Answer: Often, people experience anxiety when they think about the future; however, it does not have to be that way. For those who know God, thoughts of the future bring eagerness and comfort. For example, describing a woman who knows and trusts God, Proverbs 31:25 says, “She smiles at the future.”
Two key thoughts to keep in mind about the future are, first, God is sovereign and in control over everything. He knows the future and absolutely controls what will happen. The Bible says, “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’ . . . Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Isaiah 46:9–11, emphasis added).
The second thing to remember about the future is that the Bible outlines what will occur in “the end times” or “latter days.” Because the Bible is God’s revelation to humankind, and because God knows and controls the future (as Isaiah says above), then it stands to reason that when the Bible speaks about what will occur in the future, we can believe it. Concerning predictions about the future, the Bible says, “No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21). This truth is evident in the fact that, unlike the false prophecies made in other religions or by individuals such as Nostradamus, the Bible has never once been wrong – every time the Bible has predicted a future event, it happened exactly as Scripture said it would.
When considering how to understand and survive in the end times, answer these three questions:
1. How should I interpret what the Bible says about the future (biblical prophecy)?
2. What does the Bible say will happen in the end times?
3. How should what the Bible says about the future affect the way I live today?
How to Interpret Biblical Prophecy
There are a number of viewpoints on what methods should be used when interpreting passages concerning the end times. While there are good people espousing different beliefs, there is good reason to believe that biblical prophecy should be interpreted (1) literally, (2) with a futurist view, and (3) in what is called a “premillennial” manner. Encouraging a literal interpretation is the fact that there are over 300 prophecies that concern the first coming of Christ, all of which were literally fulfilled. The predictions surrounding the Messiah’s birth, life, betrayal, death and resurrection were not fulfilled allegorically or in a spiritual manner. Jesus literally was born in Bethlehem, performed miracles, was betrayed by a close friend for 30 pieces of silver, was pierced in His hands and feet, died with thieves, was buried in a rich man’s tomb, and was resurrected three days after His death. All these details were predicted hundreds of years before Jesus was born and were literally fulfilled. And, while there is symbolism used in various prophecies (e.g., dragons, horsemen, etc.), all of it portrays literal beings or events, in much the same way as Jesus is spoken of as a lion and a lamb.
Regarding a futurist view, the Bible clearly states that prophetic books like Daniel and Revelation contain not only accounts of historical events, but also predictions of future events. After John was given his messages for the churches of his day, he received visions concerning what would occur in the end times. John was told, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things” (Revelation 4:1, emphasis added).
Perhaps an even stronger argument for a futurist view involves the promises God made to Abraham (cf. Genesis 12 & 15) concerning the land of Israel. Since God’s covenant with Abraham was unconditional, and His promises have not yet been fulfilled to Abraham’s descendants, then a futurist view of the promises to Israel is warranted.
Lastly, with respect to prophecy being interpreted in a “premillennial” manner, this means that, first, the church will be Raptured, then the world will experience a seven-year Tribulation period, and then Jesus Christ will return to reign over the earth for 1,000 literal years (Revelation 20).
But what does the Bible say will happen before then?