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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - A Look Into Biblical Prophecy

Allen Jackson - A Look Into Biblical Prophecy

Allen Jackson - A Look Into Biblical Prophecy
TOPICS: What's Next, End times, Bible Prophecy

We wanna begin a new study this weekend. We're gonna take two or three, maybe four weeks even and talk a little bit about what's next, and this is really just an introduction. We wanna take a look at biblical prophecy. It's a topic that tends to elicit a response from folks and oftentimes a very different response. There's a group of people who love prophecy and prophecy discussions, and they got shelves filled with prophecy books and DVDs and CDs. They're prophecy junkies. They know the story. They know the scriptures, and they see God moving. They go to the grocery store, and the way the lettuce is arranged has a prophetic meaning to them. I mean, they are dialed, calibrated, in.

And then there's a group of people on the other end of the spectrum, and the whole thing just seems a little spooky to them. You know, they're a little more logical. They want a little more rational approach, and they don't know about all that. And they'd rather just not be bothered with it, and couldn't we just move along. Well, the reality is that God has given us his prophetic Word so that we can be aware of how to flourish in every season. And one thing is certain is we're living in a changing world. The world is changing at a pace and in a scope that is unprecedented in human history, and it's not going to stop. We're in a season of cataclysmic change, and to understand the God perspective in the middle of that, I would submit to you is of tremendous importance.

You know, we're in a seasonal change right now in Tennessee. But with just a little bit of awareness, you understand it's a seasonal change. It's a temporary transition. Well, the same is true with what's happening in the earth. God's not caught off guard. He knows what next is, and he has given us enough insight that we can be prepared. Isn't that good to know? So that's the purpose of the study. I want to start in Revelation chapter 1 and verse 1. Revelation is the one book in the New Testament that is completely committed to the topic of prophecy. It's a prophecy book. In the first verse is: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. And he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John," very plain language. It's a revelation God gave to show us what must take place. God wants us to be informed.

Now, here's the reality. We're not given all the information, but we're given enough to be prepared. We don't know everything that's gonna happen this fall and this winter, but we know it's not gonna look like July and August. We know we'll need a wardrobe change, and we know the vegetation is gonna be different. And we know it's temporary, that it may be getting cooler and colder, but it'll warm up again. Well, in the same way, God has given us the information we need to thrive in the season that's ahead of us if we will care enough to pay attention.

Now, that's an important component. I'll give you the big rock, the next big event on God's itinerary on planet Earth. Do you know what it is? The return of Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth is coming back to planet Earth. God's told us it'll happen, yeah, and he's given us a good deal of information about the seasons that will precede that, what they'll look like, and what we'll need to do to thrive in those seasons. Jesus himself talked about it quite a bit. He said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days when the Son of Man comes back to the earth". And then he went on to say the people in days of Noah were buying and selling, planting and reaping, marrying and being given in marriage. He said, "It'll be just like that before I come back".

And it says that Noah and his family built an ark, and he and his family were saved in that ark. But it's an interesting, you know, I think typically we imagine Noah, you know the Noah story, right? He was the boat builder, good with animals. Noah, I think we imagined Noah built that ark in about a six-week window. You know, he got a little blueprint, and he hammered the thing out and 3D printed it, and it floated, and we were good to go. But the reality is it took decades for Noah and his family to build that ark, and the whole time they're doing that, the Bible says Noah was a preacher of righteousness. He was saying in his spheres of influence there's a God component to this. You better be ready. And nobody was interested. They could have cared less. Until, it says, until finally, Noah and all the animals were in the ark, and God sealed the door, and the rains came. And then it says they began to beat on the ark and say, "It matters to us now".

Well, Jesus said, "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be when I return". Noah and his family were fully engaged in the purposes of God for a long period of time, but they did it from a minority position. The majority of people could have cared less. God provided complete provision, security, and safety for them for whatever came. And Jesus said, "That's just how it'll be when I come back". There'll be people diligently engaged in pursuing the purposes of God, and there'll be a broader segment of the population who are completely disinterested. Jesus didn't highlight immorality or perversion or wickedness. He highlighted normal life activity. People will be so engaged in the things in the world that they won't care about the things of God.

