why we Preach Prophecy
Many pastors and teachers today avoid preaching end time prophecy. There are
undoubtedly many reasons for this. There are many different views about the end
times, so some fear that it might be divisive. Others may feel that it’s too
negative. Or too complicated. Or not relevant to everyday life. Let me give you
10 key reasons why I believe Bible prophecy should be part of the regular diet
of God’s sheep.
1. Prophecy is a major part of divine revelation.
Many people are surprised to learn that 28% of the Bible was prophecy at the
time it was given. This means that believers have to understand something about
prophecy to understand the message of the Bible. There’s a story about a
preacher whose parishioners said he was the best they had ever seen at taking
the Bible apart, but the problem was, he couldn’t get it back together. Sadly,
this describes far too many Christians. Many Christians read their Bible
faithfully and pray but really have no idea what they’re reading, because they
lack proper pieces in putting them in the proper place.
God’s prophetic program for this world gives a person the best overall framework
possible for understanding the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
blessing is promised on those who study prophecy and pay attention to what it
Revelation is the final book of the Bible and records the consummation of
God’s program for man and the world. When people think of Bible prophecy, the
first book they think of, and maybe the only one, is Revelation.
- In Revelation
1:3, the Lord promises a special blessing on those who study Bible prophecy.
“God blesses the one who reads this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all
who listen to it and obey what it says.” This is the only book in the Bible that
contains this specific, unique promise.
3. Jesus Christ is the subject of prophecy.
Theologians have frequently noted that Jesus is the center of theology,
because all of the great purposes of God depend on His person and work. What is
true of theology in general is especially true of eschatology or Bible prophecy.
19:10 says, “For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness to Jesus.”
The truth of this verse is certainly borne out in Scripture. Prophecy is all
Bible prophecy finds its beginning and end in the person and work of the Savior.
The very first prophecy in the Bible in Genesis 3:15 is about the coming of the
Deliverer who will crush the head of the serpent. Enoch’s ancient prophecy
recorded in Jude 14-15 prophesied the flood judgment but also previews the
Second Coming of Christ.
From Genesis to
Revelation, the Bible is filled with prophecies that ultimately point in some
way to the Savior. Studying Bible prophecy is vital because its very essence is
to give witness to Jesus.
4. Prophecy gives us a proper perspective in life.
Bible prophecy is important because it tells us the end of the story. It
tells us where we’re going. It reveals that just as our world had a definite
beginning in Genesis 1:1, it will also have an ending. This world will not
continue on forever through infinite cycles of history. History is not an
endless recurrence of reincarnations, karma, birth, life and death.
reveals to us that there is an end. It reveals to us that there is a purpose and
goal for this world, creation, man, and the events of everyday life. Knowing
this truth gives us meaning, perspective and purpose and helps us not to be
cynical about life.
Bible prophecy is
the vehicle God has given us to reveal the grand consummation of history and to
provide a terminus or goal for our thinking about life and its ultimate meaning
can and should be used as a tool for evangelism.
As I have listened to the testimonies of hundreds of people through the
years, I am amazed how many people first began to think about their relationship
with God as a result of Bible prophecy. This shouldn’t surprise us, because
Bible prophecy holds a unique place of fascination even for unbelievers.
Everyone wonders what is going to happen to this world.
There’s no doubt
that people are fascinated with the future. Psychic hotlines, tabloid newspapers
and astrologers make a living preying upon man’s interest in the future. Like
Dwight Eisenhower once said, “I’m interested in the future, because that’s where
I’m going to spend the remainder of my life.”
All people have
the same basic questions about the future. What’s going to happen to the world?
Are these the last days of the world as we know it? Is Jesus really coming back?
Will the human race survive in the future? Is there life after death? Are heaven
and hell real? The Bible answers all of these ultimate questions about the
future, and we can and should use this natural fascination with the future as a
means to share the gospel with the lost.
6. Prophecy can help insulate people from heresy.
Think of all the false teachers who have gained a following by appealing to
Bible prophecy. William Miller was a date setter who gained a large following by
predicting that Jesus was coming back in 1843. He then revised the date to 1844
when Christ didn’t come. Since Miller’s day there have been hundreds of
date-setters who have led throngs of people to sell their belongings and wait
for Jesus on some mountaintop in their pajamas.
