A few days ago (May 21), a prediction circulated around the worldwide web, claiming Jesus Christ was coming back for his brothers and sisters at 6 p.m. EST.
At 5:55 p.m. with tongue-in-cheek, while riding in the car with the family, I commented that I would meet them in the air if Jesus Christ were to come back (at 6 p.m.).
I took no stock in the prediction because Scripture clearly states: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36 NIV).
Jesus noted that there will be a lot of this fanatical speech in the end-of-time when he stated, “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it” (Matt. 24:23).
I love “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” – the last book of the New Testament. It is the only book that opens with a three-fold benediction: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3). Blessed is the one who reads the Revelation of Jesus Christ; blessed is the one who hears the Revelation and its prophecy; and blessed is the one who keeps (obeys) all that is written in the Revelation.
There is a blessing awaiting those who look into this book and understand it. The hour of Christ’s appearing is “near” – nearer than we might believe – but that is in God’s time.
We are in the church age, which is the period of time between the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. The word for “coming” is parousia in the Greek. The first parousia (coming) of Jesus Christ can be called the advent, or appearing of the Son of Man; the second parousia (coming) can be called the apokalupsis, or unveiling of the Son of God. At the time of his second coming, whenever that might be, we will see Jesus Christ as he truly is in heaven.
There are four views of interpreting The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
First is the preterist view, which places the events and visions of this prophecy in the past, during the Roman Empire of 1st century A.D.
Second is the historicist view, which assumes the book is taking a panoramic view of history from the first to the second coming of Christ. Third is the symbolic view, which sees a portrayal of good versus evil throughout all of history, and good wins over evil.
Lastly, is the futuristic view, which views the events from chapter four onward (through 22) as not occurring yet; but they will occur in the end-of-time.
The primary emphasis of Revelation is on worshiping the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who was slain from the foundation of the world. A second emphasis is on the judgment of God. Worship and judgment are linked.
So, who should men worship? Definitely not “prophets” that have trouble telling time.
Melvin Woodard is senior pastor of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church. Write him at New Salem MBC, 3315 W. 36th St., Indianapolis, IN 46228.