Updated: Nov 20
Juxtaposition: the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect: "the juxtaposition of these two images" (Bing definition)
Humans are, by nature, very curious creatures. Unlike all other life forms on this planet, we are not just governed by instinct, but also by our intellect. Physically speaking, we aren't the strongest or fastest, nor can we survive in most environments without clothing or shelter. Comparatively speaking, most humans would lose a fight using only what we naturally possess even against some of the weakest predators in the animal kingdom.
However, what differentiates us from everything else on planet earth, isn't necessarily in our biological makeup or even that we have opposable thumbs and walk erect on two feet. We are different because God created us in His image, as living souls with immense potential, capable of both critical and abstract thought. One of the things that falls in the realm of critical thinking, is in our ability to distinguish (to varying degrees) things that are not the same.
Perhaps that is why God gave us the Bible the way He did. God could have used any manner of ways to communicate His truth to us but chose to use men from all walks of life, over 1,600 years, on three continents, using three languages to convey a singular message of His nature, our redemption, and the past, present, and future. The fact that the writers, most of whom didn't know each other, could all maintain the same message, is telling of God's divine influence on His word. By this, we could understand on a basic level the simple truths of God, the reality of nature, and the future for mankind. It answered the who, what, when, where, and most importantly, why.
As simple and straightforward as these truths were in Scripture, they could also be searched out, studied, pondered over for millennia, and still not be able to be conclusively understood by our finite minds. This conclusion obviously leaves the student of Scripture with more unanswered questions than answers that demand some form of mental resolution in order for us to reconcile these truths with our conscience.
Given the abundance of things and ideas presented in Scripture, theologians going back to the first century, began to codify varying subjects into like-groups called doctrines. Biblical doctrines present a body of teaching on a given subject, drawn from the literal, normal, and plain interpretation of the Scriptures. While the Bible doesn't make this distinction between primary, secondary, and tertiary importance (e.g., they are all important to God), the Church has deemed what is essential and non-essential regarding salvation. This means if you deny any of the primary doctrines, you cannot be a Christian since you deny the things that make one a born-again Christian. Those of secondary importance, you can still be saved, but you will be a confused Christian. See here for the list.
Carnal vs. Spiritual
Nevertheless, the Bible presents many concepts and ideas that we finite mortals living in the natural realm simply struggle to comprehend. Not only do we have comprehension problems with them, but problems conveying them to unregenerate persons who do not possess the spiritual faculties to understand them. For example, some of these would be the big picture concepts presented in Scripture like the existence and characteristics of God (i.e., the triune, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God-head), the divinity of Christ, eternity, heaven, hell, the soul, and the spiritual realm.
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14
Soulish vs. Spiritual
But it's not just the big concepts and ideas in the spiritual and eternal domains that we struggle to comprehend, but even the things in our own lives that deal with who we are, where we came from, and why we exist. Things like the threefold nature of man, free will, predestination, unmerited grace and mercy, unconditional love, perfect happiness and contentment, true justice and forgiveness, and salvific redemption.
Mountains vs. Valleys
Lastly, there are many divisions within Christendom regarding the prophecies and mysteries of the Old and New Testaments. This would include things like the rebirth of national Israel, the Rapture, the battle of Gog-Magog, the 70th Week of Daniel, the Second Coming, and many other things that usually prompt more questions than we have answers. In addressing this conundrum, the late, great Clarence Larkin (1850-1924) created another illustration that perfectly addresses these same issues we wrestle with in our own day.
Granted, the abundance of things to learn and consider in Scripture is way more than any one person can grasp in a lifetime. Usually, people will specialize in one or two areas, or generalize in a lot of areas. But the average person simply doesn't have the time or mental faculties to know everything (unless God deems it so). However, God did provide us with a way around this voluminous conundrum. The way through the conundrum is the study of Bible prophecy. And for the purposes of this example, let us consider Bible prophecy the covering of this house.
...Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10
If the testimony of Christ is the spirit of prophecy, then Christ is also its foundation.
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Cor. 3:11
Since both the foundation and the coverings are Christ, it only makes sense that each respective scriptural doctrine (serving as pillars) is also of Christ. This means each respective doctrinal pillar must find its conclusion somewhere, and that conclusion is in the God-Man Christ Jesus.
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24:27
This is what Jesus was expounding upon to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It was not only the actual prophecies we see written in the Old Testament, but patterns, types, foreshadows, and Christophanies.
