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Great Apocalyptic Prophecies

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INTRODUCTION   The Fear Factor

Man," wrote Francisco José Moreno, "is afraid. Fear is one of the fundamental motivating forces behind our actions. The history of mankind is to a very large extent the history of our attempts to deny, repress, or escape from fear."—Between Faith and Reason: Basic Fear and the Human Condition (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1977), p. 1.

Humans are, indeed, afraid—and with good reasons too. Who knows what the next full moon, the next gust of wind, the next political twitch, will bring? Maybe wealth will arrive in the mail, maybe happiness with the tick of the clock, maybe peace and health in the morning light. Or, maybe (or even more likely), disease is in the wind, famine in the sunshine, and war in the soul. Even if we avoid famine, war, and disease, our biggest fear—death—always awaits us at the end.

Fortunately, we have a God who loves us, a God who knows our fears and who seeks to alleviate those fears as much as the parameters of the great controversy will, for now, allow. One way He does this is through the apocalyptic prophecies in which the Lord spoke to the prophets (through dreams and visions rich in symbolism) to help us see way beyond the draining fervor and hopeless ferment of a fallen, dying world. In an existence in which chaos, evil, and sin seem to infect even the protons and electrons of reality, a message can be squeezed out of the symbols, deciphered from the codes, and translated from the images of these prophecies. That message is Fear not, God is in control; His plan will finally triumph, and the greatest of all His promises is as real as God Himself, the promise of a new life in a new body in a new and sinless world for those who by faith endure to the end.

Through the unique power of the apocalyptic, God shows that no matter how capricious, evil, selfish, and cunning human will is; no matter humankind's devising, schemes, and plans; the Lord still rules, both in heaven and earth, and He alone will determine the course of events that lead to the end of the kingdom of sin. Although human will and responsibility are not annulled, the apocalyptic shows us that God's plan will prevail; no matter how chaotic and unruly, even arbitrary, events seem now.

Most important, the apocalyptic reveals to us Jesus, who confronted the powers of evil in heaven; in His three-and-a-half-year ministry on earth; and, finally, in His sacrifice on the cross. In each encounter, He unreservedly and uncompromisingly defeated His and our foes. Now, at the close of the conflict, He will defeat evil again, paving the way for our planet to be reincorporated into the harmony of the kingdom of God.

This is the message of the apocalyptic. Read it, love it, trust it, and believe it, because through it God has given us a sure remedy to alleviate the fear that, understandably, dominates a sinful, dying world.

EDITOR'S OVERVIEW   When the Apocalyptic Gets Personal

One of my "favorite" interpretations of apocalyptic prophecy, delivered (believe it or not) at the United States Capitol before a packed house on February 22, 1857, purported to show from the book of Daniel the exact day, even the hour, of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence!—See Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992), pp. 84, 85.

Another classic, more recently, claimed that the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 was partially fulfilled in the signing of the Israeli—PLO peace accord in 1993! One "favorite" apocalyptic prognostication even predicted that in 1994 an asteroid would wipe out one-third of the world's population.

What is it about apocalyptic prophecy that can bring out such gullibility, even naiveté, among Christians? It is bad enough that the good folk who make these predictions look foolish after the fact, but, sadly, their repeated failures reflect negatively on all Christianity. After all, those who already have doubts about the Christian faith certainly will have more doubt when, time and again, these predictions, based on the same Book that reveals the salvation offered the world by Christ's death, fail to transpire when and as proclaimed.

This is too bad, because there is so much in apocalyptic prophecy that should cause people to believe, not to doubt. I know, because of what the apocalyptic prophecies have done for me, personally. More than twenty years ago, having just had a powerful conversion experience, I was exposed to some apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, prophecies that immediately helped ground my experience in the Bible. In other words, however real and intense my conversion experience, it was still just that, an experience, and experience needs to be balanced, interpreted, and verified by the Word of God. And for me, these apocalyptic prophecies added that needed ballast in ways that strengthened my faith back then and that, in fact, continue to strengthen it today. No doubt, many others could testify to the same.

Thus, this quarter, Dr. Angel Rodriguez, of the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference, covers some of the major apocalyptic prophecies that, if properly understood, will become personal for each of us, as well. These prophecies will build our trust in God's Word; will teach us more about "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24); and will make us more sure, more confident, and more hopeful of the future because of what Christ—as revealed in these prophecies—has done for us in the past.

Indeed, this is the purpose of the apocalyptic prophecies, not to tell us about asteroids or peace accords but to reveal Jesus, and when we better understand Jesus—what He has done, is doing, and will do for us—that is the moment when the apocalyptic prophecies become personal, the way they always have been meant to be.

Contents:  (all lessons may not be posted)

No. Study


April 6 Interpreting Apocalyptic Prophecies  (KJV)


April 13 Daniel 2 and 7: The ABCs of Apocalyptic Prophecies  (KJV)


April 20 The Son of Man and the Final Judgment  (KJV)


April 27 Daniel 8: The Prince of the Heavenly Host  (KJV)


May 4 Daniel 9: The Coming of the Messiah  (KJV)


May 11 The Eschatological Day of Atonement  (KJV)


May 18 Matthew 24: Jesus' Sermon on Apocalyptic Prophecy  (KJV)


May 25 The Child, the Church, and the Dragon: Revelation 12  (KJV)


June 1 The Dragon Versus the Remnant-Part 1  (KJV)


June 8 The Dragon Versus the Remnant-Part 2  (KJV)


Jun 15 The Three Angels' Messages: Revelation 14:1-12  (KJV)


June 22 The Climax of Apocalyptic Expectation: The Blessed Hope  (KJV)


June 29 Preparing for the Apocalyptic Consummation  (KJV)

Giardina Sabbath School Study Helps

Jerry Giardina of Pecos, Texas, assisted by his wife, Cheryl, prepares a series of helps to accompany the Sabbath School lesson. He includes all related scripture and most EGW quotations. Jerry has chosen the "New King James Version" of the scriptures this quarter. It is used with permission.  The study helps are provided in three wordprocessing versions Wordperfect; Microsoft Word;  RTF for our MAC friends; and HTML (Web Pages).

Last updated on March 19, 2002

Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.
Principal Contributors: Angel Manuel Rodriguez
Editor: Clifford Goldstein
Associate Editor: Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti.
Editorial Production Manager: Soraya Homayouni Parish.
Art and Design: Lars Justinen.
Pacific Press Coordinator: Paul A. Hey.

Copyright © 2002 Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide,
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.

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