Bible prophecy is one of the most ignored topics in churches today and pastors avoid it like a plague. They usually assert that it is either too controversial or too difficult to understand. Some even claim it has no relevance to Christian’s living today. The result is that almost one-fourth of God’s Word has been put on the shelf, and the average Christian ends up living with no anticipation or even yearning for the Lords’ soon return.
There are two areas of God’s Word that have been terribly ignored and abused in the history of the Church. They are the opening and the conclusion of the Bible — the books of Genesis and Revelation. They spiritualize the Bible by claiming that it doesn’t really mean what it says. But, the abuses of Bible prophecy apply to more than just the book of Revelation. It applies to all of God’s prophetic word, and that is a shame, because the study of Bible prophecy is very important for many reasons.
There are eight key reasons why all Christians should be interested in studying God’s Prophetic Word. This should be done without adding to or taking away from it (Revelation 22:18-19).
As mentioned, approximately one-fourth of the Bible is prophetic in nature. In the Old Testament, you have the major prophecy books like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and all the Minor Prophets. Plus, you have the Psalms. Many of the Psalms are also prophetic in nature.
Then in the New Testament and you have entire books like 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the book of Revelation, and huge passages like Matthew 24 and Luke 21.
What we are told in 2 Timothy 3 is that all Scripture, including prophecy, is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be adequate equipped for every good work. Don’t take one-fourth to one-third of God’s Word and put it on the shelf. Study it. It will bless you (Revelation 1:3 and 22:14)..
Fulfilled prophecy is a unique characteristic of the Bible. There is no other religion or book in the world that contains fulfilled prophecies. Did you know for example there’s not one fulfilled prophecy in any of the sayings of Confucius or Buddha? There is not one fulfilled prophecy in the Koran, the Hindu Vedras or in the book of Mormon. Only the Bible contains fulfilled prophecy.
Isaiah 41:22-23 challenges other religions and their gods, “‘Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.”
3. VALIDATES SCRIPTURE
Scripture. Prophecy attests to the supernatural origin of the Bible. Prophecy proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Bible is God’s revelation to man.
In Isaiah 13, as an example, he prophesied that Babylon will fall to the Medes and the Persians. When Isaiah wrote this prophecy, Babylon wasn’t even a world empire. The world empire was the Assyrians. Or, consider Micah 3:12 where it was prophesied that Jerusalem would become a heap of ruins and that the Temple Mount would be plowed. That was written 100 years before Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple Mount was plowed by the Babylonians.
Jesus also was a prophet. It was 40 years later in 70 AD that Jerusalem and the Temple fell, just as Jesus prophesied.
There are many prophesies about the return of the Jews to their land and after approximately 2000 years, Israel became a nation again on 14 May 1948.
4. VALIDATES JESUS
Bible prophecy validates Jesus as who He said He was, that He was God in the flesh.
Look, for example, at Micah 5:2. This is probably one of the best known prophecies about the First Coming of the Messiah. It says that the Messiah will be born in the town of Bethlehem. This was written 500 years before Jesus was born.
Psalm 22 is about the Crucifixion. Verse 16 says the Messiah will die by having His hands and His feet pierced. That was written 1,000 years before Jesus Or, look at the book of Zechariah.
There are approximately 330 prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures concerning the First Coming of the Messiah, but if you take out all the repetitive prophecies, it leaves you with 109 separate and distinct prophecies.
5. TOOL FOR EVANGELISM
Bible prophecy is a tremendous tool of evangelism. The very first Gospel sermon ever preached is found in Acts 2, where Peter preaches. All he did in that sermon was saying, “The prophets said the Messiah would do this.” That is all Peter’s sermon is — one prophecy after another. Suddenly the people interrupted him and asked, “What must we do to be saved?” They were convicted by the teaching of Bible prophecy and him showing them that Jesus had fulfilled prophecy.
