The Prophecy Is for Our Day
November 26th, 1961 @ 10:50 AM
THE PROPHECY IS FOR OUR DAY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-26-61 10:50 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Prophecy for Our Day; the pertinency, the relevancy of the revelation of God to us in our day and in our time. After preaching about a year, we have come to the fourth chapter of the Revelation. And at this tremendous juncture in the book, I have paused to prepare several sermons of introduction in order that as we enter into this final Apocalypse, the final day of the Lord, that we might be prepared at least in some way for the things that God hath spoken to us and revealed to us in the book.
Now, a man’s skeleton ought to be hid; he ought not to wear his backbone outside of his vest, same way about a sermon. That is the way I think about a sermon. The outline of the sermon ought to be covered up. You have got to have a backbone; you have to have a skeleton to make a sermon stand up. There ought to be a very definite outline in a man’s message. He ought to go somewhere with it, not just chase rabbits on every occasion, like sometimes I do, and then do not begin to get through. Now at the morning hour, at the eight-fifteen hour, I did not get to finish the sermon. I got two-thirds of the way through. But the sermon this morning cannot be broken up. It is all one. So I am going to save that outline and I am going to see if, for the extra ten or fifteen minutes they have given me this morning, if I can’t complete this message before twelve o’clock. So we are going to take the outline of the sermon—one, two, three; one, two, three; one, two, three—there are three parts to it and three parts under each part; we are going to take it right down in the outline, and I am going to see if I can’t complete it at this hour, the whole message.
The sermon next Sunday morning is going to be The Elective Purpose of God for Israel, the Jew. Without an understanding at least somewhat of God’s elective purpose for Israel, the Revelation will mean nothing to you; not in the way that I think it means. So next Sunday will be the last introductory sermon on the Jew; this sermon, on the pertinency, the relevancy of the prophecy.
Now the reason I am preaching it is because of the content of the last part of this book. In Revelation 1:19, God outlined the content, the structural outline of the Apocalypse. He said to the apostle John, “Write down the things which thou hast seen” [Revelation 1:19]. And John wrote them down, the vision of the glorified, risen, reigning, immortal, transcendent Jesus [Revelation 1:9-18]. Then the second part, the Lord said, “Write down the things which are” [Revelation 1:19]. And John wrote them down. In the second and the third chapters of the Revelation, you have the things of the churches, the things that are [Revelation 2:1-3:22]. Here are the churches, here, there, yonder. Then, at the end of the third chapter, there are no more churches, and God said to John, “Write down the things which shall be meta tauta, “after these things” [Revelation 1:19]. And when I come, at the end of the churches [Revelation 3:22], to chapter 4, I have that little key word there, that meta tauta, the things “after these things” [Revelation 1:19]. So when I come to the end of the things that are, the churches, and come to the fourth chapter of the Revelation, I come to that little sign there that I now approach the third and final section of the book. “After this I looked, behold, a door opened in heaven; a voice as of a trumpet, and the voice said: Come up hither” [Revelation 4:1]. And there in heaven, John saw the things which must be meta tauta, “after these things” [Revelation 4:2-22:21].
So beginning at the fourth chapter of the book, we are looking upon, we are seeing the things that shall come to pass after the days of the churches, when the churches are no more. Now that gives rise to the inevitable question: if these things happen beyond us, after God’s people are taken to glory, then why concern yourselves with them? What pertinency? What relevancy? We are not going to be here; we are going to be in heaven, and these things are coming to pass after God’s people are taken away. Well then, why particularly read them, or pay attention to them, or discuss them, or preach them? What pertinency are these great Apocalyptic judgments to us if they do not concern us?
Well, the sermon follows this outline. First: the prophecy is given to God’s people in every age, and in all time, and in every generation. And it is as pertinent to us who live now as it was pertinent to those who lived before our day and as it shall be relevant to those who live after us in coming generations. Now the first and the second and the third thing concerning that; first: I know that Revelation and that Apocalypse and these prophecies are pertinent to us because the entire book is addressed to the seven churches which are representative of God’s churches through all time [Revelation 2:1-3:22]. Those seven, and they are seven in number, a symbolical number, those seven represent God’s people of all of the generations until His churches are no more. So the entire Apocalypse is addressed to all of us, to this church, to that church, to yonder church, to every church that ever has been or ever will be or is now. And the same corrective measures that were applied to each one of those different churches, applies wherever those same corrective measures need to be applied. If there is a condition in our church like the condition of the church at Ephesus, then the same judgment falls. If there is a condition in this church like in the church at Thyatira, then the same judgments obtain. For the message is not addressed to just one peculiar people or one peculiar church, but the message is for all churches of all time, and of all God’s people through all generations.
