United Church of God

Update from the President: September 3, 2020

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Update from the President

September 3, 2020

Beyond Today Recordings

Yesterday we recorded three more Beyond Today television programs with a studio audience consisting of our Ambassador Bible College class. The programs were "Human Identity and the Family of God" by Darris McNeely, "Why Do Good People Suffer?" by Steve Myers and "Beware the Mark of the Beast" by Gary Petty.

We also held a video conference of all U.S. Festival coordinators in final preparation for the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles. We are confident that God will direct and protect us in the keeping of His commanded assemblies at this challenging time. We thank everyone for their patience, restraint and consideration for not just doing what is lawful to do, but what is expedient and caring for the people we are with. Our faith has been challenged. But remember that faith is more than a feeling. James defines what it looks like in James 2:18: "I will show you my faith by my works." The works that we do are those that reflect Christ's love and respect for others, not something that magnifies us and our rights. Let's do all things decently and in order and let's all move forward together to get through the obstacles of life. Above all, let's be thankful for all the blessings and freedoms we have.

Where Are We in Prophecy?

As we approach the fall Holy Day season, I have been thinking a lot about biblical prophecy because the upcoming High Days literally burst with prophetic meaning. Essentially one half of the plan of God—the death and resurrection of the prophesied Messiah, the time for us to come out of sin and come under the sacrifice of Christ, and the coming of the powerful Holy Spirit—these have been moved over into the "fulfilled" category of Bible prophecy.

Now we press forward to unfulfilled prophecies of great meaning for us: the prophesied return of Jesus as King of Kings, the transformation of human disciples into eternal beings, the establishment of the incredible Kingdom of God, and finally the Great White Throne judgment, following which comes a humanly indescribable time when an all-new earth and heavens will miraculously appear. As God Himself tells us, "Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore" (Isaiah 65:17, New Living Translation).

All these prophecies embody what we will joyfully observe in a few short weeks.

How different from the common stereotype of a biblical prophet! Instead of thinking about astonishing, thrilling good news when the word "prophet" comes up, many automatically think of an angry, bearded, long-haired man boring down on passersby with piercing eyes, ranting words of condemnation. The Greek word apocalypse, a word which simply means revelation or unveiling, has become twisted, connected with terrible things typically associated with a disastrous end of the world or other terrible outcomes.

Yes, much of Bible prophecy describes harsh and painful events. But ironically, and perhaps surprising to those not familiar with the Word of God, these cruel events actually reflect in large measure the collective consequences of the breaking of God's law! As God declares throughout the Bible, disobedient people bring much of their trials and troubles down upon themselves through their own actions.

Even so, do we realize that most Bible prophecies transcend dire predictions? Prophecy delivers a powerful message: God is in control and God is achieving His purpose with keen deliberation. His purpose is one of good news, of an incredible human potential.

Through prophecy, God affirms His relationship with us and explains His involvement with the world. Through prophecy we come to understand the full stature of Jesus Christ, an understanding that comes when we experience the fullness of His first coming and appreciate the humanly indescribable power that materializes in His second coming!

By showing us what the future holds, God demonstrates His love for humanity. He reveals and preserves prophecies that describe the building of a new society centered on God and Jesus Christ, a society that will live by the values that guarantee peace, prosperity and happy families and lives.

This is the embodiment of the very gospel of Jesus Christ, a gospel rich with marvelous prophecies!

We live in an era of fear, anxiety and uncertainty. But we in the Church of God are blessed with understanding—especially prophetic understanding—that brings peace and calmness. We can withstand and overcome trials in part because we confidently know that whatever season of life we are in, we will come out of it, We will win.

As we contemplate this prophetic season before us, let us consider that the ancient prophets did far more than reveal future "inside" information. They provided knowledge about a relationship with our Creator and what we mean to Him. With the matchless gift God grants to us through prophetic understanding, we see more clearly who God is, His love for, and His relationship with humanity.

Human history on this planet represents something far more than a mere patchwork of disconnected events. Bible prophecy produces a remarkable narrative that ties everything together and gives our lives meaning and hope.

Indeed, God poured out a special blessing upon us today. As the apostle Peter tells us, "The prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours"—the very grace of becoming a child of God, being transformed into an eternal spirit being at Jesus' return—"searched and inquired carefully...it was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves, but you, in the things that have now been announced to you...things into which angels long to look" (1 Peter 1:12, English Standard Version).

This prophetic grace is the very "hope of glory" for you and me, of Jesus Christ living in us (Colossians 1:27).

Where are you in prophecy? Right in the palm of God's hand, who is deliberately fulfilling your destiny!

Here now is our inspiring work that lies ahead: "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7, NLT). We, as the spiritual assembly of God, declare openly the coming time when all will fall on their knees and recognize: "The LORD has demonstrated his holy power before the eyes of all the nations. All the ends of the earth will see the victory of our God" (verse 10). A time of astonishing world peace is prophesied. It is coming as surely as day follows night. 

This is where you stand in bible prophecy. May we all rejoice in this marvelous biblical prophetic truth in the days ahead!