Psalm 16…A miktam of David…
“Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’ I say of the holy people who are in the land, ‘They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.’ Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
If you ask me, this Psalm of David is prophecy for all the faithful. This is where the redeemed should be looking when they seek answers to the unknown…to the fearful sights, actions and paths of the world. It isn’t just David worshipping…this is David giving us the answer to what shall be our lot. This is living word. For us, God’s children, there is a “delightful inheritance.” We do not run after other gods seeking their assistance. We do not offer sacrifice to them for safety. Apart from God, we have no good thing. We are counseled by his Spirit…even in our sleep…and the path of life is made known to us. Joy is the prophetic word that belongs to us…because we are already, and forever shall be, in his presence.
My very first recollection of Godly teaching stems from around age 4 or 5. My family was in church when I was born, so God was being made known to me already, but this is my first memory…a neighborhood children’s bible study my mother sent me to. It was led by a woman in our neighborhood and we met at her house. I vaguely remember she was young with dark hair. I remember her giving us all children’s bibles. I also remember she scared me to nightmares. She was teaching us Bible Prophecy. The only memory I take from that event was her telling us that Jesus was coming at any moment…and one would be taken and one would be left. In my child brain, that boiled down to either me or my brother. I had no idea if I was supposed to want to be taken or left. I just knew she scared me to death. I never went back. Isn’t this the effect that most “teachers” of biblical prophecy have? It’s fear porn. And it’s a huge moneymaker worldwide.
I guess psychologically, that first learning stuck with me, because I’ve been interested in prophecy and the ties of world events to it ever since. It’s almost like she put a dark cloud over my head and I kept waiting for it rain for many decades. That is not how a soul reborn in the Holy Spirit sees the prophetic words given to us…we see them as 1) The promise of hope and justice; and 2) Tools of warning to non-believers. It’s within number two that “teaching” often goes astray. Put those tools in the wrong hands, and that’s how you wind up with a 5 year old scared in his bed at night that some mysterious person from the sky is going to yank him away from his family.
In my late 20’s when God was pulling me back away from the world and home towards him, it was once again prophecy that was used to get my attention. I was a young married dad feeling God’s call on my heart, and a television prophecy huckster, Jack Van Impe, started showing up in my orbit. “Y2K will destroy us all,” was the basic premise. “God is using the computers to usher in Revelation.” I might as well have been 5 year old Gary again. It wasn’t going to be me ,”left behind,” I’ll tell ya that. Into deep study I went…and I never missed Jack and his wife every Friday night. My wife watched too. What I wasn’t really noticing was Jack and the bride sure had a whole lot of merchandise to sell during their half hour doomcasts. The for sale merchandise is where you got the “whole story” you see. I did however start to get drawn in, and I even bought myself a “Jack Van Impe Prophecy Bible.” It’s very nice. All the doom is highlighted for you. I was learning a lot about Jack’s particular version of the “End Times,” but I wasn’t being drawn towards the gospel…I was being taken away from it…by fear. How you can physically bring a soul into Matthew’s gospel, but yet never teach them a thing about Christ’s love and hope, takes a special kind of talent. But God had sufficiently gained my attention. I began to question my Pastor, Chuck Wilson, about why he never talked about these things in church. Didn’t he know that Y2K was going to cause Russia’s missiles to malfunction and start Armageddon? For the love of Pete, man, warn your flock! I was way off base, but what did I know? God was teaching me a particular talent that he puts to good use with me now. I can discern “situations” on a highly skilled level. It took sorting through a giant mess of deception for years to learn that trait.
The current days are a mega-dream for those who wish to distort God’s word for profit and deceiving. The king of Christian prophecy writers, Tim LaHaye, has TWO books in Amazon’s top 6 Christian best sellers as I type. Business is good, brother. In case you don’t know who he is…Left Behind…and all the books that followed. Don’t get me wrong, Jack Van Impe and Tim LaHaye might be God’s greatest messengers…who am I to say? But what they do isn’t in accordance with Paul’s teaching from anything I discern in the New Testament. Speaking as one who was enamored with the work of both of them…none of their works ever led me to anywhere but having less money and a great deal more worry. The fruit is rotted coming off those vines.
So are the words spoken by Christ in Matthew 24 true? Is all of it true…the prophecy found cover to cover in the God’s word? 100%. Matthew 24: 6-8…”You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” That’s Jesus answering the disciples question as to what the signs will be of his returning. “See to it that you are not alarmed,” Jesus says, right before telling them…“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” Matthew 24:9. See to it I don’t worry? That sounds horrible. This is where the dividing line of understanding comes in. The reason we aren’t to worry is because our faith assures us that what Jesus has spoken to us is infallible. Though some of us may even be put to death, he promises not even one hair on our head will be harmed. It takes the spirit within you to understand what that means. The peace that promise brings despite facing a whole world that hates us and wants to kill us…can only be supplied by the spirit of God. If that spirit is not present, then the vault is open for fear to be exploited in a mighty way…and that’s what so many have and still do. Jesus goes on in Matthew 24…“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” Deception…something man is extremely adept at. Read the entire chapter. There is a lot more. It is our call to know these things. Jesus speaks in Matthew 24:42…“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Which brings me to why I was taught the things I was taught…How to be his watchman. So I am. And what I can report to you on this day free of charge, and with no extra merchandise for the rest of the story, is this: We don’t know when he’s coming. That’s the truest statement anyone will ever say to you. You can purchase all the material you wish, written or produced by people far more educated than me, but at the end of the day all it says is…”We don’t know.” But they make it very compelling and interesting getting to that point…I’ll give them that.
So, if you want my little opinion, and you’re reborn in the Holy Spirit and saved by the blood of Christ…go to David’s words. Read a Psalm every day, and read a chapter in Proverbs every day. One teaches you how to get along with God, and the other teaches you how to survive in this world righteously. Do those two things…and no matter if a volcano swallows you, a marauding band of Christian haters attack you, a friend betrays you, a war engulfs you, an earthquake rattles you, or an asteroid falls on you…not one single hair on your head is going to be harmed. “See to it you are not alarmed.” That’s the role of bible prophecy.