Eschatology can be one of the most rewarding and worthwhile adventures in Christian life. It seems that every chapter in the Old and New Testaments holds prophetic implications. Repeatedly, the same prophetic patterns seem to appear.
However, some Christians don’t believe that such a study is worthwhile. They think that the prophecies of the Bible are too uncertain and vulnerable to different interpretations. They feel that Christians should concentrate on Scripture’s historical value and practical application. Clearly, some well-meaning but ill-informed people have cast clouds of suspicion over the study of prophecy.
Those who wrote the Bible would not have included so much information about the last-day events if God did not intend for those subjects to be studied.
God did not inspire His Word to confuse people. He included the prophetic passages to help us understand His great plan of the ages.
If Christians and pastors omit the study of prophecy, they overlook the importance of the Bible itself upon the subject. Over and over again, the Bible warns us to watch and be prepared for last-day events. How can we be prepared if we do not study those great signs of the times predicted in the Bible?
According to the Scripture, certain specific benefits can be obtained through the study of prophecy.
First, it can bring spiritual stimulation. That is, it can cause us to want to lead a life pleasing to God. The Apostle John told what the study of prophecy could do for us: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:3).
A study of prophecy will cause a man to purify himself, to live a clean and godly life. Again, Jesus said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt.16:24). Then the Savior gave this prophetic incentive: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matt. 16:27).
In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul encouraged Christians, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:4,5).
The fact that there is a close relationship between a study of prophecy and the godliness of life is verified throughout the New Testament.
Some pastors feel that the subject causes Christians to despair and slack off in their missionary giving and soul-winning efforts. Quite the contrary, the opposite is true. The Christian who believes in the Blessed Hope and the soon return of Jesus Christ feels a sense of closeness to Him. This air of expectancy leads to greater love and deeper devotion. In Hebrews 10:25, Christians are commanded to do “so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Eschatology also offers a certain mental satisfaction. God has endowed man with a quest for knowledge about the future, which can only be satisfied by studying the prophetic Scriptures. It is natural for men to want to know the future. For instance, in the last chapter of his book, the prophet Daniel asks, “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders” (Daniel 12:6).
Again, in Matthew 24:3, as Jesus and His disciples encamped one evening along the western slopes of the Mount of Olives, they asked, “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
There is a specific mental and emotional satisfaction in knowing that our Savior has everything under control in the midst of trouble and persecution and that He will emerge triumphantly. In Matthew 24:6, our Savior encouraged us to: “see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass.”
The answer to those questions (and Peace of Mind) lies only in a saving relationship with Christ. No matter what life may hold today, the Christian can understand God’s plan and know that his personal welfare is secure.
Comfort in Sorrow
A study of biblical prophecy can give the Christian comfort in times of sorrow. When a family member dies, that feeling of grief can be cushioned by the knowledge that we shall see our loved ones again one day.
The Apostle Paul wrote: “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).