A Few Thoughts On PROPHECY / Part Two

By Alfred Bouter

Introductory Remarks On Prophetic Events
When the Church is raptured (Jn. 14:1-3) and introduced into heaven as John’s experience recorded in Revelation (4:1-2), the unbelievers, including the “Christians” who took that identity without faith, will remain on earth. Ultimately those who ignore or refuse God’s offer of salvation will perish, for they will be thrown into the lake of fire right after the great white throne judgment, in eternal damnation (20:11-15). How terrible!

In studying prophecy we must understand that important links exist between Matthew 24 and Revelation 6-16, as well as with the book of Daniel. We should therefore familiarize ourselves with these and other Scriptures that will help us to better understand God’s plans for Israel.1

When the prophet Daniel confessed the sins of his people as his own (Dan. 9:1-19), he thought that the time had come for the kingdom to be restored to Israel (v.2). Since this was not going to happen at that time, God sent the angel Gabriel to give Daniel a detailed outline of what was to occur in the future, including specifics related to the two comings of the Messiah. The predicted events that would follow His death (vv.25-26) are now history. Because the predictions about the Messiah’s first coming and death occurred as foretold, we can be sure that the many details God gave as to what would take place before Christ’s second coming in glory and His reign of peace will also happen with complete accuracy.

What Is Prophecy’s Goal? 
Prophecy introduces Christ either morally or publicly. Consider Revelation 1:1-3 and 19:11, 1 Peter 1:10-12 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. These passages refer to the person of Christ, the Messiah, and show that prophecy is not just a list of events. Rather, prophecy implies many moral lessons linked to Christ in connection with the announced events.

God’s ways lead to the fulfilment of His plan, namely the administration of the fullness of times when Christ will be Head over all things, which will be placed under His feet (Ps. 8; Eph. 1:10,22). There is one exception: the Church (the Assembly). Why? Because it is God’s plan to give Christ, as Head over all things, to the Church as His greatest Gift to her. Even though Christ is the Head in relation to the Church, she is at His side – not under His feet.

The apostle Paul loved Christ’s appearing (2 Tim. 4:8), as do we, looking forward to when He will be honored in the same world that dishonored Him (2 Th. 1:10). These and other Scriptures, especially 2 Peter 1, while speaking about His coming also indicate important principles for the interpretation of God’s Word.

“A prophetic word” for our days, spoken about in 1 Corinthians 14:24-34, Romans 12:6 and 1 Peter 4:11, emphasizes the moral aspects of prophecy. But such utterances do not have the same authority as the written Word. Although drawn from Scripture – given by God to exhort, instruct or admonish His people – and with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, “a prophetic word” does not have the same value as the speaking and writing prophets of the Old and New Testaments. The messages of those prophets were inspired by God (2 Pet. 1:19-21; 2 Tim. 3:16), a matter of divine revelation (Dt. 29:29; Amos 3:7) as given by His Spirit and Word. They are not the product of man’s mind.

What Is A Prophet? 
The Hebrew word nabi (prophet) refers to one who speaks on behalf of someone else – in this case on God’s behalf, making the prophet God’s spokesperson. A prophet is a forth-teller of what is in God’s heart and a fore-teller when speaking about things to come (Gen. 20:7; Ex. 7:1-2; 1 Sam. 3). Also, a prophet introduces God’s Anointed One, who is Himself the true Prophet speaking as sent by God and as Moses predicted (Dt. 18:18). A beautiful example is how Samuel the prophet was led by God to anoint the young shepherd David, a remarkable type of the Messiah (1 Sam. 16:5-13). We usually see God sending a prophet to His people when there is a departure from Him and His Word – a form of failure – in order to bring His people back to Himself. God’s Anointed One will be publicly introduced (Mal. 4:5-6) as John the Baptist did in the days of the Lord’s first coming and as was acted out by Samuel the prophet (consider Acts 3:20-24, 13:20).

Prophecy’s Perspective 
Prophecy introduces God’s Anointed among His own. Now, in the day of grace, Christ is introduced and represented by His disciples in the kingdom of God, in testimony and moral power. In a soon-coming day God will usher Christ into this world publicly. All will acknowledge, confess and honor Him, submitting to Him. Indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ is the very Center of prophecy as He is of all God’s truth. A great variety of aspects of its central Theme is found in many historic events, types, feasts, psalms and the books of the prophets.

