Introduction: When I first saw the topic for the next quarter I was
annoyed. “When are we going to study the life of Jesus?” “When are we
going to study a complete book of the Bible,” I fumed? I’ll bet half
the population doesn’t even know what the word “apocalyptic” means!
How can I make this topic interesting?

Then, I started thinking about my own journey. Many years ago a
member of my church asked me why I thought Christianity was true and
Islam was not. Since I knew almost nothing about Islam, I could not
give him a good answer. Since then I have been reading (studying) the
teachings of Islam and Buddhism (the Dalai Lama version). To my
astonishment, I found that there was substantial “overlap” between
the three religions. Muslims share all of the Old Testament, and
some of the New Testament with us. Many of the teachings of the Dalai
Lama are identical to those of Jesus. While this tends to prove the
truth of our common beliefs, it also makes us look for additional
proof that we have “the truth” where the teachings differ. Bible
prophecy tends to do just that. If we can show where the Bible
accurately predicted the future, we can have confidence that the
“True God” spoke through the Bible. Not only can we have confidence
in the Bible, but we can have some assurance for the future. Let’s
dive into our study of end-time prophecy!

  1. Jesus and Prophecy

    1. Read Matthew 24:1-2. What do you understand Jesus to be
      saying to His disciples? (He was telling them that the
      most important center of worship for Jews was going to be
      totally destroyed.)

      1. Why would Jesus say this?

      2. If your home were going to be destroyed, would you
        want to know in advance?

        1. Would you like to know the future? (It would be
          very helpful for stock investments.)

      3. How could Jesus know the future of the temple? (This
        is one of the faith-building aspects of prophecy. God
        knows the future. He shares that future with us when
        He thinks it will be helpful. See Amos 3:7)

    2. Read Matthew 24:3. Does Jesus have the attention of the

      1. What do they want to know? (They want to know “when”
        in the future. They want to know dates, and they want
        to know what “signs” they will get as further

      2. What assumptions are the disciples making about the
        prophecy that are not warranted? (They assume that if
        the temple in Jerusalem is destroyed, this will be
        the end of the world.)

        1. What lesson about interpreting prophecy do we
          learn from this unwarranted assumption? (Do not
          go beyond the prophecy. Do not “supplement”
          prophecy with our own assumptions.)

    3. Read Matthew 24:6, 10-13. What is Jesus prophesying about
      now? (The end of time. His Second Coming.)

      1. Now what do you think about the disciples
        “assumptions?” Did they had reason to put together
        the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the
        end of the world?

      2. Why did Jesus merge the two? (Technically, if you
        look at Matthew 24:3 the disciples “started it.” They
        asked Jesus about both events.)

        1. Why didn’t Jesus clearly separate the two for
          the disciples so that they would better
          understand? (I don’t think we can say to God,
          “You should have been more clear.” Instead, I
          think we need to learn an important lesson about
          “prophetic arrogance.” We had Jesus, speaking to

          His disciples, and they still had some important
          details confused. Imagine the possibility for
          confusion in our interpretation!)

        2. Read Matthew 24:43-44. What important principle
          of apocalyptic (end-time) prophecy do we learn
          here? (Just in case we didn’t “get it” before,
          Jesus tells us the bottom line on prophecy is to
          always be ready. “Prophetic arrogance,” if it
          causes you to delay being ready, can get you
          killed eternally.)

        3. Read Matthew 24:32-33. What, then, is the point
          of end-time prophecy if we still have to be
          ready at all times? Is there any point to
          studying it? (I think end-time prophecy is more
          like answered prayer than like a map. As we see
          things happen, we can have confidence that God
          is with us. God knows the future and what is
          happening to us at any particular time is within
          His understanding, if not ours. Jesus’ picture
          of seasons lets us know that we can have a
          general understanding of the end-time. But, no
          one would set up an office appointment based on
          “as soon as the twigs get tender.”)

    4. Read Matthew 24:15-18. Whose prophecy is Jesus quoting?
      ( Daniel 9:27)

      1. Is this something in the future or something in the
        past? (Clearly Jesus is speaking of the future.)

      2. The Bible I carry to church is the NIV Study Bible.
        It has a footnote to Matthew 24:15 that indicates
        that the “abomination that causes desolation” is a
        reference to something that happened in 168 B.C. It
        says: “When Antiochus Epiphanes erected a pagan altar
        to Zeus on the sacred altar in the temple of

        1. Do you see a problem here? (Yes! Jesus did not
          interpret Daniel to refer to something that
          happened 200 years before. He interpreted
          Daniel’s prophecy to refer to the future. Unless
          this is a “multiple interpretation” prophecy,
          then the NIV’s comments are clearly contrary to
          Jesus’ teaching.)

