Christians who study Bible prophecy will agree that we are living in some very “curious” times right now. There are so many things going on that “End Times” “alerts” are going off all the time. However, not every Christian sees it or maybe they don’t want to see it, this includes pastors!
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of everyone’s blood, for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:26-28 HCSB
I recently brought up the subject with two different pastoral leaders and they both admitted to me that they don’t know too much about Bible prophecy or really look into it. On one hand I was concerned. On the other, I sort of understand. Ministers get so busy doing “church stuff” that Bible prophecy gets pushed to the back burner. “Bible prophecy is in the future…It is hard to understand…There is so much and so many different views…It freaks people out…etc…” But, that should not be an excuse. Bible prophecy is important. In fact, whole books of the Bible are dedicated to it. You can find prophetic Scripture all through the Old and New Testaments. If your pastor isn’t talking, studying and teaching on Bible prophecy, they are not sharing the “whole counsel of God.”
Q. Over the years, I’ve heard folks like Hal Lindsey, Grant Jeffery, and you suggest that scripture contains a large percentage of prophecy. I am unable to find this percentage figure anywhere and thought you could help me with this for a presentation I’m making.
A. According to “The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy” by J. Barton Payne, there are 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament for a total of 1,817. These prophecies are contained in 8,352 of the Bible’s verses. Since there are 31,124 verses in the Bible, the 8,352 verses that contain prophecy constitute 26.8 percent of the Bible’s volume.
Churches/pastors will teach on leadership, how to be a good parent/father/mother, how to love your enemies, etc… All those are good. But I don’t want to miss out on more than a quarter of the Bible!
Joel Richardson, in his book The Islamic Anti-Christ (which I highly recommend), says…
One of the primary reasons that we all need to make eschatology part of our regular spiritual diet is that through such, we become prepared. This preparation is not primarily a physical preparation. It is not about the stockpiling of food or finding a safe route of escape from your city (although, to a degree, it certainly could be). It is primarily a spiritual preparation. This preparation or “readiness” occurs for two reasons and neither should be ignored. The first and most important reason is based on the spiritual effects that the study of eschatology has on our hearts. These spiritual effects affect our actions and the way we live. One of these effects is a desire for personal holiness (Hebrews 12:14). When we read about the events as described in the Bible and the terrible and fearful events that will occur, followed by the glorious appearing of Jesus from heaven, we find ourselves desiring to throw off all sin and focus on the hope of one day seeing him face to face. Indeed, “everyone who has this hope fixed on him purifies himself, just as he [Jesus] is pure” (1 John 3:3).
I recently wrote in, It Shook Me to the Core, Why I’m Rethinking Everything, “…I’ve started looking into Bible prophecy and my wife and I have had a new desire to pray and seek God more! Don’t get me wrong, we have always done this, but we are taking it to a new level!”
The desire to learn more about Bible prophecy has caused me to look at everything with open eyes. I find that not everyone does this though. Many people who grew up in church or have listened to their favorite pastor preach on End Times is pretty set on that specific view. I believe as we get closer and closer to the last days, more specifics will be revealed and the Lord will allow us to understand the times better.
I recently started looking into the views of Joel Richardson and Walid Shoebat. I linked to one of Walid’s videos in Another View of Eschatology from a Former Muslim turned Christian. If you haven’t watched that video, you should take the time to look at it….again do it with open eyes.
Shoebat’s premise is that the West looks at the Bible and the End Times from a very Western centric position. However, God is always Jerusalem and Israel centric. Also, we look at things that are written in the Bible and come up with interpretations based on our Western perspective. However, the Bible was written in the Middle East and there are Eastern understandings that would help us interpret the Scripture better.
Shoebat covers some of this in the video that I linked to above? As a result of watching that video, I purchased his book, God’s War on Terror. In it, he develops these “Eastern” interpretations in more depth.
He deals with why the anti-Christ can’t come from Rome or Europe. He deals with why Mystery Babylon is not the United States or Rome. He deals with the Gog and Magog war, and why Russia is not Gog. He discusses specific word interpretations like what “waters” and “mountains” mean to someone looking at the Bible from an Eastern perspective.
Richardson’s and Shoebat’s views are not the only views out there that make sense, but if you are a student of Bible prophecy, it is a view that you should definitely explore!
The book was written in 2007. Shoebat ends the book looking at certain developments in the Middle East. Many of the developments that he wrote about have intensified and accelerated.
If your church isn’t teaching, discussing or at least looking at Bible prophecy, here are some things you should do.
1. Don’t leave! – Sometimes the first instinct is to pick-up and look for another church that is preaching, teaching, discussing what you are interested in. However, you have to think about the fact that maybe God planted you in the church you are in for a reason. Start to pray! That is always the first step!
2. Set a meeting with your pastor. – In the meeting, share your concerns about the End Times and how over 1/4 of the Bible contains prophecies. Write down questions before hand if you think that would be helpful for you to stay on topic. Ask him where he stands and if he plans on discussing the End Times. Understand that many people shy away from the End Times because it can be scary or there is just so many views out there. Offer to help him gather resources or even help find someone that the church can bring in.
3. Start a small group. – If your church allows you, ask to start a small group that will focus on End Times. There is more than you think that goes into small groups, more than I would like to develop here. But just know that you should setup some parameters before you start like, “We are going to try and stay open to all Orthodox views on End Times Prophecy.” It is very easy for individuals to “take-over” and make everyone else who has a different opinion shut down.
4. Study yourself. – There is nothing in the Bible that says you cannot study End Times Prophecy yourself! Stay open, read and watch videos. We are so blessed in this day and age to have access to so many sermons, messages and resources today. Before, you had to wait for a radio show or order a tape. Now there is so much at your fingertips… But, there is also so much junk out there too! You have to filter through it and pray (see #1).
5. Don’t neglect the rest of the Bible and the Faith! – There are so many Christians that focus on End Times Prophecy, that they forget all the rest of what God says in His Word! Be balanced and “Seek first the Kingdom of God…”
Like I mentioned above, I think we are in some curious times! God always…ALWAYS, let His people know what was coming. They just didn’t listen! Don’t be a believer that doesn’t consider the times we live in!
What has been your experience? Leave your comments below.