by Dr. James Willingham
I have a number of books in my library about what is coming in the future. Now I do not read them like I read my Bible. They are simply educated guesses, some good, some bad. However, there are verses in the Bible which do suggest a future other than the usual gloom and doom, the key note in so many prophetic programs available to the general public in Christian Broadcasting.
There is also the problem that verses can be read from perspectives other than simple literal statements of facts. One proof of this is to be found in Jonah 3 where the prophet says, “Forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” an unconditional prophecy of gloom and doom, if there ever was one. And yet it did not turn out that way. Contrary to what I have heard from some pulpits, Jonah did not say, “But if you repent, God will spare the city.” He did not and He would not have said such a thing. He was mad at God as chapter 4 indicates, because his prophecy did not come to pass. In fact, he had an argument with God. Imagine that: arguing with God! He was also angry at God – even if he did not admit it. “Do you well to be angry, Jonah?” Who was the recipient of that anger. Truth be told it was God.
There are other ways to explain God’s motive in sending the prophet who was proclaim such a message. Consider the perspective of shock therapy. The Ninevites were so bad that only a word that offered such a future could be heard by them. Could it be that some of the dire prophecies in the New Testament could have such a purpose. A leading writer in the pre-trib, pre-mil viewpoint admitted that the unconditional prophecies like Jonah presented a problem for that approach.
There is a reference in I Chronicles 16:15 which suggests at the very least a different kind of future: God’s covenantal word is to be remembered for a thousand generations. At 20 yrs. per generation, that you mean 20,000 years. Add the idea of 900 years and you have nearly a million years. Then pair that with Mt.24:31 where the Lord’s angels gather His elect from one end of THE HEAVEN (STARRY) to the other. There are likewise many verses about the earth being filled with His knowledge and glory as the waters cover the sea. Could it be that First and Second Great Awakenings were simply precursors of things to come? Could it be possible that we could have an awakening that would win the whole world in one generation (and I mean every last soul upon it) and go on to win all the populations of all the worlds that mankind might settle in the next 20,000-900,000 years, all of which would fulfill the statement in Rev. 7:9? The excellency of Christ’s atonement, as Dr. John Owen pointed out, is of such value as to atone for the sins of the people on many worlds (and that in the tract on limited atonement, The Death of Death in The Death of Christ).
Already the changes in our society are beginning to occur at a speed that no one can control (except God). I have a book published in 2006 on the rapid changes, and it was out-of-date in as many as two years or less (perhaps even before it was published). Beam me up, Scotty is a reality nearer than we might suppose, along with travel to stars of distant galaxies, the growing of bodily organs from one’s own stem cells, the turning off of the aging process in the cellular structure of the human body, the help of robotics, AI (Artificial Intelligence or computers as we now call them), nanotechnology, food being produced from the so-called ether and energies that exist unseen in every nook and cranny of the universe, etc. The idea of the exponential increase in knowledge is overwhelming us with more than mankind can assimilate. Unfortunately, there are those secularists and atheists who think all of this can be accomplished without God, but any study of secular cultures will reveal the depression, suicide, hopeless, meaningless, bizarre lives that result from such a world view. The secularists and the atheists have reckoned without God – even if for a while they seem to be winning. The earth’s recovery will involve a flood of grace which will make the flood of Noah look like a spring shower. That was a flood of judgment; the former will be a flood of Divine favor like the world has never seen, and it will come in answer to the centuries of prayer for such a visitation as well as the prophecies of our Lord being honored and glorified even in this world. Gloria in excelsis Deo!