After a reading followed by a multipliable reading of the text, "Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them" (Isaiah 42v9) there began to dawn upon my unlighted mind the realizion that God has a plan for this planet and its inhibitions. A plan, that is perfectly clearly outlined for us in God's precious Word, the Bible.
Further reading began to open my mind to the fact, from Genesis to Revelation, mankind can know that plan if only he will submit his heart and mind to the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit.
It is true to say there is a strange blowing on Scriptural light today in respect to the prophetical utterances of God's Holy Word. Not from the most expected quarters, such as the modernist, atheist or liberal camp, but from among those of the evangelical church who actually affirm the Scriptures to be the whole counsel of God. It is the most striking of situations existing at present, that is, the absolute refusal of religious and political leaders to carefully consider the prophetic Scriptures. Yes, it has to be said with respect to the great truths of prophecy there have been cranks of every kind climb out of the woodwork. Some who have a blind fanaticism, hobby-horse-riders, and unwise date-setters, who are posing as true prophetic students and teachers. But all of the foolish, unscrupulous, unscholarly, and unknowledgable so called experts put together do not give excuse for any man or woman in political or religious life to disregard the prophetic word of the living God. The prophet Isaiah writing by divine inspiration says:
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. Hearken unto me, ye stout hearted, that are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory (Isaiah 46v9-13).
What an amazing utterance! Not in all the writings of mortal man can any such statement be found. Claims of this nature must cause the open mind to realise, they are supernatural, and could only apply to a Holy God. He is declaring Himself to be self-existent, eternal, sovereign, the uncreated One, "declaring the end from the beginning." Where was this amazing statement made? Why, throughout the pages of Holy Write! Holy men of God, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, write for mankind at large, in order that we may understand, at least to some degree the prophetic utterance of a Holy God. When you write, of great world events many years before they actually come to pass, and what you have prophesied, comes to pass, then you deserve to be taken notice of. I suppose in every age it has been the desire of human kind to know the future, so surely he should take time to examine the prophecies of God with an unbiased mind to know if these things have indeed happened as predicted. I mean there have been all kinds of so called wise men, from the beginning of time. Men, who claim great understanding of the future, magicians, sorcerers, astrologers, diviners, enchanters and necromancers who's record of coming up with the truth has been appalling. Yet, people by the thousand, from great leaders in Government's, in the Business World, in the Armed Forces, to the ordinary man of the street are all willing to pay large sums of money to know the future. The reason of course for such a desire in knowing the future with human kind is because they have a future. The man and woman on the street has a future, the nations of the earth have a future, and the wonderful thing is, God has a plan for that future, so certainly it would be wisdom on our part to learn that plan and future. Therefore, we should understand no study on the principles of Biblical interpretation could be complete if prophecy were omitted.
Prophecy makes up such a large part of the Scriptures; therefore to neglect the study of it would be folly indeed. Surely to have contempt for prophecy is to dishonour God's wonderful revelation through out his Holy Word. Dr. David Reagan senior Evangelist of Lamb and Lion Ministries, Texas, in his most excellent book 'Christ in Prophecy' Study Guide page 7 in his introduction reminds us: "Most scholars agree that there are about 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that relate to the first coming of the Messiah. But these are not three hundred different prophecies. Many, like the prophecy that the Messiah will be born of the seed of Abraham, are repeated several times. When all the repetitive prophecies are culled out their remains slightly more than one hundred distinctively different, specific prophecies about the Messiah's First Advent. End Quote!
With so many amazing prophecies in God's Word, and the number quoted here are only from the Old Testament surely we cannot fail to understand the importance prophecy plays in the heart and mind of our dear Saviour.
Listen; to him preach in The New Testament. That first great sermon preached on the mount, so often referred to even by the ordinary person as 'The Sermon on the Mount' bears record of the importance prophecy had in the messages of Jesus to this world. We cannot read through the epistles and all the way to the book of the Revelation without realising the importance prophecy plays in their ministry to a world that had lost its way.
Think about it! The very first and most wonderful word of prophecy that was uttered to a fallen man just after his awful sin which, was the prophecy of a redeemer (Genesis 3v15) must have been the sweetest sound to human ears. Imagine it, that first powerful prophecy was to ensure fallen man of forgiveness. Did it happen as stated? Absolutely! God slew animals, shed blood, and covered Adam and Eve.
In the first two centuries of the Christian era the church had a distinct interest in the prophetic Scriptures and was predominately premillennial in its thinking. Interpreting Scripture to teach that Christ would fulfil the prophecy of His Second Coming and bring a thousand-year reign on earth before the eternal state will begin. It seemed then that the prophetic Scriptures were interpreted, as were all other Scriptures, from a normal and grammatical literal interpretation.
This from Dr. John F. Walvoord:
In the last ten years of the second century and in the third century the heretical school of theology at Alexandria, Egypt advanced the erroneous principle that the Bible should be interpreted in a nonliteral or allegorical sense. In applying this to the Scriptures, they subverted all the major doctrines of the faith, including prophecy. The result was that there was little progress in theology, especially in the prophetic area, until this problem of interpretation was solved.
Augustine (354-430) rescued the church from this erroneous principle as far as nonprophetic Scripture is concerned but continued to treat prophecy in a
nonliteral way with the purpose of eliminating a millennial kingdom on earth.
Because amillennialism, which denies a literal millennial kingdom on earth following the Second Coming, is essentially negative and hinders intelligent literal interpretation of prophecy, there was little progress in this area. However the church continued to believe in heaven and hell and purgatory but neglected or explained away long passages having to deal with Israel in prophecy and the kingdom on earth as frequently revealed in the Old Testament. Even in the Protestant Reformation prophecy was not rescued from this hindrance in its interpretation.
Though remnants of the church still advanced the premillennial view, it was not until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that a movement to restore the literal truth of prophecy began to take hold. The twentieth century has been especially significent in the progress of prophetic interpretation and is one in which many details of prophecy have been debated and clarified in a way that had never been possible before. Though amillennialism continues to be the majority view of the church, among those who hold a high view of Scripture the premillennial interpretation has been given detailed exposition, serving to provide an intelligent view of the present and the future from the standpoint of biblical prophecy.
The importance of prophecy should be evident, even superficially in examining the Christian faith, for about one fourth of the Bible was prophecy when it was written. It is evident that God intended to draw aside the veil of the future and to give some indication of what His plans and purposes were
for the human race and for the universe as a whole. The fact that Scriptures supporting the premillennial interpretation have been neglected and misinterpreted is now to some extent being corrected in the twentieth century. End Quote!