Would you like to know the future? Do you wonder what lies ahead for you, your family, and your friends? Perhaps the diseases, natural disasters, wars, and countless other crises that plague our society, nation, and world have stolen your peace and threaten to overwhelm you. Maybe you feel that the best we can hope for is to blindly “hang on” as we drift ever closer to a dark and foreboding future.
We can take hope because the Bible declares that God knows the future, and that He has revealed through numerous prophecies the events yet to take place in this world’s future. Some of these prophecies are stated in clear, simple language, such as the promise that Jesus Christ will return in the clouds of heaven to take His people to heaven (Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7). Other prophecies, such as many of those found in the books of Daniel and Revelation, are presented in symbolic language and require more study to understand. Numerous and conflicting interpretations of these fascinating yet challenging Bible passages have created confusion and frustration for many Christians who sincerely want to know what the Bible teaches about the future. The Bible, however, states that God is “not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). He does not wish us to be confused about the Bible’s end-time prophecies; rather, He desires that we clearly understand these prophecies and experience the peace that comes from knowing and living His truth.
The book of Revelation begins by revealing the Key that unlocks the meaning of the Bible’s most cryptic prophecies. We take hold of that Key when we realize that Revelation is “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revleation 1:1, emphasis added). The Bible’s mysterious end-time prophecies are in reality a prophetic revelation, or revealing, of the life of Jesus Christ!
Living in the Final Week will guide you step by step through the Bible’s most important prophecies, many of which point to our day and the near future. You will find that Jesus has already charted a safe route through the trials, temptations, and dangers of the end times, and that He is now inviting you to walk the same path He did to eternal life. Let’s begin this journey now!
What is the purpose of prophecy?
“And now I have told you __________ it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might __________.” (John 14:29).
Prophecy is given to us so that we might believe in Jesus Christ and in His Word, the Bible.
How much of history does God claim as being under His control?
“I make known the __________ from the __________, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will __________, and I will do all that I please’ ” (Isaiah 46:10).
Although human beings are often surprised and taken off guard by the events of life, the Bible assures us that God is never surprised. We may not always understand why He allows certain things to happen, but we can trust that He is in control of our lives.
Who is at the center of God’s plan of salvation?
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear __________: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13, 14).
The Bible is unequivocally clear that our salvation comes only from God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Nothing we or anybody else can do will help us earn our way into heaven. Praise God that we have such a powerful Savior! The Bible says that “all things consist” (vs. 17) in Jesus. Our salvation centers on Him!
How does salvation center on Jesus Christ?
A chiasm is a literary structure that features parallel elements focused on a unique and central idea. For example, a passage may begin with idea A, followed by a contrasting idea B. A unique middle section C is followed by a return of idea B (often modified or slightly changed) before the passage closes with a return of idea A. Such a passage could be represented as such: ABCBA. The Bible presents the experience of salvation as a chiasm, with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as the centrally unique event in our redemption:
A. Man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27).
B. We became sinners and servants of sin without spiritual strength to resist temptation and evil (Rom. 5:19, 6-8; 6:20).
C. Our “old man” of sin is crucified with Christ when we repent and claim Jesus as Savior (Rom. 6:6).
B. Through Jesus we become a servant of righteousness and are given strength through the power of God (Rom. 5:19; 1:5, 16, 17; 6:18).
A. We may once again participate in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the “hinge” or turning point in our salvation. When we come in faith to Jesus and ask for salvation, God breaks the power of sin in our lives and gives us His strength instead to live for im. The image of God that was destroyed by sin is restored in us so that we may again partake of the Divine nature. When we repent of our sins, Jesus truly becomes the Hinge of our history as He opens the door to eternal life.
What else centers on Jesus Christ?
“But when the __________ of the __________ was come, God sent forth his Son, …To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4, 5).
