People who read my articles are from all over the world and have different levels of familiarity with Bible prophecy. Some of my readers have spent decades studying Bible prophecy closely while others have recently developed a desire to study Bible prophecy. Some of my readers are younger than me while others are old enough to be a grandparent of mine.
Some of my Bible prophecy articles, including articles on the fulfillment of Psalm 83, the fulfillment of Isaiah 17, and the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38 are aimed at advanced students of Bible prophecy. Those who have read these articles may not think these topics are too difficult to comprehend, but I can tell you from experience that these topics are not easy to understand. Each of these articles took me several days to compose as I had difficulty trying to convey my findings into articles that people might be able to understand.
I thought it would be a good idea to do something different in this article… I thought it might be useful to write an article aimed at people who have just begun to study Bible prophecy or are interested in starting but unsure where to start. I was once in this position, so I know how cumbersome it is to start with no knowledge about the topic of Bible prophecy. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to provide some (hopefully) useful tips to people who have just begun to study Bible prophecy or are interested in starting.
Six Recommendations for Studying Bible Prophecy
I have six recommendations for anyone who is new at studying Bible prophecy or is interested in starting.
1. Make Sure You’re Saved
What good is having a large understanding of Bible prophecy if you’re not going to Heaven when you die? Understanding Bible prophecy can help you avoid many of the spiritual traps that most people will fall prey to in the future, but if you are unsaved you are no better off in the long-run than non-Christians who know nothing about Bible prophecy. I have added a page about going to Heaven on my site for people who want to be saved and for people who are unsure whether they will go to Heaven when they die. You can find that page at the following link.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Study Bible Prophecy
Do not be afraid to study Bible prophecy if you are thinking about whether you should start studying the topic or if you have just started studying the topic. I can probably count on my right hand the number of times I dreamed about anything related to Bible prophecy over the years, so studying the topic doesn’t mean that you’ll have nightmares relating to the topic. Furthermore, a time will come in the future when most people will be afraid of what is happening in the world. I think it is far better to be in a position to have a sense of what is going on than to be in a position where you have no idea what is happening and why it is happening.
3. Look All Over the Bible
Understand that Bible prophecy is found throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. Some students of Bible prophecy may only look to the Old Testament for prophetic understanding, but their understanding will be incomplete because the New Testament often provides new details about events first introduced in the Old Testament. For instance, you will miss out on key information concerning the Day of the Lord and its timing given by Paul and by Peter if you only study the Old Testament. In addition, it is a major mistake to neglect a particular book in the Bible because a prophet did not write it. For instance, it would be a huge mistake for a student of Bible prophecy to neglect the Book of Psalms since it is actually one of the most prophecy-rich books in the entire Bible (including the books written by prophets).
4. Do Not Ignore Past Events
I recommend that you do not completely ignore past Bible prophecy events because the fulfillment of some future events will resemble the fulfillment of past events. The Book of Daniel probably has the best example of how a past series of events could occur again in the future in a similar manner. For those who are unfamiliar with Bible prophecy, the Book of Daniel described the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes IV, a king who terrorized the people of Israel back in the second century B.C, and the nature of the Antichrist’s future reign in such a similar manner that some state that Antiochus was a forerunner of the Antichrist. Another example is the failed siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C. and the future end time siege of Jerusalem.
5. Only Put Your Full Trust in God’s Word
I recommend that you be very, very cautious about putting your full trust in any one Bible prophecy commentator, including myself. Please understand that no Bible prophecy commentator is perfect or has a complete understanding of what is going to happen in the future. In fact, it is my observation over the years that the people you should especially be leery of are the popular Bible prophecy commentators or the so-called Bible prophecy “experts”. I am tempted to even recommend that people stay away from reading the works of Bible prophecy commentators, including me, for as long as they can, but that might make it very difficult for most people to learn quickly. The only thing that is perfect is the Word of God, so try to rely on what you find in the Bible much more than relying on the words of a Bible prophecy commentator.
