Sunday – August 27, 2017 Genesis 49:1-28 “The Purpose of Prophecy”

Sunday – August 27, 2017 – Read the Word on Worship

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Genesis 49:1-2
Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come. “Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob; and listen to Israel your father.”

I have always found it interesting that both Christians and non-Christians are fascinated with prophecy. To be interested in prophecy is good, since much of the Bible is prophetic. But the point of Bible prophecy is not to speculate on various details, such as the identity of the antichrist or the date of Armageddon. The point of prophecy is to motivate us to purity and holy zeal for the things of the Lord in light of His soon coming. And there is a point to these prophetic words of Israel to his son’s. And not just them, but for the first generation who read these words recorded by Moses as well as you and I.

To understand these words, we need to see God has a plan for history. I know this is obvious to some but I lose sight of it so easily in my daily routine and pressures of life. Even as the Lord’s people, it’s easy to fall into the daily schedule of going to work, taking care of the kids, and dealing with all the hassles of life that we lose sight of God’s great purpose for history and how we fit into it. We become spiritually dull, so that we miss opportunities to further God’s plan.

In God’s time and way, these prophecies about Jacob’s sons would be fulfilled, but the individuals within the tribes had a choice about whether they would help to fulfill them through obedience to God or fight against their fulfillment through disobedience. It’s the same with us: God’s plan for the ages will be accomplished, but we have the choice either to be involved in fulfilling that plan or in resisting it. The personal history of Judah ought to encourage us. He was a man who had a dismal beginning, but who repented of his sin and inherited a great future. God offers that same blessing to each of us. If we will turn from our sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, sent from God in fulfillment of this prophecy uttered by Jacob, God will bless us beyond measure.

These prophecies of Jacob remind us that while we may not understand all the details of the plan, God does have a plan. He is moving history ahead right on schedule toward the grand climax when Jesus Christ shall reign supreme, when every knee shall bow to the Lion of the tribe of Judah. We need to live each day in light of God’s great plan for history.

Sunday – December 6, 2015 Revelation 8:1-13 “The Worst is Yet to Come”

Sunday – December 6, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Revelation 8:13
“Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”

I think most of us would agree at the outset that these prophetic books are among the most difficult parts of the Bible to interpret or to read with understanding. We shouldn’t be embarrassed to admit we have difficulty reading the prophets. In referring to the prophets, Martin Luther once said the following: “They have a queer way of talking, like people who, instead of proceeding in an orderly manner, ramble off from one thing to the next so that you cannot make heads or tails of them or see what they are getting at.” Now that is a comment to which I can relate.

The primary difficulty for most modern readers of the prophets stems from an inaccurate understanding of the words “prophet” and “prophecy.” The word prophet refers to one who tells forth (or proclaims), as well as one who foretells. But we often limit the meaning of prophecy to foretelling the future, so many Christians refer to the prophets only for predictions about Christ’s first coming, or his second coming, and the end times as though prediction of events far distant to their own day was their main concern.

It should be pointed out that less than 2% of Old Testament prophecy is messianic. Less than 5% specifically concerns the New Covenant age. The prophets did indeed announce the future, but it was usually the immediate future of Israel, Judah, and the surrounding nations, not our future – except here in the Book of Revelation. To see the prophets as primarily predictors of future events is to miss their primary function, which was, in fact, to speak for God to their contemporaries.

Through the prophets, God makes predictions of imminent doom using the device of the “woe,” and no Israelite could miss the significance of the use of that word. Woe oracles contain, either explicitly or implicitly, three elements that uniquely characterize this form: an announcement of distress (the word “Woe,” for example), the reason for the distress, and a prediction of doom. You can read Habakkuk 2:6-8 as an example of a woe oracle spoken against Babylon. The oracle announces “woe” in Verse 6. The reason is also given in Verse 6, where Babylon is personified as a thief and extortionist. Disaster is predicted in Verses 7-8, when all those Babylon has oppressed will one day rise up against it.

