Hello Project Ezra! The focus of our reading will be a little different this week. We will be revisiting a couple chapters we have touched on in the past, and talking about the truth of the Bible as demonstrated in fulfilled prophecy. The primary reason we are doing so this week is the Judgment Day prediction of Harold Camping from Family Radio, who has stated that the Rapture will be occurring this Saturday, May 21st. However, having a few verses prepared regarding fulfilled prophecy is wise, even apart from specific end-time prophecies, so even if you don’t have to deal with Camping’s followers directly, the information should be profitable.
Harold Camping has been predicting the end of the world for several years now. It is likely that you may have seen a billboard, such as the one pictured below. There are dozen up in my area. It is also likely that you have found or been given literature regarding his organization and predictions, as I have. He has come to his conclusions regarding the Rapture and the destruction of the world based on an odd system of numerology and allegory, allowing him to prove virtually anything he chooses to. He claims all his beliefs are biblically based, but the verses he uses are ripped out of their context and pasted back together in an arbitrary manner solely for the purpose of proving his points. Consequently, he has strayed from the Bible not only in predicting the end of the world, but in other theological areas as well. For more details, take a look at the resource page put together by James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries, which includes a radio debate between him and Camping. The page can be found here:
My goal here, however, is not just to deal with Camping’s false prophecy, although that is important. People are being led astray, lives are being destroyed, and God’s name is being impugned. But while Camping and his believers are a relatively small group, his prediction, thanks to billboards, his 150+ radio stations, and of course the internet, has been trumpeted far and wide. Even if you never meet one of his followers directly, for every one Camping follower there are dozens of atheists and agnostics glad for yet another reason to mock and reject Christianity, and which you are much more likely to run into. I have already heard many people make off-handed comments while I was preaching (and clearly meant to be heard by me) that indicate that they assume I am spreading Camping’s end time predictions. I have even had a number who have come up and asked me about the date specifically. Many people are more than happy to dismiss God’s truth for any reason, so we need to be prepared to show them a clear distinction between false prophecies from the likes of Camping and the true, specifically fulfilled prophecies of the Bible, particularly those dealing with Jesus Christ.
The outline below includes information from another recent outline on Isaiah 53, along with some additions regarding Psalm 22, another good example of specific prophecies concerning Jesus Christ. In fact, Isaiah 53 has become my default Project Ezra chapter, if I am out preaching and either have not prepared something specific or have already done my regular reading. I would encourage you to know it well and read it often. It can be very powerful in speaking to doubters regarding the truth of the Bible.
All for His glory,
Read Isaiah 53
If you are familiar with the Bible and Christianity in any way, you will likely recognize that this passage refers to Jesus Christ
It refers to Him being silent before his accusers, which he was.
It says he made His grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death. And we know He was crucified with two thieves, and then laid in a rich man’s tomb.
And of course, it refers to Him being punished for our iniquity, our sin.
What you may not realize is that this passage, Isaiah 53, was written nearly 700 years before Jesus Christ was born. This is not a record of His life after the fact, but a prophecy, fulfilled in detail, about the Jewish Messiah.
You may have heard that a certain religious group, which claims to follow the Bible, has stated that May 21st, this Saturday, is/was the day when the end of the world will start, and when Christians will be taken by God into heaven.
You will see/have seen that this is not the case. But do not make the mistake, as many likely will, of believing that the reason that prediction is wrong is because the Bible clearly predicted it, and thus the Bible is false.
There is a vast difference between the predictions of false prophets, and the specifically fulfilled prophecies of the Bible.
Read Psalm 22
The details in this chapter, such as the words Jesus repeated on the cross, really were fulfilled. His hands and feet were pierced, as the Bible prophesied, even though this chapter was written long before crucifixion was even invented. He was mocked, and lots were cast for His clothing, just as the Bible stated prophetically would happen.
Those who have predicted the end of the world this weekend do not represent true Christianity. Their prediction is wrong because the leader of that group handled the truth of the Bible carelessly, and thus was led astray and led many others astray. In fact, the Bible warns us to watch out for such teachers, so that we will not be misled.
It may be the case that you too have been misled, as many others have, regarding what the Bible actually says.
Many people have the idea that God is love, and ONLY love, and that He will judge and punish no one. You may believe that since God is Good, He would never send anyone to hell.
But don’t be fooled by the false statements of others, or choose to accept only what makes you comfortable. Look for yourself and see what God’s word says.
God is indeed a God of love, and the love He shows toward His children is amazing. But God’s word says He is not only a God of love, but a holy and just God, who must punish sin.
The same book of the Bible that say God is love also talks about sin, and lawlessness. God’s law is a reflection of His perfect character, and when we break that law we offend Him, and we hurt ourselves and others.
Look at yourself in the mirror of God’s law, and you will see yourself in truth
PREACH THE LAW OF GOD TO BRING CONVICTION OF SIN
Every one of us deserves judgment, and hell, for their moral crimes against a holy God.
But God truly is love, and gave us incredible evidence of His love. While we were still sinners, Christ, God in human flesh, died for us.
Isa 53:5 - But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 - All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah says that it was the will of the Lord to crush him that our sins might be paid for.
That is true love! Jesus willingly went to a Roman cross, shed His blood, and was crushed by the Father so we could be seen as righteous, as morally good, on the Day of Judgment.
Every one of us will receive either God’s justice and wrath, or God’s grace and mercy. Claiming the name of God is not enough. Going to church on Sundays is not enough. You can not work your way to heaven.
You must do what God’s word says. You must humble yourself before Him, repenting of your sins and trusting in Him alone. Only then will God save you.
But He will do more than save you. He will transform you, as he did me. He will change your heart, change your desires, and give you joy in knowing Him that you can’t imagine.
So please, turn to Christ today. Don’t presume on God’s patience. Repent and trust in Christ while He has given you time.