I Can Read What the Bible Says...Now Tell Me What It Means!
===========================================================

4. Reading the Bible for Fun and Prophet

Getting Face-to-Face with Your Future
-------------------------------------
The study of Bible prophecy [statement made by God, through a human spokesman
(the "prophet")] can tell you what's in store for you at the
end of your life. If you know how things are going to end, you can make
the necessary plans. You'll live with more confidence and have a better
perspective on life (Jeremiah 29:11).
 
Getting Personal with God
-------------------------
The study of Bible prophecy can give you a better understanding of who God
is. He knows everything about you, including the very details of what life
has in store for you (Matthew 10:29-31).

And That's Not All
=================

World events
------------
Many prophecies affect the world as a whole. The events surrounding the
end of the world describe alliances among the nations and wars between
peoples. A key player in the end times will be the nation of Israel
because God has a special plan for His chosen people. 

Life after death
----------------
The Bible teaches that there is an eternal nature in every person--a
spirit nature that lives on after physical death. 

Angels and demons
-----------------
There are alien beings in our atmosphere who are actively engaged in
spiritual warfare, and we are the battlefield.

History
-------
Understanding Bible prophecy can help us understand what has happened in
history. Reading ancient Bible prophecies can explain why it happened.

Reading the Bible Map of Prophecy
=================================
The Bible was written over a span of 1500 years by more than 40
different authors. But the Bible is not merely a collection of random 
religious writings. It is a single volume with a central theme
running throughout its pages: God's plan for the human race.
There are two major divisions in the Bible: the Old Testament
(writings before the birth of Jesus Christ), and the New Testament
(those written after Jesus was on earth). Here is how it breaks down:
There are 39 books in the Old Testament. When the Old Testament prophets
spoke about the end of the world, their prophecies were in the context of
the covenant. The focal points of the Old Testament prophets are the Jews,
the nation of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem.  It consist of four
sections: the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy); History (Joshua-Esther);
Poetry (Job-Song of Solomon); and the Prophets (Isaiah-Malachi).

Books of beginnings (Genesis-Deuteronomy)
-----------------------------------------
These writings contain the story of the beginning of the world up to the
entrance of Israel into the promised land of Canaan. This collection of
books is referred to as "the five books of Moses," "the Law," "the
Pentateuch," or "the Torah."

The book of Genesis is a theological explanation of the beginnings of our
universe. It's historical purpose was to provide an authentic history of
man's noble beginning as created by God, his ignoble fall into sin with
its consequences of corruption and judgment, and the introduction of God's
kingdom and redemptive programs in the earth. The history is specific
rather than general, constantly setting aside collateral lines to
trace the redemptive and covenant programs. It's theological purpose is
to set in bold relief the sovereignty of God over all His creation and to
emphasize the responsibility of man to that sovereign God. Responding
positively by obedience brings God's grace and deliverance, while negative
responses of rejection and rebellion bring God's hand of judgment.

The book of Exodus continues the theme of redemption introduced in
Genesis. The primary purpose of Exodus is to describe Israel's redemption
from her bondage and idolatry in Egypt to her place of prominence as the
Lord's peculiar people in covenant relations with their theocratic God.
Moses preserves for the people a record of their ignominious background
and God's redemption and deliverance of them through His mighty arm and
the blood of a lamb. This purpose is carried out by describing three grand
events: the exodus from Egypt, the giving of the Law, and the building of
the tabernacle.

The book of Leviticus served as a handbook for the ancient priests
of Israel. Leviticus has the singular purpose to call God's people to
personal holiness. The many rituals are used as visual aids to portray the
Lord as a Holy God and to emphasize that fellowship with Him must be on
the basis of atonement for sin and obedient living.

