The Purpose of Prophecy

Scripture: Isaiah 42:9, Mark 4:11, 1 Corinthians 7:6
Date: 02/11/2006 
What is the purpose for prophecy? There is confusion on why there is prophecy. Is it possible to know the future. The world has ways to try to know the future. God knows all things from beginning to end. Prophecy is there to save us from destruction. Prophecy protects us from deception. There are many other reasons. The principal reason is redemptive.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

Morning. Isn't that nice to have the violins and flute all together. We've had a rich time with music this morning. The youth with the choir and the bells and a pan-flute and a flute, and violins. We could probably have the benediction now and all go home and we've been blessed. Right? But you know me too well. I also owe an apology to Pastor Steve. You know, typically, early in the week the music minister will call and say, “What's the subject, we'll try to have the music harmonize with the subject.” And Steve said, “What's your sermon?” And earlier in the week I said, “The Ten Talents.” So he did a great children's story on the Ten Talents and I failed to tell him I changed my sermon Thursday. So, I'm sorry kids. But keep coming, I'll get back to that one again someday. This morning, I’d like to talk to you about something that I was planning on doing in a few weeks. I've just moved it up a little bit. And it's the subject of The Purpose for Prophecy. The Purpose for Prophecy. Part of the reason for this is there is a great deal of confusion about what the biblical reason and purpose of prophecy really is. As you know, I'd like to begin with something, an amazing fact, that will hopefully capture your attention and set the stage for some of the interest that's out there. Most of us have heard, of course, the story of the Titanic. I don't think I need to recite all of that. But how many of you are aware that a seaman of the name of Morgan Robertson wrote a manuscript? It was a book called The Wreck of the Titan. And there are a number of amazing similarities between the book that Mr. Robertson wrote in the story of the Titanic. Note some of the similarities. Listen carefully. First of all, the name of his book was The Titan, very similar to Titanic, only a two-letter difference. The length in his novel was 800 feet. The Titanic was 882 feet. Robertson's novel talked about the ship that was 90 feet wide. The Titanic was 92.5 feet wide. It was the story of a ship filled with the elite of society that was wrecked by hitting an iceberg because it was going too fast. Does that sound like the Titanic to you? There were 19 watertight compartments on the Titan, 16 on the Titanic. Both ships had three propellers. The capacity on the Titan, the book that Robertson wrote about, was 3,000 passengers; Titanic had 3,250. The number of people aboard were 2000 on the Titan in the story; 2,228 on the Titanic. One only had 24 lifeboats; the Titanic only had 20. In the book called the Titan, The Wreck of the Titan, it was sailing from New York. Of course, the Titanic was sailing to New York. Robinson's book was rejected several times as he gave it to publishers under the grounds that they said that the story was too incredible. It could never happen. Did I mention that he wrote the book, The Wreck of the Titan in 1998, 13 years before the Titanic was constructed? Now, how strange is that? Can that be just a bizarre coincidence? Get a statistician to try to put together the odds of that happening. You can't help but wonder, did he have some kind of dream and wrote this story based on a dream or a vision? Not too long before Robertson wrote his manuscript, another famous author, H.G. Wells wrote a book called The Time Machine. Very famous, and been done as movies and several times. A lot of different twists on the story of a machine that could take you both forwards and backwards in time. Now I'm going to ask for a show of hands. Fess up. How many of you at some point in your life have at least briefly fantasized that you could go forward or back in time? Come on, how many of you have said something, you wish you could go back, take it back, done something? What if you could know the future? What would you want to know? What the stock market will be? What stocks to invest in? I remember when Karen and I went with, was it Stephen? They did an ultrasound and we decided not to know what the sex of the baby was right till the last minute. Even though we could know the future. How many of you know people like that? If you could know how you were going to die, especially those of you who are young, would you want to know? It could really be a problem if you said, “I want to know how I'm going to die,” and you're told, “In a car accident and you're only 15 years old.” You’d never want to get in a car the rest of your life, right? That could be a problem. People are enchanted by the idea of the future in prophecy because they're wondering, “Is it possible to know the future?” Why is prophecy so intriguing to the world? And let's face it, everywhere you turn people are interested in prophecy. I'm talking about Bible prophecy in our presentation, but the world’s idea of prophecy is very different. Some gaze into crystal balls, others look at tea leaves, Ouija boards, consult with spirits of the dead, Tarot cards, reading the palms, the lines in your hand. Some even examine the bones or the entrails of an animal. They chop up