Saturday, September 24, 2016

Why you must forgive yourself



Recently I'd read the essay 7 Dangers of Embracing Mere Therapeutic Forgiveness and posted a link to it from this blog. The essay focused on the truth of forgiving others.
I’ve been preaching the past couple weeks on forgiveness. In preparing I’ve found Chris Brauns’ work, Unpacking Forgiveness, to be immensely helpful. A position that I have held for awhile now is that forgiveness isn’t simply about us. We don’t forgive someone primarily because we release ourselves from some prison of bitterness. Though that is certainly a benefit—we forgive because God forgave us.
Recently in a coincidence, our pastor explained the same concept, but from a different perspective. We usually focus more on the process and benefits of forgiving others, but what about forgiving ourselves? The scene he was preaching through was from Genesis 45. Joseph is revealing himself to his brothers, who had sold Joseph into slavery 13 years prior. He is reassuring his brothers that he is not angry and will not harm them. Genesis 45:5 says,

And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.

Joseph is a picture of Jesus. Joseph did the unthinkable, he forgave his brothers for selling him into lsavery and conspiring to murder him. Yet ... note the part of the verse that says 'do not be angry with yourselves'. People in the church today have made up this brand new phrase. It's not anywhere in the Bible. It goes like this- "I know that God has forgiven me, but I just can't forgive myself." My pastor had explained it this way,
It’s a phrase that has become very popular in church circles. 'I know that God of the Universe has forgiven me, big deal. The REAL issue is I just can’t forgive myself.' I heard someone explain this issue in a way that shines new light, sheds new light on this issue. It made me never want to use the phrase. This is what I heard from one pastor. He said, "If you’re saying that if I know God has forgiven me, but I’m still angry at myself, I still can’t forgive myself, what you’re saying is, the blood of Jesus may be good enough for God, but the blood of Jesus is not good enough for me. I have higher standards than the God of the universe." This means you have put yourself above God and you have higher standards than God. 
Also as an example, let’s say you did something at work, and you got fired. You did it. You did something wrong and you got fired. You say I know it was sinful and I’ve repented. I know God forgave me for this but I lost my job and I’m still mad at myself. I can’t forgive myself for what I did. This is a sign in that moment that the job was actually more important than God. The job had become my God-replacement. I was getting my meaning, my purpose, my worth and value, my joy. Now that I’ve ruined it, I just can’t move on. That would be an evidence that God hasn’t taken first place yet in your life.
Forgiveness is an attribute of God which demands our attention because it's so integral to the Gospel. Jesus forgives us our original sin unto justification:

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14).

Jesus forgives us our sins post-salvation when we repent:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:19).

In this verse, we learn about the infinite-ness of forgiveness. Such forgiveness includes riches of His grace (which is infinite), how it is dispensed (lavishly), and that it's made known to us in all wisdom and insight.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10)

Do we have more wisdom than God and more insight as regards forgiveness within the place of His plan? What a ghastly thought! However that is exactly what we are saying when we say we know that God forgives us, but we just can't seem to forgive ourselves.

On the surface it might sound pious and humble to say that you can't forgive yourself, but it isn't. If you knew you sinned and asked Jesus to forgive you, He has. Leave it with Him and go on about your business in confidence of His love and according to the riches of His grace.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Does God speak in unidentified promptings?

A quick lesson on discerning a meme. I saw this on Facebook. Here is a lesson on how to parse the silly sayings we see on social media. Let;s take it apart phrase by phrase and really think about what it is trying to communicate.



"Unidentified promptings" contradicts his word on the face of it, because He always identified Himself as the One speaking. Even when God spoke to pagans they knew this was an authoritative and undeniable voice of a God they must obey.

Would God speak behind a veil of uncertainty as to the source? No, never. Further, the Lord never spoke unclearly to an audience. He was always open and authoritative when He spoke. (Matthew 7:29). Did the Lord say "I shall give Pharaoh unidentified promptings to let My people go"? (Exodus 4:22). Does Exodus 7:17 say, "Thus prompts the LORD in unidentified manner, In this thou shalt strongly suspect through an inner voice that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. Probably. If you discern the prompting correctly."

