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NUMBERS IN THE BIBLE SHOW
A sermon written by Dr. C. L. Cagan, and delivered
I am convinced that the Bible is the written Word of God, the product of His character and mind. I have found more wisdom, knowledge and truth in this one Book than in all the other books I have read throughout my life.
The wisdom of God is revealed in the use of numbers in the Bible. This chapter will show how God uses numbers in the Scriptures to reveal Himself.
I have found that the Bible gives many significant insights through the use of numbers. Those which are presented in this chapter are not new, and although they are quite simple, they are significant nonetheless because they show that mathematics points to the existence of God.
One and Only One
The Bible uses the number one many times. In its spiritual usage in the Bible, this number refers to unity and also to exclusivity - to "one and only one." The Bible says,
"For there is one God" (I Timothy 2:5a).
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord"
Here the Bible teaches that there is one - and only one - God, not two, three, or many gods, as Mormonism and Hinduism teach.
The Bible also tells us that there is one and only Saviour, Jesus Christ. He is the only mediator, the only person who can stand between God and men - by virtue of His Blood sacrifice which pays for human sin and satisfies the justice of God.
"For there is…one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5).
The Bible uses the word "one" referring to God [the Father] and to His Son Jesus Christ together in one verse, I Corinthians 8:6.
"But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him" (I Corinthians 8:6).
The Bible teaches that by one man, Adam, sin entered into the world, and that one man, Jesus Christ, brought salvation.
"by one man sin entered into the world" (Romans 5:12).
"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous"
The exclusive nature of our faith is presented in Ephesians 4:5-6, which says there is "One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all."
Furthermore, we will die physically only once - and not be reincarnated into another body on this earth as Hinduism, Buddhism, and many New Age sects believe. The Bible says, "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). The only way to escape the punishment of God is by the one single sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:27-28).
"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12).
The number one also represents unity in the Bible. The unity of two human beings, one man and one woman, in marriage, is taught Genesis 2:24, which says "they shall be one flesh." Jesus said that He had unity with His Father when He said, "I am my Father are one" (John 10:30). This divine union refers to the Trinity, the One God existing in three Persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
How can God be one and three at the same time? The inspired Scripture presents exactly that truth of plurality and unity at the same time. Hebrew word translated "one" in Deuteronomy 6:4 is "echad." This word "echad" means "one," but allows for a structure or composition within that unity. In Numbers 13:23, the Hebrew spies sent into the land of Canaan came back with "one cluster of grapes." The Hebrew word translated "one" is the same word "echad." The men brought back one cluster, but it consisted of a group of grapes.
In the same way, the Bible presents the unity of the one God, but also the plurality of the Trinity within that unity - the three Persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Two Means Distinction and Separation
The number two in the Bible indicates separation, distinction, and division. In particular, the number two refers to the separation of the human race into the saved and the lost, the sheep and the goats, those who go to Heaven and those who go to Hell. Jesus used the number two in speaking of the separation of the saved and the lost at the rapture:
"I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Luke 17:34-36).
Jesus also spoke of the separation of the human race into two groups at the Judgment:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left… And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal"
(Matthew 25:31-33, 46).
There were two criminals crucified with Jesus, one on either side (Luke 23:32). One of them trusted Jesus and went to paradise when he died that day. The other rejected Jesus and went to Hell that day.
In the sixteenth chapter of Luke, Jesus spoke of a man named Lazarus who died and went to paradise with Abraham, and of a rich man who died unsaved and went to the flames of Hell. In this passage, Abraham told the rich man of the eternal separation between two groups of people, the saved and the lost, after death.
"And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence"
Jesus said that no one can serve two masters, but must choose the side of God or the side of sin. He said,
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [money]"
Many people will lose their souls because they chose to serve money, or pleasure, or their own selfishness, rather than God. I remember one young man who visited our church. I asked him, "What do you want Jesus to do for you?" He said, "I want Him to make me rich." Sadly, that young man never chose to serve God rather than riches. Like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 he gave up his soul for money. Jesus said that the rich young ruler was the loser, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36-37).
