Not that long ago I got set up for a trap by my pastor. I was taken to lunch under the premise of talking about a study I was to lead, but, his plan had everything to do with challenging me about teaching on the Revelation, and speaking about end times events. Strangely, he had never heard me talking on any of these subjects other than a couple of private conversations where I shared my heart with the man. He, operating on presumption, decided that this was all I knew or was capable of speaking about, and he was going to put me in my place. Just out of curiosity, where is my place? The obvious answer to me, is in the arms and safety of my Father, as I do His will. And, if it requires that speak on what I know and understand, then it is teaching, and that is precisely what my heart longs to do.
Why would a shy introvert have such a craving to teach? Because, the Church, in general, is like a bunch of witless sheep, willing to let someone else do their reading for them, and so they have no clue what God’s word says. The other problem is that these Bible teachers we are adorned with, have spewed distortion for so long that most of the Church think God is merely an ominous, angry, and untouchable God. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This pastor I mentioned, during his ambush, asked me why I focus on the end times so much and speak about it. The answer to that question became clear recently as my father, within minutes of coming out of brain surgery, had to challenge me by saying, everyone that stands before the Great White Throne of judgment is sent to hell. Several weeks have passed since the pastor’s warning not to study or speak about the end times for five years, so it was befitting to tell him about my dad’s recovery from brain surgery, and the fact that he let me know he was all right by espousing a false teaching he had learned.
Here is what I have come to understand as my motivation for teaching and speaking about the Revelation and end times. That those, and I include myself, who have insight, … will lead many to righteousness.
Daniel 12:3 NASB “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
Insight is the Hebrew word sakal and means to be prudent: – act wisely, behaved himself wisely, comprehend, consider, and discern. It also conveys the implications of “giving attention to.”
Lead is the Hebrew word ṣāḏaq: A verb meaning to be right, to be righteous, to be just, to be innocent, to be put right.
So, if I do one of my rewrites, inserting the alternate understandings of the Hebrew, I get this:
“Those who act wisely, giving attention to the Word, will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who cause others to be right, and to be put right, will shine like the stars forever and ever.”
What if that is the case, where I might be included among those who cause others to understand, be right, and to be put right? I gave myself to pay attention to His Word. And then, there is the admonition from the Book of the Revelation itself, where it says,
Revelation 1:3 NET. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it because the time is near!
Do I read it aloud in the assembly? Occasionally and sometimes to myself; I find that hearing it causes the word pictures to develop in ways that mere reading does not provide. Most often, I sit quietly and let my head and heart busily stir within me, as they are doing now. Sitting with the men’s group on Thursday mornings, we take turns reading aloud out of the book of the moment. (Our next book, in case you are interested, will be Timothy Keller’s, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. Having recently slogged our way through one of his books, I am not looking forward to this.) And, whether the words themselves stir me, or the manner in which it is read does, I am not sure, but, I am always invited by the Holy Spirit to consider something that fits the theme or that God needs to convey. I say all this because I struggle with the possibility that I am merely envious of the pastor with the $1500 suit that used to stand before me; Or, perhaps, the notoriety that the television prophet gets draws in enough money to buy fancy jets and a private island. There are more than enough things going on around me to keep me in my place (whatever place that is,) and besides that, the doors that seem to open, have on several occasions recently, slammed shut in my face. It is only natural to ask why; I even examine myself and ask if there was some role I played in making the door close in the manner that it did. Trust me, our past stays with us, even if it is just in our heads, and those memories still flavor our lives, more than we know. I firmly believe that God can and does use those unsavory events to create the person we are now, therefore events we deem unsavory, have all been, in the end, to serve God’s purpose. Now, don’t get silly with this, thinking that you need to indulge in some stupidity so God can use you. Spend some serious time in His Word, and He will use you.
So, the bottom line for me is, that God gave me this desire and passion for His Word, and it is Him alone who grants rewards for work done. My reasons for getting into this prophetic end times game came out of a lifetime of unfulfilled yearning to understand, and a mother, who told us twisted tales of how she envisioned heaven.
I mentioned to one of the men I sit with on Wednesday mornings that I can thank Joel Richardson, the author of several books, one of which is The Islamic Antichrist. I have always had a desire to understand the book of Revelation, and even when someone like, the late Hilton Sutton came to church, which he did, I would have fifteen minutes of clarity. Sixteen minutes later it was all muddy water again. I can remember thinking, how can anyone understand this stuff, with its seven-headed beasts that die and rise over and over. And then, there were the loud mouths that still insist that we are looking for a Roman antichrist to rise to power. Richardson clarifies all this distorted teaching by showing you from scripture why a particularly distorted theory works or not. I walked away from his book, The Islamic Antichrist, and its scriptural references, with understanding, passion, and a burning desire for more. Those books within the Bible that seemed so incomprehensible, like the Revelation, Daniel, and Ezekiel, suddenly made sense, as did the other end times prophetic writers of the Bible. Do, I still have to study things out by looking at context, and analyzing words? Absolutely; I think its safe to say, that only a fool would ignore those factors, especially if you are trying to gain insights and prepare for a decent Bible study.
So, what does it mean when, for the past several weeks, I have been barraged with a variety of questions, and distorted misunderstandings about the Great White Throne judgment? These questions challenged me about my understanding and beliefs in God, about God’s right to show mercy and grace, and me, as the underlying question is why do you teach such things – the same things Paul taught. One religious zealot ranted that the angry, ominous God, is coming and that I, along with those who believe that God is only mercy, will pay because we have made God weak. (Is that even possible?) There is also the brother in Christ who asks me a vague question, which I answered proficiently, only to have him respond back by blending three different doctrines to create another vague question about who it is that stands before God’s throne at the end. To top it all off, one of my closest friends, recently divulged that he was an adamant believer in hellish penalties for all who come to the Great White Throne.
What am I to make of all this?
We, as a church, do not know our Bibles, AT ALL, and because of that, I can safely say, WE, do not understand God’s nature and character.
Do you not realize, that
Jesus Christ is the express image of the Father and demonstrated His qualities and character in every way, shape, and form.