The Abuse of
Does it Deserve the Contempt it Receives?
by Dr. David R. Reagan
William Miller predicted the Lord
would return on October 22, 1844.
Let's face it prophecy is held in
contempt by most people. Non-Christians scoff at the very idea
of supernatural knowledge about the future. The ironic thing is
that in doing so they fulfill a prophecy of Peter: "In the
last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after
their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?'"
(2 Peter 3:3-4).
The real tragedy concerning God's Prophetic
Word is that so many Christians share this same scoffing attitude.
Apostate Christian seminaries have pretty well rejected the whole
concept of prophecy. Most now teach that prophecy is really history
written after the fact but written like prophecy to make it more
This rejection of prophecy on the part of
apostate Christians is a natural outgrowth of their worship at
the man-made altar of what theologians call "historical criticism."
This despicable methodology rejects the
Bible as God's revelation to Man, arguing instead that it represents
Man's faltering search for God. Its proponents have concluded
that the Bible is full of myth, superstition, and legend.
Since they have rejected the supernatural,
these people cannot accept the idea of prophecy as revealed pre-knowledge
of history. This is the reason the book of Daniel has been a focus
of their scorn and ridicule. It is not at all unusual to hear
one of their scholars say, "The book of Daniel is just too
accurate. It had to be written after the events it claims to prophesy."
This is nothing but blatant unbelief which calls into question
our Lord's own acceptance of Daniel as authentic (Matthew 24:15).
This attitude is also a fulfillment of prophecy,
for Jesus said that in the end times there will be a great apostasy
within the professing Church (Matthew 24:10-12). As Paul put it,
the end times will be marked by men "holding to a form of
godliness, although they have denied its power" (2 Timothy
Prophecy has also suffered abuse at the
hands of those who have specialized in spiritualizing it. Liberals
and conservatives both have been guilty of this practice.
When I speak of "spiritualizing,"
I am referring to the methodology which holds that prophecy does
not mean what it says. In practice this always leads to a symbolic
interpretation of prophecy. The plain sense meaning of prophecy
is denied, and prophetic books like Revelation are treated like
they were adult Alice in Wonderland books with a vague,
general message but no specific meaning.
This spiritualization of prophecy on the
part of liberals is easy to understand. It is a natural extension
of their tendency to spiritualize all of Scripture. They have
spiritualized the miracles of God in the Old Testament and the
miracles of Jesus in the New Testament, so why should they accept
the plain sense meaning of prophecy, especially when it teaches
a supernatural consummation of history?
It's the conservative spiritualizers who
are such a perplexing mystery to me. They accept the Bible as
the Word of God. They agree that the Bible contains supernatural
revelations about the future. They interpret virtually all non-prophetic
passages literally. They even interpret the First Coming prophecies
literally. But for some strange inexplicable reason, they insist
upon spiritualizing all the Bible's prophecies concerning the
Thus, they deny the coming reality of the
Tribulation, the Millennial Reign, and the New Earth. They take
a passage like Zechariah 14, which says Jesus will return to the
Mt. of Olives and reign on the earth, and they spiritualize it
to mean that when you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, He comes
into your heart (the Mt. of Olives) and begins to reign in your
life (the reign on earth). Such people should be granted Ph.D's
If the prophecies concerning the First Coming
of Jesus were all fulfilled in some literal way in their plain
sense meaning, then why shouldn't the Second Coming prophecies
be fulfilled the same way?
Then there are those Christians who are
simply apathetic about prophecy. They couldn't care less.
Many of these Christians think prophecy
has no practical relevance to their daily lives, so they ignore
it. They have never read the Major Prophets. They couldn't even
find the Minor Prophets. And they certainly aren't going to waste
their time with that "Chinese puzzle" called the Book
My own church heritage fits this description.
Our apathetic attitude was motivated by the peculiar belief that
all Old Testament prophecy had been fulfilled and therefore the
study of prophecy was a waste of time.
Other Christians have become apathetic about
prophecy because it has been so badly abused by fanatical sensationalists,
especially date setters. These Christians are weary of weird interpretations
that have brought reproach to the Body of Christ.
Even as I write this paragraph, the newspapers
are trumpeting stories about two groups, one in Korea and one
in America, which have gained international headlines by predicting
the Lord would come back in the past few days. The dates they
set have passed. We're still here. And the world laughs.
Another cause of apathy is that many people
have been turned off by the specialized vocabulary of prophecy.
When they hear technical terms like "premillennial,"
"postmillennial," and "amillennial," their
eyes usually roll back in their heads and they space out, concluding
that prophecy is a field of study for experts only.
Finally, there are the fanatics. These are
the people who apply their fertile imaginations to prophecy and
then speculate and theorize all sorts of fanciful future events.
They usually are obsessed with date setting
or speculating about whether or not a person like Henry Kissinger
is the Antichrist.
They are often rumor mongers who spread
wild stories about vultures gathering in Israel, Belgian computers
taking over the world, the Jews collecting building blocks for
the Temple, the Social Security Administration stamping numbers
on people's hands, and Jane Fonda's name having the numerical
equivalent of 666!
A Satanic Conspiracy
I believe that Satan himself has inspired
all this abuse of God's Prophetic Word. Satan does not want anyone
studying prophecy, because prophecy contains the revelation of
Satan's ultimate and total defeat.
Satan used to defeat me all the time by
constantly reminding me of my past sins. But my study of Bible
prophecy has given me a new weapon to fight Satan with. Now, every
time he reminds me of my past, I remind him of his future! He
responds by sulking away in defeat.
The book of Revelation begins with the words,
"The revelation of Jesus Christ." The book of
Revelation, like the rest of prophecy, is meant to reveal the
future. It is meant to be understood. God wants to build our hope
in the midst of a dark and troubled world by revealing to us the
great victories that lie ahead in His master plan.
I exhort you to stand firm against Satan
in his attempt to convince you that God's Prophetic Word is not
to be taken seriously.