livers to find out what the future holds. I mean, people do all kinds of bizarre things to discover what prophecy has to say. The Greeks would consult the Oracle of Delphi, this priestess who would inhale vapors and try to get some utterance of what the future is. And all you have to do is walk by, and I know that you never buy these magazines, but you must admit, you at least gaze at them when you check out. Isn't that right? If you do buy them, please don't tell anybody. But you know what one of the most popular headlines is in the supermarket tabloids? What is it? Prophecy. Well, I know, movie stars, and that kind of stuff. But prophecy. Why? Because it sells. Why? Because people feel powerless, and they want to know what the future holds. Is there a plan? Is my life just a big cosmic joke? And whatever happens, serendipity, is what happens and I have no control? Or is there a purpose? What is the purpose of Bible prophecy? And that, of course, is the main theme of our study this morning. If you read in the book Isaiah 42:9, and I want to make a very clear distinction between Bible prophecy and the typical ways that the world interprets prophecy, the tea leaves and the tarot cards and all of that. In the Word of God, the Lord says, Isaiah 42, “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things I declare before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Does the Bible teach that God has the power see into the future with perfect clarity? In his book, The Time Machine, H.G. Wells began to toy in the story with the concept of if you change one little feather of the future all history can be altered. Because everything you're doing right now is in some way affecting every other molecule in the universe. And as soon as you alter something everything changes. It's a chain reaction. So for someone to know the future, how powerful does that mind need to be? To predict with such precision where a person is going to be when a certain arrow flies, as with Ahab the king. Miciah, the prophet, said he would die in battle, and he tried to stay out of the way and a stray arrow found a crack in his armor. Ahab thought, “I can keep the prophecy from happening.” And all he did was make it come true. How can God control all the little wind currents and the twitching of the muscles of the soldiers and their placement and all these things? That's a powerful God. Who can declare exactly what's going to happen before it happens. And because He can do that, that means that He has a plan for you and your life. Now keep in mind, because God knows all that will happen. Oh, I should stop right here and also add, not only does God know the future. He can take you back into the past. Not all Bible prophets are brought into the future. There's a few times they're also shown the past. And Moses wrote the book of Genesis not only did some of that come down through sacred oracle. I believe he was given visions of things that happened back in the beginning. In the book of Revelation, not only is John taken into the future and shown things, but Revelation 12, he's taken back and shown the battle between Michael and the Dragon, this great cosmic conflict. So God can see all eternity with perfect clarity. Bible says, “From everlasting to everlasting thou art God.” God can see any point in the dimension of time clearly, no, more clearly than you and I can see the present around us. It’s no problem for him. Our minds begin to boil and foam when we try to comprehend how He can do that. I don't know, but He's God. I think one reason that prophecy’s so intriguing is because we don't want to feel so helpless. Knowing that there's a plan, and if we don't know what the plan is completely, knowing that God loves us and that He has a plan gives us a great deal of security. So what is the purpose of Bible prophecy? There's a lot of things. First of all, and I'm going to go through a litany, but this isn’t everything, of some of the reasons for Bible prophecy. One, to save people from destruction. Prophecy is there to save us. Jesus said in speaking of the second coming, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies.” Did the Lord foretell the destruction of Jerusalem? Very clearly. “Know the desolation thereof is very near. Then let those that are in Judea flee into the mountains. Let those that are in the midst thereof depart, and those that are in the country do not enter. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things that are written might be fulfilled.” So why were these prophecies given to God's people? To tantalize them with how God can predict the future, or to save them? If they would heed it would save them. But they had to listen. Now, forgive me, I don't want to be insensitive, but I hope I’m not the only one who had at least a fleeting thought. When we were looking at the devastation of New Orleans, and a lot of these people who were trapped. Was I the only one who heard for four or five days before the hurricane the public officials pleading with people to evacuate? And there were some circumstances, maybe some could not. Maybe they were afraid they'd lose their property, or what ever. But the weathermen are something like prophets, in that they’ve got the technology of satellites. They can see something coming before you and I can see it. They’ve got a perspective that is fairly accurate now and when they say that there is a hurricane coming and it's going to arrive roughly this