Misused Prophecy

By O.C. Birdwell

Most false teachers misuse and abuse Bible prophecy. They often leave the impression that they have some sort of gift from God which enables them to look more deeply into Bible prophecy and give a proper interpretation. Hence, many false religions are based upon a misunderstanding and misuse of prophecy. Some, who may not hold that the individual preacher has power to interpret prophecy, will affirm that church councils or a church hierarchy has that special power.

Peter’s Statement Abused

The apostle Peter said, “Knowing this first that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20, 21). This statement has been, by some, made to mean that no individual has the right to read and interpret scripture, but the right rests with the “Church,” which is to these people the Roman Hierarchy. So in their notes on the passage they say this means “no prophecy is the object of private interpretation.” But in this statement by Peter discussion is not being made of the interpretation of, but rather the giving of scripture. This is made crystal clear if one reads all the passage. He goes on to say, “For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.” Peter’s point is that the men who recorded scripture did not write their interpretation of scripture, but they, rather, spoke and wrote being moved by the Holy Spirit. To take this passage and apply it to present day interpretation of scripture rather than to the initial revealing of prophecy is to abuse the passage.

False Interpretation

Many things have been affirmed as being taught in (he Bible that are not within its pages. Galileo was compelled by the Inquisition to renounce his opinions. From 1616 until 1829 his books were forbidden. The position of Pope Paul V was that the earth, and not the sun, moves, is “contrary to the sacred and divine Scriptures.”

Before the moon landing, some proclaimed that man cannot go to the moon because the Bible so teaches. Man went to the moon, yet, there is no reflection on the Bible because the position held is not in the Bible.

Another example of man’s false interpretation of prophecy happened during World War II. As most over forty can well remember, during this time there was rationing of automobile tires. A Texas preacher held that the tire rationing was a fulfillment of prophecy. He quoted Isaiah 3:18, in the King James Translation, where he read: “In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon. . . . This preacher, no doubt, made quite an impression on many. But he misused prophecy. Isaiah was talking about what was to happen to the people of Israel, and the “round tires” were the “crescents” worn by the women around the head or neck. Ezekiel said, “and your tires shall be upon your heads. . . .” (24:23).

It was reported that a few years back one editor of a religious journal published an article in which it was affirmed that prophecy showed that the world would end during that year. In the same issue, however, there was run by the editor a special five year subscription rate! This may reveal at least two things about that editor. He, as usually is the case, desperately needed subscribers, and he had very little faith in his writer’s prophecy interpretation ability.

The solution to this problem of false interpretation of prophecy is for all to allow inspired New Testament writers to interpret inspired prophecy. When they say “this is that which was spoken” we can rest assured that such is the truth.

Truth Magazine, XX:14, p. 7-8
April 1, 1976