Why study the end times?

I hope you are having a great week and enjoying these last few days of summer.  The start of school is right around the corner, and so is ABC’s Promotion Sunday.  August 15th will be a special day filled with celebration as our children “move up” a grade, and we are offering all kinds of festivities to commemorate the big day.  We are hosting our first ever First Grade Bible presentation to celebrate an important milestone in our children’s lives, we are having an amazing breakfast spread for all adults at the “BFG BFG,” and our children and student ministries are offering exciting themes and attractions for that big day.  I hope you plan to join us, and I encourage you to bring a friend so they can also experience the life and fellowship of ABC.

Last Sunday we kicked off our new series, “Last Things,” which is focused on Daniel’s end-times prophecies.  I’m looking forward to us continuing to unpack these complex visions that are essential to our eschatological understanding.  You will notice that these visions will change week to week, but you will also notice a common theme in Daniel’s responses.  Daniel consistently has an emotional and physical reaction to what he sees from the Lord.  For example, remember last week when Daniel saw the four beasts, the Ancient of Days, and the son of man.  After receiving those amazing visions, he said, “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me” (Daniel 7:15 ESV).  Daniel saw what God has planned for creation, and how does he respond?  He is worried and frightened.  In future weeks you will see him also lose sleep and even get ill after he receives these divine visions. 

Why does Daniel react this way?  I believe it’s perhaps because he senses the weight of these visions.  As Daniel’s mind began to understand God’s magnificent plan for salvation, the establishment of His kingdom, and the promise of His coming judgment, Daniel couldn’t help but be moved emotionally.  Like other prophets, Daniel carried a burden for his people.  These prophecies not only stirred his mind, but the message behind them also stirred his heart for others .  I believe in some ways this too should be our reaction in the coming weeks.  Faithful study of eschatology should not only engage our minds, but it should also impact our hearts.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Some Christians study eschatology solely as an academic exercise, and that mindset often leads to a place of pride and arrogance.  This is because they will study the end times to receive higher knowledge and fresh ammunition for debate with others.  They often want to make bold predictions and desire to be seen as a scriptural authority amongst their peers.  But I believe God didn’t give us these visions to puff up our heads.  He gave us these prophecies to fill up our hearts.

My prayer is that each of us will not only grow in our understanding of scripture these next couple months, but I pray that we will grow in godliness as well.  I believe these prophecies have the power to transform our lives.  I pray these visions will humble each of us in the coming days.  Some conclude an end-times study with the belief that they are now an authority on the topic.  But a proper study of the topic leads one to the rightful conclusion that we in fact have no authority at all.  Daniel explains that the Son of Man “was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all people, nations, and language should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14 ESV).  Jesus Christ has all authority over creation, and over each of our lives.  May we all leave this study with a better understanding of that truth, and may we learn to follow him more humbly and more closely each week.

But I also pray that this study of Daniel will motivate our hearts.  Daniel’s visions will indeed open our eyes to the dark days that are ahead of creation.  The last days will sadly not go well for many.  Those days will be heavy days filled with pain, remorse, and separation from God’s goodness.  May we all finish this study with a sober understanding that people all around us are separated from God.  We should aim to help others “be ready” for that day, just as Jesus instructs us (Matthew 24:44).   Jesus invites all of our neighbors, friends, and colleagues into His kingdom, and He has given each of us the high calling to serve as His ambassadors to deliver His invitation (2 Corinthians 5:20).  I’m excited to see what God will do through each of us in the coming days as He engages our minds and our hearts through this study. Have a great rest of your week and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.

Last Sunday’s Message: Last Things – A King and His Kingdom – Daniel 7

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