Brethren, we need teachers that are also prophetic, not just in what they teach, but in what they “see.” It is one thing to answer objections and opposing views tit for tat in point and counterpoint argumentation from the evidence of the scriptures. It is another thing to make a case that realizes a more consistent harmony of ‘all’ the evidence of scripture. What I am concerned to discern is why we are required, or if we are required, to do so? Should we answer, even when we can? Is it any use? We are told to be ready to give an answer to them that ask a reason for our hope.
It is not enough to know why a particular view is in error. What we need is to know why it is here, and what it threatens, what mischief or loss? Is it just a matter of innocent interpretation, or is there something of the heart that’s reflected? For one thing, we know that Paul said that heresies were not only ‘par for the course,’ they “MUST” come to test the church and make manifest the approved. Many would dispute whether an eschatological error could ever be serious enough to promote to the category of heresy. Certainly not every ‘honest mistake’ implies heresy or serious error.
In any event, such errors are far more than a spiritual work out, as much is at stake in how truth is received or rejected. But many of these things, though possible of clear defense, are also, by any reckoning, often very difficult and wrapped in an element of divinely intended mystery. That is why we are told “it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the honor of kings is to search it out.” God obviously has challenged us to search out a mystery, trusting nothing in ourselves, but the grace of the Spirit to be our great “come-along-side.” How important is this? What is the cost of neglect or error when it comes to searching out His mysteries? It is ultimately the question of how crucial is it that we are taught of God, not only in some things, but in all things? How far has our trust been in ourselves, the specialists and scholars, or in the Holy Spirit, as only the undeserved mercy of God can lead us into all truth, and show us things to come?
If only being evangelical and believing in the virgin birth, the cross, bodily resurrection, and literal return of Jesus, together with godly Christian living, is all that matters, then why sweat the small stuff of eschatology? Won’t it all just pan out anyway, as God corrects our eschatology, either in heaven or when something happens to correct an eschatological viewpoint that has no real bearing on personal salvation? Since eschatology tends to be so divisive, draining of time and focus better spent on other more important endeavors, isn’t the real trap the tendency to be occupied in such a hopelessly endless and unfruitful debate? After all, eschatology has little to do with either personal salvation or the health and hope of the local assembly. Isn’t this evident from the many thriving congregations of zealous believers dotted all over our fair land who are quite different in their eschatology? What’s the big deal? At the end of the day, what real difference does it make whether the 70th week of Daniel is past or future? Aren’t those who believe differently heaven bound? Who could deny? So why sweat it?
I believe the greater question is what is our God doing, as certainly He has ordained that the church wrestle with these inevitable questions. We are in even greater theological error if we believe that any of this is an accident. Therefore, the question is sharpened. Why has God ordained that we would be confronted and forced to wrestle with such frustratingly difficult questions and issues as would be necessarily set before the church at this time? Certainly, they are not new, but as the day draws near, they become increasingly consequential. Ultimately, it should not surprise us that to escape end time deception is also “impossible with man,” since had it been possible, the very elect would have been deceived.” So the way gets more and more narrow as the time approaches.
These are some questions I would invite from my prophetic brethren who also have the Spirit. What say ye? Why are things as they are in the realm of eschatology and prophetic speculations? Why does the Word come to us in a way that requires such close inspection, leaving so many things mysterious and controversial? To what end? Is it divinely intended? If so, what is the purpose? What does it mean? What does it portend?
A suggestion I would put forth is this: The same mystery that so profoundly tested and sifted Israel is still with us and I believe will surely test Israel and the nations, but most particularly the church, for a final time. Things once winked at in the patience of God, can become, in their appointed time, divinely required and therefore decisive. Not that eschatological issues are, by themselves, ultimately decisive for salvation, but in a day of manifest and unparalleled fulfillment of prophecy, the posture and predisposition of the heart will be greatly found out. This is relevant to personal salvation, not as to the question of how a soul is justified, but as to what gives witness to the presence or absence of the Spirit in whether we have been taught of God. This is not so much measured by what we see or don’t see at the moment, but by how we are inclined and how we respond when the truth is presented. That predisposition of heart has all to do with how we have conceived the nature of God. In such case, the question of which eschatology can be a reflection of whether we have been “taught of God.” If we have been sufficiently “taught by Him” as to arrive safely at salvation, the question remains, have we left off to be taught of Him in “all” things, or have we delegated some part of the sacred trust to the opinions and conclusions of scholars and specialists, or even more commonly, our spiritual heroes?
What has God invested in these days and what does all the confusion mean? What is our responsibility in the area of eschatology? Is it indeed a secondary matter of no real decisive, eternal import? Does it at all impact our eternal destiny? Is it a matter of relative indifference where we stand on the historical “Jewish question?” Is the ancient ‘family feud’ that rages in the Middle East of any significance and bearing in how we see God and His ways? Can an everlasting covenant be fulfilled that leaves Israel ungathered and unsaved? Is God requiring something decisive of this generation that is taking an unexpected form? Does it bear on how we understand other issues of the faith, even our view and knowledge of God? How? Is the end and object of eschatology ONLY a matter of how we live? Or does it impact how we see, appreciate, magnify and glorify the majesty and manifold wisdom of God in our vision and knowledge of Him?
Finally, part of our witness is how what we believe is reflected, not only by our disposition of faith, and works of love, and humility, but by the practical decisions and the wisdom by which we plan and live our daily lives. How we have anticipated and prepared says much about what we’ve really believed, and this is crucial to our witness to Israel and the world. “Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, prepared …” What that preparation should look like is a matter of personal conscience and sense of the Spirit’s leading, but it can also be telling of how far we have taken the world’s view that “since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were …” What we believe has all to do with what we expect and how we prepare. It is not about survival; it is about the witness, not only before men but also angels. This life is temporal, but what we believe and do here, in our short time, counts forever!
Just some thoughts, as I invite your feedback. Let me not answer such questions alone. Let’s look together to the Lord for His answer, the real answers that make a difference, a vision made plain on tables for such a time as this, one that is demonstrated through faithful obedience in manifest action. That’s what happens when we do not separate what God has joined.
In the Beloved, Reggie