All right, the second reason: the author of the Apocalypse ultimately is the Lord God Christ Himself. It starts off: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” [Revelation 1:1]. It ends with this in Revelation 22:16: “I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches,” and that is at the end of it. So the Lord God, who sees the end from the beginning, He has written these things down, all of them, for all of His people. “I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.” So what Christ has said in the first chapter, or what the Lord has revealed in the last chapter, or whatever Christ has said all the way through the chapters is relevant and pertinent to all of us in every generation and in every congregation. The message is to us all.
All right, the third reason. The first reason was the address to the seven churches, and the seven churches summed up all of His churches [Revelation 2:1-3:22]. The second reason, the great Author of the epistle [Revelation 1:1], who sees the end from the beginning, addressed all of those prophecies to all of the people [Revelation 1:1-22:16]. All right, the third reason: the exposition of the character of God that you see in the Apocalypse is pertinent, it is true, it is relative, it is dynamic for all generations through all of the centuries and through all time [Psalm 102:27; Malachi 3:6]. Truth never changes because truth is a reflection of the character of Almighty God. And what was true a thousand years ago is true today and what is true a thousand years hence is true now, for truth never changes, and what you have in the prophecies of the Lord God, you have in them a reflection of the moral character, and the moral government, and the moral principles of the Almighty, and they never change! The prophecy is as pertinent in 1961 as it was in the year one. And if the world lasts one hour longer or one day longer, or one hundred years longer, or a thousand years longer, the prophecies will be as pertinent then as they are now, as they were back there! The character of God never changes, and these great prophecies, which reflect the moral government and the moral principles of the Almighty are true through every generation and through every age, our day as in every other day. For example, in the last chapter of the Revelation, Revelation 22:10, the Lord said, “Seal not the words of this prophecy: for the time is at hand.” That is, these judgments and the coming of our Lord, and these great principles are always dynamically, quickening, livingly imminent. Whether you live yesterday, all of these things are at hand, or whether we live today, or whether the Lord shall let the world stand another millennium, all of it is pertinent and relative. “Seal not the words of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand” [Revelation 22:10]. These things are active and living now, and they are just here. Same way about Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.” Eternity is always knocking at the door of time. Just like our Savior stands before every civilization, and every nation, and every church, and every home, and every heart; He is ever living and always there! It is a reflection of the character and presence and immanency of God. All right, that is a discussion of the first part. We are doing pretty good. In the first service, it took me fifteen minutes to do that.
Now, the second one: I am going to discuss now the fulfillment of prophecy. First, in time: the fulfillment of the prophetic Word in time. Time is the least relevant of all of the factors in prophecy. That also is a reflection of the character of God because to God there is no time. Time is a creature. Time is a man-related imponderable in the hands of God. But to God, there is no such thing as time. The Eternal, the Ancient of Days sees the end from the beginning. And He looks upon it all from the beginning of the creation to the end of the age. He looks upon it all as a presence. He looks there. He looks there. He looks there. He looks here. He looks there. This spot may be 10,000 BC. This spot may be 4000 AD. To God, it’s all the same. He looks at it all. He looks at all of it in the present. “I Am the great I Am” [Exodus 3:14]. To us, we pigeonhole everything. It has to be past, present, or future. You cannot talk in the English language without tense. You have to say everything in the present, in the past, or in the future. But not so God; time is irrelevant to the Almighty. And when the prophet speaks, time is the least pertinent of all of the elements and factors in his prophecy. Now the best I know how, I want you to look at that.
We are going to take, for example—and this is just for example—the prophet Isaiah. I have chosen three prophecies in Isaiah to represent three different, what we call “tenses.” Time in his prophecy that has no relevancy whatsoever: all right, first: in Isaiah 9:6, he prophecies a thing that is going to happen seven hundred fifty years from now in the present tense. Look at it: “For unto us a Child is born, and unto us a Son is given.” He speaks of it as though it is right there. It is seven hundred years distant, yet he talks of it as though it is right there. “A Son is given,” look at Him, “a Child is born,” adore Him—in the present tense.
