Category Archives: prophecy

The Importance of Prophecy in the Life of Jesus

Prophecy played a vital role in the life of Jesus. Before Jesus began His ministry God sent someone to prepare the way for Him. That man was John the Baptist. John was in the desert preaching repentance to prepare the way for the One who would go to the cross. The work of John was important to direct the minds of the people toward the things of God and to soften their hearts to receive the gospel after Jesus rose from the dead.

When John became popular the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent men to investigate. They may have been curious but their primary motives were probably suspicion, jealousy and possibly fear of losing some financial support if the people followed John instead of coming to the temple and giving offerings there. John saw right through them and called them vipers. They asked John who he was. Their tone was most likely “just who do you think you are? You are not from Jerusalem. You are not one of us. Who gave you the authority to preach to people out here?” These were the same people who questioned the authority of Jesus when He came to the temple. John answered their question by quoting prophecy from the Old Testament. He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness make straight the way of the Lord.”  John was referring to the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3.

John somehow knew that prophecy was about himself. For him that prophecy defined who he was and what his purpose in life was. So prophecy played a vital part in the life of John who in turn played an important part in preparing the way for Christ and His gospel.

In Luke 2:40 NKJV we read this about Jesus, “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Jesus grew physically and emotionally just as any human baby. When He was a baby He did not know who He was or what His purpose in life was. So the question is when and how did Jesus learn that He was the Messiah and that His purpose was to bring salvation through the cross? There is no indication that He had any special revelation from the Father by way of visions, dreams, messages from angels or people. Then how did He discover who He was?

The educational system for Jews during the time of Jesus was for boys to attend school at their local synagogue beginning at the age of 6. Girls did not attend school. The boys learned to read and write and to do math. At the age of 10 the boys would begin their study of the Torah (the Old Testament.) They would continue that study thought the age of 12. I believe it was during that time period between the ages of 10 through 12 that the boy Jesus came to understand who He was and what His purpose in life was.

When Jesus was 12 years old he went to a Passover feast in Jerusalem with His family. As the group returned back home they discovered Jesus was missing.
They went back to Jerusalem and found Jesus in the temple discussing religion with the teachers there. His mother Mary scolded Jesus for causing them to worry about Him.
Jesus then said something very revealing. He said, “…Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2:49 NKJV The business of Joseph was as a carpenter. Jesus was not discussing carpentry with the temple leaders. He was referring to His heavenly Father and the business of true religion. I believe this reveals to us that by age 12 Jesus understood He was the Son of God and not the son of Joseph.

As he was growing up did Mary and Joseph tell young Jesus about the unusual circumstances of His birth? Most certainly not. They would not have told Him that His mother was a virgin and had conceived without a man being involved. It was their secret. As Jesus studied the Old Testament scriptures He would have studied all the prophecies about the Messiah they contained. By age 12 He was smart enough to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Daniel told when the Messiah would be born. Jesus certainly knew when He had been born. So the first clue was that He had been born at the time the Messiah was to be born. Next, prophecy told where the Messiah would be born, in Bethlehem. Jesus would have known where He was born. So how many boys were born in Bethlehem at the time He was? There would not have been very many. That really narrows things down. Prophecy revealed that the Messiah would live in Egypt for a while. Jesus would have known that He had lived in Egypt. Prophecy revealed that He would live in Nazareth. So with those prophecies and His knowledge about His own life Jesus had all the clues He needed to know that He was the Messiah. He did not have to have visions, dreams or angels to learn who He was and what His mission in life was. His heavenly Father had designed all of the information Jesus needed into the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament. Thus prophecy played a vital role in the life of Jesus.

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The Mystery of Adam’s Day

THE MYSTERY OF ADAM’S DAY

Do you know what the Bible means by the word day? It is crucial that you do if you are to understand Bible prophecy.