In addition, if the promptings are unidentified, how do you know they are from God? We know the devil speaks. (John 8:44). We know our own heart speaks too, for out of it come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander; says Matthew 15:19. Why would you want to risk acting upon something that could either be from the devil or your own dark heart?

Third, do you ever act on unidentified promptings in other cases in real life? If an unidentified voice whispered over the intercom at work to go do something, would you? If an unidentified voice left on your phone messages urged you to an action, would you do it? No. You'd probably say 'This is creepy' and delete the message or ignore the intercom. Why risk following an unidentified prompting that more than likely is coming from the devil or your own foolish heart?

Next, 'promptings' cannot be confirmed by the word. A prompting is a nebulous, gossamer thought like the last remnant of a dream you're trying to hold on to before full consciousness erases it. How can the word of God confirm something so tenuous? In the Bible, is there a Book of Unidentified Promptings to which we turn blank pages and write our own indefinite and unclear words in invisible ink?

Last, 'promptings' are not a communication. They are an unidentified feeling, more than likely generated by ourselves from ourselves to ourselves.

Mr Swindoll's is a ridiculous statement. Leave the unidentified promptings alone. Better to just read God's word, make decisions according to His commands and precepts, and take responsibility for them.



Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Necessary Angst

The natural man knows there is a God. We know this because he suppresses this truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18). There is no such thing as an innocent pagan. Deep down they know there is a God, and if they know there is a God they know they do wrong (sin) and someone has to call them to account for it. (Romans 1:19-22).

I remember before coming to the Lord at age 43, I'd pursued all sorts of lines of questioning. The basic unanswered question that drove me was this:it seemed ridiculous to assume that man's life ended at death. For man to have 'evolved' over millions of years only to life a short life of 40 or 50 or 70 years and then die for good seemed a waste. And if man's life did not end at death but continued in some sort of afterlife, how was it decided who got in? It seemed equally ridiculous that everyone got in. That would simply replicate life on earth, and so, what would make it heaven? I mean, would Hitler get in? It was logical to think there was some sort of standard. But what? And there my queries ended, because I could not understand the Jesus-blood-resurrection part of it. That seemed illogical, so I abandoned the issue. But the issue remained in my heart and mind, like a burr under a horse's saddle. I had angst about it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Prata Potpourri: Slogans, Relief, Contentment, Evil Suspicions, Hillbillies, more

At our school cafeteria the kids (or adults, lol) can purchase ice cream. Cones, Fudgsicles, Pop-Ups, and more, for 75 cents. One of the little kids excitedly told me that "Mom is going to let me get an ice cream every day on Friday!" I said, "Every day on Friday?" "YUP!" He said, his eyes agleam with thoughts of sugar high and forehead freeze.

It got me thinking about time. The child's sense of time of course is hugely distorted. One hour seems like a day, one day seems like a year, one year seems like a lifetime. As we grow, that refines. We develop a sense of time which is more accurate. But accurate to what? Time is a tool man uses, an invention of God, only finalized into the thing we know today during the industrial revolution when they needed the trains to run on time and not crash into each other. The General Time Convention was set up in 1853. Before that, people used sundials, mostly, or the sun itself.

In a school my day is segmented almost every hour by bells or schedules, and the clock. It's rigid. I've written before about the Tyranny of the Clock and our release from it, and yet thinking about living in no time, in eternity, is incomprehensible. What will that be like? I don't know. It might just be like every day on Friday.

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At Banner of Truth there's a piece on slogans and deception. Oooh, an essay on language! "The problem lies not only with the corrupt and dishonest manipulation of words, but also with a kind of zealous sincerity."

Are you suffering? Going through an exceedingly difficult time? Um, God May Postpone Your Relief for His Glory

Always looking ahead, and never satisfied with where you are now? Christa says, "Contentment is found when I am truly grateful to God for who and where I am right now. If I’m not grateful today, why do I assume my gratefulness level will increase tomorrow?" Hm, good point. Read more here Always Reaching For the Next Big Thing [& how to stop]

There are some sins we don't think much about committing, or if we do, we deem them somewhat respectable. I wrote about the Crooked Speech of Gossip and at the blog Counseling One Another we learned about the Sin of Talking Too Much, and here is Charlene M. Nelson at Come To Christ with thoughts on the sin of Evil Suspicions.

