During the past couple decades evangelical circles have been troubled with a growing negativity about prophecy. The subject is often disdained as worthless speculation or ridiculed as an unnecessary encumbrance to the essential message of the Bible. Are these charges valid? Is it legitimate to not concern ourselves with the prophetic passages of the Bible? Or should we make prophecy a significant part of our study of the word of God?
First of all, the charge of speculation is an unfair smear of the topic. While some men do indulge speculation on the details of various prophetic subjects, the subjects themselves are not matters of speculation but the plainly stated truth of God. For instance, men speculate on the nationality and identity of the antichrist, and most of this is unprofitable. But this speculation does not negate the absolute certainty of the coming antichrist. He is a real man who will be, for all practical purposes, Satan manifest in the flesh. He will come to power on earth during the last seven years of this age, and he will rule the entire globe as an iron-fisted despot for the last three-and-a-half years.
Secondly, the accusation that prophecy is a hindrance to the essential message of the Bible is nonsense. The essence of prophecy is Jesus coming back to clean this mess up, reward his followers, and reign here on earth. How is this not an essential part of the Bible’s message? That anyone could even think such thoughts leaves me dumbfounded. Leaving the second coming out of the message is as anti-God and anti-Bible as leaving the cross out of the message. The fact is, the first coming and the second coming are the two poles around which the entire message of the Bible turns. If you leave one of the poles out, the entire message wobbles—out of kilter.
Thirdly, thirty percent of the Bible is prophecy. It is difficult to imagine that God would have included this much prophecy in the Bible if it wasn’t an important part of his message. That is like asking me to believe that land isn’t important since it only comprises twenty-nine percent of the planet.
And may I point out that prophecy is not merely an academic exercise about the events of the future. There are practical blessings that believers derive from its study. For one thing, the Bible itself promises a special blessing for those that diligently pursue the subject (Rev. 1:3). For another thing, the prophetic passages of Scripture are intended to help guide Christians through the darkness of this ungodly world (2 Pet. 1:19). And finally, the message gives us hope to keep pressing forward in faithfulness (1 Pet. 1:13, 2 Cor. 4:17). We have something compelling to look forward too! A far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory as the heirs of God and the coheirs of Christ!
May God bless you in the study of his word.
Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire.
Lee W. Brainard