Why Study End Time Prophecy?
There are some significant issues related to this question – both positive and negative. Here are some such issues that will illustrate the point:
Issues that may not be appropriate reasons to study prophecy:
- Idle curiosity: Scripture is not written to satisfy our curiosity (2Pe 1:20,21 & Is 55:5-11)
- Test of fellowship: If a questionable doctrine must be accepted in order to belong
- Spiritual “pride”: Some teachers seem to be “professional” prophets (Acts 17:21)
- Uncertain symbols: Prophecies include symbols that lead to confusion (1Co 14:33)
Reasons why we SHOULD study prophecy:
- Fact of presence in the Bible (31,000 verses are prophetic in nature)
- Assurance (previous fulfillment of prophetic Scriptures authenticate those still unfulfilled – Gen 3:15; 12:1-3; 18:21; 19:24; Is 7:14;Lu 1:30-33; Jn 1:29; Heb 11:8,12)
- To understand God’s ultimate plan for us (Is 8:20)
- Incentive to labor for Christ (2Pe 3:9-11; 1Jn 1:1-3
- Blessing promised when we read or hear it (Rev 1:3)
Beyond all these issues, just the state of our current world leads us to be concerned about the future. There are several groups of people with varying interest in the matter:
Are we living in the “last days”?
There is a lot of interest today in what is beginning to happen in our world. Many people are searching for answers about the constant and unexpected events that are occurring around them. Some are trying to understand the deep secrets that may be hidden in the writings of Nostradamus and others who seem to have predicted the current events. Many wonder if the “antichrist” of the Bible is actually alive today. Some even compare President Obama to the antichrist. The “Left Behind” series of books authored by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins has been tremendously successful. These books have been on Amazon’s Top 10 Book List for years. All of this speaks to the question that seemingly is in the back of everyone’s mind, “Are we living in the last days?”
Is the “rapture” about to take place?
However, there are a lot of Christians who believe that the “rapture” (catching away) of the church will occur and all true believers will be caught away into the arms of God before the “great tribulation” occurs and the “antichrist” is revealed. With this belief, it may seem unimportant to study the events that may happen “after I am gone.”
Even though these Christians may hold the answers to the questions asked by others, many of them do not seem interested in trying to express those answers. Some may even discount anyone who has not accepted the “salvation” that they endorse. Since they are “not saved, it really doesn’t matter, does it?”
Does it make any difference?
Then there are those who have a fatalistic view and state that we do not have any control over the future so why bother? They generally live by the philosophy that “The glass is half-empty and it is drying up. You had better get yours before it’s all gone!” They try to live life in such a way that they will not miss out on any of this world’s pleasures and push everything about tomorrow out of their minds.
Does anyone have any answers?
Then there is another group – those self-styled “experts” that claim to have all of the answers. Every symbol has a concrete fulfillment and everything they teach is absolute. They are so dogmatic about their doctrine that it becomes a test of fellowship. You must not be a true Christian if you cannot agree with them.
Then why write this book?
I don’t fit well in any of these groups – especially the last group. Although I have spent the past 40 years reading and studying Bible prophecy, I do not claim to have many answers. I am writing the book partly to encourage other Christians that – even if they don’t have all the answers – that does not mean they are forever doomed to hell.
This book may pose as many questions as answers it provides. However, the idea is to provide a foundation for each person to work on in their journey to a better understanding of the future that we are “barreling” toward. And, along that journey, I am convinced that our Heavenly Father WILL provide the needed answers to His children.
Still, even if I do not have all of the answers… and even if I am already born into the Family of God… and even if the catching away (“rapture”) of the church does happen in the immediate future…” and even if I cannot alter any of those events… I still need to study what the Bible has to say about the events that are just now starting to unfold.
Do not take the approach of the group that says, “You don’t need to worry about the future – just be prepared for the rapture!” There are too many people who are urgently seeking answers and the place they SHOULD be able to find some answers is with those who are “born again” and “rapture ready.” We do have many answers – including the most important one (how to be born again). And the hoards of “inquiring minds” in this world deserve whatever answers we can give.
But before we start, we need to establish some principles of proper Bible study. Start with the article “Using Context in the Bible.“