The book of Numbers narrates Israel's wide-ranging experiences in the
wilderness. The purpose of Moses in this book was to preserve a record of
God's long-suffering with the people He had chosen and to show that His
redemptive mercy did not preclude His strong punishment for their sins.
Though He had redeemed them in grace, He did not save them to a life of
ease, permissiveness, and independence. Rather, He saved them for
training, service, and warfare. The key phrase is, "All who were able to
go to war." In this preparation the Lord showed them that no enemy can
stand against them when they trust His power and respond to His word. The
theme then is, "Preparation for service enroute from Sinai to the Jordan."

Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Pentateuch. It looks back to the
earlier events of Israel's existence, and looks forward to what life will
be like after Israel's entrance into the Promised Land of Canaan. Moses' 
purpose in writing this book or giving these addresses was to prepare
the new generation of Israel for life in Canaan by a restatement of the
Sinaitic Law. Since the original Law was rather brief and pointed, Moses
here puts the basic parts of that Law into sermonic form, elaborating on
basic principles and making hortatory applications. This he does by
reminding them of the past, exhorting them concerning the present, and
encouraging them with God's promises for the future. While reminding them
of God's Law, he seeks to motivate them by God's love. He stresses the
certainty of God's Word and convenant promises, but constantly reminds
them of their own responsibility of obedience to bring those promises to
pass. It also shows us how Moses, the great leader of Israel, finished his
years of leadership and then passed from the scene, handing over the reins
to Joshua.

Books of history (Joshua-Esther)
--------------------------------
These 12 books review the history of the people of Israel. The narration
goes sequentially through the capture of the land (Joshua); the history of
the early nation (Judges, Ruth); the period of the united and divided
monarchies (1 Kings-2 Chronicles); and the exile and return (Ezra-Esther).

The book of Joshua picks up where Deuteronomy leaves off. The purpose 
of Joshua is to preserve a history of the conquest of Canaan and the
division of the land among the tribes. Moses is gone and the role of
leadership is Joshua's. Joshua had been one of the two spies (Caleb was
the other) who had brought back a favorable report and urged the
Israelites to enter the land. They would now enter after 40
years of wandering.

Judges is the second book of The History. The primary purpose of
Judges is to preserve a record of Israel's character during the time
she was without a national leader, emphasizing her need for a
theocratic king. The many cycles of failure and judgment repeatedly
emphasize the Deuteronomic truth that apostasy from the Lord
inevitably bring the judgment of slavery and chaos. 
After the conquest of Canaan, the Israelites divided up the land into
large sections and settled there tribe by tribe. They faced numerous
problems: building houses, plowing the land, planting vineyards and trees,
digging wells, and generally getting established as a nation. It was not
easy for the new settlers were attacked by invaders. In order to protect
his people, God sent judges to lead them. These judges were not legal
experts, but military leaders. They were specially empowered by God to
gather an army together, defeat the enemy, and rule over their district
until things quieted down. Judges closes with two particularly grisly
stories, one involving religious deceit and the other murder. They show
what happens when people forget the Lord and rely on their own strength.

The book of Ruth tells us that no matter how bad things may be, goodness
can exist, if we are willing to make the effort. The purpose of this book
appears to be twofold: 1) To portray the godly courage and love of two
women of different countries at a time of interracial strife, violence,
and idolatry. 2) To remind them of David's genealogical relation to Moab,
perhaps during his sojourn with his parents in Moab. It incidentally shows
the strong Gentile strain in Messiah's line, coming through Rahab the
Canaanite and Ruth the Moabite, maternally.

