Prophecy and Scripture
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 2 Lesson 10 Sabbath Afternoon
What is the primary purpose of Bible prophecy? Is it:
- To give us the ability to know the future before it happens?
- To map out future events and plan what to do?
- To demonstrate God has foreknowledge and nothing catches Him by surprise and thus increase our confidence in God?
If the last is the reason for Bible prophecy, when in the flow of time do we get to experience that confidence from the prophecy—before or after the events happen? After!
What is the Bible principle regarding how we understand prophecy?
If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:22
“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. John 14:28,29
So, if you were to utilize these directions, when are you able to do so, when the prophecy is given, but before the events prophesied take place, or after the events prophecy take place?
The primary purpose of Bible prophecy is to be experienced AFTER events happen, then we can have increased confidence in God who foreknew and was not taken by surprise.
There is a secondary purpose for prophecy, which is what? To give us general warnings and safeguards but not a specific road map of exactly who, what, when and where.
Jesus’ prophecy about persecution of the saints, of the events prior to the second coming, about false Messiah’s going into the world, about not seeking to find Him in the secret meeting but as the sun shines from the east to west. Notice, these types of prophesies give measurable, testable, but non- specific points which keep us from going down wrong paths.
It is usually only after the events happen that we are able to fill in the specifics of who, what, when, and where.
Why is that? First because the prophesies themselves are not specific, but why are the prophesies not specific?
If God does know the future before it happens, why doesn’t He provide detail prophecies, with persons, places, times, dates and exact events?
Have you ever considered how your life would be different if you knew with 100% certainty the following:
- The specific day, time and method of your death?
- The specific day and time of the Second Coming of Christ?
If you knew the specifics of either of these would it impact how you lived today? How?
If you knew the second coming wasn’t for another 700 years, would that encourage or discourage you? Would you be tempted to become apathetic?
If you knew with 100% certainty that Christ would appear in the clouds with all His holy angels three days from now at 2:14 p.m. would you do anything different? Would you write the bills due at the end of the week, mow the lawn, go to work, etc?
If you knew you wouldn’t die until 2034, would you be less or more cautious? Might you take some more risks?
Might a person become less concerned about eternity thinking, “Oh, I’ve got time”?
Is there a reason God gives prophecy in general terms that give us guidance yet that we often don’t understand specifically until after the events have transpired?
Even with the prophecies to Nebuchadnezzar, the specifics of when, who, and how were not told, only the large landscape of subsequent kingdoms.
How does this impact our lives today?
We should not get caught up into being overly concerned with every interpretation of Bible prophecy, particularly if they are about future events with overly detailed specifics. They are most likely going to have inaccuracies in them.
We should review Bible prophecies that have been fulfilled using them as evidences to build our confidence in God, and understand the general themes of prophecies yet to come.
Memory text: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” 2nd Peter 1:19
To what is Peter referring: primarily about prognostication or about the testimony of God’s spokespersons?
Here is the same passage from the NIV:
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.
What have God’s spokespersons been telling us? Primarily prophesying specific dates, times, places, events, or proclaiming a promise, proclaiming the truth about God, His character, methods, and the Remedy/Savior named Jesus who would come and fulfill all God’s promises to heal and fix what sin has done to God’s creation? And this is known as the mystery of God—the truth about God and His actions to heal and restore His creation!
Yes, it is true that the prophets spoke of unfolding truth about God in events yet to come, thus it was prognostic, but what the prophets spoke was so much more than merely predicting future events. The prophets proclaimed universal eternal truth; they proclaimed God’s character, methods, and love all of which have their origin in God, were obscured by Satan’s lies and would be revealed in Jesus.
Thus the sure word spoken by God’s prophets has always been, and will always be, the truth about God, sometimes this also includes prognostication.
Could Satan trick people into miss the truth about God by getting them so focused on the prognostic details they don’t even consider what the prophet is saying about God?
Could there be people, entire churches, who value Bible prophecy so much they make certain elements of Bible prophecy a test of fellowship and actually argue if you don’t come to the same conclusion you will be lost—say something like finding in Bible prophecy a specific day of worship and arguing if you worship on a specific day you will get the mark of the beast?
What is wrong with such an approach? It misses the truth of God’s character and actually misapplies the prophecy to misrepresent God.
And what is the result Peter points forward toward as a result of the sure word from the prophets? That the Day Star will arise in our hearts.
What is this? This is Jesus—this is being transformed in the inner person, this is partaking the divine nature, this is circumcision of the heart by the Spirit; this is the Spirit taking the perfect character of Jesus and reproducing it in us!
But the light, the truth about God, is shining into a dark place—where is that dark place?
The minds of human beings—and what has made that place dark? The lies about God Satan has told and we have believed.
Is this not what Peter is talking about when he describes the Day Star dawning in our hearts?
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