Anyone who has read through the Books of Revelation, Daniel, Isaiah, Matthew, Ezekiel, or any of the prophecies that pertain to the end times has probably wondered why they are so confusing. Many of them spark intense debate amongst Bible scholars, pastors, and those of us who turn to the Bible for answers. Why wouldn’t God just come out and tell us how things are going to go down?
First and foremost, He has, but He’s done it in a way that we aren’t able to fully comprehend with our human minds. This is done for a few reasons that we can discern from the text and then there are several other reasons that we can’t necessarily discern at this point but that we can assume based upon the situation. This is a topic I’ve long wanted to cover but it’s important to be extremely careful when trying to understand God’s reasons for doing what He does. There are so many people out there today in blogs and on YouTube who declare that “God did something for this reason” or “God intended that to happen because of this.” Be very cautious when reading analyses or listening to videos that claim to know what’s going to happen in the coming days.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (KJV)
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For this study, we’re going down a dangerous path because we’re going to try to understand the confusion that surrounds Bible prophecy, which means we’re going to try to look at God’s motives. That’s why it’s taken me so long to do this study. The last thing I would ever want to do is to wrongly declare anything that I nor any human on the planet can truly understand, but I believe that the Scriptures do point to compelling reasons for confusion in Bible prophecy. At the end of the day, any exegesis of scripture is at best a strongly-felt opinion. We are not capable of understanding these things completely yet and we may never fully understand them even after we die.
Anyone who declares definitively that something is going to happen on this date or that date is doing the Bible a disservice. The Bible is clear that date-setting is not possible but that we’re supposed to stay cognizant of the signs. But we do have the capabilities to recognize the seasons. To me, it’s clear that the signs we’re seeing point to us being in the final season, but that’s simply an interpretation that I believe many of us can see based upon the events that are happening around the world. They seem to match up nicely with the teachings of the prophets. However, we’ve seen many times in the past when events seemed to match up and the end didn’t come. The rise of the European Union, the hurricanes and tsunamis, 9/11, the unorthodox resignation of the last Pope… there is no shortage of events that could be correlated to some Bible prophecy. We have to understand that these things and everything we’re seeing today might very well be a sign of the end, but our comprehension of the prophecies and discernment of the events do not always mesh together the way we imagine.
Perhaps the hardest thing to understand about Bible prophecy is the scale of God’s time. Most of the events pertaining to the end times can be interpreted to last for long or short periods. It’s hard to tell which is which. Many of the early disciples from congregations built by the apostles were anticipating the 2nd coming of Yeshua in their lifetimes. In fact, Paul had to tell the Thessalonians that Christ had not come back already as someone had reported to them. This demonstrates that the spirit of antichrist has been at work for at least 2,000 years to deceive the people into following a false doctrine and we’re seeing those deceptions rise in full force today. In the future I will discuss the “falling away” that we’re seeing play out so dramatically in the world today as well as other signs that point to us being in the end times, but for now we simply want to cover the topic of confusion.
With that in mind, let’s dive in and put together a working theory about the confusion that permeates through Bible prophecy.
What we know
Let’s start by looking at a sampling of Scriptures that reflect God’s desire to keep the prophecies unclear until the end.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. – Daniel 12:4 (KJV)
Daniel was given prophecies of many things such as the first coming of the Messiah, the rise of the great ancient empires, and the ways through which these empires would fall. The prophecies he was given were so accurate that liberal Bible scholars and secular opponents to the Word have declared that they must have been written after the fact. There’s no way, in their opinion, that Daniel could have written these particular parts of the Book of Daniel because that would impact their worldview that doesn’t believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
In this verse it is clear that God wanted the words revealed at the end. It’s the reason that I’m exploring a theory that Daniel may be one of the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation, but at this point it’s only a theory and one to which I do not hold strongly. That’s for a different study. Let’s continue on to the seven thunders.
