Greetings in Jesus’ Name,
We are looking at clues to understanding the prophets. We need to remember that the prophets were not speaking for the benefit of people not yet born, like you and me. We tend to think of a “prophet” as one who foretells the future. It is more helpful to think of thems as “seers”, those who see what others do not, both in the present and in the future. They see better than anyone else. As you read the prophets you can see that the “now” was more important to them than the future. You can see three aspects to their prophecies:
1 – Prophecies that clearly relate to the prophet’s own day (Assyria will invade Moab; Israel’s alliance with Egypt is a mistake).
2 – Predictions of future events that would be fulfilled later in history, like the Messianic prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.
3 – Prophecies that are still in the future but will be fulfilled, like a world tribulation and a future mass conversion of the Jews, and the second coming of Jesus. These are the ones with the greatest variety of interpretations, especially as to how and when.
The difficulty lies in understanding whether each prophecy is meant for the next day, a hundred years later or in the distant future. Here, the prophets themselves don’t help us, because although they uttered words inspired by God, they had no idea of God’s timetable. Jesus Himself, within His limitation as a human being, admitted this of Himself.
Some prophecies clearly referred to current events, but also had a future aspect as well. Consider Joel chapter 2, that looks as though he is speaking of the devastation caused by a plague of locusts. Joel 2:1-11. This would have been interpreted as an actual insect plague at the time, but the same chapter speaks of a time when God’s Spirit would be poured out on all people. Joel 2:25-29 It sounds as though the two events followed on immediately, one after the other, but there was a period of around 600 years between them. But then again, what of the following verses, Joel 2:30-32 that refers to the “day of the Lord”, a term used to refer to the final judgement. This is one example of three time frames in one chapter.
Sometimes, the same prophecy has two different fulfillments, such as Isaiah 7:14. The next two verses make clear that the sign had a fulfillment in Isaiah’s day (15-16), Isaiah’s own child, Isaiah 8:3-4. Then Matthew clearly links this prophecy with the birth of Jesus. Matthew 1:22. We are constrained by timetables and events that “come to pass”, but God is eternal, outside of created time.
Lord give me wisdom to accept that your timing is perfect.
Let’s pray for those who were contacted through Here 4 you:
Mikala & family
Tracy, Melanie & Chris