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God’s prophets are the messengers who reveal the revelations from God. They have a dual role - to foretell the future and exhort people to repent of their sins and turn to God. Some prophecies apply to nations, some to individuals and some to both. Many prophecies are also conditional.
Scripture tells us that fulfilled prophecy is proof of God. “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… 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).
Prophecies that come to pass confirm the divine inspiration of the Bible, and assist us to correctly understand and interpret world news and events. Christians are instructed to watch developments and relate them to what is revealed in the Bible: “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming … lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping… I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:35-37). Bible prophecy gives us a foundational worldview and framework in order to analyze the news, and discern what has long-range significance.
Our comprehension of prophesied events helps to prepare us to face hardships with the calmness and assurance God is in charge and aware of every detail. He does not want us to be shocked, to panic or to fall away when we face trials. This is a major reason our loving God “reveals His secret to His servants” (Amos 3:7). When God’s prophecies come to pass exactly as He foretold, it strengthens our faith to trust Him for care and protection.
God gives people understanding and warnings before holding them fully accountable. “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:47-48). God is completely fair and merciful. He will not finally judge anyone without first teaching and warning about the dire consequences of sin as well as revealing the wonderful results of living His way (James 4:17).
Jesus told His disciples to “‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation’” (Mark 16:15). The “gospel” means good news and is primarily about Jesus Christ’s return to establish the Kingdom of God, but it also includes a “witness” or warning about the end-time trials leading up to Christ’s return (Matthew 24:14). As John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ’s first coming (Matthew 3:1-3 and Luke 3:2-6), the present day preaching of the gospel prepares the way for Christ’s second coming.
Christ’s commission to His church can be compared to the duty given to a watchman. “...‘Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: “When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man…and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he …warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning… his blood shall be on his own head…But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.” (Ezekiel 33:2-6).
A watchman was to sound a warning when he saw danger approaching. Today, God’s Church serves the role of spiritual “watchman.” This partly explains why prophecy is so important and why God wants us to teach and preach His prophecies. God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Beyond Today Magazine (May-June 2016)