Rev. Mark H. Creech
Everyone is watching what is now transpiring in Ukraine. It's somewhat reminiscent of historical events that preceded World War II. Led by despot Vladimir Putin, Russia aggressively and without justification attacked the sovereignty of their neighbor to control them and their resources. It is difficult to know if Russia's aggression will stop with Ukraine, but it seems wise to assume they will not. The situation is explosive, to say the least, and could spark World War III.
In the coming days, it's likely many Christian preachers, teachers, evangelists, and other leaders will be pontificating on what part these affairs play in eschatology – the study of last things concerning Christ's Second Coming. In making such assertions, they need to be cautious.
Prophecy in general and prophecy concerning the last days are vital to study. At least one-fourth of the Bible is prophecy. If someone would be a good student of the Word of God, these things must be carefully examined and scrutinized.
Much of Biblical prophecy is indeed full of apocalyptic events. However, the primary message of prophecy is one of hope. It's meant to generate confidence and assurance that though the world may plunge into chaos, God is in control, providentially directing world affairs toward a redemption that will culminate in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, and a kingdom where Christ will reign forever.
In his book, Your Future, Dr. George Sweeting, former chancellor of Moody Bible Institute, has wisely contended that though prophecy in recent years has been a popular theme in evangelical circles, evaluating it properly has often been lost.
"Biblical prophecy has been studied out of mere curiosity, taught with detached pedantry, and preached for its sensational impact," says Sweeting. "Foolish speculation has repeatedly been proved to be wrong, and yet misguided individuals still persist in trying to determine dates, predict events, and find significance in every headline."
Sweeting adds, "Others use their prophetic views as a club, assaulting everyone they encounter with their particular view and scorning those who see things differently. Still others, perhaps reacting to the fanaticism of some, shelve the study of prophecy completely, ignoring all biblical teaching about Christ's return…Confused by the diverse views, they opt to neglect the subject rather than face the difficult task of sorting out the truth from error…All of those approaches have done more harm than good."
There are essentially three views, with some variations, concerning the return of Christ, and each of them divides over the meaning of the Millennium, a thousand-year period of Christ's reign described in Revelation 20:2-7. These views are Premillennialism, Amillennialism, and Postmillennialism. Sweeting correctly summarizes each of them:
- "Premillennialists interpret biblical prophecy more literally. They believe in an actual age of one thousand years when Jesus Christ will be present physically on earth to reign over all kingdoms."
- "Amillennialists say that there will not be a literal Millennium here on earth. They believe the millennial manifestation of the kingdom of God is spiritual, not literal, and that Christ's return will mark the end of the ages and the beginning of eternity."
- Postmillennialists believe that the millennial kingdom will be ushered in through the preaching of the gospel, as Christianity spreads and the church gains influence.
Then there is the Rapture question, which is when God's people, believers in Christ, are taken from the earth to be with Christ forever. Premillennialists believe the return of Christ comes in two phases: (1) the Rapture and (2) the literal, physical return of the Lord to earth. Only Premillennialists subscribe to this view, while the other views hold the Rapture and the Second Coming are the same occurrence.
So, which is the proper view? Those waiting to see where this author lands on the question are apt to be quite disappointed, for it's not the point of this article. It's critical to study these matters earnestly, but the point here is to assert what is indisputable.
What is without question is that the Bible teaches these are the end times, Christ is coming again, and each year, each month, every day, and every hour, the world gets closer to Christ's coronation as King of kings. The Lord's coming again is not simply symbolic or spiritual. Jesus is the living Savior, who bodily arose from the dead after his crucifixion to atone for the world's sins. He will personally and physically return to this earth to make all enemies of righteousness submit to his lordship.
On that momentous day, the Bible says, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and those under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). Some will enter into Christ's kingdom with him, while others will be the subject to his terrible wrath.
What place the current events in Ukraine have in the scheme of biblical prophecy is difficult to determine, if any, and whatever one's position, it's not something about which to be dogmatic. However, the broader and more critical question is whether we live in light of Christ's return.
In other words, are you ready to meet Christ when he comes again? The signs of the times indicate his coming may be very near.
Have you repented and trusted Christ for the forgiveness of your sins? Have you received God's pardon and the gift of eternal life? Will you share in the bliss of Christ's coming kingdom or never enter therein?
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is the trajectory of all of history. Not one prophecy in the Bible has ever failed, which clearly signals the remaining unfulfilled prophecies of the last days will also be fulfilled.
Take heart; there will always be wars and rumors of wars. Nations rise, and countries fall. But biblical prophecy tells us everything is swiftly moving with purpose at the direction of God's providence. No matter what happens on the world stage, Christ will ultimately rule, and those who believe in him shall be joint-heirs with him (Romans 8:17).
So be encouraged; no matter how bad it seems, the best is yet to come for those who trust in the Lord Jesus. Have you trusted in him as your Lord and Savior? Be prudent, be proactive and make a decision for him, for Jesus said that no one but God the Father knows for sure at what point he will appear (Matthew 24:36).
Pray earnestly for Ukraine!© Rev. Mark H. Creech
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.