Why study prophecy? What does prophecy have to do with my life today? Isn’t this just an issue I can use to win arguments over lunch, blogs, or in Sunday school? Knowing the details proves my stewardship of knowing God’s word, right? Why study it?

Before delving into the issue, what do I mean by “prophecy?” Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Minor Prophets are all prophecy. But not every verse is predictive. Some of them seem to be sermons exposing and ministering to the current audience. Yet God also records predictive statements intended to come true in the future. Why does God write these?

Paul says, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” What are these” words? They are words of prophecy. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 discusses the end of times. So Paul taught the church end times prophecy to encourage his people. Believer, you have an inheritance, imperishable and undefiled (1 Peter 1:4). Having an inheritance means what? An inheritance is given to a person in a will from another (usually family) and the inheritance is often received when the person dies. A believer’s inheritance is the final salvation when we will receive our glorified bodies and be with Christ for eternity. There will be no more sin, injustice, death, or hardships. As children of God, you will remain a child of God protected by His power!

Normally a discussion on prophecy includes a proposition promoting one’s eschatological views (the two most common being amilennialism or dispensationalism). Usually we preach to the choir (or attempt to stir the pot) regarding our position. X is right because of A, B, and C.

But there is another element of prophecy Isaiah composes teaching us God’s character,  it reveals his integrity.

In Isaiah 41:21-24 The Lord challenges the idol. He asks the idol to present it’s case . . . ‘bring forth your strong arguments.’ The Lord continues his indictment against the idol focusing on the ability to predict,[1]

Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place; As for the former events, declare what they were, That we may consider them and know their outcome. Or announce to us what is coming; Declare the things that are going to come afterward, That we may know that you are gods

again in Isaiah 41:26

Who declared it from the beginning, that we might know, and beforehand, that we might say ‘He is right’?

The Lord challenges the idols to predict the future and communicate the past. The Lord is dropping the gauntlet and challenging the false gods to declare and orchestrate the future. I drive on streets paved by gambling money. My fire and police protection are paid for by casinos on the Strip. But if predicting the future were easy or orchestrating the future were easy then Las Vegas public services would be funded another way, anything else, but gambling. Gambling is taking a risk on the future. Making the future come about is not a guarantee unless you are powerful and wise enough to orchestrate the plan.

The Lord makes plans. He orchestrates events. He decrees and He proves himself faithful. God says you can challenge the deity of someone / thing by its ability to predict the future.

In Isaiah 45 the Lord calls Cyrus, king of Persia, his anointed one who will bring the exiles back to Israel. The Lord composed this at least 120 years prior to the exile and return. In other words the Lord told Israel Cyrus would bring the kingdom back after it’s exile before Cyrus was even born.

IMPRESSIVE.

What other god, in the history of man has been able to do this? Nostradamus? Did he predict the future and include in the prediction the name of the person who would fulfill the prophecy? No.

We know from Ezra and 2 Chronicles 36:22 Cyrus brought Judah back to Jerusalem after the exile. In order to do this the Lord had to make sure Cyrus was born at the right place, the right time, in the right circumstance to be king (he had to be born in the right family). His parents had to decide to call him “Cyrus.” He had to be trained to lead an army and the right influential friends fighting for him. He had to win all his preceding battles before conquering Babylon. He had to orchestrate Babylon to lose. The amount of details required to fulfill Cyrus are overwhelming and extend beyond my brainstorming capacity.

Yet, there are the prophetic words and the challenge from the Lord. “Has anyone else the ability to predict the future and make it come to pass?” Answer, No one but God Himself.

The Lord writes prophecy to prove His faithfulness, integrity, and there is no one like Him. He gave predictions so that you and I would find hope in Him and rest assured of His character. So why study prophecy? To comfort me. How? By proving that God has integrity and the power to do what He says He will do. Is this relevant? Yes! The God who says He saved me with an inheritance, imperishable and undefiled has proven He can lead me to the promised inheritance because He has proven His integrity over and over again!

[1] There are many references with similar material in Isaiah: 42:9; 43:9; 44:7, 24-27; 45:11, 19, 21; 46:10-11; 48:3, 7, 8, 16; and 49:1-2 to support the assertion 🙂

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