The English word day can have several different meanings. It can mean 24 hours. Here is a sentence using the word day with that meaning. There are 24 hours in a day. The word day can also be used to mean daylight hours as in this example. Some animals sleep during the day and hunt at night. Day may also be used to mean a lifetime as in this example. In my Grandfather’s day life took place at a slower pace. Another very significant meaning for the word day is an age or an era. If we speak of the day of the dinosaur we mean the age during which dinosaurs existed. So how are we to know which meaning the word day has when we read it in the Bible? It depends on the context and sometimes on clues or definitions we find in other places it is used in the Bible.

Let’s look at some examples. In John 1:29 NKJV we read ‘The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”‘ So what meaning does the word day have in this verse? An age or a person’s lifetime would make no sense. That leaves daylight or a regular 24 hour day as the choice. Clearly one regular 24 hour is the meaning in this verse.

Now let’s look at an example where day means daylight.
“So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.” 1 Samuel 31:6 KJV These men all died together in one battle that took place during a day. The battle certainly took place during daylight rather than at night.

Can we find an example in the Bible where day (or days) means during a person’s lifetime? In Genesis 35:28 NKJV we read “Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years.” So it is plain to see here that “the days of Isaac” refer to his lifetime. We could also refer to that time period as “the day of Isaac” or “in Isaac’s day.”

Those examples for the meaning of the word day are all straightforward. Now we come to the more interesting meaning for the word day. It can mean age or era.
There is a verse where I’m convinced that the meaning for the word day is an age but it is almost always interpreted to mean something else. In Genesis 2:17 NKJV God was speaking to Adam and said, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” We know that Adam did not die during daylight of the day in which he ate and he did not die within a 24 hour day because Genesis 5:5 NKJV says “So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.” Like me, you have probably heard preachers, teachers, authors and Bible scholars all say that God did not mean that Adam would die a physical death within 24 hours but that he would die spiritually. Adam and Eve lost their immortality. Had they not sinned they would never have died. They would have continued to live immortal lives. When Adam and Eve sinned guilt, shame, fear and separation from fellowship with the Lord was the result. They tried to fix their problems by their own efforts and made clothes from fig leaves. God restored Adam and Eve. That is clear because Adam and Eve traded in their fig leaves for “coats of skins” that God provided for them. They accepted God’s answer for their problem. In modern church talk we would say they repented and got saved.
Lets go back and focus on the physical death of Adam and what the Lord meant when He used the word day. Did he mean daylight or 24 hours? Lets substitute those meanings into the Lord’s words to Adam. “in the daylight that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Adam did not die before dark that day. So that meaning does not fit. “in the 24 hours that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Adam did not die within 24 hours. He lived to be 930 years old. Adam was immortal when the Lord gave the warning to him so the meaning of lifetime did not apply.
There is one meaning left to examine. “in the age that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Age means a long period of time. It can be an indefinite length of time or a definite long period of time. The age of the dinosaur was an indefinite long period of time. We don’t know exactly how long they were around just that they were here a long time. Adam lived a long time. It was a definite long period of time. It was 930 years.
At this point we see that it is possible that God was telling Adam that if he disobeyed then he would die after a long period of time. Is there anywhere in the Bible that God has a specific definition of the word day that is for an age? Yes! Peter said,
“…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years…” So it seems the meaning of what God said to Adam was this, “in the day (that is an age of 1,000 years) that you eat of it you shall surely die. Adam lived 930 years and in the sunset of the 1,000 year day he died just as the Lord had told him.
We can think of the first 1,000 years of history starting from Adam as a day, an age of 1,000 years. It was Adam’s day. It was the day in which he died. This definition for the word day is very important in the study of Bible prophecy and will be explained more in future articles.
One last comment. The story of Adam and Eve was originally written in Hebrew. The Hebrew word that is translated as day is yom. The Hebrew word yom can have the same various meanings that the English word day has.

This is original material copyrighted by the author in 2013.
Scriptures quoted from the King James Version are public domain and denoted by KJV.
Scriptures quoted from the New King James version are by permission from Thomas Nelson Inc and denoted as NKJV.

