[NOTE: This post is part of a series that is intended to provide the reader who may otherwise be unaware of them with a general overview of Biblical prophecy concerning the end times. The series pays special attention to Islamic end times prophecy and current events in the Middle East and world in general – as those events may or may not relate to these prophecies. I do not claim to be an expert on this subject. The majority of what I will be sharing in this series is largely the product of other peoples’ work, and I will cite them accordingly. However, it has been noted by others that I am more well-read on this subject than the average American, and have been asked by several readers to share what I have learned. It is for this purpose that I started writing this series. The posts can be found in a tab at the head of this blog under the title, “Prophecy.” I’ll do my best to stick to what I know and/or can substantiate, and to answer whatever questions arise. The series is meant only to edify. I hope you will find it of interest.]
How to Read Biblical Prophecy
As I stated in my first post of this series, I am not an ‘expert’ on this subject. There are many who have spent far more time studying prophecy than I imagine I ever will. I have no doubt that many who read this will be among that number and, by right, if you are among that number, you should be writing this series rather than me. However, I have spent a great deal of time studying something that most Christians don’t even know about, let alone have bothered to research: Islamic prophecy. What I have learned is that they are the negation of each other. Islamic prophecy is told from the perspective of the Bible’s Anti-Christ. Unfortunately, one must have an understanding of the Bible and Biblical prophecy before this becomes clear. So, because much of it was written more than one thousand years before Islam even existed; and because it has a proven record of accuracy; and because it appears to speak about Islam; I will be writing this series from the perspective of Biblical prophecy and contrasting Islamic prophecy against that of the Bible.
This means that, even before we study what it says, we need to understand a few things about how to read Biblical prophecy. Borrowing from the first chapter of Richardson’s book, Mideast Beast, what we need to understand is:
1 – Keep first things first: do not get the events in prophecy out of order.
2 – Keep it simple: there is no need to make things more complicated than they actually are. Start with those things that are clearest and easiest to understand and build on them from there. Also, understand that, when something is important, the Bible repeats it over and over again, often in different ways. This is so we will not miss the importance of that point.
3 – Build on the full doctrine of Scripture: our understandings must be based on the whole of Scripture; we are not free to pick and chose, or to build explanations that ignore or reject certain aspects of prophecy. We must incorporate them all into our understanding. Do not leave out any part of Scripture.
4 – Remember, Context, Context, Context: we must keep the context of a given Scripture/prophecy in mind when reading it – especially given the difference between ours and the ancient Hebrew culture for who most prophecy was written.
5 – Do not read prophecy as though it were a technical manual: we need to understand the Hebrew culture and how it used allegory, hyperbole and even its history in conveying ideas and meaning. We shouldn’t just take all prophecy at face value because it was not meant to be read or understood in this manner.
6 – Recognize the big picture: the Bible is one long story. It is not a history book about different periods of time, but of God’s ultimate plan from Genesis to Revelation. Prophecy is meant to be understood in relation to this plan.
7 – When God is portrayed as being physically on the Earth, it is God the Son (Jesus): scripture is very clear that God the Father has never been seen by man. So, when Scripture mentions God on Earth, it is referring to a pre-incarnation appearance of Christ, or Jesus after His return.
Finally, there are a few things we need to understand from the Islamic perspective. First, Allah is not Yahweh. I know that Muhammad claimed that Allah is the god of Abraham, which would be the God of the Jews — Yahweh – but Allah is not Yahweh. Likewise, while the Muslims claim to believe in Jesus (they call Him Isa), they deny that He is the risen Son of God. For this reason, Allah could not possibly be Yahweh.