BIBLE PROPHECY: Some General Guidelines To Help Us Stay On Track

Whether one is a believer or not, the Bible is not something to be taken lightly, especially when dealing with prophecy.  For the non-believer, if the Bible is approached with a sincere and earnest desire to learn, it can and will help you find the Lord.  But if the non-believer is disrespectful of the Scriptures, they can cause themselves to dis miss their only hope for eternal salvation.  Likewise, if the believer has a solid understanding of prophecy, and they use it properly, it can be a powerful tool for helping the non-believer to come to the Lord.  But if the believer does not have a solid understanding, or uses prophecy in the wrong way, not only might they place a permanent wall between the non-believer and the Lord, they may actually weaken or destroy their own faith.  Therefore, before we start taking our new look at end times prophecies in the Bible, I want to offer a few words of caution and some guidelines to help us avoid misinterpretation and even the causing of harm.  The first thing we need to do to prevent error and harm, to others or ourselves, is to make sure we approach the Bible and its prophecies with the correct ‘heart.’  By this, we mean ‘with the proper attitude and intentions.’  Whether believer or non-believer, we do this by taking Scripture at its word.  In philosophy school, our logic professor taught us that the proper way to evaluate an argument is to start by granting all of the argument’s claims.  Then you look for fallacies and/or inconsistencies within the argument to help you evaluate its ultimate validity.  We should do the same with the Bible.  Therefore, we should start by granting it’s claim: that it is the revealed Word of the Creator of this world, and that prophecy is His message to us of what is to come.

So, how do we check for fallacies and inconsistencies in the Bible?  Well, the first thing we have to do is leave our biases behind us.  This means both the believer and non-believer must leave what they think they know about the Bible behind and let the Bible speak for itself.  As I previously explained in my previous post, this starts by learning the culture and language of the Bible.  If you start with the belief that the Bible contains absurdities and contradictions, then you are going to find them — even if they do not exist!  Likewise, if you start with the conviction that the Bible predicts something it does not, you will find signs of that prediction — even when they are not there!  So leave your bias on the shelf.

Something else you should leave on the shelf are assumptions and guesses.  Scripture tells us we learn precept upon precept (i.e. lesson upon lesson; principle upon principle, little by little).  So, when you encounter something in Scripture that you do not understand, we should not try to answer them with assumptions or guesses.  If Scripture does not provide an affirmative answer that we understand and can explain, leave the question open until it does.  I tell my Bible class to think of it this way.  Imagine you have two mental shelves, side-by-side.  On one shelf, you have the Scriptures you are pretty sure you understand and can explain.  On the other shelf, you have the Scriptures you don’t understand; those unanswered questions.  When you learn a new precept, you put it on the shelf for things you understand so you can see it.  But when you encounter something in Scripture you do not understand, you put it in an imaginary bubble, or glass sphere, and you set it on the shelf where you can still see it, but you leave it for later.  You put it in this bubble so it does not touch or mix with anything else.  You keep it on this shelf, isolated, and you leave it there until you are given the answer.  Just understand that Scripture also tells us that a little is given to all who study, some to this person, some to that one, but none are given the whole picture.  So you may never find the answer to all the questions on your question shelf, and that’s OK — unless you start to answer them with assumptions and guesses.

The next thing you have to do is seek an understanding that harmonizes all of Scripture: not just parts of it, but all of it!  This is the part that causes the most trouble for us.  The Bible contains many a great deal of information, and many prophecies.  It all works together, so we have to look for an understanding that harmonizes the entire Bible.  When we think we have found a contradiction, if we keep studying, we will generally find that it wasn’t a contradiction at all.  We simply did not understand the Scriptures correctly.  But when we do understand correctly, we will see how all the pieces are actually connected, like individual threads weaved into a single picture on a tapestry.  This is actually one of the most powerful tools for guiding us in our studies.  When the things we are reasonably sure we understand all make perfect sense to us, and we cannot find anything in Scripture that contradicts our understanding, we can be confident that we are seeing the picture correctly.  It can even help us answer some of those unanswered questions.  But we have to be careful to check everything we think we understand against the whole of Scripture to be sure.  This is also why we assume the Bible is correct, so that we will keep looking for answers that do not contradict, rather than accepting the first surface appearance of a contradiction and telling ourselves that we have just ‘proven’ the Bible to be wrong.  Because, in every case I have encountered, it is the person who thinks they have found a contradiction who is actually wrong.

Finally, and especially so when dealing with prophecy, we will have to look outside of Scripture, to the material world.  We must do this so we can test the prophecies.  If the events prophecy tells us will happen never happen, or do not happen in the way prophecy tells us they will, then we may have reason to question the validity of that prophecy (keep in mind, we may also have a bad understanding of that prophecy).  However, any time we go outside Scripture, we must be very, very careful.  Never forget that, ultimately, we are dealing with the Spiritual, eternal world, and that we cannot see this world.  But this does not mean that it doesn’t influence our world, or that we cannot see evidence of this influence because it does and we can!  You just have to understand how the Spiritual world manifests itself in this one.  For example: the infamous number of the antichrist, 666.  For hundreds of years, people have been ‘definitively’ identifying the antichrist.  Nero, Reagan, Bush, Gorbachev, Obama, etc.: all have been ‘definitively’ identified as having a name that equates to the number 666.  So there we go: ‘proof’ that the prophecy is wrong and, therefore, so is the Bible.  Right?  Wrong!  As we will soon see, there is a problem with the common understanding of this prophecy.  Once we have a proper understanding of antichrist, we will find that the number can and does apply to many people, not just one.  Furthermore, it applies to a period, or age, not just a few years.  This is why so many people have been identified as antichrist over the past two thousand years: because the prophecy actually covers many people over a long period of time.We just haven’t understood the prophecy correctly because we have not understood the language, nor have we tried to understand it in a way that fits with the rest of Scripture.   This is also connected to the ‘cycles’ we see in history.  People outside the Bible have noticed the repeating patterns, and they have presented many ways to explain them, but they are just the manifestations of the Spiritual realm revealing themselves in this world, and as we are about to see, they do so exactly as the Bible tells us they will.

So, with all this behind us, are you ready to join me as we take a new look at the end times prophecies in the Bible?  If so, let’s start by looking at a huge end times myth (i.e. Satanic lie).


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