, and children and declare His love for them. The same Gospel that worked in your grandparents' generation, that worked in your parents' generation, is the Gospel that is working today. It is the power of God unto salvation. It is relevant forever. It still changes lives, and that's a message every one of us needs to share.
There isn't any way for people to enter heaven except through Jesus Christ. That is an absolute fact. Jesus said it this way, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." He didn't give us any options. He didn't say, "I am one of the ways." We are hearing that message often today—there are many ways to God. But no, there are not many ways to God. There is one way, and Jesus is the way. We need to declare that unashamedly.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He has the power to save us from our sins, and He has power over our future. He has revealed His plans through the Bible. Knowing He will return, we can look forward to a brighter future while shining the light of His Truth in our darkened world.
There is a chain of all–inclusive resorts that capitalize on the attraction of beaches—named, not surprisingly, Beaches (with four locations in Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands). They actually specialize in "weddingmoons"—a wedding and honeymoon combination package. Having experienced my wedding, four weddings of my children, and scores of other weddings as a pastor, the idea of someone handling all the details is definitely attractive to me!
But there's something else that speaks to me about the idea of an all–inclusive "weddingmoon" experience—it parallels what God has planned for us in heaven. God has created a place and an experience that no all–inclusive resort on earth could possibly duplicate. But I find that most Christians have never opened God's "weddingmoon brochure," found in Revelation 21–22, and learned about the marvelous experience God has planned for those who will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
The Power of Attractions
When our family moved to the San Diego, California, area nearly 40 years ago, I didn't realize people came from all over the world to experience its attractions. And San Diego has plenty of them: a year–round, moderate climate, gorgeous harbors full of beautiful boats, majestic naval vessels gliding into port, sandy beaches, wonderful shopping and restaurants, professional sporting events, wild and rugged mountains just to our east, and access to the PCH—the Pacific Coast Highway—that links San Diego with Los Angeles and all the exotic points in between. I've lived here nearly 40 years and still have not seen all my hometown's attractions.
Every locale has its own attractions. They speak to our senses and pull us to that place; they quicken our anticipation for what we will experience when we get there. And I believe that is one reason God showed the apostle John a full–color, 3–D picture of heaven—"the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2). I believe God wanted to prove to all who would read the Bible that "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Whenever I hear Christians say something like, Isn't heaven going to be boring? What are we going to do for eternity? … I'm reminded of a six–year old who is complaining about "having" to spend a week at Disneyland! Such a child has no idea what is in store for him when he gets there. But once he sees a video, watches a TV commercial, or looks at a brochure—well, that's all it takes. His bags are packed, and he's ready to go.
Revelation 21–22 should have the same impact on every Christian—those two chapters are God's display of "coming attractions" for all who belong to Christ.
Heaven's Coming Attractions
I want to highlight for you what the apostle John saw in his vision of heaven. And I emphasize saw because this is an eyewitness account from a man who placed great importance on accurate reporting when he wrote about the life of Jesus on earth (John 1:14; 19:35; Acts 4:19–20; 1 John 1:1–3; 4:14; see also 2 Peter 1:16). John is not inventing images to describe things he heard about; he is reporting what he saw with his own two eyes (literally or in a spiritual vision): "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21:1).
First, heaven is HUGE! I'll spare you the translation of the math in Revelation 21:15–16, but the New Jerusalem is a cube (like the Holy of Holies in the temple) which, if located in the United States, would cover approximately two–thirds of the land area—from the east coast to the western states. This is the "house" Jesus left earth to prepare for God's people (John 14:1–4). Don't gloss over the size. Can you imagine what it will be like one day to live in such an other–worldly city as this?
Second, heaven is "brilliant" (21:10–11). Paris, France, was originally called the "City of Light" because of its illuminating ideas and, later, because of its early adoption of street lights. Our own Las Vegas is a different kind of "city of (neon) lights," in a more glaring way. But neither can approach the brilliance of the New Jerusalem. I sense the apostle John struggled to find earthly words to describe the brilliance he observed, saying "Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (verse 11). I've never seen light like that; but in heaven, the city where we live will be full of radiance forever.
Next, there are gates—twelve of them—three on each side of the wall surrounding the city. At each gate stands an angel. On each gate is inscribed the name of one of the twelve sons of Jacob for whom the twelve tribes of Israel were named. And the city's twelve foundations bear the names of the twelve apostles (21:9–14). Each foundation is decorated with a different kind of precious jewel—jasper, sapphires, emeralds, and the like. Now, note this: the gates are pearls. Not like pearls, or made of pearl—but the gates are pearls (21:19–21). When I try to imagine this in my mind's eye, I am overwhelmed with the thought of living in this fabulous city.
Fourth—and this is awe–inspiring—the city and its streets are made of pure gold that is transparent, like glass (21:18, 21). Pure, 24–karat gold on earth is normally listed as 99.999 percent pure. But it is not transparent. So we apparently do not have truly pure gold on earth. But that is the substance of the New Jerusalem. Think of a city, 1,500 miles long, wide, and tall, that is completely transparent because it is made of one–hundred percent pure gold! But consider this: I once read that all the gold that has ever been mined in the world would fit in a cube 60 feet on a side. But we are headed for a city of gold that is 1,500 miles on each side!
Fifth—and now we're getting to the main attraction—the city that is heaven will not need the sun or the moon for light, "for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light" (21:23). In
fact, the gates of the city will never be shut because there will be no night in the New Jerusalem (verse 25). The thrones of God and Jesus Christ will be in the middle of the city illuminating
it all by their own glory. Is that not appropriate? We struggle on earth to keep Christ at the center of our life, but that struggle will be over in heaven as His throne occupies its rightful place in our experience.
Sixth, there may even be a beach in heaven! Flowing from the thrones of God and the Lamb, down the central street of the city, is a "pure river of water of life, clear as crystal." On each side of the river stands the tree of life bearing monthly yields of fruit (22:1–2). As much as I love the lemons, oranges, grapefruits, avocados, and other fruits that grow so naturally in my home state, I'm sure the fruit from the tree of life in the New Jerusalem will be beyond comparison to anything we have tasted before.
Finally, nothing will be sweeter in heaven than the reunions we will experience with Christian friends and loved ones we have lost in this life. We have received a promise that those who died in the Lord will be raised from the grave and, together with those who are alive at His appearing, will meet the Lord at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18). Our ultimate destination is the New Jerusalem where we will dwell in pure love, along with that great cloud of witnesses from all the ages (Hebrews 12:1), forever.
I hope this brief description of some of heaven's attractions has whetted your appetite to see them in person—and to read about them yourself in God's Word. I know my room in the Holy City is reserved, and I hope you have that same confidence as well. Even if we never meet in this life, we have all eternity to bask together in the glory of the Lamb in the city He is preparing for us.