Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 7)

The Timing of the Rapture

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #55 ~

When is the rapture going to take place? I don’t know. In fact, no man knows. No one but God knows the exact time of the rapture, when His Son will return to earth to gather all the believers to Himself, and then take them home to heaven. But we can know the timing of the rapture, and particularly where it occurs in relationship to the 70 Weeks of Daniel, a 7-year prophecy packed timetable. Knowing what God says about this 70th week is the key to discerning the timing of the rapture. “Give me understanding…” Psalm 119:169

Let me remind you that we live in the end times, that time period leading up to the return of Christ and the rapture of the church. Right now, we are in the “beginning of birth pains” stage, but sometime in the near future Daniel’s 70th week is going to start. It is Daniel 9:24-27 that states some of the main events, some definitive markers in this divine time frame. The first event taking place is the signing or confirming of a peace treaty between Israel and other countries. Then 3½ years later, at the midpoint of this 70th week, the Antichrist is revealed. Finally, at the very end of these 7 momentous years, a great remnant of Jews will be saved. Now don’t forget the key years, 0, 3½ and 7, and the main event associated with each year. “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people… to make an end of sin… to bring in everlasting righteousness.” Daniel 9:24

Again, we can’t know the exact time of the rapture, but we can know the general time, where the rapture is at in relationship to the three events I just mentioned. And so when is the rapture? It’s after the midpoint, the 3½ year mark of Daniel’s 70th week, and before the end of this week, the 7 year mark. That’s it – the rapture of the church occurs at an unknown time to us, sometime during the 2nd half of Daniel’s 70th week.

Let me explain. First, we know that the Antichrist is revealed at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week, at which time he desecrates the temple in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15). Then he unleashes this great tribulation which is directed at both Jews and Christians (Matthew 24:9, 21). But after a little while, this tribulation is cut short by God (verse 22), marked by these great signs in the skies (verse 29). Immediately after that, Christ comes in the clouds to rapture the Christians (verse 31).

Let me say it again. After the Antichrist is revealed at the midpoint of the 70th week, he begins great tribulation, but it is cut short (meaning it doesn’t last the entire 3½ years), and then the church is raptured. Since the salvation of the Jews takes place at the very end of Daniel’s 70th week (Daniel 9:24), then we know the rapture happens sometime during the last 3½ years. Matthew 24:9-31 lays out the order of events in the 2nd half of Daniel’s 70th week, and therefore, the timing of the rapture. First, there’s the revealing of the Antichrist (verse 15), then great tribulation (verse 21), then signs in the heavens (verse 29), and then the rapture (verse 31). “He (Jesus) will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to another.”

What about God’s wrath? It’s after the rapture. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 says, “Jesus… rescues us from the wrath to come.” The rapture, believers being taken off this earth, is the means by which we are rescued from God’s wrath. The rapture of the church then is after the tribulation of the Antichrist but before the wrath of God. It is after the persecution of the church but before the punishment of the unbelievers. Therefore, the rapture of the church is post-tribulation and pre-wrath. Thanks be to God that, for a little while, we can suffer great tribulation for Him – but Hallelujah, for then we will be delivered from His great wrath on earth and from His eternal wrath in hell. “Momentary, light tribulation is producing for us an eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

God clearly tells us the timing of the rapture in Matthew 24, but also in Mark 13, Luke 21, 2 Thessalonians 1-2, and Revelation 6-7. He repeatedly tells us that the rapture takes place sometime in the last 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th week, and that’s because He wants us to know where it fits, because it’s important to know this, and because He will be wanting us to see that it’s getting closer and closer. “… but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day (rapture) drawing nearer.” Hebrews 10:25

God greatly loves us, and wants us to greatly love Him. He wants us to be excitedly serving Him in these days, to be willing to suffer for Him, and to be enduring to the end of the age. In Matthew 24:9, 13, Jesus tells us, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation and will kill you… but the one who endures to the end will be saved (raptured).” Jesus encourages us, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

P.S. One of the most important things for your life is knowing the love of God. I strongly encourage you to read the article that I just finished, “Keep Yourself in the Love of God.”  I would also suggest reading my article on the “The Rapture of the Church.” It gives you much greater detail about the rapture.

