The Heart of Apocalyptic Evangelism

Yes, Doc, ((Brother Reggie,

I’ve wondered a few times what South America and those countries may believe about the Israeli/Palestinian controversy. Now I know at least somewhat because it seems a couple of weeks ago several of these countries recognized Palestine in favor of the Palestinians. As we anticipate, there may not be a continent or country anywhere that won’t end up involved in the conflict with many of them likely against Israel. I just found this article interesting and thought I’d share it.

Inside Israel
Israel Denounces S. American Palestinian Recognition
By Julie Stahl
CBN News Reporter
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
JERUSALEM, Israel –
)) world sentiment continues to swing in the direction of impatience with Israel for their failure to expedite the process that complies with international demand for a new Palestinian state. The Palestinian authority hopes that international demand will result in far greater concessions than Israel has been willing to consider.

I’m quite sure that this will come about fairly soon, as I believe the Antichrist will rise out of the newly formed Palestinian state. I believe this will be the “small people” that will be the stepping stone to a much greater power over a larger region, which this ‘little horn’ will acquire through the support of the ten kings, which I’ve always seen as Arab nations backed by the larger world of Islam and possibly Russia (Psa 83; Ezek 38:3, 5-6; Dan 11:23-30). I suppose I’ve never really settled down to write out my reasons for that view, because, not only it is so hotly debated, but it has never seemed to me particularly critical where the Antichrist comes from, since it is far more important to know what he will do and why he will do it.

What is more, I believe a preoccupation with the physical side of the Antichrist can divert from the far more important meaning of what Paul calls “the mystery of iniquity”, which is a present reality that reaches its ultimate concentration and embodiment in the final Antichrist. That is a topic that has great significance for many things, and deserves our greater attention.

I’ve always thought our great failure is to stop at WHAT’ prophecy says will happen, with far too little interest in WHY, in terms of what God wants us to see in it. We tend to focus more on the sign or event and less on the principle or essence that it represents. We must look closer to see what crucial truth concerning God and man is being demonstrated and underlined in the outward events of history and prophecy. Only then can we make practical application to the believer’s daily life and warfare, as also the greater vision and mission of the church.

But the greatest purpose in knowing the prophetic scriptures must always be that this is how God ordained that the wonder and glory of His eternal purpose in grace should be set on display. When the Spirit helps us to see and apprehend that, it brings the greatest practical benefit to every part of the believing life. It totally impacts our view and worship of God, and that is cause enough to study prophecy.

But Doc, here’s the question I want to run by you: What wise use should we who know the prophetic scriptures be making of these current trends that are moving in precisely the direction that prophecy said they would? I’m talking about evangelism, what Art liked to call, “apocalyptic evangelism”. He compared ‘apocalyptic evangelism’ to the idea of a “delayed reaction bomb”. The seed of the powerful evidence of prophecy is sewn in confidence that it will be soon verified by the deepening crisis that will conform to the pattern that prophecy describes.

We might call it, “pre-evangelism”, particularly in the case of Jews who will not at first receive the Word, but will have later occasion to reflect on what was shown to them from the prophetic scriptures. Of course, the same holds true for anyone, but the church will not come to its appointed fullness independently of its calling to Israel, since the Jews represents the church’s most formidable challenge, and forces believers to do their homework. God knows that when we go to the Jew first, our faith will be tested and deepened.

The context needs to be restored. The early church witnessed to a revelation of a mystery contained in the prophetic writings concerning what had lately been fulfilled in Jesus. The proclamation of the gospel was set in the larger context of the early church’s expectation of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem in relation to Christ’s soon return. However, they did not expect this event immediately. The gospel must first be preached to all nations (Mt 24:14). That’s why they could safely gather in Jerusalem. They knew the signs that would signal the time for flight. My point is that we have come full circle.

The end of the age is set in the same essential context, with many things now in place that were not in place then. We too are living beneath the shadow of an impending age ending destruction of Jerusalem that will sweep all nations into its vortex. This fact should speak much louder than it has to our generation. The fact has not stirred the greater part of what calls itself church, and this is due to false doctrines that block and disarm. These too must be answered so far as we are able, as I love to quote Francis Schaffer to say that “apologetics is an enterprise of Christian compassion.” The love of Christ constrains us to give an answer.

So I’m asking, how should we use the growing international crisis over Jerusalem to awaken our generation to the urgency of knowing the Lord in truth, as well as to practical preparation? How do we use the prophetic scriptures to awaken a sleeping church to its own calling to prophesy to the nations?

