Prophecy, by its very nature, tells us something about the future. It may also proclaim practical everyday spiritual truths. But what makes it unique is that it comes from a divine, super-human intelligence which we call God. God is not restricted by time and space. Past, present, and future are all like different chapters in the same book to him. In God's eternal present, he can look ahead and see what is going to happen; and he can move back to our present and tell us what he knows. Doing this does not mean that God has forced anything to happen. He just happens to know ahead of time; and telling us some of what he knows becomes one of many parts that make up the overall formula that will finally result in what was predicted.

Think of it like a video of a football game. No matter how many times you watch it, the same team will always win. It isn't that the game was fixed, or that the winning team had no choice in the matter. It's just that what you see on the video is what actually happened as a result of everyone's free will.

The same is true when God tells us what is going to happen in the future. We should probably be thankful that he doesn't go into more detail than he does, or it could really get us tangled up in knots, either worrying that we might mess things up, or struggling to change the predicted results.

So if you're looking for a way to cheat fate through understanding prophecy,forget it. The prophecy itself is inescapable. After a period of struggling against it, each person must eventually come to the realisation that what has been prophesied will, indeed, happen, no matter what choices they as individuals make. God's reason for telling us something about the future is not so that we will try to change it, but rather so that we can learn lessons from it that will result in changes within ourselves.

In one of the Back to the Future movies, a character finds a book listing the winners of various horse races, and he pockets it, with the hope of being able to take it back to the present, where he will then use the information in it to make big bets on those same races. Unfortunately, in one way or another, this is how most so-called believers approach Bible prophecy. But it simply won't work.

It isn't as though we've stumbled on God's personal diary without him knowing about it, so that now we can outsmart him by being there when wealth is to be distributed, and by not being there when punishments are to be handed out.

In the John Cleese movie Time Bandits, some fallen angels steal a map of the universe which shows some glitches in the time-space continuum, and they decide to capitalise on these little holes from one age into another by becoming robbers. They use the time warps as foolproof getaways. But what they don't know is that The Creator himself has set them up, so that they will lead him to the glitches and enable him to make the necessary corrections.

This is an important lesson, and one that needs to be made clear right from the start of this book: You are only kidding yourself if you think that you can use what you learn here for selfish gain. No matter what you do, you will still end up playing into God's hand.

God does occasionally use his knowledge of the future to prepare people in advance for disasters, etc. He did that when he prepared Noah for the flood. He told Noah it was coming, and then he gave him instructions on how to avoid it. But remember that he did it because He chose to do it, and because He believed that Noah was the right person to trust with the information. Noah didn't "study" God to nut out a way to escape the flood. It took supernatural assistance from God for Noah to learn that the flood was coming in the first place, and it took supernatural assistance from God for Noah to find a way to escape it. Noah had to stay in touch with God from start to finish to be saved. He couldn't just grab the disaster plan and run off with it to some secret hideout where he would devise his own scheme for salvation.  If you're not willing to do it God's way, then you are just going to end up running around in circles, and you may as well put this book down now. He set it up that way, and there is no way around it.

Of course Noah wasn't the only one who was warned. You don't build a full scale replica of the Titanic in your back yard without people asking a few questions about how you plan to launch it. So the general public more or less knew what was coming; and yet there was something missing in their spiritual make-up that blinded them to what was really needed to keep from being drowned. Some may have started swimming lessons. Others may have bought row boats and kept them in the garage. But whatever they did, it didn't save them in the end. And this is how it works with any knowledge about the future.
The only way to change your fate is to change your attitudes.

Forget about prophecy for a moment and think about the future in general. If you do, you will see just how useless knowledge of the future can be if people don't have the right attitude toward it. I will illustrate this:

Nurses are one of the most informed groups of workers on the dangers of smoking; and yet the nursing profession in Australia has one of the highest incidences of cigarette smoking of all vocational groups. Simply knowing ahead of time that cigarette smoking will cause lung cancer does not appear to be enough to make these people stop smoking. A little knowledge can be dangerous. Sometimes those who know the most about the future assume they are so smart that they will be able to escape the consequences at the last minute; and so they end up taking even greater risks than those who are less informed.

Can you see the lesson here with regard to Bible prophecy? If you learn some things about the future from this book, it could end up making you more reckless than ever, and prove to be more harmful than if you had stayed blissfully ignorant… unless you change your attitudes.

