Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summarizing Top Bible Prophecies

Revelation 19:10 "Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Over a period of time we have looked at key texts that unfold key themes and purposes of God's prophetic program in scripture.  We have termed such scriptures: "Top Bible Prophecies".  A Top Bible prophecy is characterized by its scope of coverage of time and the future, its depiction of God's glory, the number of other scriptures connected to it and the clarity we gain about the Christian identity.  Today I want to tie all of the top Bible prophecies together by attempting to offer a summary explanation of each with a concluding section on the five purposes of prophecy that we gain from these texts.  

Briefly Summarizing Top Bible Prophecies

1. Genesis 3:15 The Seed Promise
We began considering the first mention of the Gospel in the Bible, as well as the first example of predictive prophecy: Genesis 3:15.  The most important word in the text is the word "seed", a term that points ultimately to God's plan of salvation as seen in other texts such as God's words to Noah in Genesis 6:9.  The next top Bible Prophecy, Genesis 12:1-7, also includes this word "seed" and exhibits God's clarifying of His plan of salvation to being also His promise.

2. Genesis 12:1-7 God's Covenant with Abraham
From Genesis 3:15 to 12:1 is roughly 2,000 years period of time and 20 generations of humanity stretching from Adam to Noah and then from Noah's Son Shem to Abram.  God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees and began to reveal to him the Promise of salvation.  Not only would God bring forth a specific "seed" from Abram, but God also promised at least two other promises: a land for Abram's descendants and blessing upon every tribe and nation of the earth due to the Promise.  This three-fold cord of land, seed and blessing would weave its way throughout the rest of scripture and through the next two top Bible Prophecies: Deuteronomy 30 and 2 Samuel 7:8-16.

3. Deuteronomy 30 The Promised Land
470 years after God first spoke to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees, we find Moses and the second generation of Israelites which he led encamped on the plains of Moab East of the Jordon.  God's word to Abraham of a land promise back in Genesis 12:7 would eventually become fulfilled partially whenever the Israelites would nearly conquer the land of Canaan under Joshua's leadership in the Book of Joshua.  Despite living in the land and at times having possession of the land in large portions, historically Israel never had full-possession of the promised land.  If we take Deuteronomy 30 seriously, we can only conclude that the prophecy spoken has a future fulfillment at Christ's return.  

4. 2 Samuel 7:8-16 A shepherd and The King
From the days of Moses in Deuteronomy 30 until David's day in 2 Samuel 7 we cover over 400 years of time.  The "land" portion of Abraham's covenant back in Genesis 12:7 was spelled out in Deuteronomy 30, which meant the need to spell out further the promise of a "seed".  God's Covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7:8-16 serves to amplify the "seed" promise, unfolding the truths of a royal bloodline extending from David to a second truth, the Ultimate descendant being none other than Jesus Christ.  A shepherd David was called to be King and would be used by virtue of his bloodline to be the means by which the Great Shepherd would arrive into this world.  That same Great Shepherd would give His life and raise from the dead and ascend into heaven.  That same Descendant of David, the Lord Jesus Christ, will return to take up His physical throne in Jerusalem to begin the physical part of His 1,000 year reign over His people and the earth.  

5. Psalm 110 
Psalm 110 is termed a "top Bible prophecy" by virtue of the fact it is the most quoted Old Testament scripture in the New Testament.  Psalm 110 explains how God's Covenant with David would lead Christ, and how God's Covenant with David was not just with David as it was with His own Son in eternity.  Often God will replay Eternal events and truths that He worked out within Himself by way of historic covenants.

6. Isaiah 53
As much as top Bible Prophecies cover the glories of the future surrounding Christ's second coming and conquering reign, some top Bible Prophecies also predict the sufferings of His first coming.   This prophecy tells of not only details leading up to Christs death, but it even details his death by crucifixion, a form of torture that would be invented over 300 years after Isaiah's writing and perfected by Jesus' day.

7. Jeremiah 31:31-33 The New Covenant
By reading Jeremiah's prediction of the New Covenant in concert with Hebrews 8:7-13, we come to discover the power God was going to provide for the faith-walk in a spiritual sense for believers in this age and for Israel physically in the age to come.  The New Covenant promises and prophecies serve to amplify the "blessing" portion of God's covenant with Abraham way back in Genesis 12:1-7.  For this blogger, it would appear that Genesis 12:1-7 is the theological and spiritual center of Old Testament revelation and all of the major themes leading up to the New Testament.  In a sense then, the New Covenant is a "re-echoing" of God's Covenant with Abraham that would be fulfilled and made available by Jesus Christ to all Jew and Gentiles who would by grace through faith believe on Him.  

8. Daniel 9:24-27 The Bible's greatest prophecy
The final "top Bible prophecy" of this series is the most far reaching in that it covers three main truths about God's Sovereignty, Christ's cross and Christ's second coming.  God's calendar for history is the nation of Israel as it pertains to the first and second comings of Christ. Through Daniel God predicted a 490 year prescribed period of time for the nation of Israel and really the world at large.  The first 49 of those years would cover the rebuilding of Jerusalem from the exile to the end of the Old Testament.  The second block of  434 years would stretch from the days of Malachi to the death of Christ.  Since the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, God's calendar for Israel has been put on hold in order to give room for Gentiles to be called and drawn to saving faith. (Romans 11:1-24) Such an action by God has not revoked any of His plans to restore Israel, since their remains one final 7 year period for Israel to be fulfilled.  That final seven year period called by Jesus and others "The Tribulation", will be used by God to purify Israel, call sinners to salvation and to prepare the earth for wrath before His return.  Daniel closes as a closed book or a padlock of sorts, with the Book of Revelation functioning as the key.  It is in Revelation 6-19 we find the full unfolding of Daniel's 70th week or last seven year period of time.  Thankfully, the Lord Jesus Christ will have the final word.  

Five Purposes of Prophecy gained from these texts
1. To clarify God's present and future purposes
Genesis 3:15 begins with a general statement about "the seed of the woman", with Genesis 12:7 and the New Testament clarifying by prophecy that the "Seed" would initially be Israel and ultimately Jesus Christ.  Prophecy throughout the Bible progressively clarifies in sharper and sharper detail God's present and future purposes.

2. To correct sin.  Prophecy was confrontational in that it aimed to correct sin.  Daniel was praying and confessing the sins of his nation and God revealed in Daniel 9:24-27 about the prescribed time God was going to use to bring the nation of Israel to repentance at the appearing of her Messiah.  Prophecy performs this corrective function by warning of future wrath and giving insight into the human heart. 

3. To comfort the saints.  The New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:7-13 brings great comfort to the saints.  Prophecy demonstrates that the Christian life will succeed because of God's doing and grace. (Philippians 1:6) Prophecies such as the New Covenant ensure that all true believers in this present age and for Israel at Christ's appearing will endure and have power to live for Him.  

4. To Predict the future. Prophecy certainly addresses current situations but it also predicts of things to come.  All of the Top Bible Prophecies are marked by predictions of things near to the author as well as events that have yet to take place.  

5. To point to Jesus Christ.  Every single one of the top Bible Prophecies we looked at pointed in some fashion to Jesus Christ.  The first four purposes of Bible prophecies serve this final purpose: point to Jesus.  Revelation 19:10 reminds us that the testimony of Jesus Christ is the Spirit of prophecy.  Jesus Himself reminded His disciples in Luke 24:44 that the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms point to Him.  This entire study has aimed to point the reader to the soon return of Jesus Christ.  May you be blessed dear reader and be made more hungry for the study of His word and the hastening of His Soon return.  

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