Is knowing Bible prophecy necessary for understanding current events?
Bible prophecy is one of the most ignored topics in churches today. Pastors avoid it like a plague. They usually assert that it is either too controversial or too difficult to understand. They often claim it is too other-worldly, meaning it has no relevance to Christian living here and now. The result is that one-fourth to one-third of God's Word has been put on the shelf, and the average Christian ends up living with no anticipation or even yearning for the Lords' soon return.
There are two areas of God's Word that have been terribly ignored and abused in the history of the Church. They are the opening of the Bible and the conclusion of the Bible — the books of Genesis and Revelation. People have tended to spiritualize the opening of the Bible by claiming that the 6 days of Creation were really 6 million or 60 million or 600 million years. When you start out spiritualizing the Bible by claiming that it doesn't really mean what it says, there is a tendency to do the same thing with the ending of the Bible, arguing that the book of Revelation really doesn't mean what it says.
But, the abuses of Bible prophecy applies to more than just the book of Revelation. It applies to all of God's prophetic word, and that is a shame, because the study of Bible prophecy is very important for many reasons.
I'm going to give you nine reasons why all Christians should be interested in studying God's Prophetic Word. The following are the seventh and eighth reasons.
7. Stimulus for Spiritual Growth
Here is another reason to study Bible prophecy. It is a great stimulus for spiritual growth in two areas.
First, Bible prophecy provides hope. The average Christian has very little hope. In terms of trying to define hope, just ask the average Christian, "What is your hope?" And they'll say, "My hope is to go to Heaven." You then ask, "Okay, what is Heaven?" Suddenly they become very inarticulate. Are you going to have a body? Going to have a name? Going to be recognizable? Are you going to eat? You going to work? You going to create things? Where are you going to be? Are you going to be on a cloud playing a harp? Are you going to be on the ground? Are you going to be in the New Jerusalem in the ground, or the New Jerusalem out in space? Did you know the Bible answers every question I just asked? Every one of them!
Sadly, we as Christians just haven't studied. We don't know. I've learned the more you know about Bible prophecy the greater your hope will be. Promise after promise after promise after promise is made to us as overcomers, and we need to know those promises and live in the hope and expectation of those promises.
Second, Bible prophecy motivates holiness. Almost every passage in the New Testament that talks about prophecy says, for example in 1 John, to focus your life upon the return of Jesus Christ. Think about the return of Jesus Christ, because as you think about the return of Jesus Christ you will purify yourselves.
Bible prophecy inspires evangelism and holiness. It is very practical.
8. Understanding of Current Events
An eighth reason to study Bible prophecy is that it provides an understanding of current events. There is no way you can understand why there is so much decay in society today unless you know what the Bible says about that. Jesus said when He prophesied point blank that the world would be going to go full circle and that when He came back it would be going just as evil and violent and immoral as it was in the days of Noah. We are seeing that happening before our very eyes.
I have a Time magazine cover about the proliferation of swearing in society. Even people who are secular, even people who do not have a spiritual bone about them, recognize the deterioration of society. There's a whole cover of Time magazine devoted to dirty words in movies, television, radio, and with the shock jocks. Time asks, "What is our nation coming to?"
Or, consider this apostasy in the Church. Who would ever dream just 20 years ago that we would live in an age when denominations would be endorsing homosexuals as bishops of their churches, and even advocating marriage between homosexuals? That is how fast it has deteriorated. It's amazing!
I know a bishop of a church in a major denomination who wrote a book about five years ago in which he denied the virgin birth, denied the miracles of Jesus, denied the Second Coming, and argued that Paul and Timothy were homosexual lovers. Why does he even bother?
More and more we are seeing people even among people calling themselves "Evangelicals" like in the Emergent Church Movement who are just taking the Word of God and throwing it out claiming, "There's not really any truth. We just have got to be touchy-feely about doctrine. We mustn't be judgmental. We mustn't be intolerant." Truth is going out the window!
The growing apostasy reminds me of W. A. Criswell, the former pastor of First Baptist Church, who once said to the effect, "The more I look around at the apostasy in the Church, I've come to the conclusion that most people believe that the only part of the Bible that is inerrant and inspired is that part they agree with." In other words, if you agree with a certain passage, only then is it inspired. If I don't agree with it, its not inspired and I've, got to throw that out, cut that out, get the scissors and chop it out of the Bible. That's where we are today with the apostasy of the Church.
Or, consider the Middle East. There is no way, no way, you could even begin to understand what is going on the Middle East today unless you know something about the history of Israel from the Word of God and the promises of God to Israel. The fact that Israel has an everlasting covenant for that land God has never taken away. The deed to that land belongs to them. You can't begin to understand all the conflict that is going on there today unless you get into Bible prophecy. Suddenly your eyes will be opened and you will be understanding things that you never understood before.
In the fifth and last part of my teaching on the importance of Bible prophecy, we'll look at the final reason why we should all be studying God's prophetic word and glean three prophetic facts.