time, and you probably ought to get your raincoat and your umbrella. At least, right? Because not listen to those predictions is foolish. And why did they give those predictions? To impress us with their satellite equipment? Or to save life? To save property? So we can prepare. So one of the principal reasons for prophecy in the Bible is to save life. But there's many others. Jesus told us one purpose of prophecy is to protect us from deception. A number of scriptures bear this out. Matthew 24:4-5, Jesus said, and keep in mind, Matthew 24. Who knows, what does that deal with? The second coming. Matter of fact, if you look in your Bibles in Matthew 24, Jesus is talking about the signs of His coming, the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world. And in that one prophecy, He begins by warning them against deception. First thing He says when He begins to answer. “Take heed, be careful that no man deceive you. For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ, and deceive many.” Has that prophecy come true? Have many come in the name of Christ, claiming that they are Christ, or even saying, “Yes, we believe in Jesus,” and then use that platform to deceive? And you know, I think that's one reason that many are suspicious or jaded, cynical about prophecy, is because there have been so many false Christs. Jesus predicted that would be the case. Matthew 24:11, “Many false prophets will rise and deceive,” a few? “many.” Now let me pause here and remind you. Was Jesus saying there would be no need for prophecy in the last days or prophets in the last days? Or did He say you need to watch out for the false prophets, because they're going to outnumber the true? Otherwise you would of been a great place for Him to say, “Don't believe any prophets.” But He doesn't say that, does He? He says there'll be a multitude of false prophets. Matthew 24:25, “Behold, have told you beforehand,” isn't that what a prophet does? He's telling us in advance. “Therefore, if they say unto you, Behold, he's in the desert, go not forth. He’s in secret chambers, believe it not. For as lightning comes out of the east and shines even to the west, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.” So He's warning us that there would be great deceptions, even impersonating His coming. But when He comes, can it be impersonated? Well, if you can impersonate lightning, shining from one horizon to the next. And I don't think even the devil can do that. Another reason for Bible prophecy is to warn the lost, to warn the rebellious. You remember when Moses went in before the pharaoh. There's this series of plagues that were falling. And by the way, the plagues were not to destroy. The plagues were to save. Not only to save His people, but to save the Egyptians. If they listened. “And the Lord spoke to Moses and said. Go to the pharaoh and say to him, thus says the Lord, let my people go, that they might serve me. And if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all of your borders with frogs.” Now why did Moses tell the pharaoh in advance that a plague of frogs were coming? If Moses had not said anything in advance and all of a sudden plague of frogs came swarming out of the river, the Nile, the pharaoh and his counselors would have said, “This is just a natural occurrence.” And if Moses had gone after the plagues of frogs showed up and said, “See all these frogs? That's because you won't let my people go.” Well, anybody can do that, right? Haven't a lot of people weighed in on why 9/11 happened? On why Katrina and the tsunami happened? They said, “This is what it happened,” but after the event. If they tell you it's coming and why it’s coming before it happens, then you really sit up and pay attention. If someone got on the news and said, “There's going to be a massive tidal wave there in the Indian Ocean, and hundreds and thousands of people are going to die, and it's because of this and this,” would you pay careful attention then when the tidal wave comes? And so, Moses giving these warnings with great specifics before the plagues came, that was undeniable evidence of why the plagues came. It was to save the Egyptians in the rebellion and keeping His people captive. Which brings me to another logical point. One reason God gives us prophecy in His word is to strengthen our faith. Let's face it, when you look in the Bible at some of these great prophecies. Take for instance Daniel 2. What does Daniel 2 deal with? Who knows? The metal image. And it outlines the kingdoms of the world in order. And each one of these kingdoms, they’re here on the screen. Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greece, Rome, the divided Roman Empire, and ultimately the Lord coming. Did all those things happen in exact sequence as Daniel had foretold? I mean, what person can foretell which Empire of the world is going to rule and when it's going to rule? And maybe they could have predicted following Babylon, Medo-Persia would be the next Empire because they were rising at that time. But for him to say that Greece and were going to rule the world, the Macedonian kingdom was just a tribe back then. The Romans, they were just a village. To say they're going to be a world empire, that would be for me to predict today, no offense to anybody. I don't know exactly where you're from, but if I were to say Paraguay’s going to be the next world empire. Now don't laugh. That won't be polite. But would any of you have guessed