Many people shy away from the study of prophecy when they are actually deep in the midst of it. Take Easter for example. It, along with Christmas are two of the highlights of the Christian calendar. Both are celebrated but most people miss the fact that they are fulfillment’s of prophecy and prove that only God could orchestrate time and events to fulfill such prophecy. With Easter we celebrate starting with Good Friday and end on Easter Sunday or resurrection day. Between Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and His resurrection the event of the cross took place. There where several things that happened leading up to and during the hours of the cross that where prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. If we look at Isaiah 50: 6 The scriptures say: ” I gave my back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out my beard, I did not hide my face from shame and spitting”. That scripture was given over 700 years before being fulfilled in Matt. 26: 67-68 and In Jn 19:1-3. In these verses Jesus is spat on, slapped and scourged just as Isaiah had prophesied. In Chapter 53 of the book of Isaiah there are many details given that are fulfilled over 700 years later. Many of the major details are covered but I like to look at the small details, they really show how incredible our God is when he even covers small details or details that most would say are irrelevant. One such detail is Isaiah 53:12 ” And He was numbered with the transgressors” and Matthew 27:38. Another example is Isaiah 53:7 the scripture tells us “Yet He opened not His mouth” and in Mathew 27: 14 it states “But He answered him not one word”. The prophecies of the cross are not limited to the book of Isaiah the book of Psalms records events also. Psalm 22 covers the events of the cross 1700 years before it happened. It parallels all the gospel accounts down the smallest of details like casting lots for the garments of Jesus (Psalm 22:18 – Matt.27:35). This is a very small sample of the prophecies given about the cross. The cross and resurrection are the salvation of humankind and the reason we celebrate the Easter season. This Easter remember the prophecies that where fulfilled and how our amazing God fulfilled all prophecies to the letter.
Psalm 138:8” The LORD will perfect HIS work in me; Your mercy, O LORD will endure forever; do not forsake the work of your own hands.” I entitled this post self portrait because we are all guilty at times of painting a portrait of ourselves that may not be a very clear picture of who we really are. Sometimes the portrait can be greatly exaggerated and sometimes can be overly critical and even depressing at times. We all need to realize that we are GOD’S masterpiece, the scripture tells us that the LORD will perfect HIS work in us. So many times we think or we act like our portrait is already done but the last brush stroke only becomes the last when we draw our last breath. Imagine if Micheal Angelo was creating a masterpiece and we yanked the brush out of his hands and we said, hey your doing it all wrong it should look like this. That is what we do when we look at our self portrait and decide that it is finished and it is all wrong. We need to be patient, GOD isn’t done with the portrait yet. Sometimes HIS brush stroke is light and life is easy, sometimes the brush stroke digs in and is bold and life gets uncomfortable, both strokes are necessary when creating a masterpiece. I received one of GOD’S heavy brush strokes a few years ago when I woke from an outpatient surgery paralyzed from the shoulders down. My portrait changed drastically and it wasn’t a portrait that I would have painted but GOD has HIS reason. HE only paints masterpieces and my portrait needed a traumatic change to become the masterpiece HE sees in me. I have since learned to walk again and function very well for what all doctor’s call a “miracle” and should be by all counts a complete quadriplegic. When life is tough we need to persevere and realize our portrait is still being painted. We need to trust GOD’S word for HE will PERFECT HIS WORK in ME and will not FORSAKE the work of HIS own hands.
Romans 13:1 ” For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Many times I feel in opposition to the government and its laws. Many times those laws seem to be anti Christian and go directly against my Christian values. The bible makes it clear that God is the one setting up governments and kingdoms. God even goes so far in verse 2 to say that if we resist the authority placed above us we are resisting God and bring judgement on ourselves. In verse 4 the bible says the leader God places above us is a minister for good for us. Sometimes that can mean that He puts a leader in place to correct us, which is for our own good, but we don’t always see it that way. A good example of serving God and acting in a Godly manner while living under the rule of a government that you disagree with is Joseph. Joseph was sold to the Ishmeelites for 22 pieces of silver (Gen. 37:28) and then brought down to Egypt where his talents where recognized by Potiphar and eventually Pharoah. Joseph never betrayed his God and yet lived under Egyptian rule and even rose to high rank within that government. Joseph prospered greatly under a government that did not recognize his God. So is it possible to be in subjection to rule placed above us and serve our God? The answer is yes and we are commanded to do so. Romans 13:5 ” Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience sake.” In being in subjection to the authority placed above us we are really being under the Subjection of God and doing His will which He has set up. There is no safer place to stand than in the will of God. We are also told in verse 3 that if we obey the authority placed over us and “Do what is good, and you will have praise for the same.” We may not always understand why God puts certain people in charge, we just need to know that He is in control and serve Him by serving whom He has sent to us.
