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Bible, especially in the prophetic works that Daniel wrote down in the book bearing his name, and that the apostle John wrote in his Revelation. Some of these passages were "sealed up until the time of the end." Does that mean that we can understand them now because we are in the time of the end? Perhaps. World events that have transpired since Daniel's time and since John's day may have fulfilled some of the prophecies, or may have made it easier to understand how others could be fulfilled.

But it is important to keep in mind that God's purpose varied in having the various portions of Scripture written down. The prophecies were all written for our benefit, but not all of them were meant to be understood in advance. Consider, for example, the dozens of predictions about the coming Messiah that were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Some of these passages were not even known in advance to apply to the Messiah, and most of them certainly were not understood correctly, even by sincere Jewish scholars looking forward to fulfillment of the messianic hope.

God may similarly have intended for many of the end times prophecies to be understood only in hindsight.

Those that appear to be "sealed up" may not be placed there for our full understanding in this period of time. They may be in the Bible so we will have confidence that God knows exactly what will happen and exactly how it will happen and exactly when it will happen. These prophecies teach us to put our trust in Him. But, these passages may not be in the Scriptures to give us understanding in advance concerning all the details of what is about to happen.

Yet there are numerous other prophetic passages about the end times that were recorded to give us advance warning as to what to look for and what would happen. These were meant to be grasped and understood before the predicted events would take place. This is true of Jesus' prophecies related in Matthew chapter 24 and Luke chapter 21 and Mark chapter 13. Jesus described certain events and then said, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. ...when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near." (Luke

21:28-31 NIV) We owe it to ourselves, and to God, to heed these warnings and to keep on the watch. What are the signs that we should watch for? Another chapter of this book addresses this question.

Chapter 11 Turned Off by Hellfire?

Many sincere people are unwilling to consider biblical prophecy seriously, because they are repulsed by what they understand the Bible to teach about life after death. They either laugh or shudder at the thought of believers going to heaven to sit on clouds and strum golden harps while others go to hell to stand knee-deep in flames, constantly prodded and poked by pitchforks in the hands of red devils. "Pie in the sky when you die," is the skeptic's favorite phrase mocking the believer's heavenly hope. Can intelligent people today really believe in immortality? And what about Dante's Inferno for the unbelievers? Is that really what the Bible teaches? Or are these merely popular misconceptions?

The ancient Hebrew psalmist expected to awaken, after death, in God's presence. (Psalm 17:15 ) During his compulsory service in the courts of Babylonian and Persian kings the prophet Daniel dutifully recorded angelic prophecies of future kingdoms stretching across millennia of time. The angel dictating to this inspired penman then told Daniel, "As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance." (Daniel 12:13 NIV) He would die, but he would rise again to receive his reward in a resurrection. But the Old Testament contains mere hints of this afterlife; the New Testament tells us that Jesus Christ "has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (2 Timothy 1:10 NIV)

Was this belief in the afterlife something credible only to primitive people in agrarian societies? Can

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