01.5 Revelation – Jesus: Prophet and Fulfiller of Prophecy

Jesus: Prophet and Fulfiller of Prophecy*
*(see bonus video at the end of this post)

God had no issue with pulling out the stops to deliver the prophetic messages he had for His people, especially when those messages were a call to repentance.  He placed prophets in camel hair eating locusts and honey.  He had them walk around naked.  He had them speak an act so boldly in opposition to human authority that they were thrown in with lions or dumped in blazing furnaces.  The message, not the messenger, was the critical thing and these servants did what was required of them by God for the message to be heard (and hopefully heeded).

With the eccentricities of the old testament prophets in mind, it can be tempting to dismiss prophecy as strange, odd, radical and even crazy.  We may be tempted to have these thoughts as we read about multi-headed, multi-horned creatures and flying mutant animals, massive death and destruction and plagues and the dead rising.

However, we need to keep one key fact in mind.  Jesus Christ not only fulfilled prophecy, but He acknowledged Himself as a prophet.  Jesus made no hesitance to explain that He was sent by God to deliver God’s message to His people.  He did this not only through words, but also through His life, death and resurrection.

Think, too, about how strange some of the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled seemed before His coming.  A virgin will be with child?  God with us?  He will lead Israel to greatness and rejected by Israel?  He will be the ultimate conqueror and pierced and killed, despised and rejected?

But, with the word of the bible and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can clearly see how these prophecies were and will be fulfilled.  We can see that the prophecy of God’s plan for salvation through Jesus, first arriving on a colt and then, at His return, arriving on a cloud are not contradictory, but simply point to two different times.  We can also see that all of this is not random, disconnected information, but all prophecy is ultimately about the one key thing that has always been God’s plan for mankind – to be fully reunited with Him in glory for all eternity, free of sin and suffering and death, for His glory as God.

My Answers:

11. Jesus – predicted His coming through prophecy from God

12.
a.
That the plan (the original plan) was for Christ to come, die, rise again, to prepare a place and time and to come again to bring those in His flock home

b.

That it is the climax of the story of God, the conclusion of the redemption but the beginning of the only true “happily ever after.”

Bonus

This video is an interesting presentation showing how Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy is evidence on which to build faith.

01.3 Revelation – Why does God provide prophecy?

Why does God provide prophecy?

I’m a parent, so I get it that sometimes the answer to why really is because I know best and I say so.  God is under no obligation to explain why He does things.  But, there are times in the bible when He has chosen to share with us why, and in those we learn a lot about the attributes of God Himself.  Take, John 3:16, “for God so loved the world that…”  We see God’s love and His sovereignty over all things, His generosity and mercy and His sacrifice and grace.  Those attributes are consistent through everything else, because God is consistent.

So, in regard to prophecy, I think there are several things we can see from our own nature and the scriptures.

First, we seek enlightenment.  We hunger to know more about what is going to happen.  It gives us security and predictability, it is provides expectations and comfort.  When we gain this enlightenment from prophecy, we not only receive expectation and hope, but we receive assurance because God’s prophecy is reliable because God is reliable.

Second, we have been given God’s prophecy not only as a cerebral knowledge or philosophical enlightenment, but for practical application.  It is evidence on which we build faith and assurance.  It is promises that commit believers to a path (even to the degree of choosing to be killed rather than to deny Christ).  It is to be used for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training.

Third, it is a gift from God, a delegation of His knowledge and power, but not relinquishing His knowledge or power.  We have seen it so frequently in men, that we accept it as a slogan, “knowledge is power.”  Wicked men have always attempted to use knowledge to build themselves up into positions of control and power over others.  God has given us knowledge through prophecy that can be used for His purposes, but He has withheld knowledge that would promote wickedness.  Let’s face it, if God revealed that the second coming of Christ was going to happen on a certain day, we can all imagine how men would manipulate things up to the dawn of that day for their own power and control.  God’s gift of prophecy is not for man to use as a weapon against other men or as a way for us to have control or power over God – it is a gift, provided to draw us into a relationship with Him.

My Answers:

6. Profit, worry, lack of faith, lack of peace or contentment

7.
a.
Isaiah: God declared what would happen long ago, presented it, allowed others to take counsel in it.  God alone.

Amos: God is a personal God who seeks to reveal Himself and His actions to man through the prophets

2 Tim: Scripture is not just for knowledge but for practical application

Hebrews: Prophets did not denounce the prophecy given to them by God, they lived it out in faith and many suffered and died in that faith

1 Pete: Prophets searched trying to find the time and circumstances of the savior – their prophecy was for this time not their time

b.
It is accurate and true, worth living by and dying for.  We don’t know the timing because the timing is not the important element – the important element is that God is God and all of the stories all come back into His story.

