Thursday, 2 January 2014

How to Approach Bible-Prophecy

Sometimes Old Testament prophecies are meant to have a broader, more General impact than to individuals, a thing, or an event.

Not noticing this can lead to two opposite mistakes:

One, is to think that the whole prophecy refers literally to a future time - such as in Israel, or at the end of times, or during a future millennium.

The other, is to think that no part of the prophecy has any meaning beyond the term of its past historical fulfilment.

The word needs to be rightly divided.

Some parts of the prophecy may now have completed their historical fulfilment. This would especially be the case wherever Levitical and Jerusalem-centred worship is mentioned, for that manner of worship has now vanished away forever.

Meanwhile other parts of the prophecy - or perhaps their over all spirit at least - may be intended by God to have an application for us who are living beyond Bible-times. For example, the spirit of it may be continually fulfilled in God's dealings with individuals throughout church-history, whether Jew or Gentile. And the spirit of some parts may yet find their ultimate fulfilment at the second coming of Christ.

That's the spirit with which some of the prophecies were written. It's also the higher purpose that God has for Old Testament Scripture. There is an ongoing purpose and application.

Nevertheless we are right to discern when the fulfilment of a detail of a prophecy must have already found its fulfilment in history. And as I said above, this is especially the case wherever Old Covenant style worship is described. We are in a New Covenant now, and God doesn't intend relating to anyone again on the basis of the Old Covenant - ever.

Being clear about this can help eliminate some baseless assertions about Judaism, Israel and a future millennium.

But it also keeps the usefulness of the Old Testament Scriptures alive for us in a spiritual way.

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