As a newly saved 18 year old I distinctly remember having a disappointing conversation with a local church pastor who told me “Don’t worry about trying to read Bible prophecy, because you don’t need to know that.”
That was sadly funny to me, as I stood there in that particular Charismatic church in Toledo, Ohio, because I later read from 1 Corinthians 14:22 that “tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers” (ESV). It seemed to me, that the pastor may have had somethings backwards that day.
I stood there with my hardback Dalton Bookstore purchased NIV still pointing to the first page of Revelation where it stated “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” as he walked away leaving me to ask myself, Why would more revealing about Jesus be of no importance?
Peter warned that in the last days “They will say, Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:14, ESV). Peter warned of a disdain for prophecy.
Apparently, ministers are not immune to doubts regarding prophecy as I experienced that day as a new believer. Over the past 30 years of ministry I have heard from fellow pastors who in conversation freely expressed their belief that prophetic preaching was turning people away from our pews, especially young people.
Hearing that is always sadly funny to me, too, because Joel said that “it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Joel 2:28, ESV). This sounds to me that God is saying that prophecy has a special place among the youth who are seeking His Spirit.
As a saved young person I wanted to hear what the future holds, but as an unsaved young person, I didn’t care what the future holds.
I fully understand that some pastors are called by God to speak through topical series and some are called by God to preach through the books of the Bible. I certainly don’t advocate forcing the topic of Bible prophecy into the text where it doesn’t belong, but I also don’t advocate avoiding or ignoring Bible prophecy from the Sunday pulpit.
At CrossHope Chapel we go through the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse and we freely deal with the events and timelines of Bible prophecy. It’s hard to honestly declare “the whole counsel of God” and not deal with prophecy and last day events.
Amos said “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7, ESV).
Peter declares that “we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:19-20, ESV).
I won’t have to answer for other pastors and how they preach but one thing I know, God has promised that if we remain steadfast in presenting His word, not our word, that “it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11, ESV)