Is Biblical Relevance Eroded by Delay?

–by Neil Thielke, January 11, 2013

Delayed fulfillment has never weakened the power of God’s warnings through Bible prophesies. The Biblical prophets issued numerous words in the Bible that told of future events, but every one of them came to pass with amazing accuracy. In spite of many years of delay, Bible prophecies about the end times are amazingly similar to the headlines in today’s newspapers.

To understand more fully how accurate prophecy is in the Bible, let’s take a look at some of the prophecies that took years and even centuries to fulfill.

12 years approximately after Joseph received his dream about his brothers bowing down the dream was fulfilled.

  • Dream given: Genesis 37 (about 1900 BC)

  • Word fulfilled:  Genesis 42- 45

300 years approximately after the prophet’s declaration, Jeroboam’s idolatrous alter of Israel was destroyed

  • Word given: 1 Kings 13 (930 BC)

  • Word fulfilled: 2 Kings 23: 1-20 (620 BC)

70 years approximately after the prophecy of the 1st restoration of the Israel, the captives were restored from Babylon/Persia

  • Word given: Jeremiah 25:11, 29:10 (he lived 626- 585 BC)

  • Word fulfilled: Daniel 9:2, Ezra 1 (538 BC)

Over 2500 years after the first prophecy for the 2nd restoration of Israel, the Jewish people returned from around the world

  • Ezekiel 35- 39 (Ezekiel lived 593- 571 BC)

  • Word partially fulfilled (more soon to come) : in 1948 Israel became a nation once again

2000 years approximately from New Testament prophecies about end times until now. Some of the preliminaries have already taken place.

  • Word given: 28 AD — Matthew 24 Jesus’ prophesies about end of world

There are many end-time prophecies in the New Testament. The following is one from Paul the apostle.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

Many Christians Today Ignore the Urgency of Sharing the Gospel

Christians can live under delusion. Delay has a way of numbing our sensitivities. Even among Christians I have heard people ask why there is all the talk about the end of the world, when centuries have gone by and Jesus still hasn’t returned.

Back in the early 1980’s several Christians spoke of having the same dream:  A group of Christians were on a picnic near the ocean. They had spread a white cloth on the grass and were spreading out the food, preparing to eat.  One of them on a short walk discovered that just over the cliff from where they were sitting, there had been a shipwreck where dozens of people were struggling to get to shore through the wind and waves. He ran back and alerted the picnickers, but the Christians were just sitting down to eat and only one or two responded to His urgent plea for help. They rushed back down to the surf and began to rescue the drowning. The task was so urgent and the need so great that one of the rescuers was sent back to the picnic to gather more helpers. As he frantically told the Christians at the picnic of the situation at the surf, the Christians were just gathering up their picnic things and seemed unconcerned about the shipwreck. The dream ended there.

God had given this dream to my wife as well as to another person we met. Shortly after my wife’s dream, the very same dream had been given to a well-respected prophet who wrote about it in his newsletter. All three who told of this dream were left wondering if the Christians at the picnic actually would respond. The Christians at the picnic were so caught up in enjoying their own lives, that they were diverted from the relevancy and urgency of the ship-wrecked people drowning in the surf below them. After they woke from the dream, those who shared the dream understood that God was speaking to them about the hearts of Christians growing cold.

Some have interpreted this dream as an indictment on Christian enjoyment. It is not! the picnic would have been a great idea IF there had not been a disaster going on in the surf below. What God was addressing through the dream is Christian priorities at the culmination of history. Too many Christians today no longer set aside their own activities long enough to share the good news of forgiveness and salvation through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Too many present-day Chistians no longer see it as their responsibility to rescue others from an eternity in hell. Too many of us are only too willing to leave evangelism up to someone else.

However, Paul the apostle makes it clear in Romans 10 that it is the responsibility of every Christian to share the gospel with their friends and neighbors, their family and their co-workers.

 Romans 10:5-15 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that is by faithsays: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down)  “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,  for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Our priorities can only be changed as our passions are changed. Our passions are:

  • what we pray for

  • what we spend money on

  • what we spend time on

  • especially what we spend time thinking about, dreaming about.

Peter the apostle contrasted scoffing in the end times, with the urgency of sharing the gospel:

2 Peter 3:3-13 “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” [italics mine]

All Bible references are from the New International Version of the Bible:

New International Version (NIV)

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