Both God the Father and God the Son are immortal and eternal, living outside of time as we know it (Deuteronomy 33:27; John 1:1, 2). However, they have framed the work of salvation within the bounds of time, and have, in fact, used time as a central element of communicating that work of salvation. In the “fullness of time” God will “gather together in one all things in Christ” (Ephesians 1:10). Time itself, including the Bible’s great time prophecies, centers on Jesus Christ!
What has God’s purpose been for humanity since the foundation of the world?
In order to successfully construct a house or other structure, careful planning must take place before building actually begins. Before the first shovel of dirt is moved, the builder must make sure that he can afford the project, and draws up plans that he will carefully follow.
In His work of salvation Jesus likewise counted the cost of redeeming mankind (Philippians 2:5-7) and developed a plan “from the foundation of the world” to rescue us from sin. This plan has three essential parts.
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be __________ and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).
God originally intended for people to stand before Him holy and “without blame.” When sin marred that possibility, the second part of the plan was put into place, so that we may once again stand blameless before God.
“…ye were…redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a __________ without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:18-20).
The atoning death of Jesus Christ, the “Lamb of God,” was planned from before Creation. Christ’s earthly life and ministry, His death and resurrection, were not a hastily thrown-together reaction to sin, but reveals the outworking of a plan laid in eternity past. Through the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, the third and final part of God’s plan of redemtption will eventually be realized.
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the __________ prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
“From the foundation of the world” God has planned on you being in heaven! What an amazing thought! God desires you to be in heaven so much that He has structured the very fabric of time around Jesus Christ so that you might believe in Him, walk with Him, and finally be saved through Him. Jesus is the Hinge of your salvation and of history itself!
The Hinge of History
The Bible contains God’s version of history. Although this history starts and ends in heaven and stretches from eternity past to eternity future, it focuses on the battle between good and evil on planet earth. It includes numerous events recorded in the Bible and foretold through prophecy, “so that we might believe.” Most importantly, it hinges on the earthly life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every major event in salvation history finds its parallel on the “other” side of Christ’s life (see chart on pages 2-3). Don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with some of the prophetic events referred to in the chart—we will study them from the Bible in future lessons. God has shaped history, and time itself, to form a giant chiasm around the life of Jesus Christ! Shouldn’t your life be centered around Him too?
What does God want His people to be?
“Do ye not know that the saints shall __________ the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2).
God promises His faithful people that they will one day help Him judge the world. This will require divine wisdom and understanding, something that God has promised to give (Eph. 1:18; James 1:5).
The English word history derives from the Greek histor, which means a “wise man,” or “judge,” and implies the ability “to know,” or “to see.” God’s saints, who will one day judge the world, will be “wise men,” or historians! They will understand God’s eternal purposes that were set in place before the foundation of the world. They will understand the prophecies that reveal God’s work in this world. They will understand how God has structured time itself around the life of Jesus Christ, so that we may understand where we currently are in the plan of salvation. Most importantly, they will accept Jesus as their personal Hinge of History, the Redeemer Who has rescued them from a life of slavery to sin and has set them free on the path to life.
Would you like to understand what Jesus is doing now in the conclusion of the plan of salvation? In the lessons that follow, we will see from the Bible that the earthly life of Jesus Christ was the greatest prophecy ever given by God to man. The experiences that Christ and His disciples passed through, especially during the final week of His life, are direct prophecies of this world’s final events. We will see from the Bible that as we walk with Jesus at the end of time, we will pass through the same experiences He did, with Him at our side. Will you choose today to be one of those people?
It's an incredible vision: four cryptic horsemen galloping across the sky. What does it mean? For centuries, Bible scholars understood this passage to be historical in its fulfillment--it covers the broad stretch of history from the early apostolic church to the second coming of Christ. All the events of this amazing prophecy are God's way of assuring us that history is progressing according to schedule. The next event we can expect, in the list of events given in Revelation 6, is the day of the Lord and the return of Jesus Christ. We are living now between verses 13 and 14 of this incredible prophecy!