The Purpose of Prophecy

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The Purpose of Prophecy

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What is the purpose of Bible prophecy? Most people don’t really understand the answer. They want to know who’s going to do what, and when and where it’s going to happen.

But they could be missing the point. Those aspects are important, and the Bible contains chapter after chapter of details addressing them. But people focusing on these details can miss out on the most important aspect of Bible prophecy—the why. Why do people do the things they do? And why does our Creator do the things He does?

The overall purpose of Bible prophecy is to encourage us to change our lives and help us see where the things we do ultimately lead. Ironically, we find this lesson clearly spelled out in a prophecy that didn’t come to pass!

God gave the prophet Jonah a message: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2 Jonah 1:2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

After a detour in which God showed the reluctant prophet the seriousness of His instructions by having him transported against his will in the belly of a great fish, Jonah delivered God’s message: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4 Jonah 3:4And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
American King James Version×
).

If ever a city deserved punishment, it was Nineveh, capital of a powerful empire legendary for its cruelty. Both the Bible and many ancient records document the empire’s lust for blood, plunder and slaves.

But something remarkable happened. “The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth [as a sign of mourning]. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.

“Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: ‘… Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish’ ” (verses 5-9, New International Version).

God was clearly serious. He sent His prophet on a mission, even performing a miracle to see that Jonah carried out that mission. He decreed that this evil city would be destroyed. But “when God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened” (verse 10, NIV; compare Jeremiah 18:7-8 Jeremiah 18:7-8 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.
American King James Version×
). 

This is the real purpose of prophecy. God wants us to see where our sins are leading so that we may turn from those sins! His message is heartfelt: “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 …?’” (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?
American King James Version×
).

God warned the ancient nations of Israel and Judah repeatedly. That is the consistent, pleading message found in the biblical prophets. It is also the message of this magazine. Yes, we want to help you understand the significance of world events in the light of Bible prophecy. But far more important, we want you to “seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6 Isaiah 55:6Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near:
American King James Version×
).

As you see events long foretold in the Bible begin falling into place, how will Bible prophecy affect your life? Don’t lose sight of the why behind those messages! GN

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