|Vol. 1, No. 9||Page 9||September 1999|
Is The End Near?
By Eddie Cooper
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:20-21).The prophet served as a spokesman for God. He delivered God's message to God's people, and on occasion made predictions about future events. It is a mistake to think that his primary role involved foretelling the future. He was first a preacher, and then a predictor of coming events.
The prophet's message was inspired by the Holy Ghost. His message was not his own, and thus was not open to private interpretation. The New Testament offers tremendous insight into the understanding of prophetic predictions. Frequently, the writers of the New Testament refer to events in the life and ministry of Jesus as taking place in fulfillment of prophecy (Matthew 1:22; 2:4, 15). We can be certain that these men were fairly interpreting the prophet's message, however, much of what we read today regarding prophecy is far removed from the prophet's original intent.
Today, a great deal is being said and written regarding events in the Middle East and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. But, there is little connection between what is occurring now and what the prophets predicted.
Passages like Isaiah 13:1-6 and Jeremiah 50:8-9 are often cited as proof that prophecy regarding Babylon (Iraq) is being fulfilled in our generation, but the fact of the matter is that these prophecies were fulfilled more than 20 centuries ago when Babylon fell (Daniel 5:30-31). Further, the use of Babylon in Revelation is highly figurative and should not be confused with current events in the Middle East.
It seems that every generation produces men who have suddenly discovered new meaning in old prophecies. Present events fulfill past predictions. The end is near, or so they claim! But the crisis passes and we go on waiting for the next outbreak of hostilities and still another claim that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled in our time!
We do not deny that the prophets predicted future events
with uncanny detail and accuracy, but we do deny that they predicted the
events now unfolding in the Middle East. The end is coming, but when
will it come? The Bible does not say. The message of Scripture
is one of vigilance for "the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the
night" (2 Peter 3:10).