(Originally printed in the Fall 2010 Issue of the MCOI Journal beginning on page 12)
Ron Rhodes is incredibly prolific and his book, The Popular Dictionary of Bible Prophecy, is a fantastic resource book. Where else can I get over 350 terms and concepts regarding Bible prophecy defined and explained? Would it take a year attending seminary? Not really. Having Ron Rhodes’ new book would be the answer. I would suggest reading through it, but it can be consulted as one would consult a small dictionary.
Ron is founder and president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries; and over the years, he has proven to be balanced and biblical. He writes on a wide range of biblical topics, as well as, apologetic and cult issues. With such a good track record, we can have confidence in his competent handling of God’s Word.
In Ron’s “Introduction,” he tells us more about the design and scope of the book:
The study of prophecy or the end times is known in theological circles as eschatology. This term is derived from two Greek words: eschatos, meaning “last” or “last things,” and logos, meaning “study of.” Eschatology is the study of last things, or study of the end times.
Eschatology can logically be broken down into two primary fields of study. Personal eschatology concerns things such as death, the future judgment, heaven, and hell. (These are matters related to each person.) General eschatology concerns more general matters, such as the rapture, the Tribulation, the second coming of Christ, the millennial kingdom, and the eternal state. For your benefit, this dictionary contains common terms related to both personal and general eschatology.” (p.5)
We live during days of uncertainty. It is even more confusing, because these also are days of deception. Add to this the extremes we see all around us. There is the extreme of disinterest in the Bible; and then on the opposite pole, there are those who indulge in newspaper eschatology—trying to twist the Scripture to fit into the latest headlines. Within that sub culture, there are date-setters, date-suggesters, and identifiers of the antichrist. What is needed is a sane, sound, balanced, biblical approach to the End Times. Ron’s new The Popular Dictionary of Bible Prophecy gives us that.
Consider the issue of America in prophecy. It is more and more becoming a topic of discussion as well as conjecture. Some have wandered into extreme wild and unbiblical speculations. For starters: Is America in prophecy at all? Why, or why not? On pages 18-23 of The Popular Dictionary of Bible Prophecy, the issue is treated in detail. It will tell you what you need to know and why.
Some are puzzled by terms such as Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Preterism. What do they mean, and what makes them different from each another? Events like the Tribulation are explained. Places that figure into Bible prophecy are described. Even theological words not found in the Bible, but which are terms used to describe concepts regarding future events are handled in understandable ways.
Is there a difference between Hades and Hell? What about Tartarus? Find out when you look up each name in either the “H” or “T” sections of this book. Then there is the Old Testament word Sheol, and nuances we should know about that place.
Where there are differences in prophetic viewpoints, they are not side stepped, but rather, explained; and the author is not afraid to share his view, and why he holds to that view. Readers at any level (first timers or schooled reviewers) will easily grasp the explanations.
There are other topics that are nice extras and somewhat related to the major topic of prophecy. For instance, since astrologers claim to divine and forecast the future, there are a little better than four pages on Astrology.
There are entries on Blasphemy and Date Setting, Death and Demons as well as The Elect. Places often play an important part in the setting of prophecies. Armageddon, Babylon, Ephesus, Euphrates River, Gog, Gomer, Laodicea, Sardis and so many others are looked at. On pages 281-284, Ron examines Satan and all his titles and descriptions.
Another plus of this book is the overview of books of the Bible that figure into prophecy. Brief surveys of books like Habakkuk, Isaiah, Joel, Zechariah and Zephaniah (and others) are covered. There also are four pages detailing all of the Messianic Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.
Ron’s apologetic skills kick in as he gives us entries on Ultradispensationalism and Universalism. What about words like Maranatha and Wormwood? One might decide to teach from portions of this book or use the definitions for sharing with a class. Some of the topics might make for a short Bible study. There are myriad ways to mine the contents. You will be very glad you did. You and others will profit much.