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Learn the amazingly simple secret to understanding end times prophecy.  Find out why we should all be studying and watching, especially now.

End Times Prophecy

Having been a Bible student for over 20 years, I'm more than a little intrigued at all the prophecies floating around about the end times.  It seems the further we get from Biblical times, the more people crop up who claim certainty about the tribulation and the return of Christ.  In fact, the many proclaimed "prophets" are, themselves, a sign of the last days, but not in a way they would wish.  As the end draws near, it's important for us to make careful study of the Bible and of those who claim they have the answers to all our who, what, how where and when questions.  This article is my latest attempt to restore sanity and faith in the One-True-God while all this confusion is being spread to snare even God's "elect, if that were possible." 

The Biblical Standard For Prophets:  Let's start with a word of caution for those who are so arrogant as to presume to speak for God.  The Biblical standard for a prophet is to be correct 100% of the time.  People who spoke for God and were wrong even on a minor detail were taken outside and stoned to death.  God cannot be in error, so, if you're in error and claim to be quoting Him, it's probably the biggest error of your life...maybe the last. 

Today's Prophets For Profit:  When I first entered ministry, a book entitled "1994" was very popular among Christians.  The premise was, that God had given the author, apparently unique, wisdom to interpret Scripture and render a date Jesus would return, September 1994.  I thought it was handy for God to give it to him early enough to sell the book for a couple years before the end.  By October 1994, the book was on sale at a deep discount, after millions had been misled.  Of course, this book was just the latest in a 2,000 year series of misguided or deceptive accounts.

Over the centuries, many have said they knew when Christ would return...especially at the 100 year, 1,000 year and 2,000 year marks.  Some were even mentioned in the Bible as having collected money from Christians while telling people that Christ had already returned and they missed it.  Others have refrained from setting dates, but have claimed certain events, nations or people were the figures from end times prophecy.  Catholics and Protestants each claimed the other were "Antichrists."  Hal Lindsey managed to sell a book and a movie on the prospect that the USSR was "the beast."  My personal favorite was the theory that President Reagan was the Antichrist, because his name, Ronald Wilson Reagan contained 6 letters each, 666.  It's sad, funny and predictable that most of these people have a commercial or political angle to their revelations. 

The latest I've heard in this trend is a "prophet" (name omitted intentionally) that has claimed God told him something significant would happen in Pennsylvania the week of April 14, 2008, that President Bush would be vindicated (in the public’s eye) by the end of his term, that some time in the next four years there would be unity among Christians and among the races of the World, an end to the oil shortage, the best economy in the history of the world, and peace in the Middle East.  Now, you have to give this guy credit for specificity, but it's not surprising the email with his "prophecies" also contained links to buy his current book and CD, along with a discussion of his upcoming book.  After all, if someone speaks for God, you'll want to buy everything he has to say.  If everything in this guy's prophecies were to come true, it would mean that Christ returns within the next four years.  Possible?  Yes!  Likely that God would use slick commercial marketing to announce it?  Not!

The Plain Language Interpretation:  The more cryptic the prophecy, the more profound and mysterious the prophet or his scholar seems.  It's offensive to have condescending "experts" claim to know exactly what is meant in prophecy by the "beast," the "Antichrist," the "Prostitute," "Blood," or any of dozens of other symbols used in Daniel, Ezekiel or Revelation.  Still, we all flock to them or to those who claim to speak directly for God.  It's funny how people shy away from the plain language end times prophecy of Jesus (Matt. 24-25, Luke 21) or of Paul (1 and 2 Thess.).  I guess hearing the simple truth doesn't make our ears itch as much or make our current teachers seem very mysterious or wise.  That these plain language prophecies are being fulfilled should give us all reason to know we're in the last days and to pay close attention to World events.

Comparing Today With Last Days:  Jesus said there would be many false prophets and false Christs seeking to deceive many.  Paul said we would not tolerate sound doctrines but would gather around ourselves people who told us what we wanted to hear.  Jesus said that famines, war, earthquakes and diseases would increase in intensity like labor pains until He returned.  With roughly 200 million people killed in wars and political upheavals, the last century was surely the bloodiest in history, but seems to pale in comparison with the record of the first 8 years of this century.  Jesus also said His followers would be able to see the the approach of His return just like Spring follows Winter, but the rest of the world will be caught by surprise. 

Jesus said the love of most will grow cold and many will leave Christ in the end times.  I wonder if that's already happening, but they just stayed in their church buildings and bickering denominations.  We Christians have to ask ourselves at this crucial moment, are we following Him or some pop-prophet's new release?  Are we comparing His Word with world events or will we be caught by surprise?  I'm neither scholar nor prophet, but I'm beginning to think I'm seeing new leaves and birth pains, all at once.  Are you ready?

What do you see today that matches prophecy of the last days?

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