Bible prophecy is an area of scripture that is unfortunately often misunderstood, mocked, or ignored even by those who claim to be Christians. Due to this, is there any reason at all that we as Christians should study bible prophecy? Is there anything to gain from it or is it all simply “gloom and doom” as many perceive it to be?
We believe it has tremendous value for 8 reasons. This list, although not exhaustive, confronts the reader with the importance of Bible prophecy while also penetrating the heart with the truth of God’s Faithfulness.
Interwoven in Scripture
First, bible prophecy is a part of scripture. Due to this fact alone, it should be a part of what’s regularly taught in churches. Paul makes it clear to us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”.
“All scripture”, then, would include the portion of scripture that’s prophetic in nature. Because this is a part of God’s word, He had a reason to reveal it to us and it should therefore be taught and studied, just like any other portion of scripture. God has revealed to us what is coming so that we can trust in His faithfulness and be ready for His return.
What we also see in scripture related to bible prophecy is that God will often foreshadow future events. He presents these events to us as prophecies in scripture, so that we’re reminded to stay alert and to pay attention because He will accomplish all things to His sovereign will. We see an example of this in Amos 3:6-7, “Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”
Reminds us that God is Sovereign
Second, Bible prophecy reminds us that God is sovereign. He’s sovereign over every minute detail in each of our lives as well as every major event on the world stage. As the world seemingly continues to fall apart all around us, it’s encouraging to know that there’s a God in heaven who is in control of it all. Everything occurring is occurring by His sovereign will in order to bring about His ultimate purposes.
A chapter that clearly communicates God’s sovereignty to us is Psalms 2. This chapter articulates the dramatic challenge to God, by powerful and arrogant leaders who openly rebel against His Majesty and Righteousness. How does God respond? Is it fear, anxiety, or panic? No. He sits on His throne and laughs because man’s attempts against an all-powerful God are futile. So if this is how our God responds in the face of man’s schemes against Him, why should our response as God’s children be any different?
It’s also important to remember that everything occurring in our world today doesn’t catch God by surprise. In Isaiah 46 we learn an important lesson concerning God’s sovereignty over the affairs of mankind,
Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. (Isaiah 46:9-11, NKJV)
The Lord is the only one that can declare the “end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done…” He’s also the one that will “bring it to pass” concerning the things He’s spoken. This should further highlight to us that everything occurring in the world today is merely working to fulfill God’s perfect plan.
Reminds us that God is Good
Third, Bible prophecy reminds us that God is good. Through bible prophecy we see the amazing promises that God has made to us that we can look forward to such as reuniting with departed believers (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), our glorification (1 Corinthians 15:51-53), reigning and ruling with Christ (Revelation 20:4-6), and much more. We don’t deserve any of these things but it’s out of His love and goodness towards us that He’s promised these things to us.
Another way we see His goodness made manifest through bible prophecy is His eventual judgment of the wicked. As we see immorality increase, the righteous suffer, and the wicked seem to not only get a free pass but prosper, it’s important to remember that nothing gets past the notice of God. He sees everything going on and will provide justice one day because He is good.
Often you will hear individuals state that bible prophecy is a myth or isn’t true. Prophecy is not a devised myth meant to lead astray weak minded individuals, rather, it displays the majesty of God’s goodness in the revelation of His grace. 2 Peter 1:16 clarifies for us that what we’re reading in scripture aren’t myths and this would include bible prophecy, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16, NKJV)
Motivates us to Holy Living
Fourth, Bible prophecy motivates us to holy living. One passage we often reference to make this point is 2 Peter 3:10-13. Peter speaks to us concerning the future destruction of this current heavens and earth along with all that is in it to make way for the new heavens and earth (Revelation 21:1-8). He then uses our understanding of this yet future event to get us to consider how we should live in the present.
Sometimes the critique that is levied against those who study bible prophecy or are passionate about it is that it serves us no purpose in the here and now. According to 2 Peter 3:10-13 however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Although his focus in this passage is specific to the destruction of the current heavens and earth and the arrival of the new heavens and earth, the scope is still the same – it’s prophetic in nature.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:10-13, NKJV)
We can carry this same thought process into any prophetic passage. Having an understanding of what’s to come should cause us to live differently in the present. This eternal perspective should properly shape our lives now. John alludes to this same truth in 1 John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”, (1 John 3:2-3, NKJV).
John communicates to us that at the Lord’s “revealing” we will be like Him and see Him as He is and everyone that has this hope ( the rapture) “purifies himself”. In James 5, after spending some time rebuking the rich in verses 1-6, James uses the situation of their day to call fellow believers to patience and perseverance using the Lord’s coming to do so (James 5:7-8).
After encouraging fellow believers about this yet future event he then uses that to call them to holy living (James 5:9-12). He links this call to holy living with the understanding that “the judge is standing at the door” (James 5:9). We could refer to passage after passage but the message is clear. An understanding of bible prophecy motivates us to holier living.
