PREPARING FOR END TIMES

by Clay Watts

"Site Index"


Study Topics

The subject of end times Bible prophecy is varied and multi-dimensional.  A student or casual observer could get engrossed in many details and interesting discussions of opposing views.  However, the primary purpose of studying this subject should be to better prepare oneself for what’s coming.  It’s not an academic exercise at all, but a critical effort to understand what God’s Word is saying to us and how we should respond.

This site attempts to help with that endeavor by providing a variety of summaries and analyses of the key Biblical topics related to end times.  These are organized as follows:

·        Foundation – the principles of interpreting and applying Bible prophecy

·        Passages – the key passages in the Bible relating to end times

·        Events – the major events of end times

·        Middle East – the role of the various peoples and nations

·        Deception – an in-depth look at the warnings of Christ

·        Timing and Sequence – can (or should) we know how events will play out?

 

Foundation

Bible prophecy must be understood and handled carefully.  It is not to be treated the same as Biblical history, laws, poetry or doctrine.  The following article deals with prophetic interpretation and application, especially regarding end times:

·        The Basics of Bible Prophecy – this study consists of the following sections that not only provide an introduction to the proper handling of Bible prophecy, but also lay the foundation for understanding the other articles:

    • Why Study Bible Prophecy?
    • What is Prophecy?
    • Purpose of Prophecy
    • Prophetic Principles
    • Puzzles of Prophecy--Why A Mystery?
    • Puzzles of Prophecy--Why Two Comings of Christ?
    • Avoiding the Pitfalls of Prophecy

Passages

It’s not enough to know about end times prophecy.  We need to know exactly what God’s Word says and be ready to interpret and apply it to our life.  The following articles provide a fairly comprehensive review of the important Bible passages relating to end times, with constant emphasis on using sound principles of interpretation:

  • A Prophetic View of Christ's Second Coming – this study gives the key passages in the old and new testaments that deal with the second coming of Christ.  The text of each passage is presented, along with a short commentary.  The passages are organized along the following topics:
    • Preparation
    • Reward
    • Signs
    • Glory
    • Deliverance
    • Rapture
    • Wrath and judgment
    • Satan and antichrist

Finally, comments are offered on how these passages illustrate the approach we should take in interpreting and applying end times Bible prophecy.

  • Parallel End Times Passages in the New Testament – this study is a verse-by-verse review of Matthew 24, along with the parallel passages in Mark and Luke, as well as 1 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 2 Peter, and Revelation.

  • Major Old Testament References to End Times – this study reviews the major Old Testament end times prophecies in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. The purpose is to understand the events that will happen, but also to apply the principles of prophecy while avoiding the pitfalls.  These passages are foundational to understanding Revelation and the role of Israel and antichrist in end times.

  • Revelation – this is a set of handouts for a chapter by chapter review with emphasis on illustrating prophetic principles; it is not a comprehensive outline or commentary.

Events

  • Summary of End Times Events – this is a list of over 80 end times events that are prophesied in the Old and New Testaments.  These are organized roughly with the book of Revelation and are accompanied by scripture references and brief comments.

Middle East

Middle East Summary – this study includes the following:

·        Commentary on how to understand and respond to the Middle East situation in a prophetic context

·        Excerpts from Randall Price’s Fast Facts on the Middle East Conflict

·        Discussion notes on the Iraq War and America’s role in End Times prophecy

Deception

One of the main themes of this site is to heed Christ’s warnings in Matthew 24 and elsewhere to not be deceived by false christs and prophets.  The key study on this is Avoiding the Great Deception.  It discusses whether Christians can be deceived, what forms deception takes, why many of those awaiting Christ’s first return were deceived, and how we can avoid similar traps.

Most of the other studies on this site refer frequently to the topic of deception with examples that further elaborate and confirm the significance of this topic.  The study A Prophetic View of Christ's First Coming in particular demonstrates how so many were deceived regarding Christ’s first coming.  We need to learn from these lessons so that we will not be similarly deceived prior to his second coming.

Timing & Sequence

Most commentators on end times feel compelled to take a stand on how biblical events should be interpreted in terms of sequence, and to some degree timing.  The views of these sincere Christians, who have thoroughly studied the Bible and sought the Holy Spirit’s guidance, often differ significantly.  The typical variations are discussed in the study Comparison of End Times Views. 

 


If you want to plow through the site in a logical sequence or just jump around, here are the individual studies on separate pages:

·         The Basics of Bible Prophecy

·         Avoiding the Great Deception

·         Comparison of End Times Views

·         A Prophetic View of Christ's First Coming

·         A Prophetic View of Christ's Second Coming

·         Parallel End Times Passages in the New Testament

·         Summary of End Times Events

·         Major Old Testament References to End Times


Other Materials

If you are a teacher or serious student of end times, here are some outlines from classes taught in 2003 & 2004:

·         The Mystery of Prophecy – Matthew 24

·         Preparing for End Times – A survey class of the materials on this site listed above