Furthermore, just because the vast majority of people agree on a certain viewpoint about a Bible Prophecy topic doesn’t mean that the particular viewpoint is correct. I encourage you to be unafraid of developing your own views on a particular Bible prophecy topic instead of submitting to groupthink.
6. Let the Bible Interpret Itself
The best way to interpret Bible prophecy is to let the Bible speak for itself, which means to compare one piece of scripture with another piece of scripture when you try to figure out something. Many Bible prophecy verses and passages utilize symbolic language, but the Bible will explain what it means, so try to avoid using your own interpretation to understand the symbolism. Get good Bible software and a good Bible concordance to help you identify which verses and passages are related to each other.
Where to Start Studying Bible Prophecy?
It’s difficult to select which chapters a beginner should start with as the Bible has 1189 chapters, including 929 chapters in the Old Testament and 260 chapters in the New Testament. It is tempting to start by studying the Book of Revelation first, but I recommend that a beginner avoid studying the Book of Revelation at first because Revelation is unlikely going to make much sense without studying some prophecy chapters and verses outside of the book beforehand. The following chapters referenced are places where I think people who are just beginning to study Bible prophecy or are interested in starting to study Bible prophecy should begin with.
Matthew 24, Luke 21, & Mark 13: The Olivet Discourse
These Gospel chapters are perhaps three of the most important Bible prophecy chapters outside of the Book of Revelation. These chapters provide a detailed outline of end time events preceding the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the age. Understanding these chapters will aid your study of the Book of Revelation.
Daniel 2 & Daniel 7: Empires of the Past and Future
Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 cover several historical empires, provide a preview of the upcoming empire of the Antichrist, and cover the destruction of the empire of the Antichrist. Understanding these chapters will aid your study of Revelation 13.
Daniel 9: The Seventy Weeks of Daniel
Daniel 9 introduces the seventy weeks of Daniel. The seventy weeks of Daniel is one of the most important prophetic concepts because it pertains to the past and to the future. The seventy weeks of Daniel prophecy will help you understand the circumstances that many end time events will occur under.
2 Thessalonians Chapter 2: The Antichrist
2 Thessalonians 2 gives us a bit of insight into the type of person the Antichrist will be and how his appearance relates to the coming of Christ.
Study the References to the Day of the Lord
The Old Testament and the New Testament contain many references to the “Day of the Lord”. The Day of the Lord is an important future period that will include the wrath of God. Students of Bible prophecy heavily debate the length of the Day of the Lord. I suggest that you consider identifying which events are associated with the Day of the Lord as a way to estimate its starting point and its length when you study the Day of the Lord.
Psalm 97, Numbers 24:15-19, Malachi 2:17-3:6, Matthew 13:18-50
Some people who have studied Bible prophecy for a while may be surprised that I recommend these four passages to beginners. The reason I recommended these passages is that they are examples of how end times-related details can be found throughout the Bible, including in the books that were not written by the prophets (although Malachi was a prophet). If you look at a Bible concordance you’ll see that these three passages relate to many other Bible prophecy passages that are not listed here.
Why Did I Not Mention Ezekiel 38, Ezekiel 39, and Psalm 83?
Some of you may have noticed that I did not recommend studying Ezekiel 38, Ezekiel 39, or Psalm 83 to people who have just begun to study Bible prophecy or to people interested in starting to study Bible prophecy. The reason I did not mention these chapters is that I think these chapters are not that easy to comprehend. In fact, I think a lot of prominent Bible prophecy commentators have an incorrect view on when these chapters will be fulfilled because they overlook some of the nuance in these chapters, particularly in Ezekiel 38. I think these chapters should not be studied until someone has spent a significant amount of time studying other Bible prophecy verses and chapters.
A Closing Thought
People generally learn at different paces regardless of the subject matter. The same applies to Bible prophecy. Some people will learn quickly while others will learn at a relatively slow pace. Regardless of how quickly or slowly you learn, all that matters is that you learn Bible prophecy concepts that are consistent with what is found in the Bible.