The importance of the study and understanding of prophetic scripture has a solid basis throughout the Bible. It was stressed not only by the apostles and prophets, but by Jesus Christ. If the understanding of the prophetic scriptures relating to the first coming of Jesus Christ to the earth was important, then likewise, discernment of those relating to his second coming are at least equally important. Below are some important reasons why all believers should have a solid understanding in prophetic scripture.
- Jesus honored the disciple’s quest for prophetic knowledge.
Near the end of the ministry of Jesus Christ, some of his disciples came to him privately and asked him about the signs of his coming and signs of the end of the age:
Mat 24:3 As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, "Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
Jesus did not rebuke these disciples or call them sign-seekers. Instead of telling them to be more concerned with other issues, Jesus gave them one of the most profound prophetic discourses in all of scripture, spanning Matthew chapters 24 and 25. This sincere quest for knowledge and discernment in the disciples was not suppressed or discouraged. Believers today can therefore be assured that the quest for understanding of his second coming is a worthy pursuit.
- Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders for not discerning the prophetic signs.
In contrast, Jesus himself rebuked Jewish leaders of his day for failing to discern the signs of the first coming of the Messiah. On one occasion, Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees and Sadducees, who asked him to produce a sign from heaven that he was who he claimed to be. Jesus complemented their ability to discern weather patterns, but rebuked them for their inability to evaluate the spiritually significant signs of that present time. Instead of a sign from heaven, Jesus hinted only at the sign of Jonah the prophet, who was a model of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
On another occasion, Jesus wept over the entire city of Jerusalem because they failed to discern the time in which they were living–a time when the Lord himself visited them with a physical presence:
Mat 19:44 They will demolish you—you and your children within your walls—and they will not leave within you one stone on top of another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God."
How could his contemporaries have recognized the time of their visitation from God? By studying the prophetic scriptures in Daniel. The final four verses of Daniel chapter 9 detail the precise amount of time from the announcement to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem until the coming of the Messiah to be 483 years. If they would have calculated the number of years, they would have known that the time in which Jesus was living were the days the Messiah was to appear on the earth. Believers today should also be watching the signs for the second coming.
- Believers are exhorted to look for the Lord’s next appearing.
Paul exhorted believers to continue to assemble together for meetings, but to do so even more as they saw the day of the coming of Jesus Christ approaching:
Heb 10:25 not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.
How were the people to know that the day of Christ’s coming was drawing near? Is there any other way to do this but to understand the prophetic scriptures of the Old and New Testament? In another passage, Paul admonished his readers that the Lord will return for those who are eagerly waiting for his second appearing:
Heb 9:28 so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation.
- Prophets of old searched the scriptures for the coming of the Messiah.
Possibly the most robust passage concerning the study of prophetic scripture is one penned by the apostle Peter in his first epistle. In explaining how the prophets both wrote and studied their own prophecies in searching for the promised salvation of God, Peter revealed the following:
I Pet 1:10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully.
I Pet 1:11 They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory.
I Pet 1:12 They were shown that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things now announced to you through those who proclaimed the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things angels long to catch a glimpse of.
This is an awesome revelation regarding the diligence of the prophets in studying the prophecies of the coming salvation. In recording the prophecies of the Old Testament, they were not serving themselves, but all who would read them through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the future. Peter also confirmed that the prophecies of scripture are not the product of man, but divinely inspired:
II Pet 1:20 Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination,
II Pet 1:21 for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
The careful searching and investigation of the prophets for the first coming of Christ, in concert with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, should be a model for believers in studying the second coming of Christ.
- The prophetic word is a shining light in a dark place.
Jesus said there will be an end to the present age, and provided many signs for which to look just before that end would come. The exhortation was to be diligent and sober, always watching for the coming of the Lord. In his first epistle, Peter reminded his readers to pay special attention to the prophetic word:
I Pet 1:19 Moreover, we possess the prophetic word as an altogether reliable thing. You do well if you pay attention to this as you would to a light shining in a murky place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
He equated the study of the prophetic word to a person who sees a welcomed light in a dark and murky place. Imagine being in a dark room, stumbling around, unable to see the surroundings. The prophetic word is the light, and human understanding is the dark place. The most important proof of the inspiration of the Bible is its revelation of future events before they occur. The Lord stands outside of the time domain, viewing past, present, and future simultaneously. He revealed what would take place to his apostles and prophets, who recorded them for all to read in the future.
- Daniel read prophetic scrolls to learn about the 70-year captivity in Babylon.
Just before an angel of the Lord visited Daniel with arguably the greatest prophetic revelation in the Bible, Daniel was studying prophetic scripture. While in Babylonian captivity, Daniel was reading a prophecy in Jeremiah just before his intense prayer for the nation and the great revelation he received in response to his prayer:
Dan 9:1 In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus, who was of Median descent and who had been appointed king over the Babylonian empire—
Dan 9:2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, came to understand from the sacred books that, according to the word of the LORD disclosed to the prophet Jeremiah, the years for the fulfilling of the desolation of Jerusalem were seventy in number.
Dan 9:3 So I turned my attention to the Lord God to implore him by prayer and requests, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
The prophecy in Jeremiah that Daniel was reading was in the 25th chapter:
Jer 25:11 This whole area will become a desolate wasteland. These nations will be subject to the king of Babylon for seventy years.’
Jer 25:12 "‘But when the seventy years are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation for their sins. I will make the land of Babylon an everlasting ruin. I, the Lord, affirm it.
Imagine Daniel’s excitement and anticipation of the deliverance of the Jewish people from the Babylonians, as the 70 years were almost complete. As a result of his study and prayer, the angel Gabriel came and revealed the important prophecy of the 70 weeks. Daniel’s study of the prophetic scripture, as well as his intercessory prayer for his nation and people, are a model for believers today.
Clearly, the study of Bible prophecy was not discouraged, but was actually lauded as one of the most important of the aspects in the development of the faith of believers. This should be a source of great encouragement as it is now time to embark upon an intense study of prophetic scripture.
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The preceding was an excerpt from the 1st chapter of Earthquake Resurrection: Supernatural Catalyst for the Coming Global Catastrophe by David W. Lowe. The book features a unique prophetic model involving a pattern with earthquakes and resurrections which sheds new and intriguing light on the future resurrection in connection with a global catastrophe. If you have comments or questions about this excerpt or the book, you may