Witnesses and Mormons often appeal to Bible prophecies of the future to gain a
listening ear. David Koresh sucked people into his outlandish brand of the
Adventist movement primarily by his teachings on the last days. His tirades on
the end of the world, Armageddon and the judgment of God held his followers
spellbound. A proper view of Bible prophecy and the last days insulates God’s
people from all kinds of harmful, heretical teachings, from date setting .
- Mat 24:36 KJV -
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my
7. Prophecy helps us understand our world today.
The rapidly increasing tempo of change in modern life has given the entire
world a sense of impending crisis. Our world today faces convulsions and changes
that threaten our very existence: constant turmoil in the Middle East, an
escalating oil crisis, economic uncertainty, radical jihadists, nuclear
proliferation, and the potential of catastrophic, global plagues. Modern man is
asking questions about the future as never before. They are solemn questions;
they are searching questions. The Bible is certainly the best place to look for
answers. Even the most skeptical person can put these prophecies to the test by
noting the literal, precise fulfillment of past prophecies.
For this reason,
biblical prophecy is being discussed more than ever before. In these prophecies
it is possible to probe for clues to find where we are in God’s program and the
predicted events that may occur in our lifetime. Prophecies, which in the past
were sometimes brushed aside as incredible, are now being studied again.
The study of
prophecy, however, has been plagued by two extremes. The one extreme is to
disregard prophecy or to interpret it in a no literal sense. About half of the
prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled. Studying these passages clearly
shows that when prophecy in the Bible was fulfilled, it was fulfilled literally.
however, is to take prophecies out of context and interpret them to fit every
headline. One prophecy isolated and out of context should not be used to
interpret headlines or set dates for future events. The careful student of
prophecy attempts to put all unfulfilled prophecies together into a chronology
of events that is true to their literal meaning. Careful interpretation of
prophecy reveals a chronology of events the Bible predicts will set the stage
for the final act of world history.
As students of
the Bible observe proper interpretation principles, they are becoming
increasingly aware of a remarkable correspondence between the obvious trend of
world events and what the Bible predicted centuries ago.
reveals the sovereignty of God over time and history.
In order to accurately predict the future one must be omniscient (know
everything) omnipresent (be present everywhere) and omnipotent (possess all
power). The God of the Bible issues a challenge to any would-be rivals to His
place of supremacy in the universe. The basis of the challenge is that only the
True God can accurately predict the future. Read what God says about His ability
to disclose the future.
- Isaiah 41:21-24
‘Can your idols make such claims as these? Let them come and show what they can
do!’ says the Lord, the King of Israel. Let them try to tell us what happened
long ago or what the future holds. Yes, that’s it! If you are gods, tell what
will occur in the days ahead.
- Isaiah 42:9
Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will
tell you the future before it happens. (See also Isaiah 44:6-8; Isaiah 46:8-11;
Bible prophecy proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that God is the true God who
alone rules over time and history! He not only rules the ages, but He is also in
total control over the events of the life of every person. What a comfort and
encouragement it is to know that God is in control!
9. Prophecy proves the truth of God’s Word.
Just as Bible prophecy establishes that God is the True God, it also proves
that God’s Word is the True Word. An old Chinese proverb says, “It is very
difficult to prophesy, especially about the future.”
That’s why Bible
prophecy is absolute proof of the truth and veracity of God’s Word. The hundreds
of prophecies that have come to pass exactly as the Bible has said, prove that
the Bible is the inspired Word of the Sovereign Lord.
10. Prophecy is given to change the way we live today.
Every key passage on the coming of Christ contains a practical application
closely associated with it. Prophecy was not given just to stir our imagination
or capture our attention. Prophecy is intended by God to change our attitudes
and actions to be more in line with His Word and His character. There are at
least four practical, life-changing effects or influences that understanding
Bible prophecy is to have on our hearts.
Effect #1: Bible Prophecy Has a Cleansing Influence on Sinning Hearts
The Word of God is clear that a proper understanding of Bible prophecy
should produce a life of holiness and purity. “Yes, dear friends, we are already
God’s children, and we can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ
returns. But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see
him as he really is. And all who believe this will keep themselves pure, just as
Christ is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). Focusing the mind and heart on prophecy,
especially Christ’s coming, is a fail-safe formula for maintaining personal
purity. Note the certainty: “And all who believe this will keep themselves
pure.” Here is a perfect prescription for living a life of holiness focusing on
the coming of Christ. However, this coming must be a reality to us. It is one
thing for us to hold right doctrine about Christ’s coming. It is another thing
for the doctrine to hold us!