And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. – Revelation 10:4 (KJV)
Again, we see a direct command for a prophet to keep something secret. It’s not explicitly declared that the utterances of the thunders are to be revealed at the end. However, later in the chapter we know that John was given a little book to eat. Then, he is given an instruction:
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. – Revelation 10:11 (KJV)
Could this mean that John is also one of the two witnesses? That would be a little confusing considering that John is the one who tells us of the two witnesses and one would assume that he would recognize himself, but then again we don’t know. It could be Moses, Elijah, Enoch – there’s not shortage of theories about the identity of the two witnesses. I certainly don’t know, but that’s not really important. Let’s continue on to verses that have become the foundation of a belief in the pre-tribulation rapture.
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. – Matthew 24:36 (KJV)
The coming of the Son of Man is being described here in a way that tells us we will not know when our Lord is to return. We don’t know and neither do the angels. Mark takes it a step further to include the Son on the list of those who don’t know, reiterating that only the Father knows the day and the hour.
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. – Mark 13:32 (KJV)
Why is it so important for the end to be shrouded in secrecy? Why has God chosen to keep it all hidden until it actually happens, but He gives us prophecy that tells of those days and what to expect? To understand this, we have to try to do something that is dangerous. We’re going to try to look into the motives of our Creator and His actions. These are only conclusions that my feeble mind has come to and I would never presume to claim that these are certain, but based upon the Word we can come up with a pair of hypotheses. We may never know for sure if these hypotheses are correct, but it can hopefully get you thinking about it when you start to wonder why there is so much confusion pertaining to the end times and Bible prophecy.
Recognition rather than prediction
Let’s start with the most common reasoning for confusion, something that Bible scholars have discussed for centuries. When Daniel prophesied about the 1st coming of Yeshua, he gave us a confirmation. Keep in mind that any of the pharisees and sadducees were well aware of Daniel’s pronouncement and could have determined when Yeshua would walk through the gates of Jerusalem, but they did not. It wasn’t out of ignorance. They simply didn’t know to look, to isolate the date of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem by Artaxerxes and to count forward 69 weeks of years or 173,880 days to the entry of Yeshua.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. – Daniel 9:25 (KJV)
If the word was not spread so that the people would have known He was coming, why was Daniel given the prophecy? This is an example of confirmation and recognition over prediction. As scholars over the centuries realized what had happened, that news started to spread. Today, it is being spread to more people every day than in long periods of time in the past. This is an extremely compelling argument for Yeshua being the true Messiah.
In particular, this revelation has helped to convert many Jews to believe in Yeshua as their Messiah who came and who will come again because it’s pulled directly from their own Scriptures. We’ve seen a tremendous movement in the Body of Christ over the Jewish people as a result of this particular Book of the Bible in recent years and that will continue until the end.
For end times prophecy, we know that we must be watching. Most of the world will be deceived by the son of perdition because he will come in the name of peace. He will unify the world. He will bring something to the table that will appear to be wonderful. His deception will be so good that had it not been for the prophecies, he may have been able to deceive almost everyone.
This is one of the biggest reasons that end times Bible prophecies are obscure. They give us everything we need to know in order to recognize as the events take place. This is why I get so annoyed with all of the videos setting dates and declaring what events are coming. We don’t know what they’ll look like but we’ll be able to recognize them when they happen thanks to these scriptures. Most of the world will turn away from the Bible. We’re already seeing it today with so many of the most popular pastors in the world declaring that prophecy is a waste of time and that we need to be focused on the bits of scripture that, when taken out of context, try to convince us that God wants us to be rich and prosperous in this life. Again, that’s a topic for a future teaching, but needless to say having a very clear understanding of the signs that we’re supposed to watch out for is the exact opposite of a waste of time. It’s crucial.
To prevent the most compelling deceptions
Now that we understand the easy hypothesis about the confusion in end times prophecy, let’s warp our brains a little bit to understand the second hypothesis. Now is not the time to go into a deep study of destiny, pre-ordination, free will, or the dimensional effects of past and current events on future events, but we’ll instead try to simplify this hypothesis outside of the realm of science.