Matt. 22: 17 “Tell us therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Ceaser or not?” Jesus answered. Matt. 22:20-21 “Who’s image and inscription is this? And they said Ceasar’s, and He said to them, Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and unto God the things of God.” Nobody likes paying taxes, thats just a fact of life. The apostles didn’t like paying taxes or tribute to Ceasar and hoped there was some loophole Jesus would provide to get out of it, but instead He tells them, it’s Ceasar’s, give to him. The idea of paying tax goes back to one of my other posts on Government and The Bible,. We are subject to the authority, placed by God, over us and that authority mandates we pay taxes. The bible has a lot to say about paying taxes that start in the book of Genesis so the idea of taxes has been with us for a very long time. Taxes are important. We all like driving on roads, police protection, fire protection, parks, schools, libraries, the list goes on and on. Those services all come from taxes. Jesus has a great concern for helping the poor, our taxes help the poor with food, shelter and clothing. Our taxes also help the poor with medical assistance. In Matt. 25 when Jesus is separating the sheep from the goats, or the saved from the unsaved, He says the ones that are blessed and can enter into HIis Father’s rest are the ones who saw Him naked and clothed Him, hungry they fed Him, in jail they visited Him. They asked when did we see you naked or hungry or thirsty or in jail. Jesus answered and said when you did it to least you did it unto Me. Our taxes help do that to the least with food, clothing and shelter. Now is there grotesque abuse of the system? Very much so. We need not concern ourselves with the abusers of the system. Their reward will come with swift retribution from God himself. Jesus simply says pay your tax, I will deal with the rest. So the next time you pay your tax, realize that you are honoring God by obeying what He has called you to do.
Micah 5:2 “But thou Bethlehem Ephrata, though you are little amoung the thosands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the one ruler in Israel, who’s goings forth are from old, from everlasting.” I am starting this series of teachings on the Christmas story and how it’s all about prophecy and God’s ultimate plan for salvation. As a Christian teacher I know that coincidence is not part of God’s vocabulary but that is how many explain the birth of Jesus and Christmas. In this little book of Micah, which is only 7 chapters long but is 70% prophetic in it’s teaching, we are given a great prophecy. This book pin points the exact town where Jesus ( The one ruler of Israel who’s going forth is from old, from everlasting) is born. No other person in history other than Jesus fits that description as a ruler so the scripture is without a doubt talking about Jesus. Now I know some people would say that David, also a great ruler, was born in Bethlehem but his going forth is not from old or from everlasting. The book of Micah was written around 700 BC. Thats 700 years before Jesus was born and yet even secular history supports when the book of Micah was written and Jesus was born. Bethlehem is a small little town around 5 miles south of Jerusalem. So why Bethlehem, why didn’t Joseph and Mary push on an extra 5 miles and go to the larger capital city. It was imperative that Jesus be born in Bethlehem for two major reasons: 1. To fullfill the Holy scriptures. God’s word is never proven wrong and He gave us the location as unlikely as Bethlehem would seem. 2. The lineage of the Savior had to come from the Davidic family line. Both Mary and Joseph were from the line of David and how fitting, or some would say coincidental, that Jesus would be born to earthly parents of the Davidic line and also have Jesus born in the same city that David was born in centuries earlier. Another question arises as to why Joseph and Mary chose Bethehem to bed down in. There was a census going on for all Israel and guess where the census count would be held, why Bethlehem of course. What a coincidence, I think not. My next post will look into the census and how prophetic an event that turned out to be.
Just some extra thoughts on my previous post about Christmas coinsidences from the scriptures found in Micah 5:2 and Luke 1:26. I gave you the Micah text in the previous post so today I will add Luke 1:26″ And in the 6th month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth.” The reason I add this text is because Micah had told us that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem and in Luke we are told that Joseph and Mary resided in Nazareth. In the text the angel never told them they would have to go to Bethlehem to fulfill the scriptures. Travel wasn’t easy in those days and Bethlehem was over 80 miles away by foot. So we have three options to consider. Option one, Micah a prophet of God is wrong, therefore God’s word is wrong and cannot be trusted. Option two, God got it wrong and the Savior would be born in Nazareth. Or option three, the soverign God of the universe would be able to pull all the characters of the Christmas story together at the exact time to fulfill the scriptures that had been written 700 years before the Savior’s birth. I think option three is the only logical option. This prophecy has to happen exactly as was written 700 years earlier or God isn’t God. This is what I love about prophecy, it is the yardstick to measure truth and proof of the authority of scripture. This prophecy to be fulfilled has to place Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem for the birth of the Savior. Now Joseph and Mary under normal circumstances would have no reason or desire to travel 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem especially while in the later stages of pregnancy. Keep in mind no cars, planes, trains or such. But 4 years before the birth of Jesus, Ceasar announced that a special tax was to be placed and he needed a census to know who to tax. He also said that each person would have to travel to their ancestrial city for the census. Well as luck would have it, (or as God would have it), Joseph and Mary’s city happened to be Bethlehem. God had arranged Joseph and Mary to be at the appointed place at the appointed time to fulfill HIS word to the letter. The perfect gift given at the perfect time and given at the perfect place !!!
“Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is sharper than any two edged sword…. ” The first portion of that verse tells us that God’s word cuts to the chase, it gets right to the heart of the matter. I could have used many verses to start this first teaching on the bible itself but I really like this one because it shows power and authority and it rightly divides the truth. The bible is truly the greatest library ever assembled. Think about this, the bible is a collection of 66 books that took over 1,600 years to write. Over the course of that time different authors from all walks of life contributed to the final product. Those authors consisted of prophets, fishermen, carpenters, doctors, lawyers, tax collectors, kings and many others. Never has such a diverse group been used to give perspective from so many different angles on a single project like the bible. One of the most stunning and remarkable things about the bible is this; 66 books,29 authors over 1,600 years of writing with the authors never collaborating and in most all cases never seeing each others work and yet all authors write on the same theme! The only way that can happen is with direction of the Holy Spirit speaking through the pen of people just like you or me. The bible has always been and always will be a work that brings great controversy and at the same time brings great peace and understanding to humankind. For centuries societies have tried to destroy it, to wipe it from the annuls of history and yet it is the undisputed number one seller of all time. From Genesis to Revelation God’s plan for the salvation of humankind through Jesus Christ His Son is given to us. Blessed is the person who studies the word of God.
This will be the beginning of many topics on the study of prophecy. My approach to studying prophecy is to break it down into it’s simplist form and make it conversational over a cup of coffee. People avoid prophecy for many different reasons but I hope to show you why it’s so important and what a powerful witnessing tool it can be. Prophecy is the complete story of Jesus Christ. Without prophecy there is no record of a Jewish Messiah that would come and redeem the world. All of the Old Testament prophets that wrote of a coming Messiah centuries before the event where proven correct at the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those prophecies, which will be digging deeper into in coming posts give authentication to the bible as prophecies prove true. Prophecy is also important as a warning for all kinds of things that can happen in our lives. An example of a warning is found in Matt. 24:4-5 ” Take heed that no one deceives you for many shall come in my name saying I am the Christ and will deceive many.” Here the warning is of the rise of false Messiahs. Jesus is speaking to His disciples before the invasion that would take place in 70 A.D. but it is also a prophetic warning for all ages. Jesus warns us that many will be deceived. Those who understand the importance of the prophetic word will know this warning and will not be deceived. Another “warning” verse is found in Matt 24:42 “Watch therefore for you do not know the hour your Lord is coming.” Here the Lord Himself tells us He is returning and gives us a warning to be watching for His return. If Jesus wants us to watch and be ready then we need to be looking at what we are to watch for. This is where the study of prophecy becomes so important. Knowing what to look for as His time approaches can only be revealed through the scriptures and the study of His Prophecies. The prophecies show the life and times of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So is prophecy important, let me answer that with a question, is knowing the life , death and resurrection of Jesus important as believers?
“2 Tim. 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The bible tells us that all its scriptures are to be used for instruction and that includes prophetic scripture. Here are some numbers concerning the bible that nobody can deny and as we all know numbers don’t lie. Over 28% of the bible is prophetic in its teaching, that is over a quarter of the entire bible. Lets use this as a “for instance”, a very popular book among readers right now is The Hunger Games, but you could use any book for the comparison. Imagine if someone tore out over a quarter of your book especially the last chapter. Do you think you would still get to know the people, places and story line if 28% of the content was missing? Imagine if the climatic final chapter was gone, how would we know the ending.? That is what happens when we as Christians neglect the study of prophecy, we miss one of the most important teachings of the entire bible, Jesus is coming back. The second coming is the 2nd most taught subject in the new testament. Here is another number that doesn’t lie, all but 4 new testament books teach of the second coming and of the 4 books that don’t, 3 of them are 1 chapter books. With 23 of the 27 new testament books discussing the subject of the return of our Savior I think it’s a subject God the Father wants us to know about concerning His Son. Another interesting number I will give you is 1,000. There are roughly 1,000 prophecies given in the bible, of the 1,000 around 500 have been completed. If God has completed the first 500 I can say with confidence that HE will complete the final 500. If you don’t study God’s prophetic word you will be caught sleeping when these prophecies unfold. It’s time to stop being Pathetic and get Prophetic and really get to know the full story of Jesus.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
This life verse is really simple. But I love how powerful it is and how impactful it has been in my life. When I get into a place of despair, anxious and stressed about life, sometimes the best thing I can do is to just quiet my mind and remember that God is God and is more powerful than my current situation. Even when things are going well and I’m basking in prosperity, still it’s good to reflect and be quiet and remember that God is the one that’s truly in control. Whatever my current situation happens to be, it’s good to take time to just be still and to remember who God is and that He’s the one that’s in control.
So often life gets so hectic that I lose my focus and perspective. If I don’t take time to reorient myself and my perspective, then the stresses of the day will often overwhelm me and my peace and joy will fade. So if you’re anxious and feeling a lot of stress, take the time to just be still and know that God is God and is in control of your situation. If things are good and you’re feeling blessed, take the time to thank God just for being who He is and for caring about you enough to want to bless your life. That’s who God is, and taking the time to be still and to realize who He is one of the most important things we can do in life.