So the real purpose for looking at a prophetic perspective in scripture is to help heighten a bit our awareness, our concern, for the things of God. We want them to matter to us. So that's our target. I brought you just a list. There's some words, phrases, ideas that surround this whole topic of prophecy. They carry a lot of emotion with them, and there's a lot of debate around them. I just gave you a list, and you notice that I didn't arrange them in a chronological order. I'm not here to make a presentation on chronology today. In fact, for at least for this session, I'd rather stay out of that debate about when it's gonna happen and just identify some of the things that are ahead of us. Is that fair? I gave you a list of words. You may have heard him. You're probably familiar with them on some level. Antichrist is an individual we meet in the book of Revelation. He will be a world leader.

In fact, he will be the world leader, an individual of such remarkable ability and talent, so effective at solving the problems of humanity that the nations of the world will willingly, gladly hand over to him authority to lead us. Now, there's another component of that. The Bible says that the things in the world will grow so intense, the problems so significant, so unresolvable that they'll be delighted to have someone that says they can solve them. And so it's not such an imagined thing. If current trends continue, you could imagine a world so complicated, so convoluted, so divided, so segmented. One of the things in Matthew 24 Jesus said would happen is he said that the ethnic conflict was gonna intensify and continue to intensify until we get to the end of the age. The things that separate us will seem more pronounced until this leader steps on to the stage of human history with the ability to solve the problems.

The Bible says that he'll reign for seven-year period of time. In the first three and a half years of that, he will look like the answer to all of the problems, but three and half years into his reign, his true character will be revealed, and the Bible describes him as beastly, the most wicked, the most perverse, the most violent, and the most vile of any leader humanity will have ever known. If it weren't for the return of the Lord to interrupt his reign, he would destroy us all. Antichrist carries with it two meanings. It means "against" and "in place of". And so he'll stand in opposition to the purposes of God and the people of God, but he'll also put himself up as one to be worshiped. He'll be a very religious character. There'll be miracles and supernatural and religious language and religious services. All of those religious symbols and emblems, all of that will describe the influence of that individual. He'll step on to the stage of human history.

Another word related to the return of Jesus is the tribulation, and that's kind of linked to the Antichrist. Tribulation. I prefer a more simple rendition of that. It's just the big trouble. It's described in quite a bit of detail in the book of Revelation. It says there's a big trouble ahead of us. Lots of problems for people. You know, for those of us in America, in the West, and our abundance and our affluence, it's tempting to craft a theological perspective that says, "Well, you know, God, we would never have to have any trouble". And just to be clear, I'm not looking for trouble. I went out of here on the first load up. Okay? But I wanna be prepared for whatever is ahead. And I think it's a very difficult conversation to have with many of our brothers and sisters in the world that says there's no suffering, to go sit with the Christians in Iraq and to say to them, "You'll never have to suffer".

I would submit to you that what they have been walking through is more horrific than any imagination of the tribulation you and I hold. Or to sit with the Christians in Rwanda, having survived the genocide there. My parents have been there. To say to them, "You won't have to suffer," is an empty gospel. So our goal isn't just to try to have a plan for avoidance. It's to understand what God has said is ahead because he's promised us he'd never leave us or forsake us and that he will take us through triumphantly whatever comes to us. And the third one there is kind of the center of the story and the point Jesus returned to the Earth. He's coming back! And it's interesting, you know, there's a lot of confusion around that, but Jesus's second coming will be more like his first leaving than his first coming.

Did that clarify things a lot? Jesus's second coming will be more like his first leaving than his first coming. He was born in a stable in Bethlehem. It was, for the most part, an overlooked event. It wasn't celebrated by the leaders of the world. A couple of teenagers from Nazareth were recruited into the story. There were a few shepherds that gathered. And therefore, it was a brief momentary flash in the shepherd's fields outside Bethlehem, but beyond that, it was pretty much an inconspicuous event. When he left the first time, the Ascension, it says he was standing on the Mount of Olives with his disciples, and he began to rise into the sky until he disappeared into the clouds. It's in Acts 1, and an angel said to his disciples, "The same Jesus will return as you have seen him go".

So he'll come back to the earth, out of the clouds, to the Mount of Olives. His second coming will be more like his first going than his first coming. Because when he comes the next time, he's not coming as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. He's coming as a conquering King, the Judge of all the earth, which gets me to those next two words, the eternal judgment. Jesus is the judge of all humanity. We will all give an account for our lives to our Lord Jesus.

