In these days, when people are searching for meaning and truth, for purpose and hope, I can think of no better source for guidance than the Holy Scriptures.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul writes that all of God’s Word is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” That includes God’s prophetic Word. God intends that we understand the contents of the prophetic Word and that it will have a bearing upon the practical decisions we Christians make.
Within the pages of the Scriptures, we find the word of God, speaking to us as clearly as He spoke to His 12 original disciples — and we modern-day disciples know that we, too, must hear the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, to be about our calling.
To put it simply, we study the Bible because we want and need to know what God is calling us to do.
Prophecy is a Validator of Scripture
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. [2 Peter 1:19]
Fulfilled prophecy is one of the best evidences that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. The Bible contains hundreds of fulfilled secular prophecies pertaining to cities, nations, empires, and individuals. No other book in all the world has a record like this.
- The literal fulfillment of its prophecies demonstrates that biblical prophecy is accurate.
- Prophecy reveals our Lord as He really is.
For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” [Revelation 19:10]
There is no reason for prophecy to divert anyone’s attention away from Jesus. In fact, it should serve to emphasize the centrality of Jesus. Biblical prophecies about Jesus Christ begin in Genesis with the Garden of Eden and climax in the last book of the Bible, with its theme “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” The Bible contains more than 300 prophecies about the first coming of Jesus, all of which were literally fulfilled. Every aspect of the life of Jesus was prophesied – the place of His birth, the nature of His birth, the quality of His ministry, the purpose of His life, and the agony of His death. The literal fulfillment of so many prophecies in the life of one individual transcends any mere coincidence and serves to validate that Jesus was who He said He was – the divine Son of God.
With even greater detail, God wrote an “address” in history to single out his Son, the Messiah, the Savior of mankind, from anyone who has ever lived in history – past, present, and future. The specifics of this “address” can be found in the Old Testament, a document written over a period of 1,000 years which contains over 300 references to his coming. Using the science of probability, we find the chances of just forty-eight of these prophecies being fulfilled in one person to be only one in ten raised to the 157th power!!.
The task of matching up God’s address with one man is further complicated by the fact that all the prophecies of the Messiah were made at least 400 years before he was to appear. Some might disagree and say that these prophecies were written down after the time of Christ and fabricated to coincide with his life. This might sound feasible until you realize that the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, was translated around 150-200 B.C. This Greek translation shows that there was at least a two hundred-year gap between the prophecies being recorded and their fulfillment in Christ.
Certainly God was writing an “address” in history that only the Messiah could fulfill. There have been approximately forty major claims by men to be the Jewish Messiah. But only one – Jesus Christ – appealed to fulfilled prophecy to substantiate his claims, and only his credentials back up those claims.
It’s practical relevance is attested to in that all the NT writers testify to the fact that the study of prophecy will motivate holy living. And what could be more practical than that? It is easier to resist temptation when you know what your actions will ultimately bring. By describing both the destruction of earth and the glories of heaven, God motivates us to “lay up treasures in heaven” rather than live for earthly pleasures.
The study of prophecy brings about a life-change.
The Bible is relevant to all of life and for those who read it and heed it, it changes their lives. When I began my study of prophecy, I suppose my goal was to gain a better understanding of an apparent esoteric subject. What I eventually gained was something I never planned for – an increased feeling of urgency. I began to discover the relevance of the Bible for current life. Every issue that society struggles with today had been dealt with in antiquity. Through the pages of Scripture I read about how problems developed, their impact on society, and the outcome. I have become more aware of the relationship of contemporary issues to the larger picture of humankind and ultimately eternity.
The study of prophecy promotes an evangelistic church.
Prophecy can be used as a very effective tool of evangelism, as illustrated in the story of Philip and the Eunuch (Acts 8:26ff). Philip used Isaiah’s great suffering lamb passage (Isa. 53) to teach that Jesus is the lamb who was slain for the sins of the world. Matthew and Peter both used fulfilled prophecy in the life of Jesus as one of their basic evangelistic tools (see 2 Peter 1:16-19).
Prophecy offers confident hope in a hopeless age.
The world is drowning in discouragement and uncertainty. Whether people are talking about the economy, politics, the Middle East, terrorists, crime, drugs, or even the weather, most people feel as though they have lost control of their destiny. We need not be frightened by events shaping up in our world if we know Jesus as Savior and know His promises contained in the Bible. God has given us glimpses of the future to remind us that He is in control. Evil might flourish for now but we can know that Satan and his demons will be thrown into the lake of fire at the end, the church might be apostate now but in the end the true and faithful church will be taken to heaven to rule with Christ.
We do not need to be overly alarmed or discouraged.
Rather, we can have joy because we can know the outcome.
We’ve read the last chapter, the last page.
We know the outcome and we know who wins!
A proper understanding of prophecy arms the believer against false prophets.
Those who study biblical prophecy will have less difficulty distinguishing balanced from unbalanced teaching than will those who do not search the Scriptures.
In Peter’s second epistle, he warns that one of the signs of the end times will be the appearance of “scoffers” who will cast scorn and ridicule on the promise of our Lord’s return (2 Peter 3:3ff). The great tragedy of our day is that many of the loudest scoffers are religious leaders who profess to follow Christ.
In mainline and liberal church culture, prophecy language is only remotely understood – if at all. Many who claim the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible are really only attempting to justify their own interpretation as being ‘true.’ Christians who hold certain millennial theologies gather around them those who teach their own views and readily reject other views. They refuse to look at evidence that challenges their own view and are “blinded” to the truth.
That’s a variation of the New Age lie, “there are many ways to God.” Only one can be true. Cults and many denominations are founded on their own brand of truth. Such leaders crucified Jesus the first time He came and they now scoff at His promise to return.
The very essence of truth does not allow for multiple interpretations.