Summary: An introductory message meant to help people look at the study of end-times prophecy with caution rather than going into it without thought and prayer.
Cautions When Studying the End Times
February 22, 2009
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT IS FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
Me: I’ve mentioned before that I love a good mystery. I like reading them and I like watching them.
A few nights ago I watched The Invasion, which is the third and latest version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
I’ve seen the previous two versions, but this one still had me at the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen.
But one of the greatest mysteries I’ve ever come across is the issue of Christ’s return.
I’ve never been able to figure that one out. Are we in the end times – that period before Jesus returns to judge the earth?
Or are we waiting another 2000 years? Or has He already returned and we just missed it, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and others claim?
We: The return of Jesus is one of those mysteries that people have been trying to figure out since He went into heaven following His resurrection.
My guess is that many, if not most of you, have at times wondered if we are in the end times before His return, just like I have.
There are tons of things out there in the media and in print that speculate on all of this, and while they claim to be definitive in their conclusions, usually they just add to the confusion, in my opinion.
Anyone else feel that way?
So what do we do with all that? Who do we listen to and who do we ignore? How can we adequately prepare for Jesus’ return?
Well, today’s message is meant to help in some ways to answering those questions.
But let me make a quick disclaimer, because I want to make sure everyone is absolutely clear on where I stand.
I do not know, nor do I want to know, when Jesus will return.
I’ll explain why as we go through the message, but I just want you to know that if you’re hoping that I’ll tell you that He’s coming before your next mortgage payment is due, you’re going to be disappointed.
Before we get into the main part of the message, I just want to warn you up front that this topic is a bit frustrating for me, and it’s mainly because of the obsession that I see in so many people regarding this topic.
That obsession is misplaced in a big way. And that’s part of what I want to address today.
And my hope is that you will hear my heart in this, even if it comes out maybe a little harder than what you’re used to hearing from me.
We’re going to look at four cautions that I think we need to keep in mind as we look at this issue of Jesus’ return and the end times.
Usually we work through a passage of Scripture, or bring a few of them together regarding a particular topic, but today’s a little different in that I’ll actually only be referencing a couple passages as we work through this deal today, okay?
Four key cautions to remember:
1. Remember that NO ONE has it all figured out.
As much as some people THINK they’ve got it figured out, they’re simply fooling themselves and anyone willing to listen to them.
At best, it’s all speculation.
There’s really no other way to say it. As we look at the second caution, you’ll see why, but for now I just want you to see that absolutely no one knows when Christ is coming back.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people study the Scriptures, work through the prophecies, examine the languages and contexts, and try to figure out what is figurative and what isn’t and all that stuff and they come to different conclusions about this.
Even in the Wesleyan Church there is such a diversity of opinions on this that it would make your head spin.
And that’s okay! That doesn’t mean that any of these people are less scholarly or love God any less than the other guy.
So why do people come to these different conclusions? Lemme see if I can guess, here…
Could it be because God purposely made it vague because we’re not supposed to know this?
And if it wasn’t already clear that it was supposed to be not clear, then Jesus cleared it up by saying we’re not supposed to be clear about it!
I personally don’t think that studying the prophecies will ever reveal the time of Jesus’ return, because I don’t think God put it in here in the first place.
And so I think people are wasting their time trying to figure out how long the “weeks” in Daniel are, and the “times” and “days” and all that stuff in Daniel and Revelation.