Biblical Prophesy: its power and its inherent danger
No other book ever written has such an abundance of confirmed prophesy like the Bible. Actually no other book even attempts to forecast what the future will look like! Only the Holy Bible dares to predict what will happen 100’s if not 1000’s of years into the future. Confucianism doesn’t predict the future. Hinduism doesn’t either. Islam doesn’t either really, except when, in an incredible case of irony, they fall back on the Biblical references of Jesus as a coming Messiah who, they believe, will return to earth at the end of this age.
Folks, prophecy (foretelling the future) is unique to our God-breathed Scriptures!! Biblical prophesy, when used properly, strengthens and encourages believers. At one point in His ministry Jesus changed His approach in speaking to His followers and openly told them the future so that when it came to pass they would believe in Him.
“From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.” (John 13:19)
In 2 Chron 20:20 we find a powerful affirmation of prophets and prophesy:
“Listen to Me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the Lord your God, and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.”
In Revelation we are told that by simply reading and hearing the words of the prophesy we will obtain a special blessing from God.
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophesy and heed the things that are written it it.” Rev 1: 3
Obviously there is tremendous strength and blessing as we study and meditate on Prophetic Scripture. Oh, that the church would follow the apostle Peter’s advice and make careful searches of God’s Word:
“The prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” (I Peter 1: 10-11)
Prophecy’s Inherent Danger
“We may be very sure that the careless and erroneous way in which Christendom has interpreted Prophetic Scripture, has greatly tended to increase the Infidelity that now prevails so widely… When carelessness desires not to know, it can soon find excuses for not knowing. ” (B.W. Newton)
Tragically for the church throughout the ages, satan, the father of lies and deceiver of the whole world (John 8; Rev 12), also knows the power and blessing that will come upon God’s children by knowing the future! For this reason he has continuously and cunningly trampled on God’s prophetic voice. Satan did it in the first century by hiding the truth from the Jewish people regarding Christ’s First Coming and now he is muddying the waters and hiding the truth in regards to Jesus’ Second Coming.
Author and speaker David Pawson picks up on this theme in his book Unlocking the Bible:
“[Satan] knows that it is so easy to get Christians unbalanced about the Second Coming, either by ignorance or fanaticism.” (emphasis added)
Those two little words, ignorance or fanaticism, shed much light on our current struggle to bring the church “up-to-date” regarding Prophetic Scripture concerning the End Times and Christ’s Second Coming.
Let’s look again at Satan’s deception he flung on the First Century Jews.
The people of Israel, fresh off the exhilarating experiences such as the feeding of the 5000, and Jesus walking on water, knew that something was up. The multitudes saw in Christ’s miracles and teaching the promised Messiah, whom they called ”the Prophet” (John 7:40).
Some Jews, however, even though they knew the scriptures well, were apparently not able to recognize Jesus as their Messiah because they were “stuck” in an conviction that “the Christ” can not come from Galilee.
Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ [Messiah] is not going to come from Galilee, is He? Has not Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” (John 7:41-42)
Repeating the Mistakes of History
Here is where we repeat the past mistakes of our forefathers. We take partial truths, albeit direct from the pages of Scriptures, and hunker down on them. We draw our own conclusions and add to it a favorite preacher here and a Internet teaching there… The result, we can get easily “stuck” on hastily drawn conclusions that lead to either fanaticism or keep us in ignorance regarding Prophetic Scripture.
Either way, fanaticism or ignorance, it seems satan is wining. To prove my point, I suggest that most believers have already accepted the “theology of the day” and throw their hands in the air and say that the books of Revelation or Daniel are too complicated, too symbolic, for them to grasp their meaning. UNtold millions of other believers are l”ocked into a faulty teaching”, acquired by whatever means – a favorite teacher, parents, etc. – so that they can not receive the truth that is really there in Scripture .
In the famous Olivet Discourse, Jesus warned that people might be “offended” when things don’t work out per our doctrine in the Last Days (Mt 24:10). We need to have more honest and open discussions before the End Time events start to unfold. The church must be in “one accord” as we approach the final hours of this age and transition into the age to come.
John the Baptist, sitting in a cruel prison, evidently lost his way in his belief of who Jesus was:
“Are You the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
He had correctly prophesied of Jesus that “He will gather His wheat into the barn” but John could not break himself free of a traditional and incomplete interpretation of the second part of his own prediction: “He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire”. John had correctly seen Jesus gather His wheat but lost his way in misunderstanding the fullness of Jesus’ mission, which would only be accomplished at the end of this age, when the “chaff would be burned in the fire”.
May the church come alive unto all the prophetic truths found in Scriptures and be prepared and occupied until His Return.