Your Journey to the End – A Straight Road to Glory

By Steven  J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #54 ~

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck, like there’s no forward progress, no success, like you’re just going along, but not really getting any place? Well, if you’re a Christian, that is just not true. God is always working and carrying out His purpose in you, and moving you along to that time when you will be gone from this earth, and in heaven with Jesus and all the saints. I am so thankful for God’s wonderful work in our lives, and that He’s using us for His purposes in the world. Remember what Jesus said, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working.” John 5:17

The Lord God Almighty is purposely and sovereignly working, overseeing, directing, leading, guiding, intervening, and having His way in our lives and in the world around us. We are on a journey, individually and collectively. But it’s not like we’re physically going someplace, for this is a journey of time, with every day bringing us one day closer to Christ’s return. It’s a journey where Christ is building the church, and taking her to the end of this age. It’s a journey where God is working in kings and countries, and bringing us to that time when we will see the return of the King. It’s a journey where God is working with us until our time on earth is up, and then He’ll take us home to heaven. It’s a journey where God-prophesied events are coming to pass, and soon there will be the rapture of the church. It’s also a journey where evil is getting worse and worse in this world, leading to that dreadful Day of the Lord. “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may also be.” John 14:3

We are not sitting still, and this world is not sitting still. We are not going backwards, we are not zigzagging along, and we are not going in circles. From God’s perspective we are all moving ahead in a straight line, and there’s no wasted effort, no wasted day, no deviation from His preordained plans. Since God is completely in charge, then all His plans for you, the church and the world are perfectly being carried out. God knows His “end game”, and knows exactly what He’s doing, what people need to do, and how and when to make things happen. There are only so many days left between now and the day of Christ, but be assured that God will get all His work done, and will bring this church age to a glorious end. “I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure… Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.’” Isaiah 46:9-10

But where are we at in our journey to the end of this age? Since the Jews are back in Israel then we know we’re in the end times, that last set of years leading up to the return of Christ, the rapture of the church and the Day of the Lord. To be specific, we are now living in a time characterized by “the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:8), when wars, earthquakes, famines, and plagues are increasing in both frequency and intensity. But there’s more than just “birth pains.” There will also be false teachers, the aligning of nations, the downfall of the US, the Jewish peace treaty, increasing globalism, the preaching of the gospel, world-wide apostasy, that wicked Antichrist, an unloving world, and growing lawlessness. And there’s one more thing, and that’s great tribulation, which we will be looking at in the upcoming weeks.

Here’s a big picture verse that shows you how God is working and where things are headed: “With a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:10-11). What is this saying to us?
– God has predestined future events, which will definitely come to pass.
– God has an incredible, unbelievable and wonderful inheritance for you and me.
– God is working all things in accordance with His will, His purposes. “All things” means every person, family, town, city, country, leader, government, church, pastor, school, job, business, angel and demon in this world. God has specific plans to bring about His purposes, and these plans will be perfectly and precisely carried out, and no act of man or of the devil will slow down or stop this great work of God. “God does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand.” Daniel 4:34-35
– Jesus Christ will soon be the King, reigning over us and the entire world. “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.” Revelation 5:12

P.S.  As you know, there have been lots of charts connected to the blog posts, and today I want you to know that there are five new ones – “in kings”, “home to heaven”, “zigzagging”, “end times”, and “big picture”. I encourage you to check out the charts, for they complement the posts, and help you to more effectively understand what is written. I would also suggest that you read the articles: “Charting the Future with Prophecy Charts” and “Charting God’s Miraculous Working with the Jews”.

Super Events Are Coming Soon!

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #53 ~ 

Image result for football stadium and clouds

You know what’s happening this Sunday, right? The Super Bowl takes place, the biggest sports event of the year, the most watched show on TV, and with all those expensive ads. You know where I’m going with this prophecy post, don’t you? The next, the best, the biggest, the greatest, most dramatic, most earth shaking, most life changing event in this world is the return of the King, the appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And it’s infinitely more important than the Super Bowl! “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Luke 21:27

We’re talking about the Son of God returning to rescue the church, judge the earth, and rule the world. Or to say it simply – it’s the rapture, the wrath and the reign. These supercharged, supernatural, super-exciting, super-relevant events are soon going to take place. And most people don’t know much, if anything, about them. I fear they live in their own little world with no clue as to what’s going to happen. The truth is that we live in a much larger world, on a sin-sick planet, that’s coming to an end, that’s destined for destruction. The greatest transfer of power ever seen on earth will be occurring soon – from that evil devil to Christ the King. “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 11:15

