Prophecy is a prediction of future things to come. According to “The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy” by J. Barton Payne, there are 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 in the New Testament. Prophecies constitute 26.8 percent of the Bible’s volume. In the prophetic verses, there are around 333 prophecies about Christ. Out of these 333 prophecies, 109 were fulfilled at Christ’s first coming, and 224 will be fulfilled at His second coming.
Many shy away from the study of prophecy for a variety of reasons. Some avoid studying it because they believe prophecy is irrelevant to their Christian walk and a waste of time. Others believe that prophecy is too complicated and that they will never understand it. And still, others believe that prophecy is all doom and gloom; they don’t want to think about the end.
They are all mistaken. Prophecy is relevant, understandable, and good news for believers; it also demonstrates that the Bible can be trusted. Here, we will discuss five reasons to study prophecy.
Reason 1: God Considers the Study of Prophecy Important
Through the prophets, then through Jesus Christ, God spoke of the future. The Bible begins with prophecy and ends with prophecy; it is an essential part of the Bible’s message comprising more than 25 percent of the Scripture. Any topic that makes up over 25 percent of the Bible must be important.
God’s intent has never been to leave us in the dark but to reveal His plans through His chosen messengers, the prophets (Amos 3:7). The Prophetic Word is a light shining in the darkness, illuminating the path before us and making our way clear until Jesus comes back (2 Peter 1:19-21). We are to pay attention to prophetic Scripture, and if we do, we will be blessed (Revelation 1:3).
To further highlight the importance of prophecy, especially end-time prophecy, out of 46 Old Testament prophets, less than ten mention Jesus’ first coming. However, 36 of them speak of His second coming. The Old Testament refers to the second coming of Christ 1,500 times. One out of 25 New Testament verses alludes to His second coming. For every mention of the first coming of Christ, the Bible refers to the second coming eight times. And if that is not enough, Jesus talks about His second coming 21 times, and over 50 times, we are told to be ready for His return.
Reason 2: Prophecy Enables Us to Recognize the Times
Beginning in Genesis, God started to reveal to us through Moses and the Prophets His salvation plan through a Messiah. Later, in the New Testament, Jesus confirmed that it was Him about which they wrote. Even though the Prophets had prophesied His coming no less than 333 times, Israel did not recognize Him; they did not believe He was the Messiah.
Instead, they hardened their hearts to God’s message He had sent to them through His prophets. Because of Israel’s inability to recognize their own Messiah, Jerusalem was leveled, and all of its inhabitants were killed (Luke 19:44). Another consequence of their unbelief was that the Kingdom of God was taken away from them and given to the Church (Matthew 21:42-44). Because the Israelites rejected the Gospel, the message went to a new nation, a nation of Believers, the Church. Through this, we are reminded that we must not harden our hearts to God’s message, but instead keep our hearts soft and pliable, ready to receive the Word with joy when He comes again!
God tells us things before they happen so that when they do occur, we will believe. When we know what the Word says about the future, we can recognize the times and act accordingly. Knowing the signs of the times is like an early warning system: we are alerted to upcoming threats and, as a result, we know when to take precautions to protect our minds and our hearts from deception and fear. Jesus implores us always to be alert and ready for His return (Matthew 24:42-44). We should not be indifferent to the signs around us but instead, watch and be ready. Just as Noah prepared for the flood, we should also prepare ourselves for Jesus’s return.
Reason 3: Prophecy Gives Us an Eternal Perspective
Studying prophecy sets our hearts and minds on God’s eternal nature. Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8). The alpha and the omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus referred to himself as the alpha and the omega because He is the first and the last and the beginning and the end. He is eternal. Because He has put eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), nothing can satisfy us except the eternal things of God: His Word, His love, and His joy. Knowing this encourages us to set our minds, not on earthly things but things above (Colossians 3:1-2) and live differently, only focusing on those things that matter for eternity.
Reason 4: Prophecy Strengthens Our Faith and Gives Us Hope About Our Future
When we look at the prophetic scriptures, we see our future – that one day we will wake-up with bodies that will never die (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). We see that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and no longer any death, mourning, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:1-4). We find out a priceless inheritance is waiting for us in heaven, and our salvation is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who lives in us (1 Peter 1:3-5, Ephesians 1:13-14). Knowing our future strengthens our faith and gives us hope. Because of this hope, we should live our lives disciplined and in pursuit of holiness, As believers, we should embrace the hope of heaven as an anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19) and pursue the things of God relentlessly.
Reason 5: We Learn More About Jesus in His Exalted State
Finally, studying prophecy, especially the book of Revelation, gives us a breathtaking view into the throne room of God, where we see Jesus in His exalted state with “myriads upon myriads” worshiping Him (Revelation 5:11). Christ’s first coming was one of humiliation, but His second coming will be one of exaltation. Only a few noticed His first coming as a babe in a manger in Bethlehem, but all will see His second coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30). The first time He came as the Lamb of God, but the second time He will come as the Lion of Judah. He was despised and abandoned the first time, but the second time, He will be worshiped and adored (Philippians 2:9-11, Revelation 5:1-14)
Don’t shy away from the study of prophecy. Prophecy is relevant to your Christian walk and by studying it you will be blessed. Prophecy is relevant, understandable, and good news for believers. For more on studying prophecy, check out our next article in our Back to the Future series “The Promised Messiah.”