Many Bible prophecies indicate that before Jesus Christ returns, modern religious leaders will make the same mistakes—they will fail to understand Scripture, they will mislead sincere people about spiritual matters, and they will be blind to the real significance of important events that are shaping the world in which we live!
Jesus Christ pointedly said of the religious leaders of His day, "They are blind leaders of the blind" (Matthew 15:14). Jesus also charged that members of the religious establishment did not understand Scripture (Mark 12:24), and that they were "blind guides… fools… hypocrites" misleading people in spiritual matters (see Matthew 23). In their blindness, the religious leaders of His day failed to recognize Jesus as the prophesied Messiah. And many Bible prophecies indicate that before Jesus Christ returns, modern religious leaders will make the same mistakes—they will fail to understand Scripture, they will mislead sincere people about spiritual matters, and they will be blind to the real significance of important events that are shaping the world in which we live!
Many Bible prophecies have a dual application. Their initial fulfillment was in the days of the prophets, yet their ultimate fulfillment will be at the end of the age, just prior to Jesus Christ's return. Notice what Isaiah prophesied about the Israelites' religious leaders, then and now: "The priest and the prophet have erred… They err in vision, they stumble in judgment" (Isaiah 28:7). Isaiah described Israel's irresponsible leaders: "His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant… they are shepherds who cannot understand" (Isaiah 56:10–11). The Israelite peoples and their religious leaders have become blind, because they have failed to follow the instructions in God's word (Deuteronomy 28:15, 28). This theme runs throughout Scripture (Isaiah 6:9-10; Ezekiel 12:2; 13:1–23). The Apostle Paul explained that Satan actually blinds the minds of those who choose not to believe the Bible (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
Jeremiah foresaw a future time when "the prophets become wind, for the word [of God] is not in them" (Jeremiah 5:13). He wrote: "They prophesied by Baal and caused My people Israel to err… Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless ["fill you with false hopes," NIV]; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord… I have not sent these prophets… who try to make My people forget My name… I am against the prophets… who cause My people to err by their lies and recklessness" (Jeremiah 23:13, 16, 21, 27, 30, 32). Jeremiah's sobering conclusion regarding these prophecies is: "In the latter days you will understand it perfectly" (Jeremiah 23:20).
How do religious leaders mislead people today? Most professing Christians are taught that Christmas, Easter and Sunday worship are fundamental observances of the Christian religion. Yet, when you carefully study the Bible and history, you find that early Christians did not celebrate Jesus' birth, and they knew He was not born on December 25. Many Christmas customs come not from the Bible, but from pagan Roman Saturnalia celebrations. Christ's first followers did not observe Easter, but rather followed Jesus' example and kept the Passover (Luke 2:41; 22:15–16). When you look up "Easter" in reference books, you quickly discover its pagan origins. Christ's first followers did not keep Sunday, but instead followed Jesus' example and observed a seventh-day Sabbath (see Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2; 13:14, 42–44). Sunday worship was also borrowed from the pagans, and invested with "Christian" meaning by church leaders in the time of Constantine. Christmas and Easter were adopted by church councils centuries later—even though there are no biblical commands to observe them! In fact, the Bible clearly warns: "When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.'" (Deuteronomy 12:29–30). Modern religious leaders either ignore these clear biblical warnings, or are ignorant of them—and most professing Christians today follow blindly along (see Jeremiah 5:31).
Liberal religious leaders and secular opinion makers are tragically misleading society in the crucial area of moral behavior. The Bible proclaims: "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil" (Isaiah 5:20). The God of the Bible clearly states, "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14) and says He "hates divorce" (Malachi 2:16). Scripture plainly teaches Christians to "flee sexual immorality" (1 Corinthians 6:18). The Bible calls homosexual conduct an "abomination" (Leviticus 18:22). Yet leaders today have established "no fault" divorce laws, distributed birth control devices to teenagers and winked at cohabitation. Such misguided policies have created a society where sexual activity is encouraged, where teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are epidemic, and where half of all marriages fail. Many religious leaders today perform same-sex marriages, and urge their flocks to accept homosexuality as morally right—even welcoming into the ministry individuals openly practicing these behaviors in spite of Scripture's clear warnings! Countless popular preachers teach that the laws of God need no longer be observed. Not surprisingly, modern news media regularly carry stories about priests, preachers and politicians who, when they are found guilty of child molestation, adultery, fornication, lying, cheating and stealing, claim to be "Christians" and refuse to leave their positions—and are often still accepted and supported by their followers.
Many today do not realize that by rejecting the moral guidelines of Scripture, and instead blindly following "liberated" intellectuals and social engineers, our society has simply returned to the moral decay that the Apostle Paul saw in ancient Rome (see Romans 1:18–32). This is why the God of the Bible prophetically warns, "those who handle the law [the priests] did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me… Your own wickedness will correct you… you have forsaken the Lord your God" (Jeremiah 2:8, 19).
Jesus told His disciples to "watch" for a specific series of world events that will indicate His return is near (see Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). In recent years, these events have become more apparent, and they appear to be nearing a crescendo today. Yet many religious leaders downplay or ignore these prophecies, proclaiming that we cannot know when Christ will return—or if He will return at all. Critics today attack Scripture, calling it a collection of fables, claiming that the idea of God is a delusion and saying that Jesus (if He even existed) was sadly mistaken about His mission and identity. This widespread skepticism about Scripture, and the doubts and ignorance about Bible prophecies, should not be a surprise. The Apostle Peter prophesied that "scoffers will come in the last days"—people willingly ignorant of what the Bible clearly records (2 Peter 3:1–9). Because most people today (including many religious leaders) do not know or believe the Bible, they do not realize that Satan has blinded and deceived the whole world (2 Corinthians 4:3–4; Revelation 12:9). This is why the religious leaders of the Israelite nations are "blind watchmen" leading the blind! Jesus said that when He returns, most people will be caught off-guard (Mark 13:32–37)—having been lulled to sleep by leaders who had no idea of what was happening! We need to wake up and open our eyes, because these prophecies are coming alive today!