For the past two weeks I’ve been teaching a class on Eschatology (the study of end times) at a local Bible College. While all classes are enjoyable, this one was especially fun for me.
When dealing with the Tribulation, lots of tough questions arise
- What is the Abomination of Desolation?
- What Is the mark of the beast? And why does it use the number 666?
- If someone rejects the Gospel before the rapture, can they get saved in the Tribulation?
- Can Matthew 24:40-41 refer to the rapture when the immediate context clearly refers to the Jews?
- And what does it mean when Scripture says the Holy Spirit “he who hinders” will be removed in the Tribulation?
When wrestling with these, and other hard questions I keep coming back to a foundational view of Biblical interpretation…
We interpret Scripture with Scripture
This means we observe and study the passage itself instead of sharing our own opinions about what it means. Scripture interprets itself as we look for repeated words and phrases, as well as the major theme/focus of the passage.
Each of the above questions, and many others were much easier to understand when we looked at the ENTIRE PASSAGE, and then thought about the truth God had emphasised In it.
The true importance of interpreting Scripture with Scripture is the other option is much more dangerous.
If I don’t interpret a passage with its context, then it’s interpreted with my own ideas. And we can very easily emphasise secondary things, while ignoring the passages main truth.
Last week we had a great discussion about the mark of the beast, and “666” in Revelation 13. One of the students thought the number in particular had to be very significant. But as we looked through the passage, it became clear the beasts marking was secondary.
The primary truth was the Anti-Christs demand that all of the people in the world worship him. This demand came from Satan, who from the very beginning, wanted to be “like the most high.”
So what does the number 666 mean?
Listen to me very carefully….
we don’t know!
And thats okay, because God didn’t emphasise that in Scripture. If He wanted us to make the number of the beast an emphasis, the Lord would have put it in more Scripture.
God does not need me to speak for Him. If I study His word, the Holy Spirit promises to reveal His truth.