The Bible contains a great deal of prophecy. In fact, between a fourth and a third of the Word of God is prophetic. And students of the Bible know that Jesus Christ plays a prominent role in many of these prophecies—especially those set in the end time. If God saw to it that so much of our Bible concerns prophecy, there must be a good reason for it.
So why prophecy? What does it have to do with practical matters of Christian living? And why should you take any interest in the subject?
Prophecy proves who God is
Through Scripture we learn that God accurately foretells the future. The prophet Isaiah recorded His words: "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" (Isaiah 46:9-10 Isaiah 46:9-10  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
 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:
American King James Version×). Unlike false gods, the true God accurately and faithfully tells His people about the future, what's yet to come and the hope beyond the time of trouble.
God also throws out a challenge when He asks, "Who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, let them show these to them . . . Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one" (Isaiah 44:7-8 Isaiah 44:7-8  And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show to them.
 Fear you not, neither be afraid: have not I told you from that time, and have declared it? you are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yes, there is no God; I know not any.
American King James Version×).
These passages tell us that only God can reveal the end of the story as well as the beginning.
In the prophecies of Isaiah, we find references to the birth of a great Persian king named Cyrus. Cyrus was used by God to bring down the powerful Baby-lonian empire and let the Jews go free from captivity and return to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:22-23 2 Chronicles 36:22-23  Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
 Thus said Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth has the LORD God of heaven given me; and he has charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.
American King James Version×; Ezra 1:1-4 Ezra 1:1-4  Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,  Thus said Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he has charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.  Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.  And whoever remains in any place where he sojournes, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
American King James Version×).
These were momentous events in the history of the Jewish people back then. But the most amazing thing is that Isaiah prophesied in the late 700s B.C., long before Cyrus was even born! In fact, Cyrus didn't conquer Babylon and free the Jews until 539 B.C., more than a century and a half after Isaiah prophesied of him by name (see Isaiah 45:1 Isaiah 45:1Thus said the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
American King James Version×), as well as his role in God's plan. So awesome is our God that He made this known long before the fulfillment of the event!
Prophecy impacts the lives of God's people
Just as the Jews were impacted by the Babylonian captivity and the fall of Babylon some 70 years later, so people will yet be impacted by the events foretold in Scripture. Wars will take place; freedom to worship God in peace will be taken away; persecution, and even martyrdom, will come upon Christians.
Before Jesus Christ returns to rule the earth, the Bible speaks of a time of trouble called the "great tribulation" (Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
American King James Version×). It will be a time of suffering for all the world, but especially for the nations called "Israel" in the Bible—that is to say, the English-speaking nations of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as much of northwestern Europe.
To learn more about God's perspective on prophecy and what He says will happen to these nations, download or request our free booklets You Can Understand Bible Prophecy and The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.
Our younger readers have never lived in a world at war. The last world war ended in 1945, well before most of us were born.
Yes, there have been other wars since: Korea, Vietnam, various wars in the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa, and more recently two wars in Iraq. Yet these wars have had less impact on our lives than the future wars described in the Bible or the two great wars of the 20th century. For most of us, life has provided relatively uninterrupted safety and prosperity. We've never had to go hungry and never had to run to a bomb shelter for cover.
Yet the Bible tells us such bad times will come on the world, and with greater force and power than ever before! Hard as it is to imagine, the world will have to suffer much more before the second coming of Jesus Christ than at any other time in history. And Christians—God's own people—are not going to escape without feeling the impact of some of these events.
For those who have never experienced the pain and suffering of world war, it's a good idea to learn a little about what it meant to live through the horrors of the late 1930s and the 1940s. Study the history, visit some of the war museums and read some of the biographies and autobiographies of those who went through it. As you do, remember that it will be God who will bring an end to the wars that are yet to come before the return of Jesus Christ.
Prophecy prompts us to grow
In the face of hard times to come, the New Testament contains many admonitions about the attitude and actions God's people should adopt.
Notice Jesus Christ's warning: "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36 Luke 21:36Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
American King James Version×). In other words, these prophetic warnings aren't there just for fascination, but to prompt us to righteous living. We have to do something with the knowledge of prophecy!
The apostle Peter ties it in. "Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness . . . ?" (2 Peter 3:11 2 Peter 3:11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
American King James Version×). Prophecy is a prompt for us to live God's way, to follow the ways described as holy conduct and godliness.
I recall a conversation I once had with a young man who had come to study at a Bible college as a result of his interest in end-time prophecy. His fascination with prophecy didn't immediately carry over into Christian living. He told me he came to study prophecy, but later discovered, "Now I have to do all that other stuff too!"
That's right, we have to do all the "other stuff" too! It isn't all mysteries about beasts and speculations about dates. If we understand prophecy, we must live right, according to the laws and instructions of the Bible. And really, that's much more of a challenge than coming up with lots of details about prophecy!
Prophecy provides hope!
When we think of prophecy, especially end-time prophecy, we most often focus on the horrors to come at the end of this age.
Yet the most certain event in all biblical prophecy is the one that's most hopeful—the second coming of Jesus Christ. Many prophecies stress that God determined long ago that Christ will come again, establish the Kingdom of God and save humanity from itself. That's about the best news any of us could possibly hear!
The time of suffering will be short. The Bible tells us the worst of it will last only 31/2 years (Daniel 7:25 Daniel 7:25And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
American King James Version×; 12:7; Revelation 11:2-3 Revelation 11:2-3  But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.  And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.
American King James Version×; 12:14; note, "a time and times and half a time" refers to a year, years and half a year). Afterwards, these terrible days will begin to seem like a bad dream as the saints of God begin to reign with Christ in the Kingdom of God (Daniel 7:27 Daniel 7:27And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
American King James Version×). A much, much better time awaits us and all humanity.
Prophecy ultimately points us to some very, very good news: that Jesus Christ will return! That He will set up a glorious Kingdom on earth, which will provide the world with a far better life than it ever experienced under any human government! And that God Himself will offer life and happiness to all, through His laws and His Son Jesus Christ!
Isn't that good news? GN