Given the centrality of Christ in both the past and present, it begs the question as to why so many professing "Christians" aren't any more interested in learning about their future with Christ than they are in doing their taxes. This is even after the fact that the Bible mentions the Second Coming over the First Coming by a factor of eight to one.
What is even more puzzling is that the study of Bible prophecy is at an all-time low among Western churches. This apathy is surprising indeed, especially in a day and age when Bible prophecy is converging at an exponential pace. It would seem satan has been very effective in both confusing the professing church as well as causing normalcy bias to suffocate the blessed hope out of it.
Nevertheless, the Bible presents a clear outline of how the world will end. The trouble most have is parceling through the specifics in the valleys separating the mountain peaks of prophecy. So threading the needle between what is and what will come after these things is often more foresight by the Holy Spirit than anything we learn from current events, geopolitics, the media, and think tanks. Let us compare three different examples the Bible gives us regarding the last days and compare/contrast these with what we see today and how it might play out in the future.
The Days of Noah and Lot
But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Synopsis: In Luke 17, Jesus tells His disciples that the day the Son of Man is revealed is like the days of Noah and Lot. So what were those days like? In Genesis 6, we see a pre-flood (antediluvian) world that was incredibly wicked, and exceedingly violent. We see this is due to the incursion by fallen angels, the introduction of giants, and other (presumably) monstrous hybrids filling the earth, exacerbating man's wickedness. In Genesis 19, we see two cities on the plains that not only practiced abhorrent behavior but normalized and celebrated it so much so that it vexed a righteous Lot on a daily basis.
Contrast: However, in Luke 17, Jesus doesn't mention the laundry list of evils both examples portray in Genesis, even though they were the cause of God's wrath. Rather, He speaks to the apparent normalcy bias existing in both situations. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying wives, and giving in marriage, and so forth seemingly without a care in the world that judgment would ever come.
Juxtaposition: As the world presses forward into the final moments of human history, it will be plunged into a time of great wickedness and violence, and yet, so gradual is the spiritual and moral descent that most will not notice it until it's too late. People will come to think (as they have always done) that whatever state they find themselves in, is the normal state of the world. This was the way it was in both Noah's and Lot's day.
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Matthew 24:3-8
Synopsis: The second example we get is when Jesus speaks to His disciples on the Mount of Olives shortly before His crucifixion. He is asked a question about the future, and He responds by listing the signs that herald the end's approach. Jesus said it would be like a woman in travail. Although these signs are in and of themselves fairly generic, what is unique would be how they come. There would be an exponential rise in wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, pestilences, and many other occurrences increasing in both frequency and intensity until they all converged in a single generation.
Contrast: You would think, given all we have seen over the past 120 years, the world would be very cognizant of its nearness to the end. However, this is not the case since most of the world either doesn't believe in Jesus or doesn't believe He will return anytime soon.
Juxtaposition: As the world has modernized, Satan has done a masterful job of disarming the prophetic signs by weaponizing the age of information. In so doing, he has flooded the world with so much information that people either tune out, succumb to the distractions, or dismiss the signs outright as being symptomatic of something else.
Gog and Magog
After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely. You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.”
‘Thus says the Lord God: “On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan: You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’— to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land. Ezekiel 38:8-12
Synopsis: On the surface, the book of Ezekiel is a densely complex OT major prophet book. The prophet Ezekiel (exiled in Babylon) was given a prophecy about the future history of the nation of Israel some 2,600 years in advance. Beginning in chapter 36, Ezekiel's prophecies conclude the book in a rather chronological pattern detailing the rebirth of the nation in unbelief (chapters 36-37) and a future war brought against her by an overwhelming coalition of gentile nations (chapters 38-39), and the rebuilt temple and its operations going forward into the millennial kingdom (40-48).
Contrast: The Battle of Gog and Magog is a future war because the combatants listed there have never come against Israel historically arranged as they are described. Most of the combatants were either allied with the Jewish people at the time of its writing or were rival empires amidst this last day's coalition. Either way, this battle has not happened historically, and given its certainty, must happen as a future war. What makes this particular war so perplexing is not that God supernaturally fights it for Israel, but the condition of Israel described here at the outset doesn't fit with the current global conditions we see in the world today.
Juxtaposition: Given that our world is presently ripe with antisemitism and anti-Zionism, it currently seems impossible that Israel could be living as a peaceful people in unwalled villages. It would appear that something significant has to happen between now and then (when Ezekiel 38-39 takes place) for Israel to both let her guard down, and cool the antisemitic ire currently plaguing the world.
