Friday, July 10, 2015
The value of studying the prophets in the Bible
As Peter wrote his first letter, the Holy Spirit reminded him to reflect on those Old Testament counter-parts that set the stage for what would be the coming of Jesus Christ and the New Testament era - namely the prophets. Over the past couple of weeks I have been think upon the prophets and the prophetic ministry in mainly the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. Each part of our Bible is extremely important in developing Christian faith and better acquaintence with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Law points to Christ, the historical books prepare for Christ and the poetic books ponder on Christ. The Gospels portray Christ, Acts preaches Christ, the Epistles explain Christ and Revelation places Christ right before our eyes.
But now what have I missed? Ah yes, the prophets. The prophets are immensely important, since they comprise more of the Old Testament than any of the other sections. Moreover, there are more prophetic books than any other type of literature in the Bible, save the letter or New Testament Epistles. Amazingly, the prophetic books seem at times to wear all of the hats of the other sections. The Apostle Peter gives us an authoritative word on the value of studying the prophets and their writings in the Bible. In brief, I want us to look at 1 Peter 1:10-12 and discover the value of studying the prophets.
1. The prophets shed light on salvation.
That as to say, Peter places the purpose of the prophetic office as expounding upon and urging human beings to believe, repent and be saved. As Peter writes: "concerning this salvation". (1 Peter 1:10)
2. The prophets predict future events
Peter goes on in 1 Peter 1:10b "the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries." This particular function of the prophetic office is what most think of when defining the prophet. Undoubtedly there is a large part of the prophetic books that predict future events. Among the traits pointing to the Bible Divine revelation, none perhaps demonstrates more its character as Divine revelation than predicted fulfilled prophecy. Furthermore, to read the prophecies of the Bible serves to warn, clarify and most important of all, comfort the saints of God. (see for instance 1 Thessalonians 4:18)
3. The prophets point us to Jesus
Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:11 "seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow." The same Holy Spirit Who indwells every Christian today and Who inspired the scriptures was at work in the prophets. Not only was He working in the writing prophets of Moses, Samuel, David and Isaiah to Malachi, but also in other lesser known prophets such as Enoch and Nathan. The prophets wrote or verbalized about arks, tabernacles, priesthoods, sacrifices, nations, kings, physical objects and did miracles all for the sake of picturing or predicting something about Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself stated in Luke 24:44 that the Law and the Prophets spoke concerning Him. Peter, Paul and the other New Testament authors quote or allude to the prophetic books on numerous occassions in demonstrating and further unfolding the wonder of Jesus. So the value of studying the prophetic books is to shed light on salvation, future events and Jesus Christ. Now lets consider one final reason...
4. Prophets unfold God's will for our lives
1 Peter 1:12 states - "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look." Prophets served the people by bringing to them God's will and revelation. Amazingly, Peter brings home the main life-application of this text by plainly stating that the prophets were not serving themselves - but you. How? They announced. They unfolded, explained and made known the will of God for God's people in all ages at all times. Amos 3:7 reminds us that God does not make known His will save through the prophets. Hence this is why we need to become more acquuainted with the prophets, being that we can gain a better understanding of how God would have us to live our lives for Him today.
Today we considered four reasons why it is valuable to study the prophets in the Bible:
1. They shed light on salvation
2. They predict future events
3. They point to Jesus Christ
4. They unfold God's will for our lives