Two weeks ago in an article titled “Rapture Mania” I addressed President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and we would be moving our embassy there. Some evangelicals hailed it as hastening fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
Since writing that article, I thought I should expand on my concern about what is said about biblical prophecy. It is important that we understand the distinction between what the Bible says will happen, and how men interpret what the Bible says.
Christian beliefs about the future
Christian beliefs about the future are shaped by that branch of theology known as Eschatology. The term comes from a Greek word “eschatos,” meaning “last things,” and is the study of the end times.
There are four recognized schools of thought within this branch of theological study: Premillennialism, Postmillennialism, Amillennialism and Preterism. There are similarities within each, but there are definite differences also. These differences are predicated on differing interpretations.
Common sense dictates all of these interpretations cannot be right. This lack of hermeneutic harmony led me to comment “there is more confusion than there is consensus” when it comes to those prophetic passages of Scripture that have as yet to be fulfilled.
Most of us are familiar with the more egregious misinterpretations of prophecy, those quacks who try to predict the return of Christ. Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone,” Matthew 24:36. If Jesus does not know when He is to return, what makes anyone think they know? What is important to remember about the return of Christ is not the timing, but that it is inevitable.
The uncertainty of interpretive speculations
Hal Lindsey who wrote The Late Great Planet Earth predicted the 1980’s would probably be the last decade in human history, he missed that by almost three decades and counting. The Left Behind Series by Tim Lahaye is more speculation about the end times than prophetic verity.
There are many books written on end time prophecy, and the only thing predictable about them are the royalties they garnered playing on man’s inherent curiosity about the future. I am not saying the motivation for all these writers was to make a profit, but making a profit may be the only thing predictable about what they wrote.
I have said, “The purpose of prophecy is not to give us an exact map of where the future will take us; it is to give us enough information about what is to come so that as it unfolds we will know God saw it coming and is in control.”
Here’s the takeaway, I did not write this to discredit any particular interpretation of prophecy. My purpose in writing this is to warn the reader that if things do not unfold according to some book you read, or an author’s interpretation; it means his interpretation is wrong. It does not mean the Bible is wrong. God’s Word will not mislead us.