Reading Time: 14 minutesProphecies Were Given To Reveal Jesus
Sometimes, God invites us to understand Jesus through prophecy. Bible prophecy. Rightly understood, the prophecies, both Old and New Testaments, are just as important and contain just as much concerning the “everlasting gospel” (Rev 14:6-12) as any other portions of Scripture. God inspired the prophets to write the prophecies of Scripture in order that by them people can find salvation. Paul also declares in Rom 1:16 that he is “…not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” and that no one need be excluded from this “power” that leads to “salvation.” Are you ready for this “power” to come into your life and heart, and mind? If you are already a Christian, we are reminded that we are “kept by the power of God,” (1 Pet 1:5), and as we just said; THAT power is “the gospel,” (Rom 1:16), and the gospel is “everlasting.” (Rev 14:6-12)
The Bible is not a book composed of portions containing the essential facts of the Gospel and other less important parts containing the prophecies. The whole Bible is all just ONE Message! “Christ and Him crucified.” That is what all prophecy is about, the cross is where all prophecy leads to. (Gal 6:14). There are efforts to deflect the moral purpose of prophecies and, by false interpretations rob them of their vitality, and of their “everlasting” nature.
The Old Testament frequently mentions false prophets (see 2 Kings 3:13; Isa 44:25; Jer 23:16; Ezekiel 13:2-3; Mic 3:5; Zech 13:2). False prophets claimed to receive messages from God, but they preached a “health and wealth” message. They said what the people wanted to hear, even when the nation was not following God as it should. There were false prophets in Jesus’ day, and we have them today. They are mostly the popular religious leaders who tell people what they want to hear, such as “God wants you to be rich,” “Do whatever your desires tell you,” or “There is no such thing as sin or hell.” Jesus said false teachers would come, and he warned his disciples, as he warns us, not to listen to their dangerous words. (Mat 24:11, Acts 20:30).
The opening words of the Apocalypse distinctly inform us that the prophecies in this wonderful book have been given as “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1). A study of the underlying principles upon which the Revelation is based enables us to know that all Bible prophecies are a “Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:1) putting Him forth to the world as the Savior of those who put their trust in Him, and the destroyer of evil holds no advantage or power over Jesus and “the everlasting gospel. Interpretations of prophecies which do not set forth in clearer light the Gospel of “Christ and Him crucified” are not God inspired, or even “Biblical” no matter how many verses someone quotes. Because Bible prophecy is about Jesus Christ, there is no need for us to be scared when we see events unfolding in the so called news, or in our society around us.
“Private Interpretations” (2 Pet 1:20) of prophecies which do not find their centre in Jesus as Saviour, and as Destroyer of evil, are wrong applications of Scripture. In the Old Testament sanctuary, and later in the temple of the Jews, only those dedicated to the holy office of the priesthood were permitted to view the wonderful glories to be seen within the sacred edifice. And, likewise today, only those whose lives are dedicated to God are permitted to see the inner beauties of the temple of truth as contained in the Bible. Jesus said to the Jewish leaders back in the day: “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39,46). And in accordance with the everlasting gospel, (Rev 14:6-7) our lives must be a testimony of “Christ in you.” (Col 1:27). Jesus said we are also the light of the world, and that if we are this Light, we will be unable to hide it. Others will see Jesus in us. (Mat 5:14).
Abraham was promised a son who would be the channel of blessing. Isaac was the immediate fulfillment; but Isaac prefigured the greater fulfillment in Jesus who, through His church, blesses the world (Galatians 3:16,29; Gal 4:28). The Old Testament prophecies which set forth the coming of the sons of Abraham and David are concentrated in the first verse of Matthew: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Thus, from its commencement, the New Testament takes the things of the Old Testament and applies them in connection with Christ and His work of redemption. (Rom 15:4)
Christ and His salvation is the central theme of the Bible, it is the central pillar of all Bible prophecy; and to make plain the way of salvation was the sole purpose for which the Scriptures were written. As the sun is reflected in each of the millions of dew-drops, so Jesus, “the Light of the world,” (John 8:12)shines forth in every chapter of the Bible. “In every page, whether history, or precept, or prophecy, the Old Testament Scriptures are lightened with the glory of the Son of God. So far as it was of divine institution, the entire system of Judaism was a compacted prophecy of the “everlasting gospel.” To Christ ‘give all the prophets witness’ (Acts 10:43).
