Dr. David Jeremiah Presents
Living inthe Ageof Signs
Living in the Age of Signs
Why Should We Study Prophecy?
When a stranger asks me, "When is your birthday?" I become a little suspicious. I don't believe they plan to send me a present. They probably want to figure out my horoscope. It's not unusual to meet people who use astrological predictions to plan their future. Some folks even spend money on fortune–tellers and New Age books. There are people who will try almost anything that promises to reveal the future.
If only these individuals knew where to look! The Word of God is the only place to find an accurate glimpse of tomorrow. Unlike psychics, God foretells the future with perfect wisdom. He knows every detail of the past, present, and future. Through the book of Revelation, He has shared a snapshot of the world's final days with us. The word revelation itself means "the unfolding of that which was previously hidden or unknown."
Sadly, the book of Revelation remains a mystery to many Christians. Some pastors have never preached about biblical prophecy from the pulpit because they fail to see its relevance in everyday life. It's no wonder so many Christians are uninformed.
Have you ever wondered whether prophecy is important? After all, if we can't know when Christ is returning, then what is the point of studying the End Times? Or maybe you've avoided the study of prophecy because it seems too difficult to understand. Perhaps you are simply uninterested in the future because the present keeps you preoccupied and overwhelmed.
I read once that we treat the book of Revelation like the priests and the Levites treated the Samaritan who was wounded on the road—we pass by it on the other side. Why do we avoid the study of prophecy? Or perhaps a better question would be, Why should we study the panorama of prophecy found in Scripture?
The Prominence of Prophecy
Out of the 216 chapters found in the entire New Testament, did you know there are 318 references to the Second Coming of Christ? That means if you were to omit passages about prophecy, you would have to remove one out of every thirty verses in the New Testament. You would also have to skip 23 of the 27 New Testament books because that's how many mention it. For every prophecy about the birth of Christ, there are eight about His Second Coming. Considering prophecy's prominence in the Bible, how could any believer call it unimportant?
Jesus not only spoke about the future on many occasions, but He also rebuked people who didn't recognize the significance of current events. He scolded those who could read the sky for weather but were unable to read the signs of the times. In Luke 12:56, Jesus said, "Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?" It was no small matter to Him that the people of His generation remained ignorant about God's prophetic Word. Jesus wants us to investigate what the Bible has to say about the future while asking God to help us determine the day and hour in which we live.
The Protection of Prophecy
Jesus knew that an understanding of prophecy would protect us from future deception. In Matthew 24:4–5, He said, "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the Christ,' and will deceive many." This instruction is so important that it is recorded for us again in Mark 13 and Luke 21.
We are living in an age of widespread deception. Almost every week, I receive an advertisement for a new doctrine or method of understanding the Bible. You and I should not be surprised to witness the spread of false teaching. Jesus said in John 16:1, "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble." In other words, knowing what Jesus says about the future keeps us from falling into the trap of wrong doctrine.
While God wants to place us under prophecy's umbrella of protection, the devil wants to keep us out. Satan knows that if we read Revelation, we'll learn of his coming doom. We'll realize that the adversary who tempts us every day has already been defeated and doomed to an eternal lake of fire. If we perceive Satan as a conquered foe in the future, it will help us claim victory over him today. Prophecy protects us from his attacks.
The Preparation of Prophecy
Jesus told many parables to illustrate the importance of being prepared for His coming. One parable was about a homeowner who had been robbed. If the homeowner had known the hour the thief would come, he surely would have watched to prevent the robbery. The lesson of the parable is simple: Be prepared. Always be ready for the Lord's return, which will be as unpredictable as a thief in the night. First Thessalonians 5:4 says, "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief." Prophecy prepares us to meet the Lord.
Prophecy prepares us for other future events as well. Hardly a day goes by without news of wars or rumors of wars, natural disasters or lawlessness. These grim headlines are discouraging. Yet Jesus told His disciples to look for such events as signs of the end of the age. In John 16:4, Jesus said, "These things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them." By studying biblical prophecy, we prepare ourselves for the days ahead. Even though a time of tribulation is approaching, the day of redemption also is drawing near.
The Practicality of Prophecy
Some Christians treat prophecy as an intellectual pursuit with no practical application. If we just walk away and feel smarter than when we started, or if we can boast of our academic studies, what useful difference does that make? The book of Revelation is not only for understanding—it is for action. We must not become so steeped in study that we forget the practicality of prophecy in our daily activities.
Taking prophecy seriously will affect the way we live. One of its most important applications is evangelism. When we live with an awareness of Christ's imminent return, our enthusiasm to share the Gospel with others is renewed. Some of the most energetic people in the Church have been transformed by their study of prophecy. They are ministry–oriented, reaching out to the lost because they understand what will happen in the future. Prophecy is a driving force behind evangelism and righteous living.
When the Bible repeats something, it should catch our attention. In Revelation 2 and 3, there is a phrase that is repeated seven times: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." In other words, this message is for everyone. God wants every Christian to study prophecy.
The Prize of Prophecy
There is something else unique about the book of Revelation: It is the only book in the Bible that promises its readers a reward. The reward is revealed at the beginning and the ending of the book. Revelation 1:3 says, "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." The blessing is reiterated in Revelation 22:7, "Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." I don't know about you, but when God tells me how to receive a prize of blessing, I want to get in on it.
Take time to read and understand the book of Revelation. If you follow its instructions, there will be a prize of blessing for you.
Prophecy gives us a glimpse into the future so that we will know how to live in the present. That is why prophecy is prominent throughout the pages of the Bible. It protects us from deception and prepares us for Christ's return. Prophecy is not only an academic exercise; it's applicable for everyday living. At the end of our lives, we will receive a great reward of blessing if we have heeded its instructions.
The book of Revelation is not an imaginative piece of fiction designed for intrigue. No, it is an essential guidebook that teaches us the sequence of events leading up to the victorious return of Jesus Christ.