The bad side is that misguided end times prophecy causes confusion, fear, mistrust of God’s Word and a more casual approach to life if nothing happens. Over the last 40 years there has been an increase in prophecies about the end of the world, even in the Christian community. Many books have been written, seminars taught, and sermons preached about the return of Christ and the end of the world as we know it. Apocalyptic prophecy has become its own little industry, that ain’t so little anymore. As with the boy who cried wolf, each time there is a new wave or movement of apocalyptic warning that passes with no visible results, people become less and less likely to heed the true warnings found in Scripture and in nature.
The good side of apocalyptic prophecy is that people tend to talk and think more about mortality, the fragility of human institutions, and eternity. The fact is, Scripture does give warnings about signs and the end of life as we know it. Prophecy fills the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus even told people that it wise to be able to read the signs of the times. How crazy is it that we spend so much time predicting the outcome of football games and weather patterns and not know what the end of time looks like? So when we study the Word, it should encourage us that God is still working to bring about deliverance for His people and destruction upon His enemies.
Good and bad aside, the fact is… no one knows when Jesus is coming back to get His bride. Nobody. Here is what He said after giving an apocalyptic message to His disciples…
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son —except the Father only. As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. They didn’t know[r] until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be: 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one left. Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Who then is a faithful and sensible slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give them food at the proper time? That slave whose master finds him working when he comes will be rewarded. I assure you: He will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that wicked slave says in his heart, ‘My master is delayed,’ and starts to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, that slave’s master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:36-51)
The primary aim of prophecy in Scripture is not to help us know when something is going to happen. God has His own clock. Prophecy is not bad, but it is shared with us to let us know three things…
Something is going to happen – God is working. Prophecy reminds us that God is in control. He is actively working to bring about His purposes. In this, He gives us a peek into the future, sometimes cloudy, other times clear. God is not done. But it should always encourage us to know that God is bringing things to the place they should be.
God told us it was going to happen – God is true. Prophecy is rarely understood until after it happens. But when it is over, it should strengthen our belief in the fact that God is always right. He tells the future because He knows the future. Prophecy fulfillment should help us believe God more about the other things he says. I’m not saying He prophecies and then fulfills it to say, “I told you so,” but that is an element of prophecy in Scripture.
We should prepare for what is going to happen – God has expectations. When God prophesies about the end of time, or anything else, it isn’t so we will freak out or become fearful. Neither is it so we will all rush to a mountain and await His return. It is an alarm indicator to let us know that time is short. We shouldn’t stop what we are doing when we hear a prophecy about the end of things. We should start working even harder. There are people to save… yes from the coming judgment… so don’t stockpile water… ramp up your evangelistic efforts.
So I don’t know exactly what is going to happen today, or this weekend, or next month. I do know that Jesus came and died and rose to give new life. Even if I knew when He would return, I’m not sure it would be helpful to put that information on the internet. I wasn’t called to tell people the details about what will happen in the future. I was commissioned to tell people about what God has done and is doing to save souls. I don’t know all about blood moons and wilting trees. I do know about the Son and a cross.
Know this... even after all of the false or mistaken prophecies pass without occurrence... God's Word is still true. He is still coming back. So do not ditch the true because the false is damaging.
Today, do not fear. Trust. Trust in what you know about Jesus, not what someone wants you to know about the anti-Christ. One of my favorite things to say about prophecy is, “I don’t know when Jesus is coming back… but I do know He is here now.”
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.