INTRODUCTION TO PROPHETIC EVENTS
Why study prophetic events?
There is no subject more universally abused, avoided, distrusted, and discounted as the study of Bible prophecy. On one hand, many view prophecy as vague and speculative. This is a great error of unbelief. There are many details about future events that we are not given in prophecy, but the ones that are given can be trusted, because God said it. Prophecy never did any good for those who doubted it. It only benefits those who believe. On the other hand, many look to current events to interpret Bible prophecy, and come up with wild conclusions, like calling this or that person the Antichrist, or predicting dates and times of certain events. Neither of these approaches are right. We are to read the Word of God, and believe what it says about future events, and not look to current events to interpret prophecy, but rather let scripture interpret scripture.
Why study prophecy?
There are many reasons why Christians do not take up the study of prophecy. I’ve personally heard reasons like; “Prophecy doesn’t concern the Church, so why should the Church be concerned with prophecy?” and “All this stuff (prophetic events) will happen after I am gone, so it won’t impact me… why should I study a subject that won’t impact me?”. First of all, these are very self-centered excuses. Secondly, there are many excellent reasons to study prophecy:
- The majority of our Bible is about prophecy. Some say 2/3 of the Bible is prophetic! If such a large portion of the inspired Word pertains to prophecy, isn’t it worth our time to look into it? Certainly it is important to God… why not us?
- Prophecy concerns Christ, and if we love Him we ought to be interested in what concerns His glory! To be uninterested in the glory of Christ would be like a wife who professed to love her husband but cared nothing for his interests, reputation, etc.
“for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” Rev. 19:10
- Prophecy, by telling us what is ahead, helps us to know how to live today. It is a light shining in a dark place.
“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.” 2 Peter 1:19
- Prophecy has a purifying effect on us by attaching our hopes to Christ.
“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3
- Prophecy is a secret that Christ has has confided to us as His friends. Would we be so cold as to ignore these secrets confided to us by Christ? Would we be so bold as to doubt the accuracy and sureness of His Word?
“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:15
- Scripture pronounces a blessing on those who read, hear, and keep the prophetic scriptures. Where do we keep these things once we have “read” and “heard” them? Luke 2:19 says “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Rev. 1:3
What is the subject of Prophecy?
The subject of prophecy is the Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1:9-11), not Israel, nor the Church.
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Eph. 1:9-11)
Eph. 1:10 gives us the two spheres in which Christ will be exalted; heaven and earth. In Acts we read that Jesus is now “by the right hand of God exalted”, that is, exalted in heaven. But He has not yet been vindicated on this earth. He has been given all power in heaven and on earth, but “we see not yet all things put under him” (Heb. 2:9). It was in this earth that He was rejected, and it is in this earth that He will have his rightful place. Prophecy discloses the steps by which God is going to glorify His Son in this earth!
Israel and the nations are earthly, and therefore come into prophecy, but they are not the subject. The Church is heavenly and therefore does not properly form a part of prophecy.
Another thing to remember is that prophecy is not “the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10). Prophecy does not really go beyond the revelations we have in the Old Testament. The truth connected with the Church (“the mystery”) is really a much deeper subject, one that was hid in the heart of God from a past eternity!
Literal events, symbolic language. Rev. 1:1 gives us a key to understanding prophecy. It says that the Revelation contained literal events (“things which must shortly come to pass”) but those literal events were described by non-literal symbols (“he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John”).
Context is key. 2 Peter 1:20 tells us that “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation“, that is, we cannot isolate one verse and take it out of its context. We need the light of other scriptures to understand the one in question.
Get an outline first. Paul exhorted Timothy to “have an outline of sound words, which thou hast heard of me…” (2 Tim. 1:13). It is very important to get an outline of prophetic events first before drilling down into the details. God has provided such an outline in Daniel 9, which we will look at in the third lecture; namely, Daniel’s seventy weeks.
. I recommend the following book by Bruce Anstey; Prophetic Events: Chronologically Arranged from the Rapture to the Eternal State
. The book can be purchased here
. The material in the following presentation follows Bruce Anstey’s outline very closely.