So what was it the prophets were seeking in their ministry? You might say restoration and a restored covenant relationship with God. Yes, that was the ultimate goal. But what the prophets truly sought was repentance. Restoration was the goal, but repentance is what they hoped to see from the people. In fact, this message of the prophets was so prevalent that Zechariah (one of the last prophets) was able to sum up in one sentence all the prophets that preceded him: “the earlier prophets proclaimed: Thus says the Lord of Hosts, turn from your evil ways and doings,” (Zechariah 1:4). The heart of Revelation is that all would come to repentance so that none would perish. And this is one reason the study of Revelation is so important to the church today.

Sunday – July 26, 2015 “Look Who’s Talking” Revelation 1 verses 4 to 20

Sunday – July 26, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Revelation 1:7-8
“BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Do you really believe God wants no idols? Many people think of Martin Luther as a prophet. But he wrote, “My spirit cannot adapt itself to the book and a sufficient reason why I do not esteem it highly is that Christ is neither taught nor recognized in it.” Some this morning will not think for themselves, but wait for their Bible teacher to wrestle with it, because like Mr. Luther, their mind is made up already.

Personally, I cringe when I read Luther’s appraisal of the Book of Revelation. Having said this, I fear that Luther’s words may reflect an attitude toward Revelation that is far more common than we would like to believe. How much of Christ do we seek to see in the Book of Revelation, and in the rest of biblical prophecy? When we come to the Book of Revelation we may be so intent upon discovering the events of the future and the means by which they will be brought to pass that we fail to focus on the Person of our Lord, who is preeminent in prophecy, and who should be the focus of our attention.

The focal point of verses 1-8 is the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is His work. It is the fact that He has received the revelation and He has communicated it. It is the fact that He is the One who has come as the Witness, who is the Firstborn from the dead, who is going to be the Ruler of kings. He is the One who has loved and released us and made us a kingdom of priests. He is coming again with power and authority to subdue His enemies.

If men saw Jesus Christ as He really will be then they would see Him as John did. John could rest on the bosom in the Gospel of John, but he falls dead before His feet in Revelation. What I am saying is that we have a totality of the Person of Christ. The disciples kept saying, in effect, give us a glimpse, give us a look, let us behold Your glory. But there was a sense, in His first coming on earth, in which that glory was subdued. It was suppressed, veiled, for a purpose. But in Revelation the veil was removed and now we see Christ exalted, lifted up, all-powerful; all of that glory, that visible manifestation of His deity that had been veiled over Him at the first coming was removed. Now Jesus Christ is seen in His totality.

Sunday – July 19, 2015 Introduction of Revelation- “The Purpose of Prophecy”

Sunday – July 19, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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2 Peter 1:19-21
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

By its very nature, prophecy is mysterious. That can be good, but it also can be a hindrance. Curiosity can be a dangerous commodity. Suppose someone comes to you and says, “I want to confess that I….” It is possible, even likely, that curiosity is the source of your listening, not genuine concern. The same curiosity can be aroused by our study of prophecy. We would like to know certain details more to satisfy our curiosity than conforming our lives to Christ.

It is very easy to deceive ourselves here by the use of semantics. We may speak of prophecy as “deep” spiritual truth. Truth that is deep, in my estimation, is that which leads to mature Christian living. The writer to the Hebrews wrote: “Therefore we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity, not laying this foundation again: repentance from dead works and faith in God, teaching about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this is what we intend to do, if God permits” (Hebrews 6:1-3).

Let us beware, then, when someone refers to prophetic study as “deep.” Often what we call deep is only obscure and speculative. The reason why others (naturally those less spiritual than we) cannot see the “deep truths” we see is because they are not there, not because they are on a higher spiritual plane. What is truly important, I believe, is what God says most frequently and most frankly. The disciples also had an unhealthy interest in their role in the kingdom. They thought about the future in terms of their prestige, their power, and their position, an attitude which Jesus often sought to correct (Mark 10:35-45).

