Not to frighten off regular readers, but simply by way of
introduction, it can be said that Theology has been called
"the greatest of the sciences." Within the bounds of this
study are several divisions, among them Pneumatology –
the study of the Holy Spirit; Christology – the study of the
Person of Jesus Christ; Soteriology – the study of salvation,
and Eschatology – the study of things to come.
The study of Eschatology involves the study of
prophecy – and this is a subject which has occupied the
minds of Bible scholars of all time, and one which has caused
serious divisions within the church, as differing views of Bible
prophecy have come into conflict.
Charles Hodge, the great early American Presbyterian
theologian was born in 1797, just as the U.S. Constitution
was being accepted, and died in 1878 after serving as
Principal of Princeton Theological Seminary for more
than a quarter century. His view of the study of prophecy
is classic: "The subject cannot be adequately discussed
without taking a survey of all the prophetic teachings
of the Scriptures, both of the Old Testament and of the
New. This task cannot be satisfactorily accomplished
by anyone who has not made the study of the prophecies
That is not to imply that the study of prophecy should be
ignored, but rather that it be given the same careful and
scholarly examination that is accorded other portions of
Scripture. This is neither the time nor the place to enter
into an intense theological study of the vast subject of
prophecy –a subject which occupies at least one quarter
of our Bible. Rather we shall offer a brief summary
of the broad field, and emphasize one supremely
important, as-yet unfulfilled, prophetic event.
Prophecy consists of predictions from prophets
of God, some fulfilled and some unfulfilled. Whether
a prophecy is fulfilled or unfulfilled does not alter
its importance in God’s prophetic revelations to
His people. For example, we may read the Old
Testament prophecies concerning the birth, life,
death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and then
find the fulfillment of those prophecies in the four
gospel records – but the fulfillment, accurate in
every detail, in no way diminishes the significance
of those Old Testament prophecies.
For our very broad stroke purpose, it may be said
that the prophecies of the Old Testament focus
on the coming to earth of the Messiah for the nation
Israel, God’s chosen people. In those prophecies He
is seen both as a sacrificial Lamb, and as a conquering,
all powerful Lion. But the Old Testament prophecies
do not distinguish between His first and His second
comings to earth. An illustration has been used, and
it may be helpful in understanding this fact – that the
Old Testament prophets saw a future in the nature of
two mountain tops – on one was the first advent of
Jesus Christ, and on the next was the Messiah in all His
glory. But they did not foresee the valley between those
two events, during which time He gave His life as Savior,
and established His church.
In the New Testament, the prophecies of the Old
Testament prophets are fulfilled in the coming to earth
of Jesus Christ, and then He, as the greatest prophet of
all, in Matthew 13, spoke to His followers in a series
of parables, presenting them with the facts concerning
that period which the prophets had not seen, between
His first and second advents, as recounted by Peter in
his first epistle, I Peter 1:9 - 12.
Finally, and this is the one great remaining unfulfilled
prophecy, Jesus explained the remaining events yet to
take place, beginning with His prediction of His return
to earth to take away His church, John 14: 1-3, and the
other events to follow. The important fact from the clear
teaching of Jesus Christ is that the next prophesied event
which will occur is His return to take out of the world His
church. When His disciples asked Him when this would
occur, and what would be the sign of His coming. His answer
was unmistakably clear – Matthew 24: 3 - 36 – that there
would be false prophets seeking to deceive, there would be
wars ands rumors of wars, but that no none knew when that
event would take place – "But of that day and hour knoweth
no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
Thus, according to the Scriptures, the Word of God, the next
prophesied event will be the return of Jesus Christ to take away
His church . . . and that may happen at any moment; it is what
can only be described as "imminent." It is the Christian’s great
expectation . . . our blessed hope.
From the sublime to the mundane in one quick leap –
there is currently before the Senate the consideration of the
Kennedy/Bush comprehensive immigration bill: S-1348. It has
been fully considered, then taken out of consideration, and is
now in the process of being returned for consideration. It is,
very frankly, a bill which the American people do not want.
