UNCLEAR PROPHETIC WORDS
By W. G. Guy
For decades I have heard many preachers and teachers on prophecy declare precisely and dogmatically the eschatology, (the study of the end-times), of exactly what was to happen in the last days according to the Book of Daniel and Revelation. In addition there are the numerous books and video presentations on the subject. The strange thing is that there are almost as many variations of these end-time events as there are those that teach and preach them.
Why are there so many different views or theories about the last days? The apostle Paul gives us the answer!
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 & 12 – Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. …… For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
In this passage, Paul is saying that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, (ie: prophecy, tongues, knowledge, etc. as listed in 1 Corinthians 12), will cease to be needed after the end of the age when Jesus returns.
1 Corinthians 1:7 – so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Those believers who hold to the Calvinist doctrine are taught that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for today. However this is denied by the verse 7 above. They are taught that in 1 Corinthians 13:10, when that which is perfect is come, refers to the canonization of scripture giving us the Holy Bible, thus saying the Gifts are no longer needed. However, they are needed right up unto the time of Christ’s return for us. The proof is in the fact that “knowledge” has not ceased!
Now as to the confusion over the prophecies of the end-times, Paul tells us that “we know in part, and we prophesy in part”. The key to understanding what he is saying is in the words “in part”, which simply means “partial” or, as a segment, not complete. Paul also uses the term, “now we see through a glass, darkly”, which means we cannot see clearly what is being revealed. It is like trying to look through an opaque window that is deliberately clouded so as to not to be able to see clearly through it. However you can see light and shadows and determine movement on the other side but you do not know who or what it is that is on the other side. So it is that much of end-time prophecy is unclear!
As a result we have many different interpretations of end-times prophecy. The problem for us today is, which interpretation is true, which one should we believe. Are any of them reliable as taught? We need to understand that the end-time prophecies are merely indications of what is coming and are not specific. We must understand that most end-time prophecies are allegories and given us as illustrations. Many preachers and teachers try to interpret prophesies literally instead of figuratively which creates confusion. For example: various animals and beasts are used to represent nations, empires, kingdoms and rulers in both the Book of Daniel and Revelation.
Another consideration is that most preachers and teachers of end-time prophecy view events in the Book of Revelation as being yet in the future. They fail to realize that nearly 2000 years have passed since the Book of Revelation was written, and Jesus told the apostle John to record what was, what is, and what shall be hereafter.
Revelation 1:19 – Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
The question is, when did the “the things which shall be hereafter” begin? These prophecy preachers teach like these things are still yet future to us today. They fail to recognize that the things which shall be hereafter began back in the first century and have been ongoing continually since right up unto today. The four horsemen of apocalypse, which is a favorite of these preachers, have already ridden and done their thing!
One of the reasons they fail to recognize that a lot of those things prophesied in Revelation have already occurred is that our history books and lessons fail to mention a lot of what has already happened. Although such historical events can be discovered by research, they are not covered in secular or most biblical education.
In particular is the history of Islam and Mohamed’s efforts to destroy Christianity and Israel’s posterity. Much of what Islam has done in the past 1400 years is the fulfilment of the Book of Revelation. Consider the seven churches that the apostle John was instructed to write to; they were all in what is now the nation of Turkey. They were all destroyed by Islam centuries ago in fulfilment of what is listed in the Book of Revelation.
Consider the famous Dome of the Rock on the temple mount in Israel; this is also a fulfilment of Bible prophecy. It is the “abomination of desolation” that was foretold; and the date of its construction fulfills the timing mentioned as told to the prophet Daniel.[i]
In addition to the recorded prophesies in the Bible, there are numerous persons giving “prophetic” words along with alleged prophetic dreams today. Many of them are in conflict with one another. So what are you to believe? This is another reason to know the Word of God and what is in the Bible. Any prophetic word that is not supported by the Bible is to be rejected. However, there are many so-called prophetic words that don’t necessarily conflict with the Bible, but are so general that nothing in particular is stated.
What it amounts to is that there are three sources of inspiration for prophetic words: the Holy Spirit of God, an evil spirit, and the most common occurrence is from the human spirit of man; being well intentioned but not divinely inspired. All prophetic utterances, dreams and visions need to be judged by those who are spiritually mature and able to discern what is of God and what is not.
Hebrews 5:12-14 – For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Revelation 19:10 – And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
When it comes to judging prophecy, the verse above tells us that true prophecy will reveal something about Jesus or His kingdom, which is the essence of true prophecy. If this is not in the prophetic word, then it is not from the Lord. Any personal prophesies given over individuals must then reveal something of Jesus or of His kingdom to that individual or it’s not from the Lord.
Please remember, end-time prophesies are intended to be indications and illustrations of what is to come so that we are not caught totally unprepared. So how are we to use the information provided by these prophetic words? First understand what has already happened as prophesied; then recognize where we are today in view of what has been foretold. And most of all, know the Word of God and maintain a prayer vigil for your life and family. A few scriptures are listed as examples to know in order to keep up your faith.
Luke 21:34-36 – And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
The reference to “Watch ye therefore” means to be alert to what is going on around you so that you know what to pray about. Don’t be like today’s modern zombies who are always looking down at their I-phone and not paying any attention to their surroundings.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Isaiah 26:3 – Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Isaiah 41:10 – Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
[i] See Ellis Skofield Bible Study of Daniel on line http://www.ellisskolfield.net/