Is it any wonder that American Christians are so interested in where America fits into God’s prophetic scheme? Common sport among Christians is to play the game of “Who’s who in prophecy.” Is the antichrist Saddam Hussein? Is a powerful computer in Europe a part of the satanic program? Of course Satan is constantly grooming a man for the job. But we are not often profited by speculation. The same could be said for date setting. This practice has only served to make Christians a laughing stock. The words of Peter should serve to warn us about the dangers of speculation or, in his words, “private interpretations.”

Let us seek to avoid the pitfalls which Satan would use to distort or distract us from the purpose God has for us in this prophecy. And let this prophecy stir our souls to worship, obedience, and perseverance. May the person of Christ and our reunion with Him be our goal and our consuming desire.

Sunday – June 9, 2013, “What Makes Biblical Prophecy Different?”

June 9, 2013 – Read the Word on Worship

What Makes Biblical Prophecy Different? from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Prophecy. The word conjures up different meanings for different people. Our view of prophecy is usually based on what we have been taught by our denomination or what seems to fit our personal hopes and desires most. Denominational teaching learned at an early age or at an impressionable time in life and reinforced by repetition may be hard to shake. Also, our understanding of prophecy is frequently based on what we think God would or should do. In other words, what we would do if we were God.
Join us this Sunday as Elder Thom Rachford returns to the pulpit to continue his series on understanding biblical prophecy. Worship begins at 8:45 AM with refreshments served before our monthly prayer meeting at 10:30 AM. We hope to share fellowship with you.


Word On Worship – June 9, 2013 Download / Print

1 Corinthians 14:33
“… for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints..”

Prophecy. The word conjures up different meanings for different people. Our view of prophecy is usually based on what we have been taught by our denomination or what most seems to fit our personal hopes and desires. Denominational teaching learned at an early age or at an impressionable time in life and reinforced by repetition may be hard to shake. Also, our understanding of prophecy is frequently based on what we think God would or should do. In other words, what we would do if we were God.

Our view of what and how God is doing things must grow out of his prophetic word. We must let the prophecy and indeed all of God’s word shape our view. We should not start with a particular view and then “make” prophecy fit that view. Attempts to do this result in people, some Godly and very learned teachers, accepting only prophecy that conforms to their preconceived ideas. They want to throw out any prophecy that does not seem to fit their preconceived and entrenched view. Yes, entrenched, because apparently, no amount of study or revelation causes them to change their position.

Because it does not fit with the preconceived structure of some denominations and church bodies, they disregard or refuse to teach certain books of scripture in whole or in part. Frequently the excuse is these prophecies are too hard for man to understand. If that is true, shame on God. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. God is either a mischievous trickster for giving man a book that he cannot understand under the guise of presenting all scripture as valuable or he is unable to keep evil men from inserting wrong teaching into his Holy Book. You can see how this kind of thinking would undermine God’s word, power and authority as well as His deep desire to have men see and understand His plan for relationship. Who would want this result? Satan, of course.

Sophisticated teachers, however, frequently don’t throw the prophecy out; that would be too obviously a rejection of God’s word. What they most often do is say, “what this prophecy appears to say is not what it means.” They say it is symbolic of something else and then they fill in the blank. Or they say it is a metaphor or allegory of a spiritual concept and not physical or material in any way. Often the prophecy is said to be about heaven and not earth, even if it refers to earth or physical things.

The question is illustrated by the following. How can one believe the prophecy that a virgin should be with child (the Messiah) and reject the prophecy of the Messiah’s physical return to earth? A virgin being with child is the supreme oxymoron. “With child” means pregnant – a virgin by definition has not had sex and in this world no child is conceived without sex. Yet Isaiah prophesied this nearly 700 years before it happened. And it happened. This virgin birth is believed by many. Yet many of those who believe in the prophecy of the virgin birth, reject the prophecy of Christ’s physical return to the Mount of Olives as prophesied in Zechariah 14:4. (They still however believe the same prophet for the Zechariah 9:9 prophecy that Christ would enter Jerusalem on a donkey.) How is the virgin birth less credible to believe than Christ’s physical return to earth on the Mount of Olives?