All right, in the same prophet Isaiah, he is going to speak of the same event seven hundred fifty years future in the past tense, as though it has already come to pass. Now typically, illustratively, Isaiah 53:
Surely He hath borne our griefs, and He hath carried our sorrows . . . He was wounded for our transgressions, and He was bruised for our iniquities . . . All we like sheep have turned astray . . . and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was taken from prison and from judgment, “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him” [Isaiah 53:10], all in the past tense, tense—time, all in the past tense. Yet that is a prophecy of the suffering of the Lord seven hundred and fifty yet to come! [Matthew 27:32-50]. All right, the first he spoke of it as being present, “the Child is born” [Isaiah 9:6]. Look at it. Here in the past, “He was bruised for our iniquities” [Isaiah 53:5].
Now, I have chosen a prophecy out of Isaiah that has no pertinency and relevancy to time whatsoever, whether it is past, present, future, he just neglects it altogether. It has no relevancy to time at all. The famous prophecy of 7:14: “Behold, behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name: God is with us” [Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23]. There are two sons in view there. One, was a sign to King Ahaz, to whom Isaiah gave it [Isaiah 7:3-13], and the other is the Son that was born seven hundred fifty years hence [Matthew 1:20-23]. And between those two, in the same prophecy, there is a separation, a distance of seven hundred fifty years! Yet, Isaiah ignores it altogether. What happens is: the prophet sees the thing in space, as a reality and not in time as such!
The prophet does the same thing as the casual observer, as you and I do under the starry sky. There is the great Milky Way. Here are the sidereal spheres, and there are these constellations, and there are others, and we group them together up there in the sky. And yet actually, those stars may be trillions of light years of distance apart and apart. This star may be here. That star out there, but as we look at it, it is all in the great chalice of God’s blue sky. And that is the way the prophet saw things. Not pigeonholed in time, but he saw them in reality and in space.
This is the thing that shall come to pass. And this is the reality of the purposes and plan of God. And like so oft times in the major prophets he will speak of the Babylonian captivity, of the events of the day of the Lord, of the dispersion of Israel over the world, of the regathering of the people back in Palestine, of the bitter anti-Semitism that sweeps the world; he will speak of that and a thousand other things all in the same breath, even speaking of the first and second coming of the Lord without any distinction between them at all. And there has already been two thousand years between the first and second coming of the Lord. Yet the prophet will speak of it as though it happened at the same time. Time has no particular relevancy in the prophecy. Just like it has no particular relevancy to God, to whom there is no such thing as time.
Now in that prophecy, in the time of its fulfillment, so many instances, you will find where the prophet speaks of a thing that is happening now, which ultimately will have another fulfillment in the future. And the thing that happens now is a sign that when it comes to pass, you may be assured that the other one will also come to pass. And the reason for that is that the prophet has grasped his own day and his own time and his own generation; and he had a message for his own people as well as the great ultimate fulfillment out there in the future.
A good instance of that can be found in the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. You can hardly tell when the Lord Jesus is speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD [Matthew 24:2], and the great ultimate day of the Lord [Matthew 24:13-41], which is still to us in the future. Yet they are so intermingled there that you can hardly separate them. But the first one came to pass as exactly as the Lord said in 70 AD, and that is an assurance and a sign that the other one will also ultimately come to pass, the double fulfillment of the prophecy. Now that is the discussion of time.
All right, a second thing in the discussion of the fulfillment of prophecy: secondly, many, many, many, many of these prophecies are fulfilled again, and again, and again, and again. And each one of them is a type of the ultimate fulfillment in the great and final day of the Lord [Joel 2:31; Malachi 4:5], for the principles of God do not change, and the dealings of God with mankind do not change. The same Lord is the same Lord all the way through, and the prophecies are fulfilled as the character of God is delineated again and again and again. A principle that states that is found in the conclusion of Luke’s report of the apocalyptic discourse of the Lord Jesus [Luke 17:20-36]. And the end of chapter 17 is this: “And Jesus said unto them: Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together” [Luke 17:37]. Or, to put it grossly, not in the beautiful language of the King James Version: “Wherever the putrefying carcass is, there will you find the vultures circling around.” Now that is what he said in blunt, rude, crude language. He is talking about the future faction of Judea, and He is talking about the infamous blasphemy of the people of the Lord, and He is talking about the judgment of the Almighty on Jerusalem. And as He speaks that great prophecy, He ends it with the word: “Wherever the carcass is, there will you find the vultures circling around” [Luke 17:37]. Whether that carcass is found in Babel, or in Babylonia, or in Nineveh, or in Samaria, or in Judea and in Jerusalem, or in Tokyo, or in Berlin, or in Paris, or New York, or in Dallas, wherever the putrefying carcass lies, there will you see the vultures of judgment begin to circle around and around. Now in my words, the Lord is saying that these principles obtain, and these judgments fall wherever the time is right for the prophecy to come to pass, all of which is a type and a symbol and a sign of that great ultimate fulfillment in the final day of the Lord.
