The Complete Book of Bible Prophecy. By Mark Hitchcock. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999. 243 pages. Paper, $11.99.
JOTGES readers might question the relevancy of reviewing a prophecy book in a journal that typically confines itself to issues related to eternal salvation. Yet, why not review a book on prophecy? After all, biblical salvation includes the past, the present, and the future. God has revealed the glorious future of His saints as well as the doom of sinners. Mark Hitchcock does a beautiful job of covering these and more in this brief book.
Hitchcock writes with a crisp style utilizing a variety of images to express his ideas. The book’s structure is built around lists, which actually makes the content more memorable.
This book is ambitious, beginning with its title: The Complete Book of Bible Prophecy. Estimates vary but about 27% of the Bible was prophetic when it was penned. The majority of these prophecies are yet unfulfilled (these are the subject of this book). That is a lot to squeeze into just over 200 pages. Yet the author has succeeded. All this to say it is a thorough work undergirded with much scholarship and research.
Hitchcock has done a masterful job of simplifying complex ideas and terms without sacrificing content. A novice on prophetic issues could pick up this volume and, by the end, understand terms likePremillennial, Amillennial, and Postmillennial, as well as Pretribulational, Midtribulational, and Posttribulational. (The author is Premillennial and Pretribulational.) The same novice could grasp the chronological flow of prophecy and gain insights into many other details.
In spite of its simplicity in communication, this book is not limited to the biblical novice. All students of prophecy gain as they read widely, and this paperback packs more that one would expect. Even a life-long student of eschatology can glean new insights, as well as new ways to teach prophecy. Seminary professors should acquire this book for its ability to communicate the complex in simple terms.
It would be disappointing to read a book on prophecy and not come away with anything related to our wonderful salvation in Jesus Christ. Hitchcock has not let his readers down.
First, the author holds to eternal security. For example, when elucidating the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and the cultural insights that explain the phases of this event, he states, “The divine bridegroom will never violate his betrothal, and the Father will never take back his dowry” (p. 62).
Second, he gives ample space to the doctrine of rewards and the Judgment Seat of Christ, which he nicknames “the crowning day.” After listing seven future judgments, he goes into detail about the judgment of believers. Various areas of our lives to be evaluated are listed with support from generous portions of Scripture. Hitchcock reviews the five “crowns” to be given as rewards and states, “This present age is training time for reigning time” (p. 52).
Finally he speaks of preparing for test day with an appeal to take action now. His exhortations for believers to live in light of the fact that our lives will come under final review are right on target.
A third area of interest is that the author presents the gospel twice (pp. 138-39 and 226-27) with unusual and refreshing clarity. He emphasizes that salvation is a gift and that a person’s works cannot save. The book concludes with a section on “How can I be sure I’ll go to Heaven?” In answering this question, he makes it clear that God sent His Son to die as a substitute for sinful people, and that salvation is a gift and cannot be earned by our works. He ends the book with this—”When you trust Christ, you will immediately have a place reserved for you in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). You can be sure from this time on that you will go to heaven either at the Rapture or when the Lord calls you home” (p. 227). What better way to conclude a book on prophecy than with an appeal to the reader to trust Christ? This broadens its usefulness as an evangelistic tract to unbelievers who are interested in future things.
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