The books of 1 & 2 Samuel carry us into the period of time following the
judges. The unified purpose of the books of Samuel is to present a
history of Israel's development from a state of anarchy to a state
of theocratic monarchy. It gives a religious portrayal of the
nation's growth, showing the futility of attempting unification and 
national growth by human strength and leadership and the great
power and prestige of a nation founded on theocratic principles
under a God-appointed king. Its overriding motif is the glory and
power that comes to a nation that responds to the sovereign Lord. 
Samuel, as the last of the judges, was the leader just before a king was
appointed for the nation. Things were still chaotic, with new problems
arising with regrettable regularity. The religious affairs of the nation
were getting worse. The economic situation was bad. But most difficult of
all was the presence of the Phillistine army, which threatened to destroy
the nation of Israel. In an epic batle, Israel was defeated and the Ark of
the Covenant captured. In the midst of this national confusion, Saul was
appointed to be the first king. He was a strange figure, who alternated
between doing the reasonable thing and insane acts of violence. Because of
Saul's fear of other, David in particular, he spent excessive amounts of
time fighting the wrong people. In the end Saul died an inglorious death
in battle with the Phillistines. 
David was a different sort of king. He showed his military ability early,
but he had remarkable administrative skills as well. When the time came,
he was ready to structure the people along national lines and establish a
government that would work. His biggest job was to defeat the Phillistines
in battle, and he did this. We are not told how, but it must have been a
resounding victory because the Phillistines never again presented any
serious threat to Israel. However, David was not perfect. At one point
during crucial battle he allowed his passions to overcome his reason and
seduced the wife of one of his soldiers. He later deeply regretted that
act, composing a psalm of repentance (Psalm 51).

The two books of Kings have an obvious twofold purpose, one literary and
the other religious. The literary purpose was to complete the history of
David's kingdom which was begun in the books of Samuel some 400 years
earlier. As 2 Samuel ended with David's purchase of the temple site, so 
1 Kings begins with Solomon's preparation to build the temple, and 2 Kings
continues the story to the destruction of the temple as the period ends.
The religious purpose of relating this history to the keeping of the
covenant seeks to emphasize to the nation as they went into captivity in
586 the inseparable connection between obedience and blessing and between
disobedience and cursing. The books of Kings have a strong emphasis on the
need for repentance and response to the covenant God that restoration
might be effected and the covenant purposes fulfilled.

The purpose of the books of Chronicles has a twofold purpose, one
historical and the other canonical. The historical purpose was not to
continue the history of Israel where 2 Kings left off, but to succinctly
present the whole story from the divine perspective, starting with Adam.
The emphasis is on provisions for worship in the temple and Levites, the
positive blessings of repentance, and God's sovereignty to restore them
and to fulfill His promises if they will respond to Him.
The canonical purpose is suggested by the setting of these books at the
end of the Hebrew Canon. This gave them a place of special importance.
They constitute a unique kind of repetition in the Old Testament,
summarizing the whole of sacred history to remind all future generations
of the centrality of God in the midst of His people. Though much of Israel
was in dispersion, His program for them remains intact; though He raises
up world empires to discipline them. He will yet sovereignly fulfill all
His covenant promises to them.

The unified purpose of Ezra-Nehemiah is that the history of Israel's
return from exile was necessary to demonstrate the Lord's continuing
covenant relations with them in fulfilling His promise of return.
The unique purpose of Ezra was to document the return to rebuild the
temple at the specific time the Lord had said it would take place through
Jeremiah. The unique purpose of Nehemiah was to document the rebuilding of
Jerusalem's wall.

The purpose of the book of Esther was to encourage the Jews scattered
throughout the Empire with this story of the Lord's continued concern and
presence with them, though He is not seen and though they are far from His
temple in Jerusalem. A further religious purpose was to supply the
authentic explanation of the origin of the Jewish Feast of Purim, a
festival that was to be especially dear to the Jews of world dispersion.

Books of poetry and wisdom (Job-Song of Songs)
----------------------------------------------
These books include poetry from David (the shepherd boy who became a
king), wise saying from King Solomon, and the story of the sufferings of
Job. 

