What's the Point Part 3
What’s the Point?
By Lelonnie Hibberd
A Unique Generation
It is essential, (which means important and necessary), to study the end times because the end time generation will be the only generation since Jesus came that God has announced with prophetic signs. The signs of the end times, in other words the signs before the return of Jesus, are clear and increase in intensity and extent as we get nearer and nearer to His return. God has given us these signs in the Bible so that the people who are living at the time near the return of Jesus will know what is happening.
Jesus cares that those people who are on the earth nearest the time of His return will understand His heart in the midst of what is happening rather than being confused and afraid. The Lord also wants people like you and me to be prepared in our generation too, rather than being caught unawares like the people in the days of Noah, when the flood came. We know this because Jesus spoke to His apostles about being prepared for the time of His return, “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is (Mark 13:33). But then He said, “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (Mark 13:37) Our Lord Jesus was very clear in instructing, even commanding ALL generations to watch for the signs of His return.
Who Can Understand Anyway?
It just doesn’t work to say like some people, “We can’t understand all that Bible talk about the end times. It's just too complicated. It must only be for clever people, for those who are smart and well educated.” If we look throughout human history we will find a very different picture.
The signs of the times, the prophetic signs the Bible gives us to describe the end times, are meant to be understood by everybody, not just a few learned people. Up until 1950 the majority of humans have not even been able to read or write*. Yet the Bible was given to them too! The Bible is meant by God for all the people of the earth. We can see this by looking both at the gospel of the kingdom and Jesus’ friendship with His followers and friends, many of whom were very simple people. Jesus even prayed one day,
…. “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Matt 11:26
Jesus was speaking about those who did not understand the times they were living in, and about those who refused to repent. The phrase "these things" referred to the specific kingdom themes He was talking about.
We can infer that God meant Bible themes to be understood even by simple, uneducated people. We can also conclude that the Bible is not just for the intelligent people, or those with university degrees. The Bible is meant for a little child as much as an old peasant who has never learned to read or write. How exciting this is!!! This means that you and I can understand all that the Bible has to say about the return of Jesus too. It’s not too hard or too complicated for us after all. It’s not too confusing. It’s meant for us to know and to understand. Even you!! Even me!!
It is true that sometimes God told a messenger like Daniel or the apostle John, that a few of His secrets about the end times would only be understood by the last generation, however there is so much more that can be understood by everybody!
God loves us and gave the Bible to us. It is meant to be great treasure for all human beings (Psa 119: 62). Just like the Psalmist, we can be rejoicing in God’s word like one who finds great treasure!! This is because God’s word is great treasure to our lives, hearts and minds. God’s word is like treasure but it is so different than earthly treasure. Buried earthly treasure is often only for the person who digs it up. But the treasure that is God’s word is free for all. If you have eyes to see it, you have been given buried treasure, all for you, for all of you and all for free.. Forever, for all time, you can feed on, enjoy, learn from, speak with power about and be healed, all through God’s word. Anyone can pick up God’s word and study it; anyone can hear it told and spoken about. And by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within followers of Jesus who will teach us all things (John 14:26), any Christian can receive understanding of God's word as expressed in the Bible.
Psalm 119:130 says that God’s word gives understanding to the simple! The phrase, “the simple” means the common, ordinary person, which defines most of the people of the earth. There are mostly ordinary people on the earth, and very few exceptional people. It doesn’t mean that those people with extra ordinary intelligence or talent cannot understand the Bible. Rather it does mean that those people who do NOT have extra ordinary intelligence or talent can still be filled with understanding from the heart of God, from the Bible, the word of God.
The Bible is meant to be taken literally, which means we can read it as it is written. We don’t have to try to find some hidden meaning or some mysterious thought, because God has given the Bible for all people to understand. Everyone doesn’t have the education or intelligence to interpret complex symbolism...everyone however can understand clear, simple truth, something that means what it says and says what it means.
Who Will Obey the Lord?
The Bible actually requires that those people living in the end times know these signs so that they can be prepared for all that will happen. If they want to obey God, they will need to know the signs. Why do we need to know the signs if we are not living in that generation? Why do we need to be prepared? Is it a matter of obeying God in our generation? Let's look at what Jesus said:
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man Luke 21:36
This verse follows our Lord's description of trouble coming upon the earth immediately prior to His return. His command to all generations was, "Watch and pray always." The Lord seemed to be saying that some people will be counted worthy to escape the things that will come to pass. In the verse immediately before this (verse 25), Jesus called this time frame a snare that would come upon all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Twice in verse 25, the Lord spoke in a universal way, first when He said, "All those who dwell" and second when He said the ones who dwell on the face of "the whole earth." His instruction to every generation was "Watch and pray always." Always means at all times and on all occasions. This fits our generation!
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming Matt 24:42
None of us know the hour of Jesus' return. We know He is the Lord and we know He is coming! The reason we are to watch (be aware of the season in which we live, be cautious, take heed so that we are not overwhelmed by what is to come), is so that we will be prepared and ready (verse 44) for His return. Interestingly, the Lord did not say we could never know the day or the season He was coming. An hour is a pretty short unit of time; an hour happens quickly! Maybe it is possible for us to know the general season of His return. Maybe it is possible to even know within a few months or days! Nevertheless, we too are called to watch!
Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober 1Thes. 5:6
This verse is also in the context of the "day of the Lord' or the coming of Jesus! The apostle Paul exhorted us to watch so that the return of Jesus would not overtake and catch us completely unprepared just as a thief in the night. The idea is that the thief in the night is not expected; therefore the master of the house is not awake or watching for Him. We will talk in another story about what it means to be awake, and ready for the return of Jesus. The Lord never limited His instructions to the time of the apostles. Even though it is widely accepted that they believed they would see the return of Jesus; the Lord's instructions are also for our generation. It is certain that we are 2000 years closer to His return than the apostles were. If they obeyed these commands, how much more should we!
God gave us these prophetic signs, verbal appeals and warnings to show us His mercy to help us to prepare and get ready for the return of His Son. If we say, “I am not interested in knowing about the end times,” it is like saying, “I do not take all your words seriously,” or “I don’t wish to obey all your commands.” God does nothing that is unnecessary or extra to what we need. God does not repeat Himself when it is not necessary. God is perfect in the words and the instruction He gives us. It is exactly what we need, when we need it and in the amount we need. Every major theme in the word of God is relevant to us in our generation.