When I was a boy the cry of the church was, “Jesus is coming!” All through my teenage years, every evangelist who came to preach in my father’s church had a stirring message about the soon return of Christ. Even today their sermons remain burned in my memory: “The Bible says Christ will come like a thief in the night, when you least expect him. It will happen in the twinkling of an eye, with the sound of a trumpet. You must be ready at all times.”
We know from Scripture that Ezekiel was a great prophet who moved mightily in the Spirit. In Ezekiel 37, God gave him a vision that I believe holds a timely message of spiritual awakening for the dry church of today.
The Bible says it is possible for every believer to see the Lord’s glory. In fact, God says he will reveal his glory to all who seek him for it. Why is it important for us to see and understand God’s glory? It is because the revelation of his glory is meant to equip his people for the storms of life. According to Paul, this revelation “is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
Isaiah was speaking of Jesus when he prophesied these words: “Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages” (Isaiah 49:8, emphasis mine).
This message is about spiritual prisons—those that Satan uses to cage us, and those we keep ourselves in. God’s Word shows us how to be freed from these prisons, with a powerful example from Peter’s life.
Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Isaiah is speaking of a Savior, a wonderful Prince of Peace coming to rule over a kingdom. This kingdom would be made up of a people wholly submitted to the Prince’s supreme authority. And the Prince himself would provide loving counsel to those he ruled over, guiding and directing their lives.
When I was a teenager, I spent my summers helping out on a ranch in east Texas. The ranch manager, Jimmie, was a big, strapping guy who had limited eyesight but knew how to do all kinds of things. Jimmie taught me how to mow and haul hay, for instance, and how to insert pills in cows’ parts. (Yes, Jimmie knew a lot about a lot of things.)
The New Testament tells us that in the last days scoffers are going to appear. Jesus says these mockers will ridicule all doctrine that says Christ is returning to establish a new kingdom. If you try to explain this doctrine – that when Jesus comes again he’ll set up a kingdom of eternal righteousness – you’ll be called insane.
Acts 1-6 describes one of the most glorious works of God in history. It’s an amazing sequence of action-filled events: powerful preaching, mass conversions, miraculous healings and wonders. All were the fulfillment of a divine promise foretold by Jesus.
Before his resurrection, Christ instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem to receive the “promise of the Father.” That promise began its fulfillment on Pentecost, Israel’s feast of “first fruits.” The world was about to see the first fruits of Christ’s labor on the cross for us.
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward” (Hebrews 10:35). If you are a Christian, you are in a fierce war. In fact, you’re in a life and death battle for your faith. Satan is determined to shipwreck and destroy the faith of all of God’s elect. And the stronger your faith, the greater will be his attack against it.