A More Sure Word of Prophecy - Ron & Nathele Graham - firstname.lastname@example.org
How do we know that we can trust Scripture to be true? God authenticated His Word by giving history lessons in advance. That is what prophecy is. God made it clear to the Jewish Northern Kingdom (Israel) that because of their idolatry and rebellion to God that they would be taken captive by the Assyrians. That came to pass. The Southern Kingdom (Judah) failed to honor God's commandments, and God told them they would be taken captive by the Babylonians, and they were. God doesn't keep things secret. "Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets." 2 Kings 17:13. The Northern Kingdom was deep into idol worship, paganism, child sacrifice, and they totally rejected God Almighty. The Southern Kingdom refused to keep God's command to give the land a Sabbath rest. God sent prophets to both kingdoms, but prophecy was ignored both kingdoms went into captivity.
"Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them that they should not do like them." 2 Kings 17:14-15. The Northern Kingdom was never to be restored, but the Southern Kingdom would be re-gathered after the Babylonian captivity. "And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations." Jeremiah 25:11-12. According to God's prophecy through Jeremiah, Judah would be in captivity for 70 years. Was He right? Of course He was. "For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." Jeremiah 29:10. God's word is true.
There was certain a young man in Jerusalem who was among those captives taken to Babylon. Even though he had been young he loved the LORD and honored Him even while forced to live in that pagan environment. His name was Daniel. Throughout his years in Babylon he stayed true to God's Laws and studied prophecy. "In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." Daniel 9:2. Daniel took the words of Jeremiah seriously. Too often, instead of reading God's word and believing what it says, people like to try to decide what God meant. Satan has always tried to muddle God's truth, and just like Eve many people believe the lie instead of the truth.
By this time Daniel was in his 80's. He had been a young man when taken to Babylon and now nearly 70 years had passed. Daniel read prophecy, but he was also a prophet. God gave him prophecy that reaches us today. "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and three score and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times." Daniel 9:24-25. This prophecy is so precise that the Jewish leaders should have been among the crowd who were hailing Jesus as Messiah when He rode into Jerusalem on a colt. I won't go through the mathematical calculations, but Sir Robert Anderson in his book "The Coming Prince" shows that the exact day of the Triumphant Entry was foretold. Unlike Daniel who took prophecy seriously, the Pharisees ignored it. How did Jesus react? "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes." Luke 19:41-42. They should have known, but chose blindness. Jesus went on to tell of the coming siege of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the death of many Jews. Why would this happen? "...because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." Luke 19:44b. Jesus expected them to understand prophecy.
"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary: and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consumation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." Daniel 9:26-27. Messiah was crucified (cut off) and the Temple was destroyed. The 69th week has been fulfilled but the 70th week is yet to come. Today we are living in a time period between those two weeks known as the Age of Grace. This is a special time in history when the Holy Spirit is sealed within every person who has truly accepted Christ as their Saviour. We are the called out body of Christ, but one day very soon the 70th week will begin. Prior to the beginning of that week all born again Christians will be called Home...Raptured. "Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. God always removes His faithful followers prior to executing judgment. For example, Enoch was removed prior to the Flood and Lot prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
By understanding prophecy we can be prepared for coming events. It is sort of a flashlight that God provides to guide us through the dark future. "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:" 2 Peter 1:19. Peter was one of the men who walked with Jesus and learned from Him. In the verses prior to this one he affirms that he didn't follow fables, but he witnessed God's majesty. Peter was an eyewitness of God the Son in His glory at the transfiguration, and he heard God the Father say He was well pleased. In spite of all he personally saw and heard, Peter says that prophecy is more sure. He saw many prophesies by David, Isaiah, Zechariah, Micah, and others regarding Christ's first Advent fulfilled and knew how accurate they were. In the Old Testament there are more than 300 prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. Who is this Messiah? Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled those Old Testament prophecies to the letter. The mathematical possibility of one man fulfilling even a few of those prophecies is astronomical; basically impossible. Only God Himself could have accomplished such a feat. Yet the Bible is still ridiculed and disparaged as being nothing more than myth, fairy tales, and legends by those who have no use for God or His Word. "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." 2 Peter 1:16. God's word is not a fable. It is truth and it is authenticated. Don't take it lightly.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" 2 Timothy 3:16. The Bible is the Word of God and is inspired by Him. Men held the writing implements, but it was authored by God Himself. The Bible is thousands of years old and no other book has endured the test of time as God’s word has. It was penned by some forty men over a period of approximately 1,500 years, and most of these men didn’t even know each other. Yet, from Genesis through Revelation we find that each book is important to increase our knowledge, and it is an integrated design. Each Old Testament book reveals more about God and points to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. Each New Testament book helps us to know Jesus and guides us in our walk with Him. Throughout the entire Bible, prophecy stands out, both in what it foretells and in its fulfillment.
There are some very astonishing prophecies yet to be fulfilled. By studying Scripture we can be sure that their fulfillment is on the very near horizon. The Disciples asked Jesus about the end of the age and His return. They didn't ask about the Rapture; their questions were about His second advent. "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." Matthew 24:4-6. Then He told of famine, pestilences, and earthquakes, but said "All these are the beginning of sorrows." Matthew 24:8. It will get worse as Daniel's 70th week draws closer. Actually, we are almost there. Study Daniel chapters 9 through 12, as well as what Jesus describes in the Olivet Discourse, and the Book of Revelation. Study prophecy with an eye on current events and you will become very excited. "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Daniel 12:4. Don't be bogged down by past interpretations of prophecy. As we see things such as Israel being back in their land and weapons of war having advanced beyond spears, we should see that prophecy is accurate and God's word is true.
There is another event that is even closer than Daniel's 70th week. That is the Rapture. Many disputes and arguments arise over this subject, but Scripture is clear that it is a soon to be fulfilled event. In order to be among those of us who are removed prior to God's wrath, you must be born again. That means you recognize that you are a sinner and unable to spend eternity in Heaven by your own effort. You must accept the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as your only hope of salvation. Then, draw closer to Him in your life. Will you be Raptured if you are knowingly living opposed to the Lord you claim to follow? Why take a chance. None of us are perfect on this side of Heaven, but God expects us to know Scripture. Part of that Scripture deals with prophecy, but part of it also warns us against sin, and explains what it is. If you can make excuses for continuing in your own particular sin, then maybe you have not truly accepted Christ. Jesus said "Take heed that no man deceive you", and that "man" includes you. Our life on this earth is temporary and whatever your age, death could happen at any moment. If you are waiting to surrender your life to Christ, you may be too late. A car accident or a sudden heart attack won't give you an opportunity to think about repenting of sin. If you don't die, then maybe you will live to see the Rapture. Either way you won't have time to make the decision to accept Christ before it's too late. The Rapture will happen in the "twinkling of an eye". By not making a decision to surrender to Christ you have made the decision to face Daniel's 70th week, the horror of the last half of that week has never been seen before. Give your life to Christ right now. Your eternity depends upon your choice.
We have a sure word of prophecy spelled out in the Bible. Don't ignore it, but get to know the Author and draw near to Him.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham
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This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham
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