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Why we need to study Bible prophecy

This is original material copyrighted by Larry White in 2013.
Scriptures quoted from the King James Version are public domain and denoted by KJV.
Scriptures quoted from the New King James version are by permission from Thomas Nelson Inc and denoted as NKJV.

WHY  STUDY  PROPHECY ?

       Why study prophecy? For the same reason some people say they climb a mountain, because it is there! There are estimates that as much as 20 to 30 percent of the Bible is about prophecy. That is a very significant portion of the Bible. “ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine…” 2 TIMOTHY 3:16 NKJV. I heard one preacher say, “All means all.” I would have to agree with that. So prophecy is included in that which is profitable and good to study and teach as doctrine.

       Some people object and say its not meant for us to understand the prophecies now and it will all just play out. There are two major problems with that way of thinking. First, there are prophecies that were given in the past and recorded in the Bible that have come to pass. Are we to think  they have no value to us now since they have already been fulfilled? Not so! The fulfilled prophecies of the Bible have great value. In fact, the Bible says they have more value than even the eye witness testimony of the followers of Jesus in His day!

       Peter was an eye witness to the life of Jesus and to His resurrection. God used him to write a portion of the New Testament. In 2nd Peter chapter 1 verses 16-18 KJV Peter  shared his past experience of  being a witness to the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain and hearing the Father say of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

       The word of  an eye witness is accepted as proof in a court of law. Yet Peter himself said there is a greater proof of the truth. He wrote in 2 Peter 1:19 KJV ” We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed….” Peter is saying here that  fulfilled prophecy is proof that the scriptures are from God and that it is more sure than even eye witness testimony. Only God knows with perfect accuracy every detail of the future. Through Isaiah God says, “…I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning…” Isaiah 46:9-10. So as Christians read the prophecies and see their fulfillment it can confirm and strengthen their trust in God and His Word.

       The fulfilled prophecies can be used as a witnessing tool. Prophecy can not be faked. Once something is foretold to happen and written down it is there for the whole world to see and it either comes to pass or it does not. If it is specific and involves great detail and is not ambiguous then there can be no doubt it is from God. Jesus foretold the coming destruction of the temple including the detail that every stone would be thrown down. It came to pass just as He said. In the Old Testament God foretold that the people of Israel would be scattered around the world and that He would gather them back. For hundreds of years the Church leaders ignored the clear prophecies about the regathering of Israel and taught instead that the Church had replaced Israel. In May of 1948 God fulfilled His prophecy and Israel became a nation again after nineteen hundred years of being dead. There are hundreds of details about the life of Christ foretold in the Old Testament hundreds of years before He was born in Bethlehem. Even the details about the way he would be abused and crucified were foretold.

       Another reason to not ignore the prophecies and not to wait and see what happens is that there are prophecies that give us warning about coming events. We need to know those prophecies and be on guard. Jesus asked the question “…can ye not discern the signs of the times?” Matthew 16:3 KJV. He said this to the religious leaders who should have known and understood the prophecies about His coming but they did not. He rebuked them for not knowing the prophecies and said, “…You are mistaken, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God.” Paul also condemned them, saying of them “which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:8 NKJV. In Proverbs 29:18 KJV we read “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” There were many who perished when the Romans destroyed the nation of Israel. Most of them had no vision that their Messiah had come to them. They did not know the prophecies and their leaders lead them astray.

       The organized Church today seems to have no vision. Most of the leaders ignore or avoid prophecy. Most prophecy study is presented by television teachers and evangelists and at prophecy conferences. There is a measure of hunger for it but those wishing to study it are getting their information from outside the Church and their own private studies. This is a shame since so many of the prophecies are coming true in our lifetime. God gave wonderful prophecies about the future to Daniel to record but not to understand in his time. In Daniel 12:4 NKJV we read “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end” The prophecies shown to Daniel are coming true now. This is a sure sign that we are at the end of the Church Age with the resurrection and rapture fast approaching and the Tribulation to follow after that.