·         Book Summaries

o        H.A. Baker’s Heaven and the Angels and Visions Beyond the Veil

o        Jack Van Impe’s Revelation Revealed

o        Middle East Summary, includes the following: my introductory and concluding observations on how to understand and respond to the Middle East situation in a prophetic context; excerpts from Randall Price’s Fast Facts on the Middle East Conflict; and discussion notes on the Iraq War and America’s role in End Times prophecy

·         Today’s Prophetic Word – Summary of end times prophetic messages from Rick Joyner, Paul Cain, Bob Jones, and Thomas Gibson

·         Revelation – Chapter by chapter summary with emphasis on illustrating prophetic principles


Other comments:

·         For the End Times Expert

·         A Final Question

·         For Those Who Like the Old Testament

·         Readers' Frequently Asked Questions

·         Message to Ministers

·         Acknowledgments


Download a book version of this material:

endbook.doc


For the End Times Expert

Here are some other questions you may have about this introductory material:

Q.  Don’t we have a responsibility to apply sound hermeneutical principles to interpreting prophetic scriptures and then determine the best possible interpretation?

A.  We do have this responsibility for scripture that is meant to establish doctrine and to instruct us through historical examples.  However, unfulfilled prophecy is exactly that—it’s not completely understandable because is still refers to the future.  Even prophecy that appears to have been fulfilled may yet have an ultimate fulfillment.  This is a difficult point for Bible teachers and scholars who have spent countless hours researching context and word meaning and applying rigorous principles of interpretation to the scriptures.

Most of the material on this site addresses this issue from a variety of perspectives.  However, the two studies, The Basics of Bible Prophecy and Avoiding the Great Deception together lay the foundation for this unusual interpretative approach.  I appeal to the end times expert to read especially the last three sections of the first study as well as all of the second.  Also, the Message to Ministers below addresses the hermeneutical principles I have attempted to employ.  I think you will agree they are sound and conservative.

Q.  Why can’t we all just get along?

A.  Indeed.  The Lord’s will is for his people to be one--one body, one faith, one baptism.  His body is made up of many members, each of whom has a purpose, but who also have different personalities and experiences.  We must all learn to work together for good according to his purpose.

 

While there is one faith, there are many variations on how that one faith is practiced, again because of the many different backgrounds and histories.  But there is also one baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that all members of the body and practitioners of the faith might be empowered to love one another and show the world that they are the true church.

 

The Lord’s will is that we all may be one, even as he is one.  His people are perishing for lack of a vision.  They need to see examples of righteous living, and they must know that they can love one another in spite of their differences. 

 

If you are a leader, teacher, or especially a web site author, I challenge you to help draw the body together in love for one another while acknowledging and even celebrating differences.  The Lord loves diversity and creativity, but he despises discord among the brethren.  Please do everything you can to be a peacemaker—to draw God’s people into one broad expression of love for one another, that they might be seen as builders of the one faith, and not destroyers or dividers.

 


A Final Question

Q.  So if we can’t really be sure of how end times events are going to unfold, what’s the best way to handle all the information in the Bible and the seemingly contradictory teachings?

A.  The best way to prepare for end times is to be knowledgeable and yet open at the same time.  Two studies provide complementary ways to organize the many scriptures about end times.  The first is a Parallel End Times Passages in the New Testament based on the most famous end times passage spoken by Christ himself in Matthew 24. The second, a Summary of End Times Events, uses the book of Revelation as a way to correlate the many end times events referred to throughout the Bible.

My wife puts this on a more personal level by comparing preparation for end times with preparing for the birth of a child.  Most women who don’t prepare become a victim because they don’t know what to expect.  They may even be damaged through the unexpectedly difficult experience, although there is a reward at the end.  However, if you are prepared, even though you have to deal with the magnitude of the pressure, because you’ve been trained to listed to your “coach” instead of your own body, you just have to “breathe” through it.  But it takes training, discipline, and practice…


For those who like the Old Testament

The Old Testament is filled with prophecy about the end times.  For a good overview, see the study on Major Old Testament References to End Times.  This study not only points out the key end times passages, but uses them to illustrate the principles of prophetic interpretation, and shows how to avoid the pitfalls.

 


Readers' Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q. Your summary of events seems to indicate that you believe in a post-tribulation rapture. Is that true? What is your opinion on the rapture?

A.  The “Summary of End Times Events” was intended to follow roughly the order of Revelation. The major point of the rest of my material is that it is not helpful to be dogmatic about the chronology or sequence of end times events. So the summary was intended to be a catalog of these events, with Revelation as a helpful, but arbitrary, reference point. Some people believe that Revelation is sequential, but I do not mean to imply this, nor that the list is in approximate chronological sequence.

As far as my personal opinions on the rapture, I really believe that it will happen in a very unexpected way that doesn't fit any of the popular paradigms, and that to hold rigid views is to invite disappointment, and at the worst, deception. I want to be open to what God is going to do, to be sensitive and alert as events progress, and then to be eagerly awaiting that last trumpet call to glory. How about you?

My approach is like a passenger in an airplane who is generally familiar with the topology and landmarks around his destination. He doesn't know (or care) the exact route the pilot is going to take, but as he looks out the window, he is able to tell when he is getting closer. Depending on the flight pattern, the landmarks may appear in a completely different sequence than he might have expected, but if he is knowledgeable, he will know when he is nearing his destination, and he will be prepared for the arrival..

