By Gerald Flurry
World events have been bewildering and distressing in recent months. The Wuhan coronavirus has been reshaping society and the world. But there is a way you can understand events that will give you profound peace of mind. You will see this in all the articles within this Trumpet issue. Events are not random and arbitrary. They may be concerning and sobering, but God is watching over them, ensuring they fulfill His purposes.
You can prove this to yourself, and it will change the way you look at world events—and how you live your life!
Did you know that one third of the Bible is prophecy—and 90 percent of that prophecy is for our day?
The Bible is full of prophecy—describing events in advance of their happening. Most of these prophecies were made over 2,500 years ago, yet they concern nations today: Britain, America, European, Asiatic and Middle Eastern nations—countries all over the world. They foretell what will happen in these nations. Many of these prophecies have already come to pass, and many more are in process of being fulfilled right now. Not one of these prophecies has failed! These prophecies—recorded millennia ago—are repeatedly proving to be excellent descriptions and projections of events taking place right now!
This is a truth you can prove, and one that you must honestly face. Could any human being ever issue a prophecy that would come to pass like that? These prophecies are divinely inspired. You can study these scriptures, study history and current events, and prove this.
There are other proofs that show God’s existence and that the Bible is God’s Word, but skeptics will dismiss them. Jesus performed miracles, and even pagans admitted that they happened, but cynics won’t accept that. Some people consider answered prayer as proof that God is alive and active—yet the doubters don’t have their prayers answered, so that isn’t convincing to them.
But fulfilled prophecy cannot be refuted! It is the best proof of the Bible—and it reveals God. Did you know that the Bible literally taunts the skeptics—even ridicules them, in a way? It dares them to disprove the reality of fulfilled prophecy as proof of God!
Isaiah 41:21-22 read, “Set forth your case, says the Lord; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob. [A]nd tell us what is to happen. Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come” (Revised Standard Version). God is saying, Let’s hear your prophecies, if you think you can accurately foretell the future! Of course, nobody accepts that challenge.
But God has repeatedly issued astounding prophecies, on a grand scale, and then brought them to pass.
God was careful to record and preserve these prophecies, and He has been careful to reveal their meaning in our day. The foundation of all that prophetic revelation and understanding was given to Herbert W. Armstrong, who for nearly 60 years explained the relevance of the Bible’s prophecies for this modern time.
However, even within the church Mr. Armstrong founded, some ministers wanted to get away from the message of prophecy. Mr. Armstrong said in a sermon on July 21, 1978: “The last two years, ministers have not been preaching prophecy. I wish I could get our ministers to talk about these prophecies. These prophecies need to be explained and prophesied to our people.”
After Mr. Armstrong died in 1986, nearly all the ministers abandoned his teachings and adopted a “prophesy not” message. They stopped delivering all that prophecy God had revealed.
So God commissioned a faithful remnant, the Philadelphia Church of God: “Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” (Revelation 10:11). This is a command from God that we prophesy again! This in itself is a great prophecy that is being fulfilled today.
Consider it: The fact that God had to command His people to prophesy again—meaning to prophesy as Mr. Armstrong did—should be a great warning for all of us. This strongly implies a terrible rebellion and falling away from that prophetic ministry! God’s own Church failed, and yet God had to ensure another way of disseminating that prophetic understanding.
In Isaiah 56, God criticizes those rebellious ministers: “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (verse 10). What a powerful picture. God is illustrating a watchdog on the porch, his master’s house surrounded by encroaching, vicious beasts. Yet the dog, which should be noisily alerting the household to the danger, slumbers!
God is saying that a watchman must warn! He gave prophecy for a reason, and He commands His people to tell the world of the dangers that are coming! If we don’t, then we are as worthless as a slumbering watchdog. God holds His ministers who fail to do their job accountable.
The Apostle John wrote in Revelation 19:10, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” If Jesus Christ’s testimony is the spirit of prophecy, then, if He is leading and guiding us, we should have the spirit of prophecy as well.
Matthew 24 contains the most miraculous prophecy for proving the promise of Christ’s Second Coming and for proving God. This was the last and most important prophecy Christ gave during His earthly ministry.
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (verses 3-5). This is a prophecy of what you see in a lot of the Christian world today: People come in Christ’s name and talk about Christ a lot, but they don’t give you His message.
His prophecy continues, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes …” (verse 7). Pestilences would certainly include a disease like coronavirus. Christ prophesied that just before His return, there would be plagues and viruses tormenting nations! But these things, Christ said, “are the beginning of sorrows” (verse 8)—in other words, they are going to get far worse.
Now, take note of this great prophecy, and it shows you how reliable Christ’s prophecy really is. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (verses 21-22).
Understand the magnitude of this statement! The Moffatt translation reads, “Had not those days been cut short, not a soul would be saved alive ….” The Phillips translation states, “Yes, if those days had not been cut short, no human being would survive.” The New Living Translation reads, “In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, the entire human race will be destroyed.” When Christ made this prophecy, armies were using swords, spears and other primitive weapons of war. Yet He prophesied of a time when weapons would be so potent and lethal that humanity’s very survival would be threatened!
