Sermons

Summary: Prophecy is also perverted in every generation by those who feel it was all written for just their day. There is a whole graveyard full of old prophecy books that died along with the people who are suppose to be the anti-Christ.

In no area of biblical studies have Christians been more often deceived then in the area of

prophecy. The early church fathers got caught up in wild spiritualizing of the Old Testament. They

found profound revelations where there were none. It became so subjective that you could make

Scripture mean anything you wanted it to mean, and this abuse led to reaction which went to the

other extreme of literalism. This led to just as foolish conclusions as the other extreme. A cult in

East Africa, for example, says you must have 2, 4, 6 or 8 wives because the Bible says, “Do not be

unequally yoked together.”

This an extreme example, but it is not isolated. When a freshman at Bethel, I and my

roommate ran on to a book by a well known evangelical that found predictions in the prophets of all

kinds of modern inventions such as cars, planes and bombs. We were excited and thought this was

proof of the Bible’s inspiration, and many Christians think the same way today because they think

the Bible foretells everything that is going on in the world. This is a totally erroneous view of

Revelation that ignores the basic truth that the Bible is a revelation of God’s redemptive plan, and

not to be used to satisfy the curiosity of people by seeming to predict modern inventions. This

degrades the Bible and puts it in the same category with those who pretend to predict the future

today.

Prophecy is also perverted in every generation by those who feel it was all written for just their

day. There is a whole graveyard full of old prophecy books that died along with the people who are

suppose to be the anti-Christ. Many Popes, kings, and rulers, like Napoleon, and more recently

Hitler and Mussolini, were all thought to be the fulfillment of prophecy. Men who can pinpoint

God’s plan, and even name names, always draw good crowds, but so far they have never been right.

Those who name him when the real anti-Christ appears are bound to at last be right, but then no one

will need a book to tell them, for it will be obvious.

Meanwhile the dangers of self-appointed prophets are great. They often cause division and get

Christian people to be lopsided in their view of God’s plan. They try and make you think that

figuring out which ten rulers or nations are the ten heads of the beasts is the real goal of Bible study.

Andrew Murray once led a group of people who would not come to hear him preach because the

notes in their Bible said the ten heads of the beasts were kings of Europe, one of which was the king

of England, and since Murray was a salaried servant of the British Empire he was considered to be a

servant of anti-Christ. Murray said he hardly knew whether to weep or smile at some of their

explanations of the prophecies.

In every age the cults major on prophecy. The Jehovah Witnesses have volume after volume

on prophecy, and they do an amazing amount of research in this area. I have read some and find it is

usually no more wild in its speculations than are those of evangelicals who consider themselves to be

authorities in this area. It seems that no one can tolerate a mystery, and so everyone must have

definite answers no matter how subjective they may be. Louis H. Evans in his book Life’s Hidden

Power writes, “Some people have placed too much emphasis on prophecy; their minds have run

rampant on the subject, and they have given themselves over to an unregenerate form of “guessing”

to weird predictions and prophetic fantasies. Taking advantage of a natural desire to look around

the corner of the day after tomorrow, many “prophets” have become profiteers. This abuse of

prophecy has arisen out of a disuse of prophecy; so many teachers and preachers have shied away

from the subject that they have left their poor congregations without any standards of interpretation

that are either sane, scholarly or scriptural, and their people have become easy prey to those wild

cults of prophecy which have spawned in a vacuum existing only because the church has not been

willing to deal with the problem in a sensible and scholarly fashion.”

Before we look then at Peter’s interpretation of prophecy let me share with you 3 basic rules

of interpretation, which if followed will keep you from many perversions of God’s Word.

1. The New Testament interprets the Old Testament. Then New Testament fulfills, modifies and

eliminates much of the Old Testament. Nothing in the Old Testament is now applicable that

contradicts the New Testament, or is incompatible with God’s final revelation in Christ.

2. Systematic passages interpret the incidental. It is by neglecting this principle that the Pharisees

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