United Church of God

Erring on the Side of Caution – Heeding Prophecy

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A Congregation of the United Church of God

Erring on the Side of Caution – Heeding Prophecy

Dear Friends,

Today, February 10, 2018, we are under a Winter Weather Advisory in Northwest Arkansas.  Because of the threat of freezing drizzle before and after church services we decided to err on the side of caution by canceling church services. Recently two local attendees were injured when their car slid off an icy road.  Most of us have the option to tap into one of the nationally available church-service webcasts.

We tend to heed the official Winter Weather Advisories that come from the National Weather Service.  Many people rely upon weather forecasts because it relates to their employment or recreational activities.  People’s activities don’t stop just because the weather is something other than 72 degrees with sunny skies.  They have to make decisions on the margins by asking themselves, “Should I do a particular activity (or not)?

But what about our personal lives?  How often do we check the Biblical forecast to see if there are possible hazards to our own character development?  Many of us daily turn on the radio, television, or access the Internet to check the weather.  Do we have the same diligence to turn to the pages of the Bible to see what lies ahead?

Prophecy has long been an interest to people.  For thousands of years people have looked to seers, soothsayers, and prophets.  Inquiring minds want to know what the future holds in store for them. Despite this human curiosity about the future, many folks underestimate or even dismiss Biblical prophecy. 

In Grant Jeffrey's book The Signature of God he notes that about 27% of the Bible is prophecy. "The Bible contains 1,817 individual predictions concerning 737 separate subjects found in 8,352 verses. These numerous predictions comprise 27 percent of the 31,124 verses in the whole of the Scriptures. Multitudes of Biblical scholars over the last 2000 years have explored many of these prophecies and their detailed fulfillments, as proven by ample historical evidence."

These numbers are corroborated by The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, by J. Barton Payne.  Author Payne notes that there are 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. These prophecies are contained in 8,352 of the Bible’s verses. Since there are 31,124 verses in the Bible, the 8,352 verses that contain prophecy constitute 26.8 percent of the Bible’s volume.

The strong interest in prophecy is reflected in the number of hits to messages on our Northwest Arkansas Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/UCGNWArk).  To date the top six Youtube video messages have produced a total of 3,358 views (and counting).  All six videos are about prophecy.

What is our responsibility regarding prophecy?  Is prophecy something that is vital to our understanding of God?  Is discerning prophecy necessary for us to become good Christians? 

To answer those questions, let’s go back to the example of observing the weather and checking the weather forecast.  How we dress each day may depend upon the weather.  How we pack for a trip depends upon the climate or weather at our destination.  Our physical comfort and even survival can depend upon how well-prepared we are to deal with the weather.  The same is true regarding our spiritual lives.  How well-prepared are we to deal with the issues of the day if we fail to understand the big picture of God’s plan? 

Not everyone watches the weather.  Such people stumble out into the elements and suffer because they are unprepared.  Similarly, not everyone studies prophecy.  For them prophecy is hard to understand because they do not take the time to see how the plan of God is revealed. 

The apostle Peter wrote that the Biblical prophets of old were prophesying for our benefit, even though they may not have fully understood what they were writing (1 Peter 1:10 1 Peter 1:10Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come to you:
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).  Yet, the Scriptures we now know as the Old Testament are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness (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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).  The Old Testament prophets were like spiritual weather forecasters.

The prophet Isaiah wrote that understanding comes to those who pay attention to the world around them.  “The eyes of those who see will not be dim, And the ears of those who hear will listen (Isaiah 32:3 Isaiah 32:3And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall listen.
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).”  And even when we do pay attention, study, and focus on the Scriptures, we must realize that not all knowledge is revealed in one fell swoop.  We must invest effort to learn that the truth is revealed as in pieces to a puzzle.  We must connect the dots by reading the whole Bible: “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little (Isaiah 28:10 Isaiah 28:10For precept must be on precept, precept on precept; line on line, line on line; here a little, and there a little:
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As we seek to honor God and build our Christian lives, let us stay physically safe by watching the weather forecast, and let us stay spiritually safe by watching the spiritual forecast.  


~Tim Martens, pastor

United Church of God-Northwest Arkansas