The subject of prophecy in the Bible is quite fascinating and eye-opening. There are clearly hundreds of predictions in the Scriptures that have been fulfilled,with astounding detail and accuracy. At the same time, in the hands of the wrong people, the Bible can easily be twisted and distorted in an attempt to validate almost any event or bizarre theory imaginable.
The Rise of End-time Bible Prophecy
This is true in particular regarding Bible prophecy about the end times, or the last days before Christ will return to earth. For several generations, we havebeendazzledand distracted by highly creative, elaborate interpretations. This is often done by twisting and dissecting carefully selected Bible verses; adding an unhealthy dose of current events mixed with logic and preconceptions; and then stringing it all together in order to “prove” certainpreconceived theories or predictions. Of course,this is all delivered with great persuasiveness and certainty. As a result, we can now learn, in vast detail, about current events–from what’s happening each day in the news, to the political alignments of the end times. We can discover“who is the antichrist?”, what are the “blood moons?”, “what is Babylon?”, and even “when exactly will Jesus return?” Of course, everyone who taken that final step has been proven wrong! Still, despite the fact that Jesus Himself said “No man knows the day nor the hour”, it doesn’t seem to stop the false predictions.
An Invasion of False Teaching
Prophecies which have already been fulfilled, and then verified by someone else speaking or writing in the Scriptures are one thing. Trying to postulate the details of what will take place in the future is something entirely different. Do these people, under the guise of enlightened Bible teaching, want us to believe that they are prophets as well? According to the law of Moses, if you prophesied and were wrong, you were supposed to be stoned you to death! Teaching beyond what the Scriptures actually say should bring great fear into the heart of any Bible teacher who seeks to lead the people of God. Moreover, spending so much time “unlocking mysteries” or revealing “hidden secrets” seems quite out of line with the clear emphasis of Biblical teaching for the church.
Still, for many of these so-called Bible experts, there remains the temptation to capitalize on the naïve masses of undiscerning believers, either for recognition or financial gain. In a very real sense, the topic of Bible prophecy in our times has become a big money maker, with superb entertainment value. Their detailed explanations about the end times, however, are often shrouded in obscure, tortured interpretations of the Bible. Unfortunately, the clearest or strongest teachings of Scripture relating to how we should be living are oftendeemphasized or forgotten altogether! Instead of hearing about holy living and vigilance as we wait for the Lord, we are sucked into the ways of the world around us. In place of preparing ourselves for difficult times, we are promised that believers will be whisked away in the “rapture” before it gets too bad. As a substitute for forming a deeper faith and bonds of mutual support with our fellow Christians, we are kept entertained and huddled together in the huge stockyards of modern churches. These are clear signs of both massive compromise and deception within in the Church already, and this will only get worse.The truth is, most of these misguided teachings have come from the over-educated, experientially challengedleaders of a lukewarm church that is, in fact, headed toward apostasy and very ill-equipped to face the end times as it actually unfolds! The fact that millions of Christians have believed these people only further illustrates my point.
What Does the Bible Really Teach?
The Bible does predict what the world will be like just before Jesus returns, but only in broad terms. The details are usuallyleft to the shadows of obscurity, which unfortunately becomes an opportunity for speculation and false teaching. Forcing these predictions into greater detail is like stepping on to thin ice, with more distraction and deception for the church waiting just below the surface. Anyone who is truly concerned with interpreting the Bible correctly and focusing on the priorities taught within its pages, should be deeply concerned with this trend.
Yes, the Bibledoes teach us about the end times, but for the most part in general terms only. Jesus Himself clearly warned us that to “watch out for doomsday deceivers” and, that “many false prophets will arise and will mislead many” (Matt. 24:4,11). In the plainest of language, He went on to say, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt. 24:36).
Consider also what the Apostles wrote:
“In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these“ (2 Tim 3:2-5).
“In the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’,” (2 Pet.3:3-4).
“In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts. These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly -minded, devoid of the Spirit” (Jude 1:18-19).
Every one of these passages, however descriptive,isstill lacking in the type of detail we hear from our modern prophecy experts. On the other hand, we do know this for certain, however: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4:1).
So, in the last days we do know that there will be that there will many false prophets or teachers. There will be massive deception within the church and a great apostasy or falling away from the faith. But we also read (quite clearly, I might add), about a Church that is not only present, but is being prepared as a bride for her bridegroom. Persecuted, yet ultimately obedient and triumphant!
In truth, the New Testament uses the strongest language against those who would attempt to distract or deceive us by adding to what the Scriptures really say. In 1 Timothy 3:3-4, the Apostle Paul enjoins his spiritual son Timothy to “instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation…” He concludes this letter by writing, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith”. (1 Tim 6:20-21 – emphasis added).
Paul’s final analysis (as ours should be) was that “the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion” (1 Tim 1:5-6).
In reference to the last days, the New Testament always emphasizes the attitude and behavior of believers. And this is done with clarity and detail! We are taught to be vigilant and alert; to walk in holiness; to be expectant and eagerly anticipate the Lord’s return. We are instructed to remain faithful and busy, focused on being a light to the world until Jesus comes again.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).