Or, consider Philip and the Eunuch. Philip is given a horizontal rapture. He is taken over to another road. He sees this Ethiopian eunuch coming down the road reading a big scroll. He stops and they start talking. The Eunuch asks, “What is this scroll?” He quotes from it. What’s the passage? It’s Isaiah 53. Philip asks, “Do you understand it?” The Eunuch replies, “I don’t understand it.” Philip said, “Let me explain it.” He explains how Yeshua (Jesus) was the fulfillment of Isaiah 53. The man is baptized and then goes on his way rejoicing.
6. STIMULUS FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Prophecy is a great stimulus for spiritual growth in two areas. First, Bible prophecy provides hope. The average Christian has very little hope. In terms of trying to define hope, just ask the average Christian, “What is your hope?” And they’ll say, “My hope is to go to Heaven.” You then ask, “Okay, what is Heaven?” Suddenly they become very inarticulate. Are you going to have a body? Going to have a name? Going to be recognizable? Are you going to eat? You going to work? You going to create things? Where are you going to be? Are you going to be on a cloud playing a harp? Are you going to be on the ground? Are you going to be in the New Jerusalem in the ground, or the New Jerusalem out in space? Thhe Bible answers every one of these questions asked.
The more you know about Bible prophecy the greater your hope will be. Promise after promise after promise after promise is made to us as overcomers, and we need to know those promises and live in the hope and expectation of those promises.
Second, Bible prophecy motivates holiness. Almost every passage in the New Testament that talks about prophecy says, for example in 1 John, to focus your life upon the return of Jesus Christ. Think about the return of Jesus Christ, because as you think about the return of Jesus Christ you will purify yourselves.
7. UNDERSTANDING OF CURRENT EVENTS
Bible prophecy provides an understanding of current events. There is no way you can understand why there is so much decay in society today unless you know what the Bible says about that. Jesus prophesied that before He returns, it would be as in the days of Noah. We are seeing that happening before our very eyes.
Consider this apostasy in the Church. Who would ever dream just 20 years ago that we would live in an age when denominations would be endorsing homosexuals as bishops of their churches, and even advocating marriage between homosexuals? Some self-proclaimed Christians now even question the virgin birth, the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ. Just think about the Emergent Church Movement who are just taking the Word of God and throwing it out claiming, “There’s not really any truth. We just have got to be touchy-feely about doctrine. We mustn’t be judgmental. We mustn’t be intolerant.” Truth is going out the window! Paul said it would be a perilous time, where many would have a form of godliness but would reject the power thereof.
There is no way you could even begin to understand what is going on the Middle East today unless you know something about the history of Israel from the Word of God and His promises to Israel. The fact that Israel has an everlasting covenant for that land God has never taken it away. The deed to that land belongs to them. You can’t begin to understand all the conflict that is going on there today unless you get into Bible prophecy.
8. REVEALS THE SEASON OF THE LORD’S RETURN
Finally we need to study Bible prophecy because it reveals the season of the Lord’s return. Nobody can know the date or the hour, but beyond a shadow of a doubt we can know the season.
1 Thessalonians 5 says. “Now as to the signs and the seasons, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you for you yourselves know full well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” Unfortunately, most pastors and self-proclaimed Christians stop there. If you read on, it says, “But you, brethren, you believers, are not in darkness that the day should overtake you like a thief. For you are sons of light, and sons of day. We are not of night or darkness, so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” Because we have the Holy Spirit residing inside of us, we can understand things from the Word of God that others cannot understand, like the season we are living in. For those who know Bible prophecy, He is not coming like a thief in the night.
Look at Hebrew 10:25: “Do not forsake the assembling together as is the habit of some. But encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” It is the Day of Judgment. In verse 27 it is saying that there is something we can see. There is something that can be perceived, and of course those are the signs of the times.
Or, consider what Jesus said in Matthew 24:33, “Even so, when you see all these things…recognize that He’s near right at the door.”
(Main source used: The Christ in prophecy journal A Lamb & Lion Ministries Blog)