Every Bible believer who comes to the reading of God's Word with a desire to understand God's thoughts to us, must do so believing with the whole heart that here is something worth understanding! All of it? Yes, all of it! Either the Bible is in its entirety God's Word or it is not. If only a part of the Bible is God's Word who amongst us would be foolish enough to draw the dividing lines and define which part is and which part is not.
As we come to this magnificent book of words it soon becomes evident God is revealing Himself to us, and how wonderfully He does so. Without doubt, God is the master communicator, He reveals Himself to us in the Skies and in the Scriptures, in creation He has revealed His existence, wisdom and power. Through the Scriptures He has revealed much of His person, plans, and purposes. But if our wonderful God is the great communicator how is it we have such a hard time understanding what he is endeavouring to communicate to us.
Saved people with differing degrees of academia continually disagree on what God has declared in His Word, they fail to agree on how this universe came into existence, they fail to agree on how this world will come to an end and almost every other point in between. I venture to say that there is probably no subject which causes more disagreement, and more bad feeling than that of biblical prophecy. Therefore, I believe it is of the utmost importance to take some time in discussing how we should best interpret these very special portions of God's Word we call the Prophetic Scriptures.
Many who profess the name of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord find themselves becoming cynical about the Prophetic Scriptures and that, because they say, they are confused by the many interpretations placed upon these passages of Scripture. Revelation 19v10 reminds us that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" therefore if prophecy is honestly and properly taught there is absolutely no reason for it to bring confusion, rather it should serve to give light and instruction concerning the future as declared in the Word of God. As we endeavour to understand the prophetic Scriptures for ourselves we should take a moment to remember some things the Bible makes very clear.
a) God has given prophecy therefore it is meant to be understood.
By the leading of the Holy Spirit, John begins the book of the Revelation with the words, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" (Rev.1v1). Here is an open unveiling of wonderful truth about the future of Jesus Christ, which will have a life changing effect upon us as Christians and how we live the rest of our lives. Now, that immediately presupposes such truth can be understood and if it is important enough to be included in the canon of Scripture then surely it should have a depth of importance to us.
b) God has given help that we might understand prophecy.
When we were in the kingdom of darkness we had no concept of how to understand God's Word. The moment we were removed from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, the light of our understanding was switched on and we were given the capacity to understand God's wonderful Word (1 John 2v20 & 27). Unction or anointing of the Holy Spirit gives God's people illumination and the Spirit, who alone knows the mind of God, reveals these matters to us (1Cor.2v11-13). That being true, no Christian has any reasonable excuse for not clearly understanding the Prophetic Scriptures.
c) God has given Scriptures inspired by Himself. (2 Tim.3v16)
The very words of all Scripture, including the Scriptures on prophetic truth, are inspired and therefore significant and worthy of our undivided attention, giving us the correct motivation to, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, understand the prophetic Word of God. Peter puts it well. (2 Peter 1:19-21).
"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 heart. Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 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."
Begin with Moses and go on through all the prophetic writings, and you will discover that Christ is the grand theme of the Bible. He said, "Had you believed Moses, you would have believed me; for he wrote of me" (John 5v46). If we deny Him of whom Moses wrote then Moses, by inspiration, becomes our accuser.
To Adam and Eve Christ was promised as the Seed who would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3v15).
To Abraham God had said that in Christ all nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 22v18 cf. Galatians 3vv14-16).
To Israel the Paschal Lamb foreshadowed the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world (Exodus 12 cf. John 1v29 I Corinthians 5v7). To Israel in the wilderness the serpent of brass lifted upon a pole (Numbers 21v8, 9) typified the lifting up of Christ upon the cross (John 3v14).
Balaam’s prophecy of the Star that would come forth out of Jacob (Numbers 24v17) was none other than our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 2v2 Revelation 22v16). Christ was also the smitten Rock (Numbers 20v11 cf. I Corinthians 10v4) and the greater Prophet (Deuteronomy 18v15).
When Philip first met Jesus Christ he ran to Nathanael, and said: "We have found him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth . . . "(John 1v45) And as already quoted, the closing words of the Bible declare that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19v10). This is but saying that the testimony of Jesus is the "key" to Prophecy. "His name is called The Word of God" (Revelation19v13), hence the spirit of the Word is not that of confusion, but rather of harmony and unity, all pointing to the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Whatever else the prophets predicted, they did not omit the details of Messiah’s two advents. Prophecy relates primarily to the world’s Redeemer. If you fail to grasp this great truth you have lost the key to a clear understanding of the prophetic Scriptures. Christ is its great theme. All prophecy is to find its final application and fulfilment in the past sufferings, present sufficiency and future sovereignty of the Lord Jesus. Christ is above all in prophecy. Bible prophecies, Bible analogies and Bible types, are so closely related to Jesus Christ that He alone explains and gives us understanding of them.