With the first month of another new year in the rearview mirror, I want to ask you something . . . How are you are doing? Have you kept the hope usually born with a New Year's celebration alive or have you become burdened by the continual parade of bad news?
There is no denying the troubling events going on around the world. For some believers, these sobering reports point to prophecies made in Revelation about the world's future. It's easy to get lost in the news, shrug your shoulders and unknowingly let the hope of Jesus' triumphant return slip away.
While it's true that the book of Revelation reveals a number of End Time signposts, I believe the primary message of Revelation lies far beyond a mere checklist of world events. Indeed, I believe it points to the hope-filled promise of seeing Jesus in His full glory, just as John did in his vision from which Revelation is written.
It's time to take another look at Revelation
After many years of pastoral ministry, I find myself less inclined toward a dogmatic and narrow view of Revelation. This is not because I put any less faith in the certainty of Christ's return–far from it! It's because I simply think a single-minded focus on timelines and checklists has too many of us scanning the news for "precursors" to check off some End Times list or link with this or that prophetic verse.
While tracking possible clues to the timing of the End Times, we lose sight of the constant, daily and powerful appearance of Jesus in the everyday challenges we face. That's why, as I await the glorious Day of His return, I now read Revelation as a primer on how to overcome the troubling times of my own life and intercede for the troubling times in the world.
Now before I go any further, let me offer a few reassurances. I do not share these observations to criticize or discourage anyone from studying current events in relation to Christ's coming. Instead, I write to encourage us to not get locked into one position, timeline or interpretation.
As I read through Revelation, I see the importance of staying pure in a spoiled world. I see beyond persecution and look instead to Jesus when I'm in the midst of trouble and confusion. I see Him in a new way, just as John saw Jesus when he received this revelation. It's an encouraging view that I believe we should look at more closely. It's a view that has shown me something very important!
Did you know Revelation actually holds a promise and blessing for your life today?
Loved one, to explore that promise and blessing, may I suggest you begin reading Revelation as a guide on how God's people can overcome the struggles afflicting our world? As you do, you'll see how He will bring us through those hardships into His triumph!
I believe the Lord gave us the Book of Revelation to encourage us–His church–because He foreknew the world would endure an on-going struggle of evil vs. righteousness, deception vs. truth, and darkness vs. light. He knew we would face times of suffering and trial. That is why He promised that believers in the midst of it all would overcome it all and gain a victor's prize.
Revelation shows us not only Jesus' final and victorious return for His people, including His definitive overtaking of history as He establishes His earthly kingdom, but also the promise of His continual returning into our troubled lives. Even today, He is entering our lives and leading us into victory! He wants to reveal wonders our minds can scarcely imagine!
Revelation is a book to encourage you through the "end times" you face every day!
We reach the "very end" many times in our lives. It could be the end of your financial resources or the end of a relationship. Maybe it's the end of your patience or the end of your physical strength. Possibly, it is the end of your hope–maybe even your faith.
Revelation has a word from the Lord for days like these. He promises through it all, "I'm going to come into your world, even if it is coming to an end. I'm going to come and enter your situation, even right in this moment. You are not alone."
"But Pastor Jack," you ask, "what about all those prophesies of calamity and apocalypse? Aren't they worth looking at?"
Of course they are, but we must do so with discernment and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
A few things to keep in mind . . .
First, we must remember that Heaven doesn't have a calendar with a finite number of days. Eternity is timeless, which is inconceivable for us because of the limits of our natural world.
Because of our understanding of time, we hear the Lord say, "I'm coming quickly" and become anxious when it hasn't happened yet. The truth is, He wants us to not only focus on the possibility of His return in our lifetime, but on how we should live in the here and now.
Second, the prophecies of Revelation make more sense when we understand the word "discursive," which means moving from one topic to another, including digressions. John is not saying "I recorded it in this order, therefore it will occur in this order." He's just telling us, "This is what I saw. There it is."
Third is the helpful "line of sight" concept. Line of sight means the order of John's description doesn't have to mean a chronological sequence in which events unfolded. It can also mean the order in which he noticed or saw them. If you or I opened our eyes in a brand new environment, we might scan the foreground and describe what caught our eye first. Some could easily mistake that order for a chronological record.
Loved One, God doesn't give prophecy only as a timetable to arrange our life around
Some people want a grid giving them exact dates so they don't have to depend on their own private walk with God and a quiet spirit that hears the Holy Spirit relaying the message of Jesus over the noise of the world. But, God wants you to hear Him! He loves you. Jesus died for you. You're a part of His body. He's given believers the Holy Spirit to lead and empower us in touching the world with His Gospel.
There is no denying the darkness covering the world. The intensity of evil is clearly apparent. Jesus said all of these things would happen, but He also promises us that it's not the end yet!
We are at a Pivot point in history
In my own prayer time as I've looked toward 2016, the Lord gave me this word: "Pivot." This is a pivot point in history. I have no prophetic detail beyond that, although I do believe it has to do with current world affairs and the Body of Christ. It is a call for you and me, along with our fellow brother and sisters in Christ, to rise and serve the Lord with passion and without reservation in this moment and time of history.
Jesus is truly coming! Let me encourage you to focus on that ultimate truth. Yes, His coming will be preceded by turbulence, mayhem and chaos. Even in the midst of this, let's rest in the absolute faith that Jesus will see us through it all.
I hope this letter will encourage you to dive into Revelation with renewed enthusiasm and fresh eyes for its true dimension of blessing.
We have a collection of special resources to help you study and better understand the mysteries of Revelation. One of those resources is my book, E-Quake: A New Approach to Understanding the End Time Mysteries in Revelation. It details how to live and keep your perspective as we wait on the Lord's return; how to make sure your value system and priorities stay in order; and how to apply the teaching of Revelation in practical ways.
Be sure to take a look at the information below to see the other resources that I believe can be helpful companions to the thoughts I've shared with you in this letter.
Lastly, I want to thank you for your prayers and support last year. I prepared a brief video message for you and if you have not watched it yet, please take a moment to do so at www.jackhayford.org/EOY2015.
Above all, I wish you peace and a deepening intimacy with our Savior this year. May His word and Revelation help lead you there.
Rejoicing in the Lord,
P.S. Don't be dismayed by any of the chaos 2016 has in store. Be encouraged by the promises in Revelation for both the End Times of history and our personal "end times" we face in life: Jesus returns to help us overcome! Take a look at the information below for more information on the special resources we have for you. May the study of Revelation and all of God's Word bless you this New Year.
For your gift of $25 or more, we'll rush you Pastor Jack's insightful 2-CD series, How to Live in the Last Days. With it, you'll gain practical, biblical insights on building your faith in the face of troubling news.
For your special gift of $60 or more, we'll also include his book, E-Quake: A New Approach to Understanding the End Times Mysteries in the Book of Revelation. In it, Pastor Jack gives you the details on how to live and keep your perspective in these troubling times, how to make sure your value system and priorities stay in order, and how to apply the teaching of Revelation in practical ways.
Or for your gift of $100 or more, you'll receive both resources mentioned above and we'll send you Pastor Jack's comprehensive 6-DVD series, Studies in the Book of Revelation. Pastor Jack Hayford explores and explains with clarity the mysteries and prophetic meanings of the book of Revelation. Through a series of classes, Pastor Jack teaches – section by section – the entire book of Revelation and shares wisdom with simplicity to help believers to gain deeper understanding of this last book of the Bible.