Now, just for a moment, when you turn to the Revelation, here in chapter 13 of the book, the first sentence begins: “And I sat upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea” [Revelation 13:1]. That is the Antichrist, the ultimate final deceiver and imposter who comes in as a great deliverer and unifier of this earth [Daniel 7:8], but who delivers the world into its last, great, awful, incomparably destructive horrible battle, the campaign of Armageddon [Revelation 16:14-16, 19:11-21]. That is the beast, antagonistic world government to the truth of righteousness and of God.
And you have it today. You don’t read, you don’t listen to the radio; you are not cognizant of the times in which you live if you are not sensitive to the rise of this awful kingdom of darkness that is anti-God, and anti-Christ, and anti-church, the beast that rises out of the sea [Revelation 13:1], called in the Bible Antichrist [1 John 2:18]. Now when we study the thirteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation and talk about that ultimate Antichrist, we are talking about now, we are talking about today. We are talking about the awful throes into which vile iniquity and unbelieving blasphemy is now plunging our present world, for the thing doesn’t change. And that principle of the anti-Christ, anti-God, antagonistic to God—you see it in Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image, sixty cubits high and six cubits broad [Daniel 3:1], a type of this Antichrist who is described as a number, 6-6-6, in the eighteenth verse of that thirteenth chapter [Revelation 13:18].
And there he is again, and again, and again. He assumes this form, then this form, then this form, then this form. Even as John says in 1 John and 2 John, “There are many antichrists” [1 John 2:18; 2 John 1:7]. And they rise and they thrive in their kingdoms of darkness, and they rule in awful and awesome power just as you have it described here in the Book. All of them are symbols of and types of and signs of that ultimate Antichrist, the great imposter who is described in 2 Thessalonians 2 [2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 8-10], and here in the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation [Revelation 13:3-10]. And when I read it here, I recognize that, I see that, for this is the passing scene on the dramatic stage of the world today. This is how God reacts and how God does. Read it here in the Book. That is why we are giving ourselves to the study of the Revelation.
Oh, how the time runs away! It is the same thing in the second one here. In the eleventh verse of that thirteenth chapter: “And I beheld another beast; he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon” [Revelation 13:11]. That’s the false prophet. That’s corrupt religion. And it finally ends in a world religious system; which is an enemy to Christ, which persecutes God’s people. Why, man, I’ve been reading that all of my life. I never read a book of Baptist history in my life that wasn’t drowned in blood and written in tears and in sorrow and in death! On the rack, in filthy dungeons rotting, burned at the stake, I’ve been reading that corrupt religion, persecuting the people of God, looks like a lamb; has the robe, the cross, the golden chain, but speaks like a dragon! [Revelation 13:11]. The false prophet; and when I read the Book, I am reading today as yesterday, for these are the great dramatic actors on the world scene, and this is what God does! Just read it, and that is why we are going to read it and look at it, the fulfillment of the prophecy again and again.
Turn to the eighteenth chapter of the Revelation. Babylon, this is the fall of Babylon: “And he cried mightily with a strong voice,” in verse 2, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen” [Revelation 18:2]. And then the rest of that chapter describes the fall of Babylon! [Revelation 18:3-24]. When you read there in the eighteenth chapter of the Revelation the fall of Babylon, there do you read the fall of every urban civilization that is corrupt in the sight of God, all of it, all of it just the same, an ancient Babylon, a modern Babylon, the ultimate and final Babylon that is yet to be; all of it here in the Book.
Well, let’s go to the third part of the fulfillment of prophecy. The first part discussed the fulfillment of prophecy in time. It is almost irrelevant, almost irrelevant. The second part in the discussion of the fulfillment of prophecy concerned it being fulfilled again and again and again, until finally it is ultimately fulfilled in the great denouement of the age. All right, a third discussion is something that I feel that any man of God ought to point out, faithfully point out. There is inherently, essentially, in the character of God, a condition. Always that condition is there, always, always. It is never absent. It is a part of the essential character of the Almighty.
