Why should I study prophecy? Why is prophecy important?
Large sections of Scripture deal with prophecy. Many of the prophecies have already been fulfilled. The virgin birth of Christ, prophecies regarding Israel in the wilderness, and Israel in exile are in this category. But many prophecies remain to be fulfilled in the future. If you put fulfilled and unfulfilled prophecy together you will find that, when the Bible was first written, it was almost all prophetic. God is much concerned with the future and so should we be.
Some people are afraid of prophecy. They think that it is so hopelessly complex that you have to have special training in order to understand the prophetic Scriptures. Others are afraid of prophecy because they think that prophecy produces religious fanatics. What is your response to those who are afraid of prophecy?
In a sense, there is some justification for those fears. Yes, prophecy can be difficult, and yes, there are some who study prophecy who are religious fanatics. But that does not necessarily have to be true. While prophecy is sometimes difficult, there are some important biblical principles that will help anyone to understand the prophetic Scriptures. It’s not the understanding of prophecy that produces religious fanatics and zealots, but rather the misunderstanding of prophecy.
The best antidote to religious fanaticism is a proper understanding of biblical prophecy.
What advice do you have for people who are new to prophecy and want some help in getting started?
Anyone who wants to seriously study prophecy needs to realize three important things about prophecy. First, God did not give the prophecies to conceal, but rather to reveal. Many people have problems reading prophecy and profiting from the prophetic Word because they are looking for some hidden or secret meaning. They create their own problems, and make understanding prophecy harder than it really is. Someone once said, “When the literal meaning makes sense, seek no other sense.”
The second bit of advice I would give to anyone who wants to really understand prophecy is to remember that Israel has a central place in God’s plan of the ages. When the Bible speaks about Israel, it means “Israel,” not the church or some other group of people. God’s plans to bless Israel are found in both the Old and New Testaments.
The third thing that I would recommend is to listen to our daily “Watchman on the Wall” broadcasts. We are on some 60 stations nationwide as well as the Internet. We have teaching sessions, interview well-known authors and speakers who are experts in the area of biblical prophecy, and also offer books, videos, and other materials that help our listeners understand biblical prophecy.