It's a heartbreak for many different reasons when a pastor falls. It's a blot on the name of Jesus. It's a devastating impact on his church. It's a vivid reminder that the seeming mightiest still succumb to sin. We see many pastors tumble, but there are also many pastors who preach for decades and are mightily blessed. What makes the difference? "It is not the most able who are blessed in their ministry, but the most holy." Eric McKiddie has Something Pastors and Preachers Always Need to Be Reminded Of

Dystopia is real, and it is almost here. Which dystopia do you see as a closer reality: Orwell's 1984? or Huxley's Brave New World? Aaron Earls at The Wardrobe Door has some thoughts about The American Church's Real Enemy. If you read that piece, it would be great to follow up with Calling the Church To Repent.

I remember those days. Melissa at Your Mom Has a Blog says Don’t Live for a Compliment from Your Husband

I really like DebbieLynne's writing. Here at The Outspoken Tulip, she discusses Sending Something You Can't.

Samuel D. James with some thoughts on the new book 'Hillbilly Elegy', a book about faith in Appalachia.

The official definition of Finstagram? Finstagram (Finsta) is a fake (or second) Instagram account. Students, usually girls, get a second Instagram account along with their real Instagrams. (Rinstagrams), to post silly pictures or videos. Finstagrams are intimate online spaces intended for an audience of friends, with the number of followers purposely kept in the low double digits. The kids tell it like it is: ” ..kids use it to trick their parents into following them there when in reality they have a second ‘true’ account”. Yeah.

Here is Robin Schumacher (a writer whom I love) with a slideshare on The Pattern of All False Religions



Take care and enjoy the day. Remember, for those who are in Jesus, there is no condemnation. (Romans 8:1).


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Consider the sparrow

I haven't done a natural history essay for a while. Paying attention to the plants, animals, and agricultural processes of the Bible is worthwhile because knowing more about them enhances our understanding of the context in which the particular verse is delivered to us. I've written of other natural history topics previously, and the links are below, if you're interested.

In Matthew 10:29-31 we read that the sparrow is considered the least of birds. The Cornell Ornithology lab describes a sparrow this way,
You can find House Sparrows most places where there are houses (or other buildings), and few places where there aren’t. Along with two other introduced species, the European Starling and the Rock Pigeon, these are some of our most common birds. Their constant presence outside our doors makes them easy to overlook.
Even more specifically, the Bible Encyclopedia describes the sparrows of Israel thus,
The Hebrew tsippor seems to have been a generic name under which were placed all small birds that frequented houses and gardens. The word occurs about 40 times in the Bible, and is indiscriminately translated "bird" "fowl" or "sparrow." ... Sparrows are small brown and gray birds of friendly habit that swarm over the northern part of Israel, and West of the Sea of Galilee, where the hills, plains and fertile fields are scattered over with villages. They build in the vineyards, orchards and bushes of the walled gardens surrounding houses, on the ground or in nooks and crannies of vine-covered walls. They live on seeds, small green buds and tiny insects and worms. Some members of the family sing musically; all are great chatterers when about the business of life. (source)
I watch, and am become like a sparrow That is alone upon the housetop. (Psalm 102:7)
A sparrow is such a friendly bird that if it were on the housetop it would be surrounded by half a dozen of its kind; ... In an overwhelmed hour the Psalmist poured out his heart before the Almighty. The reason he said he was like a "sparrow that is alone upon the housetop" was because it is the most unusual thing in the world for a sparrow to sit mourning alone, and therefore it attracted attention and made a forceful comparison. It only happens when the bird's mate has been killed or its nest and young destroyed, and this most cheerful of birds sitting solitary and dejected made a deep impression on the Psalmist who, when his hour of trouble came, said he was like the mourning sparrow--alone on the housetop. (source)
From Manners & Customs of the Bible by Freeman and Chadwick, we read,
Greek strouthion, (stroo-thee’-on); diminutive of strouthos, (a sparrow); a little sparrow. Sparrows are mentioned among the offerings made by poor. Two sparrows were sold for a farthing, and five for two farthings (Luke 12:6). The Hebrew word thus rendered is tsippor, which properly denotes the whole family of small birds that feed on grain (Leviticus 14:4; Psalms 84:3; 102:7). 



