By Dr. Mike Murphy
Recently, I asked several pastors if prophecy was taught in their church. The response from many surprised me. “I am not familiar enough with the subject to preach it.” “I fear the subject, many will be bored.” “In this church we just do not teach prophecy, we know our people will get too confused.” “I ignore it, besides it will out work out in the end.”
The Bible is God’s gift to all of us. He gave it to us so we could have a better understanding of Him, and so we could recognize and follow the plan he has for us. In His Word we find history, law, promises, doctrine, and yes, prophecy. There are 31,124 verses that make up the Bible. Of those verses, 8,352 contain prophecy. Better than one in every four words that the Lord has given man incorporate and involve prophecy.
Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”. When we ignore prophecy. we are taking a black marker and blocking out a large portion of the message God has given us. Without prophecy we cannot teach Christ. Christ was prophecy! There are 1,093 prophecies we find in the Bible that refers to Christ and His Church, every one of these prophecies have been fulfilled. The Old Testament alone contains 48 prophecies that detail the Crucifixion. Also all fulfilled by Christ! Christ fulfilled the words that the prophets gave, and it was through these prophecies that the Lord showed us an exact picture of just who Christ would be! So why do God give us prophecy? God gives us prophecy so that His Glory might be revealed. God tells us that He alone knows the beginning from the end(Isaiah 46:10). God often uses prophecy to show us that only He has all the answers, that man cannot tell you what will happen tomorrow. When we see God’s Word fulfilled, we have one natural reaction, we uplift Him. It is through this uplifting that the Lord uses prophecy in so many ways in each of our lives. Let us look at a few of these ways.
Proof of God’s Existence
Prophecy is used to show us proof of the inerrancy, authority, and inspiration we can only find in God’s Word. When we see prophecy fulfilled, we see the Word of God being authenticated. We can look to Christ as the perfect example of this. Christ staked His entire claim as the Chosen One, The Promised Messiah, based on His ability to fulfill the prophecies that has been promised. He staked the authenticity of His entire ministries on one of this prophecies alone, the Resurrection(Matthew 12:38-45). We see in all four of the Gospels and in the Book of Acts, that the message of Christ is proclaimed based on His fulfillment of these prophecies(Acts 2:14-36; 3:18-26). His death, burial, and resurrection fulfilled the very words of the prophets, and it was on this authority that the early Church proclaimed Him as Messiah. God used these prophecies as a journalist or detective would investigating a case. If the Bible is right on the where, how, when, and why, then we can without a doubt trust it on the who. Prophecy shows us that Jesus is our Savior, and is the only way to the Father!
Throughout the history of this world, God’s Word has consistently predicted the rise and fall of empires, and events that would change the world. Because the Bible has done so with one hundred percent accuracy, we can have complete trust in the events that the Bible tells us are still to come. We must never forget, the Bible, with all of it’s fulfilled prophecies, proves to each of us the very existence of God.
Prophecy Offers Us Comfort and Hope
We often look at the world around us, shake our heads, and wonder just where everything is leading. Prophecy gives us the answers to those questions. This is, without a doubt, one of the predominant themes of the Bible. If God’s Word is proven true, and we know His promises can be believed, then we can take comfort in knowing that God is in control. And we can have hope in the future because we know what the future holds.
When man looks to the future, he will do so in one of three ways. He will do so with either apathy, with fear, or with hope. On the first two of these Satan takes great joy in seeing. He can carry out his plan with ease when he finds man apathetic. And through fear, he can manipulate man to follow his will. But when we have hope, Satan loses all control! Because of the Grace that Christ brought to this world, we can all posses hope in the future. We can take comfort and hope when we study the prophetic plan that God has put into place for all of us. Paul said in Romans 15:4, ” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Prophecy shows us that God is in control, and we can take comfort and have hope in knowing the plan He has for our lives. While fear eats at the heart of man, those who follow Christ, and understand His prophetic plan, can face the future with confidence. We can have hope in the future, and take comfort in knowing that He will be returning for us soon!
Sense of Urgency
When we study prophecy, we see how God’s promises relate to the world around us. We understand God’s timetable from the prophecies He gave us of events that are to come. When we see these events that the Bible describes being fulfilled around us, prophecy gives us a sense of urgency. As we see the end of the age approaching, we know that our time is short. We have to make the most of the time we have left to reach as many as possible with the Good News of Christ.
Peter tells us that unbelievers will scoff, rejecting the Lord’s warning of a coming judgment(2 Peter 3:3-4). Prophecy gives us a way to reach many of these people. We can show them how God’s Word has always been accurate in the past, and what the Bible says awaits us in the days ahead. Prophecy opens a door to allow us to show them the urgency in accepting God’s plan for our life, and the importance in making that decision to follow Christ today, while there is still time. Prophecy shines an urgent light into an otherwise dark world(2 Peter 1:19). I also believe that the Lord gives.us prophecy for one other very important reason. Prophecy helps us to know the mind of God. God created us in His image, and knows our intriguing and curious nature. The first question we always seem to ask is, “Why?”. God answers the why! He uses our curiosity and nature to draw us into His Word, establishing a stronger relationship with Him. Like any conversation, as we hear His Word more, we understand Him better. It is because of this, that Christ promises that those of us who read and seek to understand God’s prophetic word will receive a blessing in their lives(Revelation 1:3).
Prophecy plays such an important part in our daily walk with the Lord. Through prophecy we can know God better, Christ was brought into the world and forever changed our lives, we can know and understand God’s plan for this world, and we can look to the future with a comforting hope. In the Bible, God gave man an incredible gift. In prophecy, God gave man His incredible vision. For those who follow and study that vision, prophecy is ‘looking up’!
Praying God’s prophetic word is always a blessing in your life!(Revelation 1:3)