In spite of erroneous teaching, God’s Word does deal with the future.
There are several ways we can treat predictive Scripture: (1) We can ignore it. (2) We can teach nothing else. (3) We can teach the entire Bible, including prophetic references. Surely the latter is God’s way for us to deal with the future.
Notwithstanding, many well-meaning people shy away from prophetic references altogether, honestly feeling that to be the best course for them.
A well-meaning friend of a minister said to him, “You had better stay out of Revelation. ... I notice those who read that book become foolish and cranky!”
Speaking of prophecy in his book titled, “God’s Plan for the Future,” Lehman Strauss stated, “I believe it can be said, without fear of contradiction, that those who reject it know little or nothing about it.”
He continued, “What a sad commentary on our church leaders, seminary leaders, and pastors.”
In passing over the prophetic truths concerning the future, many people may be guilty of the same error that the Jews committed when they discounted the more than three hundred predictions in their sacred writings concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus as their Messiah.
Biederwolf, in the introduction of his voluminous work titled “The Millennium Bible,” states that for 20 years he did not make one single reference in his preaching to the return of Christ.
Later he was moved to minister on the subject. Knowing that his knowledge of eschatology was almost nil, Biederwolf made a thorough study of, not only the doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ, but of all eschatological references throughout the Bible. The result of his research is his 728-page book.
You are probably aware that some people have gotten overzealous concerning the future and have gone beyond the Bible.
A nationally know preacher said some years ago the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that Christ would come during that decade, but the decade passed and Christ did not return.
We know that Jesus is coming, not in man’s time, but in God’s time. No one knows when that time will be, not even Christ himself. Only the Father has this knowledge.
Jesus said: “... the exact date and hour no one knows, except the Father; neither the angels in heaven nor the Son” (Mark 13:32).
Nonetheless, the Lord does reveal a great deal to us about His Son’s return and the events to follow. Though He does not name the day nor the hour, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
Just as “God ... spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1), He still speaks to us today through the writings of those prophets.
It is a fact that wild, speculative statements concerning prophetic Scripture have caused confusion. Just before World War II and during the early years of that global conflict, some well-meaning persons tried to show that Benito Mussolini and later Adolph Hitler were the Antichrist.
In fact, an entire book was written supporting the contention that Mussolini was Antichrist.
You can well understand that these and other such ill-founded speculations placed eschatology in a bad light during those days.
For years afterward, a minister was thought to be neither scholarly nor tuned to the times if he preached on things to come. Those ministers who preached very much on the future were referred to as “prophecy preachers,” and were looked upon as being quaint and not quite all there.
Such is not the case today. Lately there is definitely an accelerated interest in the future. Law, order and morals are crumbling, and man is taking a new look into God’s Word where he is finding a description of these days and what lies ahead.
An applicable biblical reference reads: “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
As you clearly see, this is a description of contemporary world society.
Churchill commented, “You know I always avoid prophesying beforehand; it is much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place.” A Greek proverb states he who guesses best is the best prophet.
Millennia ago Moses pondered this problem of a prophet’s validity: “How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken” (Deuteronomy 18:21)?
He answers the question thus: “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously” (Deuteronomy 18:22).
What a practical test! Old Testament prophets who foretold the time, place, and manner of Christ’s birth were bona fide prophets because their predictions came true.
Also, those stalwarts of God who foretold His coming again were true prophets. We know He died and was resurrected. We also know that He is coming again.
Erroneous teaching and preaching make the doctrine of things to come appear as a rash on the otherwise clear complexion of the Church. However, such is not really the case. Eschatology is the ruddy glow of the good health of Christ’s body, the Church.