Got Milk? By Wendy Wippel If I said, I'm going to study the Bible 'till…
The Late, Great Book of the Revelation
By Wendy Wippel
From where I sit (and I sincerely hope I’m wrong. But I don’t think so) the church as a whole seems to have kicked the prophetic Scriptures to the curb lately (despite the fact at least a third of the Bible is blatant prophecy). Notably, the book of Revelation (Despite the fact that the book of Revelation is the only book that promises special blessings to the saint (or sinner for that matter) who takes it on). What gives?
Particularly with such obvious fulfillment of Biblical prophecy in our relative lifetimes, beginning with Israel’s return to the land in 1948 and continuing at a rapid pace since.
Particularly since the first verse of Revelation explains its importance:
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” – (Revelation 1:1-3)
So I did some research, and as it happens, pastors that do teach prophecy have considerable insight into the reasons that their colleagues shy away.
Actually, “Why they chicken out” would be more accurate. And the reasons fall into a few categories.
Too controversial – There are several different interpretations of prophetic scriptures, which could cause division. So pastors don’t want to go there.
(As a famous Memphis pastor Adrian Rogers use to say, better divided by truth than united in error.)
Too Complicated – you can pretty much master many Bible topics in a fairly short amount of time, but understanding Revelation really requires mastering most of the Bible first, and then a fair amount of time in the prophetic scriptures themselves. A seminary told me today that their Master of Divinity degree included only one course on prophetic scriptures, composing less 5% of prospective pastors’ total study. And once working as a pastor, with management and meetings and counseling and squbbles over which shade of rose to pain the sanctuary? Who’d have the time?
Too Depressing – Revelation is about death, destruction, and punishment for sin, which just isn’t very uplifting. Well, and about the long-awaited establishment of the Kingdom of Jehovah God himself on earth. But lots of pastors would rather just think positive thoughts about the little fiefdom they are creating all inside the walls of their church.
Too dangerous, Part 1 – People (read that “potential giving units”) may think that their church is full of the kind of looney toons that actually believe that a risen Christ will return. (Exacerbated by all the date-setters that do, in fact, perpetuate that stereotype.)
Too Dangerous, Part 2 – People (read that “potential giving units”) may think we’ve saying Jesus is coming back for forty years and nothing has happened, so we better stop.
Actually, the Bible saw that coming:
“Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us,the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:1-7)
The reality is that as the 21st century progresses the Berean saint (Acts 17) who accepted the Word of God eagerly and studied it daily is rapidly being replaced by the Burger King Saint who wants it their way-meaning self-help, feel-good, uplifting and encouraging messages.
Think Joel Osteen and “your best life now”. And nothing else.
Last but not least,
Too Impressed with Themselves (Way too)
Some pastors have just decided to edit the Bible so they like it better. Rick Warren, for example, who said in the Purpose Driven life that prophecy is a distraction from our mission and that those who study prophecy (as part of the Holy Scriptures) are somehow “not fit for the kingdom of God.”
Funny, but if I remember correctly, didn’t Jesus kind of chew the Pharisees out for not knowing what was predicted? (Matthew 16:2-3)
Didn’t he tell us to watch? (Matthew 25:13)
Didn’t Peter tell us to look for his return?
“The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” (II Peter 3:10)
Didn’t Paul tell us that, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (I Thess 5:1-6)
Prophecy is– at the least–watching God keep His promises. (And on that basis I know some very lost people who nonetheless have some interest. And for those who know him, the relationship itself should be motivating enough.)
Because for those saved by His Blood it’s much more. He is our bridegroom. And what kind of bride is ambivalent about her wedding day? Any bride who loves her intended longs for the next time they’ll be together. Anticipates it. Waits for it. Longs for it.
Which makes a verse in II Timothy all the more interesting:
“There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8 NKJV)
The crown of righteous is given to those who love his appearing.
What does that say about those who don’t care about prophecy?