Now, that doesn't have to be a frightening thing. It's not intended to be intimidating. It's the ultimate open book test. The scripture tells us how to be prepared for that. It asks the questions: Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? What, O man, does the Lord require of thee? The Bible tells us how to be birthed into the kingdom of God, how to be holy and righteous, justified, sanctified. There is no excuse, no reason for any one of us to not be prepared. In fact, the Bible says we are without excuse. Don't think of judgment is a critical thing. Judgment is for you. I learned that from Judge Wapner.

Do you remember "The People's Court"? Long before Judge Judy was doling out judgments from the bench, Judge Wapner was helping us. I remember at the end of every episode of "The People's Court," he would rule, he would have judgment for someone. It would be judgment for the plaintiff or judgment for the defendant, but think of judgment as in your favor. When you see the Lord, you want him to say to you, "Well done". Get ready for that. It's not a surprise. It's a certainty. So don't live in fear or terror. You can be there clean and white and prepared with treasure laid up in heaven. Hallelujah. All those places where you have endured or you've seen injustice that seem to flourish, the righteous Judge of all the earth is coming.

Remember Acts chapter 1? The author of the book of Acts is Luke. The Gospel bears his name, and he wrote, he authored a second book in the New Testament, the book of Acts. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus's life and ministry. The book of Acts tells the story of Jesus's followers after Jesus went back to heaven. So it's a two-volume work. Well, the first chapter of the book of Acts is the transition between those two. Jesus is still here. It's post-Resurrection. For 40 days, Jesus spent time with his disciples after the Resurrection, teaching them, preparing them. And in Acts chapter 1, we have the last commandment that Jesus gave to his disciples before he left. He said, "Don't leave Jerusalem. Don't start your assignment until you're baptized with the Holy Spirit".

And after that, it says he lifted off. He said that the Spirit baptism would empower them to be witnesses for him in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. Now, I wanna make a suggestion. If Peter, James, and John, and Mary, and the whole crew that had been with Jesus for these years, they'd been trained and mentored by Jesus. I could argue they had the best discipleship training that any human being could have. The Lord himself mentored them. They got to listen to him teach, and then privately, they would say, "Explain to us what you said to the crowd".

And Jesus would explain to them. They saw the drama of the supernatural and the miracles. They were in the boat when he walked across the Lake of Galilee, and Peter climbs out of the boat and walks to him. They were in the cemetery when he called Lazarus out, and Lazarus, who had been dead, came stumbling out, still wrapped in his grave clothes, alive. They saw blind eyes open. They saw remarkable miracles. They've seen Jesus arrested, crucified, and they have encountered, for several days, a resurrected Christ. That's a pretty good training program. Wouldn't you say? And Jesus commands them not to leave Jerusalem, not to even think about beginning, until they're baptized in the Spirit. If that was important for Peter and James and John and Mary and that whole crew that you know pretty well, could it be that it would be important for you and me?

See, I think sometimes we're way too willing to set things aside. We kinda look at the invitations of God like a menu, and we pick the ones we want. I find it's far more effective if we'll follow the instructions. And a welcoming of the Holy Spirit, so Jesus promises that. So they don't do anything. They just wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes. And on the day of Pentecost, in Acts chapter 2, that Jesus's promise to them is fulfilled. It's not the day of Pentecost connected with Pentecostals, as we know it. Pentecost is a Jewish holiday 50 days after Passover. So it was on that Jewish holiday when the events of Acts chapter 2 happened. The Holy Spirit was poured out on these 120 believers that had been waiting for 40 days.

Can you imagine getting Peter to wait for 40 days? I mean, what you know of Peter from the Gospel, if Jesus is walking on the lake and Peter's in the boat, Peter's walking. If Jesus is in the boat and Peter's on the shore, Peter dives in the water and swims to where Jesus is. They come to arrest Jesus. Peter just draws his sword and cuts off somebody's ear. Jesus said, "I'm going to Jerusalem, they're gonna..." "Never, Lord! That'll never happen to you". I mean, Peter, when they say the grave's empty, he runs to the grave. Can you imagine getting him to sit still for 40 days? I'm thinking they must have had like Benadryl, something to give him, take a little edge off. Well, the Holy Spirit's poured out. Peter stands up to address the crowd that is there, and that's what's in your notes.