Books of prophecy (Isaiah-Malachi)
----------------------------------
These 17 books are all written by Old Testament prophets. Here are clues
you can use to understand the writings of the Old Testament prophets. The
writings of the prophets occurred during a 500-year period from about 930
B.C. to 430 B.C. During this time, a civil war divided the nation of
Israel into the northern kingdom (called "Israel") and the southern
kingdom (called "Judah"). The Jews were "on again/off again" in their
allegiance to God. It was the role of the prophets to encourage the people
to turn back to God, warning of invasion and capture by other kingdoms if
they failed to do so. The northern kingdom was captured by the Assyrians
in 722 B.C. and the southern kingdom was invaded and captured by the
Babylonians in 586 B.C. These were bleak days for the Jews. Their
rebellion against God had left them defeated and dejected. Some of the
prophets wrote before the invasions. Some wrote to the Jews in exile.
Others wrote to the few Jews who were left behind in Jerusalem, which had
been destroyed by the invaders. Some of the prophets' predictions were
short-term warnings (as when Jeremiah predicted that the southern kingdom
would be carried away into Babylonian captivity if the Jews didn't return
to God-Jeremiah 13:19). Other predictions were intended to give long-range
hope to the Jews that God had not welched on His promise to Abraham that
He would make the Jews into a great nation. These prophecies focus on
God's promise to send a "Messiah" who would establish His kingdom on earth
and rescue the Jews from persecution. 

Clues You Can Use
-----------------
Here is what you need to know to understand the writings of the Old
Testament prophets. The writings of the prophets occurred during a
500-year period from about 930 B.C. to 430 B.C. During this time, a civil
war divided the nation of Israel into the northern kingdom (Israel) and
the southern kingdom (Judah). The Jews were "on again/off again" in their
allegiance to God. It was the role of the prophets to encourage the people
to turn back to God, warning of invasion and capture by other kingdoms if
they failed to do so. The northern kingdom was captured by the Assyrians
in 722 B.C. and the southern kingdom was invaded and captured by the
Babylonians in 586 B.C. These were bleak days for the Jews. Their
rebellion against God had left them defeated and dejected. Some of the
prophets wrote before the invasions. Some wrote to the Jews in exile.
Others wrote to the few Jews who were left behind in Jerusalem, which had
been destroyed by the invaders. Some of the prophets' predictions were
short-term warnings (as when Jeremiah predicted that the southern kingdom
would be carried away into Babylonian captivity if the Jews dind't return
to God--Jeremiah 13:19). Other predictions were intended to give
long-range hope to the Jews that God had not welched on His promise to
Abraham that He would make the Jews into a great nation. These prophecies
focus on God's promise to send a "Messiah" who would establish His kingdom
on earth and rescue the Jews from persecution.

There are 27 books in the New Testament. Prophecies about the end of
the world from the New Testament are in the context of the cross. Here is
how the books can be divided: 

Biographies of Jesus (Matthew-John)
-----------------------------------
These four books, called the "Gospels", give biographical accounts of the
life of Christ for the 33-year period from His birth through His
crucifixion and resurrection, and His return back to heaven. 

Action adventure about the beginning of Christianity (Acts)
-----------------------------------------------------------
This book starts with the return of Christ to heaven, and then explains
what happened to the people who believed that Jesus was the
promised Messiah. These "followers" of Christ formed the first group of
Christians. The Book of Acts shows how the message of Christ spread around
the world in a few short years, with groups of believers ("churches")
springing up in cities throughout the Mediterranean region.

Personal correspondence (Romans-Jude)
-------------------------------------
Twenty-one books (called "epistles") in the New Testament are really
letters. The apostles served as mentors to the growing Christian churches
and wrote these letters to give the local churches encouragement and
instruction for living a life in the pattern of Jesus. These early
Christians suffered from severe persecution by the Jewish religious
leaders as well as Roman civil authorities. Many of these letters were
written to rekindle hope of Christ's return to earth (at which time their
suffering would end as Christ established His eternal kingdom).
 