that? That's what it would be like. And yet Daniel outlined the history of the world, and not only that Rome. Each one would last longer than the one before. They'd all build on the knowledge of the one before. And then the final divisions of the Roman Empire, which is where we are in the world today. And all those things happened. Does that strengthen your faith in God's Word? That other prophecies can be trusted, that God's Word does not fail? Here's what Jesus said about that. John 13:19, “Now I tell you before it comes to pass, that when it does come to pass. You might believe that I am He.” And again, John 14:29, “And now I've told you before it's come to pass, that when it has come to pass you might believe.” So why did Jesus give these prophecies? That you might believe. That you might believe. One more, John 16:4, “these things I have told you that when the time comes you might remember that I told you.” I remember hearing Dr. Leslie Harding say something one time that caught my attention. He said, “The better part of prophecy is more beneficial after it is fulfilled.” So often we want to study the prophecies so we can time the stock market, so to speak. We want to know exactly what's happening and we can plan accordingly. Prophecy really does the best good when we look back and say, “You know, God is God and He knew what was coming.” It's interesting that Jesus told the apostles, His own people, over and over, “I’m going to Jerusalem. I will be betrayed by the leaders. I will be crucified by the Gentiles. I'll rise the third day.” And when it happened, were they prepared? Very rarely in the Bible, did anybody benefit from prophecy in advance. There were a few shepherds that were thinking about the coming Messiah, and maybe a few wise men in the East that were reading the prophecies about a star. But for the most part, most people don’t take advantage of prophecy when they can. They get the benefit after it’s fulfilled. You sit back and you look at what God said would happen and say it happened and you go, “Aha! He’s God. There is a big plan. It is all not just a serendipity accident.” Now maybe I should take a little detour before I go into some more of the details of the purpose for prophecy. I want to explain, why is Bible prophecy given the way it's given? For instance, why are there so many symbols in Bible prophecy that seem so difficult to understand? If God wants to make a prediction, why doesn't He give them all clearly? Like when Jesus told His own people, Jerusalem would be surrounded, the temple would be destroyed. It's hard to mistake. But some of the apocalyptic prophecies like Daniel, they’re beasts and there are statues, and there are wheels within a wheel. There are strange creatures and messages. Why are there, all of these symbols in Bible prophecy? Well, I think one of the primary reasons is because God wants us to dig. You appreciate gold when you dig for a more then if it's dropped on you. And furthermore, it's to protect the message. Keep in mind, virtually all of the apocalyptic prophets, the ones who wrote in these images and symbols, Ezekiel, Daniel, John the Apostle when he wrote Revelation. They were captives under a foreign power. Many of their prophecies addressed the destruction of those powers. Revelation talks about the fall of Rome. Maybe God did it partially to protect the message. Doesn't Daniel in his prophecies talk about the fall of Babylon and the fall of Persia, their ultimate fall? Ezekiel, same thing. And so, in order to protect the messages. It makes me think of that book The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Have some of you read that book? You remember when Corrie Ten Boom there in the Amsterdam area were protecting the Jews that were being hunted down by the Nazis powers and taken to the concentration camps. They had sort of an underground railroad there in Europe to help spirit the Jews out and to save them. And when Corrie, her family were watchmakers. When they would tell other people in the underground railroad that were trying to save the Jews that they had a group that were hidden in the hiding place in their house or somewhere else, they used the symbols of watches. They said, “We have got three watches that need delivery.” And they had this code that they used. Why? To protect the treasure from the enemy. That could be one reason that God also allowed some of these prophecies to be put. Oh by the way, if you get frustrated wondering, what do all the Bible symbols mean? Well, we don't have all the answers, but a lot of people asked us. So before we did our Prophecy Code meeting last year in Washington, we collected and I called a lot of my evangelist friends and I said, “Give me all of the information you've got on the Bible symbols and what their meanings are and the supporting scriptures for that. And we posted them at the Prophecy Code web site. So when you go home, if you'd like to have a set of those for your personal Bible study, Bible symbols, what their meanings are and the scriptures that show what their meanings are, you can go. For instance, let me see how smart my church is. What does a woman represent in Bible prophecy? [Church] Good. A sword? Word of God, very good. The dragon? These are easy ones. So, you guys have been well trained. And so the more you understand what these symbols represent the easier it is to unlock the prophecies. But it keeps them from the enemy. Jesus said, Mark 4:11, “Unto