By Nathan Jones
Are you one of those who avoids Bible prophecy like a plague, either because you are scared of it or because you consider it impossible to understand? Do you think it is irrelevant to your Christian life?
Lamb & Lion Ministries interviewed Bible prophecy expert and all-around nice guy Don Perkins, the founder and director of According to Prophecy Ministries in San Diego, California, about how he would respond to 14 common misconceptions that are out there concerning Bible prophecy. The following are the first four.
1) Studying Revelation will drive you crazy.
As a young man and growing up all my life, when I would go to church that was one thing that I heard. It become a psychological barrier for me. When I became a Christian I surrendered my life to the Lord. As a young Christian I would never go into the Book of Revelation. There are many people today I know that are hindered because they were taught the same thing — they'll go crazy. It wasn't until the Lord called me to this area of ministry that I found out the blessing. Revelation 1:3 tells you, "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near." And I've been blessed!
Why would God give us a book that nobody can understand? I ask people all the time why would God do that? Why would He give us something that He didn't want us to understand? Well, I just think it's a satanic thing. Satan does not want anybody reading the Book of Revelation — no one! Because, the Book of Revelation says Satan is going to be totally defeated and Jesus is going to be completely triumphant.
I came to that revelation when I started studying. Now I understand why I was fed that lie, because I see in the end the demise of the Devil.
I learned that the Book of Revelation can be used for spiritual warfare. Here's how I use it: every time Satan tries to remind me of my past, I remind him of his future. And, do you know what he does? He tucks tail and runs. I know his future because I know the Book of Revelation. The Word of God is so clear.
2) Bible prophecy is too depressing.
I hear that one all the time. People say, "I don't like Bible prophecy because it's too depressing." And, "It's all about blood and gore and beasts and things that go bump in the dark."
True, IF you only study that part of it. You've got to understand that in the Book of Revelation and overall in Bible prophecy there are so many wonderful things in it. As a matter of fact, when you look at the Book of Revelation the last chapters talk about eternal bliss. In other words, what eternity is going to look like for the redeemed.
Now, I will admit there are some very hard chapters in the Book of Revelation. For the Great Tribulation, the Bible is clear in its description of how that event is going to look. But, it doesn't stay there. Many people throw the baby out with the bath water because they look at the signs and at the Trumpet Judgments and those things, but they never look at anything else in the Book of Revelation as a blessing.
Well, the Book of Revelation has a lot of terrible things in it in terms of the wrath of God being poured out upon this earth and so does the book of Isaiah. But, the thing that we need to remind people of is that in Bible prophecy there is only good news for those who know the Lord, those who are redeemed.
In the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi says that when the Lord returns those who have rejected Him are going to suffer the wrath of God and it's going to be a terrible day for them. In fact, some of the Scriptures say the presidents, prime ministers of the world are going to crawl into holes in the ground and cry for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them. But, it says for those who are believers they'll go forth like a calf released from a stall, acting plum silly waving their hands, dancing and shouting, and saying "Hallelujah, here he comes!" all full of joy and happiness. There's only good news for believers.
I really think you must be a student of the Scripture to really understand Bible prophecy.
3) Bible prophecy is impossible to understand because it's just full of symbolism.
Well, symbols point to a literal event. Symbols always help you to better understand a literal thing. I think in that regard, people need to understand that symbols point to something that's literal, or it gives us a clear picture of a literal event.
So, if you symbolize all of the Book of Revelation then you will get into trouble in prophecy. The thing about symbols, too, is that symbols stand for something literal, but usually the Bible tells you what it is. For example, in the Book of Revelation Jesus is pictured standing among some candlesticks, but it tells you who the candlesticks represent — churches. It says He has stars in His right hand, it tells you, the stars represent the pastors or the angels of those particular churches who are the messengers of those churches.
Also, another example, the Book of Revelation says that when the Jews flee from Jerusalem in the middle of the Tribulation they will flee on the wings of a great eagle. People say, "Ah ha! That means the United States is going to provide the airlift because our symbol is an eagle." But, if you go back and look at the Bible, and the Bible's its own best interpreter, the same term is used when the Jews fled out of Egypt. All it means is it is a symbol of God's protection for them. So yes, there are symbols, but the symbols have a meaning.
Safety in interpretation lies in the Scriptures. The Scripture will always interpret scriptures.
All of Bible prophecy is not symbolic. Take the book of Zechariah. It says the Messiah is coming on a donkey. He's going to be hailed as king. He's going to be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver. Thirty pieces of silver will be used to buy a plot of land. He'll be lifted up. He'll be pierced. All that meant what it said — literally!
If the plain sense makes sense don't look for any other sense, or you will end up with nonsense. And that is so true.
4) Bible prophecy is irrelevant to contemporary Christian living.
You know that one really gets me. I hear it all the time. Pastors tell me that you can't tie it into today's life. "It's all pie in the sky, sweet by-and-by. I've got to talk about contemporary problems. I've got to help people today." Well, I don't know of a better book that will help you in contemporary living. For me, Bible prophecy is the message that has really put an urging in my heart and has given me a hope that helps me to live in this relevant day.
I found that if you can ever convince a Christian of two things, really convince them... number one, Jesus is coming back. Now, the average Christian says, "Yes, he's coming back." But, they believe it in their mind, but they don't believe it in their heart. When you believe it in your heart you start living. But, as long as you believe it in your head, it's just a mental thing. If you can ever convince them, number one, Jesus is really coming back, and number two, that is an event that could occur any moment, their lives will be transformed. Changed, totally changed! They will commit their lives to holiness. You won't have to preach against drinking. You won't have to preach against gambling. You won't preach against promiscuous sex. People will put it aside.
Also, it is the greatest motivator I know of for evangelism. People will start sharing the Word. How can anything be more practical than that? It's so practical.
In the second part of "Misconceptions Concerning Bible Prophecy," Don Perkins will respond to misconceptions 5-9.