Does Bible prophecy have any relevance to the present?
Dr. Reagan: This is the third part of a series where I interview Roberta Roberts Potts concerning various topics related to Bible prophecy.
Dr. Reagan: Many pastors over the now 32 years that I've been teaching Bible prophecy, I ask them, "Do you ever preach on Bible prophecy?" They usually say "No." I'll then ask, "Why?" They'll tell me that it's too controversial, or that they don't know that much about it. Mainly their answer is this, "It's pie in the sky. It has to do with the future. I want to preach sermons that have to do with the here and now, addressing the problems that people are facing here and now."
Is Bible prophecy just pie in the sky? Does it have no relevance to the present?
Roberta Potts: I think it is very here and now. For me, it's the only thing that explains the news. For example, Dr. Reagan, you were a history professor. I was a history major many, many years ago. Most people will know that Europe for centuries had war after war after war. There was the Seven Years War. There was the Thirty Years War. There was the Hundred Years War. And, those were just three out of all the conflicts. In fact, part of the reason why the Colonists wanted to come to America was not just for religious freedom, but also because they wanted to escape all those wars.
So, given the history of Europe, how do you explain that all of a sudden now there is a European Union? When one of them gets in trouble, the other one bails them out, even after centuries of hatred. How do you explain the revived Roman Empire from the book of Daniel? How do you do that? Explain that. That prophecy given in Daniel explains the unbelievable news that Europe united.
Here's another example, when I was growing up in the 50's I read from Revelation that the Lord said that Antichrist is going to make everyone have a mark. They are going to have it on their forehead or their right hand. I thought, "Well, how can that be? How can he get everybody to get a tattoo?" Why, back then you didn't get tattoos. If somebody did get a tattoo later on they would regret it. They would cover it up, or they would try to get it off. It just wasn't cool to have a tattoo. And yet, now all of sudden, voluntarily people are getting tattoos all over their bodies. How do you explain that without the book of Revelation?
You just can't understand what's going on in the world from the news without Bible prophecy. Bible prophecy is so absolutely relevant.
What are some crucial keys to understanding Bible prophecy?
Dr. Reagan: One complaint that I have find often voiced about Bible prophecy it that it's just too difficult to understand. Pastors often tell me, "I'm not Pre-Millennial. I'm not Amillennial. I'm not Postmillennial. I'm Pan-Millennial, meaning it's just going to pan out in the end." To me they're saying, "I'm too lazy to study this." But, none the less, people say it's too difficult to understand. Sure, there are parts of prophecy that are difficult to understand and there are symbolic things. But, what would you say is a crucial key, or some crucial keys, to understanding Bible prophecy?
Roberta Potts: One thing I would say, and it's going to be very simplistic, but a lot of Christians really believe that they do not need to study the Old Testament. The Old Testament is passé they'll claim, and all they believe they need are the words of Jesus, or maybe the words of the New Testament. You can't possibly understand prophecy if you don't study the Old Testament. You can't understand what Jesus said. In fact, when I study the words of Jesus, I think that He assumed that the audience knew the Old Testament. He assumed that. So, if you don't know anything from the Old Testament, you're lost. So, yes, I think that is one of the problems people have when trying to understand God's prophetic word.
Dr. Reagan: Roberta, it is hard for me to stay seated when you say that. I want to get up, dance around, and shout, "Hallelujah!" because I have been preaching that for years. Get into the Old Testament!
Did you know that in the book of Revelation there are 350 references to the Old Testament, and yet not a single one is identified? Not one! It never says, "As it says in Isaiah," or whatever. You can't understand Revelation unless you've read the book of Daniel or know something about the Old Testament.
Roberta Potts: Revelation alludes to the Old. The New Testament alludes to the Old Testament. And so, that's one reason why people get so confused.
Dr. Reagan: Sure, and the other key to understanding Bible prophecy?
Roberta Potts: I learned this one from Phillip Goodman. You need to interpret Scripture with Scripture. Sometimes you'll come to a verse, and you'll ask, "What does this mean?" But, usually you can find a companion verse somewhere else in the Bible that will help enlighten you on that. So, there's a lot of little tips like that.
In the next segment of my interview with Roberta Roberts Potts, she will continue to answer questions concerning Bible prophecy, such as: "What is your favorite promise from Bible prophecy about the future?"