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4
I think the crux of this message is dedicated to the above passage where Paul contrasts the ignorance of the world (in regard to where we are in time), and the foreknowledge the watching redeemed should possess. Most of us who are in the watchman community can sense the season we are in given the abundance of signs, but more importantly, we have eyes to see and ears to hear. We don't discount the Scripture by interpreting it into humanized, watered-down gobbledygook such as is the case with Amillennialism, Post-Millennialism, and Preterism.
Christ will return for His Church in the air before He unleashes His wrath upon a Christ-rejecting world (John 14:1-3, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 4:13-18, 5:1-9, 2 Thess. 2:1-3, Titus 2:11-13, Rev. 3:10)
This wrath will be the final week of years in Daniel's 70 Weeks' prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27)
This seven-year period will consist of two purposes: destroy the nations of the world and discipline Israel into recognizing their true Messiah (Jeremiah 30:7-11, Zech. 12:10-14, Zech. 13:8-9, Matt. 23:39)
Christ will personally unleash the first six of the 21 divine and devastating judgments upon the earth. The seventh seal triggers the pronouncements of the ensuing 14 trumpet and bowl judgments (Revelation 5:6-6:17, 8:1)
Christ will return to the earth a second time, defeating the world's armies arrayed against Him, casting the antichrist and false prophet into the Lake of Fire forever, and Satan into the abyss for 1,000 years (Rev. 19:11-21, Zechariah 12, 14)
Christ will judge the sheep and goat nations. The sheep nations will enter into the kingdom age subservient to Christ ruling out of Jerusalem (Zech. 14:16-21), and casting the latter into outer darkness (Matthew 25:31-46)
Christ will set up His perfect Kingdom, fulfilling literally the promises He made to Israel all throughout the Old and New Testaments (Isaiah 2, 11, 66:18-24, Luke 1:32-33, Rev. 20)
Christ will rule this kingdom for a thousand years on the earth, after which, will destroy one last satanic coalition (Rev. 20:2-7)
Christ will judge the wicked from all time at the Great White Throne Judgment, and cast all those not in the Book of Life into the everlasting Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10-14)
Christ will usher in the eternal age(s) and we shall be with Him forevermore (Ephesians 2:4-7, Rev. 21).
This is what the Bible teaches, which is what God says, which means it will absolutely happen. Christians in this generation have been given the mantel to warn the world before it enters into the worst time in human history, and yet most haven't a clue. The purpose of Bible prophecy isn't to tickle ears but to tell us ahead of time so that when it happens, people will believe. Prophecy isn't to scare us, but to prepare us in settling the purpose for our generation.
Our purpose is simple. If you are a believer alive today and reading this, your purpose is to share the Good News that not only Jesus Christ has died for your sins and provided a way out of eternal damnation, but that He is coming back very soon. We were chosen to live in this last generation to sound the alarm and wake up a sleeping world unaware of the times in which it finds itself.
I think it’s fair to say that most people find comfort in hiding away in the status quo of their lives regardless of whatever that status quo is. I fear that many Christians have fallen prey to this mindset as well which is why they don’t like to think or talk about the world to come.
True, it can be a little unsettling if you aren’t well-versed in biblical eschatology, and most churches via their pastors have convinced their congregations that Bible prophecy is a great subject to leave alone. They'll give all sorts of excuses why you shouldn't study Bible prophecy like it is too complicated, too divisive, and even the experts can’t agree.
The truth is, is that experts don't agree on much of anything, let alone one of the most important and comprehensive doctrines in the Bible. The one doctrine, besides Christology, which ties all the other doctrines together, is the one that Satan hates with a passion. Another way of thinking about it is if you were Satan, would you want your enemy well armed by being well informed (Eph. 6:10-17)?
Of course not. This is why he has used the corruption of the churches and the insertion of bad theology to keep the shepherds silent and the flocks dumbed down.
In closing, we must compare and contrast the church in Thessalonica with that of the church in Sardis. To the Thessalonians, Paul writes, But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. They knew because Paul taught them what was coming. He didn't pass it off and say it wasn't important, necessary, or too complicated.
To the dead church in Sardis steeped in orthodoxy, Jesus says Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you (Rev 3:3).
Folks, the opposite of not knowing is knowing. We know that day (the Day of Christ) is coming because of the numerous signs Scripture gives us. With each passing second, we press closer and closer to the hour of our redemption, and the time of testing the world the world undergoes as divine judgment poured out upon it.
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’