Understanding prophecy


Understanding prophecyI have in my possession Webster’s New International Dictionary printed in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, in 1926. It is a big volume with 2,600 pages in small print on India paper, weighing almost 3.5 kg. It came to me when my aunt passed away in 1991. She spent several years in southern California as a companion and caregiver to an elderly artistic lady.

On page 1718 I find the entry for the word, prophecy: “1. The work, function or vocation of a prophet; a. inspired declaration or revelation of the divine will, including moral teaching by warning, consoling, exhorting, giving an example of fellowship with God; b. A declaration of something to come; a foretelling; a prediction; c. The power of prophesying, or foretelling the future.”

I am pleased that the definition is so broad and not limited to just foretelling the future. There are many people who have such a narrow understanding of the concept, and it seems to me that many Christians do as well. A statement on the internet claims that one third of the Bible is prophecy in this sense.

But if we use the full definition from Webster’s Dictionary above we can definitely say that the Bible as a whole is prophecy: inspired revelation of the divine will, including moral teaching by warning, consoling, exhorting, giving an example of fellowship with God. And some parts of the Bible deal with future events and the Lord’s plans, purposes and actions for the coming days as part of the broader understanding.

We read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

This broader understanding of prophecy and the Bible will also serve as a protection against unfruitful speculation regarding the future. The Lord wants us to walk in fellowship with Him, humble, doing His will. Dead works displease Him – how could we serve the living God with dead works? No, the blood of the Messiah cleanses our conscience from dead works. He has made us alive together with the Messiah. He has saved us by grace through faith – it is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works (so that we could boast).  But we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua “for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:5-10).

There are, however, a great number of passages in the Bible where the Lord speaks through His prophets regarding the future. But how does He do it?

We find a clue in Hebrews 9:11 – “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.”   I understand this to mean that when Yeshua gave His life for us on the cross, as the perfect Lamb of God, something of eternal importance took place simultaneously in a tabernacle not of this creation, i.e. entirely outside our time and space. This makes me believe that the Lord in His eternal dwelling, eternally present, sees the past, present and the future of mankind all at once!

So from His perspective the Lord simultaneously sees events that for us will happen tomorrow, a year’s time, a hundred years, or three thousand years into the future. And He not only sees the events, He moves and acts, sending His angels to help and intervene in countless ways. He prepares good works beforehand so that we as His children can walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

From time to time He reveals some of His intentions and plans for an individual, a family, Israel, or the entire world: “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). These revelations are very accurate!

Prime examples are all the prophetic words concerning the Messiah: His birth, life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension. The Gospels abound with expressions like “for thus it is written by the prophet”.

Another area of major importance is aliyah, the return of the Jewish people and the restoration of Israel. We find numerous scriptures throughout the Tanakh where the Lord not only foretells the return of the Jews but also brings consolation, comfort, hope and encouragement.

The Lord does not limit Himself to speaking through the prophets and the Scriptures; He speaks through His servants today as well. During our international conference in Jerusalem on 23 January 2016 the Lord gave a word through Paul Clark regarding the burden to bring the aliyah message to the Church. Here is part of the message:

“Commission My faithful servants and anoint them for the work of Aliyah.  Time is short and there is much to be done. In 48 months the world will be a very different place! In this period of grace My church needs to hear that it has a calling to help with the mass Aliyah that is on the horizon … In four years it will be very different and My church has to hear about Aliyah. … there will be great challenges but My grace will be enough …”

Exactly 48 months later, on 23 January 2020, the Chinese government placed the entire city of Wuhan in quarantine.

“Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).

“… he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” (1 Corinthians 14:3).

Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10).

Let us continue to bring the aliyah message to the Church!

Philip Holmberg
Board Member
Operation Exodus International

Then God brought Abraham outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Genesis 15:5

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