What then is the answer? How should we view prophecy? View every line of scripture as literal unless the language uses “as” or “like” which indicate a picture of rather than the real thing. Some parts of scripture are obviously poetic and should be viewed as such. The key to discernment is constant study of all of scripture. You will find there may be parts you do not agree with or like, but they are God’s word to you. Keep studying as you ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and understanding to you. He will reveal them as Jesus said in John 14:26:  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

God is not the author of confusion. 1 Corinthians 14:33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. God has made His word clear enough for the one who diligently studies it to understand and complex enough to discourage the casual seeker of pat answers or just information. God placed His prophecy in the scriptures for your understanding and benefit. It is revelation of the living God who knows the end from the beginning.

Sunday – April 28, 2013, “How Do You Understand Old Testament Prophecy?”

April 28, 2013 – Read the Word on Worship

How Do You Understand Old Testament Prophecy? from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Everyone seems to have a opinion when it comes to the Scripture. Depending on where they went to school or what denomination they come from, opinions run all over, especially when it comes to Old Testament prophecy. So how do you know who is right? Even more, how can you understand for yourself what oes the Bible teach? Elder Thom Rachford takes us through Zechariah 12 breaking down the text so everyone can see for themselves what God is foretelling and explains simple questions you can ask for yourself as to the meaning and the purpose of God’s plan for His people.


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 II Timothy 16-17
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Often we can read God’s Word and come to certain conclusions about what it says and what it means to us. The process of looking into God’s Word to reach conclusions about His plans is the natural process the Lord has set up. He has given us the inner desire to know him and he has chosen to reveal himself and His plans for us through His scripture as we spend time in it.

We know the Lord usually does not reveal everything in only one section of scripture. He usually does not outline His plan or spiritual principle by listing step one in detail, then step two in detail, step three in detail, and so on. Frequently the steps or concepts are found in various portions of scripture and the whole of scripture has to be studied to fully grasp what the Lord is saying and what he wants in response from us.

This is good. For as, humans in this time in history, we tend to want it all wrapped up in one short package that we can consume in a very short time. In His wisdom the Lord has placed portions of His plans in various places. This requires us to fully study the complete message of God if we want to understand His communications.

Sometimes we approach God’s Word with pre-conceived ideas about His plan. These ideas may come from well-meaning counselors or even false teachers who want to make their comments sound good. More often preconceived ideas come from our own desires, fears, or human “wisdom.” We like what makes us feel good or seems to be an easy way or builds up pride in our own abilities or deeds. Then it is easy to find those passages or individual scriptures that support our view or seem to support our foregone conclusions. When we don’t find specific passages to support these conclusions we may distort or misquote the scripture to make them appear to support. Once we think we have the answers, human nature prompts us to not seek any further scriptural truth about the subject. This is the way heresy, false teaching and apostasy gain prominence and control. And in turn, the heresy, false teaching, and apostasy lead further away from studying the totality of scripture. It is a downward spiral.

The antidote to the downward spiral of erroneous views or incorrect interpretation is daily study of God’s word accompanied by prayer. Daily study has some conditions. First, ask the Lord to clear away our misconceptions and to reveal His truth in the scriptures even when the revelation does not agree with what we had made up as truth in our mind. Second, the daily study must eventually include all the scriptures, even those that seem boring or dealing with Old Testament actions or less than interesting genealogies. Third, we must take God’s Word as literal unless it is clearly allegorical or symbolic. We must take scripture literally even when the scripture seems to defy the rules of nature. Our God is the creator of nature and nature’s laws and can and does overrule them when it suits His purpose. He is, after all, the God of miracles. Daily study of the Word will lead us to a right view of God, His plan for relationship with man, our salvation, growth and blessing.