The end of the world can sound scary. Phrases associated with it can equally evoke anxiety. “End-times” seems to be clouded with such uncertainty. “Last days” seems deathly terrifying. If you mention the “Apocalypse” people have all sorts of crazy ideas that pop in their head. It could be spirits wreaking havoc like Ghostbusters or it could be the need to store up food and defend oneself from zombies like in the Walking Dead. Yet, none of these are correct.
It may surprise you, but the world “apocalypse” has nothing to do with zombies or ghosts, and technically, it does not even have anything to do with the end of the world. The word “apocalypse” simply means “revelation.” The Apocalypse is the actual Greek title of the final book of the New Testament canon, and, of course, in most English translations it is translated as Revelation. So, as you can see, the word isn’t very scary at all.
The reason why most people associate the apocalypse with nuclear destruction and the undead is perhaps due to the way it is misused by people teaching and preaching on end-times. It’s amazing how most sermons on eschatology are not based on the Hebrew Bible or the Christian Bible, but instead on speculation and some cool new insight that plays off the curiosity of those who truly desire to know about end-times and Bible prophecy. Don’t let the word eschatology make you nervous; it comes from two Greek words: eschatos meaning “last” and logos which means “word.” So eschatology is just a word about the study of last things, and that’s how it is used in theology as well.
There are those who have decided to teach on end-times and Bible prophecy in ways that totally twist and manipulate the scriptures. They do this for a number of reasons. Mainly because it sells books and attracts an audience to their speaking events. The truth is, when it comes to these topics, the Bible does not always provide every single detail. There are things that are left a bit ambiguous, and there are a number of reasons for this. Nevertheless, some people have decided to speak where the Bible remains silent.
As you can imagine, this causes a number of problems, for both the person doing the teaching and for those listening. Overtime, the person’s assumptions do not come to pass. Or perhaps they have new insight that doesn’t quite line up with their old revelation. Needless to say, this causes them to change what they teach over and over and over again. It really shows how little reliance they have on the scriptures and just how highly they esteem their own insight over God’s Word.
For those who listen to this type of teaching it can be really confusing and even destructive. I will never forget a friend of mine who called me up after attending an end-time conference at her church. She was so utterly confused. Each preacher at the conference taught things that were totally contradictory to the others. She had no idea what to think. Her solution? End-times and Bible prophecy are just too difficult; she’d rather go read or do something else. This is how a lot of people react and, believe it or not, they are the fortunate ones.
Others get extremely caught up in the “deep insight” that these teachers have. They believe it just as strongly as they believe in God. They put all of their hope and trust into these teaching just to find that they do not come to pass. Unfortunately, instead of recognizing that it is the speaker’s fault and that they were wrong, they often decide that the Bible had failed and they give up on their faith. This is heartbreaking.
Still there are some who don’t study Bible prophecy because they think that it’s terrifying. This is the wrong viewpoint. As I mentioned, the word “apocalypse” means “revelation”, and that is exactly what Bible prophecy does. It’s not confusing or complicated as some try to make it. You don’t have to have some type of deep spiritual insight to understand it. Bible prophecy is not given to scare you; it’s given to prepare you. It reveals the things that are going to happen in the future so that you can prepare accordingly. When you read and study Bible prophecy, you are reading and studying the Word of God, and by doing so, you are gaining new insight into the character and nature of God and His will and plan for your life.