For example, some time ago I was lecturing in a closed country on the topic of Hermeneutics (how to interpret the Bible) when one student asked me about the ‘Third Temple’ supposedly prophesied in the Bible as a sign of the last days immediately preceding Christ’s return. This student had innocently adopted an end-times-guess (adiaphora) as if it was a Biblical idea. My question in response to her question was which text in the Bible was she basing her question? She looked at me stunned! She thought I was playing some game with her. “Of course the Bible prophesies that the Temple will be rebuilt in the Last Days in order to usher in the return of the Lord!” she responded. Again I asked her – “Where?” I have asked this question in lectures in several countries and have never been shown where the Bible prophesies such a last days rebuilt (Third) Temple!
If you were downtown and looked across the street over the parked cars and saw someone you knew rushing intently to push a little old lady over, what would you think of that person? Would your opinion of this person change if you later discovered that the cars you were looking over obscured your view of this person actually pushing this little old lady out of the way of a speeding sports car which was hurtling towards her and about to hit her? Sometimes, a bigger picture changes the entire picture!
This is what reading the Book of Revelation is like for some people. They have their understanding of the Book of Revelation obscured by their lack of understanding about history, Biblical language, and even modern opinions.
And this is one of the biggest problems with how people approach the Book of Revelation: the historical background to the Book is unknown to most readers. The second huge problem is that most people who promote themselves as experts on “End Times” or “Bible Prophecy” do not understand how the principles of sound Biblical hermeneutics also apply equally to the Book of Revelation.
This unquenchable longing by people to know what the future holds and hopes that the Bible spells it out in detail, shows that believers have undergone a conditioning over the past century and a half that this is what Bible prophecies are about.
For the past decade and a half I have been arguing that this is not the focus of either the Bible or its prophecies. Rather than approaching the Bible with a set of assumptions about its contents, it is better to approach the Bible seeking to understand its original message. This process is known as exegesis. To exegete a Scripture, and especially a Biblical prophecy, we must answer several questions:
Recently, one of the world’s most listened to Bible teachers received a question from a listener about Christ’s failure to return “soon”. It’s actually a great question and is frequently responded to with answers from most popular Bible teachers that actually portrays the Bible as nonsensical! How this question is answered depends on the method we use to interpret any Scripture passage. Yet, using the principles of sound Bible interpretation is the very reason why such Bible prophecies about Christ’s “soon” return are a problem for the thoughtful Bible reader.
One of the most heated recent theological debates centred around the notion of whether God not only knows the future, but whether He decrees it. On one side of the debate there are those who claim that the future is open even to God. They claim that the future is up for grabs. God, in their view, has expressed His desire for how He would like the future to unfold. In order for this to happen, because the future is open, God’s purpose needs people to move history toward this end. Those who have a closed view of the future strongly disagree with this assessment. But Bible Prophecy can help someone to grow in their confidence in the Bible as God’s Word.
There are several reasons why we can have confidence that the Bible is truly God’s divinely inspired, infallible, inerrant, Word to mankind. It is historically verifiable, it is experientially testable, it is philosophically credible, but perhaps one of the greatest evidences for the Bible being the divinely inspired Word of God, is fulfilled prophecy.
When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1946, it gave the world irrefutable proof that the contents of the Book of Isaiah were undoubtedly written before the birth of Christ. This means that the passages of detailed prophecies with Isaiah about the coming Messiah must have been written before the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, actually came…