Helps us to Establish Proper Priorities
Fifth, Bible prophecy helps us to establish proper priorities. It’s often said that “bible prophecy is meant to prepare, not scare” and we truly believe that. Bible prophecy correctly taught and correctly understood should lead to a positive change in priorities as a natural outcome. We’ve just seen how bible prophecy motivates us to holy living which is one outcome of proper priorities being established. It causes us to have an eternal focus rather than simply setting our gaze on this world and by doing, so our priorities naturally change.
Jesus encourages us to do this very thing in Matthew 6:19-21 by telling us to store treasures in heaven (to be heavenly minded) rather than on earth, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”.
It’s only when we have an eternal and heavenly perspective do we strive to lay treasures in heaven as Jesus says we should. We can only do this as we seek to carry out God’s will for our lives on earth and serve Him.
Even in 1 John we get a reminder that the things of this world (which John notes to us here as being “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”) are passing away and due to that understanding, we shouldn’t love the things of this world.
Essentially, John is exhorting us to have our priorities in order, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17, NKJV)
Gives us Hope
Sixth, Bible prophecy gives us hope which can only ultimately be found in Jesus. In Revelation 19, John falls down at the feet of the angel who shows him Babylon’s destruction and heaven’s exultation to worship him. He’s rebuked for doing so and is told something interesting in the process, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,'” (Revelation 19:10, NKJV).
What we’re being told here is that the essence of bible prophecy is Jesus. Bible prophecy points to Him. For the believer, this means that bible prophecy should set our minds on Christ and remind us that everything occurring in the world today shows us that we are in the season of His return which should encourage us! It’s known as the “blessed hope” for a reason (Titus 2:13).
For non-believers, bible prophecy should point them to Christ which is the means by which they can obtain the gospel. Ultimately, as we see what the bible says will occur in the last days get set up in our time, it displays that the God of the Bible is true and is worthy of listening to. If He’s correct about prophetic events that means He’s correct about our sinful nature, the punishment we rightly deserve, and also the solution to the problem that He’s already provided for in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-5).
Bible prophecy also gives us hope through the trials and tribulations we face in this life. Some of us may be dealing with difficult circumstances and knowing that the life we’re living now is not all there is in terms of what God has in store for us gives us hope for what’s to come. Paul alludes to this in Romans 8:18 by stating, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Motivates us to Love
Seventh, Bible prophecy motivates us to love God and others. As our priorities shift, it should cause us to strive to be good stewards of everything the Lord has blessed us with, including our relationships. In Hebrews 10, Paul tells fellow believers to encourage one another and even more so as we “see the Day approaching” an allusion to the Lord’s appearing, “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.,” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NKJV).
In order to be able to discern that the day is “approaching” we’d need to be able to know what the bible says the last days will look like preceding the Lord’s return, and from that understanding, be able to properly discern the signs and act on it. In James 5, James warns believers not to “grumble against one another” because the “judge is standing at the door” (James 5:9), a reference to the imminency of the Lord’s return and the judgment that will occur afterward at His judgment seat. As noted earlier, he uses the understanding of bible prophecy to call us to holy living, and part of this is how we act toward one another.
We also see another example of this in 1 Peter where Peter, using “the end of all things” as the context, encourages us that we need to pursue love, through prayer and patient endurance, “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:7-9, NKJV)
Whether it’s in Hebrews 10:24-25, James 5:9, or 1 Peter 4:7-9, we see exhortations given on how we should and shouldn’t interact with fellow believers as we live in the last days and more specifically, while awaiting the Lord’s return. Another way that the love of others should manifest itself through our understanding of bible prophecy is through our motivation to share the gospel with the lost.
Christ’s atoning work is another example of bible prophecy that also displays God’s love toward us. Our motivation to share the gospel does not come from within ourselves, it comes from the principle that God first loved us (1 John 4:19). The following passage articulates the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning our salvation through Christ, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8, NKJV). God demonstrates His foreknowledge and sovereignty by being faithful in fulfilling His plan.
As Christ was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth, we who are saved are the fulfillment of God’s foreknowledge and plan. We are therefore predestined through the blood of Jesus Christ as saints sealed for the day of redemption from the future wrath of God, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him,” (Romans 5:9, NKJV). Through prophecy, we comprehend God’s great love. We love because He first loved us and preordained our redemption.
Scripture is the revelation of a loving creator who has a plan to redeem us. Bible prophecy unveils His strategic program, granting us wisdom and insight through the Holy Spirit. He gives us clarity regarding the future, while also demonstrating to us His patient, unfailing love. In this, we learn to love and trust God and love those He created with a purpose.