Sound Purpose Of Prophecy
Even the disciples were slow to appreciate their Master’s interpretation of the Old Testament kingdom prophecies. They too, were looking for temporal deliverance from the Roman yoke, and thus they were not prepared for their terrible disappointment when they saw their Lord crucified. One writer states:
“Before His crucifixion, the Savior explained to His disciples that He was about to be put to death, and to rise again from the tomb. But the disciples were looking for temporal deliverance from the Roman yoke. The words which they needed to remember were banished from their minds, and when the time of trial came, it found them unprepared. The death of Jesus as fully destroyed their hopes as if He had not forewarned them.” (“The Great Controversy,” p. 594.) Had the disciples a correct understanding of the prophecies they could have had a praise service in recognition of the marvellous fulfillment of prophecy in the death and resurrection of their Lord. Even on the day of the resurrection the disciples did not know the true interpretation of the prophecies concerning Israel. Before Jesus revealed Himself to the two disciples of Emmaus, He explained the prophecies, for “it was necessary for them to understand the witness borne to Him by the types and prophecies of the Old Testament. Upon these their faith must be established. Christ performed no miracle to convince them, but it was His first work to explain the Scriptures: “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27).
The Disciples of Jesus, who walked right beside Him had looked upon His death as the destruction of all their hopes. During the years of Jesus’ ministry on earth, the disciples continually wondered about his Kingdom. When would it come? What would be their role? Who would get to sit on His right or on His left in heaven? In the traditional view, the Messiah would be an earthly conqueror who would free Israel from Rome. But the Kingdom Jesus spoke about was, first of all, a spiritual Kingdom established in the hearts and lives of believers (Luke 17:21). God’s presence and power dwell in believers in the person of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38, 1 Cor 1:6, 2 Cor 13:5, Phil 1:6).
The kingdom of God was severely misunderstood by Jesus’ own disciples. Their conversation during their walk on the road to Emmaus shows this. They were looking to a military solution to the problems at hand:
And behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus. around 11 miles from Jerusalem. And they talked to each other of all these things which had happened. And while they talked and reasoned, it happened that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. (Luke 24:15). But their eyes were held so that they could not know Him. And He said to them, What words are these that you have with one another as you walk, and are so sad? And one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered and said to Him, Are you only a stranger in Jerusalem and have not known the things which have occurred there in these days? And He said to them, What things? And they said to Him, The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a man, a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the judgment of death, and have crucified Him. But we had trusted that He was the One who was about to redeem Israel. And besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done. (Luke 24:13-21)
At first the disciples had missed the significance of history’s greatest event because they were too focused on their disappointments and problems. In fact, they didn’t even recognize Jesus when he was walking right beside them! To compound the problem, they were walking in the wrong direction—away from the fellowship of believers in Jerusalem. (they were actually going to Emmaus to hide!) We too are likely to miss Jesus and withdraw from the strength found in other believers when we become preoccupied with our dashed hopes and frustrated plans. When we are looking for Jesus in our midst (“Christ in you the hope in glory”) will we experience the power and help Jesus can bring. (John 8:12). Now, on this walk to Emmaus, Jesus showed from the prophets (Old Testament) that this was the very strongest evidence for their faith. The miracles of Christ are very sound proof of His divinity; but a stronger proof that He is the world’s Redeemer is found in comparing the prophecies of the Old Testament with the prophecies of the New Testament. Old ideas die hard, and even subsequent to the resurrection the disciples still held erroneous views regarding the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the establishment of Christ’s kingdom. (Acts 1:6.). As believers today we need to avoid this same pitfall.
Jesus had commanded them to preach:
“The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7).
But not until the time of Pentecost, not until they had spent weeks in prayer and the putting away of those things which were not in harmony with Christ, did the disciples really grasp the righteous purpose of the prophecies. Just before leaving His disciples, Christ once more plainly stated the nature of His kingdom.
