Why Study Bible Prophecy?

By Scott Huckaby

How do we know the Bible is really God's Word? This is a question people often dismiss by saying it is just something Christians must take on faith. Among the many other reasons we know the Bible is from God is that it has fore-told future events with 100% accuracy. Only God can do this because He is beyond the confines of time (Isaiah 46:9-10).

Most professing Christians ignore the prophetic aspects of God's Word. This is a tragedy because they are missing out on a key element in knowing and obeying Him. We are commanded to watch for Christ's coming, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ," (Titus 2:11-13, see also Matthew 24:42).

Another reason we should study Bible prophecy is given in 2 Timothy 3:16 which says that all Scripture is inspired by God. This means we should use all of Scripture. Anything less is like V-8 missing a couple spark plugs (it puts out a lot of noise but has no power if it runs at all). There are more prophetic verses in the Bible than those that address salvation, faith, blood atonement for sin, and many other important doctrines. Over 28% of the verses in the Old Testament and 21% of the New Testament present prophetic material.

Bible prophecy reveals who Christ is: "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10). There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the first coming of Christ which were all fulfilled by Him. If only 7 of the prophecies of Christ's first advent had happened accidentally, this is a probability of 1:1017. That is 1 chance in 100 quadrillion (1 followed by 17 zeros), about the number of silver dollars it would take to cover Texas knee deep.

There are over 500 prophecies of Christ's second coming in the Old Testament. And 1 out of every 25 verses in the New Testament pertain to His return. More of Scripture is dedicated to Christ's second advent because He is coming in wrath this time and God wants His people to be ready.

Other reasons to study Bible prophecy is that God will reward us for living in expectation for the Lord's return, 2 Timothy 4:8. God will also bless us for reading, hearing, and keeping His prophetic Word, Revelation 1:2.

The excuses

With all these good reasons to study Bible prophecy, why do most professing Christians avoid it? One reason people give is that it is too scary. While Christ came in love, kindness and mercy the first time, He will be coming in judgment and wrath with fire and brimstone and people dieing the second time. But the future should be scary for the unsaved. Fear of going to hell is healthy (Proverbs 19:23) because it should bring you to Christ for salvation. If a person believes they are saved by their works, they don't want the Lord to come on a bad day. However if you know you are saved by grace, there are no "bad days".

Bible prophecy has gotten a bad name because of cults and self-proclaimed prophets who have distorted the Word of God to serve their own purposes. Thus most churches avoid Bible prophecy out of fear of being thought of as a cult. This is a plot by Satan to deceive mankind. False prophets and even sincere Christians have been coerced by Satan and his minions into setting dates for Christ's return. These dates have always come and gone only to damage the credibility of Bible prophecy. Date setters ignore what Jesus said in Matthew 24:36: "of that day and hour no one knows".

Others say that since we can not know when Christ will return, why does it matter? While we can not know the exact day Christ will return, we can know the general time-frame. Jesus gave us signs to help us watch for Him in Mathew and Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us we can see the Day approaching, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."

The fact that Bible prophecy is ignored today is in itself prophetic, 2 Peter 3:3-6. We are living in the age of scoffers who have forgotten that God judged the world once before in the flood and He will do so again. Liberal Christians deny that the Lord will physically return or say His return is in the far distant future. They think that if God used evolution to bring about the creation then it took millions of years for Christ to come the first time and could take millions of years for Him to return.

People don't study Bible prophecy because they think it is too hard to intrepret. Many avoid the book of Revelation saying it is hard to understand. What they really mean is that it is hard to believe. There is in fact a lot of symbolism in Bible prophecy but it is not all symbolic. If they took the Bible literally for what it says, they'd find it is not all that difficult to understand.

Some avoid Bible prophecy because they think it is too controversial and its proponents are too dogmatic. This criticism is usually from those who think we should not be dogmatic about anything because doctrine is divisive. But Bible doctrine is intended to divide, see Hebrews 4:12. Jesus said He did not come to bring peace on the earth but to set people against each other (Matthew 10:34-36).

There certainly is doctrine we should be dogmatic about: our sin nature, the Deity of Christ, His death atoning for the sins of those who trust in Him, His resurrection, the need to be born again, and once saved - always saved just to name a few. Likewise, we should also be dogmatically opposed to false doctrines which lead people away from Christ. One false doctrine involving Bible prophecy is that the true Church will have to through the time of God's wrath with the rest of humanity. This wrong teaching causes people to look for the coming of the Antichrist rather than the Lord. It can lead to excessive separation from the world where modern conveniences are shunned or a survivalist mentality develops where "enduring to the end" means stocking up and arming up to save oneself.

Some people miss out on studying Bible prophecy because they think it is too escapist, too other worldly, or too pie in the sky. These people think we should only study what will help us now, in this world. As Christians, we are called to keep our minds on the spiritual ramifications of what we do in this world: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2). Our response to what will soon happen has a great bearing on how we act in the "here & now".