Gives us the Urgency to Share the Gospel
Lastly, bible prophecy gives us an urgency to share the gospel. Earlier, we took a look at 2 Peter 3:10-13 to make the case that bible prophecy encourages us to live out holy lives because of Jesus, but what we see in verses 1-7 is Peter’s description of the mocking that will occur in the last days regarding the Lord’s coming.Then in verses 8 and 9, he elaborates on God’s patience towards the world as He wants all to come to repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ.
However, as Peter then details in verses 10-13, eventually, God’s mercy will run out and judgment will come. So how much longer can God tolerate the evil and wickedness of mankind? Where is the justice? Will God’s righteousness be fulfilled? Bible prophecy reveals to the believer that there is no perfect justice due to us in this life. Evil is prevalent but will come to an end one day through Jesus Christ. The Christian lives with the hope that justice comes from God, not man. Sin will be dealt with and man’s rebellion will be judged.
So, if we understand that the Lord could return for us any moment now, taking His church out of the world and thereby bringing a start to His judgment on an unrepentant world, how much more should we be sharing the gospel to our unsaved family members, coworkers, and friends?
Bible prophecy gives us the perspective that the time we have left on the earth is very limited and we should make the most of it. Due to the fact that scripture tells us that Christ will return, God’s wrath is coming upon the world, and we need to be ready and alert. This is why all Christians should share the gospel more fervently as ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18, 20).
Passages such as Isaiah 40:7-8 reminds us of the finality of life; our life and of those we love, time is finite. “‘The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.’” (Isaiah 40:7-8, NKJV)
Nothing lasts forever. God’s patience does come to an end. This world will pass away and man’s rebellion against God will come to a close thus, the impending wrath is inevitable. In Romans 1:18 Paul elaborates to us where wrath comes from and who it is clearly against, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. Many turn God’s grace into lewdness because they don’t see the wrath coming. Paul warns us in Colossians, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,” (Colossians 3:5-6 NKJV).
There is a sense of urgency in this statement by Paul. This is important to understand because the believer who is washed in the blood of Christ is rescued from this wrath. The rapture is this rescue. It is imminent and provides a sense of urgency to be ready and to share the truth of the gospel. But for those who have rejected His grace, they will face the wrath to come. Right now, it is relatively easy to accept the gospel but eventually God’s wrath will usher in an era of panic, famine, and destruction for those who ignored the truth of the gospel.
Notice the order in which Paul frames Colossians 3:1-7. First, he lays out the importance of maintaining a heavenly focus (holiness). Secondly, Paul emphasizes the need for a Christian to live a Christ-centered life. Thirdly, he articulates that for those whose life is Christ, when He is revealed, we will be raptured in our glorified bodies to be with Him in heaven. Lastly, Paul articulates that those who succumb to the passions of this world and engage in all forms of wickedness will be left behind to endure God’s wrath.
The fundamental truth of these passages is that we see that God’s judgment is always against all forms of wickedness and it always comes from heaven by the authority of a just God. Starting with the removal of saints from the wrath and then beginning with the seals and continuing throughout the tribulation, we will see God’s wrath revealed from heaven.
Thus, one can conclude, in light of the imminent rapture of believers followed by the impending judgment of God, we as Christians have an urgency to share the Gospel of Christ to a fallen world shrouded in darkness. This is why we who have the light of Christ are mandated to shine it in the darkness; running towards a lost city instead of from it. As we dwell on this idea we must also consider that judgment awaits the believer which we see through the Bema seat.
The urgency for the believer is to have a mindset looking towards the Bema seat judgment or also known as the judgment seat of Christ, which Paul elaborates on in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. This is not a judgment that condemns the believer who’s already saved but is a judgment that results in gaining or losing rewards based on how we lived our lives on earth after being saved. It’s something we’ll all need to appear for (Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10).
We share the gospel with urgency for the joy of the crown that we will receive in heaven. Peter gives us a stern warning before the world is judged, the Godly will be judged, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now ‘If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:17-19, NKJV)
What is the good we do for our Creator? Should we share the truth of the Gospel? Of course! If the truth is in us; would we not have an urgency to share the truth of Christ out of love, before this world is judged?
Again Peter warns us: “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:5-9, NKJV)
So then, how should we conduct ourselves in this urgent time? We see from 2 Peter 3:11-12, we’re to have our priorities in order and in doing so we should naturally be sharing the gospel more. The believer, who knows that Jesus is returning, conducts their lives differently. They live with an urgent desire to share the truth. A true Christian cannot shut their heart to the lost, knowing that the return of Jesus is imminent.
Bible prophecy isn’t “gloom and doom” meant to scare us about what may lie around the corner. Like any other portion of scripture, bible prophecy is important information communicated to us by the God of the universe for a purpose and it will serve us well to heed it. Bible prophecy reminds us that God is sovereign over the affairs of man and that He is good and we can see this through His promises noted to us and how He will write every wrong one day. It motivates us to live holy lives now, sets out priorities, gives us hope, encourages us to love, and by reminding us that time’s short, it gives us the urgency to share the gospel while we still have time.