Before we answer the question, why study prophecy, we need to treat an even more basic question: What is prophecy? First let us take this question from a negative point of view. Many people do not understand exactly what true prophecy is. Some think it is the forecasts of fortune tellers (palm readers, psychics, mediums, astrologers, and others that seek to foretell the future by occult means). Others believe prophecy is nothing but doom and gloom, Armageddon, and the end of the world. True prophecy is neither all doom and gloom, nor is it occult fortune telling. The only source of true prophecy is the Word of God, the Bible, Prophecy is history recorded by God before it happens. True prophecy is 100% accurate, and can not fail. God says:
“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.” (II Peter 1:21)
“I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of My mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass….I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee…” (Isaiah 48:3, 5)
FORTUNE TELLING & OCCULTISM IS NOT BIBLICAL
Most of the predictions of fortune tellers are so general in nature that they could fit almost anyone. For the most part these seers simply play on the emotions of the people. It is a money making business for them. The Bible says:
“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: Whose judgement now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (II Peter 2:3)
Other fortune tellers are actually in contact with evil spirits that sometimes give information about the future of an individual or concerning an event. Then the evil spirit or demon will try, sometimes successfully, to bring the prediction to pass. When one seeks to know the future through occult means like this he is opening himself up to the possibility of demon oppression; he is “giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” (I Timothy 4:1) These false prophets and never 100% accurate in their predictions, and they are always teaching some false spiritual doctrine. God says:
“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead? To the Law [the Old Testament] and to the Testimony [the New Testament]: if they speak not according to this Word [the Bible], it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:19-20)
All true prophecy must line up with the Bible, and to seek to know the future through occult means is absolutely forbidden by God:
“There shall not be found among you any one that…uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord…” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
God tells us to test those that predict the future, and He gives us some very simple guidelines to go by in testing them:
1. The prophecy must line up with the Bible: “To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20).
2. The prophecy must come to pass: “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord; if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet spoke presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:22).
3. The prophecy must point us to the Lord Jesus Christ: “If there arise among you a prophet, or dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not harken unto the words of that prophet…” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3) “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God…” (I John 4:1-3; see ;Hebrews 1:1-3; John 1:1, 14: I Timothy 2:15, 3:16) So to sum up: all prophecy must point people to God, who took upon Himself human flesh in order to make peace with sinful mankind (Jeremiah 28:9; Romans 5:1; Isaiah 9:6-7).
NO NEW REVELATION FROM GOD TODAY
It is important to note that there are no new revelations from God in this age. No one that claims to prophesy today can possibly line up with what the Bible teaches. This is the major error of Pentecostals. The Word of God teaches that all revelation from God would be phased out and cease with the completion of our Perfect Bible. The Bible says:
“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which in part shall be done away…For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (I Corinthians 13:8-12)
We can tell that “that which is perfect” is the Bible by comparing Scripture with Scripture. The word translated “glass” here is only found two other times in the Bible. It means a mirror. In one place it says:
“…receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a GLASS: for he beholdeth himself and goeth away, and straghtaway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whose looketh into the PERFECT law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:21-25)
The “Perfect Law of Liberty,” here and “that which is perfect” are one and the same, they are both the mirror of God’s Word (see II Corinthians 3 also). According to the prophecy of I Corinthians 13:8-12 the spiritual gifts of prophecy, tongues, and revelation knowledge would be done away with when the written Word of God was completed. The Perfect Law of Liberty is sometimes called “the Faith” in Scripture (I Corinthians 16:13; II Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 1:23, 2:7). Looking forward to the completion of the Bible, the Apostle Jude, the writer of the next to the last Book of the Bible, exhorts Christians in these words:
“... earnestly contend for THE FAITH which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3)
It says that The Faith was once delivered. That word “once” carries with it the meaning of a completed action not requiring repetition.
Finally, in the last chapter of the last Book of the Bible the Holy Spirit says:
“I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this Book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this Book.” (Revelation 22:18)
So the Scriptures make it clear that there are no new revelations or prophecies from God for this age, and that true prophecy is found only in the pages of the Bible.