What’s now taking place in this world and that’s leading up to Christ’s return is not understood by most people. They are working at their job, going to school, going out to eat, going here and there, buying things, playing games, watching TV, or doing this, that or the other; and they just don’t know that the Bible is coming true right before our eyes. But they need to know what and who is coming! And God has told us in great detail about the end times and the return of Christ. This 2nd coming of Christ is no small subject – it’s a major subject in the Bible. Christ is coming back to earth, and not to visit, but to stay, to take over, to radically change the way things are done, to start a brand new age where there’s world peace, and everyone gives glory to God. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men.” Luke 2:14

This is very good news, for this world is a mess. Because there are many sinful people living in a devil controlled world, then there are all kinds of problems. And only Jesus Christ can solve these problems, can change what’s going on in this world. Only He has the right, the power and the wisdom to do this, and He will. You wait and see. But don’t just wait and see. If you haven’t gotten right with God yet, then you need to know why Christ came to this earth about 2000 years ago. Do you realize He lived a perfect life and then suffered and died, being punished for peoples’ sins so they wouldn’t be punished forever in hell? Christ died on the cross to save the souls of sinners. “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Don’t wait until it’s too late – repent of your sins and believe Jesus died for you so you can get right with God, so you can be forgiven, so you can live for God on this earth, and then have a glorious future in heaven. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

If you do know Christ, then live for Christ. Love God and not the world. Serve Him and not yourself. And tell others why Christ came the first time, and that He’s coming a second time, and that it won’t be long from now. “Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” Hebrews 9:27-28

Let’s go back to the beginning of this blog post. For some people, their life is sports – there’s the Super Bowl, and then the Olympics, March Madness, the Masters, baseball season, the Stanley Cup, the NBA finals, the World Cup, the World Series, and so on. For other people, their life is food, music, movies, clothes, work, school, politics, their children, relationships, or something else. Now I’m not saying these can’t or shouldn’t be a part of your life. What I’m saying is that, whether you are a Christian or not, you need to know that true life is Christ. Real love, joy, hope, peace, purpose and relationships, are only through Christ. Everything apart from Him, in and of itself, is empty. Not only that, but everything connected to the world and the flesh is coming to an abrupt and shocking end. That’s because Jesus Christ, the Lord, Judge and King, is coming back, and will be completely in charge and then change everything. And you don’t want to be surprised. You want to be saved by Christ, loving Christ, working for Christ, and waiting for Christ. “Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth… When Christ, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:2-4

P.S. Here is a helpful and instructive article I’ve just written about how God wants us to live in these days: What Does God Want Me to Do in the End Times?

P.P.S. If you have not yet had a chance to read my article on the rapture, I would encourage you to do so: 50 Truths God Wants You to Know About the Rapture.

The Lord is My Shepherd

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Special Post ~

I love the truth and the reality of the rapture. My latest article is 50 Truths God Wants You To Know About The Rapture, a detailed listing and description of what God has in store for the church at the end of this age. I encourage you to take the time to read it, to work your way through it, and get a better picture of the future and great love that God has for us.

The Espanol tab now features a drop down menu with the first line, “Mensajes Recientes” linking you to the latest and recent posts, and the second line, “Archivos”, linking you to a chronological listing of the posts (just like the “Archives” tab), from the first post to the last and most recent one.

Our church was so blessed this past Sunday with Marv Rosenthal as our guest speaker. He has been faithfully serving the Lord for close to 60 years, and a friend and mentor to me for over 23 years. To see his love for the Lord and for truth, and to see him persevering has been a great encouragement to my wife and me, and I’m sure to thousands of others. You can listen to his message at our Sermon Audio home page for Hope Bible Church.

Next week, February 2, I’ll be continuing with the blog posts, again focusing on the coming of Christ and the end time events that will be taking place before His return and the rapture of the church.

