For many, prophecy is an intriguing subject–and it seems that every wind of speculation finds its itching ears in those who want to hear “something new” (Acts 17:21). But only God’s Spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10) can show us what truly lies ahead (John 16:13). Unless men are speaking under the inspiration of God’s Spirit, their prognostications are useless–nothing more than wild imaginations and fairy tales (2 Peter 1:20).
Recently, more and more wrong concepts have been circulated on the Internet. A popular new book claims that the “Antichrist” will be a Muslim. Biblically, this idea is absurd. First of all, the Bible does not even mention once “THE” Antichrist (see our Q&A on that subject). But the Bible does talk about the “beast” and the “false prophet”–a coming military leader as well as a future religious leader. However, neither will be a Muslim. The true Church of God under the late Herbert W. Armstrong has proclaimed correctly for almost a century that these personages will be part of the last revival of the ancient Roman Empire. But it seems that now, even some in diverse Church of God organizations have lost focus.
There are those who claim that the woman and the beast in Revelation 17 are America and Europe–an absolutely preposterous concept. As history and the biblical records reveal, the woman is the Catholic Church which was prophesied to sit on the last seven revivals of the Roman Empire. America has never played any role in any of the last six revivals which have already occurred–and it won’t do so in the last one, either, which is already beginning to occur in Europe before our very eyes.
(All of this is clearly explained in many of our free booklets, including, “Europe in Prophecy“; “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord“; “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America“; “Is That in the Bible?–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation!”; and “The Book of Zechariah–Prophecies for Today!” )
Then there are those who question the biblical teaching that God will protect many of His loyal disciples at a place of safety here on earth. Others falsely believe that God will secretly rapture His saints to heaven and protect them there for several months or years, prior to Christ’s return to rule all nations.
Some–in misinterpreting a passage in Daniel 9–erroneously claim that Europe will make a covenant with the state of Israel for seven years, which will be broken after 3 1/2 years–even though the true Church of God never taught this in the past, while it correctly understood and explained for decades that, according to Scripture, Europe will be in a confederation with Arab nations AGAINST Israel. (See our Q&A on that subject)
Others insist that an end-time “king of the south,” still to come, will consist of numerous Arab nations rising against Europe–a concept contradicting the biblical fact that Europe and Arab nations will be united against Israel. The true Church of God has consistently taught that IF there is still a king of the south yet to arrive on the world scene just prior to Christ’s return, it would have to be Ethiopia. (See our Q&As on that subject, and also note an interesting news report in this week’s “Current Events.”)
Some, if not many, are determined to somehow figure out the “approximate” year of Christ’s return–sometimes quoting Scriptures out of context to “prove” their case–even though Christ has told us that ONLY God the Father knows the exact time. [One “minister,” claiming to be part of the Church of God, has said that Christ will return on Saturday, May 26, 2012, and that he and his wife are the two witnesses. What incredible nonsense and deception!] We are warned NOT to try to determine the year or the month or the day of Christ’s Second Coming (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44).
The list of false prophetic pronouncements seems to be endless and ever-growing. Hardly a week goes by without someone raising his (or her) voice to proclaim some newly “revealed” special prophetic knowledge regarding end-time events.
The right understanding of prophecy MUST be taught in God’s Church. It must not be ignored. Prophecy is indeed very helpful, good and important, if it is understood correctly and used wisely and properly–not for the purpose of wanting to be someone with insightful knowledge, upon whom God has placed His “stamp of approval,” but as a motivation and an incentive to qualify and to be counted worthy for the kingdom of God (Luke 21:34-36; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
Don’t be deceived! It’s easy, perhaps, to become uncertain of the truth when even some of those who claim to be a part of the body of Christ begin to teach false doctrines and to disseminate wrong prophetic “speculations.” Christ says to watch and pray so that we don’t fall into temptation–because it is prophesied that many will be deceived by wrong teachers and the love of many–including for the truth–will grow cold (Matthew 24:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) .
Stick to the trunk of the tree–and don’t become obsessed with some leaves which, upon closer scrutiny, might have fallen off the tree–or which were not even part of the tree in the first place.