BIBLE IN THE NEWS
The Value of Bible Prophecy
The reasons and benefits for following the Bible in the News – www.bibleinthenews.com
Every week, by God’s good grace, we spend time on the ‘Bible in the News’, to consider the latest international news stories in the light of Bible prophecy. Right now we want to consider the reasons and benefits for YOU doing so.
The Uniqueness of the Bible amongst religious texts.
The Bible is truly an amazing book. A book caused to be written by the Almighty Creator of the heavens and earth. A book which contains scripture which, we are told, is “God breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). A book which contains a wonderful message of hope, for those who would accept its message and live by its principles.
In terms of religious texts, the Bible is unique in one key area – that of prophecy. When studied and understood, these Bible prophecies really do form a irrefutable proof of it’s divine origin. Many parts of the Bible tell of events which, when they were given, were yet in the future – but which have now come to pass. When compared with the other major religious texts of our time, like the Quran, the Buddhist texts, the Sikh texts or the book of Mormon, to name but a few, we see that in regards to prophecy these other texts really do not contain any substantiated foretelling of future events, on the scale that the Bible does. It really stands out as a document which cannot be cast aside as its prophecies prove its authenticity.
A Characteristic of God
The foretelling of future events is a hallmark of the character of God. He tells us in Isaiah:
“…I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” Isaiah 46:9-10
Bible believers will understand the importance of such a claim. There is no other God but the one who has revealed His Divine self in the pages of the Bible. He is the sovereign power source of the universe and it is for His purpose that things exist as they do.
This truth is beautifully expressed in the scriptures. For example in Daniel 2:20-22 we read:
“Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God forever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.”
Despite what man might think of his own importance and systems of rulership, the Bible teaches us that it is God who is in control. He sets up kings and rulers and powers as He requires to fulfil His purpose.
“…the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” Daniel 4:32
The prophets of the Hebrew scriptures, known as the Old Testament, are packed full with the foretelling of future events.
The book of Daniel contains amazing prophecies, spanning thousands of years and affecting millions of human lives. Events which would be impossible for a mere human to predict, are clearly defined and outlined. For example the great vision that Nebuchadnezzar had which is recorded in Daniel chapter 2, recounts the four empires which would succeed and inherit rulership power from each other: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek and Roman. The prophecy accurately predicts the final downfall and dividing of the Roman Empire into some strong and some weak nations. A Prophecy given hundreds of years before it took place is surely amazing proof of Divine inspiration. The Prophecy continues to explain that after a period in this divided state, God’s Kingdom will eventually be set up on earth on top of the ruins of the Kingdom of men and it is this coming Kingdom we look for.
The other major and minor prophets of the Old Testament outline wonderful prophecies. Of particular interest is a time period they were inspired to call “the latter days” which, beyond any shadow of a doubt, we are living through right now. The latter days is the time when Gods people of Israel will be gathered to their land in unbelief (Hosea 3:5, Ezekiel 38:16). This we have and are witnessing in our own lifetimes. Israel has now been a state for over 60 years! Within the time period of the latter days we are told the Kingdom of God will be set up with one who will reign in righteousness (Isaiah 2:2-5). This coming king is none other than The Lord Jesus Christ, who will return to save the Jews from a time of trouble such as never was (Deut 4:30, Daniel 12:1). He will come with his resurrected followers, the faithful, who have been granted the gift of eternal life at the judgment seat (Zech 14:1-5, Romans 6:23).
He will return during a great conflict between the people of Israel and the nations of Russia, Europe, North Africa and the Far East, as recorded the prophets Ezekiel 38, Joel 3, Zechariah 12-14 and Daniel 11 proclaim.
The aspects of prophecy which have been fulfilled in a demonstrable way give us confidence of these prophecies of the future coming of God’s kingdom, in our time of the latter days.
The Book of Revelation
At the start of the book of Revelation, chapter 1 verse 1, we are told that it is written for the true servants of The Lord Jesus Christ, that it is signified or encoded in symbol and that it would reveal events to shortly begin to unfold. It is an amazing Prophecy, particularly when considered in the light of the continuous historic fulfilment of the various time periods held within it. When considering the time frames revealed, the Bible student will realize that they are living in the time just before the return of Christ, called, “the sixth vial” as recorded in Revelation 16. We know we are living during this time because it begins with the drying up of the Turkish power (symbolized by the Euphrates Rev 16:12). This began to take place during the turn of the 19th century and really came to ahead when the British forces pushed the Ottomans out from Palestine during the first world war. The Euphratian power truly has evaporated from the vast territory it once boasted – a clear indicator that we are living in the sixth vial period.
During this time period, Revelation 16 tells us that the nations are eventually gathered to the great battle of God Almighty which will correspond with the coming of The Lord Jesus Christ – just as the prophets of the Old Testament proclaimed.
