Church of God, New World Ministries

How To Understand Prophecy

Can Bible prophecy predict the “big events” of the 21st century?

It is not our purpose to “convince” you that the answer to this question is “yes.” We couldn’t do so it we tried. Rather it will be the months and years ahead that will do the job. And do the job it will – much more effectively than we could ever hope to do.

Presently our objective in this short article is more limited. Yet in a very real sense, it is fundamental to the whole issue.

Is Bible prophecy “relevant” to the 21st century – to our “sophisticated society?” We want you to be able to determine the answer to this question, privately, for yourself.

So, what we propose to do is to explain a logical system that you can use for your own personal evaluation of Bible prophecy.        Actually, we must present two such logical systems, one for the analysis of Bible prophecies already fulfilled in the past and the other for the analysis of Bible prophecies yet to be fulfilled in the future.

PAST PROPOHECIES

There are three steps to this process:

  1. Read the prophecies in the Bible
  2. Read the fulfillments in history
  3. Prove that the prophecies were written in the Bible long before the fulfillment were happening in history.

It sounds simple. And it is. But it is assuredly not simple-minded. There is a difference. Look at the procedure again a bit more fully.

First, read the prophecies in the Bible concerning these international events which have occurred in the past. But to read them you must of course find them, (Understanding them is generally quite easy.)

We can give you a start. There are certain key chapters with which you should be familiar: Daniel 8 and 11 for the astoundingly accurate ancient history of the Persian, Grecian and Roman empires; Ezekiel 26 for the detailed description of the destruction of the commercial center of the ancient world, Tyre; Isaiah 53 for the in-advance setting forth of the purpose of the Messiah’s physical life.

These are but three examples – there are literally dozens of others.  Read our article “The Middle East in Prophecy.”

Second, read the actual historical occurrence – the fulfillment – as they were originally recorded by unbiased, independent, secular sources. Prove just how accurate Daniel 8 and 11, Ezekiel 26 and Isaiah 53 really were. An easy place to begin our historical search would be a good Bible commentary, for example the one by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown. But go further. Check some authoritative history books. George Rawlinson’s Manuel of Ancient History, for example, is excellent for showing the historical fulfillment of Daniel 11.

For the third step, we must assume that you have completed the first two steps. Now we are not trying to prejudice your independent study, but we are sure that you will find an incredibly precise correlation between the clear statements of prophecy and the actual historical events. Even Bible critics admit this. In fact, as odd as it sounds, “fulfilled prophecy” is the underlying motivation for their criticism. Because if – and here is our third and final point – the prophecies of the Bible were indeed written before the historical event had occurred then it would be embarrassingly obvious that no man could have made them up.

A supernatural Being – a Great God to be blunt – would have had to have been involved.

This is not a very desirable conclusion for certain individuals. And so, the advent of Bible criticism. Here was a method by which self-appointed critics sought to demonstrate that Bible prophecies were in fact written after the events had occurred. They hoped to prove, as a result, that what “appeared” to be spectacular prophecy was merely ordinary history. Or, more accurately, history written in a “prophetic style.”

So, the whole issue of Bible prophecy – indeed the whole issue of the divine inspiration and validity of the entire Bible – focuses in on this one point: Were the prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, for example forgeries, written after the historical events described – as some few Bible critics claim? Or can we believe the dates undeniably stamped by the Bible itself?

FUTURE PROPHECIES

Here we offer only a slightly more complex logical system – a four-step process for the evaluation of future Bible prophecies.

  1. Understand that God reveals prophecy through His true servants.
  2. Learn the keys of Bible prophecy
  3. Read the prophecies in your Bible
  4. Read the fulfillment in your newspaper, watch the fulfillment on television or on your computer or cell phone.

As we did for Past Prophecies, we again explain in more detail.

First, Amos 3:7: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he reveals his secret unto his servants the prophets.”

Remember, only God’s true servants have come to properly understand prophecy. Others try, by the thousands of hours of preaching and by the tons of printed material. But all for nothing.

God’s true disciples in this age will be shown “the things to come” by God’s Holy Spirit (John 16:13) – given to them because they believe in, preach and obey God (Acts 5:32). These individuals have a “good understanding” because they keep God’s Commandments to do them (Ps. 111:10; Rev. 22:7, 14). Wherever you can find a “Work of God” which fulfills these conditions – which keeps God’s Commandments -- there you will also find God revealing His secrets – which means opening up Bible prophecies for the practical understanding of future events. Read our article “Why Prophecy.”

Second, in order to enable these ancient and divine prophecies to be opened, we do in fact need certain “keys.” We must know about whom and to whom the many prophecies are speaking; we must know the modern identities of the peoples being referred to – in terms of today’s world and in terms of the basic geography of 2017. These keys are available!

How can the major nations be identified and then “tracked” in Bible prophecy?  You need to read our 13 articles “American and Britain in Prophecy” to find out.

Third, once learning these basic keys to Bible understanding, the next step is easy. Read what these prophecies say.

But please, no interpretation – of any kind. We have said over and over again: “The Bible interprets itself.” Just read what the words themselves say. Of course, God allows you to decide whether or not you want to believe them. That’s your prerogative. (But your decision will not alter the prophecies which will come to pass on schedule.)

Fully one third of the entire Bible is prophecy – and about 90% of that one third is directly concerned with events in the coming years. And just as God’s Church has been publishing for the past 83 years, we will continue to focus in on prophecy.

Fourth, and finally, you must “watch.” Christ said it in Luke 21:36 when discussing how we – those of us who are alive in this decade, can comprehend beforehand the events leading up to the end of man’s age and the beginning of God’s Age.

And “watch” means watch world news. Read a reputable newspaper (such as Washington Times), or watch news (not politics) on television.  Do not read or watch passively. That’s not really watching or reading.

Begin to think actively. And creatively. Correlate what you have read in the Bible with the end results of the specific happenings of the day, week, month and year. Discern the underlying principle involved. Don’t expect every event happening in August 2017, for example, to be mentioned in the Bible. But do expect the trends to be there. Carry these trends forward to their conclusions. And expect these conclusions to be in the Bible also.

But a word of caution.  Many conclusions and many trends are not all that apparent to even the most astute geopolitical observer. There will be surprises – radical twists of events. The prophecies of the Bible are literally astounding. What might seem at the moment to be a logical conclusion to a given situation in world affairs can often be almost the opposite from what God has predetermined. Witness the Six-day War in June of 1967.

Consequently, you need to know what to watch for. And there is only one way to know. A person has to be conversant with the Bible. He has to know the overall framework of Bible prophecy (point three), he must be aware of the identity of today’s major nations (point two), and he must know where God is presently enabling obedient minds to comprehend prophecy (point one). Only by diligently applying these first three points can an individual really accomplish point four – and watch effectively as is commanded in Luke 21:36.

The events that will literally shake this world in a very short time are today still largely ignored. True, the threats of pollution, crime and divorce nationally, and trade war, cold war and hot war internationally are finally being recognized. But there are military, economic, political, and religious situations and occurrences on the horizon of which not one political commentator or news analyst – outside of this Work is aware. The world will be utterly stunned. And that is an absolute fact. But those who have read our articles and listened to our sermons will have at least been forewarned.

So, you must keep your priorities straight. Read your Bible. Continue to read our articles and listen to our sermons, know in advance what will be happening. Then find it in the news. That’s called “WATCHING.”

By the way, don’t be overly disturbed when you consistently discover that the critical items in the news – the portentous events in the Middle East, the developing situation in Central Europe or the ominous trends within the United States – are all neatly tucked away on page six, sandwiched between advertisements for toothpaste and tablecloths, while page one is filled with local scandals and murders. Don’t be disturbed, remember most newspapers feed the masses what they want to read. Newspapers don’t “watch”. We do. And you must.

One closing note. Recall the third point in our first logical system – the one for evaluating the prophecies fulfilled in the past. We had to conclusively prove that the various scriptures had significantly pre-dated the historical event. We have no such point to prove with respect to the Bible prophecies (90% remember) which will be and are being fulfilled in this year and beyond. We have no need to counter any Bible critics. Everybody knows that the Bible was not written (or even edited) last year. And the events prophesied to occur have not yet occurred.

So, the test is simple. Wait. Watch. And see.

 
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