Now for another illustration. The one thing we all know with absolute certainty about the future is that we are going to die. But what have we done about it? Most of us prefer not to think about dying. We try to blot it out of our minds. When someone is seriously ill, we shunt them off to a hospital, out of sight and away from the real world. All references to death are pretty much hushed up or avoided in our everyday conversations. Apparently what we know most certainly about the future we would rather not know. 

Yet if it was possible to discover exactly what day and place, and under exactly what circumstances we would eventually die, most of us would not be able to resist trying to locate it. We would want to know, but then we wouldn't know how to handle the information once we had it.

If we did know the exact details of our death, we would almost certainly ruin the rest of our lives by trying to manipulate things so that we would not be in that place on that day, or at least not under those circumstances. This is definitely not the way that we are supposed to act on knowledge of the future; and such an approach will not change the future.

How much better it would be if people would just accept that they are going to die, and then do all they can to make each day count for good between now and when they go. Instead, we waste our time trying to put off or trying to escape facing something that we all know is inevitable.

Now let's return to Bible prophecy. There is a growing number of people who have discovered what the Bible says about the world today. They know that a world government is coming which will eventually turn evil. Sadly, one of the most widely identifiable traits of these Bible prophecy enthusiasts (at least in Australia and America) is their strong advocacy for freedom to own guns. They do this because they want to protect themselves from this coming world government. Their fear about what is coming has led them to think that they can stop it if they just stockpile enough firearms. People in this group also believe in a wide range of conspiracy theories. Many of the theories they espouse show strong signs of paranoia, religious bigotry and racism. Some of the individuals in the prophecy-believing group started with valid revelations about the future, but the fear that it generated within them led them to be sucked in by some of the most bizarre and ridiculous claims that the human mind could imagine. Some of these people have even become a serious threat to minority groups such as Aborigines and Jews.

Sadly, nothing seems to be more effective in turning people off the whole subject of Bible prophecy than taking a close look at the people who profess most strongly to believe in it. Their knowledge of the future has led them to mount various campaigns to save the world from the coming one-world government. But these same campaigns may have unwittingly sped up the very process that they wanted to stop.

Consider a recent political movement in Australia for example. A woman named Pauline Hanson found strong support from gun-toting fundamentalist Christians who feared a one-world government they saw predicted in the Bible. But the end result was that they brought the other political parties (and the media) closer together in opposition to her. In other words, big government gets bigger and more united, and gains approval for more power for itself, when the public can be shown that a little group of fanatic racists might be plotting to take over the country. The general public did not want to return to the kind of reactionary right-wing philosophies that people fell for in Germany prior to World War II; so they united against such a movement.

Sociologists call this phenomena a "self-fulfilling prophecy". When someone believes strongly enough that an evil government is coming, they will be tempted to react so strongly against the existing government that they will force it to become even stronger as it seeks to defend itself. In other words, their belief alone is enough to make the prophecy come to pass.

But now consider the other possibility. Suppose Pauline Hanson's people had been successful in achieving all the political power that they wanted. Suppose that the sky was the limit. How much power would it take before they would feel that the world was safe from the evil government that they feared? Because they had not thought through such issues to the ultimate conclusion, they had no concept of a point where they could say, "This is enough power." Their paranoia would justify every new measure to increase power for themselves, until they themselves would eventually become the evil world government that they originally feared. As someone has said, "We all believe in total control, as long as we are the ones who wield it." 

So either way, whether it comes from the Right or from the Left, the world is going to eventually have a single world government; and it is going to eventually abuse the power that it receives. What is going to happen is going to happen, and just knowing that it is going to happen does not equip anyone to stop it. This is how it works with most Bible prophecies. Even if you knew the exact time and date when the world would end, it wouldn't do you one bit of good if you were not ready to make the same drastic changes in your life that you should have made just by knowing that you are going to die one day. What it takes to prepare for the end of the world is exactly the same as what it takes to prepare to die.

Having said that (and you will hear much the same again later in this book), there is no doubt in this author's mind that most of you are going to ignore it (if, in fact, you bothered to read this chapter at all). All you really want to know is when it is all going to happen, and what proof there is for such claims. And you want to know it so that you can set about devising a way to alter (or to disprove) it. But that's your problem.

We will move on now to more of the specifics.