"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5 :28-29).
A great deal of the Bible was written as prophecy. It is one of the prerogatives of God to speak absolutely of what the future holds. In the Old Testament, God taunted the idols of the nations for their inability to foretell coming events. "Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods" (Isaiah 42:22-23a).
The implication is that mankind needs a definitive statement of what the future holds to be able to grapple with the greatest issues of his existence. The truth is, many of the great teachings of the Bible, and many of the great events of God's eternal purpose are inseparably connected with Bible prophecy.
From Jesus' words quoted above on the coming resurrections of the just and the unjust, we learn immediately that prophecy matters to every person. Everyone will, in God's time, be brought from the grave and stand before God. Then they will enter, body and soul, into their eternal condition. God wants us to know that heaven or hell awaits every person, so each can prepare while there is time.
Which resurrection one participates in will be determined in this life. There is one resurrection for the just and another for the unbelieving. Acts 24:15 tells us that, "there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust". And the final book of the Bible speaks definitively. "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection" (Revelation 20:5).
I cannot imagine a more profound meditation. We stand on the threshold of eternity now. As we are confronted with the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death for our sins we make a decision that determines where we spend eternity, body and soul.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come" (II Timothy 3:1).
Bible prophecy speaks of what lies ahead in eternity for each individual, depending on their relationship to God's Son. Prophecy also foretells the course of world events here on planet earth in the present age, leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And in a nutshell, the short term prognosis is not good; We are to expect "perilous times".
The rest of II Timothy, chapter 3 goes on to expand on the meaning of this and teaches us that we may expect it to become progressively worse as people increasingly turn from the truth of the Bible on every side. "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Timothy 3:13). Those called seducers are people in places of leadership or influence that would promote ungodliness as a viable and even preferred alternative.
The message of many today, in fact, is the exact opposite of the warnings of God's Word. It is amazing to hear the many promises of happiness and peace being offered if we will throw aside all the moral and spiritual values found in Scripture. Western culture has been pursuing this course now for some time, and yet the promised improvement is never achieved. Still, people are not deterred from following the road another step, and another step, thinking satisfaction is just around the corner.
The Bible warns of the insanity of following such a carrot on a stick. Any objective person can look around and see that the state of the world is getting progressively and consistently worse, rather than better, as God is being denied. "We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble" (Jeremiah 8:15). The problems that come from sin in this world, increasingly on a global level, are lessons from God.
We are left with only two choices. We may continue on a global collision course with the displeasure of God or we may have a change of heart and mind and return to God His way.
These are sober words to have to write, but hoping for something better when it is contrary to what the Bible promises is not optimism; it is folly.