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Recommendation and Speculation

I’ve noticed that a good number of the things I read originate in a friend’s recommendation. For instance, often I click upon an interesting sounding link a friend posts on Facebook (perhaps that’s how you’ve found this blog!). And just today my grandpa called telling me about a book that I’m now eager to check out.

 

I was recently fascinated to discover that in Matthew 24 Jesus gives some recommended reading. In particular, he tells his disciples pretty clearly that they should become familiar with the prophecies of Daniel (see Matthew 24:15). Later in that same chapter, Jesus seems to be echoing the language of Daniel (compare Matt. 24:29-31 and Daniel 7:13-14, 7:2).

 

Jump to the last book of the Bible, and we find another divinely given book recommendation. This time it’s for Christians to become familiar with Revelation (see Rev. 1:3).

 

Perhaps it’s ironic, what have been considered by many the most confusing books of the Bible come with some of the clearest reading recommendations. (Perhaps God knew we’d need the extra incentive.)

 

What I take away from this is that it’s important for Christians to be actively studying prophecy. Seriously important.

 

But I also believe there is a danger we should be aware of. It is, in a word, speculation. Not long ago I heard a message loosely based off Bible prophecy. It involved mention of a number of big name corporations, reference to some branches of the government, details from secret society meetings, and a barrage of clippings from news sources, explaining in incredible detail how current events would lead up to the second coming.

 

Normally these creative perspectives don’t bother me, but when they are advanced in place of the gospel, it’s a serious problem.

 

Paul was also concerned with Christians getting carried away with speculation. In a letter to his mentee Timothy, he explains:

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:3-7)

Paul doesn’t cower from strong language. And his point is clear. It’s easy for Christians to get trapped in a game of speculation, perhaps starting with sound Biblical ideas, but ending with nothing more than “vain discussion”. The biggest problem is that this detracts from our “charge of love.”

 

As we saw on Cross Connection, in the same chapter that Jesus gives his apocalyptic prophecies and recommends us to study prophecy, He warns us that “the love of many will grow cold” (Matt 24:12).

 

Is your study of prophecy growing your love for God and for your neighbor? If not, perhaps you have the wrong focus.

 

Remember, Revelation is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). Likewise, Daniel is all about Jesus. In it we get glimpses of Jesus as the stone cut out without hands (Dan 2), the Son of God present in flaming trials (Dan 3), the Son of Man representing us in heavenly judgment (Dan 8), the Ultimate Jubilee, the Messiah, and the one cut off for our sake (Dan 9)—just to name a few.

 

Let’s take up Jesus’ recommendation and get serious about studying prophecy. But let’s also heed the warning of Paul to avoid speculation and Jesus’ warning to not let our love grow cold.

 

Above all, let's keep our eyes on Jesus!

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