From Henry Hart's The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (1888) we read the following-
The word tsippor has been already dealt with in most of the passages where it occurs, in which it is translated ‘bird’ or ‘fowl.’ In two passages in the Psalms, however, it is rendered ‘sparrow,’ and the term appears perhaps to refer to a particular species. Elsewhere it is generic. In Ps. 84:3 we read, ‘The sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King, and my God.’ Here the metaphor is one of rejoicing; and the Psalmist pours forth his heart in glad and beautiful verse, full of the hope that he too may be permitted to dwell in the house of his God.
Canon Tristram considers that the latter ‘sparrow’ may be the ‘blue thrush’ (Monticola cyanus), which is a common and conspicuous bird in Palestine and Southern Europe, solitary in its habits, and fond of sitting on a roof or any conspicuous eminence while uttering a plaintive cry.  It breeds in the ruins about the temple at Jerusalem. Other species of sparrow are found in the Jordan Valley, as the marsh sparrow (P. Hispaniolensis) and the Moabitish sparrow of Tristram (P. Moabiticus).
Hart, H. C. (1888). The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (p. 203). London: The Religious Tract Society.

It was common in the Middle East to catch sparrows (and most small birds) and skin them and roast them to sell for a tidbit. Thus we have the mention of them where the Lord says He notices each and every fall of the sparrow and thus we should be comforted because we are much more valuable than these small, commonly sold tidbit birds.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

What a gracious and loving God!

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Further Reading

Onions

Pomegranates

Making wine

Wheat v. darnel

Linen


Monday, September 19, 2016

Psychological impact of the Tribulation: people will literally be scared to death

OVERVIEW OF END TIME PROPHECY

In my essay yesterday about Why We Should Value Prophecy, I laid out some reasons why prophecy is just an important kind of biblical literature as other types of biblical literature, such as Law, History, Poetry, Wisdom, or Gospel. I also laid out some thoughts as to the purpose of prophecy.

By now (in 2016) most of the past prophecies have been fulfilled. There is one prophecy that has not been completely fulfilled however, and that is the bundle of prophecies relating to the time of the end of the end. We are in the end time. We have been in the end time since Jesus ascended, and will be until He returns in glory and judges all things, completes his 1000 year reign on earth, and then dissolves the Universe in a fervent heat and makes all things new. The prophecies remaining to be fulfilled describe all things through the end of Revelation 22, which include the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Millennial Kingdom, Satan Released for the Last Battle, and the New Heavens and New Earth.

I'd said a moment ago that the prophecies relating to the end time have not been completely fulfilled. Many of the prophecies are in a state of being fulfilled, while others are definitely not happening yet. Prophecies relating to the end time describe the symptoms of this long stretch of time between the two comings of Jesus. So while the prophecy of Paul in 2 Timothy 3 are describing general conditions during this wide swathe of time, the specific prophecies of certain events have not occurred. That's the interesting thing about prophecy. One prophecy can have a dual fulfillment, a far fulfillment, a discrete, one-time fulfillment, or a continual fulfillment.

Since it has been a long while since the last fulfilled prophecy, Jesus' incarnation, death, and resurrection, people may become lulled into a sense of security and mock the end time prophecies and judgments. Even this is prophesied! Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:3-4,

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. "Where is the promise of His coming?" they will ask. "Ever since our fathers fell asleep, everything continues as it has from the beginning of creation."

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF THE END TIMES

The nature of sin and the end time are inextricably intertwined. The reason for the prophecies of the end of time are because of sin. Ever since Adam sinned in the Garden and man lost his position of pure fellowship with God, as humans and as a world, we have been in a continual state of devolvement and uncreation. Since the moment Eve bit the fruit and gave some to her husband, who was with her, (Genesis 3:6) all events have been working toward the end of God's plan. It began with one sin and it will end with all sin.

Sin is the reason for the end time. Because the end time events are about judgment for sin.