 

Q.     I understand that the Bible teaches us that my salvation is not dependent on anything good in me, or by any action on my part, but that it solely rests on the sovereign grace of God. Do you agree?

A.  I certainly agree with you that our salvation is a sovereign gift from God, and that there is nothing we can do to earn it. We do, of course, have to receive the gift by believing and confessing that Jesus is Lord of our life, for there is no other name by which we may be saved. The rest, confessing and turning from our sin, and leading godly lives of obedience, are part of the Christian walk that we would naturally want to do. I did not mean that our salvation was dependent of these things, but was just trying to give some direction and encouragement to a new believer.

For more on salvation see Who Are the Elect?

 

Q.     I would like to use some of your material in a Bible study. May I have your permission?

A.  Yes, feel free to use the material in any way you see fit, as long as you identify the source.

 

Q.  What is your background? How did you come to write this material?

A.  I have spent over 34 years in computer systems planning, development, management, and consulting. My degrees are in Basic Engineering (Computer Science concentration) and Industrial Engineering (Operations Research concentration).

I've been saved since 1975, have attended several large charismatic churches, and have served in a variety of capacities, including children and adult Sunday school teacher, small group leader, usher, and board member. I live in the Dallas area with my loving wife of 37 years.  We have three sons and a daughter, all married, and six grandchildren. 

I was called to an end times ministry a few years after I was saved, and have taught adult classes on various subjects. Some of the material was developed initially in these classes.  I first published the first version of this material on the Web in 1996.  Probably the most significant influence in my Christian life has been the regular reading of the entire Old and New Testaments, typically once every two years.  While this has helped me maintain a balanced view of God’s word, it has also helped me appreciate the infinite richness and mystery of an all-powerful Creator whose ways are not man’s ways.

 


Message to Ministers

 

If you are in a ministry with the awesome responsibility of teaching and preaching the prophetic Word of God, I humbly submit the following thoughts for your consideration:

§         The Word is not difficult, although it is infinitely deep. Be careful of over-analysis that results in unusual or new twists of interpretations, but rather take the obvious meaning and focus on deeper insights and applications to help us lead Godly lives.

§         Do not be afraid to suggest multiple alternative scenarios of end times prophetic fulfillment.  Likewise, do not feel compelled to take specific positions in areas that are not clearly defined, even if others have.

§         In difficult areas of the Word, let your ideas be formed by considering the broad context and intent of related scriptures. Check yourself to make sure you are not unintentionally constraining your interpretations to conform to teachings you have taken for granted.

§         Constantly call on the Holy Spirit for discernment and wisdom in interpreting scriptures.  Do not trust your own experiences, past teachings, and biases until you have received fresh confirmation from the Holy Spirit that you are walking in His light on a particular issue.  Strive to see the big picture from God’s perspective rather than from man’s tunnel vision.

§         Be wary of sophisticated yet artificial systems of analysis and categorization of the Word.  These can lead to unnecessary and even harmful distinctions in doctrine that take away from the simple, pure gospel.  As much as we would like to put everything into unambiguous, mutually exclusive categories, we must not be afraid to hold what appear to be opposing views.  With patient, prayerful investigation, this dynamic tension between different ideas can lead to greater understanding of God’s wisdom and knowledge.

These are principles the Holy Spirit has impressed on me and that I have tried to use and demonstrate throughout these studies. If you take issue with any of these, or with any other part of my study material, I welcome your constructive critique. I commit to taking such feedback seriously and making the appropriate changes to my material. I am particularly concerned that I not make any errors in following sound, conservative, evangelical, Christian doctrine.

To those who remain convinced that a specific end times scenario is indicated by scripture, I would ask two questions:

§         What is the benefit to your audience in believing that scenario?

§         What unintentional harm might be done if it doesn't happen that way?

Thank you for taking an interest in this layman's material. Whether you agree or disagree, I hope it has at least stimulated your thinking. Please email me with your comments in either case at ClayWatts@aol.com.

 

Yours in Christ,

Clay Watts


Acknowledgments

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Much of the material in the study "The Basics of Bible Prophecy" is adapted from books by Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagin.

Because of the casual manner in which this material was originally prepared, many citations of other authors were unfortunately not included. Some of the other sources relied on for historical background and basic exposition include the following. I apologize for not being more diligent in identifying the specific passages.

  • An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets, Hobart. E. Freemen, Moody Press, Chicago, 1968
  • All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1973
  • A Commentary on Daniel, Leon Wood, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1973
  • Isaiah, Alfred Martin, Moody Press, Chicago, 1956
  • Ezekiel, Ralph Alexander, Moody Press, Chicago, 1976
  • Zechariah, G. Coleman, Luck, Moody Press, Chicago, 1969

 


Last update May, 2005.

Next study.

Copyright 2005 by Clay Watts, Dallas, Texas. All rights reserved.

Email ClayWatts@aol.com


 

End Times Book Draft.doc