8.
Is/Luke: Jesus, the messiah, would be born a son, to a virgin and He would be “God with us.”

Micah/Matt: Jesus, the promised one, would be born in Bethlehem, a king and ruler of Israel

Is/Matt: Jesus would suffer, be despised and rejected.  He would be fully man, a man of suffering and pain

9.
True prophecy is entirely true, it is entirely consistent with the rest of scripture and in particular God’s attributes and God’s nature and, in its time, it is fully and completely fulfilled

10.
It is evidence that speaks to the reliability of God and God’s word.  Because God and His Word are important, prophecy is important because it is God’s word.  We should not ignore any part of God’s word.

 

01.2 Revelation – Prediction vs Prophecy

Prediction vs Prophecy

The book of Revelation in the bible is a book of prophecy.  It is not science fiction.  It is not reflection or musings.  It is not an anthology or timeline or even a threat.  It is prophecy.

In this regard, it stands in good company with the other books of the bible.  There are 17 old testament books referred to as the books of the prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.  There is also prophetic words spoken in many others, from Genesis through the Psalms and even into the new testament.  Jesus not only quoted the prophets, but He himself was a prophet.

But, to understand this, we first need to understand the difference between prophecy and prediction.  There are two key distinctions between prophecy and predictions: source and reliability.

Prophecy always and only comes from God.  It is God delivering enlightenment about the facts of a future event to His creation.  It can be delivered by God through His own voice, through His own hand, through His word given to men, through His Son, or in any other way that God chooses, including a donkey.  The prophet is simply the one who delivers the message.  It is always the message, not the messenger.

Predictions are based on patterns.  All of science is centered around predictions.  When this, then that.  Because God is in all of His creation, He can and does reveal Himself through patterns, but this is different than prophecy.  Patterns are much more about the consistent nature and ongoing attributes of God, where prophecy is about specific intervening points where God will be taking action in the future of His creation.

The other key distinction is reliability.  Because prophecy is from God and God is fully in control, every prophecy will be fully and completely fulfilled, 100%, guaranteed.  Read that last line again.  Prophecy is not about what might happen, it is about what will happen, because it is a promise made by the one in control who never lies.  Predictions on the other hand are simply probabilities based on environments and assumptions.  Even our best scientific “facts” are limited by space and time.  The way things behave on land may be different than in the depths of the ocean or in outerspace, when standing still verses when travelling at incredible speeds, today vs a million years from now.  The word of God has now such limits.

In the same way, prediction is limited to patterns that we have observed.  Venturing out of those patterns in no longer predictions, it is guessing.  Prophecy, on the other hand, is the revelation of future fact.  The understanding that something has never happened before influences prediction, but it has no bearing on prophecy.  The reliability comes from the source and that evidence that past prophecy has never been wrong.  This is not to say that all past prophecy has already been fulfilled (if it was, then we wouldn’t be here studying the book of Revelation because we would already be living in heaven), but it does say that no prophecy has been incorrect.

My Answers:

3. Bible, weather, forecasting, polls, science, extrapolation, fortune tellers, horoscopes

4. Prophecy is from God not from man.  It does not have origin in human will, but spoken from God through humans carried to and through them by the Holy Spirit

5. Prophecy is evidence.  It is for the benefit of man to increase faith.  God revealed and fulfills it so man’s faith would (will) be increased.

00.0 Revelation – The Bible

When I used to travel for business I enjoyed reading Tom Clancy novels.  Clancy was a master of weaving threads into his stories.  You would be reading about a Russian submarine commander and then, with the turn of the page, the story would shift to a cargo ship in a storm which accidentally loses the ties on a piece of lumber which tumbles into the sea.  300 pages may go by before all of these separate threads suddenly merge into a final climax of the book.

But God, the greatest author, is the master of creating a tapestry of inter-joining threads through time.  He started with a single thread, “in the beginning, God”.  He is the thread, the origin of the story.  From here he spins Himself out into all of creation, the heavens and the earth, day and night, plants and animals, us.  He allows for darkness to exist, because He wants us to choose the golden threads of light.  But even when we choose darkness through sin, God still, like a master weaver, simply weaves that into His masterpiece to further highlight the brilliance of His gift.

We as humans, tend to think of this spinning and weaving as always going out and becoming bigger, wider, longer.  Stretching and expanding, spinning further and further out of control.  But the greatest author, God, tells a different story in the bible.  These multiple threads are not the conclusions in and of themselves.  Instead, there is one protagonist, one single main character, that interconnects every thread of life throughout eternity.  The point is not to spin off into a million or billion different stories, but instead to open our eyes to the fact that all of these different stories all lead back to a single, unbroken, thread.

In the book of Revelation, we see the climax of the story.  We see the author separate the dark from the light, we see the lifting and joining of every story and every soul who is connected through grace and faith.  We see the destruction of the darkness, but, more so, we see not only the salvation of God, but we see how everything, through all time, has not been about us, but it has always been about Him.  We think of the bible as books of law and poetry, as history and prophecy, but, it is actually a biography, written so we may understand God and God’s big story.

And, finally, while we reach the climax in Revelation, we don’t reach the conclusion, because, as we will read and study, that thread continues into the sequel, into new life in a new heaven and new earth through the same amazing, eternal God.