Every survey or poll gives evidence of that fact, yet the Senators
who are supposed to be in Washington to act upon the desires
of their constituents seem to be ignoring those viewpoints, and
are acting upon their own personal opinions.
A massive UP/Zogby poll conducted June 15-18, and including
the opinions of 8,300 respondents, disclosed that only 3% of
Americans give favorable ratings to the way Congress is dealing
with this bill – and that only 38% favor the legislation which is
under consideration. If you have not done so – even though it
seems late – phone your Senators at 202-224-3121. You have
every right to tell them what you want them to do.
Afterthoughts . . .
Welcome, Congress, to the club! Last week we cited the
Rasmussen Report which disclosed Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid’s approval rating was 19%. This week a Gallup
Poll report disclosed that just 14% of the American people
have confidence in the Congress. The previous low point
for confidence in the Congress was 18% in the time period
1991-1994. By contrast, 69% of Americans are confident
about our military, which is one of Congress’ main
whipping-boys. As for approval of the job Congress is doing,
only 24% of Americans approve – a substantial drop from
the 37% approval rating in February, shortly after the
Democrats took over. With the President’s approval rating
holding at just 31%, it appears that the American people
don’t really like the performance of anyone in Washington.
One more for our justice system. In Lancaster County
Court, Nebraska, Judge Jeffre Cheuvront has ruled that in
rape trials, the words "rape," and "sexual assault" may not
be used. One wonders how is is the victim going to relate
what has happened? And a Federal Court in California has
banned the use of the words "family values," terming them
"hate speech." Sounds like "political correctness" gone wild.
Jimmy Carter: makes you wonder why. The former
president spewed forth some more of his unbalanced venom
last week – calling the US Government’s refusal to support
the Hamas Islamofascists a criminal act. In a TV interview
one of his aides, who resigned following this latest outburst,
opened consideration as to whether he is senile or consumed
by hatred of Republicans. After his disastrous single term as
president, Mr. Carter seemed to do well growing peanuts and
building houses for poor people – things concerning which he
seemed to understand. Perhaps he should avoid becoming
involved in international relations, a subject which he doesn’t
seem to understand.
Jane Fonda is back again – her actions seem familiar.
Last week Jane and a group of people of similar mind ran a
full page ad in the New York Times (where else?) calling for
the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney
as war criminals. Apparently through the years since the Viet
Nam conflict, she has maintained her anti-American position,
but seems now to have a new label – instead of "Hanoi Jane"
it now appears to be "Al Qaeda Jane," or something similar.
"Interesting" developments in main-line pastorates.
While these may not actually be the first of their kind, they are
certainly right up there near the top of the list. In Seattle, an
Episcopal priest, Ann Holmes Redding, claims to be both a
Christian and a Muslim. And her Bishop finds the dual claims
exciting and considers her still in good standing. Perhaps an
event even more unusual has taken place at St. John’s United
Methodist church in Baltimore, where Ann Gordon, who was
minister there for 6 years, has been re-appointed to the same
position, but now as a man – Drew Phoenix, having undergone
a sex change procedure, producing what he/she termed a
"spiritual transformation." Given these two break-through
situations, the possibilities for ministerial-mutations appear
to be endless.
It is easy to agree with Senator Obama. Speaking at a
church convention on Saturday the Senator attacked Evangelical
Christians as follows, speaking of the "Religious Right," he said,
"They’ve told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect
their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest
of the country that religious Americans care only about issues
like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent
design. I don’t know what Bible they’re using, but it doesn’t jibe
with my version." The Senator is absolutely right. The Bible we
use is called the Holy Bible, and has been used by churches around
the world for centuries. It presents God’s view as opposing those
things which Mr. Obama supports, and which he listed: abortion,
homosexual marriage, banned prayers in schools, God’s power in
intelligent design, etc. We can easily agree that the Bible version
heuses is different – his church denomination (United Church of
Christ)was the national leader in approving gay marriage, sup -
porting abortion, etc. We’re happy to clarify his lack of under -
standing about the different versions of the Bible.
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