Now to illustrate it: And Jonah went a day’s journey into Nineveh, and as he preached, he said, “Yet forty days, yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be destroyed” [Jonah 3:4]. When the king heard that, he descended his throne, he took off his robes and put on sackcloth, he got down in the dust of the ground, he cried and wept before God for his people, he commanded the entire city to turn and to cry unto God for mercy. And the Lord God looked down from heaven, and there was the king on his face, and there was a city crying unto the Lord God. And He did it not. And He did it not. He did it not [Jonah 3:5-10]. That is what made Jonah angry. For Jonah had said, “Forty days, and Nineveh will be destroyed” [Jonah 3:4]. God made Jonah out a liar. And you know, any man has got enough pride to be especially proud of his prognostications, and Jonah was that way. He didn’t do it, God didn’t do it. I know from that that Jonah never preached the condition. Jonah never said: “If ye do not repent, yet forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed.” No he did not say that. He said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh will be destroyed” [Jonah 3:4]. Unconditional prediction, and it didn’t come to pass. And when Jonah quarreled with the Lord God, he said, “Did I not tell You that to begin with? That is the reason I wanted to flee down to Tarshish because I knew, I knew that the Lord God in heaven that called me to preach, I knew He was a merciful God [Jonah 4:1-2]. And if God saw these poor damned sinners out here crying for help, and in repentance, turning to the Lord, You would forget about Your prediction and Your prophecy. And that is the reason I did not want to go.”
All right, there is something inherent, there is something essential, there is something a component, there is something in the make up of God Himself that when He raises His arms to strike, if the man turns, somehow God cannot let His arm fall. There are some things God cannot do, and that is one of them. When Nineveh turns, God turns! When Nineveh repents, God repents; when Nineveh changes, God changes! [Jonah 3:5-10]. Now you have a discussion of that in Jeremiah 18:7-10. Jeremiah discusses that trait in the character of Almighty God. “At what instant,” says the Lord:
At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck it up, and to pull it down, and to destroy it;
If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent—Isn’t that a funny way how we do not use language right? God says, I will repent. I will turn, I will turn—of the evil that I thought to do unto them, and I will not do it,
But at that instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build it up and to plant it; If it do evil in My sight, and obey not My voice, I will repent, I will turn, I will change from the good wherewith I said I would be good to them.
Now, let’s turn over here to the Revelation, and let’s apply that principle in the Revelation. One of the astonishments, one of the astonishments of the author of the Apocalypse is just this: now you look at it. He writes it here. John is writing and he says in the Revelation, he says the sign of the taking away of the people of the Lord—and what a tremendous sign that is—when God’s church shall be raptured away and God’s people shall suddenly like Enoch [Genesis 5:24], be taken up to glory [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], and then tells the awful judgments of the Lord God Almighty. Then John says, “And yet,” in Revelation 9:20, 21, “and yet they repented not!” And then he repeats the same thing in Revelation 9:21: “Neither repented they.” And John, as he looked upon it, looks upon it in amazement and in astonishment! Now he writes that same astonishment in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation. For example, in the sixteenth chapter, in the ninth and the tenth verses, and the eleventh verse, he said, “And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God . . . and they repented not” [Revelation 16:9]. And then he makes the same exclamation in the eleventh verse: “And they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds” [Revelation 16:11]. There, John, the author of the Apocalypse, looks upon this thing in amazement and wonder! With all of the signs that God has given, and with all of the terrible wrath that is poured out upon them, you would think those men would cry unto God for mercy. They do not cry at all. They just curse God to His face. And their ills and their sorrows, and their troubles, and their boils, and their pains, and the plague make them hate God all the more [Revelation 16:9-11]. Isn’t that astonishing? And yet that is the truth. Suffering, pain, sorrow never converts a man, never. You could hardly enter into the trials of a John Dillinger or a Clyde Barrow or a Babyface Nelson or a Bonnie Parker. They live in the depths of damnation, and horror, and terror, and fear, and dread, and foreboding, but they don’t turn! They just become more vile and wicked and murderous in their lives. It’s that way all the way through. The only thing that can convert a man is the Spirit of God! [John 16:7-15]. Sorrow doesn’t do it. Plagues don’t do it. The judgment of God doesn’t do it. And that is what John is amazed at in these things that come, and they don’t turn [Revelation 16:9-11].