you, it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to them,” the rebellious, the wicked, “that are without, that these things are done in parables. That seeing they might see and not perceive and hearing, they might hear and not understand.” I also think it's important to explain, when we talk about prophecy, the nature of prophets a little bit. There is a popular misunderstanding, even among Christians, that prophets are miniature gods. And that's not biblical. They were human. Not everything a prophet said was a prophecy. Does everyone know that? I mean, you know some people think that if you found a prophet back then, you were to tail them and everything they said, you write it down, it's a prophecy. That's not what the Bible teaches. James 5:17, “Elijah,” is he a big prophet? You classify him as a prophet? “He was a man subject to like or similar passions as we are.” He struggled with the same emotions and passions. You remember when he got discouraged by Jezebel? He ran and hid and prayed he might die. He got tired. He got discouraged. They were real. And yet he prayed and it stopped raining for 3 1/2 years. And then he prayed in the fire came down from heaven, and it rained again. He was a prophet of God, but he was human. We deify these people sometimes and canonize them. I Samuel 16. Was Samuel a prophet? Was he all-knowing? No. You remember when he was told to go anoint the next king of Israel in the tribe of Bethlehem, and Jesse brought his sons before him. And as soon as Samuel says his eyes on the oldest, Eliam, it says here, “He looked at him and he said, surely the Lord’s anointed is before him. But the Lord said to Samuel, Don't look at his appearance or the height of his stature because I've refused him.” He's not the one. Samuel thought, “Are you sure Lord? Look how good-looking he is. It'll be easy to market him as a king.” But he wasn't the one. Samuel had a human opinion, but it wasn't God’s word. Several examples of this. Nathan the prophet, it says right here, Nathan the prophet. So do I have to guess, was he a prophet? He comes to King David, who's sitting in his house thinking, “You know, I've got this beautiful house, the King of Tyre built for me and the Ark of the Covenant’s in a tent. We ought to build a temple for the Ark.” And he voices this to Nathan. And Nathan says to him, “Go for it David. The Lord is with you.” But then the Bible says, “Nathan said to David, Do all that's in your heart, for God is with you. But it happened later that night that the word of God came to Nathan the prophet saying, Go tell my servant David thus says the Lord, you shall not build me a house.” Now was Nathan a prophet when he told David to do it? Yes, he was still a prophet, but he wasn't prophesying. He was giving his human opinion. Prophets were people. And when they said something in the name of the Lord, that was entirely different than when they said at the dinner table, “Please pass the mashed potatoes.” That was not a prophecy. That just meant they wanted the mashed potatoes. You see? But I have seen people who have taken prophets and tried to make everything they uttered a prophecy. They did that with, well I won't even mention some of them. II Kings 4, this is Elisha the prophet. The woman, the Shunamite woman comes to visit him and her heart is broken. And he thinks everything is OK, and finally she gets a hold of him, won't let go of his feet. And this is what Elisha said, “Let her alone for her soul is in deep distress. And the Lord has hidden it from me and not told me.” Now, what does that mean? Elisha’s saying, “God doesn’t tell us everything.” They’re human. Their brains can’t contain everything. Are you listening to me? Do you know people who sometimes make prophets super-human? And they misapply what the gift is. And you know, I have met many people who, they latch on no just; I’m not even talking about biblical prophets. I’ve seen people do it with preachers. They forget they’re people. And they’re looking for somebody that can sort of be their mortal idol. And then they find out they’re human and they give up on Christ all together. So we need to take heed. I Corinthians 7:6 Paul said, “I speak this by permission and not of commandment.” What did that mean? Paul said, “I speak this by permission and not of commandment.” Paul did read some commandments from the Lord that were, “Thus saith the Lord,” right? Did Paul share some things, he said, “This is my judgment, this is my wisdom, but I have no divine revelation or vision regarding this statement”? I’m just sharing by permission what I think is good judgment.” That ought to tell you something. Furthermore, sometimes prophets had visions and dreams and they didn’t even know what it meant. Daniel 9, you can read verses 21-23. I won’t read the whole thing, but Daniel, he has this long vision in chapter 8. And he finally faints because it so overwhelms him. And then later the angel Gabriel comes to him and he says, “I have come to give you understanding,” about what this vision meant. John in Revelation, he’s got these visions and he’s seeing these things and he has to ask people he's seeing in heaven, “Sir, what does this mean?” Matter of fact, at one point in Revelation 7, one of the elders is talking to John, these elders in heaven, and he’s saying, “Do you know who these are arrayed in white robes?” And John says, “I'm the one in vision. You live here. You're asking me? I don't know what this means.” I