I was not raised in a Christian home, and I did not believe in God at all. I thought that when someone died it was all over. But even when I didn't believe in God I knew that certain things were important. I can remember saying, "If there is a God, He has to be the most important thing there is." And that was true. If there is a God at all, He has to be the number one being in existence, and so He also has to be number one in our lives. If we really believe in God our highest priority and concern must be to serve Him and to please Him. Otherwise a person is just fooling himself when he says, "I believe in God."
Most people don't put it quite so bluntly. They like to use high-sounding words to explain that they want to serve two masters. Many people say, "I'd like to be a real Christian, but..." and then give a reason why they can't put Jesus first in their lives. They have something else to do with their time, their money, and their devotion. They won't come to church on Sunday. They won't put Jesus above their money, their pleasures, and their personal plans. And so they lose their eternal souls. Remember that Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters." The Bible says, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Joshua 24:15). Who will you serve?
The Divine Three in One
The Bible clearly teaches that God is a Trinity - that God is Three in One. There is but one God, but He exists in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His Disciples to baptize in the name of the Three in One:
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost"
When Jesus Himself was baptized by John the Baptist, the three Persons of the Trinity were clearly present and distinct. At the same time that Jesus was baptized, God the Father spoke from Heaven and God the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus in the form of a dove. The Bible says,
"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17).
All three Persons of the Trinity are given in the Apostle Paul's benediction at the end of the book of II Corinthians:
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen"
(II Corinthians 13:14).
Man himself, created in the "image of God" (Genesis 1:27), is also three in one. Each person has a body, a soul, and a spirit. The Bible says,
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ"
(I Thessalonians 5:23).
The number three is presented in the Bible in many other ways. Christ rose from the dead on the "third day" (I Corinthians 15:4). The angels worshiped God, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:3). All Bible-believing Christians recognize that the true God is Three in One.
The Trinity of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is what makes Christianity different from Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, the Jehovah's Witnesses, or the Apostolic Pentecostals, who deny the Trinity.
I asked one man who came to visit our church if he was going to Heaven or to Hell. He told me that he expected to go to Heaven when he died, and I asked him, "Why?" He answered, "Because I've been saved by the Holy Spirit." I asked him again about his hope of getting to Heaven, and over and over again he claimed that he was going to Heaven because of the Holy Spirit.
This man had not trusted Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, for his salvation. He did not know that "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5). Jesus Christ, not the Holy Spirit, was nailed to a Cross and shed His Blood for the forgiveness of sin. The Holy Spirit did not atone for anyone's sins because He has no blood. Even God the Father did not, in His own Person, pay for anyone's sins, for He is a Spirit (John 4:22). Only Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God and Son of Man, gave a Blood sacrifice so our sins could be forgiven and cleansed.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Many people have told me that Jesus is a spirit - floating in the air around them. But Jesus is not a spirit. He is alive today in a resurrected flesh-and-bone human body. After He rose from the dead, Jesus said, "Handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39). Then Jesus ate a piece of fish and part of a honeycomb, something a spirit could not do (Luke 24:42-43).
Christ rose literally and physically from the dead. The Bible says that
"…he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas [Peter], then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep [have died]. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also…"
(I Corinthians 15:4-8).
Jesus rose physically from the dead. More than five hundred and twelve people saw Jesus alive after His dead body was resurrected.
Then we read in the Bible that the physical body of Jesus ascended back up to Heaven.
"And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus,
which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven"
"This same Jesus" who ascended to Heaven, to sit at the right hand of God, will come again, back down to the Mount of Olives from which He ascended.
This shows that the physical body of Jesus ascended to Heaven. And it shows that this same physical Jesus will come again. What greater Scriptural proof could we have that Jesus is not a mere spirit?
Jesus is not a spirit in the air! He is a man, the Second Person of the Trinity, and He lives today in Heaven at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 10:12). One day this same Jesus will return physically to set up His Kingdom and rule over the earth for a thousand years.
People have often told me they are saved because they believe in God, or because God has done something for them. One person talked about "letting God into his life." I said to him, "What if God did help you in your life, and then at the end of it all you died without finding salvation through Jesus Christ? What good would that do?" He could not answer me.