Thus Far the Lord Has Helped Us ~ 1 Samuel 7:12

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Special Post ~

It’s been exactly one year since I started this blog site, and having the opportunity to share Biblical truth about prophecy has been most encouraging to me, and I trust for you as well. But I’m taking a two week break, and am planning on publishing posts again starting on February 3rd. There are a few things though that I want to mention:

* There is a new tab called “Archives.”  This is a consecutive listing of all the posts, starting with the first one written last January continuing on up to the last one. This format will make it easier for you to find a post you haven’t read yet, or want to go back and read again. I want to say too that I’ve written these posts in a particular order, and for maximum learning, I’d encourage you to start with number one, and go on from there. In fact, if you’ve not read all the posts, I’d encourage you to go back and start with the first one. Having the Archives set up this way will make that much easier to do.

* The “Espanol” tab is being reworked for easier access and readability. It should be up and ready to go in the next week or two. Please pass this on to your Hispanic friends.

* I want to remind you that all posts, articles and charts are for you to use as the Lord leads. Download, print and use for your own learning, and then pass them on to your family, church members and friends.

* Marv Rosenthal, one of the best prophecy teachers in the country, will be speaking at our church this Sunday morning (1/21/18 – 10:30am). If you are in the area, I encourage you to come. If not, pray for our time. It will be great teaching with encouraging singing, and an opportunity for fellowship and a light luncheon afterward. You can go to our website to hear Marv’s message – www.HopeBibleChurch.US – it should be online by Sunday evening.

* I have a lot more to share with you about the end times, the coming of Christ, and the millennial kingdom age to follow. I do appreciate your prayers for understanding, wisdom and protection. If you have any thoughts or questions, please write me using the email address listed. The next post will be up and ready to read in two weeks, February 3rd, Lord willing. “To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” Jude 1-2

What You Need to Know About Prophecy

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #52 ~

Prophecy is a critical and significant portion of Scripture, especially since we now live in the end times. Listed below are a number of general and instructive truths about prophecy that will give you more clarity and understanding as you study specific prophecy passages.

* The Bible is theological, historical, biographical, poetical and prophetical in nature. When we use the words prophetical or prophecy, we are speaking of that portion of the Bible that predicts what is taking place in the future. 1 Peter 1:10-12, Matthew 24:3-41

* Whatever God has prophesied will come true with 100% accuracy. In eternity past “God was declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:10). Because God is truthful, supreme, holy, omniscient, powerful, wise and sovereign, then He will most definitely fulfill all that He has prophesied concerning His purposes and plans. Psalm 33:11

* All prophecy was given in a “dark place”, that is, during this present evil age, the time from the sin of Adam until the end of this age. A major portion of prophecy points to that time when “the day dawns”, when Christ returns and sets up His wonderful and glorious kingdom on earth. “You will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns, and the morning star arises in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19

* God’s purpose in prophecy is not to tell you everything that’s going to take place in the future, but only those things He wants you to know. This should motivate you to study God’s prophetic word so you can find out exactly what He wants you to know. “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.” Mark 13:23

* There is fulfilled prophecy and unfulfilled prophecy. At this time in history many prophecies that were predicted in the past have already been fulfilled. Other prophecies are still unfulfilled, that is, were predicted in the past but will be fulfilled in the future. Some examples of unfulfilled prophecy are Isaiah 60, Zechariah 14:9 and Matthew 24:15-31.

* It is important when you read the Bible to specifically know what is prophecy and, in particular, what is still unfulfilled prophecy. Ask yourself if what you are reading has taken place yet? If not, then you know it is unfulfilled prophecy and will be fulfilled in the future. Psalm 47

* Old Testament prophets who predicted the coming of the Messiah and events related to His coming thought that they would all be fulfilled in the same time frame; but now we know that many prophesies were to take place in two stages, at His first coming and at His second coming. Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 61:1-2, Micah 5:2-5, Zechariah 13

* The fact that we can study the Bible and see that God has fulfilled many prophesies in the past gives us a confidence that He will fulfill His remaining prophecies in the future. Seeing first coming prophecies about Jesus already fulfilled gives us assurance that second coming prophecies will also be fulfilled. Psalm 22, Isaiah 9:6-7, Micah 5:2-5, Luke 1:26-33, Revelation 12:5

* Prophecies about Christ’s second coming are now more relevant than at any time in history, and that’s because we live in the end times, in the last years of this church age. Like never before we need to pay attention to unfulfilled prophecy, for we will be seeing it coming true right up to the return of Christ and the rapture of the church. Luke 12:56, 21:5-36

* Most prophecies found in the New Testament will be fulfilled in the near future. There is a great deal of relevant, essential and vital information God wants you to know about the end times and Christ’s 2nd coming. Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:1-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation are all prominent passages predicting what will be taking place in the end times.

