Understand That Prophecy is "Like a Lamp
Shining in a Dark Place." (2 Peter 1:19 NLT)
Prophecy is God's Way of
Lighting the Darkness
God has given us a timeless window to expose the future darkness which awaits mankind by having his prophets write extremely detailed predictions about what is going to happen to our planet. Keep in mind that 25 percent of the Bible is prophecy, so it is unlike any other book, ancient or modern in that regard. There is no other religion (except Judaism) that offers so much up-to-date information about the future of the world. It really contains history pre-written.
This article will show you why Bible prophecy is a unique source of information and it also gives several rules of interpretation that Christian scholars apply to confirm that a prediction is valid. If you know the rules of scriptural interpretation you will be much less likely to make mistakes when you read, interpret and follow biblical prophecies. This is very important so that you don't go off with some half-baked interpretation.
In Second Peter chapter one we have a passage which explains some of how prophecy works:
"We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:19-21 NIV). Now let's break down six things that passages states:
1. Prophecy messages are completely reliable. Over the centuries many have claimed that they could foretell the future. But when you're wondering and worrying about the future, it's important to pay attention to a proven source that is accurate. There are no cases of false prophecies found in the Bible that are attributed to God. This is totally NOT the case with the predictions made from anyone other than biblical prophets. God's prophets were 100 percent accurate or they were to be put to death. So false prophets didn't last long.
But most gullible people would rather check out the local market tabloids with their attention grabbing headlines about what will happen next. The so-called seers and the bogus prophets who loudly proclaim their crazy predictions are never around when none of them comes true. For years I clipped the predictions offered in the National Enquirer and proved to myself that about one percent of those predictions actually came true. You could do better if you just guessed!
2. You are smart to pay attention to what Bible prophecy says. You are wise if you pay attention to what the Bible predicts, because it is your future and the future of your world. If you know what's coming you will be so much more likely to survive and spend eternity together with Christ and other Christian believers.
3. Bible prophecy will be a light shining in a dark place until the Lord returns. When you can't see, it's really nice to have a light. And that's exactly what God's Word does for us all. It illuminates our pathway and shows us the proper way to go.
4. Understand that no prophecy found in the Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation of things. So these prophets weren't just guessing like so many of the modern day seers do. People today make a living at dispensing false information. It is nice to understand that God is the one behind all of these predictions because he has a purpose in everything that he writes to us.
5. Biblical prophecy never had its origin in the human will. These men didn't say what they wanted to say. They spoke what God told them to say. That's important because we all have our human motives, but God's motives are pure (where ours almost never are).
6. Even though prophets were human, they spoke what God told them to speak through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is so important to grasp that these prophecies were meant to give us a future messages that the prophet couldn't have possibly have known the meaning of when the Holy Spirit moved him to speak and write. That's why it is so important for us to listen up.
How to Understand God's Prophecies
Many claim the Bible can't be trusted because there are so many different interpretations of it. Now it's certainly true that all interpretations can't be trusted, but that doesn't change the fact that it is God's Word. The problem is that many cults and even Christian groups create bogus teachings because they break the established rules of interpretation. The Bible is not a confusing document, but if you use improper methods to understand and then explain it, you'll end up missing what God is really saying.
Mishandling God's Word can lead you down a path toward your own spiritual destruction (like right into a cult) so you want to know the basic rules. Nearly all false doctrines taught today by both Christians and cultists can be traced to them distorting the Bible's meaning. Here are several rules which should help you come to the truth of what God is saying in his Word.
1. Let the Bible passage speak for itself. If you attempt to "read into" a passage what you want (or even think) it should say, you miss God's message. Let it speak, even if you don't like what it is saying. That's the surest way to get to the truth. If you hear that there are two different interpretations about the meaning of a passage, select the one most in agreement with all the facts of what it seems to be saying.
2. All Scripture is necessary, and it can be understood when you diligently study and apply it to your life. (2 Timothy 3:15-17). God didn't write anything that was unnecessary. Even so-called problem passages can be understood if you give yourself to them. It all has a purpose.
3. Every word of a passage must have its proper bearing on the
subject presented in the Bible. ( See Matthew 5:18). The meaning of
a passage is always consistent with the meanings of the words in the
passage. If you don't have the correct definition for the words (considering
that the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek) you can miss the message. So
if necessary, study the meaning of the words with the proper (Greek or
4. Stick with the proper usage of a passage. Remember that the Old Testament was written originally by, to and for the Jews. Most of the New Testament was written in the first century for the Christians and the Church. It's important not impose a modern bias onto a passage that was written for people back then.
5. Let the Bible interpret itself. If the Bible says something is true, it is. You should seldom second guess the clear intent of the Word. When one biblical passage interprets another, or even when it interprets its own meaning, then that is your clue to follow the Scripture's interpretation. The Bible is the best single interpreter of the Word. You can stay out of a low of false doctrine by letting one passage clarify another.
For example, Jesus interpreted the Old Testament literally, including the
Creation of Adam and Eve (Matthew 25:34), Noah's Ark and the flood (Luke
17:26-27), Jonah and the great fish (Matthew 12:39-41), Sodom and Gomorrah
(Matthew 10:15), and the account of Lot and his wife (Luke 17:28-29).
