Prophecy and The Prophets --Part 2

Prophecy and The Prophets
Part 2

J. Boyd Nicholson

There are four great prophetic themes in Scripture. There is the National. This relates to the nation of Israel. There is the International. This has to do with the Gentile nations. There is the Ecclesiastical. This is with reference to the Church. The Personal has to do with the Messiah.

There are three chief spheres in which prophecy functions. The prophetic Scriptures Illumine the Past. That is, the writing of history, in the light of God and His ways, is very much part of the prophetic message. The historic writers saw that the history of Israel was in fact a revelation of God.

The prophetic Scriptures also Judge the Present. So many times the word of the prophet was directed to the conduct of the people.

Lastly, the prophetic Scriptures Foretell the Future. This is the best known aspect of prophecy and the one that stirs the most interest. The vast amount of prophetic material in Scripture may seem to the student at first like a maze to which there seems little order. But this is not so. Predictive prophecy follows five main movements:

Prophecies that relate to Judgment on Israel for their sins against God; Prophecies that relate to Judgment on Gentile nations for their sins against Israel; Prophecies that relate to the recovery and future glory of Israel; Prophecies concerning the blessing of the nations; and by far the most important element in predictive prophecy is that which relates to the Messiah, His sufferings and Glory.

Messianic Prophecy

Between the first and the last prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 22:20) there are hundreds of Messianic Prophecies. These fall into two general areas. Peter indicates these in 1:11 of his first letter, “The sufferings of Christ and the Glory that should follow.” The Lord Jesus affirmed that these are to be found in ALL the Old Testament Scriptures, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His Glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:26-27).

However, these two aspects have not always been clearly distinguished. For example, in Isaiah 61, part of that prophecy was fulfilled as recorded in Luke 4:21, but the remainder is not yet fulfilled. So that in our King James version, a single comma in verse 2 of Isaiah 61 represents a time gap of well over two thousand years. The failure to understand this prophetic perspective has led many into strange interpretations and grievous error.

This “gap” or parenthesis was veiled from the Old Testament prophets. That is, the period between the suffering and the Glory was not contemplated by them. So far, it has run into over 1900 years. Paul wrote this to the Ephesian saints, “The mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:4b-5). (See also 1 Peter 1:10-11).

These Messianic prophecies were presented by various prophetic devices. There are statements in plain language that predict such things as the birth, sufferings and glory of the Messiah. These prophecies are also presented by distinct prophetic types, such as Jonah, David, etc. Then there are prefigurations in Old Testament Institutions, such as the Passover, the sacrifices, and so on.

This Messianic message that pervades all of Scripture transcends all others, since the other three great prophetic themes are all focused in Christ. It is Christ who regathers Israel (Hosea 2:14-17). It is Christ who destroys her enemies (Revelation 19:11 on). It is Christ who judges the nations (Matthew 25). It is Christ who raptures the Church (1 Thessalonians 4). It is Christ who finally delivers the kingdom to God, that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:24 on).

After the Messianic message in the Old Testament, four hundred years of silence from God ensued. But God was not indifferent to the inhabitants of this vale of tears. God always moves according to a Divine schedule. Not according to the calendar and the clock, but according to moral and spiritual conditions. So we read, “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son…” (Galatians 4:4).

Thus came to earth the Greatest Prophet of all. The One who could tell forth the mind and heart and purposes of God as none else could. “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son …” (Hebrews 1:1-2a).

(To be continued - Next: “THE PROPHETS”)