We downplay sin. We have respectable sins. We sin and do not repent. As a church we do not regard the spiritual battles with enough fervor. Where is the David tearing his clothes and crying out to God? Where is the city like Nineveh crying out for mercy in sackcloth and ashes from the king down to the lowliest slave? Where are the pray-ers and fast-ers interceding in the battle? Where is the concern for holiness in the church? Not that there aren't any, but the general trajectory of sin is that it tries with unceasing vigilance to corrupt our hearts and our churches. We already know what unresolved sin does to the human mind of the unsaved person- he is a total slave to it. Their minds are corrupt.

So that is the time of the end. More and more people will be totally corrupted by total sin, and not care.

This will make for an insane society. (Romans 1:28-32, Genesis 6:5, Matthew 24:37). We already see the effects of so much sin on human civilization. It can't be refuted that civilization of these days has hurtled down the road of libertinism, depravity, murder, and more. Marriage, the first God-given institution, is being dismissed and redefined. Gender itself, a biological absolute from God, is also being corrupted by the doctors' scalpel and the personal wills of depraved individuals. Life is not valued, ethical restrains are by the wayside, and the age-old cherished values of courage, personal duty, and honor are now old fashioned words, mocked by post-modernists.

And yet today's depravity and sin-loving condition (Romans 1:32) is nothing, nothing to what is to come.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. (Matthew 15:19).

If all those things are in the heart and come out as we see now, what till the Tribulation be like when there is no restraint at all on mans' proclivity to seek satan and his evil?! (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

I have tried and failed in past essays to bring to bear the totally depraved and horrific time the Tribulation will be. Because we often cannot or do not understand the nature of sin, we downplay the Tribulation's evil, ghastly and grotesque condition. However it will be a time when men will simply go mad from what they see.

I'd read somewhere, I'm sorry I forget where, the verse from  Deuteronomy 28:34, a section called The Curses of Disobedience, a number of judgments to come upon the People. Then the verse states,

so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see.

Men's behavior will be so depraved that just looking at what is happening will cause a person to go insane. We don't even know the half of what sin can do. We haven't even scratched the surface yet. While the Deuteronomy verse describes an event that has already occurred and passed into history, it mirrors the conditions of the Tribulation. Calvin says of the Deuteronomy verse that,
He adds that there shall be no end to their affliction, until the magnitude of their calamities shall stupefy them.
Matthew Henry says of the verse,

To complete their misery, it is threatened that they should be put quite out of the possession of their minds by all these troubles 

Walvoord says of the verse,
The afflictions mentioned here result from defeat in battle. The military exemptions mentioned in 20:5–7 would be reversed without God’s protection (28:30). Livestock and children would be lost forever (vv. 31–32). Foreign armies would reap the benefit of the farmers’ hard work (v. 33). These devastating losses would produce insanity (v. 34) and painful boils (v. 35; cf. v. 27
If men's minds were not able to apprehend the effects of defeat in battle, what of their mental state when actual hell is loosed on earth? When sin reigns? Jesus foretold the following as regards the Tribulation:

  • Men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; (Luke 21:26)
  • And upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; (Luke 21:25, KJV)
  • Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slaved and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:15-17)
The Tribulation period will be a time of extermination. God will exterminate sinners from the world as cockroaches in disgust and fury. Here is one pastor's description:
Verse 26, "Men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world."
So we are in the end of the time of the Tribulation when the universe as we know it is being dramatically altered. And first is chaos before there is reconstruction. There's only one way to deal with all of the things that happen which we went through last time, dismay among nations. The word in the Greek is sunoche and it's only used one other time in the New Testament, it's a rare word. It means anguish. It describes a kind of human emotion which is overwhelming and overpowering. It even could be translated severe anxiety. There is...there is a sense of terror and a sense of anxiousness that knows no bounds and no relief. It is compounded by perplexity. The word aporia only here in the New Testament. It's as if the Holy Spirit uses words that define a time the likes of which has never existed and picks words that are very, very rare for such a rare time. Aporia, perplexity, it simply means confusion in its most severe form. 
Shock is so great that we are told that men are fainting from fear. And fainting is a rather benign way to translate another rare word used no where else in the New Testament, aposuche (?). What that word means is to breathe out or to expire. That's another word for to die. People will be scared to death. People will be scared to death. People all over the world will die of terror because of what is happening and because what is happening they know will lead to further horrors. (Source)
Even with that, there is no way to describe it. No one would really want to, anyway. We often dwell on the depths of God's love, knowing that we can't truly comprehend such eternal, perfect, infinite love. Just so, we cannot really understand sin. It also is boundless, eternal, and utterly incomprehensible to its depths. We think we understand sin. We don't. The Tribulation pagans and the saved will, because they will see it almost fully. Even then, they will not see what the nature of sin can do to its ends, because Jesus said that if He would not cut short the time, no flesh would be saved at all! (Matthew 24:22-23). Sin destroys utterly.

