What is the purpose of biblical prophecy? Is it so we have a timeline, can build charts, or satisfy our curiosity about the future? In all the debates and conjecture it is easy to miss the fact that biblical prophecy is about Jesus. The “last things” are about the last One.
Here’s Where They’re At
When the topic of prophecy comes up with people who don’t hold the same biblical worldview as you, you may hear statements like, “The idea that the world will end is peddled by evangelists trying to sell books and scare people,” “The world is going to end soon because of climate change or nuclear war and there is nothing anyone can do about it but wait,” “The return of Christ is spiritual not literal,” “People keep setting dates for Christ’s return. He hasn’t so far and so now I don’t believe anybody who says the world is ending soon.”
Here’s Where You’re At
Christian perspectives and attitudes towards biblical prophecy run the gamut, from those who obsess over it to those who are completely and wilfully ignorant of events to come. Maybe you have everything confidently laid out in a timeline or chart and read Bible prophecies in one hand and the newspaper in the other. Or maybe you’ve heard something about an Antichrist and a millennium but you don’t know the particulars. You might be one who avoids discussions about prophecy and are just hoping to be raptured out before everything goes sideways. Maybe you take the position of pan-millenialists—it will all pan out in the end!
Here’s Where Scripture’s At
Biblical prophecy is about completing the work of redemption begun by God through Jesus Christ. Paradise was destroyed by our sin at the Fall but God set about to restore it. He promised to send a deliverer who would right the wrong (Genesis 3:15). This is Jesus and He is the focal point of all God yet intends to do to restore humanity. Jesus is the way our sins are forgiven and the kingdom of God gets re-established. Biblical prophecy shows God’s power and that He wins in the end. Therefore, biblical prophecy incites us to hope (Romans 15:4), godly living, and preparedness (2 Peter 3:11-12). For those suffering under persecution or trial, prophecy is given to encourage to perseverance (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It serves as a reminder for us to be motivated in sharing the Gospel throughout the world (Matthew 24:14). When we look at fulfilled prophecy we see how the truth of God’s Word is validated and that all His promises are sure.
Where to Go From Here
Although there is a lot of mystery and many views regarding prophecy and what’s to come, the following things are absolutely certain.
We must not turn our study of Jesus’ return into a catalogue of events in which we’re more concerned about chronology than worshipping the Lamb. Jesus first came in weakness, poverty, and humiliation. Although we don’t know the exact date, He will soon return as victorious conquering King. We know time is running out and must be ready.
Fulfilled prophecies of the past remind us that prophecies of things yet to come are true and certain to be fulfilled. That means we should live each day in the light and hope of that certainty.
Hell awaits those who reject Christ. Therefore, Christians are to be busy with reaching the lost, living godly lives, and encouraging one another in those things because Jesus is coming soon.
Pain, sickness, and death will not have the last word. For believers, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We look forward to a physical resurrection with a new body and spending eternity with God and loved ones on a new earth where there will be no tears, death, or pain.
Jesus is the ultimate focal point of all past and future prophecies. Though we may not know the exact makeup, sequence, and timing of future events, we are to plan as though Jesus were not returning in our lifetime but live as though He were returning tomorrow.