Why Prophecy Matters
By: Pete Garcia
Why study Bible prophecy? Well, I could start this article off by saying that around 27% percent of your Bible is prophetic. Or I could start off by saying that almost every book in the Bible contains prophecy. Or I could start by saying that out of the 300 or so prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming, they all were fulfilled literally and perfectly. But you already know all this since many of you read the OL simply because you are passionate about God and His prophetic word.
Studying the prophetic word is to study the deeper things of God. If you want to mature as a Christian, you have to develop this understanding, there simply is no other way around it…because the Bible doesn’t give us that option. Prophecy is hard-wired into the fabric of Scripture by design. When I hear well-intentioned Christians, and even worse, church clergy, state that they don’t study or teach prophecy because they say it distracts people from Jesus, I want to slap them, err…I mean, lovingly extend the right-hand of fellowship to the back of their heads, and scream, who do you think prophecy is about?
And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10
On the Road to Emmaus, Jesus accosted two of his disciples on the road who were still walking around mourning His death. Two points to consider in this story: The first being that Christ used the Scriptures (the Old Testament) to show these two disciples that it all pointed to Him. And I’m pretty sure that the name of Jesus of Nazareth isn’t anywhere in the OT, so what did Christ use? He used typology and prophecy. The second point is who Christ used this understanding of typology and prophecy on…which of course, was His disciples. They already had the basics presumably down. They knew Christ personally and followed him for an unspecified period of time. Christ used their understanding as a baseline, for which to demonstrate God’s plan. When He broke the bread (Lord’s Supper symbolism for the breaking of His body) it clicked with them, and they had their “ah ha’ moment in which the light bulb in their brains turned on and they understood.
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself…And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:25-32
There is also known in theological circles as the Law of Limited Words in coming to understand the Scriptures. All this means, is that the Word of God we have, is all that we have that is inspired. God could have made the Bible enormous, it could have filled thousands of volumes, but He didn’t. What we have is what we have. John concluded at the end of his Gospel… And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. So in understanding that not one word, verse, or passage in Scripture is there redundantly, or wastefully, but it is carefully and perfectly crafted by God Himself to describe to man who exactly He is, we should know the significance of that 27%. Now, considering that 27% (8,352 out of 31,124 passages) of your Bible is prophetic, that is a SIGNIFICANT portion of your Bible that God dedicated to helping you understand His word.
Dr. Livingston I Presume?
Consider another thing. Around the world, the Holy Spirit is moving in places like Africa, China, Iran, Pakistan, and other locations at a high cost to human life. God is bringing in the full number of Gentiles into the Body of Christ through the stirring of men’s heart to both go and preach the Gospel, and also by stirring the hearts of those hearers so as to be moved by the message. If you have Facebook, you’ve probably seen the viral video of those Chinese Christians who are weeping, and are literally overjoyed, almost uncontrollably, because they are given Bibles for the very first time. It is one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen. Oh, that we would have that passion, love, and respect for God’s word as they do.
But in those places, do you think that they are debating about which eschatological view is the correct one? Are they debating Pre-Trib versus Pre-Wrath? Or debating whether Reformed Theology is really veiled Replacement Theology or not? No. They are solely focused on Jesus Christ.
Now, here is the rub.
Enthusiasm for God’s word, does have its place. The Church at Ephesus was commended for the passion for God. Yet, passion and enthusiasm are not enough to run a race on. Passion ebbs and flows, and oftentimes it grows cold. Sure, it will get you through the opening miles, but we are running a marathon. Marathon runners have to condition their minds and their bodies to run the race laid out before them. Our spiritual and mental conditioning, is to study God’s word, and to pray on it. And it has to be more than just passion, or even head knowledge, but the wisdom in knowing how to apply that newfound knowledge practically to our lives. Even more importantly, is to receive and dispense this knowledge, of whatever God has stirred you to be passionate about, in love.
New believers in particular, are very excited about being born again as they should be. But we aren’t commanded to remain baby Christians forever. We are instructed to grow and go after the deeper things of God because that is what strengthens our roots in why we believe what we believe. (Hebrews 6:1-3) It says in Scripture, that the Jews request a sign and the Greeks seek after wisdom. The Greeks sought after wisdom, because they had nothing else they could aspire too. The Greeks weren’t given the Word of God, for all they had was myths, fables, and a plethora of false gods made of wood and stone who could neither listen nor speak.
