End-Time Bible Prophecy is Not Just About a Coming Tribulation - It's Also About Restoration
by Steve Sterling 11/20/2011 / Prophecy
The end-time prophecies of the Bible are so dominated by accounts of the adversities of the people of God at the hands of a last-day enemy of Christ called the antichrist that many tend to see the latter day predictions of Daniel and Revelation as nothing but doomsday forecasts. Then to make matters worst, there are other predictions of end-time events that are separate and apart from the activities of the antichrist; predictions such as the shaking of the heavens and the earth (Rev. 6), the falling of the cities of the nations, and the disappearance of islands and mountains (Rev. 16).
Usually when people hear the name Revelation it immediately conjures up disasters, adversities, and doom. I guess this is one of the reasons why the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture is so attractive because it provides a way of escape. I remember having a conversation with this lady on the mark of the beast crisis where she made it clear that she is not interested to know about this issue because she will not be here when it happens!
It seems as if many who believe in the rapture are rather driven by fear instead of love for God. However, God did not intend to produce that kind of effect. By giving us the prophecies, He just wants to help us prepare for the end-time so that when He comes we can meet Him in peace. Therefore, in this article I will be focusing on God's end-time mission to prepare a people for the end of the world.
For me, one of the most fitting descriptions of what God wants to accomplish in his people before the Second Advent is found in the third chapter of the book of Acts. In his admonition to the Jewish people, the apostle Peter declared:
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3:19-21 (KJV)
In this declaration, the apostle is not stating a situation that now exists. His exhortation is actually a prophecy of what God will do for his people before Jesus returns. Under inspiration, Peter entreated the people to repent and be transformed so that their sins may be blotted out at a certain time in the future. This time is called the "times of refreshing" from the presence of the Lord. This time of refreshing is not referring to Pentecost because this event had already occurred in chapter 2.
According the scriptures, the blotting out of sins is a divine action that is to be a part of the "restitution of all things". This restitution (restoration), as predicted by the prophets from the beginning is not what Pentecost is designed to accomplish. Even after the day of Pentecost the church was still not in the condition that God desires, but she was still the bride of Christ. There will be a further work of cleansing that the church must undergo to achieve this 'blotting out' experience. The blotting out of sins will be the final gift that God will give to His people, after which "He shall send Jesus Christ".
At this point you may be asking yourself the question, why do we need a blotting out when Christ has already forgiven us? The fact that you have been forgiven does not mean that your problem with sin is over. The church is still grappling with the sin problem; they still have problems with homosexuality, child molestation, stealing, covetousness, and lying and these sins are being committed by people whom God has been forgiving! That could never be what the Lord expects of a people whose sins are blotted out. So what does the Bible mean when it prophesied that our sins shall be blotted out?
With respect to the final work of cleansing in the last-days, the Lord made a promise through the prophet Jeremiah, that he will make a new covenant with his people. Here is what he said:
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and will remember their sin no more."
This is actually a prophecy of what God will do for his people in the last days and in this prophecy is a promise to forgive them and remember their sins no more. This could not be referring to the forgiveness that God has always been granting from the beginning; it is speaking of a particular time in the future when the sins of his people will be forgotten and come no more into remembrance. The apostle Paul refers to this same prophecy in the book of Hebrews. It is interesting to see the context in which he places this prediction. Speaking of the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ as the perfect antidote for sin, Paul made the following declaration:
"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Now where the remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." Heb. 10:12-18 (KJV)
The context of this statement points us to the perfection of the people of God in the last days when the enemies of Christ will be made his footstool. The writing of the laws of God in the hearts of His people indicates that they will become like Jesus in character and moral uprightness. No wonder why Satan will wage a fierce and determined warfare against them; he knows that they are the ones whom God is going to use as His battle axe to wrest the kingdom he took by fraud from Adam.
It is on account of sin that Adam and his posterity became subjects of Satan. But when the consciences of the people of God are purged from dead works (Heb. 9:14; 10:2) and their sins blotted out, then shall it be said of them:
"In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found; for I will pardon them whom I reserve." Jer. 50:20 (KJV)
End-time Bible prophecy is essentially about the restoration of the kingdom of God to the sons and daughters of Adam. This is the restoration of which the prophet Daniel spoke in the prophecies of the succession of world kingdoms leading up to the Second Advent. However, God's kingdom will not be set up until His subjects are made up. This can only be accomplished when a covenant between God and His people is firmly in place.