    5. Was the temple in Jerusalem destroyed as Jesus had
      predicted? (Yes, it was destroyed by Rome in the year 70
      A.D. If we accept that Matthew, one of the twelve
      apostles, was the author of the gospel of Matthew (and the
      early church fathers all agreed he was), then this record
      of Jesus’ prophecy would have been written before
      Jerusalem was destroyed.)

      1. How do you think the people felt to actually see
        Jesus’ prophecy fulfilled? (It no doubt gave them
        greater confidence that He was the Messiah.)

  2. Paul and Prophecy

    1. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2. What is the problem about
      which Paul is writing? (The people had become upset about
      some prophecy that said Jesus had already come a second

    2. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:3. What positive thing does Paul
      say about end-time prophecy? (First, to calm the people
      down, Paul recites a prophecy about the end time. This is
      an important aspect of prophecy – to help us divide the
      truth from falsehood, and to give us peace as we see and
      hear troubling things that relate to the end of time.)

    3. Lets re-read 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and add verse 4. What
      does this teach us about the end of the world?(That the
      man of destruction is coming before Jesus’ Second Coming
      and this man will proclaim himself to be God.)

      1. Who do you think is this “man of destruction?” Who
        is coming before Jesus comes a second time and
        pretending to be God? (The older commentaries, such
        as Matthew Henry, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, and
        Barnes, all identify this with “the Papacy” (the Pope
        of the Roman Catholic Church).)

        1. Did the Pope ever set himself up in (v.4) “God’s

        2. Since the temple in Jerusalem has been
          destroyed, how could anyone set themselves up in
          it? (It is certainly possible that the older
          commentaries are correct. However, the language
          used by Paul to describe this “man” is very
          similar to the language used to describe Satan
          in Isaiah 14:12-14. Jesus tells us in Matthew
          24:24 that “false Christs” will appear. This may
          very well refer to Satan himself impersonating
          Jesus at the end of time. What triggers my
          imagination is the possibility that this text
          infers that the temple in Jerusalem will be
          rebuilt. That would certainly catch the

          attention of the world – the temple in Jerusalem
          rebuilt and “Jesus” coming to set up “his”
          throne there.)

      2. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:7-10. What does this add to
        our discussion on the identity of the “man of
        destruction?” (It seems that he cannot be Satan
        alone, because verse 9 says “in accordance with the
        work of Satan.” This makes it hard to interpret this
        prophecy to mean Satan alone. Thus, this seems to be
        Satanic powers which were currently at work and will
        be revealed in a dramatic way at the end of time.
        What I like is the text we ended with last week – we
        can have confidence in the future because Jesus (v.8)
        will in the end just speak his enemies away!)

    4. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. Is there something you can
      do now to avoid being deceived by the impersonator of
      Jesus? (If we believe the truth, if we study to know the
      prophecies now, we can avoid being deceived when critical
      end-time events occur.)

  3. Prophecy and Symbols

    1. Read Revelation 1:10-11. What instruction is being given
      to John?

      1. Why would he want to send what he saw to these
        churches? (God had a message which he was giving,
        through John, to the believers.)

    2. Read Revelation 1:12-13, 16. How would you like to hear a
      voice behind you and see this?

    3. Let’s skip down to Revelation 1:20. This says that John’s
      vision contained symbols. Why does God use symbols in
      giving prophecy? Doesn’t that just make it more difficult
      to understand?

    4. Read Matthew 13:10. Does this sound like our question:
      “Why does the Bible use symbols in prophecy?”

      1. Let’s read what Jesus says. Read Matthew 13:11-13.
        Why does Jesus say that He uses parables to teach the
        principles of the kingdom? (I think there are a
        couple of reasons to use symbols. First, as with
        Jesus’ parables, God wants us to study His word so
        that we can understand it. The Holy Spirit can help
        us to unravel the parables and the end-time
        prophecies. Second, we have discussed in the past how
        a prophecy can have more than one interpretation. By
        using symbols, you make it easier for the prophecy to
        have more than one application.)

      2. What is our obligation when it come to prophecy? (If
        we are willing to dig deep, we can find truths that
        will help us to have confidence when the world is not
        going right.)

    5. Friend, do you sometimes feel that life is not turning out
      quite the way you expected? How do you feel when that
      happens? Jesus offers to give us a “peek” into the future
      if we are willing to dig. Why not commit this quarter to
      studying these end-time prophecies so that you will feel
      more confident in your Lord.

  4. Next week: Daniel 2 and 7: The ABC’s of Apocalyptic Prophecies