Prophets were God's inspired spokesmen. They spoke so that
everyone -- whether Jew or Gentile, king or peasant, master or servant, farmer
or merchant, soldier or slave, man or woman, aged or youth -- could hear the
word of God and give heed. They also wrote so that their contemporaries and
following generations, including our own and beyond, could read and
"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that
through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope"
What the prophets said and wrote had an immediate and
significant impact upon the people of their time. But inspired prophetic
writings are not limited to local, historical significance. Bible prophecy is
equally relevant today.
There are exciting prophecies which deal with the nation of
Israel and the political powers of the Middle East. There are unnerving
prophecies which predict religious apostasy, economic turmoil, and widespread
violence. There are frightening prophecies which foretell worldwide war, famine,
and pestilence. For us, however, the most immediately relevant prophecies are
those which directly affect our lives now.
Consider first what the apostle Paul preached at
"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere
to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in
righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance
to all men by raising him from the dead" (Acts
Since the judgment by Christ has yet to come, "all men
everywhere" applies to us as well as to the men of Athens. The fact that God
"has fixed a day" and "has given assurance" means that the judgment is certain.
Next consider a passage from Paul's letter to the
"For Christ will render to every man according to his works: to those who by
patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give
eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey
wickedness, there will be wrath and fury" (Rom
"Every man" applies equally to us in the twentieth century as
it did to men and women of the Roman world. "Eternal life", or "wrath and
fury"....these are the outcomes of Christ's judgment. These prophecies are
unquestionably significant to us, for they speak about our eternal reward or
punishment. What could be more personally relevant?
The purpose of Bible prophecy is to make people aware of the
plans of God, so that they can take the appropriate action, while there is still
time. When a prophet speaks for God:
We are among these people.
- ignorant people are instructed in the Way of the
- wayward people are called to
- rebellious people are warned of the
consequences of their sins, and
- faithful people
are encouraged to continue firm in the Faith.
The prophets predicted future events so that, when those
events took place, we would know that God had spoken. Fulfilled Bible prophecy
encourages us to pay attention to what God says. But God does not want us to be
so fascinated by prediction that we miss the purpose of prophecy. He wants us to
listen to His teaching and become one of His children:
"The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours, searched
intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and
circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when predicting
the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that
they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that
have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the
Holy Spirit sent from heaven... Therefore gird up your minds, be sober,
set your hope fully upon the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is
revealed" (1Pe 1:10-13).