Vision of the future (Revelation)
---------------------------------
The apostle John wrote this book while he was exiled on the island of
Patmos in the Mediterranean Sea. It was addressed to the seven churches of
Asia who were experiencing persecution under the Romans. The book records
a series of visions John received from God dealing with how human history
will end and what will happen to all people who have ever lived.

"Who Is That Messiah Man?"
-------------------------
Here is a list of some of the Old Testament prophecies about the identity
of the Messiah which were fulfilled by Jesus.

Clue to Messiah's             Old Testament               Fulfilled
    Identity                    Prophecy                  by Jesus
-----------------             -------------               ---------
Born of a virgin              Isaiah 7:14                 Matthew 1:22,23

Born in town of Bethlehem     Micah 5:2                   Matthew 2:5,6
                                                          Luke 2:4-6

Lived in Egypt for a while    Numbers 24:8;Hosea 11:1     Matthew 2:15

Massacre of infants in His    Jeremiah 31:15              Matthew 2:17,18
birthplace

Would heal people             Isaiah 53:4                 Matthew 8:16,17

Would teach in parables       Isaiah 6:9,10               Matthew 13:10-15

Would be rejected by          Psalm 69:8                  John 1:11;7:5
His own                       Isaiah 53:3

Triumphal entry into          Zechariah 9:9               Matthew 21:4,5
Jerusalem

Betrayed for 30 pieces of     Psalm 41:9;55:12-14         Matthew 26:14-16;
silver                        Zechariah 11:12,13                     21-25 

Abandoned by His disciples    Zechariah 13:7              Matthew 26:31

Whipped and spat upon         Isaiah 50:6                 Matthew 26:67;
                                                                  27:26     
 
Crucified between two         Isaiah 53:12                Matthew 27:38    
thieves                                                   Mark 15:27,28
                                                          Luke 22:37
Would rise from the dead      Psalm 16:10                 Matthew 28:2-7

Would ascend into heaven      Psalm 24:7-10               Mark 16:19
                                                          Luke 24:51
Auditing the Old Testament Prophet Statements
=============================================

A Covenant Context
------------------
When the Old Testament prophets spoke about the end of the world, their
prophecies were given in the context of the convenant. Early in the
history of the human race, God made a promise (a "covenant") with
Abraham. God promised several things to him: A great nation would come
from the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 12:2). The descendants of Abraham
are the Jews, and the nation is now known as Israel. The descendants of
Abraham would have their own homeland (Genesis 15:7). Back then, the
specific property was known as Canaan. Now it is known as Israel,
including the city of Jerusalem and the land currently occupied by the
Palestinians. Through a descendant of Abraham, all the nations of the
world will be blessed (Genesis 22:18). This mystery descendant was
referred to as the Messiah, who would eventually come and establish a
kingdom ("the messianic kingdom"). As the Old Testament prophets looked
toward the end of the world, they saw it from the perspective of the
Messiah coming to earth to establish His kingdom. they saw this as the
fulfillment of God's covenant with Abraham.

A Message of Hope So They Could Cope
------------------------------------
Keep in mind that most of the Old Testament prophets were writing at a
time when the Jews were under terrible oppression. Their prophecies
anticipated the arrival of the Messiah to restore the Jews to their
homeland and establish the privileged treatment which God had promised for
the descendants of Abraham. These prophecies were intended to be
reassuring predictions about the end of the world which would give the
Jews hope for the future. In essence, the message of the Old Testament
prophets went something like this: "While things are currently bad, they
aren't always going to stay that way. God is going to be faithful to the
promises He made to our forefather Abraham. Hang in there! Hope is on the
horizon".
 
Two! Two! Two Prophecies in One!
--------------------------------
Do certain Old Testament prophecies have double coverage? For example, the
prophet Isaiah gave a prophecy about a woman and her child that related to
the circumstances of King Ahaz. Centuries later, the apostle Matthew used
this prophecy of Isiah to apply to the birth of Jesus. Part of the
difficulty in understanding prophecy is determining whether it was
applicable to the prophet's own time, or to the end of the world, or to
both.

