Prophetic Malnutrition By Steve Schmutzer How well will your car perform if you’ve removed one…
Bookends of the Bible
By Tim Moore
“Remember the former things from long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure… Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” – Isaiah 46:9-11
What an awesome God we serve!
No other supposed deity has the knowledge to describe the pre-historic past authoritatively, the foresight to predict the future, the audacity to proclaim the future, and the power to ensure that what He declares will come to pass.
The Bible is unique in that it contains detailed descriptions of the beginning and the end of Creation. Skeptics and atheists are left sputtering their contempt in the face of God’s commanding declarations. They argue that the prophets of God recorded their prophecies long after what they foretold came to pass.
But the historical record is clear. The prophets of God lived and prophesied long before their prophecies were fulfilled. That fulfillment validated the prophets’ authenticity—and validates God’s omniscience and omnipotence.
In the Beginning
God’s first statement contains His own eyewitness account of His activity at the very outset of recorded history: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Who can dispute His account from a position of authority? Who else was present to offer a different recollection of that event? Thus, cosmologists and theoretical scientists with their hypotheses cannot even provide a valid contradictory theory because there is no way to substantiate their ideas for how the cosmos came into being.
And the universe that God created was not merely reformulated out of existing stuff. He did not mold and form matter that He found pre-existent and unused. He made everything that exists ex nihilo — out of nothing. Indeed, all that we observe and know sprang from an idea in the unfathomable mind of God.
John tells us that even before He created, God existed in perfect harmony with Himself. Referring to Christ, John records, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3).
Every created thing — be it a galaxy, a world, a mighty beast, a perfect snowflake or God’s highest creation, Man — exists because God made it so.
A Denial of Reality
Over time, Man’s relationship with God became skewed due to our sinful nature. As it has been said, we are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. That propensity to wander away from God—initially spurred by the serpent in the garden of Eden—has been our downfall throughout human history.
Yet, just like Adam, we endeavor to deflect the responsibility for our sin to anybody or anything but ourselves. Or, following the faulty reasoning of fallen Man, humanity rationalizes that there is no God who created us — therefore, we are not beholden or accountable to anyone outside ourselves. David renounced such false thinking and the behavior it inevitably produces: “the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds” (Psalm 14:1).
Always eager to discredit God and lead men and women into deception and destruction, Satan still whispers, “Did God really say?” and “You surely will not die!” (Genesis 3:1,4). Today, the false gods of our age beckon us to reject the God who made us and become our own god. Doing so leads to certain destruction. But God had a better plan.
Before the Foundation of the World
John recorded that God has a Book of Life containing the names of everyone — past, present, and future — who trust in the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). Peter also testifies that “He (Jesus Christ) was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of [those who have believed]” (1 Peter 1:20).
God’s plan of salvation was not His “Plan B,” concocted to deal with a creation gone awry. He did not wring His hands and exclaim, “Well, this isn’t working out the way I’d hoped. I’d better come up with something to set it right, or at least save some.”
No, the good news of God’s provision for salvation was preordained before He even said, “Let there be light.” He knew that His Son would have to suffer and die for the sins of many before He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). He knew your name, your heart, and the number of hairs on your head before He set the first star in the sky.
Alpha and Omega
At Lamb & Lion Ministries, our focus is often on “last things.” Our mission is to proclaim the soon return of Jesus Christ. For the Bride of Christ — the Church — our homegoing will occur at the Rapture when our Bridegroom comes to take us back to His Father’s house.
For those who have rejected God’s free gift of salvation, the wrath of God will be poured out in the Tribulation. Following those seven years of unparalleled horror, Jesus Christ will descend from heaven in the same manner that He was caught up in the sight of the Apostles. He will set foot on the Mount of Olives and speak a supernatural word that will destroy the Antichrist and armies gathered near Megiddo. The Kidron Valley will split in two, and Jesus will enter the city of Jerusalem through the Golden (Eastern) gate, ascend to the Temple Mount, and take His seat on the throne of His father, David.
For 1000 years, Jesus will reign over the earth, flooding it with peace, righteousness, and holiness. Then, He will put down a final rebellion instigated by the Devil and cast death and Hades into a lake of fire. At that point, the redeemed will enter the eternal state, where time itself ceases to have meaning.
That plan too was foreordained by God, which is why He could reveal it to His servants, the prophets. Though not yet realized, that sequence of events is as certain as any historical fact—because our God has declared the beginning and the end. He is our Alpha and our Omega—our Creator and Sustainer–and the One who will welcome us into His eternal presence—or cast us into everlasting destruction.
Evening and Morning
The opening verses of Genesis describe the earth as formless and void, with darkness abiding over the surface of the deep. The only movement was the Spirit of God Himself (Genesis 1:2).
In the midst of that impenetrable darkness, God said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). He pierced the darkness with the power of His spoken Word and showered the earth with light that He declared to be good. From that point forward, darkness was separated from light. Mankind would experience a daily reminder of the contrast between those two extremes. Every day — beginning with the first seven recorded in the opening pages of Genesis — consists of evening and morning. That is why Jewish days begin at sundown and end when the brightness of day recedes once again.
