It should not take the threat of war or act of terrorism or pandemic to put us in a mindset to yearn for the “power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We should always be looking up and longing for the Lord’s return. Doing so is “crown-worthy.” “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8
Our knowledge of the Second Coming comes from a study of biblical prophecy. In Peter’s second letter, he discusses the role of prophets and prophecy in our Christian lives. It’s been my observation that many churches avoid eschatology, and therefore fail to teach the whole counsel of God. It’s viewed as too complicated, allegorical, controversial or impractical for today’s style of worship. Pragmatic preachers play it safe by deleting Revelation, major chunks of Daniel, and Ezekiel from their playlists, and contort themselves over passages in 1 Thessalonians that allude to the Rapture. But God’s word is replete with prophetic utterances, and they all live in harmony with practical teaching once illuminated by careful study and the Holy Spirit. The “power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” should be always on our minds. These passages and books are the missing puzzle pieces in the biblical story.
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 2 Peter 1:16
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19
Prophecy surely was on Peter’s mind once he, James and John witnessed the Transfiguration on the Mount. Seeing Jesus glorified alongside Old Testament heroes Moses and Elijah made prophetic teaching “sure” or certain for one, and raised the priority of constantly reminding believers of God’s end game.
Peter urges us, in fact, to “pay attention” to this teaching, not to avoid it like the plague. He says, as we grope our way through the squalid darkness of this world, prophetic promises serve as “a lamp shining in a dark place.” They give us enough illumination to make it to the dawn. It’s interesting that Peter refers to the “morning star,” a reference to the coming Lord himself (Rev. 22:17).
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:20-21
There are a couple of warnings that need to be issued when considering a prophetic statement or truth. The first is that it needs to stand on its own without equivocation. It is not ”a matter of one’s own interpretation.” Many times you hear a personal twist added. Yes, Christ’s return for his church is imminent, and the times are ripe for him to return, but I think it must get a lot worse before he comes. No, his return was imminent in the early days of the church, as can be gathered from 1 Thessalonians. Such a qualifier adds a requirement that’s a matter of one’s own opinion.
The second is marginalizing prophecy, as though it’s a mere footnote. Peter warns that “no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:21 It’s God’s word.
A proper focus on prophecy is to address it when it comes up, head on. A systematic study of the word will always bring us to it. For example, you don’t conclude your study of Daniel at the end of Chapter 6, but you teach it all. It’s challenging to work through, and there will be grumblers who complain about it like the people did of the writings of Paul, that they’re too difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16). But you soldier through, because it will be worth it. You can’t leave five chapters on the cutting room floor! If you do you miss this:
Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him. Daniel 7:27