mean, you know, it was sort of a rhetorical question, this elder in heaven asks him. And so, they were human, and they just related what they saw. Sort of makes you think, when that Robertson had that dream, or whatever it is that inspired him to write the book about the wreck of the Titan. It was almost an apocalyptic story about what was going to happen. And you wonder, did he get that in a dream or something? I don't know. He never claimed to be a prophet, but I think it is very uncanny. And let's face it, sometimes, not everything people dream or not every vision is in the Bible. God does still speak to people. Isn't that right? He does still give people impressions. So prophets should not be treated as superhuman. What are the tests of a true prophet? I mean, let's face it, there are many prophets in the world today, right? There are long lists. I've decided to summarize, maybe 10, or seven. I've seen lists of 10 or 12 tests for a true prophet. I've got seven of them here in the interest of saving time. Maybe we ought to put this at our web site if you would like it later. You can find similar lists, even online. One, true prophet's predictions will be fulfilled. You know, every time one of these astrologers manages to nail a straight duck by shooting into the clouds it fills the headlines. They forget the other 99% that they missed completely. I mean, anybody could keep making predictions and eventually get something right. That doesn't make them a prophet. A prophet of God is always true. Deuteronomy 18:22, “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, it’s a thing the Lord has not spoken. Don't be afraid of him.” A real prophet’s word comes true. Second test of a true prophet, they prophesy in the name of the Lord. If they're coming along and they're saying, “We've got a special message from Buddha,” or somebody else, and they're not prophesying in the name of God, that's not a Bible prophet. That ought to be a very simple test to apply. And if they're giving private interpretations. That's another thing that should tell us something. Point number three, a true prophet identifies the sins of the people. A real prophet of God is not going to be trying to always preach smooth things to get votes. Matter of fact, Jesus said, “Woe unto you, when all men speak well of you, for so they did of the false prophets.” False prophets say smooth things that people are itching to hear. The real prophets of God will sometimes say things that are very unpleasant, but they’re true, they're convicting. They'll talk about sin. They'll talk about judgment. Jesus said, when He wept over Jerusalem, “You stone the prophets who are sent unto you.” And is that still true of the church today? True prophecies are not always popular because the truth sometimes hurts. Test number four, a true prophet is to warn of coming judgment. Well, I sort of touched on that. Revelation 14:7, “Fear God and give glory to Him for the hour of His judgment is come.” Number five, a true prophet will edify and counsel the church. Some people come in and they say, “I've got a message from the Lord,” and all their message does is completely decimate the church. Break down, divide. That's usually not the sign of a true prophet. A true prophet is, their goal is to instruct, counsel, to build up (that's the word edify) the church. Amen? Point six, a true prophet's words will perfectly harmonize with the Scripture. You can underscore this one. It's one of the best tests. A true prophet's word will not contradict other true prophets in the Word. A true prophet's word will harmonize with the rest of the Bible. Every now and then a new religion is formed and they've got a prophet and prophet says, “I know the Bible says this, but I’ve got fresh information.” “That's the old letter of the law, I've now got the spirit of the law and it's going to be a little different, of course.” Now, the Holy Spirit will never inspire something different from the holy word. So that's the best test. And then you know, a very simple test, number seven. And this one almost always works, if you forget a lot of the others. I mean, even Jonah made a prophecy that God changed His mind on because the people repented. But it says, a prophet’s life will be in harmony with God's Word. There's a lot of people claiming to be prophets, but then they've got multiple wives and gambling and drug addictions and they're claiming that they're a prophet of God. Well, that ought to tell you something. They are human, but they are holy. The Bible says, “Holy men so as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Amen? So here's a few, and of course, Jesus said, “You’ll knows them by their,” what? “by their fruits.” Whether they're true or false. So that just gives a little background on some of the dynamics of prophecy. Something else that I think is important to lightly touch on. The Word of God is very broad and comprehensive. God is living in many dimensions. Sometimes we try to box Him in. God will deliver a prophecy through a prophet or a dream or a vision or an angel, and we try to pinpoint it on one thing and God's Word is so dynamic and alive that one prophecy can have more than one interpretation; as long as they don't conflict. Let me give you a couple of cases in point. And this would be dual application for prophecy. I talk to you a minute ago about when Nathan the prophet came to David. David wants to build a temple. You can and this in I Chronicles 