Previous: [BTT021] Nothing New Under the Sun
It’s not that Christians get everything wrong when it comes to prophecy. We do a pretty good job with prophecies that have already come to pass. That "born of a Virgin" stuff? Yeah, we got it. "Bruised for our transgressions"? Okay, figured it out. But stuff that hasn't happened yet? We have a pretty terrible track record.
There are many reasons for this, one of which is that it’s easier to understand in hindsight things that have already happened compared to understanding things that have not yet happened. That’s a problem in many fields other than Bible prophecy.
Have you ever played around with day trading? It’s not easy to pick which stocks are going to do well and which ones are going to drop. Economists have very elaborate, convincing models for explaining financial history, but the moment you ask them to pick future winners, the models stop working.
Or take history – it’s easy to look back into history and say, “of course that’s why Rome became a great imperial power” or “Of course the Nazis were bad.” It’s not so easy to predict who the next President will be or who we should choose as allies.
This difficulty is natural in secular disciplines. No one expects a historian to predict the future. But when you’re making claims about future events like prophecy, it’s kind of important to get them right. Otherwise, we punch ourselves in the face – publicly and embarrassingly.
So the question becomes, how do we do a better job?
The good news is, we already know what a bad job looks like – it’s the scattershot, schizophrenic model-less model of the TV preacher and the street corner messiah.
You know what we're talking about. It's the advanced calculus needed to equate "Adolph Hitler" or “Barack Obama” with "666." It’s seeing Armageddon in ever border skirmish and the Bowl Judgments in every hurricane. It’s the desperate desire for any sign of the end that leads well-meaning Christians to match random Bible verses random current events.
But is this the only method of interpreting prophecy available to us? Are Christians forever doomed to arranged marriages between random Jerusalem and Reuters? I'm going to argue that the answer is "no." And we're going to find a different way of doing things by looking at the Bible itself.
This is the question we are going to ask: How did the authors of the New Testament interpret prophecies from the Old Testament?
Next: [BT023] How Does the Bible Interpret Prophecy?