Part 1: The “Sure Word of Prophecy”

NOTE: All content is subject to editing for purposes of correction and clarification. Registered users will be emailed post-update notifications.

BY what means is all the Scripture given?
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

IF THE entire Word of God is invested with as much value and authority as is defined in the above passage, then it is clearly a mistake to consider even the smallest part of it as of little to no importance, obscure, or worthy of no greater standard of interpretation than personal opinion. Such devaluing perceptions, by their very nature, only serve to cast doubt on the entire Bible.

Knowing this, doesn’t the above declaration of 2 Timothy 3:16 also include the teachable and doctrinal merit of every line of Bible prophecy and the sound interpretation of such?

2. For what purpose were the Scriptures given?
“That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:17

CAN BIBLE prophecy help in the perfecting of an individual’s character, even to the encouraging of a spiritually practical and service-filled life? According to the above passage, the answer is “Yes.” Numerous instances in God’s Word readily demonstrate that the visions and dreams of the prophets were and are yet calculated to foster a sober, meaningful, and necessary preparedness regarding things to come‒especially when their predictions and warnings have to do with an approaching calamity or judgment. Such prophetic utterances have always been Divinely intended to elicit an honest self-assessment, renewed conviction, repentance, reformation, and a compelling desire to warn others. The words of Revelation 1:3 well-affirm this purpose when it declares, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”

Reading and hearing prophecy is not enough to receive the intended blessing. Rather, we read that one must “KEEP those things which are written therein,” which not only includes its words being properly regarded, but also allowing them to have a meaningful and practical influence over one’s life.

3. To whom do the things revealed in Scripture belong?
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29

THAT IS, all of God’s Word, including its amazing prophecies, belong to all of us. God means us good, and His desire for us is lovingly and tenderly expressed in the words of Jeremiah 29:11, where He declares, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

God has not only ever wanted us to know of and prepare for the momentous earthly events which are to come to pass during our lifetimes, but He also has ever wanted us to be confident in the expectation that He will be with us through it all, eventually bring an end to all sin, evil, and suffering, and deliver each one of us to a glorious, never-ending future of peace and happiness in His eternal kingdom. Such can easily be demonstrated to have always been His will and purpose throughout the entirety of His Word. Such it is today.

4. What is the last book of the Bible?
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him…” Revelation 1:1

THE NEW Testament book of Revelation, as well as the Old Testament book of Daniel, contain among the most profound and essential prophecies given to the blessing and benefit of God’s people‒especially to those living in the last days of this earth’s history.

5. What is said of those who read, hear, and keep that which is contained within the book of Revelation?
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.” Revelation 1:3

A BLESSING is pronounced upon those who “read,” “hear,”  and “keep” all of that which is found written within The Revelation’s 404 verses. Yet, while it is easy to comprehend the meanings of the words “read” and “hear” as they apply to our responsibility in studying Revelation’s many prophecies, the question can be asked, “What is meant, here, by ‘keep’?” How can you “keep” a prophecy? The answer is simple. The fact is, the blessing which results from having in possession any part or all of the revealed Word of God is not merely in reading it, or in hearing it. Rather, such a Divine benefit can only result from the truth being properly regarded and allowing it to exert a meaningful influence over one’s life. In this case, the student of prophecy is reminded that the future events revealed within the book of Revelation should compel him or her to anticipate and prepare for them. And such, of course, includes obedience and duty. Declares Psalm 19:11, “Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.”

Of additional importance, what needs to be realized by any who would study the book of Revelation is that no one would expect to obtain a blessing by reading a book he could not understand. So, it is logical to readily assume that whoever sincerely attends to the study of The Revelation will understand it. States Albert Barnes in his widely and highly regarded “Notes on the Whole Bible”:

“An author could not be supposed to say that one should regard his condition as a favored one who merely heard words that he could not understand, or who had placed before him magnificent symbols that had to him no meaning. The word “prophecy” is used here in its more strict sense as denoting the disclosure of future events – a large portion of the book being of this nature. It is here synonymous with ‘Revelation’ in Revelation 1:1.”

