June 25, 2024

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June 25, 2024

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God Has Given Mankind His Prophetic Word—Will You Disregard It?

Tim Moore

Omniscient. Omnipotent. Audacious. Those words describe God’s ability and determination to proclaim in advance His plans for mankind. His willingness to put Himself on the line by foretelling what will happen in the future is unique to the true and living God. No other supposed god makes declarative predictions—and for good reason.

Prophecy is not only a unique feature of the Bible, but also a validating aspect of all it contains. But perhaps we should step back and define these terms.

Forthtelling and Foretelling

Biblical prophecy can be defined as the forthtelling of truth or foretelling of what is to come. Prophecies are revealed by God through a human prophet as divine warnings, instructions, expectations, or exhortations. Always, the prophet and the prophecy point to and glorify God.

Prophecy that foretells future events (whether already realized or yet to be fulfilled) makes up 28-32% of the Bible. Even that variance is based on whether you count verses, chapters, or books. But it is evident to anyone who reads the text that a sizable portion of Scripture pertains to people, circumstances, and events well before their appearance in human history.

For the past couple of years, I’ve emphasized that all of God’s Word is prophetic if you include the portion that forthtells truth. From beginning to end, the Bible reveals God’s truth. Although there was no human eyewitness to the Creation, God revealed His precise sequence of events “in the beginning.” Every declarative statement made by God—whether attributed to Him as a direct quotation or recorded by the authors of Scripture as the Holy Spirit inspired them—contains the Truth He wants us to comprehend.

Some prophets specialized in forthtelling truth. When the prophet Nathan approached King David and described the covetous offense of a rich man, David was rightfully indignant. But the prophet quickly delivered God’s ultimatum on David’s grievous sin: “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7). That forthtold truth cut David to the core and he immediately recognized his sin. Sadly, the only foretold truth in that encounter was Nathan’s foretelling that David and Bathsheba’s child would die.

The phrase, “Thus saith the Lord,” is found over 1900 times in the Bible. It is as if God wants to be very clear that He is the Author of Scripture. That is why we call the Bible the Word of God.

It is also why Satan has been determined to undermine God’s credibility in the eyes of the creatures made in His image since the beginning.

Did God Really Say?

When God created the heavens and the earth and placed man and woman on the earth to subdue and rule over it (Genesis 1:28), He made only one stipulation: do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Long before there were ten commandments, there was only one boundary for man to observe.

Scripture does not tell us how long Adam and Eve enjoyed the good earth as they cultivated and kept the Garden of Eden. But Genesis 3 records that, in short order, Satan came in the form of a serpent to question God’s clear directive. He first asked, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’ ” By purposely jumbling God’s instruction, Satan intended to subtly plant doubt and suggest that God’s prohibition was too extreme.

When Eve then responded with her own mistaken rendering of God’s command, Satan directly contradicted God by declaring, “You will not die!”

Jesus said of the devil, “he was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). In the 21st Century after Christ, we can attest to the millennia of lies perpetrated by the devil and countless hapless people fooled into disbelieving God.

Sadly, today there are many who claim to follow Christ but deny the reality of Bible prophecy—or at least minimize its relevance and power. Or, through willful ignorance they simply discount Bible prophecy altogether. Regarding God’s prophetic Word, if Satan were to ask, “Did God really say?” they would essentially respond, “I don’t know, and I really don’t care.”

Others who do know the prophetic Word of God have become scoffers. Fulfilling Peter’s prophecy, they are now mockers who say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Peter said the last days would be marked by this kind of mocking. Sadly, he was speaking of mockers who are fully aware of Jesus’ promised return and His account of creation—in other words, professing Christians.

Words to Inform, Inspire, and Exhort

It may sound harsh to describe the attitude of those who ignore or minimize Bible prophecy so callously. But imagine if your spouse wrote you a letter and purposed to tell you their deepest thoughts and most far-reaching plans. Who in their right mind would say to themselves: “I’ll read the parts of their letter that describe the weather and their daily activity, but I have no interest in their plans for the future”?

Why does God reveal Himself and His plans to us, His creatures? Because He wants us to know what He chooses to reveal. Amos recorded, “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7, NASB). That is not to say that God tells us everything that only His infinite mind can know or comprehend.

Moses spoke truly when he said, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and our sons forever…” (Deuteronomy 29:29). To some, that selective revelation is off-putting and leaves them unwilling to believe God. I’ve come to realize that God’s great goodness keeps Him from revealing many things to us.

For one, our limited minds could not contain or comprehend the mind of God. For another, too much knowledge would prove destructive to us—just as it did to Adam and Eve. And, finally, as any one who has been exposed to any top-secret information knows, some information should only be shared on a “need-to-know” basis.