17:11. It's also in II Samuel. And Nathan gives a prophecy. He says, “Thus says the Lord,” now this is a prophecy, not my opinion. “It shall be when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers,” when you die, “that I will set of your seed after you, who will be of your sons and I will establish His kingdom and He will build of me house and I will establish His throne for ever.” All right, David’s wanting to build a temple. David's thinking about a physical temple. Did David have a son, who did build the temple? What was his name? Was that prophecy fulfilled here? Was there more to this prophecy? What's another name for Jesus? The son of David. Didn't Jesus say, “Destroy this temple made with hands and in three days I will make one without hands”? Isn't the Church of God called the temple of God? Isn't Christ, the son of David, who was to build up the house of God that would last ever? Solomon's Temple didn't last forever. Nathan said, “Your son, your seed, will build a temple that will last for ever.” [????] talking about? Jesus. So here's one prophecy, one utterance, and it obviously had more than one meaning, but they don't conflict. One is the literal side and then you've got to spiritual fulfillment, right? Another example would be in Matthew 24 when the apostles say to Jesus. Jesus said, “There will not be left one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they come to Him and they ask Him sort of a threefold question, “When will these things be?” The destruction of Jerusalem. “What will be the sign of your coming,” Or “signs of your coming, and the end of the world?” Now, when Jesus answers them does He divide up His answer or does He give them one combined answer? He co-mingles the whole answer into one essence. Why? Because a lot of the very same things that happened in advance of the destruction of Jerusalem also are going to happen just before the end of the world. The spiritual state among God's people during Christ's first coming, His organized church, could be very similar to the spiritual condition of His organized church before His second coming. There are many, many parallels. By the way, Jesus said, “This generation will not pass away before these things be fulfilled.” He made that prediction in 30 AD. A generation biblically was 40 years. That’s when, how long the children of Israel… [end side one]

…70 AD the temple was destroyed. So we know it at least applied to the destruction of Jerusalem. But He said, “There’ll be a secondary fulfillment of these things.” Some prophecies, not every prophecy, may have more than one fulfillment. And I think it’s just important to mention that. Now, I’ve saved the best for last I think. We’re talking about what is the purpose for prophecy. Go with me to the book of Revelation 1. Good place to go when you’re talking about prophecy, amen? Revelation 1, and I’d like to tell you that Jesus is the focus of prophecy. Notice, if you read; I don’t know what your Bible looks like, but in many Bibles it calls Revelation “the Revelation of St. John.” How many of you have that in the title of your Bible, the Revelation of St. John? You realize that was not in the original. That’s a title given by translators to help identify the book. Because if you read the first verse. Why don’t you read that with me? It should be the same in every translation. You ready? “The revelation of Jesus Christ.” That’s enough. Is it the revelation of St. John or the revelation of who? What is the principle focus of the book Revelation? What is the principle focus of the book Daniel? Jesus Christ. What is the principal focus of Isaiah? Jesus. Read Isaiah 53. What is the principal focus of Ezekiel? Jesus. You keep going. The principal focus of all prophecy is Christ. And if you don't believe me, believe Jesus. Turn in your Bibles to Luke 24:27. When He was walking down the Emmaus road with those two disciples. They didn't even know who He was yet because He had risen from the dead. And He began to help them understand the Scriptures. Listen to what Christ said, “Beginning at Moses,” that's the first book of the Bible, Genesis, “and all the prophets.” How many? “He,” Jesus, “expounded unto them in all the Scriptures.” How many Scriptures? How many prophets? “The things concerning Himself.” He is in the warp and woof of every fiber of scripture, not to mention prophecy. Let me give you some more. John 5:39, Jesus is speaking, and He said, “Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life,” and here is the punchline so to speak, “these are they that testify of me.” You know, the majority of prophecy in the Bible is dealing with the coming of Jesus. There are over 300 Old Testament prophecies that deal with His first coming. If nothing else, I've always thought if I could just get trapped on a sailboat or an island with somebody who is honest and logical and a Bible, I could convince them the Bible is true based on the fulfillment of these prophecies. Because I used to be that person. I was an atheist. I thought the Bible was a joke. And I couldn't deny the validity. You think of all these prophecies about Christ's first coming that we know from the Dead Sea Scrolls were written before the event, right? Here's some examples. The time of His birth with great accuracy. You have, He was born of a virgin, the place of His birth. I mean, who could predict that? Bethlehem? I mean, He was in Nazareth. God had to get Him down from Nazareth to Bethlehem