By Not Known
Our Bible contains 17 Old Testament books and one New Testament book of
prophecy. The New Testament mentions prophets in the Gospels and Letters. We
looked at a passage from Amos last Sunday and will start looking at Zechariah this
morning. That’s the A to Z!
Some think of the prophets as primarily foretellers of the future. Some then comb
the prophets looking for detailed predictions of present and future world events. (I
chanced on such a website when browsing for something else this week. It’s an
alarming read!) Problem is, such predictions are invariably wrong – as the quickest
study of the histoy of prophetic interpretation shows.
However, there are some foretelling elements in the prophets. This is illustrated
by Matthew’s interpretation of Jesus’ birth. He sees it as the fulfilment of details
foretold by prophets. Note also the reference in Rev 1:1 to telling … what must
soon take place.
Another view sees the prophets as mainly ‘forth-tellers’ of God’s word. That is,
they take God’s teaching and apply it to their times, with warnings, exhortations
and encouragements. This makes the prophets rather like preachers, who must
apply God’s word as well as teach it. Is that all? If so, prophecy is as stale as last ,
Sunday’s sermon and has nothing to say ‘today’.
The foretelling/forth-telling aspects converge when we look at the prophets’
message. A typical prophecy includes the announcement of judgement, an urging
to flee judgment by turning back to God, and an announcement of God’s salvation.
The message of all prophecy centres on Jesus as the means of God’s salvation.
Jesus teaches us to interpret all prophecy with respect to himself (Luke 24:27,44).
Paul declares that all God’s promises are ‘yes’ in him (2Cor 1:20). This is vividly
illustrated by the prophecy of Revelation. Its central message is about Jesus as
God’s saving king. In this sense, the prophets are all foretellers and forth-tellers of
the gospel of Jesus.
So let’s read Biblical prophecy with care and confidence. Let’s hear it as a sermon
to the people of the prophet’s day. But let’s also take our lead from Jesus and
‘hear’ the prophecy as a message to us about judgement, salvation and Jesus. And
let’s heed this message and find God’s salvation.