So That's How It's gonna Be
===========================

Signs of the Last Days
----------------------
Increase of wars and rumors of wars (Joel 3:9,10).
Increase in knowledge (Daniel 12:4).
 
Nature of the Tribulation
-------------------------
People will hide in caves because of their fear of God (Isaiah 2:19).

Sorrow of death will seize men like a woman's pains of 
childbirth (Isaiah 13:8)

A plague will make people like walking corpses with their
flesh rotting away (Zechariah 14:12).

The sun ,moon, and stars will darken (Joel 2:31).
World events will steadily go from bad to worse (Amos 5:19).
The Bible will be scarce (Amos 8:11,12).
Men's blood will be poured out into the dust (Zephaniah 1:17).
The earth will convulse and tremble like a drunkard (Isaiah 24:20).
There will be unprecedented terror and anguish (Jeremiah 30:7).

Events Occurring with the Tribulation
-------------------------------------
The Antichrist makes a seven-year peace treaty with
Israel (Daniel 9:27).

Jews from around the world will return to Jerusalem 
(Isaiah 43:5,6; Ezekiel 34:11-13).

The Antichrist will desecrate the temple in Jerusalem 
(Daniel 9:27).

A great war in Israel (Ezekiel 38:1-39:24).
The battle of Armageddon will take place (Joel 3:2,9-16).

Israels' Status in the Millennium
---------------------------------
The temple will be rebuilt (Isaiah 2:2).
The reign of the Messiah will be seen by the Jews (Isaiah 52:7-12).
Israel will be restored by God (Isaiah 43:1-13).
Jesus will rule from Jerusalem (Psalm 2:6-8).
Jerusalem will become the worship center of the world (Micah 4:1).

You Can Know The Secret That The Old Testament Porphets Never Understood
========================================================================
The Old Testament prophets didn't realize that there would be two separate
times when the Messiah would come to earth. They expected that the "coming
of the Messiah" would be one event. This misunderstanding explains their
confusion as to how the Messiah could be both a suffering servant (Isaiah 53)
and a conquering leader and commander (Isaiah 55:4). Jesus cleared things
up. His first visit to earth was in the role as the sacrifice for our
sins, so He was crucified for us. When He returns to earth in the future
("the second coming"), it will be as the reigning Lord.

Peeking at the future from a New Testament Point of View
========================================================
The end-times prophecies in the New testament shift the primary focus off
the Jews, the nation of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem. It has to do
with Jesus Christ and what He accomplished when He was crucified.

The Context Is the Cross
------------------------
When Jesus and the apostles spoke about the end of the world, their
prophecies were in the context of the cross. 
The Old testament prophets had promised a Messiah who would deliver Israel
from oppression by its enemies. So the Jews were expecting a Messiah who
would bring them political, economic, and religious freedom. Christ was
the Messiah who came to save the world. His first coming was not intended
to establish a political kingdom. By His death on the cross, He paid the
penalty so people could be free from slavery to sin. 
Salvation through faith in Christ is available to all people. This is the
fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham that the whole world would be
blessed through one of his descendants.
At some unknown moment in the future, Christ is going to return to be
reunited with all people who have believed that they are saved by His
death on the cross. Because He was sacrificed in our place on the cross,
we have the opportunity to live with Him forever when the world as we know
it comes to an end.
When the writers of the New Testament speak of the events at the end of
the world, they see these things as the completion of what Christ started
when He died on the cross for our sins.