* The most important and most extensive prophecy themes in the Bible are the first and second comings of Christ, that is, “the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” Psalm 22, Isaiah 53-54, 1 Peter 1:10-12

* God did not have to give us Bible prophecy. He could have let everything that’s going to take place in the future be a big surprise to us. But He told us the future so we could have confidence in His character and in His word, and so we could have hope. At this stage of the church age, God wants His children to know what to expect, to be looking forward to the future, to be prepared for what will be taking place, and to be serving Him right up until the coming of Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

* What a privilege to be alive at this time in history, in the closing years of the church age when many prophecies will be fulfilled. God’s prophetic words about the end times are no longer sealed (Daniel 12:4, 9). Might we be like the prophets who “made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you.” 1 Peter 1:10-11

* Prophecy about the future focuses on events taking place during three time periods. There will be events leading up to Christ’s return, events taking place at Christ’s return, and events taking place after Christ’s return. Prophecy about the end times focuses on the Jews, the Christians, the Antichrist and Jesus Christ. Matthew 24:15-21, Revelation 12-13

* There are some reasons why people don’t think much about prophecy, and why it doesn’t affect their lives. They do not read it. They do not believe it. They love the world and don’t love Christ, and therefore aren’t thinking about the fact that He’s coming back soon. They are more interested in what man says about the future than what God says about the future. They are more interested in fiction than in the truth. Or they may think that prophecy is not to be understood, or cannot be understood. May this kind of thinking not be true of you.

* “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” Revelation 1:3

P.S. An article that goes well with today’s post is: Why Study the Subject of Prophecy?

Prophecy is Predicting the Future

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #51 ~

All kinds of people try to predict the future, and they may guess right some of the time, but most of the time they are wrong. But God predicts the future and He is right all the time. Our primary subject on this blog site is Bible prophecy. But what is prophecy? In a general way it is defined as the speaking forth of God’s truth. It is also used to speak of the entire inspired word of God. More specifically, it is defined as God predicting the future, which is the way I’ve been using it in this blog site and will use it today.

As Christians we understand fulfilled prophecy as that which was predicted in God’s word and has already come true. For example, Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and about 700 years later He was (Micah 5:2). Jesus Himself predicted He’d be killed and raised up, and that came true a short time later (Luke 9:22). Then there’s unfulfilled prophecy, predictions which will be fulfilled in the future. My main objective is to explain to you and get you excited about unfulfilled prophecy. Today I want to share some verses to give you a better understanding of prophecy.

2 Peter 1:21 – “No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Prophecy is from God – it is definitely not from man. It was God speaking to men through the Holy Spirit who then proclaimed it to the people. Many prophets began by saying, “The word of the Lord,” for they wanted their listeners to know it wasn’t what they were saying, but it was God Himself who was speaking to them and through them (Jeremiah 1:11, Ezekiel 28:1, Jonah 1:1, Micah 1:1).

2 Peter 1:19 – “Until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart.” Prophecy predicts events that will take place in the future. This word “until” is a timing word telling us that “the day dawns” in the future. This prophecy was given at a particular time, and at a later time it will come true. Specifically, it is predicting that Christ will return in glory to rapture the believers, and then set up His kingdom on earth.

2 Peter 1:19 – “We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place.” Prophecy is given by God to man, and we need to listen to what He’s telling us, and be looking forward to its fulfillment. It’s 2018, about 2000 years after Christ’s 1st coming, and many prophecies have already been fulfilled, but since we’re living in the end times then we know it won’t be long before His 2nd coming. It is those who pay attention to God’s prophetic word who will literally see His word being fulfilled in the world around us. Might we be like the “men who understood the times.” 1 Chronicles 12:32

Luke 24:44 – “All things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” As we now know, some prophecies about Jesus came true at His 1st coming which means the rest will be fulfilled at His 2nd coming. And there’s not one single prophecy about Jesus which will remain unfulfilled. “All things… must be fulfilled.” It’s imperative and important to take heed and pay attention to God’s prophetic word, and especially what it says about the return of Christ.

