The "Prophecy Factor"

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The "Prophecy Factor"

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Readers of The Good News know that we focus a lot on prophecy. In fact, you can't get past the title of this publication without being directed to the Bible's chief prophetic subject—good news! "More space in the prophetic Scriptures is devoted to a future rule of God on earth than to any other theme," is how Nave's Topical Bible describes it. "A number of expressions are used in the [New Testament] with reference to various aspects of God's sovereign rule, a vast and complex revelation, encompassing His government on earth and in heaven." That revelation is the best news you can hear! Prophecy is essentially tomorrow's news delivered in advance, but it's not simply about foretelling events. It includes practical lessons for life, especially in understanding cause and effect. Indeed, the capacity to predict the future often lies in the ability to understand the difference between common human behavior versus godly behavior and the logical consequences of each. Prophecy's practical side offers those who perceive future consequences the chance to structure their lives to avoid the negative and attain the positive. This raises a question of huge societal importance: Can you actually "prophesy," predict with accuracy, what happens to people when they lack prophecy? The book of Proverbs offers an unusual insight into what people will do under such circumstances. Whether their lack of prophecy comes from ignorance, apathy or rejection, the proverb is remarkably accurate in predicting a basic, consistent human response. "Where there is no prophecy," states Proverbs 29:18 in the New Revised Standard Version, then something happens. What? If you were to stop reading at this point and fill in the blank, what would you say? Most people think of biblical prophecy as the divine foretelling of future events, and so it is. But prophecies are not limited to forecasting the good news of God's Kingdom, or the bad news of the calamities that come first. Many prophecies also deal with behavior—how people act and what subsequently happens. That's the focus of this proverb. Such prophecy is, at its most basic element, largely understanding cause and effect—"if you do this, that will happen; if you do that, this will happen." So what happens where there is no such prophetic sense? The verse continues, "The people cast off restraint." What then? Any society's character, order and success depends on its people restraining themselves from destructive behavior. When those restraints— their moral, ethical, philosophical and emotional controls—are shed, the fabric of society will unravel! Such restraint is built on a number of factors. Among these are respect for authority and a strong sense of responsibility and accountability. But one of the most powerful is the "prophecy factor"—the ability to see the consequences ahead. What do you see around you today? How well are the biblical, spiritual, moral and ethical restraints holding up? Has God been so marginalized that we aren't even aware of His prophecies for today? Is there a cause-and-effect link between the critical situations we face in the world today and people "casting off restraint"? In this issue we explore the prophetic aspects of several of these situations. We don't need new prophets to rise up today (unless God sends them). We just need to raise our eyes to see what is already in God's Word. The "prophecy factor" can be understood! And most important for you, you can know how to live, how to structure your life in a way that results in happiness, peace of mind and hope for your future! GN

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