In 1988 a book
was published entitled 88 Reasons Why Christ Will return in 1988. In the book
the author stated that he had conclusive proof that Christ would rapture the
Church to heaven in early October 1988. Of course, the Bible clearly declares
that date setting concerning the coming of Christ is futile and foolish (Matthew
24:36; Luke 21:8). However, this erroneous book caused many people to re-examine
their lives just in case the book was right.
book was totally incorrect, but the point is that when people began to consider
the fact that Christ might return soon, it transformed their lives. The Bible
declares that we are to always be looking for Christ’s coming, not just when
someone sets an arbitrary date. “We should live in this evil world with
self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that
wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will
be revealed” (Titus 2:12b-13). Prophecy and purity are mentioned together in
Romans 13:11-14. The practical, cleansing effect of prophecy is also presented
in 2 Peter 3:10-14. When anyone says that studying Bible prophecy is not
practical, they reveal that they don’t understand what the Bible says about the
personal impact of prophecy. In an immoral, sinful society like ours, what could
be more practical than personal purity?
Effect #2: Bible Prophecy Has a Calming Influence on Stirring Hearts
Another practical effect of Bible prophecy is that it has a calming
influence on us when our hearts are troubled and stirred up. In John 14:1-3
Jesus said, “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many
rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this
were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and
get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know where I am
going and how to get there.”
“troubled” means “to be stirred up, disturbed, unsettled or thrown into
confusion.” There are many things in our world today to disturb and unsettle us:
the moral decay in our society, crime, economic uncertainty, terrorism, racial
unrest, etc. Added to these problems are the personal trials and difficulties we
all face in our daily lives. Trouble is the common denominator of all mankind.
One of the great comforts in times like these is to remember that our Lord will
someday return to take us to be with Himself.
In John 14:-13,
three main points are emphasized to calm our troubled hearts a person, a place
and a promise. The person is our Lord, the place is the heavenly city (New
Jerusalem) and the promise is that He will come again to take us to be with Him
Effect #3: Bible Prophecy Has a Comforting Influence on Sorrowing Hearts
Every person who is reading these words either has faced or will face the
grief of losing a close friend or loved one in death. When death strikes, pious
platitudes do little to bring lasting comfort to friends and family. The only
real, lasting comfort when death takes someone we love is the hope that we will
see him or her again in heaven. God’s Word tells us with certainty that we are
not to sorrow as people who have no hope, because we will be reunited with our
saved loved ones and friends at the coming of Christ. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
The truth of His
coming should transform the way we view death. God has promised that death has
lost its sting, that it will ultimately be abolished and that life will reign.
We are to find deep solace, hope and comfort for our sorrowing hearts in the
truth of God’s Word about the future for His children.
Effect #4: Bible Prophecy Has a Controlling Influence on Serving Hearts
In 1 Corinthians 15:58, after presenting the truth of the coming of Christ
for his people, Paul concludes with a strong admonition. “So, my dear brothers
and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work,
for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” Paul is saying,
since you know that Christ will someday come to receive you to Himself, let
nothing move you; be strong and steady in your Christian service. So many today
are unstable and unsettled in Christian work. Realizing that Christ could return
at any time is to make us enthusiastic, energetic and excited about serving the
When Christ comes
we are to “be dressed for service and well-prepared” (Luke 12:35). If the events
of Bible prophecy are a reality to us, they will motivate us to work faithfully
for our Lord. The Lord intends for our knowledge of Bible prophecy to translate
into devoted service for those around us as we await His return.
The Welcoming Committee
There is a
story of when a young man preaching on the last days with all the events of
prophecy clearly laid out and perfectly planned. At the end of the service
an older gentleman came up to him and whispered in his ear, “I used to have
the Lord’s return planned out to the last detail, but years ago I moved from
the planning committee to the welcoming committee.”
want to study Bible prophecy and know about God’s plan for the future. And
as I’ve said, I do believe we should observe discernible signs of the times,
but we must be careful not to get too caught up in the planning and forget
the welcoming. Are you on the welcoming committee for the Lord’s return? Are
you living each day to please the Master?