For the most part, people want to know ‘what’s going to happen,’ primarily in the future. Prophecy as it relates to biblical understanding, is usually looked at from a single point of view, and as a result, confusion ensues.
The testimony of ‘Jesus’ is the spirit of prophecy; herein lies the greatest clue to being correct, but the necessary twin is ‘godliness with contentment is great gain.’
Prophecy needs context, so it is given in increments as in years, centuries, and millennia. It applies to the law of God and is moral, legal, spiritual, and of course prophetical. The Psalms are also practical, doctrinal, and prophetical. The law, the prophets, and the psalms all give prophetical insight.
Remember in Luke 24 when Christ unfolded the scriptures in things concerning himself? There were truths recorded in the Old Testament that spoke of Him; some were fulfilled, some would be fulfilled in a few days, and others would take thousands of years until the time was ripe yet again.
Slow of heart to believe ALL that the prophets have spoken? Yet the Lord was silent as to the purpose of the church. Again, context, past, present, future. David wrote of a seated Lord, ascended on high, and waiting….till his enemies be made his footstool. Ascended yes, seated yes, but footstool? Not yet.
The prophets did not have understanding of their own message completely, how could they? They were to be faithful scribes, true to inspiration, and write only what they were told lest the word of God be tainted by man’s hand. Some have dreams yet have no interpretation, but it mattered not if the prophets knew what they prophesied.
It was said that Napoleon dispatched a messenger to only deliver a hand written letter to an ambassador from another country. Upon his return, thinking he would be promoted for his ‘creative’ handling of the letter, and after Mr Bonaparte was apprised of the situation, the young man was asked by Napoleon: ‘Did you give a verbal message of what was written?’ Gleefully the answer was ‘yes sir.’ Napoleon then said something stellar: ‘You paraphrased that which was your order to only deliver.’
He was demoted, lucky he left with his head. He was an un-faithful messenger lacking in character. The prophets were judicious in their writing; they were to be simply ‘delivery’ vessels that the water would remain pure and perfect through the hallway of time. Thus the nature of God’s word is reliable, sure and steadfast, penned by the hands of men with no agenda.
The prophets of God were to be men of principle and character, men who could be trusted with another man’s message and orders. There could be no room for paraphrasing.
When the time is right, the Lord opens the understanding, but it is common to read Daniel, Matthew, and certainly Revelation and still be in the dark. This is why the spirit of God says: ‘let him that readeth understand.’ I would go so far as saying, Revelation may not be entirely understood by Christians, for we know in part.
Revelation is the culmination of God’s thoughts, as its end assumes the reader has knowledge and understanding of the previous 65 books. Prophecy concerns WHO God is, WHAT he will do, WHERE he chooses, and WHY he does things. The WHEN is incidental, for this proves he is ever benevolent in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. It is easy to interpret symbolism with a clever imagination and be 100% wrong, and this is the greatest of dangers because of the many voices in the air.
God is much wiser than we, and desires hearts that are exercised unto godliness ere He reveals his prophetical ways. The greatest prophet born of women, (John) was dubbed thus by the Lord. Why? John had an excellent point of view regarding himself: ‘I am not worthy to untie his shoe latchet…’ and by the way, John did no miracle; sensationalism was not in his arsenal.
‘To the Jew first,’ is the starting point to rightly dividing the word of truth. Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem are physical places that must be considered when reading the Revelation. If the spirit of God is the teacher, then prophecy can be understood just as the book of Matthew, but it takes a steady mind and a teachable soft heart.
(More will follow on this page)