The study of biblical prophecy can become a life-long project and joy. It can also be the source of much confusion and even controversy. As anyone knows who has spent much time studying the doctrine of eschatology, or last things, there is considerable debate over the proper way to interpret these Scriptures. This debate exists even among evangelical Christians who hold to the inerrancy of the Bible. Such is the difficulty of the task.
While a study of the end times is not the purpose of this article, it is helpful to understand the context of where our discussion will go. A proper study of eschatology requires the harmonizing of relevant passages from both the Old and New Testaments. Just reading Revelation doesn't cut it. Scriptures that inform this study are scattered throughout the Bible, although some books address the topic more thoroughly.
Another decision the interpreter encounters is determining when passages are meant to be taken literally and when they are symbolic. Or maybe even both. Figures of speech are used, just as we use them in our normal conversations. How should those be interpreted? More to the point of this article, how should we take the numbers that are used in prophetic passages? Again, even those evangelicals who uphold the doctrine of inerrancy can still differ, hopefully in a friendly way, on the proper methods of interpretation.
So what are some prophecy scholars saying now in the light of some remarkable happenings in our world? More on page two.