November 6, 2006 - David Cloud - The following is from the Advanced Bible Studies course "Understanding Bible Prophecy," which is available from Way of Life Literature.
Prophecy forms a large and important portion of Scripture, and the following are some of the reasons why it should be studied:
1. Prophecy is revelation (De. 29:29; Am. 3:7; Mt. 13:10-12; Rev. 1:1; 22:6,10). According to these and many other passages, prophecy is said to reveal secrets, not hide them. Prophecy is light, not darkness. It is the false methods of interpretation that have made prophecy seem obscure.
2. Prophecy is a blessing (Rev. 1:3). God has promised a special blessing to the one who reads Bible prophecy.
3. Prophecy is necessary for spiritual perfection (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We are told that ALL Scripture is given by God and is profitable and necessary for the building of the mature Christian. Is prophecy not a large part of Scripture? Indeed, prophecy is woven into the very warp and woof of the Word of God. The study of, understanding of, and obedience to prophecy is seen as essential for a strong Christian life.
4. Prophecy is dependable (Isa. 25:1; 2 Pe. 1:19-21). According to the Apostle Peter, in the first chapter of his second epistle, the written prophetic Word is more dependable than visions (v. 16), than voices (v. 17), than great spiritual mountaintop experiences (v. 18). Prophecy is a great light in a dark world.
5. It is our responsibility to study prophecy (Lk. 24:25-27). The Lord Jesus Christ firmly rebuked the disciples for not believing prophecy. At the judgment seat of Christ every Christian will be held accountable for whether or not he studied and believed the prophecies of the Bible. In light of this warning, we must reject the tendency by so many to treat prophecy lightly. Not only will the Christian be held accountable for his attitude toward prophecy, but the unbeliever will be, as well. In Luke 16:29-31, Abraham told the rich man in Hell that his lost brothers on earth would be accountable for whether or not they believed the prophets.
6. Bible prophecy has power to sanctify the Christian life. A literal interpretation of Bible prophecy makes the student aware that the coming of Christ is imminent and that he must therefore be ready at all times to meet Him (Mat. 24:42, 44; 25:13; Rev. 22:7). It thus gives hope in a hopeless world (Rom. 15:4). It gives joy (Jn. 8:56). It gives comfort in trials (1 Th. 4:18; Isa. 40:1-2). It gives understanding in the midst of confusion (Dan. 9:1-2). It produces diligence and purity (Rom. 13:11-14; 1 Jn. 3:1-3). It produces patience and endurance in the midst of trials (2 Co. 4:16-18). It stimulates zealous Christian labor (1 Cor. 15:51-58). It brings time and life into proper perspective with eternity (Ps. 73:1-3, 12-17; Isa. 26:20; 29:17; 54:7-8). It stimulates Christians to abide in Christ (1 Jn. 2:28).
7. Prophecy is a powerful apologetic (Isaiah 41:22-23; 44:7; 45:21; 46:9-10). Bible prophecy is intended to be an apologetic. Fulfilled prophecy proves the divine origin of the Bible to unbelievers and increases the faith of believers. We must note that to be effective as evidence, prophecy must be fulfilled and interpreted literally.
Professor Peter Stoner, Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, examined the probabilities of just eight of the 456 prophecies concerning Jesus Christ happening. He said the probability would be one in 10 to the 17th power. That would be like putting a mark on a coin, then putting that coin in with enough coins to cover the state of Texas or the country of India two feet thick in coins, then having a blind man wander all over the country and pick out a coin at random. The chance that he would find that marked coin is equal to the chance of only eight of the Messianic prophecies coming to pass.
"If that doesn't boggle your mind enough, Stoner also computed that the probability of 48 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 10 to the 157th power. How large is 10 to the 157th power? Ten to the 157th power contains 157 zeros! He said to take, not a silver dollar, or even an atom, but an electron for an illustration - that little tiny thing that spins around the nucleus of the atom. Electrons are so small, by the way, that if you had a line of electrons laid side by side to make one inch, and you were counting four electrons every second and you counted twenty-four hours a day, it would take you 19 million years just to count that one-inch line of electrons. But how many electrons would it take if we were dealing with 10 to the 157th power of electrons? Imagine that we packed the whole earth with electrons, and we piled them up until they reached out a mile, ten miles, a thousand miles, a million miles from the earth! Let's make it more than that--let's make it thirty-eight trillion miles in radius on either side--nothing but packed electrons. Well, that's not enough, either. Now let's multiply that number by a billion--a billion times thirty-eight trillion miles in both directions, and you have a solid ball of electrons. Imagine marking just one of those electrons. Then put a man in a space ship, let him fly around as long as he wants to, and finally he stops, gets out a microscope, and points to one of the electrons. The probability of him selecting the right one is the same as just 48 Bible prophecies being fulfilled in one person's life" (The Case for Jesus the Messiah, Ankerberg, Weldon and Kaiser).
There are not merely 48 prophecies about Christ in the Bible, though. There are 456 specific prophecies.
8. Prophecy is the believer's reality. Christians have a portion in the things promised in Bible prophecy! It is true that the Old Testament prophecies are not fulfilled directly in the church age, but it is also true that the Christian will enjoy the blessings spoken of in Old Testament prophecy, including the millennial glory of Christ (Col. 3:4; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21) and the renewed creation (Rom. 8:18-25). There are also hundreds of prophecies directly related to the Christian's future (Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15; Col. 3:1-4; 1 Th. 4; etc.).
9. Prophecy challenges believers to fulfill the Great Commission before it is too late (Acts 1:8). It reminds us that "behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2). http://www.wayoflife.org/