Many people tell me they have been saved, or hope to be saved, by following God. This is not Biblical Christianity! A Jehovah's Witness could say that. A Muslim could say that, and in fact they do! The very name "Islam" means "submission" (to God). So, a person who thinks he is saved by following God is really no different from a Muslim.
When people talk about following God I try to keep it simple. I ask these people, "What about the times when you didn't follow God? And what about the times when you tried to follow God - and it didn't work?" I have never had a satisfactory answer. No one can go to Heaven by trying to follow God, because "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Believing in God, or following God, won't save you, because it is not possible for a depraved sinner to follow Him perfectly, at all times, throughout life. That's why you need Jesus, the Son of God. You need forgiveness through Christ's atoning Blood.
Six Doesn't Measure Up to Seven
The Bible presents six as the number of man, and seven as the number of God. Just as six falls one short of seven, so man comes short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). In the week of creation, God made man on the sixth day, and then rested on the seventh day because He had completed His work of creation.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image…And the evening and the morning were the sixth day" (Genesis 1:26, 31).
"And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made" (Genesis 2:2-3).
Speaking of the perfection of God's forgiveness, Jesus taught His disciples to forgive each other "seventy times seven" times (Matthew 18:22).
As six fell short of seven in the creation, so shall it be at the end of history, before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to reign over the earth. The Bible speaks of the final world dictator, the Antichrist, called the "beast" in Revelation 13. The number of the beast is 666 - "man, man, man."
"Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six" (Revelation 13:18).
Many people have spend endless hours assigning a number to each letter of the alphabet and trying other numerical schemes to find out the name of the Antichrist. Dr. John R. Rice wrote, "Shallow preachers and sensation-mongers have made a great to-do about the number 666" (Behold, He Cometh! Sword of the Lord, 1977, p. 213, note on Revelation 13:16-18). Dr. Rice correctly said that this number simply shows man's failure to measure up to God.
Why the number 666? Six in the Bible is in some sense man's number. First, remember that seven has a divine connotation. God made the earth in six days and the seventh day He rested. And thus the seventh day came to be a type of Heaven…But man comes short of God, and so six represents a man's number. And here 666 would mean that the highest any man could reach toward seven and toward perfection the Antichrist will reach, but he cannot reach the seven. It is 666 but not 7 (ibid., p. 215).
Dr. John F. Walvoord commented on the meaning of 666 by saying this:
Probably the simplest explanation here is the best, that the triple six is the number of a man, each digit falling short of the perfect number seven. Six in the Scripture is man's number (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Chicago: Moody Press, 1966, page 210).
God's Chosen Twelve
In the Bible, the number twelve has a special connection with the people of God, both in the dispensation of Israel and in our age, the dispensation of the church. There were twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 49:28). Jesus chose twelve disciples (Matthew 10:1-5). Jesus made a connection between His disciples and the tribes of Israel when He said,
"And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28).
In the Tribulation there will be twelve thousand Jews saved out of each of twelve tribes, making 144,000 (Revelation 7:4-8).
Finally, God revealed to the Apostle John that the new Jerusalem would be designed using the number twelve, referring both to the tribes of Israel and to the twelve Apostles. John wrote of that city,
"And [the new Jerusalem] had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel…And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Revelation 21:12, 14).
The Thousand-Year Kingdom of Christ on Earth
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ will return to earth to set up His kingdom over the world. This kingdom will last for one thousand years, and it is specifically stated that the martyrs of the Tribulation will reign with Christ in His kingdom:
"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years"
Some people have tried to "spiritualize" the number that God gave in His word, and say that it does not refer to a literal period of one thousand years. But it is impossible to do this if one interprets the Bible fairly. Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost wrote,
It is generally held, even by those denying the literalness of the thousand year period, that the angel, heaven, the pit, Satan, the nations, the resurrections mentioned in this chapter are literal. It would be folly to accept the literalness of those and deny the literalness of the time element…Six times in this passage it is stated that Christ's millennial kingdom will continue for a thousand years (Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study of Biblical Eschatology, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1958, p. 491).
In the nineteenth century, Henry Alford wrote that the early Christians believed in the literal thousand-year kingdom of Christ.