IS BIBLE PROPHECY ALL DOOM AND GLOOM?
The answer to the question depends on the standing and state of the one asking it. First, let us consider the person that has never trusted the Lord Jesus Christ to save him from his sin. For this person prophecy is totally doom and gloom, because the Bible predicts that the fate of this one will be Hell for ever and ever; the torment of which can not be compared with anything one might suffer in this life (Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:44-48; Matthew 5:22, 10:28, 23:33; Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:14-15). Secondly, let us look at the one that has trusted Jesus Christ as his Saviour, but he is not living for the Lord. This person will not be doomed to hell, but he will be ashamed of himself when he stands at the Judgement Seat of Christ (II Corinthians 5:10, I Corinthians 3:11-15; II Timothy 2:15; I John 2:28). Lastly, let us take the Christian that is living for the Lord and serving Him. This person has only happiness to look forward to when he goes to be with the Lord (Matthew 25:21; I Corinthians 9:24-25; I Thessalonians 2:19-20; II Timothy 4:8; James 1:12). This one that is yielded to the Lord is not looking forward to a gloomy future, but he is “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
WHAT IS PROPHECY?
So we can seen 1) that prophecy is not occult or fake fortune telling; 2) that there is no true prophecy going on today; and 3) that prophecy does not have to be gloomy.
Prophecy is simply history recorded in advance by an all knowing all powerful God who is not limited by time or space. God knows the end from the beginning. If finite and puny man wants to know anything about the future he must go to the One that knows, and God knows all. God has given us everything we need to know about the future in His Word, the Holy Bible. So now let us look at the reasons why we should study Bible Prophecy.
SEVEN REASONS TO STUDY PROPHECY
1. Prophecy Validates The Authority Of The Entire Word Of God:
The prophetic Scriptures prove the authority of the entire Word of God, showing it to be trustworthy, and of Divine origin. Take, for example, the prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming. The Bible predicted the exact time of His birth (Daniel 9:24-25), the exact place of His birth (Micah 5:2), the fact of the virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), the details of His death (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53), and the fact of His resurrection (Psalm 16:9-11). One mathematician his calculated the possibility of all the prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming to pass by chance: the figure is 1 chance in 87 with 93 zeros behind it. God’s Word is sure and true, and prophecy proves it.
2. Prophecy Reveals God’s Power, Wisdom & Purpose:
We ought to study prophecy because it reveals God’s power, wisdom, and purpose. The Lord’s power is especially seen in the prediction of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The Apostle Peter tells us that David, writing under the direction of the Holy Spirit, wrote of Christ’s resurrection more than a thousand years before it actually, happened (see Acts 2:25-31; Psalm 16:9-11). God’s power to predict, and then perform the resurrection of Christ from the dead verifies His claim to be able to raise all who put their trust in Christ from the dead. Jesus said:
“And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40; cf. Luke 20:35-38; John 11:25-26; Job 19:25-27; Daniel 12:13; II Corinthians 4:14; Hebrews 2:14-15)
“God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power.” (I Corinthians 6:14; cf. Romans 10:9)
This is God’s main plan and purpose: to raise those who trust in Him from the dead to live with Him for ever. And the wisdom of God is clearly seen in the fulfillment of prophetic plan.
3. Prophetic Studies Produces Holiness:
Another good reason to study the prophetic Scriptures is because it produces holiness.