I like to ask it this way: How do we show that the Jerusalem question that presses itself on the modern world is ultimately the Jesus question? We need to show the relation. It has to with the everlasting covenant. We need a short, condensed, and greatly simplified version of that explanation for use in evangelism when there is not time for more than a brief encounter or exchange. We need the longer version and greater preparation among ourselves for the questions that it will gender, so as to turn the questions in the direction that God intends.

Such a well considered statement (very clear and very simple) should not be looked upon as a panacea to put the church right, or to answer a great many of the even more important questions that confront us all. Its purpose is very limited, but it can be a clear call and a clear standard of divine evidence that will then evoke and summon forth the great questions of the faith that are indeed life or death.

It is time for the trumpet to give a certain sound. Since prophecy is so clear concerning the international crisis over Jerusalem (“the controversy of Zion”; Isa 34:8; Zech 12:2-3), God’s people need to use this open sign of manifest fulfillment to point to all the great issues of the gospel. The crisis of Jerusalem is most essentially about the curse of a broken covenant, and the gospel is God’s answer and provision for that ancient breach, to the Jew first, and also to the gentile.

God Himself invokes the phenomenon of prophecy (particularly as it pertains to His “ancient people”; Isa 44:7) as the open and undeniable evidence that sets Him apart from all other deities, or any other competing truth claim (Isa 41:21-23, 26; 43:9-10; 44:7-8, 28; 45:21; 46:9-10; 48:5). Unlike creation science, or the apologetics of intelligent design, prophecy not only shows THAT He is; it shows WHO He is, i.e., the God of Israel, the God who elects.

This divinely chosen means of declaring and showing proof of the true God is not a “method” of evangelism; it is a divine command (Ro 16:25-26). It was the principle modus operandi of the early church.

The church has neglected what God Himself puts forth as the consummate apologetic for His existence and eternal purpose in grace. In the name of a more modern and philosophically sophisticated culture, the church has supposed that other methods and means are superior to the apostolic approach to evangelism, which was to proclaim the everlasting gospel on the basis of the compelling evidence of fulfilled prophecy. This, and this alone, gives the unshakable and irrefutable evidence that provides the ground for a sure hope, and so that unbelief is left without excuse.

In short, prophecy vindicates the God of the Bible. We grant that it is not sufficient by itself to transform a person into a new creation, but it certainly goes far towards establishing the framework for that to happen. If it is not evangelism itself, it is certainly foundational “pre-evangelism” that can have its working long after the initial witness.

I would love a time when you and Phil and some of the brothers could get together again, just to talk about a strategic simplification and articulation of some things already held precious between us for use in the church’s witness. The object would be to distinguish among priorities. The church will always have great differences over the particulars of prophecy. We must not permit ourselves to lose the forest for being caught up in the trees. We need to isolate those areas that are most critical for the life and faith of the church, and let the prophecy experts hash out the fine print (which I do not say is unimportant, only not as crucial and fundamental).

A very close brother continues to remind me that all the writing and articulation in the world will avail nothing apart from a demonstration of true community and body life. There must be a “come and see” of living reality that is the result of Word, else the witness is tragically incomplete. God is a God of embodiment / incarnation.

That’s true, we are called to embody what we declare, but it takes both. There is, and will be, a “vision made plain upon tables”, so that all who read it in faith will become runners.

I hold the optimistic view that when the trumpet will give that (even more) “certain” sound, and the case for the present fulfillment of prophecy will be irresistibly clear, the question of the time will no longer be in question. Many will awaken and rally to sober and urgent preparation, not in some self-centered survivalistic fervor to save the physical life (which is appointed to be offered up in a final martyr witness), but for what is expedient and wise concerning the preliminary upheavals that must shake the nations even before the rise of the Antichrist. His rise will accompany a mass deception that will be without equal on a world scale. Many forget that before the time of Jacob’s trouble is “the beginning of sorrows.” Therefore, it is foolish to postpone seeking the Lord for wisdom concerning the practical side of our preparation until the tribulation, since the world will be greatly “tribulated” before the last 3 1/2 years.

So let’s stay in touch, and seek the Lord about an appropriate time for a few of us to gather somewhere central for the purpose of considering some of these things. The sons of Issachar not only knew the times, they knew what Israel was to “DO”. In the meantime, I’m having the thought to forward this to some on my contact list and welcome their feedback on this topic as well.

Yours in the Beloved, Reggie

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