Those who lived next to the Apostles, and the whole Church for 300 years, understood them in the plain literal sense; and it is a strange sight in these days to see expositors who are among the first in reverence of antiquity, complacently casting aside the most cogent instance of consensus which primitive antiquity presents. As regards the text itself, no legitimate treatment of it will extort what is known as the spiritual interpretation now in fashion (Henry Alford, The New Testament, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1859, volume IV, p. 372).
I stand with the plain sense of the Scripture itself! Christ will rule on the earth for one thousand years. The Bible means what it says!
When God Gives a Number, He Means What He Says
When God gives a number we ought to believe it. In the book of Daniel, God showed using numbers how long it would be until the first coming of the Messiah:
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (Daniel 9:24-27).
Here God speaks of "seventy weeks," literally "seventy sevens," which represent 70 times 7 = 490 years. The last "seven," the last "week," refers to the Tribulation period under the persecution of the Antichrist (Daniel 9:27). The first sixty-nine "weeks" refer to 69 times 7 = 483 years from the commandment to build Jerusalem until the time when the Messiah will be "cut off" (killed), "not for himself" but for the sins of others.
Sir Robert Anderson believed that the decree to rebuild Jerusalem took place on March 14 in the year 445 BC, and that Jesus entered Jerusalem before He was crucified on April 6 in the year 32 AD. The time between these two dates is exactly 483 prophetic years of 360 days each, or 173,880 days.
The exact and final date, according to many calculations by Sir Robert Anderson in The Coming Prince (p. 127) was April 6, 32 A.D. He states, "The Julian date of the 10th Nisan was Sunday the 6th of April, A.D. 32. What then was the length of the period intervening between the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the public advent of 'Messiah the Prince,' - Between the 14th, B.C. 445, and the 6th of April, A.D. 32? The interval contained exactly and to the very day, 173,880 days, or seven times sixty-nine prophetic years of 360 days, the first sixty-nine weeks of Gabriel's prophecy" (quoted in Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Here's Life Publishers, 1979, pp. 180-181).
Even an Israelite of that time who was unsure of the exact year and date of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem should have known that the time of the fulfillment of the sixty-nine weeks was near, as The Scofield Study Bible points out:
…the decree of Artaxerxes…was issued between 454 and 444 B.C. In either case we are brought to the time of Christ. Prophetic time is invariably so near as to give full warning, so indeterminate as to give no satisfaction to mere curiosity (The Scofield Study Bible, note on Daniel 9:25).
There was only one person who came publicly as the Messiah, fulfilled one Bible prophecy after another concerning His coming, and was killed, "not for himself" - and His name is Jesus!
Jesus carried out His earthly ministry and was crucified exactly at the right time, which Daniel had prophesied. Now, any thinking person in Israel should have been aware that Daniel's 483 (69 times 7) years was about to run out. Why did so many people fail to act on Daniel's prophecy and receive Jesus as their promised Messiah? The answer is that people can be aware, even correctly aware, of numbers and times while all the time being spiritually dead and hostile to God and to His Son Jesus.
After all, the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 2:5 correctly said that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, quoting the prophecy in Micah 5:2. These men rightly understood the place of the Messiah's birth, but they never traveled the short distance from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to actually see Christ and worship Him. There was no intellectual excuse for their refusal to come to Jesus. As it has been for so many religious people in all ages, their problem was spiritual. The Bible says, "But the natural [unconverted] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:14). The Bible tells us that unconverted people have "the understanding darkened" (Ephesians 4:18) and that Satan has blinded their minds (II Corinthians 4:4).
Because their depraved minds were blinded, the scribes and Pharisees at the time of Jesus' birth did not come to worship Him, even though they mentally understood the outward form of the Old Testament prophecy, which gave the very name of the town where He would be born.
In the same way, a student of the Bible should have known from Daniel's prophecy the time of the coming of the Messiah - at least within a few years! But the Bible students of that day were spiritually blind, and Jesus wept over Jerusalem and prophesied its destruction, "because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation" (Luke 19:44).
Why did the Bible students of that day fail to act on the prophecies of the Messiah's birthplace and ministry - while shepherds, blind men, sinful women, and tax collectors, all with little if any Bible education, came to Jesus and were saved? Because God's real requirement is not intellectual, but spiritual!