A Message of Hope So They Could Cope (the Sequel)
-------------------------------------------------
Imagine that you are one of the 12 disciples having dinner with Jesus. You
are thinking that He is about to make a public announcement that He is
going to establish His earthly kingdom. To your shock, He says that He is
going to be crucified the next day. You are so shocked that you don't even
understand what He means when He says He will rise from the dead after
three days and then go back to heaven. All you know is that your best
friend in the world is soon to be out of this world. All of your dreams
and aspirations for the future were tied up in this guy. How are you
going to cope without Him around? Knowing that these thoughts were
haunting His disciples, Jesus reassured them with the following words
(John 14:1-3). Whenever He spoke about the future, Jesus wanted His
disciples to be reassured that God had a master plan. He left them with
hope for the future because the plan included living eternally with Christ
Himself.
Hope and encouragement were also the underlying message of the end-times
prophecies given by the writers of the epistles. For instance, the new
believers in the city of Thessalonica were under the impression that
Christ's second coming was going to happen immediately. When some of them
died before the second coming, the others were confused and depressed.
Paul, therefore, wrote a letter to that church explaining that all of the
dead believers would be resurrected with new bodies at the return of
Christ. He didn't want them to be sorrowful if Christ's return was
delayed. Instead he wanted them to be excited about the prospect of being
reunited with their deceased loved ones at some time in the future 
(1 Thessalonians 4:17,18).

As with the end-times prophecies from the Old Testament, the message
behind the prophecies in the New Testament is one of hope. 

Signs of the Last Days (as Told by Jesus)
-----------------------------------------
There will be wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6).
There will be conflict between the nations (Matthew 24:7).
There will be famines and earthquakes (Matthew 24:7).
Christians will be martyred (Matthew 24:9).
There will be an increase in wickedness (Matthew 24:12).

Signs of the Last Days (as Predicted by Paul)
---------------------------------------------
Christians will be snatched off the face of the earth into the sky
(1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Bodies of dead Christians will be pulled out of the graves 
(1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Nature of the Tribulation (as Predicted by John)
------------------------------------------------
There will be famines and plagues (Revelation 6:8).
Christians will be martyred (Revelation 6:9).

Earthquakes and natural calamities will kill up to half the world's
population (Revelation 6:12;8:7;11:19).

Events Occurring with the Tribulation (as Predicted by John)
------------------------------------------------------------
A devious world leader will seek world domination (Revelation 6:2).
This world leader will institute a false religion (Revelation 13:11-15).

There will be a move toward a global economy, and anyone who refuses
allegiance to the world leader cannot participate in commerce
(Revelation 13:16-18).

Strained Eyesight...Blurred Vision...or Just Poor Lighting?
-----------------------------------------------------------
God doesn't expect you to see a completed and detailed picture of all that
will happen at the end of the world. In fact, He doesn't want you to know
everything. Some things He intends to keep hidden from our understanding
(Matthew 24:36). If God had wanted all of this to be plain and simple for
us, He could have made it that way. Instead, He intentionally chose to
obscure many of the details about the end of the world. So it's not that
you have poor end-times eyesight;it's just that God has purposefully kept
the lighting dim. We can see the large shapes of what is on the horizon,
but we still can't make out the details (1 Corinthians 13:12).
So we don't need to be frustrated if we feel a little disoriented in our
study of the end times. God wants us to know enough to be confident that
He has a plan for us, and to place our hope for the future in His plan.

"What's That Again?"

1. Prophecies about the end times appear throughout the Bible. They are
   not arranged in any kind of sequential order.

2. In the Old Testament, most of the end-times prophecies are found in the
   books of the major and minor prophets. In the New Testament, Jesus and
   the writers of the epistles refer to some of the events which will
   happen in the future, but Revelation is essentially an entire book
   about the events at the end of time.
  
3. When the Old Testament prophets spoke about the end of the world, their
   prophecies were in the context of the covenant.
 
4. Prophecies about the end of the world from the New Testament were in
   the context of the cross.
 
5. In both the Old and New Testaments, the prophecies about the end of the
   world carry a message of hope that God will be faithful to His 
   promises.
 
6. Don't expect to understand all of this now. God didn't intend for us to
   know everything in this lifetime.