Apocalyptic Prophecy: Fact or Fiction?

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There are many accounts in the Bible that unbelievers have a hard time swallowing: the 6-day creation, the world wide flood and Noah’s ark, the parting of the Red Sea, Daniel in the lion’s den, as well as others.  It is understandable that individuals without the indwelling Holy Spirit would have a difficult time believing these historical, Biblical facts.  But when you get to prophecy yet future, you even begin to see those who identify as Christian’s jumping ship.  Why is this the case?  I have a few theories…

Recently, I read a book about the Ruby Ridge standoff/shootout that happened in northern Idaho in the early 90’s.  It was a very interesting work of investigative journalism, especially to me as I was a high school student in eastern Washington at the time and remember the situation well.  It dominated our television and newspaper; everyone was talking about it for years.  At the root of the Ruby Ridge incident were some pretty whacked-out, apocalyptic beliefs held by the Weaver family who resided there.  Mrs. Weaver, the wife/mom of the family, claimed to have special revelation from God which was the foundation for the families unique religion.  

*I just want to stop here and remind everyone that every single man-made/false religion begins with a person “hearing” directly from “god” or having a supposed dream or vision: Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witness, Islam, Roman Catholicism, to name a few.  This is why we reject special, or individual, revelation (“god told me”) and rely solely on the Bible for determining truth and God’s will.*

Anyhow, Mrs. Weaver cooked up her specific brand of man-made religion by borrowing from the reformed Mormon church her father attended, Evangelicalism, and a dash of mental instability.  The family believed the world was going to come to an end, and they were going to be some of the lone survivors, but they would probably have to have a battle with the government at some point first.  Because this bizarre religious ideology formed their world view, they acted in ways that brought about the very thing they feared was coming.  As a result, Mrs. Weaver and her son, 14- year old Samuel, were killed when government agents tried to bring Mr. Weaver in to face court charges. *Another side note here: the government acted unlawfully; it was a combination of Mr. Weaver refusing to come in for his court date, the Weaver’s extreme religious beliefs, and the FBI, ATF, and U.S. Marshals’ unlawful handling of events that resulted in the deaths, but I digress.*

What does an extreme-right-wing-anti-government fringe group’s gun battle with the FBI have to do with Biblical prophecy, you may be wondering?  I’ll tell you.  I believe one reason that professing Christians shy away from future prophecy is because unstable people are drawn to it.  And when those unstable folks mix their unbalanced minds with apocalyptic ideology, it makes eschatology a joke and laughing stock to Christians and non-Christians alike.  Nobody wants to be associated with whack-a-doodle nonsense.  

It is my opinion that Satan is behind these situations, as his objective is to undermine the veracity of prophetic scripture since he knows he cannot stop these future events from occurring.  He does his damage by getting people to ignore, mock, and avoid prophecy.  But that is not what God wants.  Approximately 28% of the Bible is prophetic verse.  Since “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), it would be unwise for us to ignore over a quarter of it.  Every prophecy in time past has been fulfilled precisely and exactly as God had the prophets foretell.  Therefore, it stands to reason that all future prophecy will unfold and be fulfilled with God’s precision and exactness in the future.  You can count on it.  If you need more convincing, Revelation is the only book of the Bible that promises a blessing to the person who reads it: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3).

Let me give you another real-world example.  Just this week, I was reading a New York Times article about businesses using microchip implants for employees.  It is currently a voluntary program but enables folks to get through security without having to keep track of a badge, among other things.  What I found especially interesting were the comments on the article.  Person after person mentioned a grandma, friend’s mom, or some other source that had told them about the mark of the beast prophecy.  The mark of the beast is a prophecy yet future found in Revelation 13.  The Anti-Christ will require everyone to have this mark in order to buy and sell in the global economy.  There is much speculation about what the mark will actually be, and this microchip implant was bringing to mind this prophecy for many.  What is my point?  Prophecy is interesting.  Every human being ever born wants to know what will happen in the future.  The Bible tells us what will happen, and what we can do to be prepared.  It is a good evangelism tool.  

When I read this article from the NYT and the comments, I shared it with my friend Elizabeth Prata of The End Time blog, and she wisely remarked: “people don’t remember all of the verses that tell them they are sinners, but they remember prophecy!  Prophecy as a subject of study and exhortation gets little respect, but at the end of the day, it’s just about the main thing that people unfamiliar with the Bible always remember. They reject the doctrine of sin, but they all know about the Antichrist and the coming wrath.”

Christians are intimidated by prophecy; many believe that it cannot be rightly understood.  But this is not so.  The Bible is written for us to understand, no matter our age, intellectual ability, or education level.  To study the Bible correctly, including prophecy and Revelation, we use the literal, historical-grammatical approach.  Unfortunately, sensationalism sells, so be careful what you read and listen to.  Stay away from the John Hagee’s and the Chuck Missler’s; avoid anyone who practices newspaper eisegesis (reading into the scripture by newspaper headlines) or makes a big to-do over blood moons. *eye roll*  Stick to reading the Scriptures using the correct hermeneutics.  

If you would like further resources, I highly recommend John MacArthur’s book Because the Time is Near.  It is a straightforward, non-sensational take on Revelation.  You can also find many sermons and radio broadcasts on the topic at the Grace to You website.  I also recommend without reservation Elizabeth Prata’s blog, The End Time where she writes on all things theology, including prophecy.  You will find many edifying articles and resources with her.

The main take away here is this: prophecy isn’t nutty.  It isn’t for fringe people who are paranoid.  Prophecy is for all Christians to know, study, and love.  We honor the Lord by believing Him, and that what He says will come to pass. Jesus is coming again, and every jot and tittle of His Word will be fulfilled.  May today be that day!

Soli Deo Gloria!


More links to End Time resources at Grace to You:

Why every Calvinist should be a premillennialist

Death 

Israel

Judgment

Millennial Kingdom

Prophecy

Rapture

Resurrection of Man

Second Coming of Christ

Tribulation

 

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