So we are going to turn to the other side of it. We are going to turn it around, but some did, and even in hē thlipsis hē megalē, even in “the tribulation, the great,” even in this awful time of peril and judgment and awesome disaster, even in that day, this final day of the Lord, any man that would turn, any man that would call on the name of the Lord, any man that would bow in humility and ask for mercy, that man was saved, even in the great day of the great tribulation [Revelation 7:9-14]. You know, in that day, there were so many saved that the elder pointed them out to John, and says, “John look at them. Who are these?” [Revelation 7:13]. And John looked at that vast multitude [Revelation 7:9]. John said, “I do not see a face I recognize. I do not recognize a name that I hear.” “I do not know,” says John, “who are they?” And the spokesman replied: “These are they who have come out of hē thlipsis hē megalē, the tribulation, the great, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 7:14], a vast throng no man could number [Revelation 7:9]. Some do turn and are saved. Anytime, anywhere that any man who has breath of this life will turn, God will turn [Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9]. Anytime a man will change, God will change. Anytime a man will act, he can be saved as long as there is breath in this mortal body [Romans 10:9-13]. That’s the inherent condition in the prophecies of God when He says evil will come. If a man will change, God will change [Proverbs 1:23; Ezekiel 33:11].
Well, this is a part of the sermon I was trying to get to, to preach. And I told the people at the 8:15 service if they turn on the radio, I would get through with the first part of it, and they could listen to the third part. I don’t have any time for the third part again. I will sum it up.
The third part concerned why God makes the prophecy. Why? Now there’s a twofold answer, with several things underneath those twofold, so let us just take them as rapidly as we can. And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing that I do?” This is in Genesis 18:17: “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing I do?” No, said God. I am going to reveal to Abraham that thing that I do. And God revealed to Abraham the condition of Sodom and Gomorrah and what God was going to do [Genesis 18:20-33]. Why did He do that? Is God beholden to Abraham? Is God beholden to us? Does God have to reveal His purposes to us? No. Well then, why does God do it? In order that we might know how God thinks about Sodom and Gomorrah, and how God thinks about the wicked, that we might know, that it might be told us before it comes to pass [Genesis 19; Isaiah 45:21]. And now, that thing not only was true in Sodom and Gomorrah, and it was not only true in the days of the Flood—“a hundred and twenty years,” said God, and He gave them a hundred and twenty years [Genesis 6:3, 7:17-23]. Not only was that true in Sodom and Gomorrah, not only was it true in the days of the Flood, but that same principle is true in the days of Samaria [2 Kings 17:13-14]. “If you do not get right,” said God, “I will destroy My Northern Kingdom.” And in 722 BC, Sargon took it away [2 Kings 17:18]. And the same thing was true about His holy city Jerusalem, and His chosen tribe Judah; if you do not repent, said God, I will destroy it! And in 605 [BC], Nebuchadnezzar came and took Daniel away [Daniel 1:1-3]. And 598 [BC], Nebuchadnezzar came and took Ezekiel away [2 Kings 24:11-14]. And in 587 [BC], the hordes of Babylonia, the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar, came the third time, and they did not have to come any more because they plowed up Jerusalem into a heap [Jeremiah 39:1-10, 52:4-30; 2 Chronicles 36:17-21]. All the time Jeremiah was preaching, “repent, repent, turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?” [Jeremiah 3:12-14]. And there is no exception to that principle. That is what I am trying to preach about. It is in the character of Almighty God. Whether it applies to the Flood, whether it applies to Sodom and Gomorrah, it also applies to Samaria, and to Jerusalem, and to His churches, and to His people! It never changes and God wants us to see it. That is one of the purposes of prophecy.
The second great purpose of prophecy lies in the assurance to His people. I want you to know most of the times the world looks blue, most of the times. It looked blue in the days of Jeremiah. It looked blue to the disciples when they saw Jesus hanging on a cross. And it looked blue to John, when the iron hand and the heavy heel of the Roman Empire was on the neck and the heart and the soul and life of the people of God; it looked blue. And man, it looks blue today. Well, the book gives us a blueprint of civilization [Revelation 1:19]. There will arise the great ultimate dictator. That is right, the beast out of the sea [Revelation 13:1]. There will arise the great false system of religion [Revelation 13:12, 15], and we have already got it rising. And there will arise Jews going back to Palestine in unbelief [Ezekiel 22:17-22, 36:24-25]. And there will arise the most terrible wave of anti-Semitism the world has ever known [Jeremiah 30:7]. And there will come that inevitable campaign and battle and war of Armageddon [Revelation 16:14, 16, 19:11-21]. That’s right. It’s here now. Look!