The Jews sought after signs, because all throughout the OT, signs were for them, mile-markers for God’s dealings with them. Read the book of Exodus and see for yourselves. Jewish understanding of prophecy was also very different than the Gentiles understanding. The Gentiles read the prophetic scriptures and understood them to be linear or sequential: God speaks X, X happens, and thus fulfillment validates X. And since Y follows X, Y must happen, and then followed by Z. The Jews on the other hand, saw prophecy as cyclical, patterns and/or types. This is why Christ could easily point back to the OT Scriptures and show how they pointed to Him.
But both pale in comparison to the Christian, in whom has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to reveal that knowledge and understanding of both the Old and New Testament, AND in our ability to apply our understanding to the things God is working today…i.e….the signs. So we both get divine wisdom, and understand the signs as given. We don’t insert the newspapers into our Bibles; we filter our newspapers through the lens of Scripture. In doing this, we KNOW we are living in the last days.
In reaching back to the earlier mention in this article about areas of the world in which the Gospel was received with much enthusiasm, one cannot help but think back to the 18th-19th century efforts by British and American missionaries who sent themselves into the heart of the “dark continent” to share the Gospel. Their efforts there were very successful, and for around a hundred years or more, the Gospel was taught and people came to Christ by the thousands. Yet today, many of these formerly Christian areas are under severe persecution by a growing army of Muslims. These Muslims didn’t move into these areas and take over; these are the same boys and men who had always lived there.
Yet they were persuaded by “another gospel’, that being the gospel of Mohammed. How were they persuaded when Christian thought had long been established in the areas from Nigeria to Ethiopia? I have argued before and will again, that this world has a spiritual grid laid over top of it that is broken down into regions in which demonic principalities retain dominion and influence over. And while Christianity may break out here or there, if a firm foundation is not laid, those people over time, will again succumb to lying spirits and doctrines of demons, and will not have the depth to discern spiritual truth from error.
How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. — Psalm 119:103-105
While most bible teachers agree that one’s views on eschatology is not a salvific issue in and of itself, a proper eschatological worldview is indispensible in understand the total picture of God’s plan for mankind. John F. Walvoord called Eschatology the “capstone’ of Christian doctrine, because Eschatology ties in all the other doctrines (Soteriology, Ecclesiology, etc). Therefore, your Eschatology has to be in synch with all the other doctrines in order for it to be both credible and biblical. The Rapture of the Church is the culminating event for the Church here on earth. It is end of the book as far our role we play in this dispensation. Why then are there so many opinions and views on when and how it will happen? Personally, I believe Satan hates the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and has done his due diligence and muddying the waters so much so, that instead of being the “Blessed Hope”, its’ the “abandoned hope”. Let’s be honest, there can only be one correct view, because in the end, only one view will actually happen. So in keeping with that thought, which Eschatological view then is the most scripturally consistent throughout the essential doctrines of our faith? Most Eschatological views hold to some or most of the orthodox views within their purview, but as you go down the list, the Pre-Tribulation view is the only one that does not conflict with any of the essential or secondary views.
Only the Pre-Tribulation view affirms all of, and conflicts with none of the orthodox positions within Christianity. While being Pre-Trib is not essential to your salvation, it is essential to remaining an effective witness for Christ while you remain on this earth. It will keep you from falling into heresy, and potentially into apostasy, by giving you the correct ending as a fixed point (the Blessed Hope) for which we can rest in and upon. I hate false eschatological views, mostly because it causes division, but secondly, because it causes division, Christians are reluctant to teach and study it.
I will caveat the above by saying although Christians have been found to hold almost every different eschatological view possible; many of them will fall by the wayside. That is because when one lacks discernment and gets mixed up in the error of false eschatology, (or any doctrineâ€”essential or not), and error by design, always leads one away from true, Biblical, orthodox, Christianity.
“Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather, it is the difference between right and almost right” Spurgeon