Some men I know study the New Testament in the original Greek every day, but they are still lost. And yet I have known many wonderful Christians who had no religious education before they were presented with the gospel, trusted Jesus, and were converted. There will be many illiterate people in Heaven, and many well-educated people in Hell.
When God Doesn't Give a Number, He Means What He Says Also
God knew exactly what He wanted to put in the Bible. "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89). When a number is given in the Bible, it is because God wanted that number to be there. He wanted us to know that number.
And when God doesn't put a number in the Bible, it is because he doesn't want us to have that number! The spiritually blind religious students of Jesus' day failed to benefit from the Bible prophecies giving the location and time of Jesus' birth. But there is an error on the other side - putting a number where God never gave one! Many people make this mistake also.
Some people have looked for "secret number codes" in the Bible. They have counted letters and words, and put numbers for letters in various schemes, trying to find secret information that was not written in the plain text of the Scripture, information that was hidden from the prophets, the Apostles, and the Christians of all ages until they themselves constructed an intricate scheme of numbers to draw out the hidden knowledge.
There is no "secret number code" in the Bible! God has put in the plain and simple text of His Word exactly what He wants us to know - both numbers and everything else! People who look for "hidden" numbers and meanings are looking for something that isn't there.
In the same way, many people have used numbers and mathematical manipulations to guess the date or the year of Jesus' return. But Jesus Himself said that we couldn't know the precise time of His return! Speaking of His Second Coming, he said,
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36).
Yes, Jesus gave signs in Matthew 24 and other passages of Scripture so that Christians could know way that His coming is near. The greatest Biblical sign of Christ's coming is the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, fulfilled with the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948, though there are many other signs in place as well. It is clear that the time of Christ's coming is not far off.
However, Jesus never gave an exact date for His Second Coming. In fact, He said the opposite in Matthew 24:36: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Jesus clearly said that no one will know the exact time of His return. As Dr. R. A. Torrey said,
[Christ] distinctly declares that even He did not know the day or the hour of his coming again [referring to Matthew 24:36, 42 and Mark 13:32]. Any teacher who attempts to fix the date of Christ's return is at once discredited, and it is entirely unnecessary to wade through his calculations. God does not desire us to know just when His Son shall return. Acts 1:7 - "And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." Let us leave the times where God has put them, "In his own power." (Dr. R. A. Torrey, What the Bible Teaches, Zondervan, 1957 reprint, p. 217).
When Jesus came the first time, people missed the number of years God had given in the book of Daniel. In our day we are very near the time of Jesus' second coming, yet many people want to know an exact date or an exact year - that Jesus said we could not know!
I remember that back in 1988 there was a book which sold millions of copies, titled 88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Come in 1988. Well, Jesus didn't come in 1988. He didn't come on January 1, 2000 either. Why didn't He come in 1988 or 2000? We don't need to know why! The exact time of Christ's Second Coming is God's business, not ours! That's what Jesus told us in Matthew 24:36!
God's requirement is spiritual, not intellectual. Yes, we can study Bible prophecy and recognize that the end is near. But a person can study Bible prophecy, and even understand it correctly, as the scribes understood the place of the Messiah's birth, without being converted. You can understand the Bible, and even a great deal of Bible prophecy on a mental basis, without being a true Christian.
If you are truly converted and living out that conversion in a Bible-believing local church, then you will be ready if Jesus were to come today. And if Jesus tarries, you will be ready for death. On the other hand, if you are not converted, you are not ready for Jesus' Second Coming or for your own death.
If you are not yet converted, I encourage you to read two books by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr. and myself, Today's Apostasy and The Church That Will Be Left Behind. These books can be ordered from Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, California 90015, telephone (213)744-9999; or you can order these and other books over the website at www.rlhymersjr.com.
Seek Jesus until you find Him. Don't let anything else distract you or pull you away. There is nothing more important than finding Jesus Christ!
"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).
Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Psalm 119:89-99.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "How Great Thou Art"
(by Carl G. Boberg, 1859-1940; translated by Stuart Hine, 1899-1989).
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."