Interpreting Bible Prophecy, Encouraging God’s People
Right after I officiated at my sister-in-law, Patty, and husband, Ray’s wedding, one of her bridesmaids approached me in a huff. It was many years ago yet I still remember that young lady’s verbal shot at me. It was my confidence that seemed to upset her. During the ceremony I declared that Christ was the only way to salvation. So this young woman proceeded to upbraid me for my intolerance. She was certain there were other roads to heaven for non-Christians. But since when is having assurance that salvation is through Christ alone “wrong”?
Sometimes contemporary Christianity reminds me of the upset bridesmaid: Tolerance is only extended so far. Everything is fine as long as we agree, but do not step out of line. In regard to our understanding of what the Bible says about the second coming, Christians have our own version of the Taliban. Dissent is quashed. But how can we arrive at an accurate interpretation of Bible prophecy, if we refuse to gather all the pertinent verses or listen to pieces of conflicting evidence? All admissible facts need to be heard, not just those that support the opinion of the majority.
Do we see why Christians have muddled heads on the subject of the Bible and the future. When it comes to understanding the future, we hear but one side. We tend to submit to the false premises that all true Bible-believing Christians are in agreement or there is only one side that should be heard. In some places, Bible students cannot even broach the subject of the Pre-Wrath rapture of the church or that believers will be called on to endure great tribulation globally in the last days, without being accused of heresy.
That is the way with puzzles. You know it is solved when all the pieces perfectly fit the creator’s theme.
Here’s the best way I know to explain how I know what I know. Each weekend the New York Times Magazine publishes and distributes a challenging crossword puzzle. Across the land thousands of minds go to work to solve this puzzle in as short a time as possible. Some can zip through it in an hour or so. Others, like myself, take quite a bit longer.
Let’s say we challenged an experienced NYT cruciverbalist (crossword solver) about his or her answers. We may get a “What are you asking me that for” type of look. At some point, they would probably tell you that their answers fit. Yes, they are confident because they have discovered what’s in the mind of the puzzle’s creator. That is the way with puzzles. You know it is solved when all the pieces perfectly fit the creator’s theme. Is it to say one is superior because they solved a NYT puzzle? Of course not, but the solvers are confident and exhilarated. It was Archimedes who grasped the physics of water displacement. At his epiphany, he made the bold but perhaps rash declaration, “Eureka! I found it!” It was as if he was saying, “Problem solved!”
Why am I confident the Pre-Wrath Rapture position is correct? Because I am a puzzle solver and I tell you it fits. (Those who are not puzzle solvers have trouble with this concept.) Other answers do not quite fit regardless how hard one tries or how sophisticated one sounds or how much one beats the table while raising their voice. Simply, it will not come together as designed.
There is great satisfaction in puzzle solving. In my book, “The People of God,” I present twenty-six different clues to prophecy solvers. My goal is not to tell other explorers of the mysteries surrounding the end of this age what to think (i.e. the answers) but how to get in the mind of prophecy’s Creator so they can figure it out. As with math or science, there is only one correct solution.
If this is what you call arrogant, then so be it. I call the one that makes that judgment bigoted and narrow. (Two can play that game!) What would one call dismissing conclusions that were based on hundreds of Bible verses without ever giving them fair treatment? Intolerant is perhaps one descriptive word that comes to mind.