Isaiah 46:9-11 – “I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure… Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.’” God purposed what He was going to do, God planned what He was going to do, and He predicted many of the things He was going to do. Our loving, holy, powerful, omniscient, wise and sovereign God knew exactly what He was going to do. Long before God made this world, He had determined His eternal purposes and made plans to fulfill them. And all that God planned to do, He has either already done, or will be doing in the future. I encourage you to seek the Lord and study His word, and find out what He wants you to know about the future. Revelation 22:7, 10, 12

Mark 13:23 – “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.” Prophecy contains critically needed information about the end times. In a great number of prophetic passages, Jesus tells us every future end time event and detail that He wants us to know, as well as specific instructions as to how we are to live. Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, 2 Thessalonians 1-2 and Revelation.

Revelation 1:3 – “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it, for the time is near.” Do you see that you will be blessed as you read and believe the words of prophecy, and then live by what is written in it? What a great privilege and opportunity it is to be alive at this time in history. “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20

P.S. Here is an informative and encouraging article that goes along with this post: A Summary of the Work of God, from the Time of Abraham to Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.

God’s Work in Bringing About Christ’s Return

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #50 ~

Image result for John 5:17 

It is good to think about the work of God. He is always committed to His cause and is right on course to accomplish all that He has set out to do. In every person’s life and in every part of this world God is carrying out His plans. Here at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, I want you to think about God’s work in your life and in this world. “Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them.”  Psalm 111:2-3

First, think about God’s work in the world. Ephesians 1:9 speaks of the “mystery of His will… to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” This is a prophetic verse, for everything and everyone is moving towards that time when Christ will return and be ruler of this world. But to see the big picture, you need to go back to Genesis 1-2, and remember that this world used to be a perfect place with perfect people. Then Adam and Eve sinned resulting in this evil age, Satan’s rule over the earth, and sin and death spreading to all men. But in His mercy, God promised a Savior who would deliver people from their sin (Isaiah 53), and create a new heavens and earth. Isaiah 65:17

God made perfect plans to fulfill these eternal purposes, and over the millennia He has been faithfully fulfilling them. He worked with and through the Jews for about 2000 years, and then “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Christ lived a perfect life, died to pay for man’s sins, was raised again and ascended into heaven. He then continued His work on earth through the church, saving millions and millions of people from sin, death and hell. And now that the Jews are back in their land, then it won’t be long before Christ returns, the church is raptured and believers are glorified. Matthew 24:27-31

Second, think about God’s work in your life. It is important for you to know that in eternity past God chose to save you, and then to be glorified like His Son, Jesus Christ. Then came that wonderful day when God actually saved you and forgave you of all your sins. Since then He’s been working in your life, making you holy and using you to fulfill His purposes (Ephesians 2:1-10). Romans 8:28-29 says it well, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,” with His primary purpose being that all believers be “conformed to the image of His Son.”

Now think about this past year. In every situation, job, relationship and trial, God was working in you and through you, for your good and the good of the church, and ultimately for His glory. God was always kind to you, always teaching you, always patient with you, and always carrying out His will in your life. And there’s no doubt He’ll continue with you in this way in 2018, 2019, etc. Then will come the day, whether you’ve already gone to heaven or whether you’re still on earth, when Christ will come back, and you will be glorified, and your salvation will be 100% complete. It’s essential to have this perspective and to be encouraged by God’s perfect work in your life. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

The fulfillment of God’s plans for the Jews, His promises to the church, and His plans for you are all converging together in these last days of this church age. God is directing every detail in this world, moving all things full speed ahead, bringing us closer and closer to that time when He will send His Son back to earth. And then this age will end, believers will be glorified, this wicked world will be judged, a remnant of Jews will be saved, and Christ will begin His rule over this world. Revelation 6-11

It’s necessary for you to think about your life and your connection to and purpose in the world. Otherwise you’ll be rudderless and directionless, like a ship adrift out in the open sea. You must see that your life is intricately and intimately intertwined with God’s work in the world. You are like a puzzle piece, and God is fitting you and all the other pieces together. God has His plans for the world, and His plans for you in this world, and you are a vital part of all that He is doing. Everything happening in your life and in every other life in this world is part of God’s plan to bring His Son back to this earth. And God will not be stopped, thwarted or delayed, and will not give up until His Son returns and is reigning over this world. Be excited that you can serve God in the way He has planned for you, in the church He has placed you, and with the people He puts in your life. “The whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21-22

P.S.  As we think about the New Year, here’s an article that specifically instructs us about the time that God gives to each of us: The Time of My Life.