Prophecy isn't a sphere of study for the prurient intellectual dabbler. It is a serious sphere given to us by the grace of God so we may answer the question Peter asked. He explained the coming end of time judgments and fulfillment of prophetic promises and asked his flock the following:

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (2 Peter 3:11-12)

Knowing what is coming because we have the blessed advantage of peeking into to the future from God's word, what sort of people are we to be?

My call is to urge us now, me included, to live in purity. Pursue holiness. Repent often, and in sincerity. Witness of Jesus and His truths. We do not want our best friend left behind. We do not want our worst enemy left behind. We praise Jesus for His soon return in glory and wrath, to render justice for sin. We know that is necessary. But we don't have to ignore the prophecies, we don't have to diminish the prophecies, we don't have to be casual about the prophecies.

Keep this in mind: the truth of the last of the last days will be such that men's brains will figuratively explode with incomprehensibility because of what they see.

Even so, come Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20).




Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why we should value prophecy

With all the prophesying 'prophets' these days, and 'words from the Lord', and alleged divine revelations, it is easy to dismiss real biblical prophecies. Don't be tempted to lump in the false revelations with the real ones. We should highly value the prophecy of the Bible. (And only the prophecy of the Bible).
The Bible is not one "book," it is a "library" of sixty-six books that were written over a period of more than a 1,500 years by many different authors. These authors were "inspired" in their thinking and writing by the Holy Spirit. Thus the Bible is the inspired Word of God without error. It also has the human "touch" from its authors. Paul is different than David, who is different than James or Moses. So their style and personality comes out to us. ... The Bible is Literature, as is any book filled with language. It has: Law, History, Wisdom, Poetry, Gospel, Epistles, Prophecy, and Apocalyptic. Literature. (Source)
THE VALUE OF PROPHECY

I can't relate to you in one essay all the reasons we should value biblical prophecy, but here are a few.

When we read the Bible we need to remember that there are different kinds of literature within it. One of those types of literature is prophetic literature, which these days is either abused or maligned. People who don't study properly either ignore prophecy or dismiss it. Others dwell on it to the exclusion of the other books of the Bible. Some mix man's prophecies with Jesus', thus twisting it and causing disregard of it by the saner members of the faith, but who still remain intimidated by it. The Lord in His wisdom gave us this Book with its different types of writing, and included in it are prophecies, which means this kind of literature is just as valuable as all the others.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16).

Prophecy is useful for training in righteousness? Yes. In this essay I will explain why. Let's begin with the purpose of prophecy. Bible.org says,
While prophecy may be figuratively or symbolically revealed, we can expect it to be literally fulfilled. In type, the Messiah who was to come was portrayed as the bronze serpent, which was lifted up on a pole (Numbers 21:19; John 3:14), and as the Passover lamb (Exodus 12; John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19; cf. 2:21-25). In Psalm 22, the passion of our Lord is described by the very terms which David used to portray his personal anguish of soul. In Isaiah 53, we have another prophecy of the atoning work of Israel’s Messiah. All these prophetic pictures were literally fulfilled. So, too, the prophecies that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:5-6) of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23) were literally fulfilled.
Whether in symbol, in figure, or in direct statement, the prophecies of the Old Testament which have already been fulfilled were fulfilled literally. We should therefore expect that the prophecies which remain unfulfilled, those which pertain to the second coming of our Lord, will be literally fulfilled.
This is an exceedingly clarifying statement: While prophecy may be figuratively or symbolically revealed, we can expect it to be literally fulfilled. So often, the figures, types, and symbols of prophecy confuse the reader. They believe that since prophecy is written in figurative language, the result of the prophecy must also be figurative. Let it not be so! For Jesus is true and real. His acts from history and in prophecy were and will be real and true.