6. Are the same principles of understanding and obeying prophecy found in the book of Daniel as are recognized in Revelation 1:3?
“And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” Daniel 12:8-10

HONORED BY men with the responsibilities of state and with the secrets of kingdoms bearing universal sway, Daniel was honored by God as His ambassador, and was given many revelations of the mysteries of ages to come. His wonderful prophecies, as recorded by him in chapters 7 to 12, were not fully understood even by the prophet himself. Clearly, the text of his experience reveals that it was not given him to understand all that God had revealed of the divine purpose. We find this in the words, “…shut up the words, and seal the book”, which directed him to “seal” his prophetic writings “even to the time of the end” (verse 4). Yet, because the words also include “even to the time of the end,” we understand that as we near the close of this world’s history, the prophecies recorded by Daniel will open up to our understanding and demand our special attention, especially as they relate to the very time in which we are living, for “the wise shall understand.” Understand what? The answer is obvious. Understand the prophecies as recorded by Daniel!

7. How were the Old Testament prophecies given? “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21

IF THE prophecies of the Bible are not of human origin‒that is, not simply imagined or contrived by the human mind, which is often moved upon by emotion and personal inclination‒then their meaning cannot be confidently discovered through human opinion. How often we ponder our own dreams and mysterious impressions to no real avail, except for what we might best guess. But if the prophets of the Bible spoke as they were influenced or moved upon by the Holy Spirit, their meaning is discoverable, intentional, and they demand our earnest attention. But of course, why would a captain not greatly desire the use of a compass or a sextant in order to navigate his ship across a seemingly boundless ocean? Would he then not have, before his venture, earnestly discovered the use and meaning of each one’s specially designed functions? Such then begs the question, without searching and discovering the meaning of Bible prophecy, aren’t we afloat on life’s unfolding history without knowing where we are or where we will finally arrive? If such is the case, shouldn’t we then “give all the heed to them which we would to a light or lamp when traveling in a dangerous way, and in a dark night….We are in a dark world. We see few things clearly; and all around us, on a thousand questions, there is the obscurity of midnight. By nature there is nothing to cast light on those questions, and we are perplexed, bewildered, embarrassed” (Barnes’ Notes [Albert Barnes]). Bible prophecy is given to us specifically to shed light on our way amidst an uncertain and chaotic world. Can any of us remain any longer in ignorance of its purposed and fully discoverable meaning?

8. What is said of the interpretation of these prophecies? “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.[impulse].” 2 Peter 1:20

THE PESHITTA Syriac version‒one of the oldest, clearest, and faithful examples of the early translation of original Bible text‒renders this verse: “No prophecy is an exposition of its own text.” The idea conveyed is that the text in which the prophecy is found, does not explain itself. Rather, one must go to some other statement of the Holy Spirit for an explanation. No one, unaided (relying on his own private judgment), is competent to give an exposition of a prophecy. Its meaning should be sought elsewhere in the word of God, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13). In other words, the Bible itself provides the only Divinely-appointed and reliable point of reference for the understanding and interpretation of itself (Isaiah 8:20; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:16). Opinions and conclusions regarding any small or large part of Scripture can only have value if they are in harmony with the whole of God’s Word. To venture from this sound and necessary principle is not only self-defeating, but also spiritually destructive (2 Peter 3:16).

9. In giving their prophetic utterances, what did the prophets seek?
“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.” 1 Peter 1:9, 10

CONSIDER THE following fitting explanations of two well-known Bible commentators on the above passage:

“This is a description of the prophetic scriptures. The whole subject of the Old Testament is the bounty of God under the New; and this was what the prophets tried to realise.” – Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

“The prophets plainly saw that the grace which was to come under the Messiah’s kingdom was vastly superior to any thing that had ever been exhibited under the law; and in consequence they made all possible inquiry, and searched as after grains of gold, hidden among sand or compacted with ore, (for such is the meaning of the original word), in order to ascertain the time, and the signs of that time, in which this wondrous display of God’s love and mercy to man was to take place; but all that God thought fit to instruct them in was what is mentioned.” – Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831]

It was Christ that spoke to His people through the prophets. The apostle Peter, writing to the Christian church, says that the prophets “prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow.” 1 Peter 1:10, 11. It is the voice of Christ that speaks to us through the Old Testament. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10.

