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Prophecy Defined n Prophecy is the speaking of events before they occur, clearly demonstrating God’s sovereign control over the course of human history.
What Prophecy Accomplishes n Prophecy comforts. n n Prophecy calms. n n Prophetic messages in Acts. Prophecy cleanses. n n In spite of the turmoil in which we live, we have great hope because God has already revealed the future to us. Prophecy converts. n n “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess 4: 18). And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming (1 John 2: 28). Prophecy clarifies. n By providing the complete picture of God’s program.
The Significance of Prophecy unfolds the plan and purpose of God. About ¼ of the Bible was prophecy when it was originally written. n How prophecy is to be interpreted is a crucial dividing line between major systems of evangelical theology (i. e. dispensationalism and covenantalism). n
Some Crucial Questions that Divide Interpreters n n How literal should I be in my interpretation of Old Testament prophecy? How does the NT quote or allude to the OT prophecies? What about the silence of the NT regarding Israel’s restoration to the promised land? What does the teaching of the Gospels contribute to the type of fulfillment we should expect for Old Testament prophecies about the kingdom? Is the kingdom Jesus taught only a reign in the heart of the believer?
The Three Millennial Systems Second Coming Postmillennialism Church Age New heavens Through the spread of the gospel & earth the church will Christianize the world. Second Coming Amillennialism Church Age The Church Age = the millennium, New heavens through church on earth or saints in heaven. & earth Second Coming Premillennialism Rapture Church Age Church age lasts until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. 7 year tribulation on earth (Daniel’s 70 th week) 1000 year reign of Christ on the present earth. New heavens & earth
Basic Differences between Covenantal and Dispensational Theologies n Covenantal Theology (mostly amillennial and postmillennial, though a few are premillennial) n n The “Church” consists of God’s redeemed people in all ages, not just those between Pentecost and the Rapture. The Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants are all completely fulfilled, and the Church participates in these blessings by being “in Christ. ” The Church is the new Israel. OT Prophecies are “spiritualized” and seen as fulfilled in the Church. Dispensational Theology (Premillennialial) n n n The Church is distinct from the nation of Israel and does not inherit Israel’s promises. The Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants await their complete fulfillment at the second coming of Christ. Promises made to Israel will be fulfilled to Israel. There is a strong commitment to a consistent, literal interpretation of Scripture, including prophecy. Thus the most fundamental difference is hermeneutical!
A Quote from John Reisinger n I personally believe the NT Scriptures make the physical land to be a type of spiritual rest and the Israelite to be a type of a true believer. However, we would not come to that conclusion from anything in the OT Scriptures. If all we had was the OT Scriptures, it would be very easy to hold the same view of Israel and the land of Palestine as that held by Dispensationalism (John G. Reisinger, Abraham’s Four Seeds: A Biblical Examination of the Presuppositions of Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism, p. 84).
Guidelines for Interpreting Prophecy n n n Follow the normal principles of historical-grammatical interpretation (includes interpreting symbols, visions, and figures of speech appropriately). Note whethere any conditions attached to the prophecy (i. e. message of Jonah, Jeremiah 18: 5 -10). Recognize that OT prophecies often blend the two separate comings of Christ together in one passage. n n n Isa 9: 6 -7 Isa 61: 1 -2 Mic 5: 2 Look for God’s built in interpretations (i. e. in the book of Daniel). Be familiar with the storyline that runs through the whole Bible, to know what has been fulfilled and what has not.
Next Week: Use of the OT in the NT Please re-read the earlier article I sent to you by John Walton, as well as a chapter on fulfillment by Charles Dyer.