Peter quoted from Psalms 110:1
“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand, until I make your enemies Thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Your enemies.” (Psalms 110:2)
Jesus is now reigning “in the midst” of His “enemies.” Peter’s quotation from Joel 2:32 (see Acts 2:21 and compare with Joel 2:32) also shows that from the time of Pentecost Old Testament prophecies concerning Zion, Jerusalem, the land of Israel, etc., were interpreted as being fulfilled in connection with the work of Christ in the everlasting gospel. As Jesus reigns in the church, His spiritual Zion or Jerusalem, those who are pictured in Joel’s prophecy (see Joel 3) as being gathered outside in the valley of Jehoshaphat to make war upon God’s people within Jerusalem must refer to those who oppose the work of the gospel. This interpretation placed some of the Jews not as those favoured of God within Jerusalem, but among those on the outside among the enemies of God. Such an interpretation aroused the anger of the Jews, who believed those prophecies would be fulfilled literally in connection with the literal nation of the Jews.
Jeremiah contrasted the present corrupt leaders with the coming Messiah, the perfect King, who would come from David’s lineage to reign over Israel:
“Behold (listen closely), the days are coming,” says the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as King and act wisely And will do [those things that accomplish] justice and righteousness in the land. “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called; ‘The LORD Our Righteousness.’ (Jer 23:5-6).
Christ, by giving up His life on the cross, crushed the power of Satan, “disarmed principalities and powers,” and “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col 2:15). On the cross “the battle had been won. His [Christ’s] right hand His holy arm had gotten Him the victory. As a Conqueror He planted His banner on the eternal heights. All heaven triumphed in the Saviour’s victory. Satan was defeated, and knew that his kingdom was lost.” The Bible tells us that NOTHING can separate us from “the love of God which was in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:38-39). For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced–beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39).
JESUS IS REIGNING NOW!
The Scriptures make it plain that the prophecies concerning the reign of “David’s Son” were to be fulfilled by His death and resurrection. (See Acts 2:29,32; Acts 13:22-24,Acts 32-34; Romans 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:8 etc) Paul preached the kingdom of God and of Christ as a present reality, (present truth) into which every believer of the gospel was, and is, instantly translated. (Colossians 1:12,13; 1 Corinthians 15:11; Acts 20:24,25,etc.) God has “raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus” (Acts 13:22,23; Luke 2:10,11,30-32,68-70; Acts 5:30,31). By the work of the Holy Spirit in Messiah’s spiritual kingdom of grace, Christ is now saving, redeeming Israel out of “all people” (Luke 2:30-32, Rev 5:9, Rev 14:6 etc.). That salvation is “in Zion” (Joel 2:32; Romans 11:26;9:33; 1 Peter 2:4-7),the church, where Jesus reigns. (Rev 1:20) Jesus lives to always make intercession for us today. (Heb 7:25).
When the disciples, who were still thinking of the immediate literal fulfillment of the Old Testament kingdom prophecies, asked “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. BUT ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:6-8). The literal kingdom will be set up after the gospel age is finished at the second advent, and the time for that event is hidden from man, BUT the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the Messiah’s kingdom are now being fulfilled through the power of the Holy Ghost. “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). Jesus is now reigning! The prophecies concerning the Messiah’s kingdom are now being fulfilled!
This was the thrilling burden of the apostles’ preaching after the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost! It was this recognition of the fulfillment of the kingdom prophecies in relation to the church that gave power to their preaching, and which also aroused the anger of the Jews against them. That which. the Jews regarded as being wholly future, and to be fulfilled literally in connection with national Israel, the apostles preached as being fulfilled in the work of preaching the gospel. A study of the New Testament-of sermons recorded therein, or of epistles, etc., written after Pentecost-will clearly reveal this fact.
On the day of Pentecost, the inspired Peter declared that Jesus was raised to sit upon a throne; that He was “both Lord and Christ.” (See Acts 2:30-36.) Peter’s sermon was very largely made up of quotations from the Old Testament. The first of these is from Joel (2:28-32), and Peter quotes these verses addressed to ancient Israel and applies them to all those who would believe in Jesus as “both Lord and Christ”: “all flesh,” “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” In His commission to the Disciples, Jesus said: “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:18). Thus the risen Lord spoke as a king who is about to receive His kingdom, and to take His place at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Peter in Acts 2:33 describes the outpouring of the Spirit predicted by Joel as a demonstration of the fact that He has already received and is now exercising that royal authority.