God’s main objective with prophecy is restoration, in many different ways and settings, to bring His people back to Himself. A right understanding of this divine principle will lead us to praise and worship Him.

Prophecy Is Linked With This Earth 
Prophecy relates to this earth, according to God’s counsel, or plan, from the foundation of the world. This needs to be distinguished from His eternal purpose, which is from before the world’s foundation (Eph. 3:10-11).2 More precisely, prophecy relates to Israel, which is the center of God’s ways with the earth, and the nations as seen in relation to Israel (Dt. 32:8).

Prophecy is sometimes linked with the Church in so far as it is seen as associated with this earth, but not from the perspective of God’s eternal counsel. The calling, formation and rapture of the Church are therefore not part of prophecy. Note that the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52, referring to the rapture, has nothing to do with the last trumpet in Revelation 11, which is related to Israel and this world. Even though the same expression is used, the context shows the difference. Also, the expression “Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:10 NKJV) literally means a “Lordy3 day,” which is an adjective form of Lord as in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20), and it is obviously linked to the Lord’s Table. The first day of the week, Christ’s day of resurrection, is not the prophetic “day of the LORD” or “day of Jehovah.” In order to understand prophetic events we must see and respect the differences in position and calling between Israel (from the world’s foundation) and the Church (before the world’s foundation) according to God’s eternal purpose.

Today’s events on the world scene could be compared with the pieces being put together on a chessboard, whereas the “game” itself will be “played” after the rapture (1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Th. 4:14-18). The future events are described in Revelation 6-16 and will be under God’s complete control, even though man is fully responsible for his part (see Dan. 10; Rev. 13 and other Scriptures).

God’s Ways Lead To The Fulfillment Of His Purpose 
God’s ways lead to the fulfilment of His desires, whether linked to Israel, to this earth, to the nations or in connection with the Church. As an example, think of how God used World War I to give part of His land back to the Jews, even though it was only a very small part when compared with Israel’s millennial realm (Gen. 15:18; Ezek. 48). World War II caused numerous Jews to return to their country, but many are still outside their land – some not wanting to return there.

Events in our days may lead to the reconstruction of the temple, which eventually will become the temple of the Antichrist (2 Th. 2:4). After the rapture of the believers, the professing but unbelieving Church will continue on earth in an apostate, or rebellious, form until its judgment (Rev. 18).

The definite and complete fulfilment of prophecy will only take place after the Church will be taken out of this world. This does not mean that there will be no believers on earth after the rapture, for God will form various distinct companies of believers from among those who had not yet completely rejected Him. However, many professing “Christians,” along with others in Judaism, will have hardened themselves to the point that they will follow a counterfeit god, an imposter (see 2 Th. 2:6; 1 Jn. 2:22). Obviously, these individuals will not be part of those new companies of believers that will be formed after the rapture of the Church. Today, in the day of grace however, all believers are together in Christ and form the one body of Christ.

In view of the horrible end for all who hear God’s warnings yet refuse to take heed and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31) – despite maybe calling oneself “Christian” – we close this part with one more appeal. Admit that you are a sinner and accept God’s gift to meet your need. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

1. Besides this, it is good to remind ourselves that God speaks to us even through passages that are not directly addressed to us. In other words, God speaks to us through His Word, including Scriptures that deal with topics related to Israel (consider 2 Tim. 3:16-17). 
2. This expression “before the world’s foundation” occurs three times (Jn. 17:24; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20) before time and space. Seven times the preposition “from” precedes the term “the world’s foundation,” and it clearly refers to something that started at or after creation (Mt. 13:35, 25:34; Lk. 11:50; Heb. 4:3, 9:26; Rev. 13:8, 17:8). 
3. The word “church” has been derived from this term “Lordy” (Gr. kuriake). Some believe that “Lord’s Day” is an invention of the Roman Church and therefore reject this term. But understanding what Scripture teaches we can use such a term even though we realize that it has been abused. Many biblical terms have been wrongly used, but this does not mean that we should discard them.