Throughout the Creation account, each day’s work with its component stages was declared to be good. Only when the whole was completed in perfect harmony did God gaze over all He had created and declare it to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
Initially, Man’s interaction with God was also very good. Adam had no stain of sin and no reason to be ashamed or fearful of God. However, the Fall brought Man from that glorious height into the cursed depths. He was even banished from Eden, condemned to hardship and toil. The Creation itself became discordant, with thorns and thistles and poisonous plants and animals emerging. Wandering ever farther from God, men and women “became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21).
The Hebrew word for evening is erev. The word originally conveyed obscurity and chaos, but over time has come to mean darkness or evening. So evening represents a rise in disorder and understanding. Likewise, in a very real sense, Mankind’s dark age began the moment Adam and Eve first sinned against God.
In Jewish understanding, the fall of night symbolizes Man’s departure from God’s goodness. That motif of darkness and light carried through the Old Testament and into the New. Thanks be to God, His eternal plan was to pierce the darkness. Citing Isaiah 9:2, Matthew recounted how “the people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned” (Matthew 4:16). That Light was Jesus Christ.
John testified about Jesus, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5). Later, John reiterated that the message he heard from God and shared with us is that “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
Beginning and End
Just as each day has a beginning and an end (whether according to Jewish or western reckoning), Creation also had a beginning and will come to an end. Likewise, human history also has a beginning and an end.
Those of us who are plodding along the timeline of history are confined to a very two-dimensional awareness. We can reflect on the past — although our own awareness fades the further back we go; even human records only carry us so far back. We are capable of anticipating the future but, left to our own devices, cannot gaze ahead at all.
Referring to mankind, the writer of Ecclesiastes observed that God “has also put eternity in their hearts, but no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Thus, in this life, we are constrained to a linear experience of time and confined to a never-ending “present.”
But God is not confined to time as we know it. Instead, like a pilot flying high above an interstate who can see obstacles and traffic jams many miles ahead, God’s omniscience allows Him to see the beginning and the end with equal clarity. And He has chosen to reveal what we need to know about each — testifying to His creative acts in Genesis and the flow of end-time events in Jesus’ Revelation.
Jesus – the First and the Last
God is the Central Figure both in the beginning and at the end. Jesus Christ is the Creator who fulfilled the will of the Father. He will also come again to fulfill all the Father has revealed and promised.
For the next several months, Lamb & Lion Ministries will go back to the future, beginning with the foundational texts of God’s testimony. As we step through the Old Testament on Christ in Prophecy, we’ll focus on the wonderful examples of Christ in prophecy.
Jesus—the eternal Son of God—was there at the beginning. He is there in every book of the Bible, either in pre-incarnate manifestation, foreshadowed type, or as the gracious and silent Author driving the narrative of history. And history itself is His story.
The two books of the Bible most frequently dismissed as fanciful and non-literal are Genesis and Revelation. But they act as bookends to all of God’s revealed Word — describing His acts of Creation, Man’s Fall, God’s foreshadowing of a Messiah to restore relationship, and the final culmination of human history when God closes the loop on righteousness, justice, mercy, and holiness.
Between those two bookends, the Bible conveys all the revelation God deemed appropriate to share with mankind. Skeptics complain that the span of God’s revelation in Scripture is just too hard to understand. But, as Henry Morris once said regarding Revelation, “It is not hard to understand; if you will believe what the Lord has proclaimed, you will understand.”
With God’s meta-narrative available to all who would simply read the Book and believe, why is there such a shortage of understanding today? The reasons are legion — and yes, that is an intentional side-reference to the band of demons that possessed the hapless man that Jesus encountered on the eastern shore of Galilee.
Some are so enamored with their reason and lean so heavily on their own understanding that they reject the revelation of God. Others allow the insidious doubts sown by Satan to sprout into weeds and thorns that choke off the truth. As in the garden, our enemy’s favorite tactic is to ask, “Did God really say…” and then proceed to discount and contradict the Creator outright.
So, what can we do? First and foremost, we must dedicate ourselves to reading, studying, and heeding the whole Word of God. Revelation twice promises a blessing to “all who read and heed” that final book of prophecy. That principle applies to all of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit will increase our knowledge and understanding as we read the entire Bible. Heeding first involves believing God and literally taking Him at His word.
Genesis (and Paul) testified that Abram believed God, and He credited it to him as righteousness. Therefore, if we desire to receive a blessing from God, we must not only believe IN Him, we must also believe Him.
The Image of the Invisible God
Jesus — the Word who was there at the beginning, the One by whom all things were created, the Son whose finished work on the cross justifies us before the Father — has promised to come again (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-17, Romans 5:9, Revelation 22:7, 12, 20). When He does, we will look upon Him face-to-face. We’ll see His glory, and He will dwell among us forever.
In the months to come, I want to challenge you to read the Old Testament as we step through each book on Christ in Prophecy. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see Jesus on every page. Expect that He will reveal the prophecies that point to Himself—causing your heart to burn within you as the disciples on the road to Emmaus testified when Jesus revealed Himself in the scriptures.
The Bible really is all about Jesus. Experience Him anew as you dive between the bookends.