Why study Prophecy?
Mankind is facinated with prophecy. And as we approach the new millennium, the interest in prophecy is even escalating. We must ask the question, why are people so interested in prophecy? What is their motivation? (What is your motivation?) Is there a healty motivation? And is there an unhealthy motivation? Let's breifly look this issue of prophecy. We should start by dealing with the issue of what exactly is prophecy?
Prophecy comes in two forms: One is in the mode of the 'Old Testament' prophets many of whom demonstrated a proper example of 'special revelation'. Special revelation is knowledge (truth) given directly to man by God. Much of the Scriptures was given in this fashion. This mode of prophetic activity (but not necessarily the authority) is carried over into the New Testament age as one of many 'gifts' given by the Holy Spirit. It is known as the gift of prophecy and/or the gift of knowledge.
The second form of prophecy is far more relevant but much less understood today. It is demonstrated by the first Messianic age prophet, John the Baptist. He demonstrated the primary 'end-of-age prophetic mode. This more 'natural' mode does not involve 'special revelation' but instead a unique ability to see truth. This is the highest prophetic mode, the ability to see truth or in another word - reality. Prophesy is simply perceiving reality. Prophecy is the ultimate test of truthfulness (reality).
Yeshua (Jesus) addressed this issue in his day. As strange as it may sound, Yeshua pinpointed man's desire for prophetic 'special revelation' as evil and instead implied that they should be better able to see the 'signs of the times'. He equated it to the same process we use to predict the weather. This is the process of understanding 'reality', which comes by a slow studious discipline.
Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign [special revelation], but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. Matt 16:1-4
Adam, in his sinless state had the greatest 'natural' prophetic facility. He demonstrated this by naming all the animals. He could see the true nature of all things (all truth). When sin entered the world, man's thinking became 'twisted' and he was no longer able to perceive reality (the way things really are, the way God created them, for example, the roles of male and female or the need to be sinless) developing myriads of false concepts, philosophies, doctrines, and structures. The present work of the Holy Spirit is to push back this veil of un-truthfulness so humanity can see the 'real' world. This, of course, will then demand a commitment to live in conformity to 'reality' (such as there is only one God) or pay the concequenses for wanting and living 'my own reality'. Truth is not of private interpretation it is self evident. All honest men everywhere should accept this axiom (self evident truth):
"I will adopt the worldview with the best prophetic result"
A simple definition of a 'prophet' is someone who exercises a God given calling with the discipline of study & working experience in a specific field. He or she is someone who thoroughly understands their sphere of reality. The proof that one has attained prophethood is: his view of reality will produce the best results.
The world is full 'prophetic' endeavors and those people we might call 'natural prophets' - we call them 'experts'.
The Sports Pundit
The Stock Broker
The Political Pundit
Man's role is one of dominion. God is now challenging him with the task of rightly interpreting this 'chaotic' world. As much as it might appear to the untrained eye, the Scriptures say this world is not chaotic or accidental. There is a design and strategy behind everything that happens. While it may appear chaotic, this world is not. Even the weather is yielding to mans efforts to 'prophesy the future'. Man as a self-aware entity in a pre-existing world is struggling to define reality. In a non-chaotic world, the best model of reality past should produce the best model of reality future. Time has proven this statement to be true: the more we understand, the less and less chaotic the universe becomes.
What prophecy is NOT:
What the central motivation for studying prophecy is not - self preservation. Prophecy is firstly about conforming to reality, not about obstacle avoidance (certainly there is a proper use of prophecy to avoid danger).
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
How good are you at prophecy - detecting truth :
If a man came on the world scene claiming to know the plan of God, would you be skillful enough to detect truth - to support and follow him, i.e. Elijah OR condemn him i.e. Antichrist?
How skillful, do you think, is the Body of believers at detecting truth?
You can't be right about truth and wrong about prophecy. Prophecy is the reality-check of all spiritual philosophies. Spirituality is by definition very abstract. It is easy to formulate a wide range of explanations that explain reality, but only prophecy brings those ideas to account. Prophecy is the visible manifestation of invisible realities. Having a knowledge of the design is a powerful testimony of intimacy with the designer. As Jesus said it:
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.(John 15:15 NIV)
How can one say he is a friend of God and NOT know his masters business (prophecy). There is a (prophesied) explosion of knowledge in our day. We must assume that mixed throughout all those voices and ideas are morsels of truth. The great secret of understanding prophecy is to be a discriminating listener. To draw upon an inner 'truth detecting' faculty quickened by the Spirit of God. To do that properly one must work very hard to inhibit bias' created by wrong motivations.
glorification as a means - not an end
Does your religious / philosophical view include an EOTA?