First Coming to Church Age to Second Coming

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #49 ~

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders…” (Isaiah 9:6-7). “As for you Bethlehem Ephratha, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel…” (Micah 5:2-5a). These are “1st coming – 2nd coming” prophecies. To the person who wrote them and the people who initially read them, it would have seemed like these events would occur in the same time period. But that didn’t happen. Now over 2500 years later, we can look back and see that these prophecies were to take place at two different times, at Christ’s 1st coming and at His 2nd coming, with the church age in between.

Let’s first look at Christ’s 1st coming, and by reading Luke 1-2, we see that Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna, were all looking forward to the fulfillment of these prophesies about the Messiah. And lo and behold, these four godly Jews literally see the baby Jesus, and see these predictions come true, at least part one. Then Jesus, this perfect God-man grows up, and 30 years later His ministry begins, and many more prophecies about Him are fulfilled. In particular, there’s Psalm 16, Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 accurately predicting that Jesus would suffer and die for the sins of man, and then be raised from the dead. Then fifty days after His resurrection, this victorious Savior ascended into heaven to be with His Father. But most Jews weren’t happy with Jesus, for they had wanted Him to be their King, but they didn’t understand that He first needed to be their Savior. They also didn’t understand that Christ’s 1st coming work had been completed, that His mission was accomplished. Luke 2:11, John 1:29, John 17:4

It was during Jesus’ ministry years that He had promised to build the church, instructing His disciples to preach the gospel and to go and make disciples, which has been taking place now for nearly 2000 years (Matthew 28:20). He also made it super clear to them that He’d be returning at the end of this church age – He wanted to make sure His disciples knew He was going to fulfill all His promises, particularly that He’d be coming back as the King. Zechariah 14:9, Matthew 24:3-41, Luke 19:11-15

And you see that Jesus’ disciples were thinking about these prophesies regarding Jesus’ future Kingdom, for right before His ascension into heaven they ask Him, “Lord, is it at this time that You are restoring the kingdom to Israel“ (Act 1:6)? Then a little later in Acts 3:18-21 we read that Peter was preaching “that His (God’s) Christ would suffer (1)… repent and return, so your sins might be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (2); and that He may send Jesus… whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration” (3). Peter and some of the other Jews were finally seeing the big picture, for in this passage the 1st phrase represents Christ’s first coming, the 2nd phrase the church age, and the 3rd phrase Christ’s second coming. The disciples knew that the Christ had come, and that they were to be His witnesses to the world, but they longed for their Lord and Savior to return to reign as King over the earth.

Then there’s 1 Corinthians 11:26, and it’s a verse commemorating the Lord’s death, the verse many Christians read during their communion time, but it also gives this broader perspective. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup (church age), you proclaim the Lord’s death (1st coming), until He comes (2nd coming)”. Can you see that our Lord wants to continually remind Christians of the past (Jesus dying for our sins), the present (Jesus building the church) and the future (Jesus reigning as King)?

Now it’s Christmastime’ 2017. To sum up, Jesus came as a baby, lived a perfect life, died a most purposeful death, was raised again, ascended into heaven, and since that time has been building His church. But since the Jews are back in their land then we know we’re living in the end times which means it won’t be long before Christ comes back. I am so excited to be alive at this particular time in history, at the end of this church age, knowing that our Lord may soon appear in the clouds to rapture us, suddenly and safely snatching us from earth so we can be at home with Him in heaven.

Do you realize that you are living between Christ’s 1st and 2nd coming, during the church age, but more importantly at the very end of it? And do you see that this is your time to live for God, your one time on this earth to serve Him, and that Jesus has instructed you, “Do business until I come back” (Luke 19:13)? It won’t be long before Christ returns, and part two of these “1st coming – 2nd coming” prophecies will come true, when Jesus will be King over the entire earth, bringing peace to this planet – and we will reign with Him for a 1000 years!

