Bible Prophecy and You: The Valuable Benefits and Purposes of Bible Prophecy

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Bible Prophecy and You

The Valuable Benefits and Purposes of Bible Prophecy

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Bible Prophecy and You: The Valuable Benefits and Purposes of Bible Prophecy

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Welcome to the third study in the “Bible Prophecy and You ” series. You may have wondered: Why prophecy? What is its purpose? What are the benefits? That’s what this study is about.

We’re all curious about the future and what’s in store for us personally. And our loving Creator doesn’t want His people to be in the dark and worried with fear of the unknown. So He inspired the Bible to be a guidebook and map for our life’s journeys.

Bible prophecy does indeed satisfy much of our curiosity about the future, but God has greater purposes for it than just that. These are wonderful spiritual purposes!

In this study, you’ll learn God’s purposes for giving us prophetic revelations about both the future of the world and your future personally!

Why is Bible prophecy important? Why did God reveal so much about the future through His prophets? What are God’s reasons for wanting us to understand the prophecies?

A reader in Texas says this of her experiences learning about prophecy:

“When I began to understand the Bible and Bible prophecy, I thought wow —so many of my big questions are being answered!

“It was so comforting and inspiring to learn God’s long-range plan for mankind. What a blessing that God lets us know in advance what to expect and how we can be prepared. What I had been taught in another church left me somewhat confused and fearful. Now the more I understand what the Bible teaches about the past, present and future, the more peace I feel.

“More and more I could see that God is in control, He can protect us from anything, He has a time for everything, and He knows what’s best for each of us. Now that I know the great examples of faith in Bible history and God’s promises and plan for the future, I have courage, peace and confidence that God is working out His will in my life.”

God’s prophets did much more than pass along predictions

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
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). Therefore all Bible prophecies came from God. God’s prophets were merely the messengers who spoke and wrote down the revelations from God. Some prophecies apply to nations, some to individuals and some to both. Many prophecies are conditional, especially those that apply to individuals, as we will see.

People mistakenly assume that the prophets were only predicting . No, they had a dual role. God sent them to predict or foretell the future and to preach (see, for example, Jonah 3:2-4 Jonah 3:2-4 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the preaching that I bid you. 3 So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. 4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
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). And what did they preach? They preached that people should repent of their sins and turn to God—“to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life” (Ezekiel 3:18 Ezekiel 3:18When I say to the wicked, You shall surely die; and you give him not warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand.
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).

God will bless and save all who repent of their sinful ways and turn to a life of obeying and serving Him. You see, God’s prophets were sent to motivate people with a “carrot and stick” message. Prophecies included both warnings about punishments and promises of rewards.

In Deuteronomy 11:26-28 Deuteronomy 11:26-28 26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27 A blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28 And a curse, if you will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which you have not known.
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, we read a concise summary of the kind of message God’s prophets were to preach: “Behold,  I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God … and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God.”

Let’s now examine some of God’s main purposes for giving us His prophecies.

Is fulfilled prophecy a proof of God?

“Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure [that is, whatever I please],’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it” (Isaiah 46:9-11 Isaiah 46:9-11 9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executes my counsel from a far country: yes, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
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).

Notice again, God said: “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning … Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass.” As we’ll see in studies 5 and 6 in this series, we have plenty of proof of the supreme power of God. His many, many prophecies always come to pass exactly as He foretold because He makes them happen!

Is fulfilled prophecy a proof of the Bible?

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21 2 Peter 1:20-21 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
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).

At times, God’s prophets just wrote down what they heard God say to them. At other times, they “spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Every single biblical prophecy of a past event has been fulfilled perfectly, and we will examine some of them in future lessons. As future prophesied events happen, we will have even more proof of the divine inspiration of the Bible.

Does knowledge of prophecy help us to interpret world news and events?

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.

“Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:28-37 Mark 13:28-37 28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: 29 So you in like manner, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that it is near, even at the doors. 30 Truly I say to you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. 31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 32 But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33 Take you heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is. 34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch you therefore: for you know not when the master of the house comes, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you I say to all, Watch.
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).

Yes, prophecy enables us to intelligently “watch” with understanding. Because Bible prophecy is accurate and reliable, it gives us a foundational worldview and framework by which we can analyze the news. By it, we are able to sort out what has long-range significance from the flood of news that does not. Jesus told His disciples, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see” (Luke 10:23-24 Luke 10:23-24 23 And he turned him to his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that you see: 24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.
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).

Does advance knowledge prepare us so we will be calm and courageous when hardships come?

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble … These things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you” (John 16:1 John 16:1These things have I spoken to you, that you should not be offended.
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; John 16:4 John 16:4But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not to you at the beginning, because I was with you.
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).

“When the time [of trials] comes,” Christ does not want us to “stumble”—to be shocked, to panic or to fall away. This is a major reason our loving God “reveals His secret to His servants” (Amos 3:7 Amos 3:7Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.
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). When God’s prophecies come to pass exactly as He foretold, that strengthens our faith to trust Him for care and protection.

Does God give people understanding and warnings before holding them accountable?

“And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:47-48 Luke 12:47-48 47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
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).

God is completely fair and merciful. He holds people accountable for what they know, being willing to overlook their “times of ignorance” (Acts 17:30 Acts 17:30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent:
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). God will not finally judge anyone without first teaching and warning about the dire consequences of sin as well as revealing the wonderful results of living His way (see also James 4:17 James 4:17Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.
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and John 9:41 John 9:41Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you should have no sin: but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains.
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).

What primary commission did Jesus give to His disciples—to His Church from that time forward?

“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation’” (Mark 16:15 Mark 16:15And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
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, New International Version).

The “gospel” means good news because it is primarily about Jesus Christ’s return to establish the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14 Mark 1:14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
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). But the message also includes a “witness” or warning about the end-time trials leading up to Christ’s return (see Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
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). As John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ’s first coming (see Matthew 3:1-3 Matthew 3:1-3 1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
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; Luke 3:2-6 Luke 3:2-6 2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
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), this preaching of the gospel prepares the way for Christ’s second coming.

Christ’s commission to His Church can be compared to the duty given a “watchman.” What does that mean?

“Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: “When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life.

“‘“But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.”

“‘So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me … Say to them: “As I live,” says the Lord God, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?”’” (Ezekiel 33:1-7 Ezekiel 33:1-7 1 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them, When I bring the sword on a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: 3 If when he sees the sword come on the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4 Then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet, and takes not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be on him. But he that takes warning shall deliver his soul. 6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. 7 So you, O son of man, I have set you a watchman to the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.
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; Ezekiel 33:11 Ezekiel 33:11Say to them, As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
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).

A watchman was to sound a warning whenever he saw danger approaching. Today, God’s Church serves in the role of spiritual “watchman.” This partly explains why prophecy is so important and why God wants His Church to teach and preach His prophecies. God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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).

Apply now

Read Jonah chapters 3 and 4 and see what spiritual lessons you can learn. Because the basic facts of a story like this are turned into a children’s story, people often neglect to read it seriously. This is a good example of a conditional prophecy (see Jeremiah 18:7-10 Jeremiah 18:7-10 7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; 8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do to them. 9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, with which I said I would benefit them.
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). Jonah told the people of Nineveh that if they didn’t repent of their sins within 40 days, God would destroy the city.

This is a story with a happy ending. The Ninevites did repent, and God spared the city for many years to come. In the same story, you’ll see how Jonah had to learn some lessons the hard way.

Write down the main lesson God was teaching the people of Nineveh and the main lesson He was teaching Jonah. What are the main lessons He is teaching you through this prophecy?