10. By whose spirit were the prophets actuated?
“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” 1 Peter 1:11

BASED ON the above, we can do none other than conclude that all the prophecies of the Old Testament, as well as those of the New, were dictated by the Spirit of Christ, and are therefore designed to be studied by Christians. The Bible is not only a heavenly textbook calculated to make man wise unto salvation, but it is also a prophetic guidebook of God’s leadings, interventions, and ultimate deliverance for those who wait upon and place their trust in Him. It is to be searched diligently‒not as we would read a book among many books. It must be to us the book that meets the wants of the soul and delineates the hopes of a future above and beyond the heartache, chaos, and darkness of the present world.

11. How did Peter confirm his former preaching on the coming of Christ?
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”  2 Peter 1:16

IN OTHER words, what the disciples had “followed” were not the fictions or stories invented by artful men‒that is, testimonies resting on no solid foundation. Rather, they identified the person and first advent of Jesus Christ from the “sure word” of the Old Testament prophets (see verse 19). Therefore, they became “eyewitnesses” of the fulfillment of prophecy and the “majesty” of the One of whom it spoke.

12. When did the apostle see the majesty (kingship) of Christ, and hear the words of approbation from God?
“And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” 2 Peter 1:18

THE “MAJESTY” of Jesus, of which Peter speaks in verse 16, was beheld by him, James, and John on the “holy mount” experience spoken of in Matthew 17:1-5:

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”

STATES MATTHEW Henry in his Concise Bible Commentary:

“This is the Messiah who was promised, through whom all who believe in him shall be accepted and saved. The truth and reality of the gospel also are foretold by the prophets and penmen of the Old Testament, who spake and wrote under influence, and according to the direction of the Spirit of God. How firm and sure should our faith be, who have such a firm and sure word to rest upon!”

What “sure word” is the well-known and widely affirmed commentator referring to? Consider the following question which specifically addresses the context of his exuberant declaration.

13. What other and more certain evidence did Peter have of the power and coming of Christ?
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19

THERE CAN be no doubt that the apostle refers here to what is contained in the Old Testament; for, in 2 Peter 1:21, he speaks of the prophecy as that which was spoken “in old time, by men that were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The point to which the prophecies related, and to which Peter referred, was the great doctrine respecting the coming of the Messiah, embracing perhaps all that pertained to his work, or all that he designed to do by his advent.

They had had one illustrious proof respecting his advent as a glorious Savior by his transfiguration on the mount; and the apostle here says that the prophecies abounded with truths on these points, and that they ought to give earnest heed to the disclosures which they made, and to compare them diligently with facts as they occurred, that they might be confirmed more and more in the truth. If, however, as the more obvious sense of this passage seems to be, and as many suppose to be the correct interpretation (see Doddridge, in loc., and Professor Stuart, on the Canon of the Old Testament, p. 329), it means that the prophecy was more sure, more steadfast, more to be depended on than even what the three disciples had seen and heard in the mount of transfiguration, this may be regarded as true in the following respects:

14. At the time when Jerusalem was to be destroyed, to what prophecy did Christ point his disciples as a guide to their actions?
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth let him understand).” Matthew 24:15

15. When were all the prophecies in the book of Daniel to be understood?
“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Daniel 12:4

“KNOWLEDGE SHALL be increased”—The Reader will find that most, if not all, prominent Christian commentators are persuaded that the “knowledge” here referred to has specifically to do with a much fuller and more relevant understanding of the prophecies of Daniel at “the time of the end.” With this being the case, it would therefore be logical to expect that such would also bring about a fuller and more relevant understanding of the book of Revelation which, by many Bible students and scholars, is considered to be Daniel’s New Testament counterpart or “Sister Book”.

In conclusion, the Study of prophecy should by no means be neglected. This part of The Word belongs to that which is said to be “a lamp unto” our “feet, and a light unto our path” (Psalm 119:105). God gives his people, through the prophetic word, an opportunity to learn what is coming on the earth that they may know how to make wise decisions and move forward intelligently when the predictions shall come to pass. With this in mind, can the Christian at all be excused for not being prepared for any significant event or calamity which the prophecies have so wonderfully laid before us by the Spirit of God? Aptly and forcefully do the following inspired words enjoin each and every one of us who, by faith, utter with confidence the beautiful name of a risen Savior when it declares, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:17).

If you have found a spelling or Bible reference error, please notify me by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter. You will be allowed to provide an explanation of the correction.

Leave a Reply

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: