Almost 30% of the Bible is prophecy, so why would we not study nearly a third of the Bible? Yet, on one side of the spectrum, many churches and pastors refrain from teaching prophecies; on the other side, just about anything goes regarding prophecies on the internet. Where is the balance? I believe that the balance can only be found if we apply a very specific method of interpretation known as grammatical/historical, literal hermeneutics, remaining faithful to the original context. It is worth repeating that a text without a context is a pretext!
The prophets looked forward to Messiah as the meaning of their prophecies (Messiah, Savior and redeemer as found in 1 Peter 1:10-12):
1 Peter 1:10-12 KJV – “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
On the other side of the cross, the apostles looked back on Yeshua as the one who fulfilled the Messianic prophecies of the Tanach. We, too, look forward to the Messiah as fulfilled from the Old Testament prophecies. There is so much to be gained by studying prophecies:
We Study Prophecy Because It is part of the Bible: All words given to us in the Bible are there for a reason. In some cases, we get the whole meaning upon a more in-depth study, but it is all there for us to live by.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV – “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
2 Peter 1:21 KJV – “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
We Study Prophecy Because God worked through His prophets: The prophets of old were God’s mouthpiece. They were the messengers of God who delivered His message to men as the priests delivered Man’s message to God. Being through dreams, visions or direct dialogue, God worked through His carefully selected prophets.
Amos 3:7 KJV – “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
And He also rejected false prophets: Many men came and went through Bible history claiming to be prophets of God but speaking a different message far away from God’s truth. A biblical prophet only had to be 100% accurate 100% of the time. No pressure, right? By the way, there is no indication in the Word of God that “modern-day prophets” fall under a different standard.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 KJV – “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”
We Study Prophecy Because Paul referred to the prophets: A substantial portion of the New Testament was written by the Apostle Paul, who referred to the Law and the Prophets (a euphemism for the Tanach.) He validated the importance of learning from the prophets of old.
Romans 3:21 KJV – “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;”
We Study Prophecy Because Yeshua referred to the prophets: The Messiah Himself quoted from many of the Prophets of old. His teachings often took the audience back to the truth first delivered by prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and so many more.
Matthew 7:12 KJV – “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
We Study Prophecy Because It Validates the Bible: Suppose we take silver dollars and lay them on the surface of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly all over the state. Blindfold someone and tell them to travel as far as they wish, but they must pick up one silver dollar, and it has to be the marked one. What chance would they have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing only eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man.
We Study Prophecy Because It Strengthens Our Faith: God has always been in control of all events of history. We are comforted with the fact that in the Word, He gave us Messianic prophecies that were all literally fulfilled in ONE person, and likewise, the future, yet-unfulfilled prophecies will also be literally fulfilled.
John 14:1-4 KJV – “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”
As believers in Yeshua, we rest in the fact that God knows and controls the future. The events of the Second Coming are guaranteed by those of the first coming. This is why the Second Coming is called the “blessed hope.”
Titus 2:13 KJV – “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
Based on prophecy and in light of the fact that the Lord could return at any moment, we should strive to lead lives that are pleasing to Him. (Titus 2:14; 2 Peter 3:13-14). In the effort to lead better lives for Him, we cannot avoid closer to God.
Titus 2:14 KJV – “who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
2 Peter 3:13-14 KJV – “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”
We Study Prophecy Because it Equips Us to Share with the Lost: To understand who Messiah is based on the picture painted in the Tanach. By studying Messianic prophecies in the Tanach (Old Testament), we discover that through progressive revelation, God has granted us increasing knowledge about the person, character, timeline and redemptive career of the Messiah at His First and Second Coming. To understand who Messiah is based on the Objections to the Messiahship of Yeshua Once we understand the meaning of each prophecy, we can study and compare the Jewish objections. Eventually, as the prophecies are studied within the grammatical/historical context, they all point to the same person: Yeshua of Nazareth.
We regularly run into prophecies as we study the Bible or in our daily devotions. If we ignore them every time we see them, we will ignore almost a third of the instruction manual God left for us. How can we properly function and behave if we only pay attention to two out of three verses in the Bible?
Ignoring prophecy will impair us and force us to come to conclusions that are not in line with the whole counsel of God, and that is a very slippery slope I am not willing to get on, especially in a day and age when Bible prophecy is being fulfilled in front of our very eyes.