Why Prophecy?

Richard F. Ames

Is Bible prophecy something that we need not—or perhaps cannot—understand? Or is it vital to the daily life, and future hope, of Christians? Why did God give us Bible prophecy? You need to know!

Bible prophecy reveals your future—and the future of the world. What is its role in your life?

Most of us wonder what will happen in the years ahead. Will meteors destroy the earth? Will World War III cause "the end of the world"?  Can we know what God has predicted for the future? Yes, we can!

Many "religious hobbyists" are curious about Bible prophecy, but they do not know its real significance and purpose. Some professing Christians dismiss Bible prophecy as insignificant and unimportant. They may concede that prophecy can be interesting, but they say it does not have anything to do with salvation. Can you see the fallacy? Remember: in one sense, no true Christian today will be finally saved until the prophesied great resurrection at Christ's return. As Christ said, in His own words: "But he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13).

The Bible instructs God's people to be faithful to the end. True Christians look forward to the future when Jesus Christ will establish the Kingdom of God on earth. Notice what Christ says in the very next verse: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (v. 14).

Christ will powerfully end mankind's immoral and degenerate civilizations, and will establish His kingdom and government on this earth. That Kingdom will bring joy, happiness and lasting world peace to all the nations! Notice—what gospel did Jesus proclaim? The gospel of the Kingdom! In other words, the very gospel Jesus preached is prophetic!

The good news—the hope of the world—is the future Kingdom of God, which Jesus Christ will soon establish right here on the earth! True Christians right now are preparing to be transformed and to enter into that Kingdom, at Christ's return. As the Apostle Paul wrote: "Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory'" (1 Corinthians 15:51–54).

The resurrection of faithful Christians will take place at the "last trumpet"—the seventh trumpet blast, announced in Revelation 11:15. Those who "endure to the end" will be saved, as Jesus said. For some, the "end" will be the end of a faithful Christian life. Others will still be alive at Christ's return. All these faithful Christians will be resurrected and changed at Christ's return, and will enter the prophesied Kingdom of God.

Some do not recognize that there is a future Kingdom of God. They miss the significance of Paul's reminder that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption" (1 Corinthians 15:50). If you are a flesh and blood Christian, you are preparing to inherit the Kingdom, but you have not yet inherited the Kingdom! You will receive your full inheritance at the time of the resurrection (John 3:5–6).

Jesus Himself emphasized that this inheritance will take place at the end of this age: "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'" (Matthew 25:34).

Three Purposes of Prophecy

Bible prophecy has been given for many purposes. Here, we will consider three of the most basic and most important. First, Bible prophecy warns people and nations to repent, so they can avoid punishment.

John the Baptist moved many by his preaching. What was his message? "In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!'" (Matthew 3:1–2). Jesus Christ soon afterward preached this same message of repentance (see Mark 1:14–15).

How did people respond to John's preaching? "Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he [John] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, 'Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance'" (Matthew 3:5–8).

We must all heed this warning, and bear fruits worthy of repentance. If we truly repent, Jesus Christ promises protection for those who are faithful. The Apostle John records this message Christ delivered to the Church at Philadelphia: "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth" (Revelation 3:10).

An hour of trial is coming upon our rebellious and wicked world. Jesus warned us that a Great Tribulation is coming (Matthew 24:21). But God will protect those who listen to His prophetic warnings, and change their lives. The book of Jonah shows a rare example of a people actually heeding a warning from God, and changing its ways. Will we also repent nationally and individually?

God determined to destroy Nineveh unless its people repented. And they did repent! How did God view their repentance? "Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it" (Jonah 3:10). The prophetic warning resulted in God's blessing on the people. Will we respond to today's prophetic warnings as ancient Nineveh did? If we do not, we will experience the severe punishment of the Great Tribulation.

A second purpose of Bible prophecy is to announce the coming Kingdom of God on the earth. For nearly 6,000 years, mankind has practiced the way of sin, selfishness, war and greed. Humanity has not learned the way of peace. Only under the rule of the Prince of Peace—our Savior, Jesus Christ—will people ever enjoy lasting world peace.

Prophecy gives us the encouraging news that Jesus Christ will establish His Kingdom here on earth, and faithful Christians will rule with Him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6). Then will come the "Great White Throne Judgment," when all those who lived and died without hearing God's Truth will be resurrected and given their first actual opportunity to accept His message and live His way.

You can read some of the millennial prophecies in Isaiah 2, 11, and 35, and in Micah 4. These are inspiring prophecies that give us real hope.

Edersheim's Prophecy and History in Relation to the Messiah observes: "The one pervading and impelling idea of the OT is the royal reign of God on earth…. This Messianic idea is the sole raison d'etre of the OT viewed as revelation" (pp. 48, 135). Jesus Christ will return as King of kings and Lord of lords, as it states in Revelation 19:16. "The royal reign of God on earth," as Edersheim described it, will bring world peace and prosperity.

Government without God, in the hands of man, has only brought suffering. Unless God intervenes, it will bring mankind to total destruction. As Jesus said: "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened" (Matthew 24:22). The Bible prophesies that there will be a time of restoration for the earth. Remember Peter's words, that God will "send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began"! (Acts 3:20–21). God will restore the earth to natural, unpolluted beauty and prosperity, under the divine government and Kingdom of God. We can all rejoice at that good news.

A third purpose of Bible prophecy is that it demonstrates God's total sovereignty and power. Nothing can deter God's plan of salvation. That plan is revealed in your Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. God has an awesome purpose for every human being who will respond to Him. That purpose is to become God's glorious, immortalized children, for all eternity. As we already read: "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:53). God's great power, through His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ, will bring this to pass.

Almighty God declares His power and sovereignty: "Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it" (Isaiah 46:9–11). God Almighty will powerfully fulfill His purpose and prophecy.

The prophet Amos warns us that a time will come when the truth that you are now reading will not be available: "'Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord God, 'That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it'" (Amos 8:11–12).

Jesus Christ promises a benefit to those who seek Him, sincerely wanting to understand. "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near" (Revelation 1:3). You can be blessed, as you sincerely study God's word, and understand its many prophecies. A wonderful future awaits, beyond the greatest of your hopes and dreams!