This can only mean that Jesus had entered into His kingdom, and that this great inaugural event of the church age is to be regarded as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. The King is now exercising His sovereign power. Note this significance in such verses as Acts 3:16; Acts 4:10,30; Acts 5:31,etc.
The temple described so minutely in Ezekiel 40-48 also has its present fulfillment in the Christian church, and each individual believer. Individually as well as collectively the Messiah is now building His “temple” wherein He now reigns in power. (Zechariah 6:12,15; 1 Corinthians 3:16,17;6:19; Ephesians 2:21,22, etc.) The minute and most exact measurements of each part of the temple is experienced by those who seek to do only that which is in harmony with the Divine measuring rod. (Compare Ezekiel 40:3, with Revelation 11:l) Our Christian experience harmonizes with the interpretation. All the temple scenes of the Bible whether as recorded in the history of ancient Israel or in the prophetic portions of Scripture-were written to typify God’s moral/righteous purposes, and that by them individuals might find the way of salvation.
Anyone who studies the Scriptures in a way “approved unto God” is said to be “a worker that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). A true understanding of Bible prophecies reveals the gospel teaching that the abiding Presence of the Savior affords protection and deliverance from hostile foes: victory is assured through the indwelling Spirit of God. This article is sent forth with the prayer that God will bless its readers with a clearer understanding of the moral purpose of the prophecies and with the realization that Christ the King of Glory (Psalms 24:7-10) reigns in the trusting heart and gives victory over sin. “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
A faithful, trusting heart is held as an impregnable fortress upon a very high mountain” (Ezekiel 40:2; Ezekiel 43:12; Ephesians 1:3; 6:12; Revelation 14:1; etc.) in the midst of hostile foes. The power, or “gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) “Kept by the power of God through faith.” (1 Peter 1:5) “Strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” (Ephesians 3:16,17.) “We [the Father, Son and Holy Spirit] will make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23.) “I will encamp about mine house.” (Zechariah 9:8) “For I, said the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about her, and will be the glory in the midst of her.” (Zechariah 2: 5.) “Turn you to the strong hold,” (Zechariah 9:12).
The Experience of Salvation As Seen In Bible Prophecy
Next week we will be dealing more in depth about how our personal experience with Christ is the story of Bible prophecy. In the meantime, please find enclosed a brief summary of The Experience Of Salvation:
The Experience of Salvation
In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, Substitute and Example. This saving faith comes through the divine power of the Word (Heb 4:12 Rom 12:2). The Word of God is not simply a collection of words from God, a vehicle for communicating ideas; it is living, life-changing, and dynamic as it works in us. With the incisiveness of a surgeon’s knife, God’s Word reveals who we are and what we are not. It penetrates the core of our moral and spiritual life. It discerns what is within us, both good and evil, and and is the gift of God’s grace. The demands of God’s Word require decisions. We must not only listen to the Word; we must also let it shape our lives. (Rom 12:2, Phil 3:10-14)
God has good, pleasing, and perfect plans for his children. He wants us to be transformed people with renewed minds, living to honor and obey him. Because he wants only what is best for us, and because he gave his Son to make our new life possible, we should joyfully give ourselves as living sacrifices for his service. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God’s law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4) and have the assurance of salvation.
Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God. Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. (Rom 12:1-2, CEV)
Are you ready for this kind of experience?
Extra Study For next Week’s Message
(Gen 3:15; Isa 45:22; Isa 53:1-12; Jer 31:31-34; Eze 33:11; Eze 36:25-27; Hab 2:4; Mark 9:23-24; John 3:3-8; John 3:16; Rom 3:21-26; Rom 8:1-4; Rom 8:14-17; Rom 5:6-10; Rom 10:17; Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 5:17-21; Gal 1:4; Gal 3:13-14; Gal 3:26; Gal 4:4-7; Eph 2:4-10; Col 1:13-14; Titus 3:3-7; Heb 8:7-12; 1 Pet 1:23; 1 Pet 2:21-22; 2 Pet 1:3-4; Rev 13:8)
People’s desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful deeds. They worship idols, practice witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with. People become jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they are envious. They get drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well. I told you before, and I am telling you again: No one who does these things will share in the blessings of God’s kingdom. God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. Gal 5:25 God’s Spirit has given us life, and so we should follow the Spirit. But don’t be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than they are. (Gal 5:19-26, CEV)