True Bible Students and Prophecy
True Bible student and founder of the now called Christadelphian movement, John Thomas, had this to say about prophecy in his book Elpis Israel (page 323):
“In ages past, God has had among the nations a people of His own. These are wise in the wisdom of God, and venerate His word above all things. Though not His counsellors, He has graciously condescended to inform them what He intends to do before it comes to pass. Hence, it is testified by the prophet that “the Lord God will surely do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). This revelation is made that His people’s faith may be confirmed and enlarged, and that in every generation they may know the times and seasons to which they stand related. Knowing the signs, they are enabled to discern the times; and while consternation and dismay cause men’s hearts to fail, they are courageous, and rejoice in perceiving the approach of the Kingdom of God.”
This quotation shows the basis of motivation of Christadelphian Bible students to understand and discern Bible prophecy. To seek to appreciate the mind and purpose of God Himself in what He has revealed to us in the Bible about events in our day and beyond through men who lived hundreds of years ago.
Through good Bible reading and analysis, Christadelphians have amazingly looked for events to take place on the world stage, before they have happened. For example the drying up of the Ottoman power in the East and then the restoration of the Jews back to their homeland of Israel, were events the community looked for and when they eventually took place, stimulated its members faith and excitement.
In 2 Peter 3 we read of the inspired apostle Peters words to the believers of his time. He is warning them of the soon overthrow of the Jewish age, which had been prophesied long ago by the prophets of Israel. We read in verse 17:
“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.”
Here is a clear example of enlightened believers being expected to be exhorted by events which would take place which they knew would happen before the event took place.
John Thomas goes on to comment about this in Elpis Israel:
“From these premises we may conclude that, as the Lord has also revealed what is to come to pass in these latter days, it is both our duty and privilege to make ourselves acquainted with it, that our faith may grow and be strengthened; our affections detached from the fleeting present, and set more firmly on things to come; that our minds may be fortified against error; and that we may be prepared to meet the Lord as those who have kept their garments, and shall not be put to shame. (Rev 16:15) It is our own fault if we are not “Light in the Lord.” He has plainly set before us what is happening in our day, and what is yet to occur. Hence, while the Priests of the State Church are drowsily exclaiming, while war and political murders abound, “Give peace in our time, O Lord!” — and while peace-societies are with infidel voices crying “Peace and safety”: they who take heed to the prophetic word “know before,” that the hour of God’s judgment is come, and that destruction is at the door.”
As John Thomas here hints at, being motivated by Bible prophecy is clearly expected of us. Why would our God reveal these things in the scriptures if it were not so. To be motivated by prophecy though, one must seek to understand it. Read it and be enlightened by it.
Where there is no vision.
So this is the reason for the Bible in the News project and the reason for any follower of the Bible to be interested in prophecy.
The reason the Bible student should continue to watch world events is because God is at work in the kingdoms of men. He has given us clues and markers which can encourage us as we await the return of His son from heaven. These clues can help to give us the incentives we need to continue to live lives which are in accordance with his Holy precepts. The wise man of the Proverbs was inspired to pen these words:
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18
It is therefore essential we keep alive the vision of the coming Kingdom sharp in our minds eye. Knowing the state of the nations and watching as they slowly move into place helps us in this regard. Whether we are looking at the rise of Russia, the tensions in Syria, the discord in Egypt, the antagonism of Iran, the distancing of the UK from Europe or the continued despising of Gods people of Israel, we can be encouraged by the fact that God is at work in the world in which we live. He is in sovereign control and will bring about the Kingdom he promised of old to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and King David.
The word for perish in the Proverbs is the word “para” which can be translated as “made naked” or “made loose”. Being naked is a symbol of sin. Consider how this links with the words of Jesus Christ in Revelation 16. Just after describing the gathering of the nations to war in verse 14, the Lord Jesus Christ says:
“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
Having on a garment is a symbol of those who have striven to overcome sin, after the example of Christ and who have been granted eternal life (Rev 3:4&5, 19:13&16). Therefore to keep your garments is to maintain a Godly lifestyle striving against the natural impulses of the flesh and seeking to transform one’s mind by God’s word (Romans 12:2) and to remain steadfast in the doctrines of God’s truth. It is to ensure that we have truly “put on” Christ or “clothed ourselves” with Christ (Galatians 3:27).
There is here a direct correlation between watching and keeping ones garments. It is implied therefore that to fail to watch will mean a gradual nakedness creeping upon oneself. Of course watching the signs of the times in itself does not mean we will not be naked. We have to watch the signs of the times and relate them to day to day life so that we are also watching ourselves through the lens of Biblical principles. We have to keep that vision of Gods kingdom and glory alive lest we will be made naked in how we think and act. We have to grow and give forth fruit to the glory of God. We have to adopt Gods principles and manifest them as our own, in so doing adopt God’s righteousness as our own.
Therefore we encourage you to watch with us, to keep sharpening that vision in your mind’s eye. Be confident about the role of Bible Prophecy and be prepared for the coming of the Lord from heaven. An event which all the signs around point to as being something which will be happening very soon. Let us keep our minds fixed on the joy to come and let us live lives of grateful sacrifice to God:
“For our constitution is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Philippians 3:20-21
By Matt Davies