Today, weapons of mass destruction do literally threaten human extinction! At no other point in history was this possible!
What an impressive forecast: Christ, 2,000 years ago, told us exactly what would happen today! How can you ignore this mind-shattering prophecy?
Many prophecies explicitly state that they were intended for a much later time. For example, God told the Prophet Daniel that his prophecies would not be understood in his day (Daniel 12:8-9). They are for the time we live in now. Revelation 5 describes how the meaning of that prophecy would be sealed—but now, it has been unsealed. (Request my free booklet Daniel Unlocks Revelation to learn how these two important prophetic books tie together. The framework for all end-time prophecies is found in these two books, and both have been unsealed in these last days.)
In Ephesians 3:3-5, the Apostle Paul described how revelation that God revealed to him “in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed ….” This is even more true as the world lives out its final days before Christ’s return. Prophecies of great magnitude have been made known unto us! And you can prove them for yourself.
God wants His prophecies understood, so He reveals that understanding through His faithful servants. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Once He has revealed that “secret,” which includes the spirit of prophecy, then He expects those servants to share that understanding, to publicize and broadcast it! “[W]ho can but prophesy?” He says (verse 8). Those who are tuned in to God know that they have an important job to do: They must prophesy for God!
That is what makes it such a grievous sin when those people fail to carry out that responsibility—when they begin to say, “Prophesy not” (Amos 2:12).
Not only does the Church play a crucial role in preaching about prophecy, it is also the subject of some very important biblical prophecy.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ prophesied, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Christ Himself founded the New Testament Church, and He promised that the Church would never die—it would always be there! So that Church must still exist today.
The book of Revelation reveals the grand overview of end-time events. And the first three chapters focus on prophecy about Christ’s Church. The Apostle John wrote, “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks [lamps is a better translation] …. The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden [lamps]. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven [lamps] which thou sawest are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:12, 20). These lamps represent the seven successive eras of the true Church of God, beginning in the first century and extending to our day. We are in the last of those seven eras today. (Request a free copy of my book The True History of God’s True Church to learn about this history.)
Notice—in Revelation 1, Christ is pictured as being right in the midst of those seven eras (verse 13). His eyes burn like fire, His face shines like the sun in its full strength, and His voice is like many waters (verses 14-16). What a powerful Being!
Led by Jesus Christ, God’s Church is as a shining lamp in this dark world. There is only one Church—one “little flock,” as Christ called it (Luke 12:32)—where you will find this lamp shining. That is what we must focus on. There you will find light to show the world the way to solve its problems, whether it be coronavirus or any other plague. People in this world could have light if only they would recognize it and begin to change their lives.
Christ gives His Church “the spirit of prophecy” and then gives this small group a big job to do just before the Second Coming: warn the rest of the world of the severe tribulation that will precede His return.
Now, if you were to be a watchman for God, would you get your message from the news broadcasts on television or in the newspapers of this world?
God instructs His watchman, “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me” (Ezekiel 33:7). God’s watchman must receive his message, not from news sources in the world, but from the Word of God—from the Bible. God will show us exactly what is coming.
In Jeremiah 23:16, God condemns false prophets. “Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you,” He says, “they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.” That is all you are going to get from any source in this world: people simply devising their own visions. They are not looking to God for His message and His prophecy of what will happen.
Are you hearing the word from God’s mouth? He really wants you to understand His prophecies and to prove them!
Sadly, the world today is disinterested in the Word of God and what God has to say. They live in darkness and scorn God’s message. The Apostle Peter prophesied of such a time. He wrote that in the last days—the time we now live in—there would be scoffers (2 Peter 3:3-4). Many will question the proof of the promise of Christ’s Second Coming.
Ezekiel 33 continues by showing that eventually everyone will come to understand that God’s prophecies were sure: “And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them” (verse 33). The tragedy is that most people won’t come to recognize this until after the very worst plagues have befallen us! Because human beings are so stubborn and self-willed, that is what it will take—plagues and violence that escalate to the brink of human extinction—before people will acknowledge that God was right!
God gives this urgent message to His watchman: “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (verse 11). God is pleading that we turn from our wicked ways! He is calling on all of us to repent. That is really the purpose of His prophecies. But tragically, repentance is not understood in this world.
When dealing with a false prophet, the Prophet Jeremiah said: “The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him” (Jeremiah 28:9). There are false prophets. You know he is a true prophet when what he says comes to pass! God sends prophets to warn, to give people an opportunity to escape and avoid severe punishment and plagues. So pay close attention, and you will be able to discern that God is behind him!
Prophecy is the proof of God. It shows that God is alive and active—He is bringing to pass today what He recorded thousands of years ago. Prove those prophecies—and recognize that the omnipotent God who gave them wants to have a relationship with you!
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