Does Bible prophecy validate the Scriptures as God's authentic word?
Bible prophecy is one of the most ignored topics in churches today. Pastors avoid it like a plague. They usually assert that it is either too controversial or too difficult to understand. They often claim it is too other-worldly, meaning it has no relevance to Christian living here and now. The result is that one-fourth to one-third of God's Word has been put on the shelf, and the average Christian ends up living with no anticipation or even yearning for the Lords' soon return.
There are two areas of God's Word that have been terribly ignored and abused in the history of the Church. They are the opening of the Bible and the conclusion of the Bible — the books of Genesis and Revelation. People have tended to spiritualize the opening of the Bible by claiming that the 6 days of Creation were really 6 million or 60 million or 600 million years. When you start out spiritualizing the Bible by claiming that it doesn't really mean what it says, there is a tendency to do the same thing with the ending of the Bible, arguing that the book of Revelation really doesn't mean what it says.
But, the abuses of Bible prophecy applies to more than just the book of Revelation. It applies to all of God's prophetic word, and that is a shame, because the study of Bible prophecy is very important for many reasons.
I'm going to give you nine reasons why all Christians should be interested in studying God's Prophetic Word. The following are the first three.
Number one is this: the quantity. One-fourth to one-third of the Bible is prophetic in nature. That comes as a great shock to many people, but it's true. Think of it. In the Old Testament, you have the major prophecy books like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and all the Minor Prophets. Plus, you have the Psalms. Nearly all the Psalms are prophetic in nature. That is a lot of literature!
Then you get into the New Testament and you have entire books like 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the book of Revelation, and huge passages like Matthew 24 and Luke 21. One-fourth to one-third of the Bible is prophetic in nature.
What are we told in 2 Timothy 3 is that all Scripture, including prophecy, is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be adequate equipped for every good work. Don't take one-fourth to one-third of God's Word and put it on the shelf. Dig into it. Study it. It will bless you.
Another reason to study Bible prophecy is its uniqueness. I don't know if you've ever thought about this or not, but fulfilled prophecy is a unique characteristic of the Bible. There is no other book in the world that contains fulfilled prophecies. Did you know for example there's not one fulfilled prophecy in any of the sayings of Confucius or Buddha? There is not one fulfilled prophecy in the Koran, not one. There is not one fulfilled prophecy in the Hindu Vedras. There is not one fulfilled prophecy in the book of Mormon, not one. Only the Bible contains fulfilled prophecy.
The Bible contains hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of prophecies that have already been fulfilled in history. Look at Isaiah 41, "'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.'" He's mocking the idols. He's saying you worship a totem pole. Have your totem pole tell me what is going to happen in the future.
I was in India once and noticed people worshiping large boulders, and even worshiping rats! Have the rat tell me what is going to happen in the future. Have the boulder tell me what is going to happen in the future. The God I worship, the true God of this Universe — Yahweh — He knows the future. He proclaims the future and He sees to it that it comes to pass. Test the idols in that way.
3. Validates Scripture
Here's another reason we should study Bible prophecy: it validates Scripture. Prophecy attests to the supernatural origin of the Bible. Some seminaries say,"No, the Bible is simply man's search for God." It is not! It is God's revelation to man. Bible prophecy proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
For example, take Isaiah 13. In Isaiah 13, he prophesied that Babylon will fall to the Medes and the Persians. When Isaiah wrote that prophecy, Babylon wasn't even a world empire. When he wrote that prophecy, the world empire was the Assyrians. And ye, Isaiah said that one day Babylon will be the world empire and it will fall to the Medes and the Persians. That has to be supernatural knowledge!
Or, consider Micah 3:12 where Micah prophesied that Jerusalem would become a heap of ruins and that the Temple Mount would be plowed. That was written 100 years before Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple Mount was plowed by the Babylonians.
Or, consider Jeremiah 29:10. Jeremiah said they were going into captivity in Babylon and there they would stay for 70 years. That is the exact amount of time they stayed there. In fact, in the 69th year of their captivity, Daniel discovered Jeremiah's prophecy and calculated they had been there for 69 years. He realized they had never repented. And so, Daniel got on his knees and prayed one of the greatest prayers of repentance in all the Bible there in Daniel chapter 9. He asked God to forgive the nation that the prophecy might be fulfilled and so they would be released from captivity in the seventieth year.
Consider this. In Isaiah 44 and 45, written 150 years before the end of the Babylonian captivity, the Jews would be released from captivity by a king named Cyrus. Some 150 years before Cyrus was even born, Isaiah prophesied that the Jews would be released by this man, and the prophecy even gave Cyrus' name.
Of course, many are familiar with the prophecies of Daniel, especially in Daniel 2 where Daniel was given a vision. He interpreted the vision for Nebuchadnezzar. "Sir, you are the golden head — the Babylonian Empire — and you will be overthrown by the chest of silver, which will be the Medo-Persian Empire. And it will be overthrown by the thighs of bronze, which will be the Greek Empire. And it will be overthrown by the empire represented by the two iron legs." We now know that was the Roman Empire. Daniel wrote history in advance better than most people have written it after the fact. It was all by the supernatural knowledge of God.
Or, consider Jesus. Jesus was a great prophet. When He left the Galilee for the last time to go to Jerusalem, He put a curse upon three cities. He put a curse upon Capernaum and Bethsaida and Chorazin. He said, "If I had preached in Sodom and Gomorrah what I preached here, Sodom and Gomorrah would have repented. You didn't repent, curse be upon you." About 150 years later there was a great earthquake and those three cities were totally destroyed. Tiberius was not, but those three were. They were so totally destroyed that by 1800 the critics of the Bible were writing books in which they were saying they could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the Bible is full of myth, legend, and superstition because it said Jesus spent His ministry in those three towns, and yet they never existed. Today you can go visit all three, because since 1850, all three have been discovered by archaeologists.
Jesus was a prophet. In fact, there's a picture of Him sitting on the Mount of Olives which reminds me of the fact that in the last week of His life He looked out on that city and said, "Do you see this city? Do you see that Temple? Not one stone will be left upon another. The Temple will be destroyed." It was 40 years later in 70 AD that Jerusalem and Temple fell, just as Jesus prophesied. Was that a coincidence? I don't think so.
In the second part of my teaching on the importance of Bible prophecy, we'll look at the fourth through sixth reasons why we should all be studying God's prophetic word.