About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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My Prophetic Path


"Are you ready for the Battle of Armageddon"?  These words rattled their way through my head.  What kind of response did my grandmother hope to elicit from me?  I was only 6 years old.  Thoughts of being blown to smithereens in a war that would obliterate most of humanity were far from pleasant.


I'd hear similar references to the end times on Sundays when our pastor pleaded with us to walk down the isle to the altar.  "Make sure you're saved.  The end of the age could come tonight".  Such talk, which included talk of hell's fire, drove me to the altar on a weekly basis.  This kind of talk mixed with our denomination's stance on maintaining one's salvation through legalistic means made me always doubt my salvation.          


Then there was my dad who obviously inherited my grandmother's prophetic gene.  Along with the Battle of Armageddon, he talked about the Great Tribulation, the anti-Christ, the rapture, and most importantly, Israel's place in prophetic history.  At the age of 8 my prophetic path was being well walked on.      


In June, 1967, I was 15 years old.  In miraculous fashion, Israel defeated its enemies in what has been called the Six Day War.  This was the question Free Methodists pondered that summer.  "Are we that last generation who will see the end time events unfolding before our eyes"?  This was unsettling for us Evangelical teenagers.  We were to anticipate Jesus' return, but couldn't He hold off for a bit.  We wanted so much to experience the ecstasy of our wedding night.    


In February, 1970, Jesus delivered me from my guilt ridden obsession to get saved every Sunday.  Immediately, my passion was to study Biblical issues.  In part, that led me to Hal Lindsey.  His book entitled "The Late Great Planet Earth" convinced me that life as we know it would end by 1975.  


"This is the last big purchase of my life", I told my friend Gerry as we left the stereo store in 1973.  I had just purchased a pair of speakers for $250.00.  I could now be comforted by the music of Paul Clark, Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, and other Jesus People, while I waited for my martyrdom in the Great Tribulation.      


By 1974 I had forsaken Lindsey's view of a pre-tribulation rapture because of Dave MacPherson's books entitled "The Late Great Pre Trib Rapture" and "The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Rapture".  He pointed out that at least in our modern Evangelical era this doctrine arose from a lady's vision in the 1830's and was subsequently propagated by a Brethren preacher named John Darby.  That was it.  Without a pre-trib rapture my execution by the anti-Christ's regime was certain.  I'd join those martyred souls of Revelation 6:9 who will scream out to God to avenge our blood.           


In 1974 my two favourite Bible teachers were Derek Prince and Malcolm Smith.  Prince believed that Israel was the centerpiece of prophetic history while Smith didn't.  I was trapped between two prophetic scenarios.  I was in one prophetic pickle of a mess. 


In the midst of my prophetic pickled mess was Maxwell Whyte, a prominent pastor in Toronto.  Gerry and I visited with him.  His book entitled, "Who Is The Anti-Christ" convinced me that the Historical view of prophecy was the Biblical view.  So, I came to believe that the events of Revelation, except for chapters 20 to 22, have been unfolding over the last 2000 years.           


David Edwards was the president of Elim Bible Institute where I attended in the mid 1970's.  He held to the amillennial view that states we've been in the 1000 year rule of Christ for the last 2000 years.  I added this view to my stack of prophetic beliefs.    


There were other teachers and books along the way, but by 1980 Maxwell Whyte had won me over.  I was a Historicist, but with one nagging irritation.  I couldn't shake the Israel factor, and, I certainly wouldn't admit that to dad.  When he told me of Israel's importance in prophecy, I'd respond by saying, "but dad, there are other ways to think".  Dad would hear of no other ways.


During the mid 1980's I began to waver.  I felt like giving up, but I couldn't.  I had inherited that prophetic gene, something my friend Bill told me was the case at my dad's funeral in 2001.  By 1990 I was still suggesting to dad that God might be finished with Israel, but, when talking to Bill who rejected all things Israel, I'd tell him that God wasn't finished with Israel .  Talk of being in a prophetic pickle of a mess; by 1993 I was a prophetic schizophrenic.       


By the end of the 1980's I was well aware of the main prophetic scenarios.  I let the Historical view fall by the side of my prophetic path.  I was determined to reach my own conclusions.  My search began in Genesis, where it should begin for everyone.  The first passage with end time significance is the Abrahamic Covenant.  I maintain that how you view this covenant will determine your prophetic stance throughout the Bible.  Once understanding the Abrahamic Covenant, I proceeded to the Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the prophets.  With a better grasp of the Old Testament, things became clearer.  It took me close to 10 years, but I finally fell on dad's side of the fence.   Some might suggest I damaged my thinking processes in the fall, but that's just wishful thinking on the part of some.  I became a Prophetic Futurist with one regret.  My dad passed away before I could admit to him that he was right.  Israel is the centerpiece of prophetic history, which in part, determines my view of Revelation.      


A bouncing ball doesn't bounce forever.  Sooner or later it settles down and rests.  I no longer bounce from one side of my prophetic path to the other.  I certainly don't have all the answers.  There's so much more to learn, but as I stand on my path gazing into the future road ahead of us, I'm firm in the direction my path is leading me. 


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