End-time prophecy is a difficult subject, especially if you don’t know where to start. Avoid these four common pitfalls.
MISTAKE 1: NOT FOCUSING ON ISRAEL. Many Christians forget that, in prophecy, the geographical focus is always Israel. For example, some U.S. Christians will speculate endlessly about the United States’ role in prophecy, although there is no clear reference to it in the Bible. From God’s point of view, Jerusalem is the center of the world. He said through the prophet Ezekiel, “This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her” (Ezekiel 5:5). God chose to work through the nation of Israel to reveal Himself to the world. Jewish prophets penned the Scriptures, and Jesus, the Messiah, came from Jewish lineage. During the Millennium, Jesus will reign for 1,000 years from Jerusalem. So, Bible prophecies focus mainly on Israel and His dealings with Israel through the surrounding nations.
MISTAKE 2: IGNORING THE OLD TESTAMENT. Many Christians try to figure out the meaning of the symbols in the book of Revelation without looking at the clues given in the rest of Scripture. For example, many Christians have attempted to identify the great harlot (or “Babylon the Great”) in Revelation 17. Their suggestions have ranged from the Roman Catholic Church to the United States. But they forget that the Word of God must be taken as a whole. The prophecies in the New Testament can’t be correctly understood apart from the Old Testament. So, to correctly determine what Babylon represents, they must go back to where ancient Babylon had its beginning — at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. The Tower of Babel was humankind’s first attempt at coming together to build a government without God. So, Babylon the Great appears to involve the nations’ final and most powerful attempt at uniting apart from God. Today, this might be best seen in the efforts of the United Nations.
MISTAKE 3: NOT STUDYING THE BOOK OF DANIEL. Many Christians don’t realize that the book of Daniel holds the keys to understanding the book of Revelation. So, they try to understand Revelation without studying Daniel. Yet, many of the symbols contained in the book of Revelation are first introduced in Daniel. For example, Revelation 13 speaks of a beast with 10 horns. Many people wonder who this beast could possibly be, but they don’t know that this same beast made an appearance in Daniel 7, where the interpretation is given.
MISTAKE 4: NOT SEEING THE FOREST FOR THE TREES. Some Christians watch for the details of prophecy to be fulfilled and lose site of the larger fulfillments. For example, the Bible tells us that, before the end comes, there will be an increase in the frequency of earthquakes and famines (Matthew 24:7). So, some Christians point to every earthquake or famine as evidence that Christ is returning soon. Yet, they don’t remember that Christ said these are “merely the beginning of birth pangs” (Matthew 24:7-8). It’s true that the Bible gives us many amazing details of the future, but we must keep our eyes on the clear road signs so we don’t go off course. Some of these road signs include the return of Israel as a nation in 1948 and the revival of the Roman Empire in the form of the European Union, beginning with the Schuman Declaration in 1950.