Bible Prophecy and End Times by John Jones - HTML preview
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A significant foundational prophecy appears to be infused into words spoken by the Lord right back
in the Garden of Eden. Consider whether God had a secondary meaning in mind as he pronounced
his curse on the serpent saying:
... “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall
bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
That last sentence must certainly be taken as prophetic, even if only concerning the future conflict between mankind and serpents. How many times since then have people been bitten on the feet by
snakes? And how often have people protected themselves by crushing a snakes head? But surely
there is more to the verse’s meaning than this mundane interpretation. Since Satan was personified
in the serpent, wasn’t God alluding to something of much greater significance. In the verse God says that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head, while the serpent would bruise his
heel. Some translations use the word “strike”, which is probably a more accurate depiction; snakes
strike rather than bruise. The most direct interpretation of this verse is that it’s prophetic concerning Satan and the Messiah. Satan would strike the seed of the woman (the one born of a virgin),
inflicting a fatal injury, nevertheless in that same event the seed of the woman would destroy the
power of the devil (Hebrews 2:14-15), ultimately crushing him completely. Alternatively, if we take
“the seed of the woman” to refer to mankind in general then it seems reasonable to take from it
that God may have been telling Adam and Eve, right back at the fall, that Satan would afflict the
human race but that a descendant of theirs would ultimately crush Satan’s head. There’s not enough
biblical evidence to cast these interpretations in stone, but it’s beautiful to consider that even at that dark moment in time, even as the very curses due to sin were being pronounced, God was also
revealing the future redemption of mankind.
WHAT IS PROPHECY?
P a g e 6
From these Genesis chapter 3 verses we gain some insights into the topic of prophecy more
generally. First we see that prophecy is God revealing some aspect of the future, either blatantly or subtly. Secondly, we see that in some cases prophecy can have layers of interrelated interpretation; or may even reveal not just an event but a pattern. (Over and over the relationship between
mankind and serpents was to be played out.) Thirdly we see that prophecy often uses symbolic
language; though we’ll find as we go on that most symbols are specifically defined, or reasonably
clear in their meaning, from cross-referencing other passages.
All up prophecy is an amazing treasure; revealing the future, the spiritual patterns of this world and also at times challenging and convicting us. The threads of prophecy run through the vast majority of books in the bible; indeed God’s prophetic plan actually forms the very superstructure on which
everything else hangs. Therefore it follows that if we do not understand prophecy correctly then we can’t fully understand the biblical story of God’s work with mankind. On the other hand it is true to say that if we don’t genuinely, and as little children, believe the bible then we will not rightly
understand prophecy. Prophecy is a mystery that is specifically hidden from that natural man, the
purpose of which no doubt is to avoid the revelations from distorting the unfolding of the future
events they speak of.
HOW SHOULD WE APPROACH PROPHECY?
The principle of scripture being hidden to worldly wisdom is broadly illustrated by what Jesus said of his own teaching:
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so,
Father, for so it seemed good in your sight.
This is a recurring principal in the New Testament; effectively telling us that the revelation of the mysteries of God cannot be understood by intellectual powers alone. In fact, over intellectualizing Christ’s teachings can quickly take away their obvious meaning and replace it with the foolishness of mans reasoning. While some understanding of context and the culture of the times is definitely
helpful to our understanding, we also need to make sure we keep that which is simple simple. We
must come to Christ with plainness of thought and readiness of heart like a small child, along with the childlike humility to know we need the father, and that we need his Holy Spirit to enlighten us.
P a g e 7
This is true for most of what Jesus taught, our approach to the bible as a whole, and in particular to our understanding of prophecy.
Sadly though, far from being generally Holy Spirit led, prophecy has the distinction of being the most abused topic in the bible. While mankind has abused every topic of the bible in the pursuit of his
own vain thinking, prophecy stands out in that unlike other topics it is subject to a lot of misuse even within otherwise sound, bible believing and spiritual Christian circles. Hype, speculation passed off as fact and mistaken context have often been not just accepted but swallowed without discernment .
Excessive excitement has allowed notions in that would have been exposed and thrown out if
applied to any other area of bible teaching. What is the essential fault? The number one culprit
would appear to be that of trying to get more detail out of prophecy than what God has made
knowable in advance. Prophecy may predict many aspects of the future but one of its greatest
purposes, in times past and for times yet future, is of providing those living in the days of actual prophetic fulfillments with an understanding of the times and seasons they are in. Many exact
details are not really knowable beforehand, but can only be fully understood as they come to pass.
This is easily demonstrated by the prophecies fulfilled in Jesus first coming. Some were utterly
predictable from what was revealed beforehand in the Old Testament, such as the Messiah being
born in Bethlehem. Others would never have been guessed, like the future prophetic significance of
God saying that he had “called his son out of Egypt”. In its original context this was speaking of Israel coming out of its time of slavery in Egypt, but we discover by its use in the New Testament that it also foreshadowed the fact that Jesus, much like his nation, would spend his early years in Egypt
before returning to the land of Israel. So bearing in mind previous abuses, especially the tendency to see more than is actually revealed in advance, one of the objectives of this study is to stick to a clear, biblical and un-hyped approach to prophecy.