I’ve been a Christ follower for more than 20 years. During most of those years, my view of end-times was a bit murky. I believed that Jesus would return, and I knew that many of the Biblical signs and trends that characterize the final generation were being fulfilled in our day. I knew all this was important, but my view was cluttered by a number of obstacles.
For starters, I found some of the popular teaching on end-times confusing and contradictory. Many Bible teachers had scenarios which they confidently asserted, but their schemes seemed complex and not always in agreement with each other. Since the Bible wasn’t written primarily for scholars, I thought the truth shouldn’t be this hard to understand. I was also looking for an approach that was based on faith rather than fear. I was turned off by approaches that prophesied specific dates, because I knew Jesus had said that no-one but the Father could know exactly when he would return. As well, I had seen so much healing and transformation in my own life that I was very motivated to focus on seeing individual lives and society changed by the power of the Spirit, and I didn’t really have a clear view of how this might fit with end-time scenarios. So I placed my focus on living for the Kingdom here and now, believing that if I did this, whenever Jesus returned I’d be ready.
Over the past few months my vision on the subject of end-times has become much less blurry. It’s like having a better pair of glasses. Things that were once fuzzy are now clear. This has happened to me several times in my Christian life as specific themes or aspects of the Christian life have suddenly come into focus. Usually this happens through exposure to a new body of teaching. The teaching of Mike Bickle at International House of Prayer has been the biggest recent influence on my thinking. I still believe most of the things that I mentioned in the above two paragraphs, but a whole new perspective has been added that is helping me to see how they all fit together.
I’ve been given a new framework of understanding – a consistent view of end-times that is based on the plain meaning of Scripture. Although my understanding is still growing, some things are already much clearer. Within this framework, I am now fully convinced that a strong expectation of the Lord’s return does not keep us from caring about the world we live in. If we understand his return correctly we will care more, not less. We won’t be bound up in pessimism or apathy. We will have fresh hope and motivation to live relevant, godly lives here and now. We’ll be motivated to stay awake and alert, eyes on the coming King and his Kingdom, instead of falling prey to self-centred materialism, escapism or despair.
While I’m grateful for this new understanding, I am even more grateful for the way my relationship with God has been refreshed by the streams of living water that I have discovered in the place of prayer. More than anything else IHOP is a prayer ministry, part of an emerging global prayer movement. I have been richly blessed by the wonderful new worship music that has emerged from the IHOP prayer room over the past few years. Like Anna, the prophetess who gave her life to serving God with worship and prayer, waiting on the coming Messiah, the intercessionary missionaries at IHOP, BHOP and other similar houses of prayer have devoted themselves to seeking the Lord night and day, worshipping Him with lovers’ hearts and crying out for His Kingdom to come. Under the influence of their anointing I am rediscovering worship and prayer as a truly God-focussed activity and gaining a fresh awareness of His majesty, glory and goodness.
Over the next while I’ll be sharing some of the things that God has been showing me about end-times themes as I spend time in His word and in worship and prayer. My focus will not be on details of specific scenarios, but on motivating our hearts to be ready for the return of Jesus and the establishing of His Kingdom. My prayer is that God would use my inadequate words to give you a fresh glimpse of the King, our coming Bridegroom, and that you will be empowered to love Him anew and seek Him with fresh faith and understanding.