God has revealed what He wants us to know (and what we need to know) to inform, inspire, and exhort us. But He is neither obligated nor inclined to reveal more than we can comprehend. Judges 13 offers a wonderful example of this. The angel of the LORD appeared to Manoah and his wife to prophesy that they would have a son. In a great messianic foreshadowing, the angel’s only response to an inquiry about His identity was, “I am” (Judges 13:11). When pressed for His actual name, the angel responded, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” (Judges 13:18).

Manoah later realized that during his interaction with the angel he had “seen God.” Many believe that the angel was Jesus in pre-incarnate form. He declined to reveal His name to Manoah and his wife because it was not yet time to do so.

So, although we can become impatient to know what has yet to be revealed, we should rejoice that many things have been unveiled for us already. For instance, we can call Jesus by His name and praise Him for His finished work of salvation. Peter wrote, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicated as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11).

We have the blessing and advantage of hindsight, whereas they gazed forward as through a glass dimly. And yet, even now we know in part, and live anticipating the fulfillment of “the grace to be brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).

God of Space and Time

Although we are confined to time and limited in our knowledge, God is not. He is the God of space and time—a truth clearly demonstrated even in Jesus’ first miracle.

Faced with the unique and personal crisis of a shortage of wine in Cana, Jesus’ Jewish mama encouraged Him to assist the host of the wedding. Reluctant to reveal His power because His hour had not yet come, Jesus honored His mother’s request (John 2:1-11). With no fanfare and no personal effort or intervention, He miraculously changed water into wine.

This relatively mundane beginning to His signs and miracles established His power over the material universe (because water does not naturally transform into wine), time (because the conversion of grape juice into wine is not instantaneous), and space (because He knew the wine was ready without physically interacting with the water pots).

Following His resurrection, Jesus had a physical body and could eat and fellowship with His disciples (Luke 24:38-43). Yet He also demonstrated His ability to pass through locked doors (John 20:19 and 26), vanish in an instant (Luke 24:31), and ascend into the heavens and out of sight (Acts 1:9). Perhaps we will enjoy these same abilities in our glorified bodies!

Because God exists outside of space and time, He can gaze down upon our universe and into time as we know it without constraints. And while He chose to enter the world in human form at an appointed moment in human time, He can also see from everlasting to everlasting. That gives Him a unique perspective.

God’s Eye View

The challenge of foreseeing the future has intrigued mankind throughout history. But we are only able to experience time in a linear fashion. We have some recollection of the past, but no awareness of the future.

Traveling down the highway presents a fitting analogy. We are able to look into our rearview mirror and see a limited distance behind us. If the weather is clear, we can see a limited distance ahead. But, unless we have a modern app in our car or on our phone, we have no way of knowing what lies beyond the next turn. We are inevitably surprised when we come over a hill and find ourselves in a miles-long traffic jam.

But, as a pilot, I can soar above the earth and see many miles ahead of drivers just below me. In fact, from 30-40,000 feet, I can see well over a hundred miles in every direction. I know what awaits oblivious drivers around the next turn and an hour ahead. Pilots call this a “God’s-eye view,” not out of disrespect but because they recognize that God’s perspective is far beyond that of humans confined to the earth.

God’s ability to see far beyond the horizons of our time is very much the same. Unconstrained by our linear timeline, He sees behind and ahead of us with equal clarity. From His infinite perspective, the beginning and the end are just as clear as the here and now. That is why He can proclaim, “I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’ ” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

The Purpose of Prophecy

I made the claim that Bible prophecy is meant to offer divine warning, instruction, expectation, or exhortation, but that in every case, the prophet and prophecy points to and glorifies God. The “fellow servant” John encountered in his vision of heaven explained that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Peter reminds us that “no prophecy was ever made by the will of man, but men being moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21). So, again, prophecies are revealed by God, to the people of God, and for the purpose of God.

As we witness the dissolution of our society and the convergence of signs pointing to the End Times, the value of Bible prophecy is proven day after day. Satan is still whispering, “Did God really say?” Scoffers are still mocking, “Where is the promise of His coming?” Certainly, in this world, our troubles are multiplying.

All that the Lord has revealed to us affirms the revelation Jesus shared with His disciples: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The “little-t” tribulation or trouble we have in the world is external, while the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, [guards our] hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

Bible prophecy assures us that God is in control, that He works all things together for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28), and that Jesus will rescue His children from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

What Will You Do with God’s Prophetic Word?

Pilate asked a rhetorical question of the mob gathered around his palace in Jerusalem: “What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22). Their answer demonstrated the hardness of their heart and their rejection of the Lord: “Crucify Him!”

Today, God’s Word presents a challenge to all who claim to follow Him. What will you do with the prophetic Word that He has revealed for your instruction and exhortation and His glory? Will you disregard it, discount it, and ignore it? Or, will you believe it, study it, and obey it?

The choice is yours, but the blessing is only for those who “read and heed it,” as described in Revelation 1:3 and 22:7.

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