When considering our times and the degree of rebellion that man has entered, we are tempted to believe that our age has entered a time of upheaval never before known by mankind. But are these times really that different?
Whether our rebellion against God is overt (idol worship, sexual immorality, rampant vulgarity, etc.) or covert (secularization of heathen practices and holidays, assimilation of pagan practices into Christianity, etc.), it is the same as it has always has been. Even at its highest extent (the days of Noah), man’s rebellion against God is nothing new.
God’s attempts to encourage reformation are not novel, either. With every rebellion, God sent man the means by which to turn them back to Him before He judged them according to their works. Whether through His prophets, kings, miraculous workings, or the ministry of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, God has repeatedly brought about reformations in our rebellious world. We understand this through studying the Scriptures, seeing for ourselves the favor He showed to those who did not earn it. More often than not, He gave them prophetic guidance and insight through the prophets He sent to them. Their divine ministry amongst the Israelites not only sparked reformations in their age, but in later ones.
A reformation began in earnest when Peter and the early church revealed to the Jews and Gentiles that their times and their work were spoken of by prophets such as Moses, King David, Joel, and Habakkuk. The Scriptures describe their time as a reformation.
“The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.” (Heb 9:8-10, emphasis supplied).
History also testifies of another reformation in a time when the Word of God was shut out from man. One of its greatest leaders heard from heaven the testimony written by the prophet Habakkuk, that the just shall live by faith. (Hab. 2:4). In the 1800s, America was roused to attention at the preaching of those who boldly proclaimed that Christ’s coming was near. In the days of William Miller, believers from all over united based on the testimony given to the prophet Daniel concerning the 2300-day prophecy (Dan. 8:14).
Thus, we can see a pattern that is should not be new to us or even the world. That is, man rebels against his Creator and his Creator brings about a reformation to preserve them from the consequences of their sins. It has repeated itself from the beginning of man’s rebellion and is repeating itself right now.
All around the world, the Lord is preparing and sending the messages that will bring about a reformation among man. Whether they be Christian or no, the Lord wants us to return to Him before the things to come. In facilitating this reformation, the Lord will utilize that which He has always employed to do this, the testimony of the prophets.
There is nothing new about this approach, for “it has already been in ancient times before us” (Eccl. 1:10 NKJV). But these things, when presented to Christians today, are regarded as “new.” In the face of that which should not be novel, many in our faith turn their back on these prophetic messages in some way, fashion, or form. But why do they do this? Why do Christians resist this reformation today? Why are they slow to accept the truths that have been established since ancient times? The Preacher answers this paradox plainly. “There is no remembrance of former things…” (Eccl. 1:11 NKJV).
The wisdom of the Preacher here speaks volumes. Christians simply do not remember the former things. They do not remember the teachings of old. They have forgotten the lessons learned from those in the faith who fell into apostasy and rebellion. They have no memory of them, even the triumphant reformations that brought many back to the Lord; particularly, how the Lord wrought them. They have forgotten the former way, and as a result, they have repeated the history of countless generations that “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” That which should be old to them is new to them.
“…Nor will there be any remembrance of the things that are to come…” (Eccl. 1:11 NKJV). Are we Christians today aware of “the things that are to come”? Have we, through diligent Bible study and earnest prayer, sought understanding of what will come upon the world before Jesus’ return? Or have we all but accepted the popular but unbiblical teachings such as a seven-year tribulation and a coming, physical “mark of the beast” (tattoo, computer chip, etc.)? Do we believe that the final battle between good and evil will come down to a battle solely between earthly military powers? Hopefully not.
Hopefully, before these things do come upon the world, all of God’s people will have a greater understanding of the prophecies that were written for our own benefit and repeated throughout our history.
Yet you may wonder how these prophecies have been repeated. A classic example of this understanding was revealed to us by the greatest Teacher who ever lived concerning the days before His return.
“And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Lk. 17:26-30, emphasis supplied).
Jesus taught the world what the days before His coming would be like by the wicked times of the antediluvians and of the city of Sodom. Thus, we can know what to expect in those days by studying that which “has already been”. Is it possible that by further study of that which “has already been”, we can remember the “things that are to come”? This, we will affirm now.
Concerning the belief of a seven-year tribulation, a careful study of Hananiah the prophet will reveal that there will be many who seek to prolong the time by which we should earnestly seek the Lord. In Jeremiah 28, we can see that the false prophet sought to keep the people of Judah from their work of repentance for two years.
Any prophecy that seeks to delay us from engaging in this vital work is false and it will be revealed as such, just as it was in the days of Jeremiah. In Hananiah’s time, a two-year delay was sought. In ours, men seek a seven-year delay. Our repentance and preparation for Jesus’ return is needed now, not at an undeterminable point in the undeterminable future.
What of this mark of the beast? Could there really be a point or points in biblical history where Christians can better understand what this mark is and how to avoid it? We find our answer in the times of Daniel. When Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were gathered at the plain of Dura with all the officials of the Babylonian kingdom, they were commanded to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s image or be killed (Dan. 3).
In the later Medo-Persian kingdom, Daniel and all the people of this kingdom were forbidden by royal decree to petition God for thirty days. Noncompliance to this law was punishable by death (Dan. 6). Do not these perilous situations in the history of God’s people foreshadow the coming time when those who refuse to worship the beast will be killed? (Rev. 13:15-17).
What of our coming deliverance? Will it come through the laws of men or through the military’s might? No. It will be through the God who smote Egypt with plagues and the army of Assyria by the hand of His angel. His hand will deliver His people.
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after (Eccl.1:11, emphasis added).
What do the Scriptures promise here, but a time when these things will no longer be remembered? After God’s people are gathered to Him, forever safe from sin and all that afflicted them, they will gradually forget about the days of man’s rebellion. We are assured of this by the testimonies of Isaiah the prophet and the apostle John (Isa. 65:17-25; Rev. 21:4).
Eternity will forever separate us from that which came upon us. These are the promises repeated to us from the days of old. Many dread that which is to come because they don’t remember their own past. They do not remember the lessons that men, women, and even children of faith learned before them. Every lesson of the Bible has been repeated from the beginning until now, over and over again. Every generation repeated the lessons before it to help a people remember their own past. For our sakes, these lessons were faithfully recorded so we can be prepared for that which is to come.
But there is a concerted effort to induce us to forget these things by the powers of darkness and many among us today. We believe we can move forward in our ancient faith without our ancient lessons. This has created a schism among our faith, a schism that should not exist among those whom Christ called to be one as He and His Father are one. Despite the varying divisions that exist in our faith, many of them share a common factor. They do not remember the things that were and are not prepared for the things to come. This is why when such prophetic messages are taught to them, they are completely foreign to their understanding.
Now is the time for us to remember the lessons of those times, to bring to remembrance the former things that were written for our deliverance. Should we not look to that which the Word of God made flesh provided to us, to bring us safely through the things that are to come and into the courts of heaven? The time approaches quickly when every lesson of the Bible concerning the end times, repeated throughout countless ages, will soon repeat themselves for the last time. May the Lord convict you to bring these lessons to remembrance before that day.
*Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures come from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.*