Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
In an age of reason, science, and relativism, a belief in prophecy, both spoken and fulfilled, is likely hard to elicit from most people. I would describe prophecy as foreknowledge of actual events being revealed to man through the inspiration of men by an omniscient being. I was taught very early in my studies of the Bible to break the bible into various sections. There is the obvious Old Testament/New Testament division, but the 39 Old Testament books can be further divided into the Books of the Law, Books of History, Books of Prose/Poetry, Major Prophets, and Minor Prophets. 17 of the Old Testament books fall into the Major or Minor Prophet division. The Old Testament can be reliably understood to be available and complete by 250 B.C. I’ll admit that even though that was over 2250 years ago, it seems quite unnatural to me for there to have been periods of time when an omniscient being would provide concentrated inspirational foreknowledge to a small people group in a small corner of the world. So what factors make me a believer in the truth of biblical prophecy? What discussion or evidences might pique the interest of a non-Christian regarding biblical prophecy both revealed and fulfilled? I cannot provide comprehensive answers to these questions for it is a matter of ongoing learning for me. But as I have been pondering this aspect of biblical truth, I have stumbled across some material that I hope might solidify belief in biblical prophecy among believers and provide the evangelist with some organized thoughts and content so that the rich history of fulfilled biblical prophecy especially regarding Jesus Christ (God with us, Messiah, and Lord) might become a viable evangelism tool even in this skeptical age.
In the book Betrayed, Stanley Telchin, from a traditional Jewish family, recounts his journey comparing the Hebrew Old Testament with the English version, looking to find all the erroneous translations, and convince his daughter to turn away from this false Messiah called Jesus whom she had discovered. An important part of his investigation involved answering some critical questions:
-Do I believe that the Jewish Bible (The Tenach) is the divinely inspired word of God?
-Does the Bible prophesy about a coming Messiah?
-Is Jesus the Messiah?
His intense spiritual journey of study, solitude, and contemplation result in resounding Yes, Yes, Yes answers. His scholarly yet personal endeavor confirming the validity of translation of prophecies from the Jewish to English Old Testament should allow for confidence to the Christian unversed in Hebrew when confronted by the skeptic on issues of translational integrity and authenticity.
A distinct transition takes place once the life and teachings of Jesus begin to be documented. The very first sentence of the book of Hebrews clearly presents this transition by stating that “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (emphasis added) A critical turning point in history ordained by God places us on the other side of the bulk of Christian prophecy (but certainly not all prophecy as one considers the book of Revelation as well as the passages on new heaven and earth in the book of Isaiah). This could be illustrated by considering such cultural artifacts as gas street lamps, horse and carriage for long distance travel, and film cameras. In the same way that human invention brought new modes of light, transport, and photography rendering prior methods nearly obsolete, God has appeared in human history as Jesus, our Emmanuel, speaking for Himself rather than through the prophets. The appearance and person of Christ provides all the evidence I need to overcome the seemingly “unnatural” placement of biblical prophecy in time in relation to my place in time. Put in another fashion, I don’t sit around doubting the existence of gas lamps just because I have lived my entire life in an age after the discovery of electricity, therefore I should not doubt the existence and relevance of prophecy just because I have lived my entire life in “days he has spoken to us by his Son”! The decision one must make about the existence and person of Christ cannot be minimized. Consider this verse from Acts 10:
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Acts 10:43 KJV
Biblical Old Testament prophecy is ultimately about Christ and Peter clearly states the reason for the prophecy is to point people to believe in Christ as the answer for their sin problem. Jesus Himself pointed out that some would “miss the boat” when it comes to understanding what the Law and the prophecies were pointing to when He stated the following:
'You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.' John 5:39, 40 ESV
'The minds of most men are in bondage to the commonplace facts of their experience.'
The Coming Prince by Sir Robert Anderson
Stay tuned as I further explore these issues of biblical prophecy next time but make sure to check out one of the most famous prophecy links of all as performed by Linus taken from the book of Luke giving fulfillment to the Isaiah 9:6 verse in the photo montage above. Wise men still seek Him!
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