We’re all very aware that throughout history but in particular today there are false prophets and false messiahs popping up everywhere misleading people. They do this based upon a spirit of antichrist that has deceived some and appealed to greed of power for others. Some of the most popular spiritual leaders in the world have deceived the masses into following false doctrines and into believing in future events that simply do not come.
To understand how this is happening, we have to remember that the adversary has been plotting the downfall of man since the Garden of Eden. Satan has placed stumbling blocks in the hearts and minds of people to compel them to pull away from the Word of God. He has laid traps and prepared for our demise in ways that we cannot comprehend. As Jude points out, Satan is formidable for even the most powerful of angels.
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. – Jude verse 9 (KJV)
If Satan is powerful enough to contend with his fellow angels, he is clever enough to deceive us by contorting events pertaining to the Word of God. How easy would it have been for Satan to take clear prophecies of the Bible and recreate the events ahead of their appointed time to deceive everyone. As it stands, so many in the world will be deceived by the antichrist, the false prophet, and the dragon. The remnant who will see through the lies will only be able to do so because of the faith we have in the Word of God. Through discernment and understanding given to those who wear the full Armor of God, we will not be deceived thanks to the way Bible prophecies are written.
Revelation chapter 12 tells us the story of a woman and her child that would rule the world. It tells of a wrath of the dragon coming out to persecute the woman when he wasn’t able to stop the child from being born. This is an extremely important thing to understand when it comes to the obscurity of the Bible because at one point the adversary went from hope of being exalted and of ruling above God to realizing that he could no longer do that. The point that this became a reality for him was the Resurrection of Christ.
From that point forward, he knew that he had already lost. He went forth to persecute the woman even though doing so would not be able to bring him what he had wanted. His motives changed when he was not able to prevent the ascension of Christ. Now, he has nothing to lose. His goal from that point on was to take down as many humans as possible, to deceive the masses, to promote the falling away from the Word of God, and to make as many people as he could suffer the fate that awaits him.
This hypothesis depends upon that stipulation. It assumes that he knows he has lost the war. It assumes that he has nothing left to lose and that his mind is set towards vengeance. He’s going down and he’ll take as many souls with him as he can. That’s why it’s so important for the prophecies to be obscure if this hypothesis is correct. It isn’t the people who God is hiding information from with the sealed book of Daniel or the utterances of the seven thunders. It is hidden from the adversary and his minions so as to limit the deception.
Those of us who truly follow Yeshua as our Lord and Savior need not worry about these deceptions. We are given the signs and the prophecies to recognize the deception as it happens and to steel our souls so as to not to suffer the fate of the deceived and the deceiver.
Study prophecy and be aware of what’s happening in the world. There’s no need to try to predict what’s going to happen because we are incapable of doing so. There is currently a flood of warnings out there on the internet telling us what to expect. These can make us fearful of them before they come and they can make us question our worldview if the things do not happen the way we believe. For example, if you believed as so many were teaching a few tears ago that the rapture would happen in September, 2015, what happened when it didn’t come? Every time a date is set and people start preparing their lives for the sake of the predictions, souls are lost when those events do not take place. I would contend that Harold Camping cursed a great many people who were convinced that the world would end in May, 2012. The same thing is happening today with date-setters and people posting warnings. These are done in the spirit of antichrist whether the people proclaiming the warnings know so or not.
Let’s close with what Yeshua told his disciples in the Book of Matthew.
Matthew 24:3-13 (KJV)
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Bible prophecy is not clear to us today for a reason. Remain firm in your convictions and do not let false prophets deceive you. Know the scriptures and keep a watchful eye for events as they unfold. Most importantly, wear the full Armor of God at all times so that your faith will not be shaken by the most powerful adversary the world has even known. You don’t have to outsmart him. You simply have to have faith that God’s plan is perfect and will unfold before us in due time.
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