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come; let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing… Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns; let men their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sound joy… No more let sins and sorrows grow; nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found… He rules the world with truth and grace; and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love, and wonders of His love…”  – A Christmas Carol about the 2nd Coming of Christ

P.S. I just finished a very instructive and encouraging article: The Rapture of the Church.  

The Persecution of the Church Before the Coming of Christ

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #48 ~

Image result for Antichrist and persecution of Christians

As you probably know, I don’t preach a prosperity gospel, where health and wealth are some of the primary objectives. There’s no doubt God physically blesses Christians, but more importantly, He spiritually blesses us, giving us eternal life, and love, joy, peace, purpose and hope. And during our time on earth, God has called us to serve Him, and to sacrifice and suffer for Him. Now this is not a popular message, especially in this country, but it’s the truth, and I will not ignore it or skim over it. When you read the Bible, it’s obvious that suffering and persecution are very big subjects.

Remember what Jesus said, “A slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Think of what Peter said, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in His steps… Since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose” (1 Peter 2:21, 4:1). Then Paul told us, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

As Christians we shouldn’t then be surprised when we are persecuted and suffer. Loving the Lord by living a holy life and speaking the truth will result in suffering. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Isn’t it true that God has blessed the United States with the freedom of assembly, speech and religion, and therefore Christians living in this country haven’t been persecuted as much? When I read mission magazines or go online, it is obvious that it’s a lot worse in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where Christians are commonly mistreated, beaten, jailed and at times even killed. But you can see that persecution is getting worse in this country, and there will soon come a day when it will be just as bad here as these other places.

I say that because we now live in the end times, and the Bible clearly tells us that persecution will continue and then become great persecution the closer we get to the coming of Christ. In fact, this subject of persecution and suffering is part of every major Bible passage that speaks about events leading up to Christ’s return. Jesus repeatedly tells us about it because He wants us to know what will be taking place, and to be ready and alert, and able then to be joyfully and fearlessly serving Him.

Jesus says, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me” (Matthew 24:9). Jesus says, “Those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of creation” (Mark 13:19. Jesus says, “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death” (Luke 21:16). We all know Christians have been persecuted since the beginning days of the church, but these passages, along with Revelation 6:9-11, make it clear that it will escalate, will become severe, will climax, and go global, and particularly in the years right before the return of Christ.

But how will this happen? At the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week, the Antichrist is revealed and, having taken control of the world, he will then unleash great persecution, first against the Jews and then against the Christians (Matthew 24:9-10, 15-26; Revelation 12:13-17). But it won’t just be government officials persecuting Christians, but former fellow church goers coming after them as well – “Many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another” (Matthew 24:10). But in my opinion, the worst will be when “brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.” Mark 13:12

The devil will be stirring up this great hate for God’s people, and therefore deceived unbelievers will be going after innocent Christians, opposing them and trying to kill them. This will definitely be the most difficult time ever for Christians on this earth. Revelation 13:7 warns us, “It was also given to him (Antichrist) to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” I know this is not a feel good message, but I have to tell you the truth – the church will be greatly persecuted before the coming of Christ. And we shall overcome!

How then are we to think about persecution and suffering? 1st, know that God is sovereign and will protect you (Romans 8:28-39). 2nd, remember Peter’s instruction, “Those who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Peter 4:19). 3rd, share the gospel. As Jesus said, “They will lay their hands on you and will persecute you… It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony” (Luke 21:13). 4th, “Consider Him who endured such suffering by sinners against Himself so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3). 5th, Jesus told us, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer” (Revelation 2:10). 6th, Paul wrote, “God will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 7th,  as Paul said, “Know what is the hope of His calling (Ephesians 1:18). 8th, remember Jesus’ promise, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness… rejoice and be glad for your reward in heaven is great!” Matthew 5:10-12

P.S.  I want to let you know that Marv Rosenthal will be teaching at our church, Hope Bible Church of Tampa, on January 21, 2018.  If you are in our area I would encourage you to come!

P.P.S.  Our church music team has recorded a number scripture songs on a double cd set: Scripture Songs ~ Our Legacy, Volumes 1 & 2.  I’d love to make these available to you!  Please email me if you are interested.

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