It's Acts 2:16: "This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'In the last days, God says, I'll pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I'll pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I'll show wonders in heaven above and signs on the earth below, and blood and fire and billows of smoke. And the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" I think the beginning and the ending of that presentation give you the essence of what's ahead of us.

In verse 17, he says, "In the last days, God said, 'I will pour out my Spirit on all people.'" God is going to pour out his Spirit on all people. Now, what's the outcome of that going to be? It's verse 21: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved". Between where we are and Jesus's return, we can anticipate an outpouring of the Spirit of God in an unprecedented way on all people. And what will the result of that be? People calling on the name of the Lord and being saved. Hallelujah. God is gonna pour out his Spirit on all people. Change is coming to the Earth. It's not just coming in the way we communicate, in the way we travel, and the way we purchase goods. We're not driving to the mall nearly as often now as we're going online. But just as much as we see change happening in the world, God is going to move in our midst.

You know, we hold the the truth of God, a timeless truth. It's not subject to the calendar. But the vessels through which that timeless truth is delivered have to fit the hand of every generation. And God is going to pour out his Spirit on all people, over every barrier that has separated us: ethnicity, language, social and economic, educational, denominational, traditional. We see the beginning of that in the earth. In recent years, in recent decades, we have seen God begin to pour out his Spirit in a way that has brought us out of the siloed bunkers in which we have lived. Our congregation is a reflection of that. On a typical weekend, we gather from between 50 and 60 different Christian traditions, denominations.

We've been Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic and people that have never been in a church before, and we gather here and worship the Lord because we understand that Jesus is the head of the church. Hallelujah. Doesn't make us better than any of those other individuals, but a collection of people like this 50 years ago in our part of the world was an impossibility. You couldn't do it. And we're not unique today. We represent something that's happening across our nation and around the world in many places. It's an outpouring of the Spirit of God. In the land of Israel, something is happening that has never happened before. In the modern state of Israel, there are congregations coming to life all over that land.

Now, they don't look like this just yet. They're beginning in homes. Some gather in the forest near the towns where they live because they're not welcome in the public buildings, but gatherings of men and women who believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah in the land of Israel. It's happening all over the world. I had a call this week from Angus Buchan. You remember Angus? Boots, hats, little bit of energy. The phone rang at my house, 1 a.m. Don't do that. And I answered the phone, and Angus said, "Oh, Allen, what time is it"? I said, "Oh, I think it's after midnight". And he said, "Oh, just go back to sleep". "No. What's up, Angus"? He was so fired up, and he was leaving for Ireland, but he took a minute to tell me about a gathering they had there at the end of last year.

With less than 90 days, they announced they were gonna have a prayer meeting for their nation, not in a stadium or an arena, but just on a farm in the heart of the country, a prayer meeting for the nation. They had over a million people. That's not the impressive part to me. It wasn't in a major town, so there wasn't the infrastructure to support this. The people that participated had to drive. The traffic took between 12 and 14 hours for most of the people. They sat in traffic for 12 hours to have the opportunity to sit in an open field when they arrived.

In the same way, they've been working with gas stations in Florida get enough gas to help the people evacuate. They had to work with the gas stations in concentric circles around that area so there was enough gas for the people to get there and then leave. Twelve hours in traffic to sit in an open field all day long to participate in a prayer meeting that took two hours outside in the open air. So they could get back in their cars to sit in that traffic again to go home. And he said, "It's changing our nation". I will pour out my spirit on all flesh. We're not that desperate yet here. The ten minutes in the parking lot after service makes us nuts. I'm going to a smaller church. This is ridiculous. I'm not doing this. I don't know who those people are, but they're not Christian. Look at the way they're driving. They didn't let me in. That's not a Christian. Put that magnet on the back of your car. It's a lie!

Why don't you stand with me? We'll read this prayer together. And as you leave, if there are fire trucks out there, wave at the firemen. 'Cause if you think those flashing lights have annoyed you, they get here, there's no fire, they are really happy campers so bless them as you go, okay? Let's read our prayer together.

Heavenly Father, give to us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that we may know You better, Grant us an understanding heart that we might recognize Your invitations and have the courage to say yes. We rejoice in Your provision for our lives, we cast all our anxiety on You for we know You care for us. Thank You for not leaving us alone. We choose to rest in Your great love and strength, in Jesus's name, amen.

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