But God says to His people, “Let not your hearts be troubled [John 14:1]. I saw all of that from the beginning [Isaiah 46:10], and don’t you persuade yourselves that this world is going to fall ultimately under the aegis of a Stalin or a Hitler, under a Khrushchev or a Nasser.” Don’t let God’s people lose heart; don’t you be discouraged; don’t let your heart fail you for fear, for God is with us [Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5]. And the Lord fights for His people [Deuteronomy 20:1]. And when our hands hang limp and lifeless by our side, our God is able to raise the very dead to march in the armies of the Almighty. Just read Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones, “Arise, arise” [Ezekiel 37:1-28].
That is why the prophecy, lest you lose heart, lest you be discouraged, lest your hands hang limp by your side. Man, stand up, look up, believe God! For victory is in our hands, not in theirs, and His blessings and His favor upon us and not upon God’s enemies. Oh, the Lord speaks to our hearts in the Book, and bless our souls in the message the Lord delivers in His churches.
Now, on the first note of this first stanza, in the balcony round, on this lower floor, somebody you, give your heart to Jesus, put your life in the church. As the Spirit of the Lord shall say and shall lead, come, come. Make it now, make it now. While we sing this song of appeal, “Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior,” down one of these stairways at the front or the back, into the aisle on the lower floor, while we sing this song, come. Come right now on the first note, while we stand and while we sing.
PROPHECY FOR OUR TIME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. God outlined the Apocalypse, and told John to write it down – the things he had seen, the things which are, and the things which shall be after these things
1. Beginning at fourth chapter, we see things come to pass after the days of the churches(Revelation 4:1-2)
B. If these things happen beyond us, why concern ourselves with them?II. The Apocalypse is intended for all the churches throughout all the centuries
A. The entire book is addressed to the seven churches, which are representative of Gods’ churches through all time
B. The author of the Apocalypse is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, not John(Revelation 1:1, 22:16)
C. The exposition of the character of God that you see in Revelation is pertinent, true and relative for all generations
1. What was true yesterday is true today, and true a thousand years hence is true now
2. These prophecies, which reflect the moral government and principles of the Almighty, are true through every age(Revelation 22:10)
3. Eternity is always knocking at the door of time – Christ is always at the door of the human heart (Revelation 3:20)III. The fulfillment of prophecy
A. In time
1. Time is the least relevant of all the factors in prophecy
a. Reflects character of God because to God there is no time
b. We see things past, present and future – but to God all is present(Exodus 3:14)
2. Three prophecies of Isaiah to represent three different “tenses”
a. The future as if present(Isaiah 9:6)
b. The future as if past (Isaiah 53:4-6)
c. No time considered at all (Isaiah 7:14)
3. Prophet the same as casual observer would describe the stars
a. Oft times in Major Prophets there are predictions of events as though they were at the same time
b. Double reference – two events, widely separated as to time of fulfillment, because prophet had message for his own day and for a future time
B. Repeated – many prophecies fulfilled again and again, each a type of the ultimate fulfillment in the final day of the Lord
1. The principles of God and His dealings with mankind do not change
a. Wherever the carcass is, there you find the circling vultures(Luke 17:37)
b. The Antichrist(Revelation 13:1, 13:18, Daniel 3:1, 1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3, 2 John 7, 2 Thessalonians 2)
c. The second beast, the false prophet(Revelation 13:11)
d. The fall of Babylon (Revelation 18:2)
C. The one condition inherent in the character of God
1. When God raises His arms to strike, if the man turns somehow God cannot let His arm fall
a. When Nineveh changed, God changed (Jonah 3:4-10, 4:1-2)
b. Jeremiah discusses this trait in God’s character(Jeremiah 18:7-10)
2. Applying this principle in the Revelation
a. Would think in light of the rapture and the awful judgments men would repent – but they blasphemed God(Revelation 9:20-21, 16:9, 11)
b. But those who do repent are saved, even in Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:14)IV. The reason for the prophecy
A. It is in the character of God to warn the wicked(Genesis 6:3, 13, 18:7)
B. Assurance and comfort to God’s people
1. The great prophecies before us(Revelation 4-19)
a. But God says, “Let not your hearts be troubledâ€¦”