Another form of the abuse of Bible prophecy is the tendency of Christian leaders to completely ignore it. Many excuses are given for doing so.
Some argue that it is just too complex: “You have to have a doctorate in hermeneutics to understand it.” That, of course, is not true. What you must have is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a conviction that prophecy can be understood, and a willingness to study it.
But instead of studying, many pastors have decided to take refuge in the worn out joke that says: “I’m not Premillennial or Amillennial or Postmillennial. I’m Panmillennial because I believe everything will all pan-out in the end.” That’s an admission of being too lazy to study the subject.
Another common excuse for ignoring prophecy is that it is too other-worldly: “It’s all pie-in-the-sky and has no relevance to the present.” This is absolutely false, for if you can convince a person that Jesus really is returning and that He could return any moment, the person will be motivated to holy living and evangelism. Also, the promises of Bible prophecy provide great hope in the midst of a world that is descending into hopelessness.
Some pastors tell me that they avoid Bible prophecy because it is too controversial: “It is too divisive and therefore must be ignored to preserve unity.” They fear it will divide their congregations.
There is some validity to this concern. Bible prophecy can be controversial and divisive if it is taught in a dogmatic way by a teacher who is determined to prove that everyone else is wrong except him. But this doesn’t have to be the case. When prophecy is taught right out of the Bible with a focus on Jesus, it will provide spiritual strength.
Among Christians in general I have discovered that one of the most important reasons for ignoring prophecy is fear: “Bible prophecy is too frightening to read because it is all about the wrath of God.” This viewpoint was expressed to me in a letter I received years ago from a young man who said he was afraid of prophecy because, “It’s all about blood and gore and beasts and things that go bump in the dark!”
It is true that Bible prophecy contains a lot of bad news concerning the future of this world. But all that news is for unbelievers — for those who have rejected God’s gift of grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. For believers, Bible prophecy contains only good news — incredibly good news. So good, in fact, that the Apostle Paul exclaimed, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). That statement is a mouthful! Think about how horrible all the suffering is in the world today. Yet, Paul says it is nothing compared to the blessings that believers will receive when the Lord returns. And those incredible blessings are spelled out in detail in Bible prophecy (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
The bottom line is that Satan does not want anyone to read and understand Bible prophecy because it clearly reveals his ultimate defeat at the time of the triumphal return of Jesus. The message of Bible prophecy is “Believers win in the end!” That is a message that Satan does not want anyone to know.
So, Satan has convinced most Christians that the book of Revelation is a Chinese puzzle that no one can understand. The result is that most Christians have never read the book. It’s like reading a novel through to the last chapter and then tossing the book aside, never to discover how the story ends.
In the next part of this series looking at the abuse of Bible prophecy, we’ll read some first-hand attacks by today’s so-called Evangelicals on the subject.