Books and articles on biblical prophecy predicting end time events, the rapture of the Church and the end of the world became popular around the mid-seventies. There were three predictions that all of these shared, two never came to pass and one did.
The predictions of when the Church would be raptured and the world would end have come and gone, and the Church and the world are still here. The publishers of these books and articles firmly believed, because of man’s seemingly inherent curiosity about the future, that publishing these would be moneymakers, and they made millions.
The lesson I learned from this is publishers are better at predicting the marketability of interpreting prophecy than writers are at interpreting it.
Bible prophecy has two parts.
Bible prophecy can be divided into two parts, those things that have been fulfilled, and those things yet to be fulfilled. The branch of theology that seeks to understand and explain the latter is known as eschatology or the study of “last things.”
America’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s ancient capital has many within the ranks of evangelicals hailing this as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. While I believe the reestablishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 was a fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision in chapter 37 of the book that bears his name, I am not entirely sure how recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital fits into the eschatological picture.
This event seems to have encouraged certain believers into thinking we can hasten the fulfillment of biblical prophecy by our own actions and secular commentators fear that believers, heartened by Jerusalem’s recognition, will attempt that very thing and by doing so needlessly hinder the peace process and increase violence in the Mideast.
The future is like a veiled jigsaw puzzle.
The future is like a veiled jigsaw puzzle. Biblical prophecies are like pieces of the puzzle that give us a fragmented and incomplete picture. The books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation contain many of these apocalyptic passages, but there are other pieces scattered throughout the Bible.
Some prophecies are clearer than others, for instance, Jesus’s prediction of “great tribulation” in Matthew 24:21, foretelling of a time of trouble unprecedented in human history is crystal clear.
Competing interpretations exist because of this fragmented picture shrouded in symbolism, but all will become clearer as these foretold events begin to unfold.
Even on the day of His ascension the disciples were questioning Jesus.
On the day of His ascension, the disciples were still questioning Christ when he would restore the prophesied Davidic kingdom. Jesus told them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority,” but you are to “be My witnesses,” Acts 1:7-8.
There are three truths gleaned from Jesus’ final instructions. The future is on God’s timetable and nothing we do will hasten or delay its fulfillment. Unbelievers do not need to be concerned with what believers do; they need to be concerned with what God will do. Believers cannot bring about Christ’s return, but we are commissioned to prepare the world for His return by sharing the Gospel.