I want to begin with a paradox: We worship a God of prophecy and yet we either abuse or ignore the Prophetic Word.
That our Creator God is a God of prophecy is firmly established by a proclamation which He made through Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 46:9-11):
...I am God, and there is no other; 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... Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it."
This passage makes it clear that the God of the Bible has the knowledge to predict the future, the audacity to proclaim it in advance, and the power to see that what He predicts will come to pass.
Being a God of prophecy is one of the many proofs that the God of the Bible is the one and only true God. This was emphasized through Isaiah on another occasion when God spoke through him to mock the false gods made of wood and stone (Isaiah 41:21-24 LB):
"Can your idols make such claims as these? Let them come and show what they can do!" says God, the King of Israel. "Let them try to tell us what occurred in years gone by, or what the future holds. Yes, that's it! If you are gods, tell what will happen in the days ahead!... But no! You are less than nothing, and can do nothing at all. Anyone who chooses you needs to have his head examined!"
A Sad Heritage
Yet, despite the fact that the God of the Bible clearly establishes His credentials as the one and only true God by pointing to and emphasizing His prophetic powers, the Church has a sad heritage of both ignoring and abusing prophecy.
In fact, there is probably no other portion of the Bible that has been more ignored and abused in the Christian heritage than the prophetic scriptures.
Prophecy has been abused by apostates, spiritualizers, and fanatics.
The apostates are those so-called believers who mock the very idea that the Bible contains prophecy. They, in fact, hate prophecy with a passion because they reject the truth that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Rather, they argue that it represents Man's search for God and therefore is full of legends and superstitions.
If there truly are fulfilled prophecies in the Bible, then the book would have to be supernatural in origin. Since they are unwilling to admit that, they steadfastly refuse to admit that the Bible contains prophecies. They either write off prophetic passages as "poetry" that has no literal meaning, or they argue that the prophecies were written after the events they prophesied.
This is the reason that the book of Daniel has been so castigated by liberal apostates. In the book, Daniel precisely prophesies a whole sequence of world empires. He also prophesies many events that occurred during the inter-testamental period between the close of the Old Testament and the writing of the New Testament. The apostates dismiss Daniel as a fraudulent book that was written 500 years later than it purports to be.
Of course, this allegation about the book of Daniel flies in the face of the fact that Jesus quoted the book and treated it as sacred scripture (Matthew 24: 15-22).
I had a rather brutal, first-hand experience with this attitude in the early 1980's when I was asked to speak at a mainline Protestant denomination in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. After a few words of introduction, I asked the congregation to turn to the book of Daniel. The pastor, who was sitting on the front row, suddenly jumped to his feet and protested: "We don't allow the book of Daniel to be read in this church." When I asked why, he sneered at me and said, "You obviously are not a seminary graduate, because if you were, you would know that the book of Daniel is a fraud."
In the next part of this series looking at the abuse of Bible prophecy, we'll see how its credibility has been tarnished by the spiritualizers and fanatics.