      When Paul wrote to the Corinthians he admonished them to ‘watch’. Today we need to be on guard and alert to the events going on in our world. We need to compare them to the warnings and prophecies given to us in our precious Bibles. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about the approach of the Day of the Lord he said,
“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4 NKJV.  In Matthew chapter 25 Jesus taught a parable about maidens waiting for the Bridegroom to come and take them to the Father’s house. Sadly, half of them were not ready and were not taken with him.

       There is a wonderful verse in Amos about prophecy. “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 NKJV. God reveals His plans through the prophets to give to His people. He wants us to know His plans for our future. How disappointed He must be that so few Christians bother to study His prophecies! Prophecy is a gift to us from God. So many Christians never open that gift.

To encourage His followers to study the prophecies God even promises a blessing to them. “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” Revelation 1:3 NKJV How many people who say they are Christians have even read the book of Revelation one time, much less spent time in the study of it?

As if a blessing were not enough incentive to study prophecy God also provides for our comfort by way of the prophecies!  How can that be? When we read about the terrible things that are going to happen during the Tribulation how can we have comfort?
Paul had taught prophecy to the Christians at Thessalonica. He had taught them about the return of Christ to resurrect the Church and to translate living believers and to take them to heaven for safe keeping during the Tribulation. Paul was a master of the Old Testament scriptures and no doubt shared many of those prophetic verses as he taught them about the future. Perhaps he shared Isaiah chapter 26 with them. It is a marvelous chapter that outlines the end time sequence of events. Verses 17 and 18 tell of the coming birth of the Messiah. Verse 19 tells of the resurrection of the Church. Verse 20 proves beyond doubt that the Church will be safe in heaven during the Tribulation. “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past.” Isaiah 26:20 NKJV  This indignation is the Tribulation. Christians will be safe in their chambers in heaven until the indignation of the Tribulation is over. Verse 21 then tells of the Tribulation. “For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.” Chapter 27 then continues with the Lord’s return to earth, and us with Him, to establish His Kingdom and rule the world.
These two chapters in Isaiah alone are enough to settle the debate about when the rapture will occur and what the sequence is of the other events.

       Someone had undermined the work of Paul and told the Thessalonians that the resurrection and rapture had already taken place and that they had missed it! They were extremely upset. You would be too if you thought you now had to go through the Tribulation! So Paul wrote a letter to remind them of the things he had taught them. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 THESSALONIANS 4:16-18 NKJV

       Paul told them to comfort each other with this prophecy. So how can the prophecies be a comfort to us? They show us that we will not have to endure the Tribulation. There is prophecy about what happens to Christians when they die. “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 NKJV It is a comfort to know that the moment we die we will be with our Lord. Paul also wrote “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 NKJV It is a comfort to us to know that when we leave this sin cursed world and all its troubles we will be going to a better place.

     The disciples ask Jesus about the future. Before answering their questions the very first thing He did was to warn them about deception.  He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived….” Luke 21:8 NKJV He then went on to tell them the details of what would happen in the future. We need to study prophecy in order to avoid being deceived. Jesus put it this way “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”  Matthew 24:24 NKJV Wow! The deception that is coming will be so powerful that even believers will be in danger of believing it. God will allow the deception, perhaps as a way of testing those who say they are Christians but are not. The Bible tells us “…God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie…” 2 Thessalonians 2:11 NKJV

       We should also study prophecy so that we can warn others about the things to come. If they are not Christians then perhaps hearing about the dangerous times to come will get their attention and help lead them to Christ. Back in the 1970s Hal Lindsey wrote a best selling book about prophecy. The book was entitled “The Late Great Planet Earth.” It awakened many people to an interest in prophecy and help to lead many people to the Lord. God says in Ezekiel 3:17 NKJV, “ …hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.”

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