6. When the plain sense in a Bible passage makes sense, seek no other sense. Whenever possible, stick with this normal literal sense of the meaning as it was intended when written. The Bible doesn't defy logic; when you know it well you discover that it is a reasonable and logical book to belief. Try not to read into a passage a meaning what isn't really there, unless the Scriptures does that by itself. Always listen to the Word and follow its guidelines about other passages.
7. If a passage is prophetic (because it clearly foretells a future
event) interpret it in the light of that prediction. Not all
prophetic passages will announce that they are foretelling the future, but
when it becomes obvious a passage is a prophecy treat it accordingly.
Sometimes a Bible writer will indicate that another earlier writer was
speaking a prophecy, even though it may not seemed like it at the time.
(Peter did this several times in his sermon at Pentecost (in Acts 2).
8. A Bible prophecy may have more than one fulfillment. You find this throughout the Scriptures themselves. Bible writers often give a completely different interpretation about the fulfillment of an already fulfilled promise and apply it to a new situation (again I reference Peter in Acts 2). Never rule out that an "old prediction" might have a "new application." God likes to do that.
9. A single Bible prophecy may be broken up into two or more different fulfillments widely spread apart. This can confuse the careless student if he doesn't realize what the Lord has done. One prophecy fulfillment can have taken place thousands of years ago, and a second fulfillment may still be yet to come. And don't expect fulfillment to be limited just to the unnatural verse references; often right in the middle of a passage the prediction time will shift to another future event.
10. God reveals things to come through visions and parables. Visions (like the Book of Revelation) are always labeled to be the visions that they are. Parables are stories that are told with a spiritual meaning and which must be explained. Sometimes (as in the Parable of the Sower) but not always, parables will actually foretell the future.
11. Figures always have a figurative meaning which must be understood before any prophecy will make sense. They are used a lot in prophecy to represent future things, times and events. For example, mountains often mean governments; beasts often mean kingdoms or leaders of kingdoms; fig tree often means the nation of Israel; waters often mean people; lamps often mean the Word of God; a day often means a year.
12. Be aware that some figures have multiple meanings. Fire
is both good and bad; the lion is used both for Satan and the Lord. To learn
the true meaning of figures, trace the figure found in a concordance (or
Online) through out the Bible and see where you find it explained. If the
explanation somewhere else in Scripture makes good sense you need look no
further. If not, keep looking.
13. The meaning of figures can vary. For example "day" is used to indicate three different periods of time: indefinite (Ecclesiastes 7:14); definite, as a day for a year (Ezekiel 4:6); and a day for a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8). So it may take some work trying to determine what the right construction is to get the passage to harmonize with the rest of the Bible and make sense.
14. How to know whether a specific historical event has fulfilled a prophecy? If you find every word of the prophecy is literally fulfilled, then you may likely know your history is the true event. But if one word lacks a fulfillment, or the figures don't all make sense, then you must look for another event, or wait its future fulfillment.
15. You can tell the mind of God by what events he repeats time and
again. If there are many different visions, or different figures
and parables about a future event, it is obviously important to God. To
understand that even more fully, you'll want to combine all of the passages
which refer to it into one and study them.
16. A prophecy can imply that a future event will happen.
An inference can be reasonably implied from another fact already given in
the passage. If the future event is a logical consequence of some other
described event, you can logically deduce what's coming. Jesus used this
type of reasoning when he proved the resurrection of the dead to the
unbelieving Sadducees in Matthew 22:23-33.
17. Depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit as you study prophecy. The Bible tells us we should rely upon the Holy Spirit's illumination for understanding into the meaning and application of Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:9-11). This is logical because the Spirit is the one who inspired the Word in the first place (2 Peter 1:21). So is it any wonder that he is also its supreme interpreter?
Remember that God gave prophecy to warn the world in these last days. So he
wants you to be able to read and understand his predictions so that you will
heed them and respond to his message. This brings us to the purpose of all
prophecy. . .
The All Important Purpose of Prophecy
The Lord never gave prophecy just to entertain us or make a big splash. There is no question that accurately predicting the future does grab people's attention. And God knows that. But that is not the main reason he offered so many thousands of prophecies in his Word. There has almost always been one main purpose behind all prophecy: the correction of sin.
When the Lord foretells the future, he almost always tells those who are hearing about the coming event about how they have sinned. He reveals this to them because the main purpose of prophecy is to elicit in our hearts a change of opinion about sin. That change of mind is called repentance. More than anything else, God wants that from us. If we don't change our heart about the exceedingly sinfulness of sin, we will not change. And if we do not change, the prophecy is really in vain. We will die in our sins and will spend an eternity apart from him in hell.
This is why it's important to understand that the doom which God is promising to those who do not repent will surely come. Look at the coming events and fear them. But even more, fear what will happen to you eternally if you do not change your heart and follow him.
Check out the horrendous prophecy that is being fulfilled right now as you read this. Is Fukushima God's Judgment? It is a powerful message that you need to know about, because this prophecy WILL definitely impact you in the near future.
Also, check out the Eight Signs of the Last Days which clearly lets you know that we're in the last days. And finally, read why Israel Becoming a Nation proves without a doubt that we are in the last days.