There was a time back several years ago that I listened to a lot of the end times prophecy people on the radio. (I don't remember for sure, but I don't think I ever listened to Missler.) They seemed to contradict each other a lot, those who set dates were completely wrong, and it was just this endless confusion of opinion. I couldn't see any point to it so after a while I just said "enough is enough" and dropped the whole thing.
What most of the prophecy teachers do is work out some type of script, then sift through current events and try to match up things with the script of the end times to predict where we are in the script. The big problem for me was I never understood what I was supposed to get out of all this. How is it supposed to help me or anybody to know what the script is and when it will be fulfilled? That's too much like soothsaying and astrology for me. It seemed more like some type of game where you decode the secret message to show how clever you are. I just didn't get the fascination with it, I suppose.
But that leaves me with a question - why is the Bible full of prophetic writings? Much of the OT prophecies seem to deal with events that were fulfilled already. That's especially true of the Messianic portions, but also for some (if not most) of the doom and gloom, death and destruction on Israel as well. So, what good is prophecy after the fact? Certainly it can help someone who questions if there is a God, or if God is really intervening in human history. But, I already believe in God and know He is in control of human history. So, again, what's the point of all that prophecy in the Bible for someone who believes in Jesus already? Because of that I concentrated Bible studies on things like the Psalms, the Gospel, and the epistles of Paul and pretty much ignored the OT prophecies. If the just shall live by faith, and we walk by faith not by sight, and Jesus wants to know if there will be faith on the earth when He comes, then it seems to me I want to know what faith is and how I get more of it. The rest will then take care of itself.
I'm not sure when or how it happened, but at some point I began to realize there was more to the prophetic writings than just foretelling the future. They embodied spiritual principles. What the prophecies show is first WHY things are going to happen. Then, they explain HOW God intervenes in the world. Combined together you get a good picture of the ways of God. An example of this is Zechariah 12 that I was reading this past week.
"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." (Zec 12:2-3)
"In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem. The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah. In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them." (Zec 12:6-8)
My thinking goes this way: If this prophecy is just about the Jews, and I'm not a Jew, then what does this do for me? Nothing? But, consider it more generally, as a parable, and there is a very good message here. The word translated "governors" can be understood as the whole clan, or just as the chieftains of the clan. In either case, if we are kinsmen, joint-heirs with Christ, then that verse can be applied to us as well. If it refers to the whole clan, then it can be interpreted as the Church. If it means just the chieftains, then it is interpreted as the ministers of the Gospel. We are grafted onto the root of Judah and all that is said about the House of Judah can be applied to all who are in Christ. The same goes for Jerusalem. It can be used as a metaphor of the "City of God" - the Kingdom of heaven in other words - and that applies to my spiritual dwelling place. The prophecy teaches that the Kingdom of Heaven is surrounded by the world, but is a stone that cannot be moved from its place. The saints and/or ministers are like a fire that cannot be put out but instead burns up everything in the way. Even the least of the saints is as strong and courageous as David. David, being a type of the Messiah, then becomes a reference to Jesus. This can be interpreted that we have the same spiritual strength given to us that Jesus had. That message builds up my faith.
When read in that manner, this prophecy applies to all places and times, not just some point in the past or some point in the future.