The basic principle is that scripture interprets scripture. Therefore the figures, types, and symbols given in the entire Bible, not just prophecy, can be interpreted. For example, when clouds are mentioned it is associated with Deity. The harp or lyre is usually associated with prophesying. And so on. People usually have no difficulty interpreting the symbols in other kinds of biblical literature, and in prophecy should be no different.

Jesus values prophecy. Not did He tell us ahead of time, (Matthew 24:25), but Jesus prophesied His resurrection by referring to Jonah the Prophet's time in the belly of the great fish. (Matthew 12:40). When Jesus explained Himself to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He began with Moses and the Prophets. (Luke 24:27). Prophecy explains other prophecy and in fact, all scripture interprets all scripture.

Just because Old Testament prophecy was not fulfilled in a way that people expected, does not diminish the original prophecy. Who would have expected the Lord to come as a suffering servant? Except that in Isaiah 53 it says so. Who would have expected the Lord to come from Nazareth and Egypt and Bethlehem? Except it is all foretold. (Hosea 11:1, Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:22-23). The difficulty comes when people overlay their own expectations on top of prophecy to confirm their own man-made meaning, or worse, their own personal prophecies (eisegesis) rather than draw out of prophecy the intended meaning (exegesis).

THE PURPOSE OF PROPHECY

One of the purposes of prophecy is to demonstrate God's sovereignty and His omniscience. God orchestrates all things because He is the author and architect of the universe, all doings on heaven and on earth are in His hand.

declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ Isaiah 46:10)

This should be enormously comforting to us. He is in control of all things. When we read of events God prophesied in the past and history bears this out in scripture, scripture is validated and we love the Lord all the more for being true and solid.

For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. (Romans 15:4).

Prophetic scripture produces hope. The Romans verse said that through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. All scripture can offer hope, the Law and the History and the Psalms, and the Prophetic scriptures are encouraging and spark hope in our hearts. We look ahead to the glories that wait. We will see Jesus face to face and no longer through a glass darkly, We will receive our rewards. We will worship and fellowship without sin or blot or stain. We will live forever in New Jerusalem in Light and Beauty. We look around on earth at what needs to be done, but we look ahead as to Who and why we do the things that must be done! Paul concluded his great speech on the end times by saying,

Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

So, the prophetic scriptures are both hopeful and encouraging.

Prophetic scripture enlivens us to good works. First, we love to share the glories that await the believer. As for the non-believer, prophecies of scripture show us that the time is short. Any man may die at any time, for his life is a vapor, (James 4:14) and then comes the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27). Woe to the unsaved! Moreover, the times are short, for Jesus may return at any moment. We are living on borrowed time! He will return in wrath to judge the living and the dead, this is a sure word of prophecy. (Revelation 19:11, 2 Timothy 4:1, 1 Peter 4:5) In light of this, we have a duty, and that is,

And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42).

Prophecy should remind us that our lives on earth are temporary and we must share in obedience the eternal truths while we can.

Conclusion:

Though there are no doubt many other instructive lessons to be learned from the prophetic scriptures, the ones covered here were the value and purpose ofprophecy-
  • Prophecy is one of the several types of literature in the Bible,
  • Prophecy is an important part of scripture,
  • Prophecy demonstrates God's sovereignty and His omniscience,
  • Prophetic scripture produces hope,
  • Prophetic scripture enlivens us to good works in obedience.
In the next essay I want to discuss the nature of sin in light of the prophetic time of the Tribulation recorded in Revelation. I'll close now with this thought from from Martyn Lloyd Jones from his sermon The God of the Covenants Acts 7:1-8,

The God who planned the beginning also planned the end. ~Martyn Lloyd Jones

Earth burns up, 2 Peter 3:10. Photo, NASA