before He was born. All the details of His ministry. There are scores of prophecies that deal with that. Isaiah 53 is one of them. The events of His betrayal, how much He would be sold for, that it would happen by a friend. I mean, look at all the details. That a potter’s field would be bought with the money used to betray him. What are the odds of being able to predict that in advance? The manner of His execution. Crucifixion was not even in practice in the Psalms when that was prophesied. That they would divide His clothing, gamble for His garments. How could anyone predict some minute detail like that? His resurrection, that He would rise the third day and ascend to heaven. You think about all these things, and this is the stuff that strengthens my faith in the Bible. Now, I was just talking about the prophecies dealing with His first coming. I'm telling you, I think, the principal message of the Bible is, you've got the prophecies dealing with His first coming, then you've got the prophecies dealing with His second coming. The principal message of these prophecies, is the coming of Christ. You know, why? Because both comings really have to do with His coming into your heart. The principal message of prophecy is redemptive. The reason that God gives us all these things in the Bible is not so you can know when to take your money out of the bank. It's not, so you can know when you're supposed to run for the hills and start getting 5 gallon plastic buckets full of lentils and powder soy milk. The main reason, the focus of these prophecies is. So you can know that He wants to come into your heart. So you can know He has a plan, not just for the world. I mean, He knows how many hairs are on your head. Don't laugh. He knows, He has all the stars numbered. Doesn't the Bible say that? And yet, in spite of His infinite knowledge, He has a plan for your life. There's a purpose for you. And that's the prophecies really about. That He wants to come, not just the first time. And then again, the second time, but He wants to come into your heart. The other thing that I think we mustn't forget when we're looking at prophecy is that His word does not fail. Jesus said, “The heavens and the earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away.” God can be trusted. If He knows that much and if His word is so dependable can you trust your life to Him? He wants you to come to Him and then go for Him. And you can trust His word, you can trust that He knows the future, and He will never let you down. How many of you believe that? If you do, why don't you reach, we're going to seeing a famous hymn I think we all like Great is Thy Faithfulness, number 100. And if you think that you can trust the word of God, I invite you to stand together as we sing this together, Great is Thy Faithfulness.


We're going to do all three verses today because I like this hymn too much to cut any of it out. But before we sing verse two, sometimes it takes a simple sermon like this to shake us a little bit and go, “Wow! God really is in charge. He knows what He's doing. There's a plan and I fit in there somewhere.” Now, He wants to activate His perfect plan for your life, but He'll never force of it upon you. There's no limit to what He can do for you if you will trust your life to him. Can He be trusted? The prophecies proved that He is faithful. If there are some here today, and maybe you’ve drifted from the Lord, maybe you've never made a decision to surrender your heart to Jesus. Or maybe you'd like to rededicate yourself and that commitment. As we sing verse two, as you come forward, I want you to accept Him as your God, and know that He is faithful. Come, we'll pray together, as we sing verse two.


That was verse three, wasn't it? Just checking. I want to make sure I didn't have my hymnal wrong. I was going to turn it back in. We'll sing verse two. Maybe you don't have that one. I want to sing one more verse. But before we sing it, some of you; would you like more faith? “Search the Scriptures,” Jesus said, “because they testify of me.” The better you get to know him, the more faithful you will find him, your faith will grow. How do we get faith? “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by,” what? “by the word of God.” I'd like to challenge you, and if you want to accept that challenge, say, “Lord, you've given the prophecies for a reason. You want me to look at them, to study them, so I can know.” Only a few were studying when He came the first time. Do you want to be some of those who will be studying when He comes the second time? OK, let's sing verse two now.


Loving father, indeed it is true, you are faithful. We can see from your word that nothing has fallen to the ground of all you have said. If there is anything we can depend upon as a map to the future it's the prophecies in your word. And we know the most basic purpose for these prophecies is that by them we might find Jesus and find our way into your kingdom and your presence. Bless all these people who have responded this morning, those who have come forward, the different needs represented in their hearts and their lives. Bless them and their families. Bless this church that we might fulfill the mission you have for us. We are thankful to have a role in the final events. Bless us as we go from this place. And I pray we will remember you’re with us always. We ask in Jesus name, amen.



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