The Man Who Saw It All in Advance

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The Man Who Saw It All in Advance

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This Man's disciples were not all that different from modern men today. They wanted to know what would happen to their world in the immediate future. They were anxiously concerned about oppressive national conditions in their nation of Judah.

Given 9/11, the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, thinking men and women today cannot help but conceive of the future with a certain amount of trepidation, especially if they do not understand God's plan and purpose for humankind.

Yet the original disciples were not free men in the same sense we still are today in the Western world. Their birth nation was in the grip of a galling national captivity to the most powerful empire the world has ever known. Their primary concern revolved around getting Judah out from under the Roman yoke. Understandably, they wanted to be free! When would God deliver them from the Roman occupation?

Even after Christ's resurrection to eternal life and miraculous appearance and ministry to them over a period of 40 days, their main concern was still independence from Roman domination: "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6 Acts 1:6When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
American King James Version×
).

A Man of unparalleled vision

However, their Leader and Lord and Master had a much larger vision of the future than just the fortunes of Rome and Judah. Prophets are usually seers of events that will happen after their own days. This particular Prophet saw far beyond first-century national conditions all the way to the time when the Kingdom of God would reign on earth—and on into eternity when a new race of totally transformed human beings would rule the universe forever.

This Man was Jesus Christ of Nazareth—the one Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5 1 Timothy 2:5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
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).

Not long before His crucifixion, the disciples pointed out to Him the impressive buildings of the temple complex in Jerusalem. His view, however, was always long term. Jesus told them that their much-revered temple would be destroyed—and that indeed happened before 40 years passed.

His shocking words must have had a troubling impact on their thinking. How could the temple of God possibly be destroyed? Surely that must mean the time of the end of the age and Christ's second coming, they must have thought. Jesus' stark observation undoubtedly disturbed them deeply and stirred their troubled imaginations.

Later, as He was seated on the Mount of Olives, they asked Him: "Tell us…when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your [second] coming and of the end of this age?" (Matthew 24:3 Matthew 24:3And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?
American King James Version×
, NIV).

The crucial Olivet Prophecy

Jesus' reply to the 12 disciples has come to be called the Olivet Prophecy. Three chapters in three Gospel accounts cover this basic prophetic outline of the future, each one complementing the others with its unique emphasis on certain key events. They are Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.

In summary, Jesus told these disciples that the world from that time to His second coming would be characterized by religious deception and confusion, wars and rumors of wars, famines, disease epidemics and earthquakes in different places—such as the terrible killer quake that recently struck Indonesia.

History has shown that these specific human crises ebbed and flowed over the many centuries, and prophecy shows that each one of these plagues will intensify during the time of the end—culminating in a catastrophic period called the Great Tribulation. For instance, the book of Revelation describes the "granddaddy" of all earthquakes.

(If you would like to understand the present and future implications of this prophecy, please request our free booklet Are We Living in the Time of the End? There is a two-page spread on pages 12 and 13 aptly titled "Jesus Christ's Olivet Prophecy: Where Are We Now?")

Eventually world conditions would become so supremely dangerous that Jesus stated, "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again" (Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
American King James Version×
, NIV). Some astute observers believe that we are now finally on the threshold of the Great Tribulation today.

Human survival itself would be at stake, just as it plainly is at this present time. In the middle of the last century, we reached that time in history when all life could be taken from the earth via atomic warfare. Since that time, the number of factors that threaten human survival has multiplied several times over.

Lest we forget, the Russians still have (and are constantly upgrading) their nuclear arsenal. The proliferation of nuclear weapons remains one of the biggest problems humankind is saddled with today. Witness the growing danger in Iran. Its leader threatens to wipe the nation of Israel off the map.

Do you feel safe? Humanly speaking, you are not. Only God can ensure your survival!

Christ went on to say: "In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, the entire human race will be destroyed. But it will be shortened for the sake of God's chosen ones" (verse 22, New Living Translation). Can we grasp the stark implications for us today of that one passage in the Bible?

Christ the Revelator

The Olivet Prophecy is very well complemented by a much longer prophecy contained in the Bible's final book, Revelation. It has the very same author. Notice the book's opening statement.

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw" (Revelation 1:1-2 Revelation 1:1-2 [1] The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John: [2] Who bore record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
American King James Version×
).

Christ's overall prophetic vision of future events in Revelation goes far beyond the Olivet Prophecy, which primarily highlights key occurrences before and during His second coming to this earth. The book of Revelation dovetails well not only with the book of Daniel, but also with Jesus' words on the Mount of Olives. Matthew 24 and Revelation 6 have much in common.

Revelation's final three chapters include an important outline of events beyond the second coming: Christ's 1,000-year reign, followed by the Great White Throne Judgment period and then by the eternity on beyond. This is the length and breadth of Christ's unique vision of future events. Remember the entire book consists of "the Revelation of Jesus Christ." He saw it all in advance! (Further information is available through our free booklet The Book of Revelation Unveiled. )

Old Testament prophecies included

A key verse in Luke's account of the Olivet Prophecy brings in many Old Testament prophecies as well. Christ's description of catastrophic events just before His return to earth includes this important passage:

"For this is the time of punishment [the days of vengeance, NKJV] in fulfillment of all that has been written [by the Old Testament prophets]" (Luke 21:22 Luke 21:22For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
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, NIV). Jesus often used the expression "It is written" when referring to an Old Testament passage.

Note an important clarifying passage written by the apostle Peter: "Concerning this salvation, the [Hebrew] prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when [it] predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow" (1 Peter 1:10-11 1 Peter 1:10-11 [10] Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come to you: [11] Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of both God and Christ. It would inspire the New Testament apostles to have prophetic understanding of future events. It would show them things to come (John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
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).

It was that same Spirit that inspired the Old Testament prophets. "For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke [as they were] moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21 2 Peter 1:21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
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). The Church is built on both the apostles and the prophets (Ephesians 2:20 Ephesians 2:20And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
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).

An unseen guiding hand

While we may be justly concerned about the prospect of future events, there are no grounds for harboring the worried anxiety sometimes manifested by people today.

Even when catastrophic occurrences strike out of nowhere as we move closer to the end of this age, Christians are assured by the words of Jesus Christ in the Olivet Prophecy: "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28 Luke 21:28And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

An unseen hand is guiding events in this world as these end-time prophecies begin to unfold. After all, human survival is assured because of the elect's sake (Matthew 24:22 Matthew 24:22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×
)—those true servants of God who are busily carrying out His will in proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom to this world as a witness (verse 14). WNP

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