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto he coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” (II Peter 3:10-14; cf. Philippians 3:7-12; Colossians 3:1-6; Titus 2:11-14; Romans 14:10-12; I John 1:9)
4. Prophetic Studies Comfort The Saved:
Prophetic studies comfort us and enable us to comfort others. God’s Word tells us to “comfort one another” with words about the Rapture of believers to “be with the Lord” in heaven (I Thessalonians 4:13-18) One day Jesus will come in the clouds to catch up all believers, “and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:17) This is the “blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13) Jesus Himself comforts us with prophetic words of His second coming:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
The final end of prophecy, being with God for ever, is truly a comforting hope (I Corinthians 1:3-5, 15:51-58; Revelation 1:3, 21:3-7; II Timothy 4:8)
5. Prophetic Studies Help Us Get A Burden For The Lost:
Still another reason that we should study Bible prophecy is to get a burden for the lost. God tells us that there is a burning hell that all who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour will go to. It is not the will of God for anyone to go to hell (I Timothy 2:3-4; II Peter 3:9) God's justice, however, will not allow sinful people into heaven (Revelation 21:27). Only those who have been redeemed form their sin “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (which enables them to have their names written in the Lambs Book of Life will be allowed entrance into the Holy city (I Peter 1:19; cf. Revelation 21:27). Because Christians know there is a burning hell, and that there is only one way to keep fro going there it gives us a sense of urgency to tell others how to be saved also (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (II Corinthians 5:11; cf. Ezekiel 33:8-9: II Corinthians 5:10).
Believes are called to be “fishers of men,” and “ambassadors for Christ” to a lost and dying world (Matthew 4:19; II Corinthians 5:20) There is only one main reason that God leaves saved people on this corrupt planet: to tell others how to be saved.
6. Prophetic Studies Help Us Discern The Signs Of The Times:
The study of Bible prophecy helps us “discern the signs of the times.” (Matthew 16:3) This is truly an exciting time in history to be alive. More Bible prophecy has been fulfilled in the past 100 years than in the 1,900 years prior to that combined. Among the prophecies being fulfilled now are:
* The reestablishment of the nation of Israel in the land that God promised them (Ezekiel 36:22-24, 38:8).
* The reestablishment of Jewish Temple worship (Daniel 9:27; II Thessalonians 2:3-4).
* The emerging One World Government headed up by the U.N. (Revelation 13:4-8).
* The Arab versus Israel conflict with the U.N. consistently siding with Islam against Israel (Psalm 83:1-8; Zachariah 12:1-3, 14:1-3)
* The peace movement (I Thessalonians 5:3; Revelation 13:7).
* The emerging United States of Europe super power (Daniel 2:40-43, 7:19-20; Revelation 17:9-13).
* The line up of nations that are allied with Russia (Ezekiel 38:1-6).
* The increase in means of travel, and all kinds of technological and scientific know how (Daniel 12:4).
* The advent of computers and the emerging One World Economic System (Revelation 13:13-18).
* The increase In crime and wickedness (Matthew 24:37; Genesis 6:5-8; II Timothy 3:1-4; II Peter 3:3-6; Romans 1:21-24).
* The increase in the false religions like the New Age movement, UFO cults, and Ecumenical Movement that is drawing all Christ perverting and rejecting religions together (I Timothy 4:1-3; II Timothy 3:1-5).
* The increase of false christs, wars, terrorism, anarchy, earthquakes, famines, pestilence, fearful sights, great signs from heaven (Luke 21:8-11; Matthew 24:4-8).
The Lord Jesus said this of that last item: “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:8)
That word “sorrows” means birth pains (Genesis 3:16), and as the birth pains of a woman become more frequent and intense as the time of delivery grows near, so also do all these signs become more frequent and intense as the return of Christ draws near.
The Lord further stated that “... when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28) All the above things are signs of our time, and they all point to the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:36; I Thessalonians 5:1-6; I Peter 4:7)
We need to study our Bible prophecy and “watch” the signs of our exciting times, because Jesus is coming soon. We do not know the exact time, but we do know according to Bible prophecy that the Lord will be back very soon.
7. Prophetic Studies Are Commanded By God:
A main reason to study prophecy is because God has commanded it in his Word.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)
The Bible is about 1/3 prophecy. There is no way in the world one can “rightly divide the Word” if he leaves out 1/3 of it. We need to study “all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27)
In the study of prophecy in is important to always keep in mind that we are to "... worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Revelation 19:10).
“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 hearts: 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.” (II Peter 1:19-21)
"Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." (1 Thessalonians 5:6-11)
Should we study prophecy? Absolutely!
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)